We were in a hotel in downtown Chiang Mai to celebrate my husband’s birthday. While I swam with the kids so that Matt could have some time to himself, I met a man in the pool. He was Australian, and he was friendly. He smiled a lot, and he splashed my kids. Little Ava paddled around him and Cade showed off his kickboard to this middle-aged tourist, while he chatted with me about the city and how hot it’s been. I told him we had just moved here, and he remarked how the “Thais are so polite” and that “they love blond children,” so he assured me I would enjoy our years here as a family. I asked him how long he had been visiting the city, when he told me that he didn’t have family here but had been coming to SE Asia for holidays (not business)
several times a year,
for twenty years.
And then Matt came out to meet us, and my conversation with this very normal Aussie ended with him waving a “Goodbye and good luck” and swimming away.
But there wasn’t much good about it.
Why would a single man visit the same place several times a year for twenty years? Maybe he is highly interested in elephants or maybe he enjoys the cheap shopping or perhaps he is a sucker for authentic Asian food. But, I think the greater possibility is that my Australian acquaintance keeps coming back to SE Asia for
It’s available. It’s inexpensive. It’s considered a “normal” tourist activity.
And it leaves me sickened to think that I didn’t need to go to the “seedy” part of town to rub shoulders with a gentleman who probably participates in the sex industry. I just went to a nice hotel pool on a Sunday afternoon with my three kids. And I am reminded that prostitution is just closer in this country. And I have no answers or solutions, just a bitter taste of the present reality.
I just finished reading an excellent article called The Sex Cafe about sex trafficking at FlowerDust. Take a minute to check it out, as it talks more about this particular social injustice.P.S. I do understand that this particular gentleman may not be a partifcipant in the sex industry here in SE Asia. Obviously, I do not know and I realize that assuming too much of anyone is not a loving or wise thing to do. But, unfortunately, I am learning that the man in the pool is an example of the types of men that do come to SE Asia every year, by the thousands, to participate in the sex industry here. That is a fact. They are average, normal tourists, and they keep this industry one of the most highly profitable businesses in SE Asia. I hope you hear that my heart is not to cast judgement on these pages, but it has always been to love and help rescue the girls that are sometimes unwilling victims.