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Posted on Jun 4, 2012

GrandFathers,Teens, & Sex- Bangkok, Thailand

GrandFathers,Teens, & Sex- Bangkok, Thailand

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I will not judge, I will not judge, I will not judge. Damn it, I’m judging. I am. It’s hard for me to see all these men my father’s age with 20 year olds. Literally, grandfathers are making out with girls maybe 19 -25 years of age. And younger men-versions too, in their 20’s, 30’s, and up with prostitutes. Some of the girls  looking so cheap, so sexual. So everything I imaged a prostitute would look like. Some so young, some so old. Those are the ones who, even when I walk in the street holding Kobi’s hand, they look at him with lustful eyes and coo at him. Or that night we walked and a slimy pimp guy behind this really lost looking girl with push-upped bar little tanktop and fitting skirt covering her panty line and no more. He was laughing at her, pushing her into the street, while holding her cell phone and yelling at her. (Maybe she had made a phone call instead of hustling? I don’t know.) She looked very, very young.


She had really long long jet black straight hair. She, and several others, look so pretty, so sweet, so (can I say this word?) innocent? And some of them, look downright gorgeous. It’s confusing. Some of them look like movie star in how they carry themselves, their hair, dress, makeup, high heels. Those, I can easily see why any man would like to go out with them. Many of those were in the pub with us. Many of those (I’m told) don’t take money for their services, but enjoy the good times, free food, admissions, and sex with a foreigner; and the hope, the dream that maybe this one will fall in love with her to ever after in Thailand,  the land beyond the rainbow.

And yes, really, why not? If I was older and alone and felt a bit lonely (which I do anyhow sometimes, and I’m not alone!) why wouldn’t I find someone hot 20-50 years my junior and have the time of my life. How would that feel to be able to be with someone, sexually, who is wrinkle-free, young, glowing? I see them in the hotel pool, one, two or three smiling, laughing little girls all over one guy. And the guy, feeling like Tom Cruise, smiling cockily from ear to ear.

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And yes, really, why not? Why not try really hard for a dream that may take you out of a reality you feel trapped in? Why not try really hard to use what God gave you (even if it is your body) to make money, have some fun, and maybe make the ultimate dream come true?

So, why is this not right? Why not walk with a hot girl (or a not-so-hot one who will make you feel like a King for the night)? Why walk the streets of Bangkok alone when you can have someone near you who laughs, pets you, and makes you feel super wanted and young, right? And on her part, why not try?

Isn’t that what I believe in? Isn’t that why we travel the world now and not one day when we retire and may have enough money/security/insanity to know it is the right time to do so? You only live once and you have the right, no, the obligation, to squeeze the juice out of this life and enjoy every last drop. So this entire prostitution thing is just having fun, no? And I believe that every person defines for themselves the rules that make his life most joyful. So, who am I to judge what makes you most joyful? Prostitution may be a powerful ingredient for a highly enjoyable life. I don’t know.

So, as you’ll hear in the video, I’m struggling. I think we all have choices. Those girls do too (at least some of them do). There are tons of Thai girls working in that grocery store or as street vendors who probably make in a week, what these prostitutes make in an hour. All making choices, right?

So, I’ll keep fumbling and struggling to love the world and all the people that I met along the way. I’ll keep looking at the contradictions and know that there is only learning there for me. I’ll keep looking at these grandfathers having sex with teenagers and know that everyone is making the best decisions they can, and that that is all they can do. Until now, I’ve looked away, avoided eye contact cuz I didn’t want to convey what I was feeling. And now, I will keep  to look every grandfather and every prostitute by his side that I meet on the street in the eye with love and compassion.

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What do you think about Grandfathers and Teenagers Having Sex? Any thoughts to help me reach greater understanding, acceptance, compassion, and love? Ever been in a situation where you knew you should not judge but felt it rising in you so strongly?

Am I wrong to judge? Do you? Do you know how to reach that higher place of acceptance and compassion? Wanna get a hooker? Tell me what’s on your mind, and we’ll laugh about it together.

That’s how I grow and laugh and learn, by reflecting it off others. And how in the world will I know you’ve been around if we don’t connect! Subscribe to our new YouTube Channel, Facebook, this blog, AND twitter, and then, then, then, you’ll really have way too much information.


