Thailand has been one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations since the 1960s, and Japan, only 6 hours away by plane, is one of its biggest customers. It is no secret that a major appeal of Thailand’s tourism industry is its sex workers, and it is therefore no wonder that Bangkok has a whole street dedicated to the appetites of male Japanese tourists: Soi Thaniya in the city’s Patpong district. Patpong is Bangkok’s biggest red light district for foreigners, with the Silom Soi 4 section catering to gay visitors.
I was in Bangkok in the aftermath of the Great Tohoku Pacific Earthquake, and took the opportunity to check Soi Thaniya out. Soi Thaniya about 250 meters of bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, and massage and sex salons. The street itself was virtually empty of Japanese, and in spite of being obviously not Japanese, I was propositioned several times - signs that the earthquake must have made a virtual hit on Soi Thaniya too.
When I mentioned the “appetites” of male Japanese tourists, this goes beyond just food, drink and sex, but is all about other holes and different balls: golf. There is a large and very tacky shopping building on Soi Thaniya called Thaniya Plaza that is crammed full of little shops selling golf equipment, much of it second hand.
Check out the video above that I took of Soi Thaniya. Most of the signs in the street are identical to those seen in Japan, with a preponderance of Japanese dining on offer for the salaryman. I was trying to be a little discreet, so please forgive the few seconds towards the end when I got a finger half over the lens of my iPhone.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011