Delightful Bangkok: Music And Girls Part 3/4: Patpong
Music and Thai lady aficionados around the world: In the first two parts of his four-piece-report, Mr. F. had visited places with music and ladies at least a little bit more entertaining than the rest.
Still, so far Mr. F hadn't been all that enthusiastic: At "Country Road II" and "Morning Night" down Sukhumvit Zoo, F. had to deal with hired sex workers, which always limits the experience. Much more interesting were the attractive free floating and assumably available ladies of "CM2" disco; but there the merciless aerobics music rendered Mr. F. autistic. And while Mr. F. would like to do photo sessions with the very-well-tended khunyings-for-sale at "Spasso's", he could never charm or afford those upmarket creatures.
His "Music and Girls" research mission now takes Mr. F. to Southeast Asia's most boring and commercial square meters.
Never had Mr. F. thought there is fun on Patpong.
His plan for the night had evolved around Lumpini: Sunset across the lake in the park; then a walk south down Suriwong road to the "Mango Tree" restaurant in soi Tan Tawan; then a short taxi ride north to the other side of Lumpini park, for entertaining live jazz at "Brown Sugar" on Sarasin road. But then, "Mango Tree" seemed a bit slick and touristy to Mr. F. He did like the classical dancers and the interesting fruit cocktails; but by 9 p.m. Mr. F. felt the urge to leave.
Too early for jazz at "Brown Sugar". Hm, he could as well walk across Patpong, take a peek at least. A hell of a place. Twenty slimy guys shoved disgusting plastic pictures under his nose: "DVD sex!" Who needs that, when you can buy the real things next door? Twenty slimy touts tried to drag him into agogos, where through open doors bikini troopers could be seen toddling around silver poles. Fleeing fast was not possible, as mom and pop from Oklahoma plus tour groups from Paderborn and Okinawa efficiently blocked each escape route. A claustrophobic Mr. F. almost overran a stall with delightful wooden elephants.
But then: Mr. F. notices this bar with no walls – so easy to walk in and out, and they do NOT have allergenic touts! Fun up-tempo reggae music can be heard. Hey, this is a live band, and a good one! Mr. F. walks inside, and nobody presses him into a chair. Can that be true on Patpong?
The place is made up like an open cave, with fake dirty rocks on the ceiling. It slightly resembles those fanciful open-air grotto bars on Ko Samui, but less sophisticated. On one waiter's shirt Mr. F. can read "Muzzik Café".
He finds a stool at the bar and orders his default drink for short stays, "nam manao mai wan" (fresh lemon juice, not sweet). This is a whopping 90 Baht here, while it was only about 50 Baht in "Morning Night" or "Country Road".
(On his research expeditions, Mr. F. mostly had to pay around 100 Baht for a Bailey's, while cocktails went for 160 up. "Spasso's" and "CM2" are more expensive. But Mr. F. never cares much about the drinks prices: He feels he actually pays a fee for music, ambience, atmosphere and seating; so he will happily pay 20 Baht more at a more enjoyable place. If he just wanted to economically consume a certain liquid, he would buy it from Tesco Lotus.)
"Muzzik Café" entertains a wild mix of customers, more entertaining for people-watchers than the other establishments on this research trail: There are Thai and Thai-Farang groups who just enjoy dancing and drinking. Some white-haired Farang seniors, seated around small tables, murmur and tremble helplessly under their baseball caps; they were dragged here by their tiny sexy Thai girls, now rotating their hot asses on Mr. Money's lap. There are quite a few hip Khao San Road style boys who get big-big eyes from fanciful young Thai chicks. Some elderly farang males show up heavily decked out with Rolexes, gold necklaces and Hawaii shirts opened down to the belly, revealing bushes of filthy breast hair; they would win any casting for B-movie pimps.
One such delightful B-movie pimp stands right beside Mr. F.s barstool and keeps dropping cigarette ash onto Mr. F.s trousers. He can't be convinced to stop this behavior. Then a C-movie pimp takes over and for a change keeps touching Mr. F. while pretending to dance. The disgusting bloke can't be convinced to remain modest, either.
Mr. F. has long since changed from lemon juice to Mai Tais etc., and he has forgotten about "Brown Sugar" jazz too. Upon repeated groping attacks from the C-movie bastard, Mr. F. grabs his glass and ventures out into "Muzzik Café's" darker hinterlands.
And hey, there is a whole bunch of sexy ladies happily jumping to the pulsating beat! Guessing from the way they move, a few cuties definitely work in agogos. Or maybe not? A certain Khun Oei from Loei dances towards Mr. F., who quickly joins her animated motions. When Oei stops to talk to her friends for a while, Mr. F. is danced-up by Khun Gop from Mukdahan. And he lets it happen, because Gop is a cute thing, with very smart dancing, a knowing smile and witty remarks in good English.
