Bangkok III: Chinatown. Sukhumvit Road

Sukhumvit Road, infamous for so many reasons. Cowboy Road (“Soi Cowboy”) is full of middle aged white men with their Thai girls,¬†(s)exploiting the 3% Thai economy devoted entirely to its prostitution industry.

There are numerous “how to” books found in the bookstores here, all of them a tad entertaining:

Being an anti-prohibitionist, I don’t find anything particularly appaling about this particular part of Bangkok. For foreigners, prostitution is isolated to three key areas in Bangkok: PatPong, Cowboy Road and Nana Plaza, also in Sukhumvit. At least that concentration gives the police one thing left to worry about, and keeps the debauchery in controllable areas. We Americans are naive enough to think that we can just illegalize the oldest profession in history, and that will stop it. The Thai seem to know what they’re doing. And it’s not like the vast majority of sex work in Thailand isn’t patronized by locals themselves.

Still, walking along Sukhumvit Road, it’s hard to look at Thai women the same way. When you’re jumped by dozens at a time, all feigning interest “where are you from you so handsome blah blah” for some quick cash, it’s hard to leave that area and see all the other Thai women as sincere. Suddenly they become generalized and you become suspicious of every word they say. If only it were as easy to isolate our perceptions…

Thailand has the sorry reputation of being a sexpat haven, which I must say it is, but Bangkok is so much more than that. It’s disappointing that when white men sometimes meet Thai women, the first thing they ask them is questions about prostitution.

If you look up “Prostitution” in wikipedia, there is a picture of Cowboy Road in Bangkok. SERIOUSLY.

But they neglect to mention that the world’s most famous prostitution street has tons of elephants! Baby elephants, momma and poppa elephants. Sadly I did not wear a Cowboy hat once while on Cowboy Road…

The advice of a foreigner, his arm around so many Thai girls he could barely balance on his barstool: “Jesus’ best female friends, including Mary Magedeline, were all whores. Dirty, stinky, Biblical whores.” Sip sip.


Like in most cities around the world, the most carefree, cheap and fascinating area to go is Chinatown. It was better than when I went to China. I’ve ended up in Chinatown three times, each on a long journey back to my $7 hotel in Khao San. Every time was unforgettable, packed with people and incredibly small markets; Chinese food that they sometimes just give you; respectable bands of people living in dark, wallowing apartments.

Did I mention all the buildings in Bangkok are delapidated as hell? Chinatown though makes the rest of Bangkok look like a four star hotel. The buildings here aren’t just¬†dilapidated, they’re half-torn down as if from sub-atomic blast, and are on fire! Seriously, I saw at least two of these buildings burning down as I passed, with shrugging Chinese watching and eating eggrolls, while the fire trucks went on with business as usual.

I just applied for my Visa to Laos. Exciting.