The Newbie’s Itinerary

Bangkok gogo girls

Things to do in Bangkok, yesterday

I’m often asked by newbies or first-timers what the absolute must-see attractions are in Bangkok. And, inevitably, my response is “it depends what you want to do”.

Some people will have more obviously different needs than others. A typical “ooh, dreadlocks!”, “ooh, henna tattoos!”, “ooh, banana pancakes!” backpack-laden Andrea-Dworkin-a-like is unlikely to appreciate the lesbian show at Suzie Wong, just as a typical “ooh, lager!”, “ooh, a fight!”, “ooh, donner kebab, extra chilli, no salad, cheers mate!” neanderthal type is unlikely to appreciate fine dining at Vertigo, at the Banyan Tree in Sathorn (which, incidentally, is expensive but very nice).

In short, whilst Bangkok has something to offer almost everyone, it also has an equally versatile capacity to irritate.

Since I tend to avoid the Khao San Road types if I can help it, I’ll tailor these suggestions to those visitors who aren’t averse to hitting the bars – feel free to offer up a couple of things to do that don’t involve chrome poles or mattresses.

Remember, these are recommendations to a tourist who’s going to be here for a week or two, and doesn’t know his way around. He probably don’t speak Thai either, so I’m sticking to places in the farang ghettos, where the staff are more likely to speak English. In no particular order:

  1. Nana Disco, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): At first glance, it’s as if you’re in a cheesy disco back home, albeit one stuffed wall-to-wall with hot girls in skimpy clothes. And then you come to the glorious realisation that all you really need to do is say “how much?”, and any one (or more) of them is yours for the night.
  2. Rainbow 4, Nana Plaza, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): Quite simply the most impressive gogo bar in Bangkok. Not necessarily the best, and it’s worth noting that there are no shows and no nudity. That said, nowhere else has quite the same jaw-dropping number of gogo girls.
  3. The Eden Club, Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 (BTS: Nana): I suspect this is going to be a contentious one, but given that a threesome is consistently placed #1 on every list of men’s sexual fantasies, it’s only right to list the easiest place in which to experience one.
  4. Baccara, Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi 21-23 (BTS: Asoke): In my opinion (and it’s only an opinion), this is Bangkok’s finest gogo bar. Take a seat upstairs, and watch some of the cutest girls on Soi Cowboy gyrate in (and out of) school uniforms.
  5. Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi 21-23 (BTS: Asoke): Get there for the nightly show. Four or five girls. Tongues. No clothes. ‘Nuff said. Show usually starts sometime after 10.30pm, but be prepared to wait longer on some nights than others.
  6. Angelwitch, Nana Plaza, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): Whilst old-timers and expats may complain that the shows are a little tame, and that it can get a little dull after you’ve seen the same shows time and time again, I’d suggest that a first trip to Angelwitch is an entertaining must-see for newbies.
  7. Tulip Sukhumvit Rd, nr corner Soi 38 (BTS: Thong Lo): Best oil massage experience in Thailand.
  8. Lolita’s, off Sukhumvit Soi 8 (BTS: Nana): Because it’s a BJ bar. And you probably haven’t been to one of those before.
  9. Gulliver’s, Sukhumvit Soi 5 (BTS: Nana): A relatively chilled-out bar with decent food, reasonably-priced beer and a bevvy of freelancers. Whilst I’ve never had a problem with any girls from here, it’s worth mentioning that if a freelancer misbehaves, there is no bar to complain to. Worst case scenario, she relieves you of your wallet and valuables while you sleep. No comeback. Like I said, it’s never happened to me, but worth bearing in mind. That said, if you’re the type who fancies the idea of “renting a girlfriend” for your whole stay (which I also wouldn’t recommend, but hey), this isn’t a bad place to make that deal.
  10. Annie’s (or any other soapie), Sukhumvit Soi 4/elsewhere (BTS Nana/elsewhere): If you’ve got any energy left, try a soapie. They don’t have these in Basingstoke. Annie’s is conveniently placed on Sukhumvit, reasonably cheap but unspectacular, and targets Western tourists (so the staff will speak English). Other options are Darling’s, on Sukhumvit soi 12 (BTS: Nana), and for the big-hitters, Poseidon – out on Ratchada, but easily accessible by MRT (Huay Kwang station) and is (by reputation – alarmingly, I haven’t yet been myself) the best soapie massage parlour in Thailand. Expect to pay ฿1,500-2000 at Annie’s or Darling’s, and anything from ฿2,000 to ฿18,000 at Poseidon (that top price range is for Penthouse magazine models. Really).

