i can now say that i’ve found something in thailand i don’t care much for – pattaya.  i was there for a few days last week.  it was a quick trip, but i think it was more than enough time to get a feel for the city.  (while there i didn’t spend much time on the beach – the schedule didn’t allow for it.  when i first saw that we’d have to squeeze in our own beach time i was a little bummed. but then i visited the beach and discovered that bikinis and speedos come in all sizes which was really more than i needed to see (or not see)).  i was in pattaya with a team from america (and one token canadian, eh) who are on a sponsor tour with compassion international.  (they’ve all come over to meet up with their sponsor kids – i’ve got tons to blog about on the trip in general.  hopefully i’ll get to those posts soon.) but the goal while we were in pattaya wasn’t to meet sponsor kids, it was to visit the tamar center, an amazing ywam project.  the purpose of the tamar center is to rescue women from prostitution and there are many thousands of women that started out on a journey towards something better only to end up in pattaya working as prostitutes.

after we visited the tamar center we dropped by the pattaya walking street.  it’s a night bazaar of sorts, but nothing like the night bazaar i’m used to in chiang mai. along the road there is bar upon bar upon bar all offering the same sorts of services.

we got there early in the evening and the bars were fairly empty, but by the time we loaded back up into the vans at 8:30 the bars were quickly filling.  the entire time we were walking these streets i felt such a heaviness and sadness for these women.  they are all so trapped.  and when i saw this sign for a soon to be opened bar it made total sense to me.

we had a few of the compassion thailand staff traveling with us and as i was explaining to one of them what alcatraz was it occured to me how fitting the name was for a bar in pattaya.  a prison – that it’s said – no one was ever able to escape from.  which is exactly how i would guess these women feel.  that there is no escape.  and i can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it is to get out of this lifestyle.  once you feel so devalued how do you ever discover your worth again?  when people only want to use you how do you trust again?  and when you’ve gone looking for a better life only to wind up in this one, how do you ever hope again?  these women need change and most probably don’t even realize how much they need it.