The band pauses now, and a DJ plays a variety of thumping pop music that's great for dancing – not the techno overkill you hear in many discos. Gop came with two lady friends, and when the waiter does a round, Mr. F. is friendly asked to sponsor them a round of Heinekens, that's 390 Baht for three bottles. He decides to not pay for more drinks, but they never ask for more.
Mr. F. excuses himself to the bathroom. But for his pee he has to queue up. They have no official forecast, but Mr. F. guesses he would have to wait 20+ minutes before being able to use the facilities. From the distance he can see, though, that they have this Thai style urinal service, where you get a shoulder massage whilst relieving yourself, and a service guy hands you a hot towel ceremoniously.
Now the DJ plays a long row of funk rock with a brass section, it sounds like "Blood, Sweat and Tears" or "Tower of Power". Gop's dancing gets a bit provocative, with her butt rhythmically massaging Mr. F.'s zipped zone;
in sync they shuffle up and down, left and right, chip in a few classical dance steps, smile and sweat. To wipe up his wet skin, caring Khun Gop fishes for napkins all around the tables.
"Where you go after 1 a.m.", Gop asks; Mr. F. grins. When they play Chick's disco oldie "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi", Mr. F. translates the line for Gop; Gop grins. Gop says she really likes look thung country salsa, and Mr. F. says he has a good look thung collection on the laptop in his hotel room; they grin. Gop's friend captures a farang, exchanges deep kisses five minutes later and grins bye bye five minutes after that. Things seem almost clear by now.
Through a haze of Mai Tais, Bailey's, female hair and male hormones, Mr. F. notes that "Muzzik Café" is absolutely heaving. All and sundry are jumping to the fantastic beat. From about ten meters away, he can see that people are dancing even on the stage. Hey, they even swing real saxophones, trombones and guitars. Somewhat mao from beats, babes and booze alike, Mr. F. realizes slowly slowly that this is another real band, they have been playing for 30 minutes by now, all that super-hot precise funky stuff was live, not MP3!
Heck, this is as happening as it gets! Mr. F. now recalls that this part of his report is about music, not about Gop's accommodating ass (featured more in part 4). So blinking through his sweat-burnt eyes, Mr. F. takes a few notes: The band does a row of exciting Latin funk and an absolutely fantastic instrumental version of "Hava Nagila", heftily swinging and soft and gentle at the same time – dreamy! The fat dark skinned male singer is a good rapper, too. They never stop for one second, announcements are made over the never-ending beat.
Now Mr. F. remembers that once he saw "Muzzik Café" featured on bangkokgigguide.com; he had clicked it away, because he couldn't believe in fun on Patpong – what a misjudgment: Music-, if not show-wise, this is one of the best dance bands Mr. F ever heard on his world wide crawls. Mr. F. muses – did he ever see a Thai band with a brass section? Oh yes, there was one, they play nightly in Chiang Mai's "Cottage" pub on the Ping river; but up north they sound more soapy – dinner entertainment, not dance rage.
"What you think", asks Khun Gop? – "Huh???" – "We go", asks Khun Gop?
Mr. F. never really researched Bangkok's local franchise-taker of "Hard Rock Café"; that live music place is too sterile and un-Thai for him, it does not even offer shoulder massage in the loo. They have another similarly attractive branch in Pattaya.
Down on the Eastern Seaboard, better try "Bamboo" near Walking Street for acceptable western and Thai live music that's spiced down to western earlobes; after midnight there, you can ask relatively unnutty freelance pickup girls for a dance. "Bamboo" is also nice for watching various Thai-Farang couples shuffle on the dance floor.
Actually, some of the best places for music and girls are not in Bangkok or on it's Pattaya beach extension. It is often easier to socialize in smaller, less heftily farangized environment. If you want a miniscule, but heaving dance bar with a mix of pickup and regular ladies plus a great variety of pounding canned east and west music, try Udon Thani's "Mr. Tong".
Over in Phnom Penh, there is the rather dull and straightforward "Martini" disco packed with bored faceless freelancers plus fat mamasans hissing disgusting extra offers (recently moved to road 360 near Souvannaphoum theatre).
Much more fascinating is Phnom Penh's tiny "Heart of Darkness", just a short motorbike taxi ride away from the hotels and bars on the riverside. After midnight, this Khmer-baroque dance den vibrates with breathtaking dark enigmatic creatures. They don't dance as well as their Thai sisters in arms, but they make up for it with sheer mysteriosity. They might be available – or not. Use your charm, your dance vibes and your snooker skills to find out what's on offer – and tell me of *your* favourite venues for good music and not-so-good girls across the region.
GREAT stuff! How was the frog?