Sex in Thai city frustrates junta By Matthew Tostevin

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Women sits outside a go-go dance bar in Pattaya, Thailand March 25, 2017. Picture taken March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a “Happy Zone” at the weekend to improve the image of a city notorious for sex tourism.

Stung by foreign headlines portraying the seaside resort of Pattaya as “Sin City” and “The World’s Sex Capital”, Thailand’s junta has begun a new effort to re-brand it.

But the contradictions in Pattaya highlight Thailand’s challenge in tackling a side of its tourist industry that remains economically vital while being officially excoriated.

“I want people to see that we are not like what they say. We are not allowing prostitution in these entertainment places,” provincial governor Pakkaratorn Teianchai told reporters on the infamous Walking Street in Pattaya, southeast of Bangkok.

Less than 10 metres (yards) away, women accosted foreign men to offer sex for 2,000 baht ($60). Others lined up with numbers so customers could take their pick. Masseuses in miniskirts offered “happy ending” massages whose euphemistic title has nothing to do with the Happy Zone of the authorities.

“Everyone is here to make a living,” said one 35-year-old woman who came originally from a village in central Thailand. Tagged with the number “136”, she declined to give her name.

“I would rather be a waitress, but then I couldn’t send my children to school and I want them to have a better future than this,” she said.

In fact, sex tourism is not growing as fast as other aspects of Thailand’s tourist industry – the only bright spot for an economy whose expansion has been by far the slowest among major Southeast Asian economies since the 2014 coup.

No official figures show its scale.

But there is an indication in the balance of male to female visitors. In 2012, there were nearly 6 men for every 4 women. In 2015, the numbers were pretty much even, according to figures provided to Reuters by the tourism ministry.

Sex tourism began in Pattaya when it became an R&R spot for U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War, though prostitution is just as evident in parts of Bangkok and other resorts.

The number of female sex workers in Thailand was put at over 120,000 in a 2014 UNAIDS report. Some estimates run to double that and not all the women who get paid for sex are full-time prostitutes.

Given a 305 baht ($8.80) a day minimum wage, the chance of earning several times more is an obvious lure, particularly in poorer rural regions.

CRACKDOWN

The latest of many crackdowns in Pattaya happened after foreign newspaper reports last month, which drew an angry response from junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, for whom bringing order is a mantra.

A handful of bars were raided. Bar owners and working women were fined. Scared to venture out, tourists looking for sex stayed in hotels. Street vendors and shops saw sales tumble. The money which flows to all levels in the city – including law enforcement agencies – fell off.

The Happy Zone approach is a softer way to try to show that something is being done. If it works on Walking Street, the idea will be spread to the less sanitised side streets – the sois.

Businesses in the Happy Zone are asked to make the area feel safer, there are increased security patrols, police launched a mobile phone app for visitors to summon them in emergency.

“This is a pioneer project to organise a tourist destination and elevate it to promote Thailand’s quality tourism,” Apichai Krobpetch, chief of Pattaya city police, told Reuters. “We will also stamp out prostitution in the area.”

There was no sign of that at the weekend.

In fact, Pattaya’s sex industry has become an attraction in its own right for the millions of Chinese who make up about one in three visitors to Thailand.

Led by guides with pennants, the Chinese tour groups thread quickly along Walking Street, past the go-go bars and the beer bars where young Thai women sit down with foreign men.

They only pause to take pictures.

“We just came here to see. That’s all,” laughed twentysomething saleswoman Linda Sieng in a group of 11 tourists from Guaghzhou in southern China.

Source: Reuters

  • Ken

    Well, if she came here to see I’ll give her something to really write home about All she has to do is give it a tickle, tie a flag on it at full mast and follow me up and down Walking Street.

    • Sexy Soi Six

      You have confessed here on many accasions you hate women that’s why you repeatally insult and abuse Hard working Thai farmers daughters actually you never shut about them hour like a broken record . I guess that’s why you are a. C*ck in a frock ladyboy lover and a regular in all the boyztown bars .

  • F**ck the Western Zionist Corporate Media…No other media has any issues…I don’t understand why Thailand even listens to the loser western countries anymore.

    Honestly, Bangkok is a much better city than all European Cities combined.

    I have lived in Pattaya and the Sin Part is just 5% of the entire city…Pattaya itself is so freaking HUGE…These western journos should pick up there lazy asses and move around town to know how irrelevent night life is to whole of Pattaya..

