On the flight from Bangkok to Tokyo, I managed to get an upgrade and sat in the first-row aisle, upper-deck of the packed 747-400.
"Would any of you like a coffee?" the pretty Thai stewardess asked the captain and first officer as they went through their pre-flight preparations. Both said they did.
The first officer, a short middle-aged guy sporting an awkward bouffant hairstyle to presumably add to his stature, handed the flight attendant two Starbucks travel cups and jokingly said, "Don't mix them up. I don't want to catch something." She then left to get the pilots their java.
"Yes, I wouldn't want you to get anything I got from a street vendor," the captain retorted.
"Oh, is that what they call her these days? I've heard them called many things, but never street vendors," replied his colleague with a chuckle.
The flight attendant returned to serve the American flyboys (no disrespect intended), unaware that other young Asian women, not as fortunate as herself, had become the subject of jovial banter during her absence.
On our last night in Bangkok we journeyed into Patpong, an infamous district with a sprawling night market and burrows of sex-for-sale holes adorned with doormen, dancers, bar girls and scantily-clad hostesses who lure in passersby with promises of a good time. As we walked the temporary stores lining the sidewalks and alleyways, men popped out of doorways to show us "menus" for sex acts and shows, as well as photos of available women.
Topless dancers wriggled against mirrored walls on raised stages strategically placed next to flung-open doors so shoppers could intentionally or inadvertently get a view. Turn your head to look away from one, and you were intrusively faced with another. Loud music pumped into the streets with a bone-vibrating pulse that sounded like drumbeats from hell. One club, aptly named "Lucifer's" welcomed patrons into a den of women with a depiction of the one who snatches such young lives and dreams.
Dozens of men walked around the warren of vendor stalls holding small signs inscribed with the words "Sex DVD's." Each sign most likely represented some girl sold into the sex trade and entrapped behind closed doors with a choice between a camera or a beating. How many more videos are being made right here, right now? I thought to myself.
Meanwhile, a bevy of Europeans – men and women, young and old – haggled for trinkets and T-shirts from the roadside vendors, unmoved by the degradation and enslavement of women all around them.
After all, it's just something else for sale on the streets of Bangkok.
against the highways of traffic that crisscross throughout Southeast Asia. Your "highways of prayer" can bring HOPE and change.
Resources and prayer points are available on the Traffic Jam page at Orphan