On our second day, we rose up bright and early to do some sea canoeing in Phang Nga Bay.
Our bus picked us up at an early 8:30 AM (heck, we were on vacation!) and we were already on a boat to a larger cruiser an hour later.
Phuket was famous for its “hongs” or tidal sea caves, where the middle of the mountains would erode over the period of thousands of years, and rainwater would enter the center, leaving a beautiful ecological paradise that looked like this:
From the larger escort boat, we then transferred to an inflattable sea kayak (ratio of 2 people for every 1 rower), who rowed while we gasped in awe at the natural wonders of the caves and spectacular islands in Phang Nga caves. Here’s a funny picture of my friend as she tries her hand in rowing, when in fact, there’s a rower assigned to every kayak:
The caves were absolutely spectacular, and so were the small lakes inside these mountains. The water was calm but we had to get out of there before late afternoon, lest we get caught by the low tide. Interestingly so, waters in these inlets were plentiful in the morning, but were dry by the evening…
Throughout the day we serve fresh fruit, tea, brewed coffee and bottled water. Lunch was good as we were served authentic Thai fare, which include coconut and mushroom cream soup, fish, chicken and more!
Later that evening, after dinner, we checked out an authentic “pussy“ show. We just walked to Ta Bangla street, Phuket’s own red light district and asked where we can find an a-go-go show where women can perform pingpong tricks, among others. They then led us to this small sleazy bar with no cover charge, save for you buying at least an overpriced drink.
The show was nothing to brag about.
The women were fat, and though they did perform some tricks, for example, blowing out a candle, smoking a cigarette, shooting a balloon down with a dart, play with a banana or take out meters of string from their ahem, chapped lips… that was nowhere near the 26 tricks that they’ve promised us.
Hence, we’ve realized we’ve been duped.
Seems like their SOP was to ask tourists to come in with the promise of a good show, where the latter then orders a drink. They then do the same 5-6 tricks over and over till the customers get tired of waiting for something new and walks out, which gives seating to new customers.
Anyway, half of my party felt it was degrading and walked out without finishing their beer. They saw two dirty old men by the bar fondling some of the ladies, and were so disgusted that they couldn’t take it anymore.
For me, I was just observing the whole scene with clinical interest. I was not turned on by the show or what was happening around me… nor was I disgusted. Instead, I felt humbled and sad since I understand that these women do these or allow themselves to be fondled by men not because they want to, but rather because they don’t have a choice.
Unlike my other friends, I didn’t really feel that what was happening was degrading. I see it as a job — This is their life, and if they want to survive and support their family, prostitution for them, is probably the easiest way to do it. I doubt that any of them have a university degree, and a lot of them have mouths to feed. Is there anything else that they can do? And who the hell are we to judge them?
Regardless, I had my fill and finally walked away.
It was truly an eye-opening experience.
Since I’ve always traveled with my parents, I’ve never really encountered such harsh realities in seeing women who openly would sell sex for a cheap price, and men who would come to Phuket to enjoy themselves. I personally cannot understand how men would go so low as to pay for sex (and to think of all the sexually-transmitted disease that’s prevalent in the industry), but I am not in their position so I have no right to judge.
It was a truly interesting second day though, but we’ve had enough of Patong Beach already.
The place just stunk with sleaziness, despair and dirtiness… I couldn’t stand being in a place that reeked of prostitution, dirty old men who wants to take advantage of the poverty surrounding the place and the fact that everything is available… at a price.
As I slept in my bed that day, I was so looking forward to going to Phi Phi Island and getting away from the harsh realities of Patong Beach. It surprised me how Phuket can be so beautiful in the day with its tidal caves and hongs, and so sleazy at night…
It was definitely an experience though, and my curiosity is sated. Whereas I went in that pussy bar with such curiosity and excitement, I came out quiet and humbled… and maybe changed.
Sometimes, ignorance is indeed bliss… but if we did not see, how can we understand?