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…