Disclaimer: The following views and descriptions should not be conferred as the views held by Transparant Thai, and in no such manner is this article meant to demean women or Thailand. The following article is presented as a means to convey the darker side of Thailand, an opportunity to learn vocabulary that wouldn’t be taught in any formal/proper educational setting. Such vocabulary, culture, and events can be found in Thai movies and daily conversation, giving it practical academic use.
We all have preconceptions of what prostitution is and isn’t. When that word is mentioned, we all conjure up stereotypical images of what that means. However, in Thailand there is type that so defies the stereotypes even many native Thais wouldn’t recognize it. You’ve probably seen this type and perhaps spoken to them – without even knowing.
I’m sure you already know about the bar girl (saow5 bar1, สาวบาร์) phenomenon, right? For those who don’t know, a ‘bar girl’ isn’t necessarily a prostitute. Her job is to get the customer to buy drinks by flirting with him. The customer gets female attention, and she gets paid by commission on overpriced drinks. Some of course go home with the customer for additional commission, but only after he pays the bar owner what is called a ‘bar fine.’ This compensates the bar owner for lost sales on drinks. Although this is rare in the US, it’s fairly stereotypical in Thailand.
But what probably hadn’t occurred to you (and all of us, really) is that a bar is not needed for this to work. Let me explain . . .
The famous Thai railway station in Bangkok, Hua Lamphong (hua5 lum1 pong1, หัวลำโพง), is a major place for prostitution in the evenings. Did you ever notice all those prostitutes at the railway station? There are dozens of them every day, right there in public and easy to see. How could you not see them? It’s ok, almost no one does. It’s because they are so different from the perceived stereotype that the mind just doesn’t pay any attention.
to be continued…