    • Ken Anderson

      These journalists will highly likely already be fully aware of what you are saying here.
      Unfortunately all too often the truth and actual fact does not make for a good story.

    • Sly

      I must confess my wealth and happiness have improved markedly since I abandoned conventional western ideals and spend as little time there as possible. It’s like being lectured to by sanctimonious battery hens.

      • Jack La Motta

        You sound like a Buddhist Sly! 😉

        • Sly

          Lol, religion is a lot like the West in general to me. Takes your money and gives it to you up the a$$.

          • Jack La Motta

            That makes sense

    • Jack La Motta

      Nightlife is Irrelevant? why do you think Millions of people visit Pattaya? for the dirty beaches, or to feed stray dogs on Beach road?

  • Ken Anderson

    The rice farmers daughters in this picture look as miserable as f**k, have absolutely no enthusiasm, and are more interested in their phones than attracting customers.
    If recent years trends continue, the junta will have nothing to worry about because the infamous Pattaya nightlife, is no longer exclusive. There are now other places people can go that provide a more pleasant experience and better value for money. The RFD’s bar and property owners are already well set on a path of self destruction.

    • Jack La Motta

      Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have increased the production of Rice Farmers Daughters to satisfy expected future demand, as Thailand loses its appeal!

    • Jack La Motta

      As Confuscius once said ” where they grow rice, there are Rice Farmers Daughters”

  • popeye the sailorman

    2000 baht is 46 quid not 60 as reported

    • Packard Goose

      It says 60 Dollars Popeye, still 46 quid though, and if those girls represent Happy Zone then it wont last much longer anyway, looks more like misery zone..

    • Jack La Motta

      ” Happy zone ” they should re-name it the twilight zone

    • Jack La Motta

      48 + your drinks, tips, Sildenafil, Taxi.

      • amazingthailand

        And the bar fine

        • Jack La Motta

          And the Tea money, driving in a Taxi without a crash helmet!

      • Sexy Soi Six

        don’t you old angry pommy poofs pay your bar fines in boyztown

      • popeye the sailorman

        i dont give tips only horse racing tips or greyhound racing tips

        • Jack La Motta

          It saddened me to see that Wimbledon closed down the other day, i used to love going to Catford Dogs when i was a kid with my Brother, and occasionally Walthamstow and Crayford, now the nearest dog track in London is Romford, i lived in South East London so a bit of a trek 🙁 end of an era! 🙁

          • popeye the sailorman

            dont know any of those tracks am NOT a southerner

          • Jack La Motta

            I know Perry Bar in Birmingham, never been there though, their going in,and the hares running at Perry bar, and their off!

          • Jack La Motta

            So you dont know where Spain is cos you aint Spanish, that makes perfect sense Popeye, eat some more Spinach

          • popeye the sailorman

            you talk tripe go find a rice farmers daughter

        • Jack La Motta

          give the greyhounds viagra, DIE HARD

    • Jack La Motta

      $60 = 48 Pounds and 10 Pence to be exact!

      • popeye the sailorman

        depends on which rate one uses

        • Jack La Motta

          I only give you the best rate Popeye, so take it from me that is the rate!

          • popeye the sailorman

            today it is exactly 48 quid TAKE that from me !!

          • Jack La Motta

            yesterday was 48,10 tAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

    • Sexy Soi Six

      How cheap do you want to go ya stingy miserable old Pom with my American dollar at about 34 baht to the U.S dollar i get a hump for less then this 2000 baht and i’m no cheap charlie. Yes! Siree i’m no cheap charlie

      • Jack La Motta

        You are about as american as a pair of made in Indonesia Nike trainers, you fat,ugly,English,ex-pat farang

    • Seviyor Beni

      What’s a Quid? Speak English

      • Jack La Motta

        A Quid is one Pound Sterling, like Dollar users call $ Bucks we call Pounds Quids! explained 🙂

      • popeye the sailorman

        go check it out on google I am speaking Hinglish

  • Jack La Motta

    With mascots dressed as smiling fish! never seen a Fish smile with a hook stuck in its face!

    • Sexy Soi Six

      what drugs you been on or better still what drugs haven’t you been taking i can’t see no smiling fish in that photo

  • amazingthailand

    Happy zone here. They dont look so happy

    • ken

      They don’t have to be, the customers are the ones who should be happy.

  • BuddyEdgewood

    And articles like this really help put this BS behind us… /s

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