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Lovely Ladyboys

by becca on January 18, 2010

On Koh Phi Phi there was a restaurant that boasted a BBQ buffet every night on a chalkboard sign: “Guys 280 Baht. Ladyboys 260 Baht. Girls 240 Baht.” There’s also an IT school in Chiang Mai that has a bathroom sign with the male and female symbol intertwined to represent the ladyboy bathroom.

So what’s a ladyboy? Called kathoery in Thailand, a ladyboy is a cross-dressing male that may or may not have undergone surgery to progress his female identity. They are much more accepted in Thailand than in most Western cultures probably due to the acceptance and tolerance teachings of Buddhism. When you go to check out at 7/11 or sit down to eat at a restaurant you may be helped by one of these fabulous fellows. Ladyboys are very common in Bangkok too. In fact, for diving you learn an acronym for double checking your equipment: BWRAF, and in Southeast Asia, you remember it by the phrase Bangkok Women Rarely Are Female.

In KoH Tao, there is a nightly Ladyboy Cabaret that we were lucky enough to see a few days ago. The energy is through the roof, the lip syncing varied, and the costumes vibrant. This is the second show we’ve seen and it’s really interesting to watch young boys sit in groups giggling and watching the show. I sat next to a seven-year-old who attends every night and was able to tell me the theme of the next act each time.

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Trying to Leave Koh Tao
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