Readers' Submissions

Overtaken By $inagpore?

  • Written by Stick
  • September 7th, 2004
  • 4 min read

Overtaken By $ingapore

Anonymous Submission


Is Bangkok really being overtaken by Singapore where nightlife is concerned? The comments by one of your contributors (26/2/2004) took me a bit by surprise. Granted, I've not been there for a while and am definitely out of touch, but it has never been cheap from the start.

I don't remember seeing anything like the Pong or Nana Plaza. Two recent visitors from the Lion City I ran into in Nana confirmed this. They were at Nana for the third time this year, if that's anything to go by.

Way back when I was working there, there was a place called Tropicana. It was just off Orchard road, and was very much like the Thermae here. When that closed around two a.m., most people would filter down to the Red Lantern, a large open-air beer garden next to Clifford Pier. The Thai freelancers were always around, you could partake of their services for 100 – 150 Singapore dollars fifteen years ago!

The plainclothes police would come around on occasion, round up the lot (they would have a few buses handy) and would let most go after hassling them at the station; I guess those over their two-week visa got the worst of it.

The pick-up places were around the Lido theatre area, Jockey's Pub (Jazz, etc), Genevive's (country western) and Club 392 (actually the house number). I think Genevive's is the sole survivor today. Most of the girls hanging out there were either Thai or Indonesian.

There were establishments where you could get a short-time room, and the girl was a phone call away, services from 100 dollars up.

And there were the backstreet alleyways with their red lights and cubicles.

Most of the hotels then had a either a decent disco or a resident band and the music wasn't bad. Most of the bands were local talent. They weren't too expensive, and if you didn't finish your whisky, they'd keep the bottle (with your name on it) for up to three months.

There were a few venues outside of town which were good for pub grub, most are gone now.

An old favourite was'Charlie's'; he had a corner stall in the Changi village hawker's center. What he would do was to bring in as many different brands of beer as he could from all over the world, and you'd be able to sit at the tables set up outside and enjoy the variety.

When the Filipino maid population increased, they would congregate at a place called Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road on their days off. This would typically be on a Sunday. The locals caught on and started picking them up. Some other enterprising persons would rent a hotel disco during the day to cater for this crowd, and the hotels didn't complain as some rooms got filled up as well.

When I went to Singapore about two years back, I was brought around Clarke Quay; these are basically the old shophouses along the river that had been converted into pubs and provided a variety of music. Not cheap though, it cost almost eighty dollars for two jugs of beer and some snacks.

I've not been to the venues mentioned by your contributor; do take note that when I was there, I was brought around by a close friend, and these places never came up on the agenda. If they existed then.

The trend these days, it would appear, is towards membership of social clubs. These are exclusive places that provide full amenities for the family, and many better-off Singaporeans tend to entertain there. Many of these clubs are just off Orchard Road. Very nice, very exclusive, very expensive. I've heard of the cost of memberships going into six-digit figures!

Is this where Bangkok is going to be in a few years with the present policy?

No-go-go. Patpong completely taken over by the night vendors. The bars converted into shops selling handicrafts. Nana is a shell of itself, with beggars in the corridors and soi dogs sleeping in the dark corners. Cowboy has been bulldozed and has become another public park. Lots of expensive / exclusive members' clubs. A lot of music-only venues. The beer garden in front of the World Trade center the only place to pick up freelancers. With the occasional raid by the men in brown. (Here, pee into this paper cup, if you don't mind.) The basically carefree nightlife of today being driven underground.

Yes, possibly some of the better-off locals may be quite smug about it. No more 'Nights in Bangkok', fewer farangs, and to welcome back the good old Thai institution, the Mia Noy!


Stickman's thoughts:

Anyone in Singapore want to bring us up to date with the situation down there?