Episode 6 - Bangkok - Ho-Chi-Minh-City (Jan 5 - Jan 26, 13)
After experiencing the exotic megacity of Bangkok, we drive through Thailand and Cambodia and end up in Ho-Chi-Minh City in Vietnam, a city populating millions. Jens Stubenrauch is the author of this stage.
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We have our first shooting with the girl band "Zodapop" in Bangkok in the afternoon. Five high-spirited musicians produce really fine indie pop. They really hit it off in their rehearsal room at the "Soundgood Studios". A poster on the wall shows the King of Thailand playing saxophone. We will meet up with the "Zodapops" again on Wednesday, when they perform on the famous Khaosan Road. Exhausted from the never-ending heat and from all the wonderful impressions, we arrive at our hotel in downtown Bangkok in the evening. We are really looking forward to the megacity.
She still wants to live as a woman, nevertheless, and be accepted as one.
Even though the tradition of the "third gender" goes back a long way in Thailand, the Kathoeys still must fight for equal rights within society. Many of them end up as prostitutes in the red light districts of Bangkok and present themselves as women to Western tourists. But Li has chosen a different path. She knows that the only way of escaping social exclusion is with a proper education, so she is studying political science at the University of Bangkok. It takes us two hours to get to the campus and back. Bangkok does not have a traffic jam - Bangkok IS one giant traffic jam! Thank Buddha we finally have all the necessary takes, and we truly earned our after work beer. We are looking forward to seeing Li again tomorrow.
The Erawan Shrine is a small Buddhist temple directly on the corner of a huge intersection. Even though Li is Muslim, she places flowers on the shrine, some incense sticks and a candle. With this Trinity, anybody can optimize their Karma. Li lives on the other side of the big river that runs right through Bangkok. We glide a bit down the river on a long-tail boat. In the evening, we shoot in the red light districts of Bangkok. Kathoeys, or "Ladyboys", as they are often called, are also frequently found here. We get a first impression of how the Southeast Asian sex tourism works. Thousands of men and women prostitute themselves, many of them seeing that as the only chance of survival for themselves and their families.
The University education is also very scholastic, and they all have to wear school uniforms. We accompany Jing to a lecture. Then the complete opposite in the afternoon: without uniform, dressed very colourfully, she heads to the Khaosan Road. It is THE worldwide icon for backpacker tourists; small hostels, coffee shops, music bars and travel agencies for trips to the beaches and islands all are part of the unique flair of this street. Jing and her band will perform in a club directly at Backpacker's Paradise in the evening. "Zodapop" plays an amazing gig, a completely different kind of women's power here in Bangkok that impresses us.
Afterward, we enter the neighbouring country on the wrong side of the road. Between the two checkpoints, in the approximately one kilometre long no-man's-land, an Eldorado for casinos has developed. "Little Las Vegas" officially lies on Cambodian territory. Right afterward lies the border town of Poipet with its slums full of inconceivable poverty. But not until the following morning will we be able to see them.