  1. Agree, Agree, Agree! It sure is hard to watch isn’t it? And it vaguely seems wrong and very difficult not to judge. But on the other hand, I am intensely interested in the whole affair. I read a post on nomadic matt’s site where he believes many of these girls are not as young as they seem to you and that they know exactly what they are doing and how much money they can make. He thinks many girls support their whole families with the cash that western men give them. It’s hard for me not to think we are justifying what is happening but I guess each to their own. As long as the girls are choosing and not being forced into it, who are we to judge how they make a living. I think I’d feel better about it if those western grandfathers weren’t grinning from ear to ear. I’m pretty sure it’s their drunken weaving and loud guffawing that really irks me, rather than the fact that they are “buying” a girl for a week.

    • yeah, maybe it is the guffawing and not the weekly purchase that irks me, but still i’m unsettled with it. and yes, i agree that many of these women (some so young, and some much older than I think) are supporting their families with their western men’s money.i wish i could tell you i can lovingly accept all that i see. it’s for some strange reason easier for me to see those women in the street with babies and toddlers sleeping in their arms, asking for money (when they should take the kid home to sleep) than it is for me to see the Grandfathers and Teens/Prostitutes. It interests me too, intensely, and maybe, surely, through this interest/ through my being attracted/repulsed/confused by it; i have much to learn there. i love that we are shadowing experiences you’ve had months ago, and that then we can share in that discussion.

  2. I think perhaps different opinions will come from people depending on issues from their own past. For me personally, I could not walk down the street and see that happening without feeling physically sick :-/
    I know there are some of the lassies who are forced into it, and have little choice in the matter – and for me the acid test would be if I would be happy for my daughters to be behaving in that way. I KNOW we should not judge, but I really feel unable to look at these men without seeing them as users. Even if the girls are making thousands, supporting families etc – at the end of the day when I pay for something it is a thing I am paying for – so payment for use of a human beings body to me is wrong 🙁
    I guess this may be one of the areas that would make me least comfortable about travelling – I get scared, emotional and very upset when I perceive there to be abuse of any sort!!

    • wendy, me too. but to be honest, i just turn it off. i have to . otherwise, i don’t think i could travel. i see, my kids see, things that make us uncomfortable (like kids begging, sleeping in the streets, the prostitutes…) and so is life. yes, they are using those girls bodies. and yes, those girls are probably supporting entire families. and yes, to everything everyone has written here with so much love and intention and wisdom. yes. yes, yes. that’s about all i can say for now. yes. .i love you. gabi

  3. Uhhhh, whew . . .

    I see your point. And we can never be in another persons shoes, but . . .

    I’ll tell you what. Give those girls $20,000 a ticket way out of town and see if they come back. See if old men is what they really want. Nobody wants that. I know you will meet people who say that is what they want, and they may seem happy, but they are not.

    We do what need to do to survive. That may include prostituting, denying our misery, refusing to talk about what we hate, getting mad, faking a smile, believing the lie. We do what we have to do, but just as the old man wants the young girl and all that comes with it, what would make anyone think the young girl wants some old, desperate man hanging on her. It doesn’t work that way.

    And these men, they are sad as well. What horrible lives they must have to leave everything and move half way around the world to find someone to pay attention to them for a cheap price. Not happy people.

    The bottom line is we can do better. Just because it exists and everyone is doing it with smiles, doesn’t make it right or good. It’s not good. It might be what people HAVE to do to get by, but we can’t excuse it. We have to make it better.

    All the work I have down with trauma and neglect, I don’t need to take opinions on this one. I know the fact. I’ve seen the stats and histories over and over and over. My job is essentially to keep girls from becoming prostitutes, and young men from abusing them. Prostitution – It’s not a good thing. It’s desperation. And it becomes familiar and normal and we get used to it, and that is no good.

    I get why people do it. I’m a man, I get it! I have no interest in judging anyone, but I can’t abide taking advantage of someone’s poverty on that level. I know grandfathers would be changing their tune if it was their granddaughter.

    Excellent Post! Way to throw it on the table.

    • Justin, thank you for taking the time to care, to really really care and answer. your response reflects an area of expertise that i foreign to me. i help people who have tried to commit suicide, who have lost a child/spouse/themselves, who no longer want their life/marriage/body, who still can’t breath because their childhood/mistakes/life still chokes them. helping girls to decide not to sell their bodies and stopped others from ‘purchasing’ them is nothing of know of. this, in my sheltered life, is the first time i have seen prostitution, Justin. My first time seeing those fuck-me-now eyes, those smiles, those tight-fitting clothing, that cheapness, and the men who joyfully enjoy the sex, attention, flirting, and thrill of it all. last night, kobi, sitting in the lobby, saw an unrecordable flow of traffic, girls waiting in the lobby, men coming down to get them and take them up to their rooms.

