Chiang Mai Part 2
Have you ever been to Mandalay? No not Burma, Chiang Mai. A huge club, which people have told me is gay central. But let’s get something straight from the start. This place is huge. The biggest disco in Chiang Mai by far. The problem, farang pricing.
To get in here costs 300 baht, what? Unless you are Thai, in which case you just walk in for free. When you do get in you wonder how big this place is. It’s huge. Enough room for 4,000 people (guesstimate). And there’s usually 4,000
in attendance, although not many farang. The trick is go with Thais or a baseball cap. I’ve done both. The Thai option is go in a big group when they carry you on a wave through the entrance or 2, Justin Timberlake, get a nice baseball
cap and lower your face as you walk in doing your best to walk like an Asian.
It’s actually not that gay, a lot of stunning girls but you’re going to have to man up to meet one. They all come here in groups. There’s live shows all night, dancing, my tip bring a bottle. My second tip don’t do what I did. My Thai friends had bought a very expensive bottle of Japanese whiskey, proudly showing it to all and sundry. I knocked it off the table, splat. Out came my credit card which disappeared to God knows where and in came Johnnie Walker, Red. I’m not kind enough to go Black or Gold. Checking my bank account 2 weeks later, they’d charged me exactly what they promised, not a penny more. I have seen Spiderman in this place. He appeared on a balcony one night, and if I wasn’t drunk appeared to abseil to the stage. It’s a good night but you need the right company, dancing on tables starts at about 11.00, careful not to wobble off and get crowd surfed.
There's also a trance club above Mandalay, The Dark. I've never been so can't pass comment but I'm guessing it's loud and dark.
And now I will digress and take you to Par Club in Chiang Rai. CM’s little sister 300 km north, this city also has a huge club also, entered through a Roman Coliseum. This is where everyone going to a club ends up and this is also a huge place. I recommend finding a girl here and then heading to The Red Rose, huge Love Hotel, with themed rooms ranging from boxing to a boat on a lake (small pool) to the tree house where I stayed on my first visit. We stayed in the tree, in the room. Downstairs a karaoke lounge, room with a PVC mat and baby oil supplied and a separate bathroom, mad.
If that’s not your thing, head to the backpacker streets where there’s some really fun bars.
Back to CM, want a quiet night, quiet prices and great food. Head to Gecko bar, see as recommended on Tripadvisor. This place is my place. Don’t ask for CM Peep – I am anonymous. It’s run by Rudhi, a great American. Who like all great Americans has left the U.S. He took over 7 years ago from a Japanese who had 3 wives. The Chiang Mai wife was not to his liking. Since then Rudhi has transformed the place into what I can only describe as ‘The only place to watch football in Chiang Mai.’
Great Thai staff, no bargirls, a semi-outdoor, smoker-friendly environment. The horse shoe bar is open on all sides and there’s a patio screened from the road by some nice green plants. The Thai food is good, the Western food is great. Order a burger and ask for a double, double with cheese. For 150 baht you get two huge home-made patties and a serving of home-made fries and salad, and all the condiments. Before the early closing times came in i.e. 12.00 p.m. I would be here at 4.00 a.m. sucking in the Champions League Football. Unlike many establishments in Thailand, this place only gets better.
There’s promotions on the beer, about 150 – 190 for 3 tall boys. Those in Bangkok must be shaking their heads at these prices. I’m usually on Sangsom when watching football, but we were born in the same year, 1977. You get a set with ice and one mixer for 150 baht, small Sangsom bottle. You don’t finish it that night, they put it behind the bar with your name on it, that’s service. The downsides of Gecko Bar, haven’t found one yet.
*** How do I know this place is great. I never tell anyone I know where I drink on the weekend, but they keep turning up here, long-termers who’ve finally found their niche.
Alternatives Chiang Mai Saloon run by an ex-Navy guy from Texas now has 2 if not 3 branches but I find it a very sterile place. Don’t get me wrong, the food is great and the locations more central, but they’re usually full of backpackers. Many people like to go to The Irish Pub, including my last girlfriend but God this place is dark. All sports fans sit upstairs and I just wonder, where is the soul of this place. If you just fancy watching football anywhere there’s about 10,000 venues with screens but I’ve told you where to go.
Gecko’s near Loi Kroh and all the bars but totally away from it. It’s a 33.33 split between Thais, long term expats and backpackers. A chat at the bar is always possible and often fun. Rudhi the owner has flown planes in South America, outfitted boats in Santa Barbara and much more. I won’t give you his life story. He is the life and soul of the party and unlike many bar owners, doesn’t drink too much.
More tips for daytime do the Samoueng loop. Stickman has been to Doi Suthep. Well there’s a 65 km motorbike ride that takes you around the back of the mountain and through some really interesting country. You can buy a map in CM from GT rider available in all bookshops. They also publish maps on a lot of motorbike routes in northern Thailand.
And next some movie trivia. Rambo IV was shot just outside Chiang Mai, in Mae Daeng, at Mae Gnat Dam. If you want to eat what Stallone ate, head to The Dukes, now in Bangkok too <Actually, the Bangkok branch closed about 5 weeks ago – Stick> Go to the branch by the river where Stallone went and order a pizza and burger as he did. You won’t be disappointed at the food. And finally American Gangster starring Denzel Washington shot scenes in Chiang Mai. Head to John's Place to be on location. John's Place was my initial hangout in Chiang Mai. It’s a nice bar and the rooftop has a nice view / pool table. The second bar across the road is where they filmed AG from the second floor. Denzel organizing some nice coke flights into the U.S..
Also the location of Rambo 4, Mae Gnat Dam has something amazing, floating guesthouses 3 km into the reservoir which can only be reached by boat. Once there you get a room and your own diving platform. Swim, eat fish, and look at the bill. Room 150 baht. You can bring your own booze or buy theirs. The food is a bit more expensive than elsewhere but you are totally cut off. All electricity goes out at 10:00 when the generators shut down. Be aware the boat return trip is 600 baht, maybe more now. But can be split between passengers, 10 people = dirt cheap, just you and your Mrs. hardly expensive.
Oh and how could I forget Pai, hippy central where Joe Cummings author of the original Thai Lonely Planet often gigs with his band. I personally don’t like this place. Since 2005 ish it has been over-run with Bangkokian speculators. It used to be the hippy hangout in the north. Now it’s where Thais go to get photos taken and farangs go to smoke / party. It’s a bit of a mess. But if it’s your 1st time, you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s in a valley about 300 km north-east of Chiang Mai. Once you get to CM everyone knows this place. But if you want a rave until suns up, you can get it here. It’s kind of The Full Moon Party without the beach.
And a word of caution, beginning opposite on the road beginning at McDonalds and heading around the moat in Chiang Mai, there are a load of stunning girls on the street every night, ladyboys. Great tits, but be careful.
Food I’ll have to get onto in another article. The choice, is a big one.
Late, lonely, head to Spicy, you leave alone and it was your choice. But get the condoms on, these girls are pro’s no matter what story they lay down.