An upstairs room, somewhere. Large bed, few pieces of other furniture, limited decoration. Through the floor comes the beats of the music of one of the King's Group of bars. We lay next to each other, resting. My eyes are following the lines of her naked body. My Patpong girl. And for the first time, I am asking myself “Why don’t I take her home?”
It is more than a decade ago that I first wandered into Patpong. First trip to Bangkok, had heard all the rumors, but at the same time too shy to really dive into it. So, somehow I ended up in what was then the most famous red light district in the world. And when I turned the corner at Silom Road, I got the first surprise: this was not the place where you would need to walk in an old rain coat, keeping your head low as in so many of these districts in the west. The huge night market, with heaps of tourist souvenirs and cheap Rolex watches kept the atmosphere light. The signs with their promises of all kinds of shows gave the flavor of exciting things to be discovered.
The first bar I entered, one of the King's Group of bars, added to the feeling of being overwhelmed. In contrast to the morals suggested back home, this place was fun. Music, drinks and woman dancing in bikini. The bills placed in a plastic container assured a newcomer that they were not going to rip you off. So you could just sit down, relax and enjoy whatever the evening had to offer. And that offer had quite some possibilities, as the mamasans indicated with a piece of paper showing the numbers for bar, room and lady.
Unfortunately, you can only be a first timer in Patpong once in your life. Sometimes I still get nostalgic feelings for that first night. The Internet hardly existed back then, and the world was bigger than it is now. Bangkok sounded like some sort of mystery land. You knew the tales of exotic, erotic Asian women, and here for the first time in your life you had a stage full of them. All of them beautiful, all of them available. At midnight, the door of the bar was closed and someone put on the lookout. All dancers who were still around went on stage and took off their top. I was in heaven.
In the nights following, I started to see more of the two little streets. Visited most of the gogo bars. Saw the ping pong show, the pussy eat banana show, the pussy have flower show, the pussy paints show, the pussy have razor inside show, the pussy drink Coke show, the pussy play whistle show, the pussy open bottle show, the pussy do whatever show and my favorite the pussy shoot darts at balloon show. The remarkable thing was that I only paid the price of a standard 100 baht drink and was not ripped off. Was I lucky in my choice of bar? Or did they need me out quietly so that they could over charge the drunk Japanese customer big time after I had left?
In the years that followed, Patpong changed. The touts promoting bars became more aggressive, making walking around a sort of nuisance. Whenever you sat down in a bar, within minutes 3 women would be on top of you begging for drinks, long before your own order had come. Prices for service were no longer cheaper than what was asked in the soapy massage places. And I found Nana and Cowboy, where the bars were better, and the atmosphere more fun. I stopped visiting Patpong.
It happened in a year that the girls in Cowboy did not seem interested and that the girls in Nana had that look “You no first time, we no get big money from you” so I decided to stop by Patpong again. It had changed, and this time it was more of a place on the settled tourist track. The night bazaar had exploded out of the small streets well into Silom Road. There were more couples around than single men. You could almost guess that the night market did more trade than the bars. The holiday atmosphere was back. The bars had their act together and you could have a fun evening without being harassed. Pick up someone without having any trouble. Patpong 2 had a few better bars, which I do not remember seeing before.
She was dancing on the stage of Club Electric Blue. My Patpong girl. I guess many men have a fantasy of their Asian dream girl. She came so close. When I first stripped her, I was speechless by her beauty. It took me some minutes to realize that some doctor’s help was used in obtaining the lines of her body. Anyway, whenever the years after brought me to Bangkok, we ended up in one of these small rooms hidden everywhere.
I have no illusions about Patpong relations. They are purely commercial. The girl who helped me out of my nervousness probably saw me as a very quick and easy customer. The beauty who spent the night in my hotel room sorted out the agreement down to the fine details and wanted to see her fee on the bedside table before starting. Even though I thought I shared intimacy with my Patpong girl, the night she was not available and I took her friend, the friend knew in detail what I liked. You might say that this is not what you expect from a love affair. But all of them, and many others, gave me a good night and a head full of happy memories.
Stickman and many other websites claim that Patpong is not Bangkok’s best bar district. That is true. But by now I have the feeling that these websites create self-fulfilling prophesies. How often do you read “After my research on the internet…” and they then visit the promoted bars, and a spiral sets in with the bars mentioned getting more customers, thus more and better women working. The bars mentioned negatively get less customers, thus less working ladies. And so the internet is slowly working to minimize the bar industry to just Baccara, Rainbow 4 and Pussy-a gogo. And to the decay of Patpong.
Patpong being on the tourist track does not mean much for the bar industry. The average tourist just needs a peek through a curtain, get a glimpse of partially undressed women and the movie in the head, either of lust or of being morally superior, starts running. No need to go in. The internet heroes who know the truth about everything which is wrong in the bars (and spend their full days typing) not coming, and preaching to their followers, hurts seriously.
But the music is still playing. The girls are still dancing. The smell of fantasy is still in the air. There is a series of good bars in soi 2, and the old ones on soi 1 still show the essence of a gogo bar. For that one time in your life, you can still see the pussy shoot balloon show (and have the being over charged experience). And, if you are into professional partners, Patpong still has the best mamasans to help you pick someone for the night. The show goes on, and it is still show time every night.
My Patpong girl helps out the mamasan now. “I got fat” she said when she greeted me last time. And noisy. While she was doing her work, I watched her and saw the soi getting older, loosing that beauty it once had, but still enough warm memories to keep coming back.
Very nicely put together. On the notion of websites influencing what happens in the bars, I'd disagree. There's a lot of disagreement online about where the best bars are etc and while, yes, websites can help a bar to do very well, I don't think they shape what happens with the girls and the industry in general. I believe the influence of websites on the industry is minimal.