      I understand all that you say. I know that not everyone has a choice here. I know that some of these girls are supporting entire families. I know that some of these men are sad, lonely, and lost; and that some of them are also just really having the time of their lives. I don’t think any of these girls would necessarily pick this, but I don’t know, many of them do, I think. They could work in other lower-earning jobs. Many of those we saw in Khanchanburi don’t take money. They enjoy free accommodations, great food, tons of alcohol, many a good nights out on the town, and sex with foreigners. Many of those girls have been free-loading for months at a time and having ‘the time of their lives’. Are they lonely and lost souls too? Very possibly.

      but, really, justin, and i’m thinking this aloud as i write, don’t we do that too? when we get lonely and lost, don’t we go numb it off online, with drugs, food, sex, a movie, work? We do it too. They also get out of sex, possibly great sex, and a wild, party life. Again, I know those free-loaders and those prostitutes may be in very different life situations. i bet both would love to land some great foreigner for life. but those we danced with, the super-sexy slutty girl from the dance club, and all of her tight-fitting, pole-dancing friends; where do they fit in? are they just young girls looking for some fun (like many 20ish year olds in our Western culture) or are they stuck in a lonely reality selling their bodies in a hope of creating a new one. Or, are they in the grey?

      I think there is so much gray here. so much gray. i think my modest role in all of this is
      a- write about and make people think (check, vee)
      b- teach my children about healthy sexuality and the choices they have (check, vee, ongoing)
      c- learn to see all mankind with love and compassion, and look them in the eye with that (working really hard on it, not even close to it yet)

      i love you justin,
      thank you for helping those girls find a better way,

    • ps justin,
      another indication of what is going on is my youtube movie itself. the title ‘grandfathers, teens, and sex’ seems to be quite popular. while my other posts get a few dozen hits, up to a hundred + over time; my sex movie, in three days is at over 1,220 views. let’s think about that and what our society feels sex is all about today. it’s not just microproblem on these hookers and their customers, it’s much, much, much wider than that. turn on your tv set, flip through any magazine and you’ll see. i know you know this. again, just thinking aloud, that here, here, here on the street corners that o walk by with my children, in those ‘message’ parlors; you see it living itself out. it also thrives in bedrooms and homes throughout the world, just there the degradation of women is not as public.

      • Justin, update: 20 minutes later. We’re up to 1328 views. Oh, to be popular….

  4. Ahhhh, not really. I don’t see many secure girls in western culture saying, “OH, I can’t wait til that 65 year old Chinese guy take me to bed tonight.” Not really. That’s not really a good night out.

    Yes, we do all do seek out something to help curb our loneliness or whatever, but some of us have limits. And we feel guilt. And we try to make it better. We don’t just shrug our shoulders. I am not saying anyone should start carrying a sign, but let’s not be fooled by some smiles and such. And I’m not trying to cast some “I’m better” attitude. That’s not it. The fact is that it is not a good life. It’s not good for the girls, their kids, etc… It just isn’t. It might seem like the best opportunity they have now, I get that, but that doesn’t make it right. It is a an issue as old as time. Probably not going to change soon. But I can’t be fooled by those smiles.

    We will sign off on eating meat and attending McDonalds with ease, but we justify this? I think it is something we are so distant from, we don’t understand it.

    I think it goes a lot deeper.

  5. As you said, it’s such a big issue. We can easily find some Thai teen online from our rooms. Just as bad, can’t judge it – you’re right. That is a very good point.

    I think we have to judge ourselves and create alternatives. It comes down to having choices.

    An I just can’t put my arm around grandpa and say, “Good for you old man.” Just can’t do it. Sorry.

    It will be interesting to walk with the family in Bangkok. Great article!

  6. Officially the most comments I have ever left on a post!

    For me it’s about taking advantage of desperation. 70 year old falls in love with 20 year old and vice-versa – go be happy. But man moves around world to target young, poor kids to meet his own needs, can’t support that. Girl meets hot foreign guy and has a fling, fine.

    And you’re right. It happens everywhere. We all do it. Have to work on that one.

