Sunday was a reality check. Sunday reminded me why I’m here. I’m glad for that. I needed it.
Colourful street stalls, beautiful people, amazing food, an enchanting culture, quick & easy transportation, and cheap EVERYTHING.
I’m in love. That’s why.
More realistically…I’m in the honeymoon phase. (How long do these things last?)
But on Sunday I found myself – for the first time – experiencing the less than glamorous side of Thailand. My friend Grace and I had just been to the movie theatre (The Green Hornet – I quite enjoyed it) and decided to go for a walk to find some dinner. We were walking for a while and the sun began to set behind the pollut– uh, clouds (because that happens early here, around 6:30). Suddenly all those bright and colourful street stalls became something much darker. We passed one table after the next filled with dvds of porn – and not “just” porn, but child porn. I kept my eyes focused straight ahead of me and walked on. When we finally found a place to eat Grace asked me if I had noticed the men handing out “menus” of women. I hadn’t. I’m glad I didn’t.
Until Sunday, all I had experienced of Thailand was the good side, the amazing side, the romantic side. Ah yes, the romance of culture. I am an explorer by nature so I’m easily allured by new sights and sounds and beauty. Ironically, in the days leading up to Sunday I had become aware of the fact I had yet to experience the things I’d been warned about. The things I was learning about. The things I was writing about. Sex tourism. Child prostitution. The trafficking of kids as young as 4. How can I work for this organization that’s fighting against these very things and do so from my safe and comfortable office? I became determined not to turn a blind eye to these issues.
I could keep uploading silly vlogs (and I will) chronicling my adventures in Thailand, but ultimately that’s not my goal. I didn’t come here just for “a good time.” I want to go to the dark places. Not to be foolish and put myself in danger, but to use my voice as a means of communicating what I see and hear. Shedding some light on these issues. Raising awareness to people like you.
It also needs to be said that what I saw on Sunday isn’t just happening here in Bangkok. It’s happening in Canada, too. In Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto. And those are just a few cities that I’ve mentioned. The difference is that in Canada the exploitation of women and children is a hidden manifestation. Perhaps that’s why I constantly hear people ask me things like, “But not Ottawa, right?” Yes, in Ottawa. And likely in your own city as well.
I read an article yesterday at work that reminded me of our nation’s pitiful track record of combating human trafficking and the need to advocate to the government on behalf of victims. Timea Nagy came to Canada from Hungary with a dream, but as soon as the then-19 year old arrived in Toronto she was sold for sex.
I don’t want to forget my purpose in coming here. In the midst of being romanced by the culture and indulging my travel bug (which is fine!) reality checks and wake-up calls are necessary to readjust my sight and bring clearer vision. And that warm and fuzzy feeling I have inside reminds me that there’s an even greater romance taking place: the one where Christ relentlessly and passionately pursues his people.