I have always been the type of person that thinks, ‘Oh, I wonder how this works?’. This of course has its pros and cons. As the famous or infamous saying goes (depending on which way you look at it), ‘Curiosity killed the cat’. Or did it? I always find that yes, I end up arse over tit, falling down a flight of steps as I’m far too busy wondering what an earth is unfolding beneath my eyes to notice I’m about to face plant the sodding floor. I think we’re all a bit curious, but some more than others I guess. This for me is something that goes hand in hand with culture and places. What better arena to discover the utterly unimaginable?
Sometimes your experiences can be magical, yet other times you walk away wiser, realising that you pretended that it was the most normal thing in the world and are kind of glad you did it. But by gosh are you not doing it again. One of those experiences was being in a shower with a nice Welsh gentleman: oblivious I suddenly feel a warm sensation on my leg. Yes, he was peeing on me. Deliberately, almost like a naughty child. Without encouragement or any type of discussion that this was about to occur. Ummm.. yes, strange.
Any way I somewhat digress. The curious amongst us have definitely heard of the Seven Wonders of the World and are aware of what makes China China and France France. So when we visit these places, we would quite like a taste of what their cuisine has to offer, whether it be unusual food or different customs and traditions. This can be as diverse as the magic of the Inca trails right down to gawking at stunning prostitutes in a glass container on the red light district. Let’s face it, curiosity doesn’t abide by ‘this is a beautiful, respectful activity‘ rules. It delves much further beyond that as what makes us curious is often that which we wouldn’t want our parents knowing we did.
So, Thailand. There is much mention of this beautiful yet contradictory country. If you haven’t guessed already, this, at the moment is our chosen arena. A country where there is lots to do and see and much culture to soak up, take in and enjoy. Stray away from tourist central and you will meet a land which resembles nothing of your western culture. The flip side of this is the sex industry. There are many views and strong opinions regarding this both from visitors, travellers, expats, locals and those that just fancy having an opinion on it. We won’t indulge too much in those as this blog would very quickly become a thesis. Plus, I’m sure you can all guess what those opinions, good and bad are. The sex industry in Thailand offers prostitution, lady boys and ping-pong shows if we’re talking basics. As a woman prostitution does not intrigue me and I have no desire to explore that chapter of Thailand. Lady boys fascinate me and I love their cabaret type personalities . They tend to be confident and usually quite artistic.
Now we move on to the ping-pong show. Yes, I was curious. But I also wasn’t alone. Take me back to the beginning of teaching right before I had even been to the Thai orientation seminar: I met with a group of awaiting teachers on Khao San road. I left a bunch of travellers I had spent all day with to meet up with these guys. Amongst these teachers, were Miss L and Miss D. I noticed them straight away and felt instantly put at ease. I was going to like these girls. We all shared a cab the next day to meet our buses to Pattaya – an interesting destination to have a teachers initiation course. Warming up in the cab, we each one by one let our ‘I’ve just met you and I’m not sure if its ok to say this‘ guard down. More like a burst of thank fuck you’re like me too!
One of the conversations we had was about our desire to see a ping-pong show. We were all curious. But Pattaya came and passed and we still had not been. Phuket is where it happened, actually. On route to Phi Phi, we docked for the night. Phuket, an odd place I feel. With tuk tuk drivers cleaning automatic guns in your face whilst you try to eat a breakfast that consists of tea with no milk; and hundreds – I hate to say it but I’m going to tell you – of fat, old, odd men with stunning Thai women. It was there that off the cuff and with a series of cocktails to our name, we decided to go to a show.
We went to a place that’s door was a large heavy curtain. Inside was your typical lap dancing joint. Tables round the outside and a platform for performance in the middle. I’ve been before – I’m not bi curious at all just too curious for my own damn good and wanted to know what really went on during a lap dance, sick of hearing elaborate stories from male friends. Anyway, the girls, barely dressed, were dancing round poles kind of how I would when I’d drunk too much and couldn’t be arsed with the night anymore. I actually felt a bit sorry for them. Next thing you know, we endure a ten minute show that involves a lady pulling various objects out of her vagina. A bird, a turtle, a string of flowers and balls that she plops into a cup. She even smokes a cigarette from her lady bits. Cringing in my seat I don’t know whether I should continue looking. Am I pervert? Is this wrong? To top it all off, a Thai lady is whipping us with a foam truncheon and demanding money for her services.
Luckily, I was not alone in this. We all felt uncomfortable. We paid left and can safely say have no desire to venture back at all. But this is exactly the point for us, not everything in this world is a breath-taking wonder. Not everything makes you want to pinch yourself in absolute euphoria. Some things are disgusting, uncomfortable and slightly shameful. But this, for us, is what real curiosity is. How do you know if you’ve discovered the unknown if you always like it?