Where Have All The Pretty Girls Gone?
I must say I really enjoy your site and enjoy reading the ups and downs of life in Bangkok.
I once lived in Bangkok myself from 1979 – 1991, I originally went there on holiday and thoroughly enjoyed myself, not only did I embark on the nightlife scenes but managed to see the country as a whole, (something that the majority of tourists failed to see). It always irritated me when I heard people associate Thailand with only one thing.
I had a Thai friend that lived in Cyprus at the time, he wanted to set up a business in Thailand but did not have the capital. Too cut a long story short we ended up as business partners, the business was not lucrative, but allowed me to live a lifestyle that catered for my modest needs. We managed to branch out to Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui but did not get as far as Pattaya, (It was a chain of Barber Shops).
At the time I remember Bobby's Grill and Bistro, being really popular, packed out almost every single night with tourists who wanted to take a breather from the girlie bars. Other areas that I used to frequent were Soi Cowboy, Patpong, Buckskin Joe Village and the Nana Plaza. All 4 were equally popular at the time, however Patpong boasted the prettiest girls. Next came Soi Cowboy, followed by the Nana and then Buckskin Joe Village. The barfines at that time were anywhere between B150 – B250, the girls were not overly greedy and would only ask between B250 – B500 for a full night. Hotels such as the Asoke Inn and the Honey Inn, would charge anywhere between £11 – £18 for a night, usually with female company thrown in.
Throughout the 80's the number of girls working in the bars ranged from between 60 – 100, they had to have that amount to cater for the amount of tourists. I can even remember walking in the Toy Bar in Soi Cowboy at 2:00 in the afternoon and it would boast about 30 girls. There was a Thai Boxing type bar in Patpong at the time and it was extremely popular (I was so disappointed to find it no longer there, on my last visit).
Towards the end of the 80's I found the rules changing with regards to closing times. One month it was 4 AM, then next month 2 AM, then it went back to 4 AM, only to be changed to 1 AM. At about this time, I found that a number of the girls were becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to get a friend for the night. Even the regular clubs that I used to visit were ripping people off. Almost every night somebody would be taken to the back of one of the bars and have the shit kicked out of him because he refused to pay the 500 baht bill he had been given for one lady's drink. Bars started to close then reopen with new management, a number of the owners were selling up and moving out. The bar scene was certainly not what it used to be and the mutual respect between the owners, the girls and the customers had almost totally disappeared. Nobody trusted anyone anymore. So I decided to get out while I was ahead, my partner decided to by my share in the business and also sold two of the barber shops, and I am sad to say that he died penniless approximately 7 years ago.
I decided to go back in 1995 for 6 months to see if it had gone back to its old ways, but I was totally disappointed, more than anything else I noticed that the girls were different, they were not only less pretty but the amount of them had reduced by almost a third. The prices had gone up by almost double and even the tuktuks had tripled in price. When I left you could go almost anywhere within reason for approximately 10 baht. On my recent visit somebody tried to charge me 150 baht from soi 4 to soi 23, something that tuktuk drivers never did in the past was rip off the tourists (Or something that I had never experienced). Any way I gave him 50 baht (I do not know if that is the normal fare or not).
Not one to give up I again returned last year, encouraged by this site. I was extremely disappointed. The girls did not seem to be as pretty as they were years ago, and in both
Soi 23 and the Nana, I found that some of the girls that worked there were the same girls from 1990, complete with stretch marks and the bars closed even earlier. Even Patpong was cut down to half the amount of bars and the bars that housed 100 females etc had been reduced to approximately 10 – 15 girls maximum. The place was not even a patch on Heroes square in Cyprus that used to have hundreds of Thai girls working there in the 70's and 80's. You can go to bars in both Dubai and Bahrain now that have over 20 beautiful Thai girls working in them, charging the same amount of money that they do in Thailand for a night. You do not even need to pay their bar fines, they can leave with you whenever they want and their drinks are exactly the same price as your own.
Even in the massage parlours, and the bars in the sois and the Nana seemed to be less pretty, some bars had as few as 2 – 3 girls working in them.
I would be interested to know if anyone else has experienced the same thing.. and if so can anyone tell me where have all the pretty girls gone…??
I watched an interesting program on the Discovery Channel the other night about Leopards. While passing a heard of impalas, the leopard would curl its tail upwards like a white flag to signal out of respect that it was not going to attack and just simply passing by. I wish some of the bar owners and girls that now work the bars in Thailand would show the same sort of respect to their punters or eventually they will have bitten off the hand that feeds them.
You just made half the readership green with envy about the times you enjoyed in the past. Hell, even I'm pretty bloody envious. Great piece this, really enjoyable read – and if anyone else has reports from the past, PLEASe, send them in – we'd all love to read them.