Asia . Thailand . Bangkok . Pat Pong

February 4th, 2010 - February 7th, 2010

So, Team Canada met around midnight at Khao San Palace. Their first act was to walk the length of Khao San Rd. Sounds simple, eh? Well, let me tell you about Khao San. This road has a lot going on. You want clothes? It's got clothes: suits, t-shirts, hats, t-shirts, sunglasses, t-shirts. You want food? It's got food: pad thai, pancakes, fresh fruit, fruit shakes, fried insects, mystery meat! You want alcohol? It's got buckets (literally). You want illegal stuff? It's got illegal stuff: pirated movies, music, drugs, ID cards, prostitutes. You want knick-knacks? It's got knick-knacks: croaking-wooden-frogs, neon-tribal-hats, things-that-spin-and-fly. You want to be yelled at? It's got yelling: "HEY!", "COME LOOK!", "CHEAP-CHEAP!", "YOU BUY!", "NO?!?", "YES!!!", "LATER????", "NOW!". Needless to say it was a pretty overwhelming experience after hours / days spent flying, so Team Canada retreated to their beds.

The next morning (and pretty much all subsequent mornings) was started with a fruit shake. Mmm-mmm good. Energized, the team was ready to plan. The first step was to arrange travel visas for Christelle, Mel and Milaine. A polite policeman told us that unless we wanted to be drugged and robbed, we should go see a government approved travel agent for all our travel needs. A difficult decision, but we decided to take his advice. Walking into the travel agent's office we must have smelled like fresh sticky-buns: covered with money and steamy with stupidity.. Here's an approximation of the initial meeting:

"How can I help you?"
"We need travel visas."
"Ok. Where are you going?"
"Laos and Vietnam."
"When?" 1
"Around one month from now."
"Where are you staying?" 2
"Khao San Palace."
"Please sit down." 3
* We sit *

Friendly. Factual. Revealing. With this conversation, the travel agent determined 1 how long we'd be in the country, 2 how much we spent each day, and 3 how receptive we were to commands. In the end all 6 of us signed up for a two week island-hopping adventure in southern Thailand. Recall, we started out with questions about visas for 3 of us.. Making destination and accommodation decisions with a group of 6 is always a chore, so despite the disparity between motivation and resolution, we were all happy. Especially Joe (aka Mr.Travel-Agent-Man).

The rest of the day was uneventful. We ate (the best pad thai ever). We wandered (the Grand Palace). I think we swam.. Most importantly we decided that we weren't getting enough culture out of Bangkok. We weren't seeing Bangkok's "BANG!". We needed to see a show. We considered a Muay Thai Kickboxing, but it was way out of budget. So we decided on the next best thing: Pat Pong.

Pat Pong is a district of Bangkok. A collection of streets offering red-light services. Similar to Amsterdam, it has transcended the reputation of being a pervy back-alley, and is now considered a tourist attraction. The main draw is a skills-show. ..Vagina-skills. .. .. .."Vagina-skills?" Yep. It's important to note that it's a muscle.. So it can do "stuff".. "Stuff" like "holding things".. And "smoking things".. And "launching things";.. "Launching? Launching what?" Bananas. Ping pong balls. In fact, these shows are traditionally referred to as Ping Pong Shows.. Pat-Pong, PIng-Pong.. it's sort of a play on words. Y'know, sort of witty. Other noteworthy skills were whistling a whistle and blowing out candles (from a standing position to a cake sitting on the ground! Just like those old kung-fu movies where a master blows out a candle flame with his fist!). A good evening (mostly).

For those of you considering one of these shows, I have two point of caution. Firstly, the glasses that drinks are served in are big enough to accommodate a ping-pong ball. Moreover, the performers seem to consider themselves amateur golfers, so hole-in-ones are highly sought after. Solution: cover your drink or simply remove it from the driving-range / table entirely. AND for god's sake, if your drink does get "polluted", then show some respect for hygiene and DO NOT DRINK IT. Secondly, Thailand has it's share of scams. Don't be afraid of them, just expect them and being willing to laugh when they happen. When we entered the venue for our particular show, the street-advertiser said 100 baht per drink, which is about 3 times the usual price. No problem, this is how they make money. After looking at a menu with no prices, we all ordered one drink for a total of 600 baht. At the end of the evening, the bill showed 1800 baht. Upon questioning the bill a burly woman with an aggressive smell and glow-in-the-dark contact-lenses showed us a piece of paper:

Just show 1000 baht / person
First drink 300 baht
Non-first drink 100 baht

Pure scam. We ended up throwing a total of 1000 baht and then hurrying out.

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