Thailand’s Pattaya has long been famed worldwide for its sex tourism but the junta (the military group that rules the country) in Thailand is making a serious effort to re-brand the seaside town.
Headlines around the world portrays the town as “Sin City” and “The World’s Sex Capital” which means the junta have their work cut out for them.
And they have to contend with the tens of thousands of sex workers in the industry, who are equally determined to keep their lucrative jobs.
The top sex workers in the area earn from 70k-150k baht (RM8,980 – RM19,251) a month, which can amount to ten times the national average wage.
Pattaya’s Walking Street is a mile long street that is teeming with nightlife hotspots such as bars and clubs, complete with scantily clad girls and transwomen touting for business. Although it’s business as usual in the area, the strip is more subdued recently as more officers are deployed to Pattaya for frequent patrols.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Sulasak Kalokwilas is one of the officers tasked with the Herculean job of cleaning up Pattaya and he says, “We are suppressing obscene and dirty shows. We’re trying to make those bars disappear.”
“They work as waitresses, sit and chat with customers, some dance in shows,” he added.
It seems that the residents of the city are used to these kind of high visibility yet limited crackdowns on the industry but after the dust has settled, no one really expects the sex trade industry to close.
The infamous sex trade is a roaring business that puts the food on the table for everyone, from the proprietors, bar girls, mafia and some allegedly say even the cops themselves.
One of the westerners who migrated to Pattaya says, “You’re expecting the poachers to be the gamekeepers?”
But Apichai insists there is “no bribery for sure” in his police force. Welllll….
Even though prostitution is still considered illegal in Thailand, many tourists visit the Land of Smiles for its sex trade industry. So, how come they are so famous for their sex workers?
That’s because they take advantage of a loophole in the system, where the workers are hired to entertain and chit chat with patrons. And if you want to take things further? Just pay a small fee of around 500 baht (RM64) to spend some private time away from the bar. Any other transaction that happens after that has nothing to do with the business.
While Pattaya is fully equipped to be a family-friendly vacation hotspot, other locals and foreigners are of the opinion that the sports and recreation side of the town can flourish together with the partying side of Pattaya.
As Simon Peatfield, a Brit who owns restaurants and sports bars says, “It’s why a lot of people come here. There’s only so much golf you can play.”
Yup, one person can only play so much golf!