Prostitution and "sex-tourism" are booming all over Thailand, but Pattaya seems to be the mecca for such a trade; it is still the Navy-boy hot spot that it was 30 years ago, and now excels at drawing old, fat, perverted men from all over the world (mainly Eastern Europe) to join the young soldiers in their sexcapades. Go-go bars and caberets line the streets, and overweight white men walk hand in hand with atttractive young Thais.
Prostitution is an ever-present evil that goes (surpringly) unchallenged in this country. Thai men and women [seem to] tolerate its presence, and even the farangs I work with claim it's "no big deal", saying things "are just different here"......
It's hard for me not to see the blatant injustice by objectifying, selling, and abusing women, not to mention its ties to the wider issues of third-world poverty and gender inequality, so I don't exactly accept the vindication of culturally-moral relativism. While prostitution is technically "illegal" in Thailand, anyone that takes a stroll down Walking Street will immediately recognize that not only is it legal, but flourishing, acceptable, and highly profitable.
Prostitution's presence in a society that is not only devout Buddhist, but also prudish and conservative in many respects , is one of the many paradoxes that keeps Thailand interesting. For this reason alone, and because I didn't want to be downer all weekend, I swallowed my liberal snobbery and heavy judgement, and became an accepting observer in the City of Sin this weekend.
they don't call it "International Meeting Street" for nothing