    • how much fun has this been, to engage in real, real, tough conversation over issues that you and i can’t solve; but maybe can settle in our minds/hearts/souls. i’d love for it to be as simple as people having fun, having sex, and just maybe, falling in love. that would be great. but it’s not. i’m glad my post is making you and i think a lot about things. that’s what we are meant to do from time to time. to get outside of our comfortable little, personal bubble of saving money to travel/traveling forever and look at the lives, look at the faces that compose the fabric of some of those far off, romantic lands. reality ain’t as pretty up close sometimes, is it? they say in cambodia (where we’re off to tomorrow morning) that the kids beg and steal food off your plate when you sit in restaurants, and Kobi says, in India, you see whole villages of kids who live in the streets and are starving. i’m not ready yet to see ugly, painful realities justin. i’m soft and weak hearted and know that here, too, i will see realities my soul can’t quite grasp. here we go…. i’m glad to know you will be there witnessing every step of the way. i’ll lean on you when it gets tough. 🙂 gabi

  7. You’re in big trouble in Cambodia then Gabi!! Take your tissues – your heart will break!!!

    • shit. i hate a broken heart. can’t i just skip through the globe and not face issues? come one. alice in wonder land? oh well, at least i’ll have good stuff to write about. 🙂 love you tracey. i saw you posted for the france apartment two kids. have you lost my jono again? i’m really getting annoyed with this little game of yours.

  8. Gabi,
    Sorry we missed each other in BKK. My parents came in to join us for a couple weeks and we moved on to the southern islands. So I completely understand needing to just chill a little before moving on. I was trying to do the same thing before they arrived!

    I hope you are having a good trip to Cambodia! At least you’re in the same time zone. So no more jet lag.

    I will put in my 2 cents worth on this posts subject matter…

    I resonate with Justin’s words. The reason that we are in Thailand is because of our relationship with a family in BKK that is doing their best to help with the havoc that prostitution wreaks. They moved their family of 7 over to BKK from Chicago to live along side and help as best they can. So they go out to the bars and pay the girls bar fees for an hour or so, just to hang with them and talk with them and try to get to know the person, the soul, not the body. The girls call them ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ because when they realize that they aren’t there for sex, the girls drop the sexy act and overtones and just relax for 30 min or so and just have some compassionate human contact. The stories that my friends tell are heartbreaking. And they have had their hearts broken again and again for years. They have set up a program that the girls can take to learn different skills, like jewelry making and sewing so they can make money another way.

    There are so many variables, like you mentioned that go into the ‘why’ behind prostitution. But after over a decade of working with the BKK girls in particular, not one of them has ever said they want to be doing what they are doing. The only reason any of them go back is because they can’t kick the drug habit, or they’re self esteem is so damaged, they really don’t feel worthy of help and so they go back to the familiar abuse.

    So, yes, it’s a good conversation to have. It is better than not talking about it at all!

    I am sad that we missed each other. I was really looking to some great conversation about your nomadic life! I will check out blog often and wish you amazing connections as your travel!!


    • hi amanda. thank you for the heart-felt reply. wow. wow. one three accounts. a- that you’re parents came to visit and you have the wisdom to chill out and give yourself some time. wonderful that you listened to yourself. i did too and unfortunately missed a great opportunity to hang out with a new friend. i’m sorry i missed that. i dearly am. when i don’t listen to myself, i fall. we had moved too much, too fast, too hot and i just needed to sit by the pool and strum my guitar and work out and look at the ceiling for a while. b- wow because you understand and love me and wanted to talk with me. ahhhhh…. will you be coming to cambodia. we have settled down here and i would love love love to see you and chat. we had another three days of border crossings, buses all day, where am i, where do i belong and now we’ve rented a place for a month-three months and have our feet on the ground. would love to see you. and c- wow because of your reply. wow. i cannot imagine how much damage and pain and irreversible havoc prostitution can bring to women and entire families. and to know that your friends are actively being there for these girls makes me get very strong goosebumps. to know that someone cares and reaches out to help. i, of course, am not saying it is ok; i am just saying i want to look with love and compassion at all of those involved. all involved. people make the best choices they can and every choice has serious advantages and disadvantages. this is my first time, ever, seeing street life ugliness so close and it caught me very, very off-guard. i felt repulsed also by the women and their cheap sex facade and i didn’t want to feel that way toward them. it’s not their fault, right? they are doing their jobs.
      oh, i wish i could close this in my heart, but it remains very turbulent in here in regards to this entire topic. how i wish they all had better choices to make. thank you for caring. let me know if we’ll be able to see you in cambodia, and if not, we’ll keep up, online. we have twitter at thenomadicfamil and facebook: the nomadic family AND (“-) ) even a youtube channel at (you guessed it) thenomadicfamilychannel. i would be honored to keep up with you and your family amanda. hugs to you, yours, and the friends who help others, gabi

