Backpacker Threatened With “Working Off Her Debt” In Thai Sex Show Bar Scam

Backpacker Threatened With “Working Off Her Debt” In Thai Sex Show Bar Scam

Above Photo: Bangkok neon in the rain (

As readers of BACK will know, backpacking in Asia can be a pretty dangerous business. So I was interested to recently read an article by Chris Stevens, who was backpacking around Asia, about what happened when he and some friends decided to take in a “Sexy Show” (a misnomer if ever there was one), when they were in Bangkok, and of the things that can go badly wrong once you’re ensnared in a scam.

This was Chris’s story:

“Instead of opting for the Khao San Road version, we made the schoolboy error of jumping in a cab and asking the driver to take us to a sex show. In hindsight this was the first of many stupid mistakes we made. We pulled up in a seedy area and chatted to a guy who said all we had to do was buy at least one (overpriced) drink and the show was free – something we had all heard about before.

After being guided through a maze of corridors, we ended up in an empty room with a stage and a bar (another warning sign we ignored) and sat down. The show itself was a mixture of disgusting, intriguing and downright weird – not the amusing drunken backpacker-filled atmosphere we had envisioned, and after a couple acts we decided to leave and everyone gave me their money to pay.

As I was expecting to hand over 800 Baht for four drinks (much more than usual) you can imagine how much my stomach sank when I was presented with a bill for nearly 10 times that amount – the equivalent of well over $150.

The next 45 minutes was the most intimidating and scariest time I’ve had on the road as we tried to haggle it down and play the backpacker card.

At least on Khaosan Road, you know what you're paying, and how good it's going to be, apparently...

At least on Khaosan Road, you know how much you’re paying, what for, and you even get a seller’s warranty on quality, apparently…

Our combined cash pool came well short of the amount and at one point one of the bouncers told us that one of the girls would have to dance the tab off – that’s when we knew the shit had really hit the fan. I was about to put my camera into the pot when one of my friends pulled out some American dollars and the whole atmosphere changed.

One of the bouncers disappeared and returned asking him if he had anymore. In total he had about $50 worth.

Then something weird happened – they gave us back pretty much all of our Thai money, took the dollars and told us to leave, which we did as quickly as we could. Shaken up, confused and completely sobered up by the whole ordeal, we went straight to the 7:11 and promptly purchased a few beers.

In hindsight we all laughed about it, but at the time it caught us all off guard, despite all the warning signs.”

See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:

Peter Alan Lloyd

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Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

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