What’s Up With Patong and Bangkok?
I went to Thailand for the first time in December and headed straight to Pattaya. My mind was blown – there's nothing like it. I was also lucky that the first bar I walked into had a perfect girl for me and within 2 drinks she asked me to barfine her. Thereafter I wasn't so lucky with every bar but generally you walk into a bar and there's a cute girl, she winks at you and smiles. If you return she'll lip-sync "let's boom boom" and make a movement with her hands. It's quite funny and sets the tone of the night. You know the girl is "in" and if you want to stay at the bar longer you actually have to put up the work to say "no lets have a few more drinks".
To give a bit of context I'm 31 (seems like not too young and not too old) and good looking. No problems with girls back home and I'm not a western woman hater – I just like to come to Thailand and with my ability to consistently pay 5-10K baht a night times can get pretty good….if I can find what I want. I'm extremely picky and I need to find a girl that meets my standards or I'll just stay home.
So Pattaya was awesome and I came back to Thailand for a second trip and headed to Bangkok. But something seemed off. First of all, none of the bars had any skinny girls so I just headed home. I tried again a second night and found a decent skinny girl but she never asked me to barfine her. Same with the third night. I wasn't into any of the girls enough to actually ask them to be barfined and I don't even know if I could (after reading about coyote dancers), but my point is that the vibe was just completely different. It felt like a strip club in the States (you know you can't take the strippers home) but the strippers don't even ask for lap dances. Pretty disappointing.
So I'm currently on the second leg of my trip in Patong, Phuket. First of all the prices here are much higher than I would expect. I think I got scammed by an expensive taxi at the airport and I booked a $30/night hotel from Agoda. As soon as I saw the place I realized my mistake and immediately headed over to The Kee (which is rather decent) and just left that room empty. The town is all tourists and doesn't seem to have the friendly vibe of a bunch of retirees actually living in the place. Walking down Bangla Road people literally grab my hand and won't let go. They shove lizards in my face until I look at them with disgust and point like "Hey, you just stood directly where I was walking!"
Ok, so on to the gogo bars. After Bangkok I was really hoping for more. There is hardly any selection here and even less customers. I think there are 8 or so gogos on Soi Seadragon and 3 or 4 have one or zero customers. As you peek your head in you are BLASTED with hellos, screaming and girls pulling on your arms it literally takes effort to not just immediately fight or flight your way out of there. Suzy Wong's and Suzy Wong's 2 plays the most obnoxious shit-ass music I can hardly stand the place, even though it has girls I just can't hang. Same with Devil's Den.
I did put up with Suzy Wong's 2 for a few minutes because I walked in and finally found a petite girl without a big gut or c-section scar. I wave her over and her fat obnoxious friend comes too! I'm thinking "what the hell?" and don't even get a chance to talk to the girl I liked before the other one wanted to know my name etc. I was clearly not interested in her and said "just one girl" to which she responded "I just say hi!" and I said again "just one girl". She didn't care, she was there to make my night uncomfortable. I begin to literally just stare off into the other wall hoping she gets the point (I already asked her to leave) but she doesn't. She asked me to buy two lady drinks and I haven't even gotten to say hi to the cute girl! I'm so put off by this scandalous crap I just up and leave. I hear the girls bickering to each other as I walk out. Who in their right mind would approve this behavior as a manager? I would have spent good money and tried to barfine the cute girl had her own co-worker not literally cock-blocked her.
Fast forward a few days and each day is the same story. I head out and search for a decent girl, 50% of the time find one, but then I'm not even sure if she's barfineable. They just don't ask. The fat ones smile and wink like I'm a ham sandwich or hot dog but the skinny ones have dead eyes and are no fun. For the duration of my stay here in Patong I've just been hanging out with an unbarfineable girl but she's fun and very very cute. I don't care, though. It's better to spend my night with the company of a cute girl and sleep alone than take home an average girl that I won't derive any pleasure from.
I'm heading to Pattaya in two days and I hope that my initial good experience there won't be the last.
In the states I run a product development consultancy. I'm built to think about user experience of all aspects of a product: branding, marketing, initial interaction, repeat use, referral… The minute I even approach a club my mind is spinning with ideas of things the bars could do to improve the experience and I'm really interested to see if someone cares. Or maybe they're all just jaded and it's all business as usual – at the expense of a positive experience for me.
I ended up writing out a quick list as a brainstorming exercise just to illustrate all the points to that are risks of turning away customers before they convert to bar-fining (the end goal?)
– design & signage / cleanliness / lighting
the walk-up experience:
– what's the floor look like? (Carpeting / ramps or just concrete)
– who's standing out front (girls? attractive? or bunch of guys / nobody? What other customers do I see walking in or out?)
– what do they do when I approach (get in my face or calm and relaxed)
– what do they do if I just walk by and look (again, signs in my face or let me decide on my own?)
– initial scan for cute girl. If on average they're fatter I'll spend a few less seconds doing this. 50% of the time I leave at this moment.
– whats the music? need up-beat electronic music like a vegas pool party. This isn't even a question: it's non-negotiable. I'll stick around if I see a really cute girl but I'll want to be out of there as fast as possible if it's rock / hip-hop.
– decoration? Decoration needs to meet minimum standard of not being shit – I can put up with an average place if it has hot girls. A great place with fat girls won't get my money.
– hostess? Does someone greet me and show me in a nice calm manner that I am invited in and I can sit? Maybe I haven't been to a go-go before and am rather intimidated by the whole thing (" how does this work? Am I going to get scammed?" are all questions every first timer without a guide will ask) Or maybe 2 girls grab my arms and I physically have to break free (yea that's a winner right there).
– layout? Can I sit somewhere comfortably and not be the center of attention and not in too much light? A light stage and dark seats are nice so I can blend into the background. I'm not on display, the girls are.
– any customers? If I don't see any I think "why not?" and it's already awkward as everyone is now staring at me. I just want a drink and to watch, not be 'on display' with all my actions judged by all the girls and servers.
– hostess again: does she show me the ropes and make me feel comfortable? A drink list with clear prices and gives me a minute to relax before being jumped on by girls?
– Music again: how is the sound system inside? Does just one speaker in the corner work with terrible balance? Or is it a nice balanced system where the audio itself is a pleasant experience making me want to stay and drink more and even give more average girls a chance?
– second girl scan: This is when I decide if I'm going to just grab one drink (maybe two with great music if it's early) or stay and try my luck with one of the cute girls.
– How's the drink? Is the bar even stocked with basic things like diet coke? Can I stomach this cocktail or am I going to just leave it on the table and leave.
– do one or more girls come and greet you? Did you even show any interest in them? Did you even get your first drink yet? Where they the ugliest girls in the bar?
– If you're not swamped by girls maybe the hostess nicely asks you if you're interested in any of the dancers?
– when the girl sits with you what does she do? (most girls do this part ok)
– if her job is to convert you to a bar-fine how does she approach it? Even girls who speak little/no english can have sexy active body language letting you know what they want from you.
– how do the hostess and girl inform you how bar-fining even works? Everyone has a first time and again it can be intimidating being in another country and not knowing the laws/customs/rules.
and so on…