When the choice of destination for your family trip can go horribly wrong

Have you ever heard of the term NSFW (“Not-Safe-For-Work“)?

NSFW (1)

If you haven’t, and that is the picture that came to your mind, I assume you’re either in high school or living under a rock with no friends to forward you dirty emails. Its time to let Google educate you on that. While this whole post itself isn’t NSFW, but its definitely about something similar.

Well, in travel terms, you could call Thailand as one place which is NSFF – Not Suitable for Family (that’s my made-up term). By Family here, I mean exactly what Indians mean when they refer to a “Family movie”. Speaking of Indian family movies here’s something to jog your memory –

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“Super-overdose-of-a” family movie

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Congratulations on returning back from the mild coma which the memories of the movie gave you. If your eyes have stopped hurting, you can now resume reading.

Research your destination before planning the trip

So if you’re planning a Thailand trip with the family, this is something you should be aware of. Thailand is very well known for its prostitution industry which also caters to the large part of the tourism sector. Over the years, it has become what they call as “Sex tourism” destination. A large number of tourists – Asian and Westerners alike, visit Thailand specifically to experience the physical pleasures it offers. Such is the reputation of Thailand that if you were to announce in your office tomorrow that you are planning a Thailand trip, that is sure to invite some giggles, some raised eyebrows and some “I-know-what-you’re-up-to” winks.

I knew about Thailand’s reputation before visiting it but I came to know the actual extent of what it really means only after I visited there myself.

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Bangkok skyline at night

As soon as you land at the airport, you notice something’s off. There are just so many of middle-aged Indian, Asian and American men travelling in groups. Some are actually quite old. There are very few groups of young guys. Just looking at them you know exactly what they’re here for. If you’re travelling with your spouse or family, it feels really weird and awkward. All of this, just while getting down from the flight and trying to enter Thailand.

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Also read: Why I don’t opt for Thailand’s visa-on-arrival

Selecting the part of the city to live

Things become more obvious as you spend a day or two in the busy streets of Bangkok. While my wife and I stayed at a very decent hotel in the upscale area of Sukhumvit, we still managed to catch glimpses of this inseparable part of Thai culture. During the day, we spent all the time shopping in the malls and streets. We ate all the Pad Thai we could until our tummies burst.

But when the night falls, the city seems to transform and takes on a new kind of life. Groups of scantily clothed girls start gathering around the street corners. There is no area of the city untouched by the overflowing streams of Asian beauties who take charge of street corners.

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A usual scene at night in crowded Thai streets [Image]
Making a pass at every passerby. Hoping to lure one of them as their “customer”. At every corner of the street and in the open bars. It’s pretty amazing that even the small roadside eateries transform themselves into extremely neatly-arranged minibars. The outlets which sell fruits and vegetables and from where we bought some delicious Thai mangoes in the morning, they’re gone in the evening to make way for small but quite cute places with glitter lightning and all, serving alcohol and snacks.

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Although, it wasn’t so bad for us. The girls looking out for customers didn’t annoy us. Some guys passing by who seemed to be high and having a really good time actually were teasing them back and having fun with them. But if you were to visit with your parent or grandparents, walking around these places is sure going to be very very awkward. As has happened with many of my friends.

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Selecting which places to visit

When it comes to Thai nightlife, Pattaya is the place where there is a lot of action. They have special kind of bars which they call as go-go bars. You’re most likely to find middle-aged white or Asian/Indian men in those bars. Well, some guys have weird ways of dealing with a mid-life crisis. Travelling all the way to Thailand? That’s a bit much.

A gogo bar is basically a strip club which offers varying degrees of sexual pleasure services. You could also hire an escort to take home with you in most of them.

NSFF alert – Some of these bars are quite wild and explicit. These are certainly no family places.

There are parts of Pattaya such as Boyztown and Walking street which are primary areas of prostitution. So if someone recommends you to go there to enjoy a party night, know what to expect.

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Girls in front of a gogo bar in Pattaya

Double check the type of massage parlour you’re getting in

Thailand is world famous for its Thai massage. There’s no way you’ll miss it on your Thailand trip. Thai massage shops are everywhere. On every turn of every street and in every shopping mall. Just about everywhere you can imagine. But you ought to be careful which ones you’re entering.  A lot of these massage parlours also provide sexual services. You should be able to spot the difference by observing the people entering and exiting the place, whether the place is completely enclosed and what do they advertise. If you find a place advertising “soapy massage”, just stay away from it unless you want to get into a “soapy” business than the massage.

Plan your trip carefully

I love Thailand, especially Bangkok. I think it’s a great place to eat, shop and travel. The locals are super friendly. If you’re good at bargaining and street shopping, its a paradise. Surprisingly a lot of Indian families who opt for Thailand for their first international trip are not fully made aware of what to expect. If you know what you’re getting into and plan your trip well, you can have an amazing trip in Thailand. Pack your bags and get going. But if you’re thinking of taking your parents or grandparents for a holiday, this may not be the best choice.

Giant swing bangkok the symbol, religion.

Also read: A brief travel guide for Thailand

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