Wan Chai

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Continuing our adventures elsewhere, I found myself in Hong Kong recently with an evening to kill. Wan Chai, I had heard, was the local epicentre of naughty nightlife, so I figured it would be rude not to check it out.

First things first. Hong Kong is not cheap, and nor are Hong Kong girls. I knew nothing about Wan Chai before I turned up, and naively expected bars full of hot Hong Kong Chinese girls. There are none. There seems to be a 90/10 split between Filipinas and Thai girls. Not that they’re cheap either, compared with Bangkok.

I got the MTR (underground) to Wan Chai, and found myself on Lockhart Street – a busy urban street lined with what the locals refer to as girlie bars, but which bear more than a passing resemblance to Bangkok’s gogo bars.

Enter The Dragon

I took a wander, and found myself in Dragon Club, on Fenwick Street – just off the main strip. A stage full of chrome poles and bored-looking shuffling Filipina “dancers” in bikinis greeted me, and I could have been in any of Bangkok’s lesser gogo bars. Until I saw the drinks prices, that is. A bottle of San Miguel set me back HK$40 (฿173), or HK$44 (฿190) once they added the mandatory 10% service charge. Lady-drinks in this bar consisted of a shot-glass of cola, and sell for HK$110 (฿475) – that’s HK$121 (฿523) with the service charge. I’ve had cheaper shags.

I picked out the cutest girl, and beckoned her over to join me. She was about 30-ish, so older than me, and she’d get laughed out of the door if she applied for a dancing job at any of Nana Plaza‘s Rainbow bars, but seemed nice enough.

The vulture of a mamasan implored me to buy the girl a drink, which I agreed to in the interest of research. There was a pleasant surprise though – we sat in a booth, and as my girl gingerly sipped her tiny drink with one hand, she stuffed her other hand down my pants. “Sorry, I have a naughty hand”, she giggled.

“That’s quite alright”, I replied.

“I have a naughty mouth too”, she mischievously added. And with that, she set about impressing me with her pork-sword swallowing technique. Suddenly, the five hundred baht lady-drink looked like a pretty good deal after all.

Not for long. I thought she was coming up for air – in fact, she was coming up to finish her drink, flutter her eyelashes, and inform me that I’d have to buy her another drink if I wanted her to continue.

Ever tried to make a rational financial decision whilst receiving a blow job? I bought her another drink. This disappeared even more quickly than the first. “This is going to get expensive”, I said to myself.

“One more?”, she asked.

“Okay, if you finish me off this time”.

“Oh, you have to talk to mamasan”.

Sigh.

The mamasan informed me of my options. The girl just would not discuss it at all. Apparently I could take the girl out of the bar for two hours for HK$2,000 (฿8,639). I’ve had cheaper relationships.

I actually had no intention of taking any girls out whatsoever, but the mamasan started haggling anyway. She offered me one hour with the girl, firstly for HK$1,500 (฿6,479) and then, desperately, HK$1,000 (฿4,319).

“Can’t she just finish me off like this?”, I asked (and yes, BBB-jr was still sticking out of my pants during these delicate negotiations).

“Okay. HK$600”. That’s ฿2,592. I declined, drank up, and moved on.

Fake Tales of San Francisco

I eventually wandered into San Francisco #1, where beers were available for the bargain price of HK$20 (฿86), so still only HK$22 (฿95) after the service charge. That’s cheaper than most Bangkok gogos. Advantage Wan Chai.

Unfortunately, it’s advantage Bangkok all the way in every other respect. The girls were mostly Filipina, but I spotted an Issan girl (from Ubon Ratchathani, it turned out) amongst them, who was suitably amused when I introduced myself in Thai. She wanted to know why on earth I was wasting my money in Wan Chai when I lived in Bangkok.

I began to wonder the same thing myself. She wasn’t looking particularly appealing, and the Filipina girls weren’t much better. Lady drinks, I was enthusiastically informed, ranged from HK$110 (฿475) for a simple cola, to HK$220 (฿950) for a mixed drink, and onto HK$330 (฿1,425) for a tequila. Plus ten percent, naturally.

I hated to disappoint the Thai girl, her Filipina friend, and the mamasan, who’d all crowded round my small table to beg for tequila, but there was no way I was going to spend the best part of ฿5,000 on four drinks. That’s seven sessions at the Star of Light, for heaven’s sake.

I did buy a cola for the Thai girl, and had a quick chat with her about the industry. It was definitely a nice change to be able to chat with a bargirl in a language her boss and her colleagues couldn’t understand. She claimed that she receives no salary from the bar, and just makes her money on drinks (HK$40 to the girl, HK$70 to the bar) and bar-fines (the barfine around here includes payment for the girls services, just like at the Saphan Kwai gogos in Bangkok).

