I raised my hand for the young boy to stop, gently declining the offer, and proceeded to the road drowned in bright neon lights, music blasting from everywhere, and people -- locals and tourists -- sprawling across the street.
Bangla Road, a four-lane street that is barricaded off at both ends when nightfall comes, is the pulse of Phuket's so-called vibrant international nightlife. It will give you the shock of your life if your eyes aren't trained to see not-so-wholesome or rather sexually explicit shows that better be well tucked inside closed circuits or the four walls of nightclubs. Everything was just made public. How on earth was that possible? Left and right, it was screaming that Phuket could never be a family destination. Go away, father, mother, and child.
Caught in the rising temperature of the red light district, at twenty-seven, I was in for a treat, for all that's sleazy imaginable in one night, that is. It's eye-opening knowing that a place, such as Phuket, exists, at least in Southeast Asia, devoid of morality as the holier-than-thou would claim.
All around me, I had a dose of incessant chatters, billowing clouds of cigarette smoke, EDM booming out of loudspeakers, strutting, writhing, and pole-dancing snakes in human skimpy clothes, unlimited booze, obviously heavily made-up erstwhile men with herculean boobs and arses and luscious curves in flashy feathery costumes, muscle and tattooed men, flimsy-framed boys, poking fingers, indecent stares, PDAs, and equally familiar eyes lost in a daze.
Truth be told, I was not prepared enough to get a glimpse of how liberated a small island in Thailand could be. It is unlike the whole of the Philippines at all. Our country dons a conservative skin. Thanks to the moral guardians preaching to the masses, where, ironically, a quarter of the latter are actually getting sicker, spiritually and morally and financially, every single day. Thanks to the influence of modernity and to rampant desperation across the nation -- our moral fiber is degrading. And big thanks to politicians, for the phoney kind of love for country and their people, for their perverted minds, and for the frequent bickering over nonsense. Philippine society is just being superficial now, all for show, in limbo, and has to have thick skin to survive. It is invariably barely there. Thailand may be as blunt as wearing two-piece or thong on the busy streets of Phuket, by showing stark carnal truths, but it has reached tipping point past just surviving. See, it can single-handedly feed hungry mouths in their homes.
I left the pervading confusion and noise in the street, and walked to the road that runs parallel to Patong beach and back and to the main thoroughfare of the town. It was unusually quiet there compared to the din of the crowd I had just been into. But its silence was broken when a pale girl, with red lipstick on, outside a doorway called out in the dark, 'Massage, massage, massage.' She did it calmly and melodiously, as if whispering soft tones to increasingly warm ear, convincingly teasing.