Ping pong shows – not exactly table tennis

Just to forewarn everyone, this post is slightly graphic. I’m writing it this way though so that anyone who is making their way to Thailand can make a more educated decision about whether or not to see a ping pong show.

When it was time for me to leave the good old US of A, one of the last things that one of my friends said to me was “make sure you go to a ping pong show and tell me about it,”and she started giggling after she said this. The first thing that came to my mind when she said made this request of me was the film Forest Gump. I thought to myself that if ping pong shows in Thailand were anything like what I saw in Forest Gump I would have to check one out. I didn’t really understand what was funny about that but I agreed anyway not really knowing what I was agreeing to at the time. Well sorry it’s taken me over a year to update you Breea, but i’m here to finally let you know what happened when I fulfilled your request.

I saw my first and only ping pong show while in Pattaya Thailand at the infamous walking street there. No doubt, if you’ve been there before, you have been propositioned to watch a ping pong show. When the persistent and often annoying “sales men” first tried luring me into these things I still wasn’t quite sure what they were however I was starting to get the feeling that they were nothing like what I had in my mind about Forest Gump. The ignorance factor did not last long though as I started to see the laminated papers listing the different “activities” that you could see when entering the dark gloomy bars housing the ping pong shows.

The items on the list were things along the lines of:

“P____ writing a letter”

“P____ popping a balloon”

“P____ opening a bottle”

“P____ with razor blades”

“P____ with fish”

“P____ blowing out a candle”

“Boy and Girl sex show”

and of course

“P____ playing ping pong”

You get where this is going.  The list went on and on and I think that i’ve mentally blocked out the rest of what was on there. (If you don’t understand what “P____” means please use your imagination, phone a friend, or ask the audience).

Somehow, in an alcohol fueled frenzy my friends and I decided that it was necessary for us to check one of these out. It cost something like 100 baht and a compulsory drink purchase once entering the bar. At the time that seemed like a lot of money but now after seeing what the girls in there do I wish that I could have paid more to make them stop.

I’m all about women doing what they want with their bodies and I could not tell someone to stop doing something HOWEVER, there are certain things that I did not know the human body could do and I wish they could be unseen. I’ve previously written about my shock when first seeing the workings of the sex industry here and it’s integration into tourism however seeing a ping pong show put that into a completely different light for me.

When we first walked into the bar for the ping pong show the air was moist in the worst kind of way and the seats were beginning to fill up with people I have now come to know as sort of typical creepy tourists of Thailand. They are sex tourists. As my friend once put it they are the kind of people who ride huge mopeds that are meant to look like a motorcycle but they’re just really not a motorcycle. I admit it, it is slightly judgmental  of me to say this but hey, this my blog and I can say what I want.

Anyway, the ping pong show did not kick off right away but started with some “warm up” acts which consisted of girls in underwear holding on with one hand to a pole, looking completely dead in the eyes, and moving slightly to beats that they seemed to make up in their own heads. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed but the beer was flowing and so was the beer/whiskey that I snuck in with me so at that time I had no reason to leave.

Soon after the dead eyed girls finished on the poles a very tired looking woman who seemed almost too comfortable in her lingerie slowly walked onto the stage. The expression on her face when she started her first “act” was like a mixture of extreme concentration on the task at hand and disdain and boredom with typical monotonous day to day work activities. She had the look on her face that I do while I sit at my computer desk at work;  dead in the eyes and barely awake but also trying really hard to communicate something that makes sense to another human being. Her extreme concentration though came in handy as she pulled a string of razor blades out of her body. Yes, she literally pulled a long string (probably 3 meters) with razor blades attached to it out of herself. Again, use your imagination to decide where she is pulling the razor blades from, i’m sure you can guess. To my surprise and the surprise of the crowd, there was not blood squirting all over the place, and everything seemed to be just business as usual in a weird way. Honestly, up until the point before she started pulling the razor blades out I was still kind of naive about the show. I thought, no there’s no way that i’m actually going to witness something this insane, and i’m sure all the crazy stories are just rumors. After the moment that the girl walked out on stage and had what seemed to be a very long tampon string hanging out with a razor blade at the end, it started to get a bit more real for me. She even sliced a straw into tiny pieces with the razor blade to make sure we all knew how sharp it was.

After the razor blade display she took a quick break while her colleague came on stage and showed us all that it is indeed possible to open a bottle of Singha Soda water with your umm… “anatomy”. She made sure to let a few people in crowd test to make sure the bottle was brand new and not easily opened. Thinking back on this moment I wonder if that Singha soda water bottle is where my brand loyalty to Singha all started because now that is the only brand of water that I buy. Ah, deep questions that i’ll save for another time in life.

After the soda bottle incident, woman number one came back on stage with a more family friendly act of pulling strings of fake flowers out of the place where the razor blades once made their debut. The show continued in this strange and sickening fashion and consisted of things such as whistles being blown from down there, letters being written (you could request whole sentences if you had something special you wanted the women to write), darts being shot at unbelievable speeds, bananas being shot into the air, and much more which I’ve decided to block out of my memory.

There finally came a point where we decided that enough was enough and I think that may have been when something wet made it’s way off stage and onto my friends skin. We left in somewhat of a trance (the worst trance possible) and all went home to reflect on our lives and purposes on earth. If it weren’t for the extreme amounts of alcohol I probably would not have made it to sleep that night but alas, I did.

The show haunted me for days, maybe even weeks, and it sort of still haunts me to this day. As with most experiences though I’ve tried to see things from the point of view of the girls on stage and I tried my best not to judge their career choices.

Not long after seeing the ping pong show a friend of mine who had been living in Thailand for a few year lent me the book Bangkok Boy written by Chai Pinit. Reading that book gave me incredible insight to what a lot of Thai people in the sex industry go through and what leads many of them to that point in their life. I do urge anyone who has witnessed this industry in Thailand to at least inform themselves about the industry and to take a moment to remember that the people entertaining them are exactly that…people.

Now that you’ve had a glimpse into what a Ping Pong show is all about you can make your decision about if seeing one of these should be on your Thailand bucket list or if you should just give it a miss. I know that myself and my friends all felt pretty horrible after seeing the show but with that being said there were also people in the audience displaying many different emotions which ranged from completely unmoved and unaffected to highly entertained and satisfied. The choice is yours, choose wisely!

Thanks for reading.

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