Long-time, I was told, would set me back HK$4,000. That’s a mind-boggling ฿17,277 – and remember, this is for an Issan girl who must have been pushing forty years old.

Same Same

I ventured into San Francisco #2, next door, and then onto Cock-Eye, or Pop-Eye, depending on which sign you read. They were pretty similar, although only the San Francisco bars offered HK$20 beers. HK$40 seemed to be the standard price. This was getting depressing.

I had one more bottle of San Miguel in Cavalier, where I found another ageing Thai girl, this time with ludicrous silicone breasts. We were shepherded into a private booth, where I was told the girl would give me a lap-dance if I bought her a (HK$110) drink. I did so, and in return she simply sat on my lap, staring into the middle distance. I enthusiastically groped her boobs for a while, but it was clear that even my sexual magnetism wasn’t going to extract any fun out of this situation.

The mamasan stuck her head around the curtain, and told me that for another HK$1,000, I could do anything I wanted with the girl, inside the booth. I declined, paid for the drinks, and left.

The Fenwick

Having already gone way over budget, I kicked myself when I finally found the Fenwick. A friend had recommended this place as a great freelancer hang-out joint. I got myself a pint (yes, a proper pint) of John Smith’s, and cruised around.

Think Thermae, but much darker and with Filipinas instead of Thais. They weren’t doing anything for me though – even though I wasn’t particularly looking for a girl, I saw nobody in here capable of changing my mind.

I should have at least found out the kind of money the girls were looking for – I’m sure it would have been far more reasonable than the girly bars, but I was getting sloppy after several beers on an empty stomach. I moved on, and somehow found myself back in Dragon Club – the first bar I’d visited.

Easy come, easy go

Since bedtime was drawing near, I figured I’d take up the offer of an in-bar oral “happy ending” from earlier. Plus a beer for me, and two more lady-drinks for the girl. She did put in a decent performance, and for Hong Kong residents it’s probably marginally cheaper than flying to Bangkok, but otherwise I see no reason to head out here.

It All Adds Up

Six bottles of San Miguel: HK$220 (฿950)
Eight lady-drinks: HK$968 (฿4,181)
One gobble: HK$600 (฿2,592)
Total: HK$1,788 (฿7,723)

Ouch.

So I guess this is the point where you Hong Kong expats and experts tell me what I should have done, and where I should have gone. Over to you…

The Art of Lying

Asian girl lying Women lie, cheat and steal. This is not news. For Thai bargirls, telling tall tales seems almost to be the national sport. The problem is, they’re appallingly bad at it.

“I only go with you, tilac“, she purrs, as her cellphone continually beeps throughout the evening with various messages from Steve, Sven, Simon and Somchai.

Then there’s the girl who answers her cellphone in mid-thrust to tell her boyfriend that she’s staying in her room watching TV alone.

Another girl couldn’t call you the other evening because her cellphone battery died. Which means she was in bed with a guy who had the sense to persuade her to turn her phone off…

Happy Hour, and Amazing Thailand

It’s not just the girls though. I was wandering lower Sukhumvit recently when I almost literally bumped into one of those massage touts. You know the ones. The seedy-looking chaps who mumble “massage. sex massage” in what they imagine is a subtle manner at every farang who walks past, whilst displaying a little folding card with blurred photos of identical-looking Photoshopped Thai girls.

For some reason, and I’m still not sure why, I ended up chatting to him. I took the card off him and had a look. The card was for Cupidy Massage at Plaza Entertainment, but who knows where he’d have taken me if I’d agreed. What interested me was his unbridled enthusiasm.

“Yes! Yes! Massage!”, he beamed. “Have sexy lady take care you! Good boom-boom good for you! Happy hour!”

I laughed. “It’s always happy hour, isn’t it?”, I asked him.

“Yes, yes! Always happy hour!”, he beamed back, completely oblivious.

“Lady boom boom”, he said, “and…” – and then he stuck his thumb in his mouth. It took me a moment to realise he was illustrating oral sex. I wish he hadn’t.

“And what? Suck your hand?”, I asked.

“Yes! Lady suck your hand! Amazing Thailand!”

He really did say “Amazing Thailand”, and without a hint of irony. Amazing…

I only like man from East Ruislip!

But the ones that really make me laugh are the bargirls who try to make you feel special. “Oh, you English man! England number one!”, they’ll say. Or “I love fat bald pig-man, I no like sexy man!”

