For all the guilt I’ve ever felt about “going wild,” Thailand has certainly slapped a wet t-shirt in my face during this vacation.
On the island of Phuket, families shared the sands of Patong Beach with gyrating women at open air bars. God forbid the children pass by the women playing “ping pong,” which is really performers shooting orange ping pong balls out of their special places.
And here in Silom district of Bangkok, you really wonder what money can’t buy. Old men can purchase sexual favors from young Thai boys. There are bubble bath strip shows and clubs teeming with shirtless Asian bodies in unimaginable proportions. Damn, sex really does sell. And wow, do these guys know how to party til the break of dawn.
Self-control is a funny thing, as it inherently captures the push-pull tension of letting loose and exercising inner restraint and discipline. How does that valve work? Once you turn it towards one way, can you turn it back the other way at the snap of a finger?
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten home at 4:00 am and chugged endless gallons of water. How long has it been since I looked my “Saturday best” and went out? Clubbing to let loose and let go are not unspoken vices if done in moderation. In fact, I think I’ve lately limited myself in my means of self-expression,and this little bit of liquid courage has reminded me I do have that confidence and swag if I can just channel them at opportune times.
The valve of restraint-release can be unpredictable. Take Thailand’s recently lifted curfew after the military’s coup d’etat. According to K’s Thai acquaintance, G, a lot of G’s gaysian friends ended staying out even later at the clubs because they couldn’t go home until a certain time in the morning. Overall, morning yoga classes and dance classes began to overcrowd because others were sleeping earlier and were finally able to make the morning classes. Who would’ve predicted the military curfews would actually prolong people’s clubbing time and increase exercise?
In my hostel now, the owner herself may have been inspired to instill her own strict no-nonsense, “Mama knows best” rules. No outside guests. Shoes must be left in the lobby. No sexual tourism. If you break beer bottles in your room, you must notify the staff and be charged. Such a contrast, this isolated hostel being just a stone throw away from the dizzying alleys of Silom. Like Thailand itself, the borders between pleasure and restraint are porous. The hostel’s rules-heavy environment pulls you back before you’ve released the ropes too fast and fallen in too deep in the pleasure pit. I definitely appreciate that balance.