  9. Okay so while girls who are forced into sex work against their will could do with rescuing and are in a desperate spot, I think what everyone needs to remember is that sex workers are not always desperate, pathetic, miserable and/or hating their jobs. And constantly putting this stigma on them that they are so in need they have to do what we class as “beneath us” just further encourages people to treat them with less respect than they deserve. I’d like to see you be brave enough to first realise you are gorgeous and desirable enough for someone to actually pay to spend time with you, let alone get naked after that point.
    Would I despise being someone in a call centre? Yes. Does that mean I look down on everyone who works in one because I know I would hate it? No. Does it mean everyone who works in a call centre hates their jobs with firey passion? No.
    Because there’s always someone who does their jobs because they genuinely want to, and choose too. So stop looking down on people who make their own choices in life purely because you don’t agree with it. Stop acting like the only people who use sex workers are “grandfathers” and stop acting like the only sex workers in the industry are “teenagers.”
    Yes, it’s very confronting, but it happens here and in the U.S. and all over the world every single day in the open and behind closed doors and nobody ever freaks out and posts degradingly about that. Sex workers are not bad people, stop making them out to be. It’s rude, unfair and disrespectful to women who are braver than most.

    • I don’t think it’s only grandfathers and teenagers, but I do get more grossed out with that combination when I see it in public than with other combinations, other combinations that could even be worse (like a tormentor and a slave relationship). In the grandfather/teenager scenario they are both getting something, but at what cost? In some countries where this is more prevalent and the reason the women are subjecting themselves to this life now is for the hopes of a better life later, I’m sad for them. I’m sad because this is the only choice they feel they have. I’m sad because if they somehow get out of that lifestyle and get what they thought they wanted, it just might not be all they thought it would be. Maybe it will be better. I don’t know, but I don’t think that happens as often as we’d want. To me, there is a difference between some place like Amsterdam where prostitution is legal and there are rules to the game, and other places where prostitution really stems from something dirtier. Where westerners have come with their big wallets and promises and left and now age-old traditions are compromised. Where the local governments turn the other way because they want the money. Or where the men have come, had their way with the women, and left them pregnant. It makes me so sad when I see fatherless children in the Philippines who look like me, half-Filipino, half-something else. I don’t know their stories. I know they are now begging and maybe when they get older they’ll be the teenager in question. And maybe this is why it really bothers me.

      I wonder, though, how I would feel if this was a grandmothers with teenagers industry.

      • Ann, you’re response has given me goosebumps. those kids looking up at you, what choices did their mom have, and what choices will await them in their situation. it makes me sad too for i come from a life where there was always another way, and not everyone is as fortunate as you and me. governments, money, sex-drive, no choice, it’s all a mix of desperation and greedy and somewhere in there, the human need not to feel so lonely, to turn it off, for just a second, to feel alive. i can relate to that too: i’m waiting anxiously to hear more of your thoughts. thank you for sharing so deeply. gabi

  10. We feel a sort of patronising pity for these girls because they are poor and are trying to better their lives by swapping sex for money. They at least are honest about what they are doing. How different is their lot from so many western girls who “marry up”. Girls who look for rich husbands who will support them in style and allow them never to work another day. A lot of these women marry men who are a lot older or short fat and ugly or otherwise out of their league if it was not for the fat bank account. How many of these women stay in unhappy marriages even violent ones because they would hate the thought of losing the lifestyle.These are legitimate alliances recognised and accepted by our society. Are these western women not selling their beautiful young bodies for money? Oh and by the way it works across the sexes. Britney Spears, Demi Moore , Rosanne Barr and even a latter Elizabeth Taylor all had younger husbands who married them for their money. Demi Moore was lucky though in that her husband , riding on the coat tails of her fame, became richer than her !!

    • Nicole, Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us. Wow. I need to go back into this state of mind to fully share my thoughts. I think you. also, are right, that you present yet another way to look at this, that women from all different cultures, for different ‘lack of choices’ use their looks to buy them lifestyles that they desire. it is any more ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ than the teenage girls prostituting their bodies to old men? And you’ve added to the discussion the rich and beautiful who have gotten younger men for their prestige too. Wow. I like. I think everyone gets out of it something they want. I do not think that all women have the choice like the ones you’ve mentioned. I do know that some, for example in Cambodia, are sold off as a young age as prostitution, and no one asked them, they just happened to be girls born to poor families and sold off to prostitution for income for the family. That’s a whole other world. So, thank you. I don’t think this will ever be clearly closed for me. Thank you. I’d love to hear any more thoughts you have, and of course if we can get justing and britt back in here, they will have lots to say too i’m sure. gabi


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