Thursday, February 14, 2008

Patpong Portraits

Patpong Expat Guy - Chris Coles

Located at the center of the vast and sprawling metropolis known as Bangkok, the notorious district known as Patpong is only a couple of rundown blocks, strewn with garbage and stray dogs, filled with stalls selling tawdry counterfeit goods, a sleazy row of go-go bars staffed by a few thousand girls who didn’t make it into the hi-end of the Bangkok Night and a thousand or so ladyboys wacked out on drugs, hormone injections and too much silicone.

The millions of tourists who each year wonder through Patpong and make it all possible come from all over the world. Not exactly shining examples of First World bliss, they are often grotesquely overweight, dressed in a shabby assortment of sweat stained t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops, and weighted down with knapsacks, cameras and shopping bags filled with worthless knick knacks. Many of them are drunk and jetlagged, their faces showing the pain of unfulfilled and despairing lives.

What these First World Ambassadors are looking for in the primordial mire of Patpong is an indecipherable mystery, even to themselves.

As for the Thais, Patpong’s simply a place to work and make money. No matter how strange and shoddy the endless river of foreign tourists may look, by some set of circumstances very few Thais comprehend, these primitive beings are usually loaded with cash and happy to spend it on items which appear to be completely unnecessary. Counterfeit watches that last only a few months, girls who don’t actually want to have sex, ladyboys who are not even girls but do want to have sex and an endless stream of beer that will pass through their bloated bodies in less than an hour.

At some point, the Patpong District will be torn down to make way for gleaming hi-rise offices and whatever Patpong is presently thought to be or actually was will gradually recede into the realm of mythic recollection, a moment in time between Bangkok’s murky Third World past and its bright First World future. Perhaps one day, the portraits in this blog will be all that’s left……….

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