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Such questions need not bother you too much, especially if you are feeling like I am this morning following a prolonged visit from Uncle Smirnoff and his delightful travelling companion, Ms Absolut, just last night. I couldn't pinpoint Gambia either. It's in West Africa, a tiny country sandwiched between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, which probably doesn't help you much. It has a population of just 2 million and looking at the map, it's about as far away from Thailand as you can go before starting to come back round the other way.
And yet this remote little speck on the African expanse has incurred the wrath of our volatile Prime Minister and his government here in Thailand. Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is a destination for sex tourism, primarily older female Europeans looking for younger beach boy types. While prostitution is illegal, it is widespread and encompasses child prostitution.
The Gambian government has launched a campaign to clean up sex tourism. If you want a sex destination, go to Thailand. There are not that many words that instantly engage the fury of a Thai military junta.
This is a news story that never stops coming. For more than two decades the Tourism Authority of Thailand has pushed the beaches, mountains, temples, food, festivals, culture and smiles of the local populace. And yet, ask the average foreigner to think of Bangkok, and what's the first thing that springs to mind?
Is this reputation justified? Absolutely not, but in defiance of the Jackson 5, one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, girl. And this very issue got your favourite columnist into a whole lot of trouble back in July, It presents some food for thought for our Prime Minister, who this week, amid official diplomatic protests over the Gambian comments, announced that Thailand had to change its international reputation as a sex tourism destination. Back in July, , a scandal of unforeseen proportions erupted in Thailand that threatened to escalate into an international incident.