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Bangkok, Thailand: An ode to the duality of perception; the hidden sex trade.

Updated on May 14, 2013

A night alone.

Bangkok circa 2007: Pleasure is in the eye of the beholder.

Yet another night in Asia.

Yet another outing where the fine line between business and pleasure blurs.

I know where this is going - I have seen it too many times before.

Before long, the scenery changes from bright lights to neon.

And civilisation gives way to sleaze.

This is not uncommon. It is Asia’s underbelly.

Beneath this bed of prosperity, bedsores can be seen if you look closely enough.

Here dwell the remnants of society that fail to keep pace with the rapidly changing economic machine.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Bars line both sides of the street. Bathed in the iridescent glow are ladies of the night.

My eyes witness foreigners with wandering hands, being entertained by the hour.

Hard faces wear practiced smiles, but their eyes betray their dark hunger.

As I reluctantly walk past, hostage to my company, the many women greet me with smiles and lewd suggestions.

Many questions, but in reality, they all ask the same thing:

Am I one of the many here?

I am not here by choice, but I always have the right to choose my path.

My colleague insists on my participation. I refuse to be baited, for this is a slippery slope.

I return their propositions with a polite shake of my head in the negative.

Throughout, betraying their welcoming smiles, their eyes always remain cold.

I turn to my companion. I wonder about his state of mind.

He sees entertainment, music, companionship and the promise of carnal pleasures.

His attitudes colour his perception.

His beliefs transform this scene into his own personal paradise.

I turn away from my companion. I know my state of mind.

I see poverty, oppression, extortion and victimisation of have nots by those who have.

My values darken this scene beyond description & neon illuminates a garish role play of rehearsed misery.

My beliefs transform this scene into my own personal hell.

There is no judgement.

Each man unto his own.

But I can’t help but be amazed at the difference…

Where one can see the world, the other can see nothing.

As he heads into a nearby bar, I retreat into the night.

Alone.

I am more than enough company tonight.

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