Red light areas in Bangkok in olden days

From the Thai-language press: Red light areas in Bangkok in olden days - May 31, 2005

This article was written by Mr. Jaroon Wattanasin who picked up some part from two books, Cheewit Jak Ngao Vela and Sanim Dokmai, Cheewit Jing Nai Mum Mued Khong Ying Thai.

Prostitution originated in Mesopotamia, but in Thailand some part of the law in the U-thong era 628 years ago mentioned prostitutes. They lived in a market outside of the palace wall and included Chinese.

At the end of the King Rama IV, Rattanakosin Era, some part of the bill for protection from diseases mentioned “there should be a lamp for the symbol in front of the house [brothel],” but it did not specific the color. It is assumed that green was used because it is associated with officers. That was the first law controlling prostitutes to follow the law. After that people called brothels a “green lamp place “ and called the prostitute a “lady of the green lamp.”

Sumpeng was not only a neighborhood for Chinese at the beginning of the Rattanakosin era, but also a prostitute area which is why we have the abusive word calling a bad woman e Sumpeng. The Chinese called Chinese prostitutes yumsha.

The prostitute areas in the Rama IV Road area--before WWII--were at Tao Lane, Rong Yai Fang, Rong Mae Kleeb, and Rong Mae Tao. Yai Fang was a kind procuress. She donated money to build Wat Kanikaphon and Mae Kleeb built Wat Kunmatuyaram.
Prostitutes were at Yan Sumpeng, Suaniem Lane, Vegkhi Lane, Rong Kome Lane, Poe Lane, Yuan Lane or Annam Lane (for Cambodians and Annams), Sapan Lek, Sapan Than, Mor Lane, Vorrajak, Tanon Dinsor (Dinsor Road), 22 July Circus, Rongmuang Road, Mahanak intersection, Bobae, Sapan Khao, Nang Loeng, Banglampoo. Chinese, foreign, and hi-class Japanese were at hotels in Sipraya and Sruang.

Before 1957, there were lots of brothels built of which the most famous were at Praeng Supprasart, Brahman monastery, Giant Swing, Brothel Khai lane, brothel in front of Huayrong, Sapanthan, Brothel Banglumpoo, Brothel Sapanyao, Nangloeng, Sukhumvit Soi Klang and Soi Ruamrudee. Besides, there were many prostitutes who paddled around in boats at Chaloemlok Bridge, Pratoonam.
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