Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Bangkok: Disneyland for men?
After receiving notice that our assignment in Abuja, Nigeria had been rescinded, we were told we needed to submit a new bid list. The new list had many of the same assignments as our previous list, but it also had some exciting new posts. A few of the posts that piqued our interest were: Dar Es Salaam, Tegucigalpa, Caracas, Havana, and Bangkok. Bangkok was my wife’s number one choice because she loves Thai food, loves Thai fruit carving, and Bangkok has a direct flight to Hanoi. I was actually reticent to place Bangkok high on our list because it has little hardship differential.
Our second flag day came, and to our delight, we were assigned to Bangkok, Thailand. We will be receiving eight months of Thai training and then two months of Consular General training and then we’ll be off to Thailand. After taking a deeper look into Thailand I became very excited to work there. I found out Thailand has wonderful roads which will allow me to take my family on exotic adventures on the weekends. The Thai language is tonal like Vietnamese, so I should have an advantage in trying to learn it. And finally, the LDS church has a good, albeit small, group of saints in Thailand. My wife and I are excited to serve in a Thai branch in Bangkok.
None of these reasons are what seem to excite most people I speak with about Thailand. They all speak of what a great country it is, for men. Just the other day while purchasing a vehicle, the man assisting me said, "where are you moving?" I told him I was going to Thailand and that I was very excited about it. He responded by saying, “oh yea, I’ve been there and it is a dream world for men.” He then looked at my hand and saw my wedding ring and became embarrassed. I told him, I’ve got a family and I’m Mormon. He then became even more awkward and tried to say something about his appreciation for culture.
A friend and colleague of mine also told me of her encounter with Thailand as a place for men. She had what she described as a “lecherous old man” for a client. She was deposing him and needed to ask him if he had ever frequented any brothels with a certain individual. The man looked at her in disgust and said, “I don’t go to brothels, I go to Thailand.” She asked what he meant, and he replied, “it’s like Disneyland for men.”
For some reason--which I cannot figure out--there is a pervasive view among many westerners that soliciting a prostitute in Asia is somehow different from doing so in America. Both are morally abhorrent and will lead to grave consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their societies. One of the surest ways to destroy a family is to engage in extramarital sex. This will change the way a man views himself and his spouse. It will also affect the way a man views women in general. And rest assured, this behavior will influence the way his boys treat women as they grow up, and the way his girls view men and allow themselves to be treated by men.
Personal rants aside, if you know me, please feel welcome to come visit Bangkok anytime. We will always have an empty room and a warm meal waiting.