Staying with the Working Girls and Lady Boys in Bangkok

Thailand is one of those places it seems every backpacker has visited and has a story about.  Movies like The Beach  and The Hangover II just scream “Visit me and escape the monotony of your boring ass Western life.  Come here and revel in my beautiful beaches, lax laws, cheap fun and loose morality.” Accordingly, Thailand was one of the countries I was most excited to visit in South East Asia – even if people watching in the airport in Bangalore consisted of large amounts of silent Thai women sitting with dopey looking white dudes.  At least they had the redeeming factor of adorable kids.  Anything plus Asian = amazing babies.

We hopped on the train closer to the city center and by some miracle once we got out we were able to get a taxi to run its meter and take us to Sukhomvit, Soi 4.  This was also the last time any taxi would run a meter for us in all of Southeast Asia.  Something was also becoming apparent as we cruised down our block to the hostel.  I maybe should’ve researched the neighborhood before booking the hostel.

It turned out, we were staying on a block notorious for its “hostess” and ladyboy bars, and of course home to the world’s largest adult playground.  Oops.  On the bright side, the street consequently had delicious street food available at all hours of the day.   And not just hot dogs and fish tacos.  I’ll take the company of hookers any day if it means having easy access to good street food.

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Later skyped my mom to tell her I had arrived safely in Thailand.

Me: Well the hostel is really clean but I’m staying on a street that’s kind of full of prostitutes…
Mom: I’m glad you’re out of India!

And to be fair, the neighborhood was actually pretty safe with police presence around to keep an eye on the sex industry.  On the other hand, being an Asian female walking around got me quite a few “Sawatdee krabs,” (hello in Thai) from old creepy white dudes to which I generally responded “Fuck off, I’m American.”

I do have to say, it’s interesting how open the sex industry is in Thailand.  I just googled it and apparently prostitution is illegal (probably should’ve looked that up before arriving) but still regulated and generally tolerated.  I mean, it was pretty clear that the 20 something year olds talking with the 60+ year olds weren’t doing so because they found them irresistibly attractive.  And the white dudes walking around with square jawed, overly made up, “girls” with boxy figures didn’t appear to be ashamed of the company they were keeping.  If everyone’s happy, or okay with exploiting/being exploited who am I to judge?

Once we settled it as luck would have it, I found out that a Thai friend from New York was in Bangkok on vacation and was able to meet up that night for dinner and drinks.  We caught up with him at Soul Food just off Sukhomvit Soi 55, which served modern Thai food and awesome cocktails.

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Yam Makrua Yao: sour, smokey, grilled eggplant with soft cooked duck eggs, mint, coriander and bacon
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Khao Soi: curried coconut and slow simmered beef with crispy noodles, lime, pickled mustard greens and shallots
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Smoked Duck Larb: duck with sour, spicy dressing, fried egg, rice and herbs
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Daily Special: no idea…maybe peppered fried fish with vegetables? Needless to say, it was delicious

After dinner, going to the club with a group of Thai-American locals was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up despite the fact that I still hadn’t slept more than 3 hours on the plane.  I chugged an O.G. Redbull (Redbull is a Thai invention – tastes the same but without carbonation) and headed over to Muse – a music venue/club that essentially had no Westerners.  In keeping with my consumption of beverages that create a forecast of 90% chance of vomiting, in addition to the Red Bull I also started drinking from a bottle of Johnny Gold.  I really don’t know my own limits.  But lucky for me Thai Redbull, while possibly containing speed, apparently negates the effects of scotch-whiskey on me and I had no vomiting incident.  Thanks Thailand!

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Apparently the way things work in Thai clubs is that almost everyone gets bottle service, and bottles can be served on every available surface in the club from tables to the backs of other people’s sofas to the ledge of the stage.  Where we were was a separate rooftop garden with live music, but inside there was a stage, DJ, strobe lights, tons of people, and not a single person dancing.  Which I was told is a common phenomenon in clubs unless drugs are involved.  When I tried dancing my way through the crowd people looked at me like I had just insulted the king or something.  And FYI NEVER speak ill of the King in Thailand.

Strangely enough, the legendary land of crazy drunk parties has places closing at 2 am so nursing the bottle for as long as possible we headed home at around 2:30.  Coming back down Soi 4 at night was still quite the adventure since watching people doing the “closing scramble” at regular clubs is entertaining but watching it on a street full of prostitutes is even better.  All around girls and “girls”  in short tight dresses, high heels, lots of make up, push-up bras and old creepy white dudes were having last minute negotiations and gropes to figure out who and what they were going home with.  Me rikey Bangkok.

3 thoughts on “Staying with the Working Girls and Lady Boys in Bangkok

  1. haha I had the exact same thing happen, had a friend tell me to get a hotel on sukhimvit, found a cheap one on soi 4, did no research, boom right in the middle of nana, even had an old guy die in the alley my hostel was on my first night there after taking a ladyboy up to his room, im assuming maybe he took too much street viagra as well and the combination of it all did him in, terrible thing to have on your headstone though, died in the redlight district in bangkok after taking ladyboy home

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