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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Dating in Thailand as a foreigner

This is a topic i’m sure you could find lots and lots of different opinions on and could be talked about for endless amounts of time. However, I’m bringing a point of view that’s not often blogged about regarding this subject: A foreign woman dating Thai men. I should probably clarify that and say I am currently in a relationship with a Thai man (singular) but prior to this I did experience dating a few different people. **Warning** I have written about most of the things in this post just because of personal experience but I am obviously aware that these things do not apply to all Thai people or all Thai men.

Whether you’re on holiday in Thailand, living here permanently, or coming here just to look for “love,” I’ve put together a few tips that may help foreign ladies that are interested in dating Thai men.

Tips

  • Thai people often marry quite young so it’s not unusual to meet guys that you might be interested in who already have a wife at a relatively young age. It seems to be a lot more common to marry young here than in America. I’m not quite sure why, i’d appreciate any feedback about that.
  • If you don’t like being cheated on DON’T date bar workers or “beach boys” as I like to call them – this means guys that work in popular bars or work on the beach (jet ski rental, fire dancers, bar tenders, beach bar owners etc). I’m not saying this because I want to be judgemental towards these people, I am saying this because I’ve been there done that and know lots and lots of other girls that have as well. The nature of the work that these guys do is all about meeting new people, charming the people they meet, and having a lot of fun. They are often the guys that speak the best English and have the best tans so you’re probably going to love them but it is best to keep them as just friends. They are probably great people to know because they’ll give you free drinks and invite you to fun parties but just knowing them is enough.
  • In general, be aware that monogamy is not as important here as it may be where you are from. It is not common for Thai men to have what they call “gigs” which are girls that they umm….associate with I guess is the nicest way to put it. These are girls that are not their real girlfriends, these are girls they see while their girlfriend is not around. I work with a lot of married Thai men, and some of them openly talk to me about these girls that they see or used to see while being married. I’ve found this not only with the guys I work with, but with many of my guy friends as well. Talk to most Thai women about the Thai men and they will say the same thing. This is just something again that is part of the culture here and something that you have to be prepared for. Not all guys are like this of course, but it is not uncommon.
  • Don’t feel like your boyfriend/new fling doesn’t like you if he’s not into pda- that’s just the way it is in Thailand. Pda seems to be super embarassing for Thai people and is not a common practice. You’ll see the ocassional hand holding and couples with their arms around each other but fondling and kissing just aren’t done in public. It’s a cultural norm and if you want to be polite you should follow it.
  • “Cheek sniffing” will happen to you. It’s a more reserved way of essentially kissing someone. Your boyfriend/love interest will probably at some point press his nose against your cheek and seemingly sniff it. Just take it a compliment. It’s super cute and enjoyable once you get over the intial weirdness of it.
  • Remember that you are from different countries, you grew up differently, you view the world differently, you value different things, you take offense to different things, and you just are different in general. Cherish this! Getting to know someone who is different than you is one of the best parts of life. Keep this in mind though when you think the person you’re dating is crazy or unreasonable or even rude.

For example: my boyfriend decided to tell me that my face looked fat one day and this did not go over well with me. You will find that in Thailand calling someone fat is not considered rude but to an American woman it’s not the nicest thing to say. I explained to him that this hurt my feelings and I didn’t like it etc etc but that was hard for him to understand. He felt that he was doing me a favor by telling me I looked fat because he wants me to be healthy and wants the best for me. This sort of communication mishap will happen a lot! Just keep in mind that something your Thai partner considers nice may offend you but it is most likely not meant to! Vice versa you will probably do something offensive to him (pointing at things with your feet) and you won’t mean any harm by it but he may think it’s extremly rude.

  • Be aware that Thai men touch each other a lot more than men in the western world (especially the USA) do. They massage each other, hug, and even pat each other on the butt way more than you would probably see in your home country. This could potentially mean they are interested in each other but most of the time it doesn’t, it is just the way that it is here.
  • Most Thai people, including the men, do not like confrontation and avoid it all costs. Avoiding confrontation means that feelings will be kept secret sometimes, and saying no to things happens a lot less often than normal. Because they don’t want to “lose face” they won’t always approach you about something they want changed in the relationship, call you out for being offensive, or say no to you when request something ridiculous. You will ALWAYS get the last bite of food if you want it even if they are near starving. This is no way means that you should take advantage of them, it means that you need to be extra aware of what you are doing, and how potentially you could be trampling on someone. If you’re a nice enough person i’m sure things will be fine, but it’s always good to keep in mind this part of the culture.
  • Don’t let a language barrier stop you from pursuing something with someone that you have a connection with. It might be hard at first to communicate with your boyfriend if he is not fluent in the language you speak and you’re not fluent in Thai but you should not let that stop you from trying to make things work. It can be extremely fun, challenging, and rewarding, to develop your own style of communication with someone and at the same time to learn to speak and understand a new language. Google translate may be your new best friend when it comes to those tough words that you can’t get across but there is nothing wrong with that!
  • Speaking of translating services, once you’ve become friends with your new Thai crush on Facebook you’ll probably start to see what he’s writing on his profile and you’ll probably wish you could read it (if it’s not in English). Once you press that handy dandy little translation button on facebook you’re in for a whole lot of nonsense. Be prepared to be out of the loop with social networking stuff that your boyfriend posts. The translation app on there just never translates things as they’re supposed to be. So when you think your crush is talking about going to a concert with a pack of monkeys on the moon, he’s probably not, but your translate app will tell you he is.
  • Another thing to keep in mind about facebook is that in Thailand people seem to be quite “like” crazy more so than in America, not sure why. I am trying to say that the “like” button on facebook gets a lot of use. If you’ve got a few guys that are liking all of your photos, don’t take the wrong way, they are probably NOT trying to send some secret message that they want you, they probably just love that “like” button. I’ve made the mistake of thinking I had an admirer based on the fact that he liked pretty much every photo i’d ever post on facebook but sadly I was mistaken. I’ve also heard many girls that take these sorts of things on social networking the wrong way so it’s always good to keep this in mind!

In most ways, dating in Thailand is similar to dating in most countries, there are just some cultural differences that are good to keep in mind. It can be a lot of fun if you find the right person and if even if you don’t find the right person it can be a good experience! I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with dating in Thailand if anyone is interested in sharing. Coming soon I may do a post about foreign men dating Thai women. That should be quite interesting.   Thanks for reading!