Monday, March 30, 2009

Connect Four... and... Whores?

In stark contrast to the ever peaceful and serene surroundings at the beaches of Phuket, about a half an hour taxi ride away, lies Patong, the backpacker haven filled with tourist targeted restaurants, sleezy bars, filthy clubs and of course, the ever prevalent Thai lady bar.

After spending a few days in Bangkok and now arriving in Patong, I’ve quickly learned how commonplace the Thai lady bar and Thai prostitute really is.  While I consider myself a moderate, both politically and socially; and an undoubtedly independent woman, I found this completely shocking and disturbing at first.  The streets of Patong were bursting at the seams with women scantily clad and willing to sell their services at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. In speaking with one of the prostitutes we quickly learned that they pretty much lead a double life. The money that this profession affords them greatly out pays any other basic 9-5pm job and allows them to support their families and in some cases even purchase and invest in property. 

 Earlier in the evening at the hotel we befriended a group of Finnish travelers. We all decided to meet up at the club Seduction owned by an acquaintance of theirs from back home in Helsinki around 11:30 that night. After grabbing a burger and fries at Patong’s “McFadden’s Bar” we strolled over to Seduction and approached the bar to order a drink. We happily found our Finnish friends and made some new Russian ones along the way. The club oozed of smoke that enhanced the purple neon glow lights emanating from the built-in ceiling fixtures. The bartender approached us and requested our drink order…Enter the Thai booze bucket.

In an incredible feat of efficiency, the Thai booze bucket enables its victim to order and ingest what would normally be between 3-4 alcoholic drinks in just one sitting, and for the grand total of a mere 90 Baht ($2.85 USD). After downing a bucket each and lighting

some Sambuca on fire with our new Russian friends we decided to take a walk around town.       

While passing through the Patong’s main strip we decided to stroll into a Thai lady bar and see it for ourselves. The men brushed it off as “research” and us girls were willing to play along.  After ordering up a couple of orange breezers hugged by foam coolers to keep our drinks nice and cold, we took a look around. Thai prostitutes slung around the bar enticing foreign men to dance, talk or have a drink.  At first we all felt a bit uncomfortable, our new Finnish friends and myself exchanged glances of “can you believe this?"

“this is outrageous”, etc. while the men stood around simply mesmerized by the exhaustive selection of available women.  After a while we were able to ignore our surroundings and just have some fun.  As it turned out the DJ was actually great! 

We danced until the wee hours of the night and I just about lost all place of where I was when out of the corner of my eye…. There it was.  A shiny, innocent game of connect four; yellow plastic frame with red and black chips replaced by a the more exotic black

plastic frame, neon pink chips, neon green chips version! A Thai prostitute and a gentleman started playing the game! One of my favorite childhood board games was being used as a lure tactic! We all turned around and realized that Connect Four was set up on tables all around us. With no other reaction possible at that point we all burst into uncontrollable laughter.  After all, we had just survived the Thai Lady bar, Connect Four and all.


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