RELATED BLOG ENTRIES: BANGKOK 2008, THAILAND 2008

 

BANGKOK
Feb 7 - Different Strokes for Different Folks

The gay boys in Bangkok are so different than in Hong Kong. It's almost like comparing night to day. In Hong Kong people are very cool and collected and the bar scene is pretty conservative--a small scene, not many people get drunk, no drag shows, everyone is a bit more shy.

Meanwhile I think that Bangkok has the flirtiest scene in the world. You can't walk by anyone without making eye contact. In the bars, there is no hesitation about touching you, or goosing your butt, or just simply smiling. It's almost ridiculously social.

Being gay seems very accepted in Thailand. I can see why lots of gay people come here to vacation and to work. It's very freeing to live openly and without judgment.

Over the weekend I was with my bar buddy Sam and we did the town in a pretty wild and crazy way. The clubs were pretty fun and super busy the entire weekend. We did Chatuchak market with its pet zone. Wat Pho with its golden spires and relaxing buddha. And lots of shopping around the street stalls and the malls.

One of the fun parts was a game we played called Name That Burka. There's lots of middle eastern people shopping around like everyone else, and some of the women wear the full on black burkas. Sam, being from the Middle East, was pretty good at identifying where they were from by the style of the burka. The one that shocked me the most was the Bahraini lady with the piece of metal over her mouth which is apparently a standard there.

And these women whose lives seem rigidly controlled were shopping in the midst of the Thai world--where gender roles are fluid and changeable. As you walk through the streets, you see boys choosing to live as women. We got tickets to the Calypso ladyboy show. In one act, one of the ladyboys changes to a man during the show and the men in the show switched into garters and tight ladyboy gear. The gender bending really makes you think about what makes each of us a boy or a girl. And how fabricated the gender roles are.

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NUMBERS 02.05
Air Asia HK to Bangkok: CDN$138
exchange, 1 CDN$ = 31.2฿
taxi, airport to Pathumwan: 270฿
- plus airport service charge: 50฿
- plus tolls: 70฿
1 night, Pathumwan Princess: 3195฿

BANGKOK
Feb 10 - The Quest for the Ping Pong Girls

My sister came into Bangkok to check it out before we headed off to Phuket and finally to Kuala Lumpur for Chinese New Year. Her focussed agenda for the trip was to eat pad thai, get a massage, and watch ping pong girls. The first two things I was good to go, but I told her that I had to get drunk to watch any ping pong.

So we spent the day walking the streets of Bangkok. We got lost a bit, and found ourselves buried with the local Thais bartering, playing with their families, and going about their day in the humid heat. We eventually navigated our way to Khao San Road where we had a spa day, including a painful zit picking (not recommended) and shockingly cold cucumber mask.

Then the drinking began. My plan was to get absolutely wasted by the time we went to see the ping pong girls. It was sad to note that the first hoo-hoo I would ever see in my life would be opening bottles and shooting bananas.

So at the hotel we polished off the leftover vodka from the weekend. And then stopped at the gay club for a drink as we got closer to the infamous Patpong Road. We started chatting to a couple of guys who turned out to be a married couple from Switzerland. Lukas and Juan were super fun and they said they wanted to join us on our ping pong quest.

So the four of us continued on our journey, first to browse the boyshows just off the street parallel to Silom. We peeked through the doors to see the boys waving us in. But we pressed on and finally made it one of the bars off the side of Patpong.

Walking in, I knew that we were the only customers in the club. The show began immediately as a girl started deftly picking up rings with a chopstick. Somehow my sister snapped a picture. Man we were drunk. We stayed for a couple of strange tricks--like shooting darts at balloons and blowing whistles. Even under the influence of alcohol, I was creeped out. As we left, they shut the door to the bar behind us. Triumphant in our quest, we found a nearby McDonalds and had some comfort food to take us back into the real world.

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NUMBERS 02.05
advertise price for PP girls in street: 100฿
- demanded once inside: 1000฿
- negotiated final price: 375฿

spas and massages (Bangkok):
feet 30 min, Suan Lum Market: 200฿
fullbody oil 60 min, KhaoSan Road: 250฿
facial 40 min, Khao San Road: 250฿
pedi + manu, Khao San Road: 200฿
fullbody oil 60 min, Babylon: 500฿
combination spa 120 min, Apsara: 1100฿

spas and massages (Phuket):
back oil 60 min, Sourana: 500฿
shoulder & head 60 min, Sourana: 250฿

PHUKET
Feb 12 - Phuket? Fuck It!

I'm not really a beach person. Sitting on a beach in sweltering hot weather is not my idea of a good time. But my sister loves the beach and wanted to try out one in Thailand.

So Phuket is a extremely popular resort island about the size of Singapore. It has lots of different beaches, and we picked Patong Beach. This place is one giant tourist trap. Its success has really become its downfall. The area has no soul. It's been sucked out by all the tourists and commercialism. The locals there seem to be drained of any joy in dealing with the tourists. You can't walk 100 feet without someone asking you if you want a cab ride or massage, or whatever else they're selling. The beach is full of over-tanned people who think that leather is the new skin.

I'm sure there are much nicer beaches in Thailand. But Patong Beach is just not an interesting place to be--it pretty much sucks. But it's a good place to get sunburnt, even if you're sitting under an umbrella the whole time. Trust me!

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NUMBERS 02.12
Air Asia Bangkok to Phuket: C$116
1 night, Andaman Beach Suites: C$113
bus, airport to Patong Beach: 150฿
taxi, Patong Beach to airport: 300฿
umbrella fee: 90฿
fantasea show: 1800฿
drag show at Paradise Complex: free
bottle Singha beer: 90฿


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