Bangkok Girl

43 minutes 8.0/10 based on 23 votes

Filmed in 2002, this documentary provides an inside look at Thailand’s notorious nightlife through the eyes of one of the thousands of young women who work the scene. This girl, named Plah, has been working at a bar since the age of 13. Now 19, she shares her story. But only the parts she wants to make known. Maybe she’s afraid of saying too much. Maybe it’s because she’s convinced nobody cares about her.

At first she seems immature and silly, but one quickly discovers that her giggling and childish banter is nothing more than her way of dealing with the pain and shame of what is going on around her. Plah claims that she hasn’t fallen prey to the sex industry, but one wonders how a bar girl with such meager earnings can afford a gold watch and a fancy necklace. But then again, by her own admission, she only tells her mother the good parts about her job.

One of the first words a small child in Thailand learns is “falang” which means “stranger” or “tourist.”  Sadly, many falangs visit Thailand mostly for sex exploitation. The sex trade is common in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. It’s a $2.5 billion a year industry. The reasons are simple: poverty and the indifference of the authorities. Most of the bars in Bangkok are just pick-up sites. They’re owned by Germans, English, or American expats who take advantage of the situation.

Described by one tourist as “a man’s playground,” the sex trade in Bangkok offers young women an escape from the harsh reality of lack and insufficiency. “It’s up to you what you want to do”, states one young woman when talking about prostitution. “If you want to take two, you can take two.” According to her, if the customer isn’t satisfied with the young woman’s sexual performance, he doesn’t even have to pay. Prostitution is illegal in Bangkok but only for women. Men are at liberty to pay for the sex, but women can’t charge for their services.

The big question is who is really to blame for the immoral chaos unfolding in Bangkok? The girls terrified of being poor who see no other way to make a living? The men who spend hundreds of dollars a night trying to fill their emptiness with meaningless sex? The authorities who pretend not to see what’s going on? Weak family values? Watch now and draw your own conclusions.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • Mattyo

    SPOILER ____________________ Even tho he cared for the girl I think it was this doco that got her killed, so sad, so very sad

    • Sirramar

      And he seems to thinks so himself. But yet Pla never tells him to turn off the camera. Like she just wants her story told before she dies.

  • Jeffery Bergman

    As an American male who has lived in Thailand for 23 years, I will tell you the truth is that 95% of prostitution in Thailand caters to Thai men, not foreigners. The vast majority of “pick up” bars are owned by Thais in cahoots with local police, not “owned by Germans, English, or American expats who take advantage of the situation” as falsely reported. Massage parlors are found all over the country and there are hundreds of them in Bangkok, many are reserved exclusively for Thais not even allowing “falangs” to enter. Take all the westerners out of Thailand and prostitution will continue to thrive as it has for centuries. I am married to a Thai attorney who would be happy to confirm the veracity of these claims. I am disappointed once again with shallow and sensationalist journalism targeting a sympathetic Western market.

  • Eren

    That British man didn’t look sympathetic at all.

    • gerry

      The English guy was a complete idiot. He was only interested in himself and his needs :(

      Sad to say I’m from the same island as him.

  • Gambit

    Pla is a good actor. May she rest in Peace (or reborn in a more prosperous life)

  • Dannysog

    Geez, this story broke my heart. I am not kidding, it completely destroyed me to find out the ending of this beautiful girl. At one time I was fantasizing that maybe there was a way of getting in touch with this girl. I have helped people from other countries when I know their stories are true. While i cannot help a lot, I help as much as I can. I kept telling myself that maybe there was a way to help this girl to achieve some kind of job training. I was getting ready to read the credits when I found out what happened and it completely got me by surprise. My heart turned and I felt so sad for her, I actually started praying for her. I asked God to remember her. May God keep this beautiful, strong willed girl in his memory.
    Pah lived in a spiritual paradise until it was her time to rest.
    I am very sorry for what happened to you Pah. Please rest assured that I care, I deeply care for you. Had I once chance to help, I would have helped. Rest well beautiful, you don’t have to fight anymore.

  • Black sheep

    That English perv is a teacher?!?! WTF is hes teaching your little kids?!?! How to suck a knob?!?!?

    good luck parents

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