It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment.
We wanted to go to a Bangkok night market. All the tour info said to go. Great bargains. Lots of interesting things to buy, they said.
So we picked the Patpong night market as it was an easy train ride away. Sure, there was redlight district nearby, but times, they said, were a changing, and the market was moving away from that kind of thing. The redder lighted places were off on side streets, they said.
We were there rather early. Many places were still setting up. It was all T-shirts and watches until we came upon a stall with a vast variety of sex toys and,…. toy airplane models. Apparently an untapped niche.
Throwing stars and hi-voltage stunning flashlights were a few stalls down.
“Are these even legal to have?” I asked.
“NO!. Of course not, they for police work!” And yet there they were. Regulation Police Throwing Stars.
Down the main drag at Patpong was lots of the same, but the clubs were close by and were not quite Disney. Open doors spilled out thumps and bumps and glimpses of swim-suited girls leaning, bored, against a forest of brass poles.
I recalled just then a Tom Robbins book I read about the shenanigans that occur in places like these with women and ping pong balls. Just as I recalled this, touts appeared listing all the things you could see for a low low price. My daughter asked just what exactly they do with a ping pong ball and we euphemized our way around the topic.
At first the touts were discrete in just showing the cards to you. As the evening wore on they began reciting the list from memory. Shoot ping pong ball, hold pencil, write name, hold razor blade, blow smoke, cut banana. Wait, razor blade? Cut banana? It was a genital circus!
And though there was a part us that were curious about such feats of skill, the evening started a conversation that lasted the rest of our trip about exploitation and what it means to be a tourist. Where’s the boundary between Madam Ginsu and the disabled stone carver we watch at an EU sponsored workshop or between she and the fishing village that we pay 20 bucks a head to cruise through people’s lives looking for photo ops.
So, I don’t think I’d drag my kid down to Patpong again. We went to another safer, cleaner night market the following night and had an overall much more enjoyable time, but Sarah Scissor-whatever, did provide some opportunity for parenting moments or life moments.