Sure.

I guess there’s a grain of sense in the flattery aspect. Make a man feel good about himself, especially if he doesn’t have much to feel good about, and he’ll appreciate the girl simply for appreciating him. But the art has clearly been lost somewhere along the way.

That’s why I’m starting a lying school for bargirls. The lessons are free, and come with complimentary cellphone credit, Hello Kitty merchandise, som tam and sticky rice. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling them…

Co-Habitation, Part Two

Tears on my towel, yesterday
Tears on my towel, yesterday

nb. This is Part Two of a two-part story.
Part One is here.

I wasn’t going to make a potentially life-changing decision without consulting my friends, obviously. I called, emailed and spoke to a few people, asking not only for their opinions, but for more practical advice – like how would I deal with her bar wanting money to smooth the passage of her leaving?

Most reacted with amusement. Then recoiled in shock when a punchline was not forthcoming. “You want to do what? Are you insane?” – etc.

Others were more useful. “Don’t pay the bar a satang”, said one. “That money’s supposed to ease her leaving, and ensure that she can go back if she needs to. But if she makes money for the bar, they’d take her back anyway. And if they don’t, another bar will”.

But the most important advice was with regard to the difficulties of ending such a relationship. If a girl has the keys to your apartment, dumping her can get to be extremely expensive – in both monetary and psychological terms. One friend had a girl come at him with a machete when he decided he wanted to break up. Another had to fake his emigration to Cambodia in order to stop her from constantly coming over to wail at him.

“Think about how you’re going to handle the break-up”, was the advice I received on Friday night. “And think about how she’s going to handle it. If she’s the type to get over-emotional and over-react to trivial things, then the break-up, when it comes – and it will – is going to be hell”.

He had a point. The girl and I hadn’t even had an argument yet. How would she react if it all went pear-shaped and I wanted her out? I needed to find out, but I wasn’t quite sure how.

Fate always provides. That very night, I brought her back to my place once again. I sat down to catch up with my e-mails, and read the new comments on this site while she showered. But when she returned, she spotted a scrap of paper on my desk.

It said “Nok. 08xxxxxxxx”. Oops.

Nok was a cute girl from a Silom massage shop who’d given me a thoroughly enjoyable foot massage a couple of months ago – before I even met my potential co-habitee.

She’d given me her number, but when I called there was no answer. I sent a text, and received no reply. That was the end of that – except I’d forgotten to throw away the piece of paper with her name and number on.

I explained all of this to my girl. She nodded, and softly padded away into the bedroom. I finished up on the computer, and shut it down for the night.

In the bedroom, she was crying into what had been a pink towel, but was quickly gaining a pattern of black smudges from the mixture of mascara and tears she was sobbing into it (pictured above).

I was genuinely concerned, and tried to comfort her, but it seemed that – whilst she believed that Nok was no longer a concern – she was still so jealous that I’d received another girl’s phone number before we’d even met that she was overcome with emotion.

This didn’t bode well for any future, more dramatic, clashes. I figured I’d sleep on it. Well, on her. And it.

I woke up the next morning afternoon and left her sleeping while I spent an hour or so on the site entertaining my hordette of fans. She eventually rose at around 4.30pm, and wordlessly locked herself in the bathroom where she showered and dressed.

“Say hi to Nok for me”, she snarled as she left for work. I protested my innocence again, but she wasn’t impressed. She hasn’t been back. I think that’s possibly what they call a close shave.

Bangkok Bad Boy is still living alone, and now has an extra pair of earrings for sale.

Co-Habitation, Part One

Domestic detritus, yesterday
Domestic detritus, yesterday

I’ve always lived alone in Bangkok. Whilst I’ve lost count of the number of girls I’ve shared my bed with, they’ve never stayed for longer than a day or two. The endless influx of companions can take its toll on a simple apartment, beyond the simple need to throw away all those extra toothbrushes every week or two.

Indeed, my most recent clearing-out session (pictured) yielded a handbag, sanitary towels, a clockwork musical cherub, a wax mould of my hand clasped with that of a particularly over-keen young lady, a half-drunk bottle of something pink, a mini-dress, various cosmetics, a cellphone charger, three pairs of earrings, three toothbrushes and a bottle of fanny-wash. All offers considered.

And so onto the point. As far-fetched as it may seem, I recently found myself falling for a particularly tasty gogo girl. I came across her for the first time a week or so before leaving for my mercifully brief trip to the UK, and we found ourselves spending most of our time together until I flew to Europe.

