15 November 2008

Cabbages, condoms and Bangkok lady boys

Yesterday (Friday) was another busy day in Bangkok. We caught the river ferry down stream to the Chinatown district.

Our first port of call was a Buddhist temple called Wat Traimit where one of our guide books informed us that there is a 3m tall 5.5 tonne solid gold seated Buddha. Now I don't want to offend anyone here but I'm not sure if someone is having us on. I've not seen a 3m tall piece of solid gold before and I'm still not sure that I have. Plus wouldn't a piece of gold that big weigh more that?

Whilst we were in Chinatown we also came across Wat Mangkon Kamalawat which was really spectacular due to the ceremony that was taking place inside. There were about 100 saffron robed monks chanting in unison inside the small Chinese style temple. It was a real shame that we weren't allowed to take any photos because it was a really beautiful sight.

The main reason for us to go to Chinatown was to see the 200 year old traders market. The market itself is clustered around a series of narrow alleyways with the goods packed in so tightly you can barely see the sky above your head.

Once again it's another place in Bangkok that has a really different and unique atmosphere. We had great trouble identifying most of the produce, in fact most of the items we struggled to be able to categorise into animal, vegetable or mineral! We half expected to turn a corner and see a real live mogwai for sale. The sights. sounds and particularly the smells made it a really interesting experience.

After the market we hopped on the MTR (underground) and headed for the Sukhumvit neighbourhood and a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. This had been recommended to us by our friends Jon and Lindsay from when they came a couple of years ago. It's a lovely restaurant that's set in a secluded fairy light illuminated garden with great food.

The other reason why you should pay them a visit is that the restaurant is run by the Population and Community Development Association and all of its proceeds go towards sex-education and AIDS prevention programmes in Thailand. There are a few reminders of this thanks to some of the restaurant's rather unique interior design features, such as the lamp shades. . .

There's also a substitute for the traditional after dinner mint!
On our way out we saw part of their Christmas display which had been erected (no pun intended).
There's also that joke about Santa only coming once a year but this is a family show so we won't go there.

Instead we went to spend an evening in the company of Bangkok's third sex, the Kathoey . . . or to you and me the lady boy! If you're hanging around the go-go bars of Patpong you may (unsuspectingly) encounter a lady boy. We however fancied the safer option of a cabaret show so made our way to the Mambo Theatre. I'd like to point out that this is a traditional cabaret show with song and dance numbers. . . there was no funny business! Here's a few pictures. The first one is of Bangkok's answer to the Pussy Cat Girls; or the Pussy Cat Guys as we re-named them. I'm not sure which one Lewis Hamilton is knocking around with!

The show itself was very entertaining although some of the production was a little rough around the edges. At one point a lady boy appeared to be descending onto the stage in what appeared to be a Stannah stair lift! The evening was made all the more fun thanks to the large Japanese tour party who where occupying the front three rows of the theatre. They were absolutely crackers and where really getting involved in the show - quite literally in a couple of cases. They were a very excitable bunch and made nearly as much noise at the sight of lady boy as the gamblers where at the Thai boxing.
The lady boys where all very convincing and you wouldn't have known otherwise . . . maybe apart from the one who looked like Amy Winehouse . . .

On the way out of the show all of the performers where waiting in the lobby. One of the ushers grabbed my camera from my hands and insisted that we posed for a picture with one. The very second that the shutter had been pressed the demands for money where made. I don't mind paying for something when it's clear that I'm expected to pay. But to have my camera snatched from me and to be coerced into a picture is a bit cheeky. The last time I was mugged for money by a transsexual was on that night out with Danny Cipriani! Anyway if I was going to have my picture taken with a lady boy I would have picked a better looking one than this. . .

1 comment: