Remember in high school when the boys would get into a bragging match about penis size but usually only the one with the biggest dick would ever have the balls to pull it out and prove who the winner was? I always found it kind of silly but maybe I just wasn’t to keen on finding out who the winner really was. Looking back it was all kind of childish and seemed rather pointless. I find the battle of the Farangs in Thailand to be quite similar. Let me explain.
Myanmar. I was very busy all week with work, but I managed to check out
the hotel bar a couple of times. There was a beautiful hostess in
there. I shared my limited Thai with her and we seemed to get along.
we exchanged phone numbers. On the last night she called me at 1:30
when she finished working. After talking to her for a bit we met in
the lobby. We both decided we could not stay at the hotel. She
grabbed her motor bike and we were off to find a late night bar. After
a couple of minutes she did not feel comfortable driving the motor bike
with 2 two people and asked me to drive.
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.
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.
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.
Fell for an old trick last night. Only had 1000 baht notes and
asked cab driver if he had change. He said yes, and took me to Lang
Suan Tunnel club from outside Qbar at 2am. When we get to club, I give
him 1000 baht note in the dark cab, and he quickly palmed it and
replaced it with 500 baht note, turning on the light and saying ‘you
give me 500 baht note OK?’ (a very slick and practiced move by the
way). Plenty of ranting and raving, but nothing much I can do – his
word against mine, and large crowd of Thais gathering around outside
club watching us go at it, so I decide to congratulate him on getting
one over on me, walk into the club and forget it. Life is too short to
get too upset by these things. Cab driver number was 255 by the way.
And he will find a huge tear in the back seat of his leather seat made
by my house key when he wasn’t looking that will cost him way more than
500 baht to fix when he checks his cab today!
Ratio of sexes in Tunnel last night was not good for most of the
evening – huge number of guys there. But they must not have been used
to paying (most of them looked like tourists the cabbies had dragged
here), because at 4am when the bar closed, most of the girls were still
there and getting desperate for business.
Fifteen years ago, the women in Bangkok’s “skull bars” were overweight, unattractive and over-the-hill. Yes they were skilled in pole-smoking, but often the bars had no private areas–great for exhibitionists and voyeurs, but not always what a gentleman most wanted in his afternoon’s entertainment.
Lolita’s changed all that. They provided decent-looking gals who *invariably* provide a high-level of service at their original locale in Asoke Plaza (now razed) near Soi Cowboy. After that they moved to the Soi 8 side street, and, get this, have franchised to Pattaya and now, Hua Hin.
Ran into some US boys on the balcony the other night who wanted a little advice for how to play Bangkok. It was there first night in town. I always find popping the cherry to be one of the most enjoyable things in BKK, reminds me of when I first came to Bkk, but I did not have the time to take them out so instead I gave them my crash course and what I would do. Seems one of the guys kept prodding his friend to admit one of his hangups. I was like what is it? He said he was not into paying for sex.