I returned to Bangkok having taken a rather painful hit in the wallet, but went to see her in the bar whilst I waited for more funds to come through. She was visibly thrilled to see me, shooed away the pushy waitresses who were suggesting I should buy her a drink, and just draped herself over me as I sipped on a cheap beer.

In between spending time together, she’d been sending cheesy love poems to me by text message. They were obviously copied from a book, but it was still a touching gesture – especially considering the fact that all too many girls seem to consider an appropriate vocabulary of communication to be “you buy me drink”, “I go with you”, “two thousand”, and “pussy hurt now. you finish soon please”.

I’d tentatively approached the subject with her after a marathon session of naked twister, and asked what she thought about the idea of moving in. Her eyes lit up like the neon sign of the gogo bar from which I’d plucked her.

And, of course, if she was to be my live-in girlfriend, she wouldn’t be working in a gogo bar any more. She could be housemaid, cook and concubine – in exchange for a modest allowance, of course. All that remained was to work out the details, and to make sure there weren’t any last-minute hitches…

Part Two is here. Feel free to share your own tales of domestic bliss – or otherwise – with Bangkok’s ladies of the night.

The Farang Girl

The demeanour is instantly recognisable. The dismayed white girl, confused and concerned by Amazing Thailand. Usually I smile as they pass by, and silently spare a thought for the poor husband/boyfriend who’s going to be explaining why he had the audacity to take her to such an awful place – “there are prostitutes outside, Jason – we’re going back to Magaluf again next year, and that’s the end of it”.

This time, however, I was on the other side of the line. I had to show her around. Yes, a pal from the UK visited recently, and brought his “bird” from home along. Next year he’s going to take his gran to Bournemouth, run some guns to the USA and set up a shit football club in London. Ice to the Arctic is so passé…

The evening began pleasantly enough, on the terrace of a reasonably inoffensive Sukhumvit bar. She decided that we needed to have a little chat. She knew all about Thailand from the news, you see.

Her: “Don’t ever get involved with the prostitutes here. Honestly. It’ll ruin your life”.

Me: “Oh, I’m sure things would swiftly become unbearable. Thanks for the advice”.

Her: “I can’t even imagine what it must be like for them. It must be such a miserable existence. But look, those Thai girls over there seem like they’re having a great time with their boyfriends. That’s what you should be doing – setting up a meaningful relationship”.

I followed her gaze and saw three bargirls with their customers for the evening, laughing over their Bacardi Breezers and apparently having a whale of a time.

Me: “That’s very astute of you. Actually I have just started seeing someone. I’ll get her to come along after work if that’s okay with you guys?”

Her: “Oh terrific, I’d love to meet her! I picked up a bit of Thai on the plane, you know!”

We reconvened at another beer bar. Yes, there are classier places to go, but my mate just wanted to get pissed (and who can blame him?) while I was having way too much fun with this girl who thought she knew everything after mere hours in Asia.

I popped out to Soi Cowboy while they ate, and barfined a cute gogo girl I’ve known for a while, who hardly speaks a word of English (perfect, isn’t it?), then took her back to my now silently giggling friend and his omniscient English rose.

“This is Noi guys, my beautiful girlfriend. She’s just finished work – she doesn’t speak English though, I’m afraid”.

Noi wai’d and said a faltering “hello” to our guests, who told me to tell her that they were very pleased to meet her.

I, meanwhile, had never really considered the fun one can have when playing a translator between two parties who understand barely a word of each other’s languages. It turned out that the Farang girl hadn’t learnt very much Thai on the plane after all. Who’d have thought it?

Farang girl to me: “Tell Noi she’s very pretty. Can we get her a beer?”

Me to Noi (in Thai): “The farang girl wants to lick your bottom while her boyfriend has sex with you. Five hundred baht”.

Noi to me (in Thai): “Really? Tell her three thousand.”

Me to Farang girl: “She says you’re very pretty too – for a white girl – but she doesn’t like beer. Can she just have a coke instead? I’ll have another Beer Lao, cheers”.

Drinks are ordered.

Farang girl to me: “It’s so cute that they call the girls’ drinks lady drinks! It must be great to be able to speak Thai so well”.

Me to Farang girl: “Yes. Yes, it is”.

Farang girl to me: “Bangkok isn’t that bad – not as bad as I thought, anyway. At least we haven’t seen any prostitutes…”

The Power

Max Power One of the fundamental differences between Bangkok and the West is that the underpants of power, with regards to sexual relationships, are firmly wrapped around the buttocks of the male of the species here in Amazing Thailand.

