I survived Bangkok

This weekend Thailand celebrated the King’s birthday with fireworks, food and festivities. In honour of his birthday, I celebrated a day off from work and spent the weekend in Bangkok with friends.

Bangkok reminds me of Toronto in a way that all big cities remind you of other big cities. The bright lights, the traffic, the pollution, the glaring commercialism, it was all there in its boisterous glory.

And then there are the tourists. They are everywhere. Sometimes I think that is more bad than good. Especially when I see the young Thai girls with old white tourist men. The guidebooks warn you about it, and in the back of your mind you know that the sex trade exists in Thailand, and many men come to the country just for it. But in Bangkok it is more in your face than in your mind. I look at these girls and I wish I could shake them – ask them what they are doing; tell them that it’s not worth it; that they are worth more.

I was riding the skytrain and ended up standing next to one of these ‘couples’. The girl was dolled up in make-up and clothes that, in their attempt to make her look older, only made her seem that much younger. An overweight pudgy white male, old enough to be her father, tightened his fingers around her arm possessively. She was uncomfortable. In her broken English she kept asking him if they could go home. Slowly and condescendingly he kept saying the name of some other place that they would go to. She caught me looking at her and attempted a pained smile. I wanted to tell her that he was a jerk and probably wouldn’t take her to America anyway. I wanted to tell him a few choice words that my mother wouldn’t approve of.

It hurts and angers me a lot to see women treated in this way. It twists my insides. And if I feel that strongly about it, I can’t imagine how God must feel to see His children devalued and degraded in that way. Who will tell them that they are worth more than many swallows? Who will tell them that there is Someone to whom they are more precious than gold? Who will tell them that there is a Man who will willingly give them everything they need, because He already loves them? It seems like such a large and impossible work to do. And although I know there already are those who are committed to it, I can’t help but wonder about the women they don’t reach. How many women are left soul-less in the city of smiles? How many women don’t survive Bangkok?

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