Filmed in 2002, this documentary provides an inside look at Thailand’s notorious nightlife through the eyes of one of the thousands of young women who work the scene. This girl, named Plah, has been working at a bar since the age of 13. Now 19, she shares her story. But only the parts she wants to make known. Maybe she’s afraid of saying too much. Maybe it’s because she’s convinced nobody cares about her.
At first she seems immature and silly, but one quickly discovers that her giggling and childish banter is nothing more than her way of dealing with the pain and shame of what is going on around her. Plah claims that she hasn’t fallen prey to the sex industry, but one wonders how a bar girl with such meager earnings can afford a gold watch and a fancy necklace. But then again, by her own admission, she only tells her mother the good parts about her job.
One of the first words a small child in Thailand learns is “falang” which means “stranger” or “tourist.” Sadly, many falangs visit Thailand mostly for sex exploitation. The sex trade is common in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. It’s a $2.5 billion a year industry. The reasons are simple: poverty and the indifference of the authorities. Most of the bars in Bangkok are just pick-up sites. They’re owned by Germans, English, or American expats who take advantage of the situation.
Described by one tourist as “a man’s playground,” the sex trade in Bangkok offers young women an escape from the harsh reality of lack and insufficiency. “It’s up to you what you want to do”, states one young woman when talking about prostitution. “If you want to take two, you can take two.” According to her, if the customer isn’t satisfied with the young woman’s sexual performance, he doesn’t even have to pay. Prostitution is illegal in Bangkok but only for women. Men are at liberty to pay for the sex, but women can’t charge for their services.
The big question is who is really to blame for the immoral chaos unfolding in Bangkok? The girls terrified of being poor who see no other way to make a living? The men who spend hundreds of dollars a night trying to fill their emptiness with meaningless sex? The authorities who pretend not to see what’s going on? Weak family values? Watch now and draw your own conclusions.