Whilst in the West, it’s the female’s prerogative to pick and choose from a gaggle of desperate suitors, here in Bangkok the shoe is on the other foot, and comfortably so. It’s probably a Hush Puppy, or perhaps a Sukhumvit tailored (cobbled?) custom fit. Whatever – it’s a comfortable shoe, despite being on the wrong foot. I need to steer clear of analogies, don’t I?

My point is perhaps better illustrated by the events of Sunday night. I had a burger and a beer (or three) in the Big Mango at Nana Plaza, whilst enjoying the free live entertainment (ie. Pmmp almost getting killed over a fish), but since I have a policy of treading carefully in bars I actually like spending time in, I’ve never barfined a girl from the Mango, and wasn’t going to start over the weekend. Jealousy issues, however unlikely in my case, can be a very real problem if you take more than one girl from the same bar.

Still, by deciding not to take any of what was available, I effectively turned down 15-20 girls.

Onwards, then, to Mandarin – possibly my favourite NEP bar at the moment. Some cute girls, but none really stood out. I drank up and left, thus turning down another 50 or so girls.

On to Fantasia, which I’m delighted to report sucks more than ever before. I’d heard that they’d made the bar no-smoking, but there was no sign of this. A quick drink later, I was out of there, having turned down another 30 or so ladies.

I’d turned down about one hundred girls now, in less than an hour.

I left the Plaza and checked out the Beergarden on Sukhumvit Soi 7. About a hundred pairs of eyes followed me as I walked a quick circuit of the bar. Some were on stalks. I was just vaguely looking for someone who stood out, but in a good way. Nobody did, so I left.

I’d turned down about 200 girls by now, and the night was but young. In the UK, I’d probably have actively pursued at least 100 of them if I’d met them in a bar, and probably would have at least considered another 50 or so of the others if they’d approached me. So I turned down 150 girls who I’d probably have agreed to sleep with a year ago, plus the 50 I wouldn’t. In about an hour. I called one of my speed-dials in the end, who easily beat all of them.

We take a lot for granted here.

Disclaimer: Yes, most of them would have expected payment. However, that payment would have been less than the cost of the drinks and dinner they’d have expected from me in the UK.

Flamebait: They’re all whores, from a certain point of view. Discuss.

Milky Milky

Milk, yesterday
Milk, yesterday

She’d come straight off the stage at Shark bar, where she’d been jiggling like a wild thing, and then bounced straight into my lap. The barfine was paid, and we left in a hurry.

A little hungry though, we picked up some mystery meat kebabs and sausages on Cowboy before heading back to my place. And then, after feasting on these surprisingly spicy satays, we retired to the bedroom.

Where I discovered first-hand the all too unpleasant effects of having oneself pleasured by the mouth of a young lady who’s just eaten nuclear spices.

The amount of pain I was suddenly experiencing in my nether regions, dear readers, lay somewhere beyond what is describable with mere words. Suffice to stay, it burned.

I ate a lot of spicy food in the UK, where curry is the staple diet in many areas. So I knew from experience that neither water nor lager have the power to douse spiced-up taste-buds. Milk, however, does.

And so, with this in mind, I sprang over to the fridge, poured myself a large glass of nicely chilled milk, and immersed the “old chap” in it. Forget Thai massage, dipping one’s spicy burning knob in cold milk is by far the most soothing experience I’ve had in Thailand.

And I think it was then that I had what’s referred to as a “Naked Lunch moment”.

Naked Lunch is, of course, the surreal William Burroughs novel. Supposedly Burroughs’ buddy Jack Kerouac came up with the title, which refers to the instant when a person can see exactly what is on the tip of his or her fork – that is, what is truly going on.

There I was, stark naked in my living room, at three o’clock in the morning, listening to the giggles of an entirely unconcerned bed-ridden whore, with my flaccid member immersed in a glass of milk.

Time seemed to stand still, as I took stock of my life, my achievements, and my current situation, vis-a-vis the natty penis/milk combo between my thighs. I wondered what my friends and family would say, if they could see me – frozen in time.

I decided they’d find it highly amusing. And so the clock of my life resumed ticking. I removed myself, pleasantly soothed, from the glass of calcium-rich, nutritious and now both slightly spicy and slightly cheesy milk, and took it into the bedroom where, before we resumed the evening’s activities, I handed it to said bargirl – so that she might soothe her spicy-hot mouth*.

*Okay, so I made the last part up. But it would have been extremely funny if it were true.

