In local dialect, they’re called kathoeys. Ladyboys, as we call them. Or trans, as we label them.
There are many of them in Thailand. They’re everywhere. Unlike in some countries, ladyboys are invisible children. Chances are, in Bangkok, they might be sitting next to you on the metro but you won’t notice them. Boy, they really look like women, beautiful women. But, of course, not all of them. 😉
As a visitor there, I was awed by the level of tolerance and acceptance in the society they are living in. The practice of Buddhism and the belief in karma in Thailand must be a contributing factor to how they treat their fellows regardless of sex. In every city, big or small, there were many bars that hold cabaret shows where the main stars, none other than, gays, transvestites, and transgenders. Undeniably so, they are one of the tourist attractions you should see when you set foot in the Land of Sawadeekas. The Ladyboys of Thailand are stars in their own right.
While I was beaching (relaxing by the beach), in the shores of Patong, Phuket, a hawker interrupted my silence and handed me out a flier that advertised Simon Cabaret’s nightly shows featuring the most beautiful trans in the country. But it wasn’t cheap though for a backpacker’s budget. So, I told the hawker that I couldn’t afford it.
“You a backpacker?”, he asked, inspecting me, trying to find something that would give him a clue if I was really a backpacker.
“Yes, I am. I just had a week in Cambodia and a week in Vietnam. Then, I’m here to get some sun and sand.” I said, matter-of-factly.
“I can give you 20% discount if 5 people will go with you,” he offered.
“I’m alone,” I answered.
He wasn’t really surprised but he was thinking.
“You wait here until sun go down? I go back here. I find other 4 people to go, ok? And if I find 4 people, don’t tell them you have discount from me, ok?” he said without giving me a chance to disagree. Then, he went off, on a mission to find my 4 other companions.
Twenty minutes later, he came back with the good news. He asked for my hostel name and told me to wait in the lobby so he could bring all of us in his van to the venue.
When we arrived at the venue later that night, we actually skipped the queue. He brought us to our seats which were on the third row—and I paid the same as the ones sitting farther back. That’s what he (the hawker/scalper) told me–if he had to be believed.
While the show was spectacular, I felt bored. I don’t mean it bad. The crowd was mostly comprised of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and some white folks, so, the performers mostly performed cultural dances from China, Korea, and Japan. And of course, some lip-synching. Cultural dances?! That was not what I was expecting!
However, the costumes are fantabulous and the gurls just looked as fabulous as what they were wearing. When they came out for the roll call, the audience erupted into applause.
Mirror, mirror on the wall! Who’s the fairest of ’em all?
The one on the right was the funniest performer. She loves making fun of herself on stage.
Right after the performance, these ladies were led to an area in the theater were the audience would have the chance to mingle and have their picture taken with them.
While they were very accommodating to pose with you, you need to give them money as soon as the shutter’s clicked. That’s a tip for them. So, it goes down to this: most tourists go to the most beautiful and to the ones that expose generous amount of cleavage. The homely beauties don’t really get more tips. Unfair, right? But, let’s just hope that they pool all the tips and split them up equally. Or according to the worth of their star. If you were just a back-up dancer, you don’t receive as much as the star of the show, right?
I didn’t know about the tip, so, I posed with two of them. After that, they asked me to pay (that’s their words) them 100baht each. I only brought with me a hundred baht so I asked them if they could split it. I explained to them that I don’t usually carry a lot of cash in my pocket but they didn’t seem to understand. The lady who I handed in the money was already happy and moved on to the next tourist. The other lady (her pic below) though was very persistent and didn’t believe me. I dug into my pockets and told her that she could probe them, too, if she wanted.
And oh, boy, she did–with a side stroke to my crotch! It startled me but I found myself laughing hard. She was laughing, too and quickly said, “Bye, bye.”
That was the “tip”, I guess. LOL…
The girl on the center was one of the two girls I talked about above. She was the one who…. you know… LOL…
Girl on the left performed a Tina Turer song. Does she look like Tina to you?
The girl in the middle was the crowd’s favorite. She lip-synched 5 songs. She was the star of the show.
Can you really see if the girl on the right was once a man?