Sunday, February 14, 2010

bangkok - by night

The highlight of the Bangkok experience actually came the day I returned from Vipassana. There was another fárang; Benny in our meditation group, who also needed to be back in Bangkok only for a day to pick up his passport from the Indian embassy. We shared the same hostel room. After 12 days of no contact with the outside world, I was hungry for some online time. Benny however was craving for some Falafel, followed by an Indie movie. What are the chances of staying in the same room with someone else who craves Middle Eastern food and even knows places to get good food? If anything, this was some good coincidence. We checked some movie theater schedules while discussing some Bangkok experiences, when at some point the subject came to the red light districts of the city and what they offer. Benny said that everyone in his country who visited Bangkok rumors about the “ping pong shows” (I later figured that it is a generic name given to the shows where trained girls shoot things like ping-pong balls, bananas, arrows etc out of their vaginas.) His previous attempts to find a club with such a show have failed. As crazy as it sounded at some point I found myself agreeing and thanks to the internet we identified the red light districts (there are 3 in this city) and noted down names of few clubs. It was surprising for me to find a lot of information on the internet on the clubs, the shows, ratings, scams etc, I thought all that sort of information would be more word of mouth or somehow publicly less available. I was worrying about the impact of a ping pong show on my recently cleaned Karma just hours after finishing a Vipassana course. One thing for sure however, was that it would be more interesting than some Indie movie.

After9pm, we headed out for Soi Cowboy behind Sukhumvit and started looking for the Long Gun club. A few people commented that it was one of the few scam-free clubs with reasonable drink prices. The whole Soi Cowboy was a shock to me. Too much light, noise, crowd, prostitutes, … Having more experience, Benny was pointing out which one was a real woman and which one was a “lady boy”. There was no way for me to tell the difference. I couldn't even stare for that long

We went in the club and were seated. There was already a striptease show on the stage. The girls looked bored and were more interested in watching themselves in the mirrors around the stage. It was very uncomfortable for me and for a long time I couldn't even look at the show on the stage, so I started scanning the audience. Realizing that I was the only non-Thai woman along the audience did not help me feel more comfortable at all. I tried to chat a little with Benny so that I would justify not looking at the girls but except politely responding to my questions, Benny didn't seem very eager to divert his attention from the stage. Seriously, why was I there? What on earth got into me so that I was in the middle of the most anti-feminist actions? Why was I watching women undressing and even worse, other men paying to see them do that? And all that just 12 hours after finishing a Vipassana course??? I asked Benny if we could leave and he answered “no way, I didn't come in here to see a regular strip tease, I will not go before I see the ping pong show” Ok then, all I could hope was that the show would start soon.

Around 10:30, the stage was prepared for the show and the waitresses started distributing balloons. Two girls appeared on the stage, totally naked. The show started with girls blowing whistles from their vagina. Then they were shooting little arrows at the balloons. I explained at great length to Benny how core muscles as well as mula bandha helps the girls to that... He seemed genuinely interested so I went on and on.. It was a very good way to keep distracted from the show. While I was babbling, the show ended with girls simultaneously shooting out bananas... Horray, it meant that we could leave now!
In memoirs of strippers or escort girls, I read that there would sometimes be women coming to such clubs with their colleagues or male friends and making fun of the strippers... I can't understand that... I cannot ever criticize them on the way they choose to earn money. I can't even know if it's their choice. It was just too much for me to be there, to be a part. I have to admit that I was curious about the red-light district action of Bangkok, but the whole experience was more of a discomfort for me and I was quite relieved when we were out of the club. Benny seems to have rationalized the whole thing by saying that sex shows and prostitution is a normal thing in the Thai culture and it's the Westerners who have a negative stigma to it... It's just too much for me to buy in.

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