Interesting observations in "the man's city"
To say that Bangkok is a man’s city is not entirely an exaggeration. After all, when you consider the demographics of the expatriate community residing in the city, it is apparent that it is – for the most part - comprised of the male of the species. Bangkok can certainly be a haven for men with its innumerable massage parlors, go-go bars, sex shows and bustling red-light districts. But what exactly does it have to offer women?
The short answer to that is: not a lot. If you are of the belief that all women adore shopping and enjoy nothing more than traipsing around all day with a credit card and armfuls of shopping bags, then yes, Bangkok is a fabulous city for women. It certainly has enough malls and markets to keep even the most compulsive shoppers entertained.
Then of course there are the historic temples dotted around the city. They are definitely worth a visit, but once you’ve sauntered around the Grand Palace, marveled at the Erawan Shrine and contemplated the reclining Buddha, it is hard to muster up the courage to enjoy them again - especially after being robbed at the door by a grinning teller who lets your Thai friends in for free. Obviously, women are not the only ones to enjoy Bangkok’s heritage and are not the only ones affected by this discriminatory pricing system; it is simply a part of everyday life when you are a foreigner in Bangkok.
Next, there is the night life. Although there are no women-specific bars or clubs (even Go-go Boy is intended for male clientele), it would be wrong to say that women cannot also enjoy the multitude of bars for which the city is renowned. There are so many bars offering live music, good food and cheap drinks that you can always find somewhere to escape the sleazy side of Bangkok, although sometimes it can be difficult
As a young, single woman living in Bangkok, I would have to say that my most common complaint is being approached by playboy wannabes who are old enough to be my father, or sometimes even grandfather. These shifty characters assume that all the Thai women in their usual haunts in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Patpong are “enamoured” with them; and that, therefore, all women must feel their magnetic charm and masculinity. Personally, I like my men to have their own teeth.
I have found in the four years I have been there that men change when they come to Bangkok. A man gets bitten by the Bangkok bug and becomes a completely different person. This happens when his ego finally gives up trying to reign in the hedonistic id. Alcohol only serves to further corrupt the two. I find it sad when some old man comes staggering over, stands so close that I can see the blood vessels in his eyes and then proceeds to slur and spit his life story in a pathetic attempt of a chat up line. And sometimes the Bangkok-bug-bitten young men are not much better - although, of course, they do tend to have their own teeth.
Having said all of that, Bangkok would not be the same without all of these elements. The inconvenience of geriatric advances, the sleazy locales, the rip-off merchants who up the price as soon as they see a flash of white flesh, and the other little everyday annoyances, such as the infamous traffic jams, sure to give even the mildest-mannered driver a better understanding of road rage - all are essential to the character of the city.
While the city may be more male-oriented due to its innumerable male-focused venues, life in Bangkok is certainly never dull for members of either sex and it is for this reason that you cannot really resent any of the experiences, positive or negative, you encounter in your everyday life. If you are open-minded and willing to accept Bangkok’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, the city really can be an interesting and entertaining place to live. Welcome to the Land of Smiles.