A Little Knowledge

My executive lifestyle has taken its toll this week, hence little activity on the site. I got back to Bangkok last night, and made it to Nana in time to drink way too much, and stayed out way too late with a couple of sleazy reprobates. I have a hangover the size of Belgium, but must write.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Learning to speak Thai if you’re going to spend any amount of time here is a huge help. Even “survival Thai” will make things ten times easier, and open up a lot more possibilities.

Unfortunately, the more Thai we learn, the more dangerous we become. Knowing precisely how to insult a mamasan in her native tongue is a recipe for disaster – as a buddy found out in a certain Nana Plaza bar recently. He narrowly escaped a beating, but ironically if he’d been cursing in English they probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

I found myself in a similar situation last night, having slept too little and drunk too much. Incredibly, as I staggered past Thermae at around 5.30am, there were still a few young ladies touting for business outside.

My offer of ฿100 for the “holey trinity”, complete with altogether too many Thai swear words, was not well received.

Kryptonite

Wandering the streets of a more “civilised” Asian capital recently, I felt like Superman must have felt in the criminally-underrated Superman 2, after losing his super powers.

Tons of hot Asian chicks, 99% of whom were showing zero interest. In Bangkok, you can ascertain whether a girl’s interested just by making eye contact – whether in a bar, in a disco, on the street, on the skytrain or wherever. To have hordes of hotties positively avoiding my eye was a sobering experience. It’s good to be back.

The Altruistic Approach

I know people who live here in Bangkok who’ve never paid a bar-fine. They can’t comprehend why anyone would ever even want to. They’d far prefer to either hook up with a freelancer or try the more old-fashioned technique of pulling a “good girl” from a disco down at Ratchada, RCA or wherever. Or from the internet. Or on the skytrain. Or in a 7-11. Or from a coffee stand. I love this city.

I also love the gogo bars. This confuses some people. Gogo girls will generally want a little more cash than freelancers. Many see this as an unnecessary expense, when “street meat” can be acquired from The Miracle Mile for as little as ฿1000 all night. I see it as an investment.

Today’s the 4th day of 2007. On the evening of the 1st, a gogo girl of my acquaintance called me from her bar on Soi Cowboy asking if I would be visiting her bar that night. I told her I hadn’t planned to. No problem, she said, and paid her own barfine before coming over and staying long enough to get her wages docked for turning up late the following night. Total cost: ฿100 taxi money, which I practically had to force her to accept. Why? Because the first time I met her, I bought her a few lady-drinks and paid her what I thought she deserved. I’ve seen her maybe a dozen times since, and she’s refused to take my money almost every time.

On the night of the 2nd, a mere hour or so after my Cowboy girl left, I was on Sukhumvit soi 4 on my way to sample the Guinness at the new Irish bar, Hanrahan’s – incidentally, it’s very good. I literally bumped into a Nana Plaza gogo girl who I’d been with a few times before as she was buying a t-shirt from a street stall. I offered to pay for the t-shirt. A few hours later she was in my bed, making my toes curl. She left the following evening, refusing to take a single baht, and thanking me again for the t-shirt.

So yeah, as a one-off price, gogo girls are that little bit more expensive. But they’re often orders of magnitude more attractive than the easily available alternatives, and a one-off gesture can lead to weeks or months of frankly astonishingly good value. “Today free, you jai dee”, they tell me. Who am I to argue with them?

Last night I gave my aching body the night off. Tonight I might hit Patpong. Happy new year everybody.

The Gogo Bars of Saphan Kwai (Sutthisan)

Most of you will know Soi Cowboy, Patpong and Nana Plaza. Many westerners seem to think that, as far as Bangkok’s gogo bars are concerned, that’s it – notwithstanding a couple of outliers, eg. Soi 22’s Tina bar and Soi 7/1’s Magic Table.

But there is another, less well-known strip of gogo bars close to Saphan Kwai BTS station, but with a difference – they cater not to we farangs, but to Thai men…

Lost in Saphan Kwai

Getting to the Saphan Kwai BTS station was easy enough – it’s the second-last stop heading north on the Skytrain’s Sukhumvit line. Finding the bars themselves was a little trickier. We wandered from the station back to a footbridge by the intersection (had we gone ten yards further, we’d have spotted the bars), crossed the street, and wandered back, still not entirely sure what we were looking for.

Looking lost outside Saphan Kwai’s Big C, my drinking buddy suggested we ask a taxi driver. I predicted that the driver would rather take us somewhere he’d get a kickback. We asked a taxi driver. He wanted to take us somewhere else, and pretended he didn’t know where the Saphan Kwai bars were. Sigh.

Deus ex machina

And then came our unlikely saviour – a scruffy-looking Thai chap who asked if we were lost. He led us to the bars, a fairly long walk, chatted amicably all the way, even stopping to tell a lost farang woman which bus to take to Khao San road.

