Thailand Ping Pong Show
I'd started off with a week in Chiang Mai with a few other guys on a cricket trip (the Annual Chiang Mai Sixes), and was then planning to spend a week in Bangkok with a Thai friend (male) who I'd shared a house with for a while when he was studying in Australia. After a few days of showing me around Bangkok, including a soapy massage (Welcome to Thailand!) he decided that he had to urgently go back to work (his family's gold shop in Rayong) so he dropped me off in Pattaya to fend for myself for the rest of the week. So while sitting alone at I think it was the Bodega Bar, along Second Road, a young Aussie couple asked me if I knew where the ping pong shows were? I said no but if they were happy for me to tag along then I am sure we could go and find one.
We asked a couple of the staff girls where we were could go for a ping pong show, and after a few confused looks and some chattering they pointed across the road, to I think it is Tim's Bar on Second Road (it was a few years ago, it's a little hazy). We entered through the curtain to see a stage with a few girls on and around it, and the Aussie couple started asking the Mamasan about a "ping pong show". They were promptly handed a bucket of ping pong balls each, and then swamped by the girls who were screaming and grabbing ping pong balls as quickly as these two could pull them out of the bucket. It didn't take long to figure out that this wasn't exactly the type of ping pong show they were expecting, and now they were also up for 1000 Baht each for the buckets of balls! I think with some wai-ing and grovelling they managed to negotiate a discount with mamasan on the grounds that they didn't know what the ping pong balls meant, and we made a hasty exit. Lesson one learned.
I'm not sure how we got there – possibly by tuktuk – but the next attempt was at a bar called Byblos, on the corner of Second Road and Soi Diamond, which we were assured was actually a proper ping pong show. A little more skeptically and cautiously this time, and possibly after paying an entry fee, we ventured upstairs and indeed found ourselves at a pussy show! So after some balloon-shooting, bottle opening, cigarette smoking and some girl-on-girl strap on action, we were all happy.
But the main reason I mention Byblos, is that the next time I was there, about 12 months on, they had added an element to the show which I have yet to see elsewhere in Thailand. They had a male performer – nothing sexual – he was more like a Thai "strongman" crossed with a Shaolin monk. I think there may have been something involving a bed of nails and cinder blocks being broken, but what really impressed me was his last act, which I was asked to help out with. I was ushered on to the stage and given a block of wood, about 1 foot square and 2 inches thick, and told to hold this against my chest. He then picked up a length of steel rebar about 6 feet long and pushed one end against the block of wood I was holding, and placed the other end against his own throat, in the small hollow just above where the collarbones meet in the centre. Now this was 100% real rebar, I am sure of that, and I am also sure that he had placed the end above the collarbones where it would push into his windpipe, and not below where it would push against with breastbone.
Using mostly hand signals (no English) he was instructing me to brace myself as he pushed forward towards me, the steel rod against his throat. At this stage I was still a bit unsure as to what was actually happening, and the first time he pushed he almost knocked me backwards. It was clear to me now that he was trying to bend the bar in half by pushing against it with his throat, so I took a better stance and really leaned into his push this time. It still wasn't enough, as while the bar started to bow in the middle I was now sliding backwards across the stage! Some more hand signals and grunts from the performer and this time I really braced hard and actually thrust forward with my body weight as he pushed, and this time as the bar began to bow I was able to hold my ground, while he continued to push forward, eventually bending the steel bar in half. I still don't quite know how he did it, and I don't really intend to find out myself, but it was impressive!
Unfortunately on my most recent visit to Pattaya I saw that Byblos is now closed down, though maybe it's not so unfortunate at the previous time I had been there it was dead, the upstairs show bar wasn't open, and most of the girls dancing downstairs were the same ones who had been there on my first visit about 4 years earlier – and they had not aged particularly well in that time. It's a bit difficult telling these less than attractive girls that, "Yes, I will try and bring a friend from Australia for you next time".
The bit at the start where the young couple threw ping pong balls thinking that was something to do with the infamous ping pong show is classic!