This article is a short observation post about witnessing various accounts of sex tourism in Thailand, something it has been the case for hundreds of years. But there’s an even darker side, the underage sex tourism, and I witnessed just that.
There is a grotesque paradigm I saw all over Thailand; amongst the Buddhist temples, cafés, tuk tuks, street food stalls, western food joints, and drunk tourists that are everyday imagery — throngs of old farts with a gluttonous hunger for young Thai girls are bubbling up everywhere from some mysterious putrid cesspool.
It was in a back alley beyond the Chiang Mai Night Market that I observed a stark example of this.
I had just gotten my first hair cut in a year in a Thai salon; a small place tucked under a Jenga-like stack of apartments that threatened to topple at any moment on a winding back road. But there were Thai people in this hole in the wall salon, and one thing I’ve learned is to trust where the Thais go (for the most part).
The trim up to my ever-growing mop top was accompanied by a thirty-minute head scrub and massage, something I would have totally paid the 150 baht cost for alone. With a “Kap Kun Krap!” I was back out into the world feeling fresh and revitalized.
But soon I’d feel dirty.
I spotted a heard of saggy seals now flapping about in a nearby café. On my way to get the haircut I had passed by this same café; it was quiet with a nice glass table on the porch, wooden chairs with floral bum pillows, and “Nous parlons français” under the “Welcome” sign. Empty yet inviting.
Now, this café was like some rock that blubbery animal-like people had staked their claim in.
Rotund older white male (70?), grey hair, hotdog fingers, greasy red cheeks, stained shirt struggling to contain his belly button from a peekaboo, flopped back in chair like lazy seal — Young Thai girl (14+?), floral dress (non-revealing) sits perched on his knee wih a forced smile as the other fat seals, “ARF” back and forth, mostly about things that would make a pervert blush. Their gullets jiggling all the way.
The shop owners and employees stand in the background politely with a smile and nod and laugh when the seals laugh. The big greasy seal with the young Thai girl on his knee caresses her leg and looks at her like she is a baby back rib buffet. Finger lickin’ good.
“Are you comfy on daddy’s lap?” He managed to grumble out of his pie-hole at the Thai girl, sounding winded by the energy it took to spout the sentence that piece of shit probably waited 40 perverted years to say.
An eruption of gullet-jiggling laughter by all of the seals followed.
By then I had passed by, given one look back in disbelief, and walked back to my hostel to rinse the filth off with a cold shower. This wasn’t her father. This wasn’t an of age girl that chose to be there. This was privileged white men who had come to Thailand to be predators and take advantage of having money and the fact that Thai people don’t like to lose face by accusing a foreigner.
“All because our currency is superior than theirs” a Scotsman from the hostel I was staying at stated in dismay.
We had just passed by a lamppost in the Chiang Mai night market with a sticker that read, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” which reminded me of that morning’s events.
Real men don’t buy girls. Filthy animals do. And buying may not even involve money; status, power, and country of origin are seen used by these aging disgraces for human beings to pull in young Thais. Girls and boys.
Except this is nothing new. A few people on my Facebook post that summarized this observation stated, “Nothing new. I remember it in the 80’s – the girl is probably younger than you think.”
Even some told me, “It’s been going on for hundreds of years. How can you insult the family for doing that when maybe they have no other way to make a living?”
Wait, what? Really?
I’ve met younger Thais that have started their own food stands from scratch, and much more. These things aren’t usually a choice for someone, it’s often forced. When I visited a border town between Thailand and Myanmar, we heard plenty of stories of Burmese families being allowed to stay on a farm to work, only to have the children stolen and sold to sex slavery.
Take those ping-pong shows, for example, one of the many things you shouldn’t do in Bangkok. That popular tourist attraction in Bangkok where you watch girls shoot ping-pong balls out of their, you guessed it, at targets. The thing you fail to overlook before going for a laugh or kicks is most of those performers kidnapped and forced to learn this starting under the age of 10.
Maybe my observation was me being naïve and hopeful that she was not younger than that. I know she didn’t look of age. But it isn’t anything new — this pedophilia tourism where men come to southeast Asian countries and poach underage girls or boys from family run establishments like bars or cafés; the families don’t do anything to disrupt business so they allow this groping to happen.
On a songtheaw ride (taxi truck) in Chiang Mai, I had another stomach churning experience. An old Englishman who had to be close to 80+ hopped in the back and dragged on a younger Thai teen. He decided to tell me about how his 3rd wife didn’t know about this one, but he’s been coming to Thailand for decades to get some of the “young flavors” and cackled and rubbed her leg as she sat awkwardly beside him. He licked his lips and adjusted his dentures and I got out.
Why is sex tourism in Thailand a thing? And why is underage sex tourism a thing there? Because they can get away with it. Because some people deep down are despicable human beings that, when given the opportunity to do something vile they never would do at home, take it. At home, they may seem like a normal guy or family man, but they obviously have some deep down dark and sickening secret fetish they desire to live out in Thailand.
Even if it’s been historically the norm in Thailand for a century or more, it doesn’t make an any less disturbing to see. Not toward the Thais, but toward those men who partake in this.
DON’T FORGET TO READ: 24 Do’s and Don’ts in Bangkok