Sounds fun, right? A ping pong show… I watched Forrest Gump, is it THAT kind of Ping pong show? No.
I don’t know the whole story about Ping Pong shows
and I am afraid to find that out. All I can do is tell you my experience and hope that deters you from making the same travel mistake.
I traveled to Thailand in 2012.. basically a fresh 18 year old (where I live 18 is the drinking age), so I was ready to continue my bar star days in another country with my friends. We had been traveling around for about 6 weeks when we ended up back in Bangkok for a few days before traveling home. We were in a group of about 21 people at this time, only a few had already been to Thailand before, most this was their first time.
We had all gone out to a very fun dinner where the drinks were flowing and we all wanted to continue our good time. Being in Bangkok, and just off Khao San road at that, we had constantly heard of these Ping Pong Shows that go on. There are many local men, including tuc tuc drivers, that will walk by you asking if you wanted to go to one of these shows, and then make a pop pop sound with their mouths. I don’t remember who I asked but they had described these shows sort of like Strippers.
They said it was like the strip club you would go to back home.
Having gone to a strip club before and having a fun time with my girlfriends we decided that would be a fun way to end our trip. What we should have noticed was that our group became torn on whether to go…. the people who had already been to Thailand before this trip were staying back *red flag*
The rest of us went to Khao San road, found a tuc tuc driver and all went to this Ping Pong show. We had to barter our way into the “club” as they were asking for such a high price ! By the time we all got in we all felt we had paid too much, but we got a free drink ticket so we were happy. When we arrived inside the place was fairly packed so we walked on the other side of the stage, far away from the door. The place looked really dingy so we all decided to not have our free drinks. We sat down and noticed that 99% of the crowd were white… assuming all tourists. But they weren’t rowdy young backpackers like ourselves, they were business men, creepy looking men, and….. a few older ladies (I couldn’t tell their ages, but they had grey hair).
Once the show started…
We all got very uncomfortable, very fast. It started out KINDA like strippers back home… I guess. The girls were on stage dancing on the poles… but there was one VERY big difference. The strippers back home have huge smiles on their faces, they put in a lot of energy and look, for the most part, like they are having a great time (they may even talk and laugh with you if you are sitting up close). These girls at the ping pong show had no energy, they did not smile at all, they looked absolutely miserable, and most of them looked completely out of it. I won’t go into detail on everything that we saw but you don’t want to know anyways.
We all wanted to leave once it started, but because we were such a large group and so far away from the door, we felt we had to stay until the show was over. When we left, not a single one of us made eye contact or talked until we got back to our hostel.
These shows are not like strippers. They are run by the sex trade… We… I… paid money into the sex trade.. into keeping those women there. From the little I found out AFTER I had gone, some of these women were sold by their families to pay for debt, or they were stolen, or they were forced into this trade. They are mostly kept sedated, and you could tell the ones that weren’t… I had never seen such embarrassed women in my life.. the ones that knew what were going on had tried their best to cover their faces the entire time with their hair.. they didn’t want to be seen. This is one of my biggest regrets and I hope I can deter at least one person from making the same mistake.