There's a saying: "Good men go to heaven. Bad men go to Pattaya." Pattaya, Thailand is where many tourists go to solicit women. Some farang (foreigners) settle down in Pattaya and find themselves a Thai wife. A typical crowd of people in Pattaya is peppered with old, white men.
Who am I to judge.
I've been volunteering at two organizations. One is a preschool education program that helps prevent child trafficking. The other is a living center for neglected and abused children. When I see the beautiful and naive smiles of the children, I feel so sickened by the fact that anyone would abuse them. The evidence of their abuse is still there: the burn marks of iron meeting flesh; the emotional wounds from being sexually assaulted at just age 9.
The city is littered with bars and places to solicit a woman. Some women were tricked into this lifestyle; others just want to make ends meet for their family.
Right around the corner near where I volunteer is a brothel in the guise of a massage parlor. Through the windows, the interior looks pristine and ostentatious, with white walls, golden chandeliers, and large, curving staircases. But nighttime brings darkness and women can be bought for 90 minutes at $100.
The most popular tourist attraction in Pattaya is Walking Street. It's lined with food, bars, and "ladies of the night." And for those who swing the other way, men of the night can be found too. And for those with utterly perverse tastes, children can be found in discreet, hidden areas.
Somehow, in the midst of this despair, gentle waves of hope trickle in. I've met some incredibly inspiring people who dedicate their lives towards anti-human trafficking: a man who left a comfortable life in Italy; a brave young woman from Singapore; an Australian lady who co-founded an organization for children; a Thai woman who would walk for hours a day into the slums, finding neglected children and taking care of them.
"Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city"