It was rainy yesterday, so I didn’t go out in the afternoon, because I hate walking around in the rain. There was a thread in the Bangkok CouchSurfing forum for people interested in going to go-go bars and a ping pong show, which I was most definitely curious about, so I planned to meet up with everyone for dinner.
Heiko made us lunch in the style of a Turkish breakfast.
We were supposed to meet at around six-ish near
Tip: I forgot to mention this yesterday, but make it clear that you need to get on the bus (e.g. by taking a few steps towards the bus before it gets to the stop), because if no one’s getting off, the bus isn’t going to stop. Logically then, also make it clear when you are getting off the bus. There is a red button in between the doors, which are more or less in the middle of the bus, to request a stop. If you don’t know where to get off, just ask the person who takes your fare.
At first I thought I’d get off at
A bit of a walk further east (where, along the way, there was a banner that read “STOP TEEN MOM” and then a photo of bunch of teenage girls in some sort of camp’s T-shirt) is the Erawan Shrine. There are a ton of locals that come here, because supposedly, it is particularly effective at granting your wishes/answering your prayers.
And directly across the street from this holy altar:
I ordered spicy noodles with mixed seafood:
After dinner, we headed over to
Then, off to the go-go bars.
Note: There will be no pictures of naked girls. (They are neither permitted by the bar owners nor would I post them.) However, there will be descriptions, so if this makes you uncomfortable, stop here.
At G-Spot, there was no cover charge or entry fee, but you have to order a drink, and a small (U.S.-sized) beer is 145 baht, whereas it would normally be 70-80 baht. The girls are already topless, so there’s no strip show to speak of. There are a lot though, maybe ten or twelve, and they’re of all sorts of body types. (But let’s be real, this is
The one thing that did get them really excited was buying tips. The non-stripper employees will walk around the tables offering five ping pong balls for 100 baht. If you buy them, the girls will all turn their attention towards you and get really animated. The way it works is that you throw them at the girls and they try to catch them, and if they do, they get the tip. I think in reality, they split everything at the end of the night, because there was no sign of keeping track of who caught how many, but I think it’s just a fun little game, and it probably gets people to tip more than they otherwise would. It is really entertaining to see how eager they are to catch the ping pong balls.
After we all finished our drinks, we headed out, because really, a strip club is not that exciting for an extended period of time. It’s more like, “Oh hey, boobs. Cool.”
At this point, only two of us were interested in going to see a ping pong show, so Yim led the two of us to Patpong and talked to one of the many guys who were outside trying to get people to come into their bars, and after we had decided to go in, went to go home. (She had already seen her fair share of ping pong shows with other CouchSurfers and also has work today.)
The bar itself is pretty small, with a few tables along the wall that make an L around the stage. Like G-Spot, it was dark, but UV-lit, so if you wear white (which I was), you will be very bright. There are a lot of skills performed at a ping pong show, most of which I can’t even imagine how you train for or practice. I am perhaps most baffled by the person who first thought of the concept. I can easily understand how people would add new elements once the first ping pong show was already in existence, but I really cannot fathom how someone thought, “Hey, you know what would be a good idea? If we had a show where girls shoot ping pong balls out their nether regions. Wouldn’t that be cool?” And then to have someone else say, “Yeah, that would probably be pretty lucrative.” And then to find girls who could do it. How would they even know they could? Or maybe it was some girl who somehow found out she could do it and started her own show for money on the side, and now it’s evolved into this industry. I don’t know.
Regardless, below is a quick list of what they do. If you are easily disgusted, stop reading. No, seriously.
- Pick up small rings with chopsticks and then place them around the neck of a bottle
- Pull out a seemingly endless string (It’s got to be a few meters.)
- Blow a horn (like a bike horn)
- Pull out a string of razor blades, which they use to cut a sheet of paper just so you know how sharp they are
- Blow a whistle
- Pull out a string of flowers (like the ones on a fake lei)
- Blow out candles on a fake birthday cake
- Shoot ping pong balls (the audience are give ping pong paddles for this)
- Pull out a string of needles, which are stuck into chopsticks to demonstrate their sharpness
- Smoke cigarettes
- Open beer bottles (Paul says he saw something metal up there. But even so, that is pretty damn impressive.)
- Pop balloons by blowing darts (Some are on the wall and some are held up by audience members. Don’t ask me how they aim. I have no clue.)
I’m thinking for the razors and needles, they must have some tampon-like protective device and a very specific way to insert them so that there’s no damage when they come out, because that could just go wrong in so many ways. The performer who did the riskier/more skilled tricks, who also must have been in her forties, though you'd only be able to tell by her face, actually checked her hand for cuts when she was done with the blades.
THOSE WHO ARE EASILY DISGUSTED CAN START READING AGAIN.
They also had a girl that did some pole dancing for a few minutes, which was at least better than G-Spot.
The funniest part of the night was when the manager came by to chat with us. She asked Paul and me where we were from, and then asked us how long we’d been married. I guess this is a reasonable assumption since most groups consisting of one guy and one girl at a ping pong show are likely to be a couple, otherwise it would be a group of guys. Paul played along and said three years. The manager then said something like, “Three years? Why isn’t she pregnant yet?” which was funny in itself. It was this next comment that really killed me, though. In a fake “whisper” to Paul, she gestured in front of her own chest and then pointed to me, saying I was well-endowed, “perfect” even, in what I guess was a sort of congratulatory manner. I was like, is this really happening? I mean, is that normal? It’s basically like saying, “Hello person I don’t know at all. Oh, this is your wife of three years? [raised eyebrow] Nice goin’ cowboy.” I found it pretty hilarious.
After the girls were starting the whole routine over again, we left. The guy whom Yim had spoken to before we came in told us if we stayed another half hour, we could see a "boy boy make love" show, but we passed on that. During the show, we were asked for a tip, so between the two of us, we gave 100 baht. Later on, an older employee (not a performer) was talking to me in Thai before she realized I couldn’t understand a thing she was saying. She then asked me in English to buy her a coke, which I declined. Basically, they try to hassle you into giving more money, but that’s to be expected.
We walked around Patpong, where a lot of people walk around with "menus" for their shows with items describing what we had already seen, like "pussy candles" and others we hadn't, like "pussy fishes in." There were also a variety of live sex shows, but neither of us was particularly interested in that. A guy running an S&M show told us to “Try something different.” We also walked down the gay equivalent of Patpong, where you see dirty old Western men in their 60s or so with 20-something Thai guys instead of girls.
I’ve noticed that in general, the locals’ first assumption is that I’m Thai until I open my mouth to speak. Akino said that it is very likely for this to be the case, and that at bars I should prepared to be approached by Thai guys because it is more valued here to have pale skin (like in China) and evidently, to appear more Chinese than Thai for whatever reason. I have yet to reap any sort of benefit from appearing local though, since I can’t sound local, but we’ll see.
The taxi driver who took us very clearly thought I was Thai as he kept looking at me for help as Paul was giving him directions to his hostel. Then when I started talking, he did a sort of double-take as he realized I was not, in fact, a local. The driver was adorable though. After he dropped Paul off, I was giving him directions to my host’s place, and he asked me, in very broken English, where I’m from. I told him I was born in