URhere:  Writing > Journalism > Articles                                 

Here Kitschy, Kitschy

Published in Big Chilli Magazine and Think! Magazine 2005

Oliver Benjamin takes a trip to Thailand’s most bizarre love hotel.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he sits down and says to himself, “I want to have sex on the flight deck of a spaceship.” But sadly, so few of us are able to realize this dream.

I however am one of the lucky ones. And not only that: Had I been so inclined I could have done the nasty in the middle of a Thai boxing ring, a tropical rainforest, a Venetian gondola or even on top of a frosted cake. But I grew up in the era of Star Trek, and so I chose to boldly come where no man had come before. Or at least, no one I knew personally.

The place where I fulfilled this fantasy was none other than The Red Rose Hotel, an oddball establishment that’s equal parts adult sex motel and cartoon theme park. It’s located improbably in sleepy little Chiang Rai, just a couple of kilometers from the center of town, close to rice paddies and an abandoned airport runway strip.

It’s impossible to miss: From the outside it looks like a giant cartoon castle with a gorilla hanging off the side of one of its spires. Next to the rows of nondescript Thai shophouses it stands out like a sore Thumbelina. But don’t look for a lobby – you’re meant to drive in anonym
ously and furtively run over to a little window where a cheerful, middle-aged lady in a fast food costume will show you to your room. Ah, the romance of it all.

But romance would have to wait. I’ve never been known for making snap decisions and each room was more impressive than the next. All of them hinted at adventure hitherto unimagined. Did I want to sing karaoke in my underpants under a faux-ocean with the Little Mermaid? Did I want to get jungle fever in a tree house above a waterfall? How about practicing my forward jab in a Thai boxing ring? Or smoothing out my tan line in a gondola under the famed palm trees of Venice? I felt just like a kid at Christmas, albeit one to whom Santa had just presented a stack of pornographic comics.

Apparently I’m not alone in my sentiments. The place is full of pricey cars parked in the individual parking garages. I’m told that most of the visitors are Chinese businessmen (and their associates of course), though the odd farang manages to traipse in here from time to time. As they aim to please all comers there is a considerable range in the quality of the rooms – some have Jacuzzis, karaoke systems and floor plans to rival entire estates. But all are extraordinary in their own way. Prices range from 780 to 3500 baht, although there are cheaper hourly rates for those who aren’t there for karaoke, conversation or cuddling.

In the end of course, my girlfriend and I settle on the Star Wa
rs room, and not just because it was among the cheapest. I thought it was easily the most authentic of the lot – not that I’ve ever been on the deck of a spaceship, certainly not one with a giant circular bed in the middle. But it did match what I’d seen in movies: The floor lit up with translucent blue light. The fully-mirrored shower featured radioactive warning signs on its opaque steel door. The control panel at the head of the bed bore all sorts of incomprehensible seventies-style buttons. And most importantly of all, the door to the bedroom was an futuristic automatic sliding contraption that went “whoosh” every time you walked through it. Now this was a bona-fide space oddity! It even included free mouthwash, condoms and breakfast.

My girlfriend liked it too. She got a little tired of me putting a black plastic bag over my head and booming “Luke, I am your father,” but on the whole she thought the place was hysterical. Since there are no windows at all it’s hard to know what time it is and so we didn’t sleep so much. At some point the force was no longer with me and I passed out in the blue-tinged darkness of interstellar space.

We were woken up by breakfast at 10 am, delivered anonymously through a double-access chute in the front door. It felt right for the futuristic room: as if the breakfast were fashioned by an automated machine. Sadly, it tasted like it was fashioned by an automated machine. Seems they put so much into the kitsch that there was nothing left over for the kitchen. We chose to jettison our Soylent Green back out into the ether and cuddle back up under the mirrored ceiling of our own private starship, in preparation for our return back to Earth.

But I knew that we would be back out here in this outré space
one day. There were so many brave new worlds to explore. A rose by any other name might smell just as sweet, but sex in another theme room might be another thing altogether. I’m already dreaming up my next fantasy excursion into the Magical Kinkdom of Jiggyland. Anybody know where I can get an extra large mermaid costume?

The Red Rose Hotel
60 M.14 Prachasanti Rd. T.Robiwiang A.Muang
Chiang Rai 57000
Tel.(053) 756888
Fax (053) 713636
Website: www.redrosehotel.com

Oliver Benjamin can be reached at oliver@oliverbenjamin.net

All text and images © copyright Oliver Benjamin