Home Day 38

Tonight is our last night in Thailand, so we walk by Patong Beach and like moths to lights, find ourselves heading towards the infamous Bangla Road.

Peddlers – the local enemy
One of the things that really gets me about visiting Thailand is the price you pay for looking like a foreigner. Because the tourism industry is the country’s staple, every opportunity is made to squeeze the bahts out of you, and on every street corner there is a peddler selling you everything from manicure sets to taser iPods. S and I were shocked (not literally) to be given a taser handgun demo by a peddler along Phuket’s Bangla Road.

Poverty – the bigger enemy
Before we set off on our journey, we’d already mentally prepare to pay farang (foreigner in Thai) prices. The four of us passed off quicker as Japanese than Southeast Asians. We haggled but we also knew we could never get local prices as we didn’t learn enough Thai between us.

I experienced the same frustrations when I lived in Beijing and shopped at the local street markets. That taught me to smarten up and not take things personally, but I turned my attention to poverty – the bigger enemy.

Malaysia has its problems, but I am glad the government is not as sexually liberal as our northern neighbour, where sex tourism is given free reign and the exploitation of women as escorts, prostitutes and performers in sexual torture shows are acceptable to the general public.

Sin – the real enemy
If Sin City was a real city, it would be somewhere in Thailand.

An English woman once told me she would never visit China because of its poor human rights record. This was in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics and I shrugged it off as an extremist view. I thought to myself, “Can you decide not to visit a country based on its poor human rights records?”

Thailand’s sex tourism has left such a grieving impression on me that I have decided not to visit the country again, unless I could do something about it.

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