Ping Pong at Pat Pong

by tkos on January 16, 2013

Post image for Ping Pong at Pat Pong

It’s hot. Damn hot. And the sweat starts to trickle down my forehead as the shirt on my back slowly glues itself to my skin. Nice.

It’s Bangkok, baby, and I’m sitting on a plastic chair, eating a spicy noodle soup. The sounds of the endless Silom road traffic are seamlessly blended into the chatter of banter and barter, as hundreds of tourists pound the pavement of the infamous Pat Pong night market, hunting out a bargain and wondering if the Rolex’s are real.

Kimmi and I had spent the day at Chatuchak weekend market which meant that I was now sporting some of Bangkok latest fashions. Kimmi had ensured I stayed away from the RUN BKK t-shirts and the Singha singlets, therefore, I had found myself exhibiting a long sleeve, fitted, army green, wide V neck top, a checkered, second hand, old man flat cap, a wide leather strapped department store bought classic watch on one hand a a specifically chosen leather bangle on the other. Yes, this is the sort of stuff I have been learning about recently as I sat and pondered how much my life had changed from a time when I believed the words “I’m not fat, I’m just easy to see!” was what made a good t-shirt.

The thick, stagnant Bangkok air soaked up the 90% humidity to create a city wide sauna. Our good friends from Mumbai, Charles and Revati, had joined us for the evening as we tucked into our street food whilst swapping stories of the last few months and drinking a couple of man-size beers.

It wasn’t long before the chilli scented steam from my soup was turning to condensation on my face, mixing with the sweat, and then dripping back into my bowl. My new ‘rayon’ material top is about as breathable as cling film, but I did my best to use my sleeve as a towel and appear ‘dry’. By this time I knew my back was a lost cause as the sweat had melted it to my skin, so I thought leaning forward would give the front of my top a chance of escape from the dripping sweat of my chest. And this damn hat is probably not helping either.

Its been thirty minutes. I smash through my beer and casually mention the heat as the first trickle of sweat appears on Charles forehead. I could not be much wetter if I went swimming with clothes on but Charles does his best to play it down, conserving what little dignity I have left.

Kimmi, on the other hand, will never let an opportunity like this go amiss. With no less than a pointed finger, a raucous belly laugh and a dive for the camera, Kimmi quite proudly highlights my sweat patches for not only Charles and Revati, but for all tourists and locals within a 30 meter radius.

And as I was leaning forward, the sweat had missed most of my shirt and trickled down my chest straight to my pants, making it appear as if I had completely pissed myself as well. Brilliant.

Thailand- patpong2Looking for a quick exit, I start to lead our group through the narrow market stalls of Louis Vuitton bags, toy tuk-tuk beer can models and dildo displays. Just the breeze from the walking pace was enough for the sweat to subside albeit only slightly. I still needed refuge. I still needed escape from this one man wet t-shirt competition.

“Ping-Pong show! Sexy lady! Cheap beers! Free entry!” I brushed passed yet another hawker and his laminate ‘menu’ of female anatomy stunts. It will take a lot more than that to get me to support the, degradation, demoralisation and victimisation of women in third world countries, forced to subject their bodies to exhibition and abuse for mere survival, while only pimps and mafia profit.

“Air conditioned!” he shouts and I stop dead in my tracks.

Thailand- patpong1Well, it is a cultural experience and how can you judge if you have never been? I look over to the others only to be greeted by a shrug of nonchalance and an open minded easy going attitude. That was enough for me and seconds later, we were following our new hawker friend to a Bangkok ping pong show. That was air conditioned. Awesome.

The free entry did come with a one drink minimum per person that he told us about on route, but the drinks were only Bt 100 (£2) each. We nestled into the black comfy bench seating with our backs to the wall. Through the dim red lights and the lingering cigarette smoke, we could make out other couples and tourists scattered against the walls, facing the boxing ring style stage centred in the middle of the room. Some of them middle aged, some of them in groups and some of them couples, but none of them perverted as it seemed they were there for fun instead of pleasure. Unlike us, we were there for the air conditioning.

I really don’t think anybody could find ‘pleasure’ in the show. The women were of varying shapes and sizes, not like you would ever see in a magazine, unless you were reading ‘Bigger is Better’.  If socks with flip flops, a hitched up mini skirt failing to tuck away a protruding gut and knee pads are your thing, then this is your kind of place. They didn’t look to be terribly oppressed and badly beaten. They were having some fun with each other but then took to the stage as if they had done it a thousand times that week.

We find a table tennis bat on our small round wooden table, in between our drinks. Before long, the woman on stage faces us, lies back, loads up and fires in our direction! We dive for cover in every direction, nervous as to what is more disgusting; sprawling all over the seats or being hit with the ball! Kimmi jumps to our defence and picks up the bat, returning the second and third missile with a fantastic forehand and backhand respectively!

The happy go lucky Thai folk music grinds to a halt to be replaced by a badly mixed happy birthday treat for some lucky customer hiding in the corner. Our beauty queen on stage hitched up that mini skirt to reveal all, dropped to a sexy little half squat over a candle lit cake and started a hands free truffle shuffle with her gut. The candle flame fought gallantly but eventually succumbed to the desperate and forceful gust. We looked on, gobsmacked, unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Kimmi and Revati were still sitting on their first drink, whilst Charles and I had snuck in a sneaky second beer. One of the waitresses dropped the bill on our table without us asking for it and moved on quickly. As far as my calculations go, six drinks from the special 100 baht selected drinks only menu should add up to 600 baht. I peer over at the bill and notice the scribbled writing. There is a six and a couple of zeros which sounds about right. Until Kimmi points out the extra zero. They had given us a bill for 6000 baht. And for our information, they had gone to the trouble of itemising it to settle any confusion. They had charged us entry fee, 400 baht per drink, 300 baht per person per show and anything else they could think of.

Naturally we laughed at the bill and called the waitress to inform her of their careless error, only to be greeted by the angriest of all madams!

“6000 baht your bill! You pay! You pay now!”

We looked at each other with a little discomfort, quite unsure of what to do, whilst the short, angry madam of this fine establishment screamed at us. We tried to explain that we were told it was 100 baht per drink as per our hawker friend, who was now nowhere to be seen.

“NO! 6000 baht! You pay! You pay now! I call mafia!” she screams as she pulls out a mobile phone.

We stood up adamantly, happy to turn our backs on the dregs of our second drink, pay the 600 baht and leave. Quickly.

And as we move from the shadows of the dimly lit couches and into the spotlight to begin our departure, the madam looks down at me and notices my huge sweat patch on my groin region….

“YOU! YOU PAY EXTRA! YOU ENJOY TOO MUCH!” she bellows as she points to my crotch.

And for a second time in as many hours, I am the centre of attention for locals and tourists alike within a 30 meter radius, walking out of a ping pong show with a wet patch in my pants and humiliation on my face.

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