* Bangkok by Night: three lively neighborhoods

It’s a shame that Bangkok’s “notorious nightlife” has been so profusely publicized. Many visitors probably confine themselves to their hotels in the evening and then flee the city the next day. Actually, Bangkok nightlife is so extensive that prostitution and sex shows occupy only a dreary corner.

From all walks of life, Thais take their food, fun, music, drinking, dancing and conviviality very seriously. Nightlife venues run into the thousands. So don’t conclude that the following glimpse of three very different neighborhoods is in any way exhaustive. The surface has been barely nicked. What can be said is that these are three long-running neighborhoods that will deliver sanuk (fun) wanderings and meetings with ordinary, chatty Thai people.

Upper Silom Road

It’s impossible to pinpoint Bangkok’s coolest neighborhood. The trendsetters are just too fickle. But Silom Soi 4 and Silom Soi 2–two lanes jutting off the east end of Silom Road–somehow endure while more fabulous spots are fuzzy memories. These two small lanes are great for people-watching and Continue reading

* Prostitution in Thailand: Her fate, or choice?

Thailand has a prostitution problem. It is of neither recent nor imported vintage. Nobody really knows quite how big the problem is or how many Thais are involved in the industry because, contrary to the impressions of many tourists, the sale of sexual services is illegal. Social scientists estimate that the number of prostitutes ranges from 500,000 to 1 million within Thailand. Tens of thousands of Thai women also work overseas as prostitutes, mostly as illegal migrant workers in Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries.

The 500,000 figure works out to be 10 percent of all Thai women aged between 15 and 25. When the large numbers of children, older women and men (the latter including transvestites and transsexuals) are considered, the estimate doesn’t seem far-fetched. After all, a well-known Thai journalist, Soporn Ongkara, a few years ago pointed out that in Bangkok there was only one neighborhood, the old royal city area, where sex was not for sale.

He was wrong, though. Continue reading