Having Crystal walk through the door of our hotel room a couple of hours after I arrived in Thailand was so exciting. For those of you who don't know Crystal, she is my best friend from university who has also just completed her volunteering placement in Mongolia. On booking out flights here we both thought we deserved a bit of a treat in the way home. I'm not sure if I found that I've needed the "treat" as such, however the debriefing, processing and reintegration back into "our reality" has been extremely valuable! Our first night together we could not stop talking and comparing stories. Actually, that wasn't just the first night, that happened the entire week.
After spending the night in Bangkok, we flew to Phuket. The resort we stayed in was beautiful - great rooms, pools and views. I'm not sure we could say the same about the city though. We went exploring on our first day only to find an abundance of other Australians, rip off brand name clothes and bars full of old white men with beautiful young Thai women hanging off of them.... I'm not a fan of this sort of environment. I go travelling to experience other cultures and explore unique environments. Phuket is defiantly not for me, as it is a wonderland created for Aussie tourists who want a "not to far from the norm" easy holiday. That sounds harsh. I'm really not trying to criticize other Australians, rather I found it sad that the area has completely lost it's Thai feel in order to accommodate the tourist. Doing the phi phi islands day tour was fantastic though! The night before we had not had a wink of sleep though... The power had gone, hence so had the aircon, and the power lines out side of our window were exploding all night! There was room shaking bangs and sparks that lit the room. We were concerned that we'd get electrocuted! But we didn't, nor did we sleep, then getting up to torrential rain, we weren't impressed. We had to do the tour that day though cause of time restraints but we turned out to be super lucky as we seemed to out run the weather all day. First we swam in the most stunning lagoon, the saw monkeys, then had the best snorkel ever! There were do many huge colourful fish - I was in heaven! Then we had lunch and crystal and I had a nap on the pristine white sand. The weather started to catch up with us though with the 3m high waves made our boat ride to the final island quite a hair raising experience. The skies finally opened on us on the final island, but we were tired and didn't feel like we'd missed anything. All in all, it was a fantastic day and were very luck considering the weather.
We went for massages one arvo - I had the best foot reflexology done! No happy endings, but I tell you what, it was super satisfying having this woman rub repeatedly for an hour over the abundance of Mosquitos bites I'd acquired in ghana! The rest of our time in Phuket was taken up by shopping, swimming, EATING, relaxing and a little more talking. It rained a lot but it didn't really bother us.
We flew back to Bangkok for an action packed 24hrs. We did the pat pong night bizarre (as I've done many times before) in pursuit of a leather handbag and DVDs. Unfortunately my trusty old burnt DVD guy has been closed down since I was here last, but the bags were still there as were the multitude of sex shows.
Warning: this section of blog is rated R 18+. Read on at your own risk! (mum and pap, please block your ears for this part...)
Having faced such a variety of exploitive practices over the last few months crystal and I were fascinated to check out the conditions and reality if the very highly publicized Thai sex industry. We'd already seen a lot in Phuket with Thai women hunting down white men in what we were told were "gold digging" pursuits. Apparently, they get wined and dinner (i'd probably call it prostituting themselves) in order to be showered in gifts which they then sell back to make an income. Although we were told this is by choice, I find it disturbing from both parties. So, we decided to take this and our 'cultural experience' one step further and went to a "club". We weren't sure what we'd gotten ourselves into, but it seemed pretty tame. There were working "women" everywhere, at least 50 in one small room, all strutting round in there bikinis. So spotting the the boob and hip implants in about 40% of the "women" was easy! These transgender / ladyboys were gorgeous and made me feel super fat!
The sex industry is obviously a very accepted part of Thai society, as are ladyboys. But do the two go hand-in-hand? Is it just a sex industry thing? As I sit here in the airport writing this, I'm trying to shield my iPhone from the 70yr old Thai woman who is sitting next to me trying to read what I'm writing. She is part of a tour group which is congregating in front of me and the "lady" organizing the group is actually a male. Is it easier to get a job as a female? The lovely lady in the markets who sold me my handbag was also male. I'd like to find out the reason behind all this.
In this "bar" there wasn't any nudity but as for what was going on behind the scenes... There were older women coming up to the gentlemen (who were of all nationalities) who were sitting with a girl and the women were gesturing/acting out what the girls could do and for how much. Ohh my lord! It was pimping and prostitution at it's best! It was so obvious too - I wonder what the legalities about it are here?! We were quite taken back by the whole thing. Crystal and I were still extremely fascinated - let's call this social research mum.
One of the things that has really stuck out to me in Thailand is the wealth. I'm really not sure where Thailand ranks on the HDI, but it's certainly A LOT higher the Ghana. I know Thailand has poverty and underdeveloped areas but it's different because there is wealth here. There's money and infrastructure which Ghana lacks. Ghana all round struggles - the poverty is worse, but the gap between rich and poor is smaller. The distribution of resources in Thailand should probably be questioned. That's also sad because it means the haves and have nots live side by side, knowing what they are missing out on.
So, I've just very coincidently had a warm fuzzy Ghana moment. I'm currently supporting a very sexy, very loud pair of blue and yellow kenti happy pants. Kenti is a traditional geometric print used in Ghanaian clothing. As i was being ushered into the boarding holding area, a black gentleman with an Aussie accent came up to me and asked me what nationality i was, "Australian, I'm on my way home. You?", "yeah I'm going to Sydney. I'm Australian more or less", "where are you originally from then?", "Ghana". I think I sort of squealed, "really that's where I've just been for 3 months!", "yeah your pants give it away". We then had a brief chat and I don't know why I felt so nice being recognized as having a connection with Ghana, but I did - I guess it is because I truly feel a connection to Ghana.
Now I'm in the sydney airport and my flights been delayed over 2 hours and I haven't slept..... I'm hurting! However I did have my aunt and uncle, Eileen & Herb, come and see me which was wonderful! They've kept up with my blog so it was really nice to show the corresponding photos
God bless Australia!!!!!!!!!!