Dec 5, 2012

Phuket’s red light women trade where it’s ‘no big deal’

Bangla Road in Phuket is one of the world's best-known red light districts for tourists. But life for prostitutes isn't exactly what Liam Engel, an Australian writer, expected.

Before coming to Thailand, I had never heard the term “go-go show” used in conversation. Nor could I have explained to someone exactly what such a spectacle might offer.

I can now, but I prefer not to. I will simply say it isn’t all about ping pong balls. It’s also about turtles.

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25 thoughts on “Phuket’s red light women trade where it’s ‘no big deal’

  1. Phen

    I’m resisting the urge to google the turtle reference….

  2. Trent

    This is an important issue from a health point of view.

    Thailand has a higher prevalence of HIV than Australia (~ 500,000 people living with HIV vs 25,000 here) and a seroprevalence rate of around 1.5%. (See: ). The rate in Thai sex workers is much higher – around 10% (see: ).

    It’s hard to know if these bar girls would be closer to 1% or closer to 10%, but our HIV awareness messages in Australia are targeted at men who have sex with men, not heterosexual sex-tourists, and they will often not get themselves tested (as middle-aged, caucasian, heterosexual men tend to be a group who don’t go to the doctor much).

  3. Peter Shute

    As someone who has spent a lifetime going backwards and forwards to Thailand and having lived there for extended periods of time long before it had been discovered by ex-pats: what on earth is this article about ?.

    When will those from the West cease their endless insults of a culture they know little about ?. Don’t go to another country if you are going to be rude about your hosts.

    Here is a clue Liam : by writing this thin article you have insulted a nation and it’s people collectively in a manner you will never understand and far more so than a ‘sex tourist’. Stay home or go somewhere else in the future and do no insult your hosts in a country where an article like this is like a knife in the heart.

    Thailand is a country where it takes years to understand they perceive things differently to us and do not view many things with our rather twisted Puritan morals.

  4. paddy

    I *was* going to comment, that this article seemed (to put it politely) a little “naive”.
    But I see Peter Shute has already been there and done that.
    Thank you Peter.

  5. Venise Alstergren

    PETER SHUTE: Thank you for articulating my own thoughts.
    BTW, WTF was the article about anyway?

  6. Venise Alstergren

    BTW author, it’s ‘metre’ not meter.

  7. Simon

    I kind of don’t feel like anything has been explained here. Neither author nor Peter did a great job of enlightening the ignorant.

  8. Nathan Reed

    I thought I’d missed the “next page” link but turns out there is none. Article feels like it trails off without making a point or unearthing any new insight? Odd for an article on Crikey, especially one being promoted on the front page.

  9. James Butler

    THank you Peter Shute for sorting out pretty much what i wanted to say. Couldn’t help but feel the obvious ignorance, prejudice and naivety in this article. Australians need to stop viewing the world with their precious delusional non-existant “values”, look in your backyard for a change, tens of thousands of Australian-citizen sex workers are available over a phone call or a walk to the right places in cbd and its “no big deal” either!

  10. Andybob

    There’s naught as queer as folk.

    I think the criticism of the author is overblown. A story where someone discovers something can be interesting. If we all know the secrets of life, the universe and everything then why read any article ?

    If the writer was ignorant, prejudicial and naive he spoke about an experience which may have resulted in him changing his views. That’s worth reading as a road trip, even if it doesn’t have a conclusion.

    And what conclusion are we looking for ? Generalisations may not always apply ? We need that explained to us in detail ?

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