For those who didn't know, my birthday was on February 7th. If you're keeping count at home, that makes 27 years. I don't real feel like 27 is a big milestone or anything, but Christine was kind enough to remind me that I've now graduated from my "mid-20's" to my "late-20's"... so I have that going for me.
No birthday would be complete without a birthday celebration, so on Tuesday night we decided to make our first foray into Pat Pong, one of the most notorious areas of Bangkok. (At this point, I think I should note that the MPAA is still reviewing the contents of this post. We were initially gunning for a PG-13 rating, but then realized we would pretty much have to stop writing here, so instead we're going full bore into R-rated territory. Only the lack of pictures is saving us from NC-17. If you happen to remember any of my birthdays prior to age 5, that probably means you are related to me somehow and you might want to consider reading something else. Might I suggest a book?)
Earlier in the day I received an email from a girl (Shannon) who is friends with some of my Stanford friends. She was traveling through Southeast Asia and was in Bangkok for a few days. I invited her out with us (what better way for her to meet me for the first time than to take her to sketchy sex clubs?). Everyone else was busy for dinner, so Shannon and I headed to this place called "Eat Me Art Restaurant" - while the name sounds pretty in line with the night's activities, it was actually an excellent restaurant that was in a house full of modern Thai art. The food was the same type of Asian fusion you find in the States, we had a risotto and a spicy roast chicken - both were excellent.
After dinner, we headed over to Pat Pong to meet everyone else. The night started innocently enough as we went to a place called Radio City for a few beers (or in my case several, since everyone was buying them for me). Pat Pong is half strip clubs and sex shows and half night market. So if you get tired in one of the clubs, you can go buy $8 jeans or some Thai silk. Genius.
Around 11 PM, a man came up to us holding the following card:
I have to admit we were curious! We started to follow him, but quickly realized that he was probably going to rip us off, so we consulted with one of the older British guys on the street and he pointed us in the right direction for one of the "really good clubs." I know I've spoken poorly about all the sketchy old guys with the young Thai ladies, but in Pat Pong its like consulting a sommelier in Napa - you know they are going to lead you to the good stuff!
So we walk into this place, its sort of like a strip club with one big stage in the middle and 4 or 5 Thai girls dancing in various stages of undress. About 5 minutes after we were there, a white girl (who we later learned was from Seattle), got up on the stage and started dancing. The Thai girls soon managed to take off all of her clothes (including underwear) and she was just dancing on stage butt naked for about 4 songs. She was a much better dancer than the Thai girls and we later found out that she was, in fact, a stripper. Needless to say that was an interesting way to start the evening.
As the night progressed, the girls on the stage would perform "tricks" - much like the ones described on the card above. Since it was my birthday I was asked to catch the ping pong balls in a bucket - I think I caught 5 and dropped 2... I was standing about 10 feet back, so she, um, had some good range. Unfortunately... er FORTUNATELY!... we couldn't really take pictures, but I think its safe to say I saw some things I had never seen before.
We snuck the picture above and I know it isn't great, but it actually captures what I remember from the night quite well -- i.e. everything was a bit blurry! All in all, it was a memorable birthday and another new experience in Bangkok!
My time in Bangkok is quickly coming to a close. I had my last class today and tomorrow I have one final and then that's it! My parents arrive tomorrow (Friday) night and after spending a few days here we leave on Monday for Chiang Mai. I can't wait to introduce them to Bangkok (and especially see their reactions to everything!) - I imagine we'll steer clear of Pat Pong, but you never know!