Alright, so just a quick reflection here...a few of us managed to visit Bangkok's weekend market, which in itself is quite an experience and here are a few of the things we observed:
- Do not donate money to the street children, no matter how hard it is to walk by...sometimes the whole thing is a bit overwhelming (this one in particular was a burn victim and scarred for life) and all you want to do is give the poor child something, but while watching from a far we saw an adult quickly swoop in and exchange anything he collected for an apple to pacify the child for a few more hours while he roasts in the sun. Sadly, these donations are what kept him there and promotes the whole begging culture.
-Do not buy any animals from the market. This was perhaps the most depressing section in the weekend market, because there were hundreds of puppies, kittens, bunnies, squirrels, etc. all stuffed in small cages without access to water most of the time and being man-handeled by dozens of people- some of which I am sure will use the pets for dog-fighting, food or breeding.
-Also, never pay full price. Some of my friends felt guilty haggling for an already cheap item, which is understandable, but they will never sell you anything without making a profit and actually enjoy the sport of haggeling.
-On a side note, some other markets were located in the red light district...most of these women who prostitute themselves are teenagers, some extremely young virgins, who have no other source of income other than sleeping with foreign businessmen, tourists, or locals for money. Societal stigmas often blame and dehumanize these women, thinking they have a choice, but clearly in this situation they do not. Sometimes their own parents are actually the ones who put them up to the job. The whole experience makes you sick to your stomach watching some greased-up, mid-life crisis, 40-something year old taking these girls away for who knows what. There were also the advertisements for "ping-pong, animal or banana" shows, which I will not elaborate on but hopefully you get the drift. It was disgusting. The industry thrives in Bangkok, and sadly, when you help reduce the supply of prostitutes the demand simply moves elsewhere. Anyways, I will post more later on once we reach Siem Reap, Cambodia.