Chiang Mai at Night; Sex Tourism in Thailand

The last time I tried posting via blogger, the blogger servers had some problem and lost my post. My friend Ron lost his post at the same time. I was too impatient and tired to spend half an hour rewriting it. This time, good ol’ reliable Notepad will keep my post safe.

We are now in Pai and I will post about our last few days’ adventures later.

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So back in Chiang Mai, we spent the 24th visiting a couple Bhuddist temples, Wat Phar Singh and Wat Chedi Luang, the oldest one in Chiang Mai. Pretty nifty.

On the walk between temples, we bumped into our friend Brendan again! Strange how we saw him every day there in different places, even though it’s a city of 1.6 million people. He was sitting at an outdoor restaurant, so we talked and joined him for lunch. We spent about 2 hrs with him; he’s a really interesting and talkative guy.

After the second temple we went to get a one hour Thai massage for $3 Canadian. Ron, Ian, and Jos loved it while I thought it kinda sucked. A lot of it was really painful, but I figured it would make me more relaxed. Nope. When I had to roll onto my stomach, my foot started cramping. It never cramped on this trip until then. Maybe it was the lady that I got or maybe I’m just not suited to Thai massage. Some of it was relaxing, but then it would be followed by really painful stuff that didn’t do much. The whole endorphins thing just didn’t work for me. We’ll try another place later perhaps.

That evening we went to a local club but I wasn’t feeling too well so I took the key and caught a tuk-tuk back to our guesthouse. It was the only key, and without it the others could not even enter the building to knock on the door so I had to wait outside as they were to arrive about half an hour after me.

Waiting for half an hour on the street (turned into a full hour) is rather dreary so I decided to talk to one of the many prostitutes in Chiang Mai. Sex tourism is HUGE in Thailand, and very much in your face in Chiang Mai. Everywhere you go North American and European men of middle age, old age, and on occasion my age, can be seen with Thai girls far out of their league. They come to vacation and pay for a girl for a night, a weekend, or even a full week or two. The girls are like escorts, doing everything with the men; shopping, dining, suntanning, drinking, clubbing.

We talked about this on many occasions each day. Once, we were discussing it at full volume with our Swiss friends Rene and Urs at a restaurant. We then realized that right behind us, not even 2 feet behind me, were two middle-aged white guys with beautiful twenty-something Thai girls. We couldn’t help but burst out in laughter.

Guys pick the girls up at bars usually, where you can see dozens of the girls who call out at you when you walk by, like the mythical Sirens. Some of the girls stand on street corners late at night, and that is where I decided to speak to one while I waited for my fellow travellers.

Her name was Oil but her real name was Selima. She said she was 23 and I believe it. Her voice was a little bit low, but I don’t think she was a man… you never know though. I made it quite clear I wasn’t interested, and doubly made sure by telling her that I was sharing my room with my sister and two friends, and I had the only key to the room. She said it’s good money, a night job once her sister’s bar closes. I asked her why she didn’t just work her normal job like other people, but she didn’t really give me an answer. We talked about the other girls we could see on the street. They’re friends and they keep an eye on each other, especially when drunk washed up men walk down the street catcalling at them. She kept a smile on her face almost the entire time we spoke but it was sort of a fake smile, one she’s so used to wearing she has trouble putting it away. Her eyes seemed to show that she was sad, but it’s hard to read the face of someone who tries to hide real emotions. I felt sorry for her.

I spoke with her for about half an hour before a guy came by on a motorbike and picked her up, after talking with her for about 5 minutes. In their conversation I could hear a few words. He mentioned his girlfriend, asked whether Selima was still working at her sister’s bar down the street, and then she waved goodbye as they drove off.

The others soon arrived and we went to sleep; at 930am we caught a minibus to Pai.

To be continued…

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous January 30, 2005 at 05:07 #

    It’s a difficult issue.

    On the one hand I think that doing something like this is the woman’s decision through and through, and if somebody wants to do that – more power to them, and therefore it should be legalized.

    On the other hand it’s hard to escape the fact that only people in a very difficult situation end up in a position like that. Normal, well-adjusted, educated women with ambitions, goals, dreams, motivations don’t become prostitutes. Ever. Only in movies. Something bad must happen to you to put you in a position to do that.

    So I kind of feel sorry for them too…not because their prostitutes (although that’s a shitty job in itself) but because of what happened to them (whatever it is) to get them TO that point. 

    Posted by nik

  2. Anonymous January 30, 2005 at 05:09 #

    p.s. my typing is horrible and all over the place and full of spelling mistakes because i just got home and i’m drunk and it’s 5ammm 

    Posted by nik

  3. Anonymous January 31, 2005 at 23:19 #

    Your comment was amazingly coherent for a drunk, especially you in particular when drunk. I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t mentioned it.

    Chris 

    Posted by Chris Anderson

  4. edsnail March 28, 2012 at 01:39 #

    Yea, I know what you mean. Boycotting the trade won’t help those who are doing it willingly, they need the money and would only be forced to lower their prices. Stricter laws won’t help them at all, unless they are directed against pimps and traffickers only. Forcing the girls to go further underground will only push them into zones that nobody can see, or regulate.
    I think the solution is
    1: Fiercely pursue and prosecute anybody who is forcing anybody to work against their will and
    2: If you are going to visit these girls, treat them with as much respect as possible. Be nice to them. They are providing a very valuable service. If they are treated with respect consistently, hopefully they will return the favour.

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