First things first… another amazing dinner. The entire crew met at a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms, which supports poor Thai people through sex education, family planning, etc.
Not only is it good public policy, the food is divine. The buffet was overflowing with spicy shrimp soup, beef and potato curry, grilled seafood, satay, fried bananas and more. Absolutely fantastic.
The restaurant itself is pretty cheeky, too. It took me a few minutes before I realized the lanterns were all made out of condoms. There were also condom statues, such as a superhero made of condoms and a Santa made of condoms. Brilliant.
Clearly, the sex trade is of big concern here. Many prostitutes line the streets at night, and the red light district isn’t far from my hotel, though I’ve not gone over there, despite assurances from my female colleagues that it’s worth seeing.
Obviously, Bangkok has a reputation for sex tourism, which can color one’s observations on the street. You see plenty of pairings of Western men and Thai women. To assume they are all prostitutes would be cynical; plenty of Westerners live here and surely there are normal couplings. Then again, to ignore the realities of the pervasive prostitution would be naive. It actually kind of bothers me that I find myself trying to figure out which couples belong to which category. It’s rather sad.
Speaking of sad, here, like anywhere else, there are plenty of homeless people. However, what I’ve been particularly struck by is the use of children to beg for money. I’m talking about tiny children — 2, 3 years old. They have blackened feet and sad, tired faces. I thought about taking one little girl’s picture and tried to ask her if that would be okay, but she didn’t understand and I didn’t feel right about taking the photo.