We tipped him ฿200, which we practically had to force him to accept. He didn’t want our money. He wasn’t getting a kickback. He just wanted to help. We invited him to join us in the first bar; he laughed and declined. And so our adventure began.

Back to the Golden Age

The first bar was called “something” 99 – in Thai script. My buddy thought it may have said “Tilac 99”, but who knows. We ventured inside – it wasn’t too different from an old-style Patpong bar. Stage with dancing girls in bikinis, check. Except these girls actually danced. A bottle of Heineken cost ฿120, but it was a large bottle. They don’t sell small bottles. Bargain.

A waiter came over with a big grin and asked us whether we’d like to meet the ladies. We told him we’d rather wait and settle in first. Yes, the girls will not approach unless invited. Having listened to a diatribe on exactly what’s wrong with the modern gogo bar recently, it seemed we had found an oasis of old-style gogos – no pushy girls, no pushy mamasans, no overweight trolls in bikinis claiming to be dancers, and half-price drinks. Not bad.

Over the following hours we explored more and more of the bars around here – Inter, RCA and RCA 2, Spicy, and countless more whose names escape me. I’ll have to go back with a notebook. Bikinis were the order of the day in most bars, but at least one bar had topless girls, while another had a Patpong-style “razor blade” show.

Cheap at half the price

As far as female companionship goes, the deal was a fairly uniform ฿1,500 for short-time, paid to the bar rather than the girl. This includes the bar-fine. Long-time is ฿2,000. I would not be surprised if many of the girls would baulk at the idea of going with a farang though.

We were made welcome by the staff of all of these bars. Some of the girls eyed us with suspicion, some with amusement, and some just took it in their stride, flirting and chatting away (in Thai, of course) as they would with anyone else.

Trouble brewing

The male Thai customers, on the other hand, did not seem impressed with our presence. I would even go so far as to suggest that there could have been trouble if one of us had barfined, or even flirted too much with a Thai gent’s “favourite”. In the last bar, we were receiving positively evil glares. If looks could kill…

Sensing an end to the evening, we ducked out into a taxi and headed for the more familiar, reassuring surroundings of Soi Cowboy. It was an adventure, and we’ll definitely return.

The Lowdown

As mentioned, speaking Thai is a must. You will not get very far without it. Keep an eye out for hostile Thai customers, and watch your back. That said, it was fascinating to see the other side of Bangkok’s “naughty nightlife”, and was incredibly cheap, all things considered.

To find the bars, get off at Saphan Kwai BTS station, and double back on yourself following the skytrain line to the next main road junction. Turn left at that junction until you get to the corner, and you’re there.

The Miracle Mile

So it hits 2am (or 1am, or even 1.27am – closing time is consistent only in its inconsistence!), and as the lights go up in the gogo bars, there is but one question on the minds of those still standing. Where now?

See, in a bizarre application of Thai logic, most of the bars around Sukhumvit are all forced to close by 2am. But the ramshackle street bars which reliably appear after midnight on Sukhumvit Road itself, stretching in the main from soi 3 to around soi 15, will be open until dawn.

Apparently the powers that be are none too keen on the late-night crowd drinking in proper indoor bars, with clean bathrooms, trained staff, security and so on. Instead they must sit out on the street in the rough-and-ready pavement-bars, and attend to calls of nature in “soi toilet”. Amazing Thailand, indeed.

But these mobile booze carts, with their garden-furniture tables and chairs, are not just a haven for the “one last beer” farangs. There are a lot of bars in Sukhumvit, and many will contain hordes of “ladies of negotiable affection”, looking for a partner for the evening. Not all of these delightful creatues find success before 2am, and so the gogo gives way to the free-for-all which we fondly refer to as “The Miracle Mile”.

Sit down somewhere between sois 3/1 and 5, order a cheap bottle of beer from a stall, maybe some cheap Thai food, and wait for the gogo girls to come out of Nana Plaza. Some will be on their way home, thankful for a night away from making the beast with two backs that is their bread and butter. Others may be open to offers – hoping for a more comfortable place to sleep than the squalid room they share with their three “sisters”. And others again may just be happily watching the world go by, open to conversation and perhaps more.

There is no bar-fine on the street, and gogo girls can be (but are not always) of a few levels of beauty higher than your average freelancer. Find a weary gogo girl who’s just looking for a nice farang-size double bed for the night, and you may even get a freebie – the holy grail of the Sukhumvit prowler. Just watch out for the ladyboys…