Old Bangkok, Good Old Stories
Old Bangkok, Good Old Days Stories
I first came here in 1986 not counting being here as a child of a military family based here in the sixties. Now that would have been a story to tell! Alas I was only six. 86 to 96 I was a frequent sex tourist visitor. Since then a permanent resident and pretty much bored with the [go go] nightlife.
On the underage issue that you wrote about a couple of weeks ago, it is common knowledge that a lot of girls used to be under age, that is younger than 18 . It was here for all to see in the anything goes era of more than 10 years ago, a rough guess is that now the average age of girls in sex establishments is 24 . Back then it was 17, it's as simple and brutal as that. Anyone who tries to deny it, simply wasn't here, or went around with their eyes closed.
The place I used to go to most in the 80's was Soi Cowboy, firstly because it is just around the corner from the hotel that I used to stay in, The Crown Hotel on Soi 29, more about the place later, secondly getting around Bangkok was much more difficult then. Going down to Patpong required an uncomfortable tuk tuk ride through the smog. Taxis, not metered then, were too expensive and the drivers were rip off merchants.
Walking into any of the larger bars in Cowboy was a full on assault on the senses. These places were packed with punters and girls from 8pm every night. The stage was full, and also the standing room was full of girls. Most of the girls were aged from 14 to 21, there was no pretence to hide the age of the younger girls, many even had the bob hair style that Thai school girls have to have until about age 15. Many of the girls were from Bangkok and not at all exclusively from Isaan as they seem to be today.
The punters looked like an average crowd with many young European men too. Sometimes these bars had the atmosphere of a busy and packed nightclub rather than a go go bar. Music full on, beautiful teenage girls dancing flat out. Just telling it exactly as it was, just remembering it for what it was at that time without passing boring and unnecessary judgement. Patpong was pretty much the same with many of the lasses in their mid teens. The market wasn't there.
The top bars were Pink Panther and the other big places still there. Live shows were full on, my favourite was the shower show, pretty mild stuff but very sensual; my least favourite, the razor blades on a string trick. How anyone was supposed to be turned on by girls inserting razor blades I'm not sure. Super Queen bar [still there] used have this show and many others every night, it was also a notorious place for young girls, and really, the sight of old farangs groping young teenagers was unpleasant to say the least.
Another notable difference from today is that long time was the norm and the price for this: 1000 baht, even in Patpong. Girls started to prefer short time only in about the last 10 years. As the girls then didn't have mobile phones once they were barfined no one could contact them and most just accepted they would stay the night with you usually leaving after breakfast.
Also worth mentioning was the freelance pimp characters who also have thankfully disappeared. As a single male, if you walked anywhere around Silom in the evening nearly always some shady guy would sidle up to you from a dark alley and whisper 'you want young girl?' Like all touts if you keep walking they give up. Thankfully the underaged scene has disappeared from Bangkok go go bars, and the punters of that persuasion have moved on to Cambodia as anyone who reads newspapers, or is a Gary Glitter fan will know.
There were plenty of lovelies in the legal age bracket, many of them pale and tall Bangkok girls [think university students in bikinis] and you didn't have to be into school girls to enjoy yourself. The era I talk about was and remains the time from where Bangkok really got its naughty and seedy image as a whoremonger's paradise. Things built up from the Vietnam war era reaching a peak in the eighties and early nineties [as airfares became cheap] and are now very much in decline. Yes, it was more vibrant, yes it was more exciting. What remains, is a mere shadow of what it used to be like. I wouldn't recommend the Bangkok bar scene to anyone nowadays. Unless you are into a lot of plain Janes from Isaan who really do look better with their clothes on, look to Cuba, Brazil, and Eastern Europe. Cuba especially!
The thing I miss most is the lack of beauty in the bars nowadays. If you want to find a gem be prepared to visit half a dozen bars in order to find her, and then only maybe. Please don't edit or censor, we are all adult here. We all know there was a big underage problem going on here. Those of us here at the time should be allowed to report it.
I'd like to mention the place I always used to stay when I came here as a sex tourist during the eighties. The amazing Crown Hotel near the entrance to Sukhumvit soi 29. I've no idea how I ended up at this place the first time I came, but after that I never stayed anywhere else. It is a shabby, rundown establishment with absolutely no pretensions at all. All the rooms featured a double plus a single bedded room and nasty patterned Formica walls Bathrooms with big old ancient baths, and all this lit with 40 watt light bulbs, which I replaced with 100 watt bulbs that I bought in 7/11 just across the road. Rooms were 500 baht and 450 when you became a regular. The ground floor has short time rooms, which I still use occasionally for 200 baht. So, the place was and is a bit run down, but the staff are friendly and the location is great. Walking distance from Cowboy, Washington Square, and the bars on Soi 22. The little coffee shop always had good food at reasonable prices, I went in there the other day and it hasn't changed in 20 years, and probably since a lot longer ago. Ancient tour stickers around the place give it a rather sad atmosphere. At night all the local cops used to come here to play cards and gamble and get drunk.
After I got to know the owner he told me something of the history of the place. It was one of the first hotels built on Sukhumvit road in the sixties, when everything was low rise. During the Vietnam war the Americans used it as an R&R base. Those days the swimming pool was not there and the whole court yard was a lawn on which the American soldiers pitched tents for their accommodation. Officers used the rooms. Quite a few people have died on the premises over the years. Several through misadventure in the swimming pool, which is open all night, but not lit, one or two suicides and yet more from more or less natural reasons. When I told a regular girlfriend this, she freaked and refused to meet me there anymore. Nowadays the Crown looks a bit threatened. You can see it well from the sky train. It has a smart looking place opposite on 29 where there used to be noodle shops, and on the other side where there was waste ground for years, there appears to be a condo block going up. The old hotel is going to look even more out of place in a street which keeps getting smarter. It's worth checking out this bit of Sukhumvit history before it goes.
A nice walk down memory lane.