Southeast Asia has grown into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for travelers looking to stretch their money and feel like royalty away from home.
In Southeast Asia a westerner can buy just about anything and anything goes in the cities where the locals rely on tourist money to make ends meat. From the famed musical “Chess” the lines echo out “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.” Bangkok is just one of the many Southeast Asian capitals to have developed a darker side to it’s tourist economy in the form of sex tourism.
Not far from the high end financial district is the infamous Patpong – a row of bars that cater to the voyeurism and lonely visitors out on the hunt. Thailand is full of the risqué scene both in the Northern capital of Chiang Mai and in the Southern islands such as Phuket. Leaving Thailand into Malaysia is whole other scene. Nighttime in Kuala Lumpur is a much tamer atmosphere as most of the country still lives under strict Islamic code. In Malaysia, the good times are centered around food and friends, which carries further down into the pristine streets of its Southern neighbor, Singapore.
Just an hour-long flight away from Singapore is Indonesia. Those on a Southern tour in this part of the world typically move upwards from the Singapore South, and avoid such unknown and precarious territory as the Indonesian islands. Known for its fundamentalism, Jakarta is often avoided by those wishing to let loose on an anything goes holiday vacation, but hidden in Indonesia’s smaller, deeper islands is Bali. Bali has certainly changed over the years. Though tourists may not be finding their way down to Bali, tourists from Australia and New Zealand are finding their way up.
While Bali is mainly popular with Australians for it’s beach and surf, New Zealanders find it an attractive alternative in terms of cost. New Zealand is on the lower end of value for dollar than most other western countries and Bali is the closest and most affordable island getaway. A surprising arrival from this new type of tourism is the creation of the Balinese, or sometimes Javanese, gigolo. While rich men from foreign countries have appealed to lees fortunate women from poorer countries since the beginning of time, the male gigolo is a rather quirky and unusual take on the power play between wealth and relationships.
The Bali nightlife is the perfect breeding ground for these slick operators whom sometimes wait outside Bali hotels offering motorcycle rides to the nearest club. In many cases, the driver will ask to join a single female in the club and befriend her. He may then offer to take the young woman on a tour of the island for a small fee. While many Bali resorts make sure to warn young travelers against these happenings, it is often possible to find young men making their move at the local nightclub or during the day on the beach. Once one of these men has befriended the woman, he will expect to be taken care of paid for wherever they go together. There is no harm in a simple friendship, but many young women may find themselves in an uncomfortable scenario.
While the North side of the island is more traditional, the Southern beaches of Kuta and Legian are the easiest places to get picked up on. There are several late-night clubs where these types of interactions are likely to take place. It’s an unusual thing to imagine, but as several locals will attest, they have a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ from Australia or another foreign land that they are waiting to return or at the every least make a phone call.