I first went to Thailand with some friends and their family as part of Lunar New Year. Traditionally in some parts of Vietnam, people spend this time with family and traveling, and so her parents booked all of us a seven day tour!
Though it was a ton of fun, the tour was in Vietnamese, so I didn’t know what was going on most of the time until we were doing it. One city we went to was Pattaya, and for those who don’t know, it’s the sex capital of Thailand.
I had never heard of it before, and sex work can make me uncomfortable. But, I found out when we were already there, and her family was so nice to have booked this for us in the first place, so I kept an open mind. I’m glad I did because some of it was not what I expected, some of it was exactly what I expected, and some of it I would have never imagined.
Note: all facts (or things resembling facts) in this piece came from an occasional translation of what the Viet Travel tour guide was saying.
The first thing I remember seeing was the drag shows. Pattaya does have a lot of non-sexual entertainment/arts and also a huge transgender scene, so some people are able to afford their operations (and lives) by singing and dancing in these shows.
My favorite one was a super cool play on Thai history, but I totally forgot where it was! The costumes, music, and dances were beautiful, and at the time I learned a lot.
The other one I liked a lot was at Tiffany’s. This show and many others we saw were interesting because they didn’t have a start time- you would walk in and people would be singing and dancing. And everyone was so beautiful! At the end, you could take pictures with your favorite drag queens. This is where they would make most of their money- you’re supposed to donate to them.
But! My friend and I were happily walking to our favorite one, when we got forcibly pulled over by a different queen for a picture, who then demanded triple what the tour guide recommended we donate. For us, it was something annoying at the time, but funny looking back.
Here I think I would have added a picture but I think I deleted it with emotion at the time.
The other type of show we saw was translated as “variety sexy shows”. Someone on the tour described them to us as extremely artsy and French inspired, so we were intrigued and decided to see all three. But… after the second one we were totally done. These made all of us so uncomfortable! And I’m still uncomfortable looking back!
Well they started off okay. One show had pole dancers, who were actually pretty cool and non-sexual, and everyone clapped. Then it got bad when a bunch of naked five year olds came out, some crying, and walked around in circles. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch and nobody clapped. Then some naked Russian teenagers came to sway back and forth to Spider-Man scenes in the background. This was also very weird, and we were all confused. One interesting thing we learned though was that a lot of girls who were forced into sex slavery in Russia come here (unclear if willingly) to do legal sex work.
There was some humor in this show when some people came to SHOOT PING PONG BALLS out of their LOWER ORIFICES to the AUDIENCE. Yes, you read that right, and on both sides, if you’re curious. For some reason, I thought it was all fake so when one landed on our side of the stage and everyone ran away, I grabbed it so we could sit down again… And it was super lube-y and brown speckled! OMG!
Anyway. We headed to the next show, which similarly had a variety of acts. This one we sat in the front for some reason and the girls put razorblades, fish, and ping pong balls, in their vaginas, then squeezed them out. Then they moved on to smoking cigarettes with their vagainas. This intrigued me a bit, but mostly left me feeling uncomfortable.
Then, for an act that I don’t actually remember, they grabbed my friend as the token white guy on the stage. Then he went MISSING for most of the show! When he came back, we found out that they were demanding money from him for going on the stage, and when he said no, security people started threatening him! He ended up giving money then leaving.
BUT it also turned out that this was how most of these girls made money (not through the show), and my female friend brought up the good point as I was expressing my discomfort with supporting this version of the sex industry that their alternative might be starvation and poverty, so in a twisted way, we were doing good. I don’t know how I feel about that to this day.
After those two, we were done and decided to do the things that we like to do normally… Like get dessert! We walked down the main street (and hookers tried to take white male friend away from us). The bakery we went to had the best cakes of all the cakes we had in Thailand!
And we went to the beach! Pattaya also had a beautiful beach.
So perhaps it goes without saying that three things I would recommend here are the drag shows, food, and beach. I personally would not recommend the sex shows. And according to Google there are still a ton of other fun things that we didn’t get to do!
Has anyone else been to Pattaya? What was your experience like?