Patong, and especially Bangla Rd, is an adult playground and the world has long known it. It beggars belief that any tourists would venture into that realm and be offended by gyrating dancers and “good time girls”.
These would have to be tourists who don’t know what Google or Bing does… and would likely be surprised by what their own government would write in, say, a travel advisory for Somalia. The odds are remote.
Over the past two weeks the debate has raged over the merits of “Sin City” Pattaya since the UK’s Mirror labelled it “the sex capital of the world”. One great headline quip simply responded: “Tell us what we don’t know”.
Throughout that furore, it seems the authorities in Bangkok have been struggling to admit that the national ethos supports a “no harm, no foul” policy. Good luck to them in that.
It seems this “no harm, no foul” approach is understood by any visitor to Phuket and also simply presumed by our island’s leading authorities – and kudos to them, including Governor Chockchai, for steaming ahead with the request for late trading without dallying over what is plainly an economically driven attraction.
Yet, Patong is much more than the Bangla bars and shows. Many people come to Patong do not venture down the street; once is enough for such tourists and that is their choice.
Likewise, Bangla is an attraction, and not just for sex tourists. We are entering that time of year when families from the Middle East take a stroll down the bustling street just to see “how the other half play”. There are shows that do not appeal to all, and these families just walk on by. No harm, no foul.
However, this is not to say all the dark arguments against prostitution should be overlooked for the sake of scoring baht. Human trafficking, drug debt traps and loan sharks can make this a dark world. Yet that fight belongs against those evils. Not against “Prime-Time Patong”.
The poll results are clear – 75% respondents say they support late trading for Bangla bars and nightclubs – so if you don’t like it, just don’t go.