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The Art Critic

  • Written by Union Hill
  • December 13th, 2005
  • 7 min read


To me, it seems that if you don’t change your habits once in a while life starts to get a bit ‘same same’. Whether it’s your bar or restaurant of choice, your job or in extreme cases your wife, sometimes a change really is as good as a rest, as the old saying goes. Actually, I try to stick to one wife but I regularly change girlfriends to compensate.

The thing was, I had grown a little tired of the bar scene in Soi 4 and Cowboy. I was seeing the same faces in the same places and everywhere seemed to be a bit of a bore. I needed a change of scenery so without doing anything too extreme I decided to check out what exactly was on offer in ‘Dead Artists Street’, Soi 33.

Of course, I had been there before but just for a quick beer or to meet someone before moving on to somewhere else. I didn’t really know the bars there or any of the girls. I had noticed that some of the girls looked very sexy in those flowing evening gowns though. Who wouldn’t?

I already knew that the price of a beer was higher there and people had told me that the bar-fines were ridiculously expensive. No actual figures seemed to be available from my

circle of trusty associates. The same associates had also told me that not all the girls working there were the ‘take-out’ variety. Yeah, right, whatever….. The situation needed clarifying and I didn’t need much more of an excuse to have a closer look.

So I decided to try out a few of the bars. Chat with some of the girls. Get under the skin of the place, so to speak. Maybe even shag some of the girls if I had to. I couldn’t hope to accomplish anything meaningful in just one evening so I allowed myself a couple of weeks to acquaint myself more closely with the likes of Dali, Renoir, The Green Parrot and most of the others. Who knows, I might even meet some new friends.

The thing about Soi 33 is that there are plenty of bars to choose from. Most have their own style but just like James Bond films, the formula is essentially the same from one to the next. Their MO is the girls, who are mostly good looking babes are trained to extort the maximum amount of money from you the punter in as short a period of time as possible. They employ fair means and foul. Fair, such as constant demands for ladies’ drinks and games of pool and foul, such as padding your bill or charging you for drinks that you didn’t have. The bar fines range from the sublime to the ridiculous. For example, the bar fine in Monet was one thousand, six hundred and eighty baht. An odd sum, you’d agree? Explanation, “that’s the price of ten ladies’ drinks” which of course it is not. And for me at least, the bar fine in Big Shots seemed to be non-existent. Must have been my hansum face and boundless charm.

So, I quickly learned how the bars stay in business. If you happen to be a freewheeling, cash rich party animal you can have some real good fun there. You will spend quite a bit of your time in disputes over the bill though. I prowled around all the bars in Soi 33 for a few weeks and mostly let them have their fun where fifty or hundred baht was involved. Only occasionally did I have to pull the buggers up for going just a bit too far with the ‘extras’. I don’t go there so often these days but I am on first name terms with many of the girls working there. I seem to get much fairer treatment whenever I go there these days.

Two places which are not bars but are good to know about are The Ritz Apartment and The Peep Inn. After a hard evening drinking and playing with the girls, if you are inclined you can rest your bones in either of these places with your lady of choice. The Peep Inn is a short time establishment but it is OK. There are mirrors on the ceilings and the walls and the key fob is a little carved wooden ‘dick’. Very quaint. At the Ritz, you can settle in till morning for a thousand baht a night. A place more inappropriately named however, would be hard to find.

Livingstone’s has a lot to offer including good food and accommodation but if you’re on a backpacker’s budget you won’t like it here.

I have spent a few bucks at Vincent van Gogh over the years so there must be something about the place I like. The girls there are not in the first flushes of youth but they are good fun. I have never booked any of the ladies out of this place for intimate relations although one of the girls did come out with me once for a few drinks. You will be cajoled into buying drinks for the girls in here. If you decline, they will simply leave you alone. Not much fun in that.

Dali is quite simply a piss take. The mama in there will offer you every girl in the bar and when you don’t take her offer up she will promise you that new girls will be starting tomorrow, and she’ll offer you those as well. Stand well back when talking to this woman. The smell of her breath will make your eyes water.

Dali uses a trick that is not uncommon in Soi 33. The price of drinks goes up after ‘happy hour’. Of course, no one tells you when the happy hour is over so the young player can easily fall into the trap of ordering drinks at ‘normal’ prices which are much higher. The bill really mounts up fast at ‘normal’ prices.

Another trick used at Dali and Monet is when the girls come out from behind the bar to join you, you pay more for their drinks. In some cases, a lot more. Be careful because no one will warn of this up front.

At Goya and Gauguin the girls make you feel like a king, massaging your ego whilst mercilessly raping and pillaging your wallet. When you run out of money and you’ve maxed out your credit card, they’ll heave you out onto the street in the nicest possible way. They might even hail you a cab, too. You ain’t no good to them broke. Having said that, I did bar-fine one of the girls from Goya a couple of times and we retired to The Ritz Apartment on both occasions. Very nice, but certainly not worth the huge bar bill, barfine and overnight accommodation expenses. The same girls work both of these bars. Same owner I believe.

I’ve had no experience of getting fleeced at The Office Bar. This is a well run place with pretty girls and a good atmosphere when it’s busy.

The Renoir Club could do with a bit of a shake-up in truth. It’s a nice place but the girls are a bit agricultural. If you’re interested you can look up their website. The best part about the Renoir Club website is that you can get a glimpse of Yours Truly in one of the frames. I just happened to be standing there minding my own business when…… well check it out yourself.

Great looking girls at Santana but I’ve never seen this place busy. Makes you wonder how it survives. Lucky Lucciano’s could be great with it’s downstairs den and it’s private karaoke rooms upstairs but sadly it is not. Then, of course there is Christies and The Napoleon Club. These two are for the truly dedicated only. The faint hearted will be eaten alive at these venues. They should have a warning sign on the door but you just gotta go at least once.

Where you really gotta go at least once is Demonia, opposite The Napoleon. No comments from me, just don’t go there on your own. It’s like going on the ‘Ghost Train’ when you were a kid, it’s best to hold a grown-up’s hand!!

There are other bars in 33 that I did not mention but that’s no reflection on them. Actually I love ‘em all and if I had a bottomless pit of money, you’d find me there every night.

In truth, it has been known for me to sink below the surface of Soi 33 for days on end. It’s a bit like going potholing I’d imagine.

Union Hill

Stickman's thoughts:

Isn't it funny how there seem to be more problems with padded bills at soi 33 than anywhere else? My favourite is Monet, but you gotta watch the bills in there.