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Learning the Thai sex trade

Thailand generates fantasies, both for tourists in search of sex and for aid workers peddling lurid tales of trafficking. The tsunami created more false horror stories. What are the facts of the trade?

By Alex Renton   110

January was ugly in our part of Bangkok. We live near Soi Nana, off Sukhumvit Road, a famous tourist site catering for a specific sort of visitor: middle-aged western men. They come to Nana for one reason—to have sex cheaply. November to January is high season in Thailand for holidaymakers from northern nations, and the bars and pavements of Nana are packed with hundreds of people buying and selling sex. January was busier than ever this year. It took a struggle every evening to get through the ranks of skinny Thai women and the pale men in shorts picking them…

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