Patpong revisited..

My first dalliance with Bangkok’s seedy centre came around ten years ago, when as a fresh-faced 18-year-old a cohort of school chums and myself decided to take in this infamous red light area.

And needless to say we were not disappointed. Four gangly lads, each sporting the fluffy stubble of tragically inept facial hair, were thrown into a mix of sweaty ladyboys and aging porn stars.

This experience was a baptism of fire for any young pretender naïve to the ways of the vice underworld. And between having our drinks spiked with sleeping pills, being pelted with unsanitary ping pong balls, and one of our party receiving hand relief from an Adam’s apple-sporting Jezebelle, it was nothing if not memorable.

 So last week, being a decade older and upon the express wishes of my accompanying girlfriend, I returned with some degree of trepidation to re-acquaint myself with the notorious neighbourhood.

At first glance it didn’t seem like much had changed. The market was still abuzz, the hawkers were as brazen as ever, and the enormous neon ‘Super Pussy Club’ sign still transfixed my gaze like the Delphi oracle.

But there were a surprisingly large number of middle-aged couples touring the sites. Either they were blissfully unaware of what the girls with round paper numbers were doing prancing about the stages, or perhaps they were just inordinately excited by the whole spectacle.

But, to be honest, Patpong seemed to be missing its magic. Perhaps it was just the exuberance of youth before, but even my very liberal-minded lady was very unimpressed by the arsenal being launched out of performing grandmother’s nether regions. Maybe you just grow up, or is Patpong losing its edge? 

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