Last Trip Before Lockdown
I am based in Singapore and used to take the occasional weekend “jolly” to Bangkok before the “dreaded lurgi” hit us (by the way, that’s a Goon Show reference). The Air Asia flight leaves Singapore at 17:05 and arrives at Don Mueang at 18:35 (saving an hour due to time zone differences). This enabled me to get to the bars at around 21:00, allowing plenty of time to rest and freshen up beforehand.
This is an account of my very last weekend trip before the Singapore government announced that anyone arriving after Monday 16 March 23:59 is placed on a Stay Home Notice (SHN). Since 7th April, this has been tightened to two-week quarantine in a government facility.
On my first trip to Bangkok this year, which you can read about here, I chatted to a girl in the Dollhouse who sort of floated around in my mind afterwards and wouldn’t go away. I tried to find her on my next trip on Makha Bucha Day, but she wasn’t there. Still, it was worth trying again.
So after checking in and taking a quick shower, I headed down the Sukhumvit Road to Soi Cowboy. I went straight to the Dollhouse, and there she was on the carousel as though she had never been away. I sat down in my usual place and after a few moments, caught her eye. She responded with one of her warm smiles, and I signalled her to join me. As soon as her set was over, she was there beside me, just like before, only this time a little more relaxed and a little more confident (she had just started bar work when I first met her). I chatted to her over a lady drink and was reminded that she was 33, but unusually, had never had children or been in a long-term relationship. Close up, she was not as attractive as she had seemed on the stage (or as I had pictured her in memory), as her mouth was rather too broad and her skin slightly pock-marked, However, her warm, frank smile more than made up for these defects, and anyway, I have found before that beauty often goes with a bad attitude. Chompoo, on the other hand, seemed to have a very sweet manner. She was touchy-feely in a gentle and genuine way, and seemed eager to please. Indeed, she promised to “take care of me”. As a result, it was not long before the b-word was on my lips. She asked for 5,000 baht long time (I don’t do short time because I want a bit of a relationship with a girl), and the barfine was 1,000. Total 6,000 baht (= c. £154)! – and that’s a good offer these days! (You can see the problem with these weekend jollies – by the time you’ve paid for the flight, the hotel, food, drinks and the company of two City of Angels angels, you’ve made significant dent in a month’s salary). Anyway, I quite liked her, and I had a hunch she would be a good ’un, so I agreed.
She said she’d like to see Nana Plaza as she had heard of it but not been there yet, so we took a taxi to Soi 4. We started at Butterflies, which I told her was currently the number one bar in Bangkok. It was packed as usual, so it was hard to find anywhere to sit (always a good sign). There were about 20 girls on the main stage, 16 on the centre stage, and 12 in and around the tub. All of a good standard, some of them very pretty. Chompoo was amazed by the sheer number of girls. The Dollhouse runs about 40 girls, but my guess is that Butterflies must run at least 100. She was also struck by how young they were – she said it made her feel old. 33 (though a spring chicken to me) is rather old for a bargirl, and though I’ve met bargirls who were well into their 40’s, I’ve often seen hiring signs that specify 18 – 25 (ageist, or what!).
I took her to Angelwitch next. This used to be one of my favourite bars, and I used to love the shows, but it turned out to be a shadow of its former self. There were 10 – 12 girls on stage, who, quite frankly, would have been better suited to the beer bars of Pattaya (though, no doubt, they expected Bangkok prices). Nor were the shows very impressive. The first consisted of four girls doing a dance routine in sexy cowboy costume, but the costume didn’t reveal much, and the girls weren’t worth revealing. The second was the one where a volunteer sits in a chair while a girl dances around him, teases him, gives him a pretend blowjob, and with a bit of skillful dancing, flips up on a pole and sticks her pussy (panty-clad, of course) in his face. Now, this kind of show only works if the girl is desirable, but her tits were fake, she was covered with tattoos, and I couldn’t help wondering if she was a ladyboy – so it did nothing for me at all. The third show consisted of four dancers in backless costumes revealing naked bottoms. But, once again, this kind of show only works if the girls are desirable, and the best I can say is that they were OK-ish. I saw the same shows very late on the night before Makha Bucha day, and wrote in my review that I thought their main shows would be better, but it seems that these are all the shows they do these days – how I miss the lesbian show with the pink dildo, the soap show to the music of Angie, and the Ram Thai show (all with beautiful girls)!
I wanted to try a few bars that I have not visited before (or recently) so our next stop was the ground floor bar, Twister BKK. I was absolutely blown away by this bar. There was one long stage with dancers in rainbow bikinis, and to the right, a shorter stage with topless dancers, and three or four completely naked dancers on the back row. Both stages were packed. I counted about 30 girls in total, plus about another 10 sitting in front of the stage – but what was most amazing was that these were girls of the right sort: young, pretty and petite. I don’t think I have seen such a line up since my first visit to Rainbow 4 in 2005.
Chompoo noticed the appreciative grin on my face, but she is understanding about such things (because she is mature and not spoilt). Also, I have explained to her that, though I like to look, I know that girls like this are not for me. The days when I was satisfied with a quick bonk with a teenage beauty are gone (well, nearly). These days I want “connection” – and with Chompoo, I was beginning to feel that I had it. Nevertheless, I still like to ogle the young ’uns, and this bar seemed the best place to do it. (If I ever get back to Bangkok, Twister BKK will be my first stop – hope it’s as good as it was that night!)
Rainbow 2 is an old favourite of mine which, back in the day, I rated second only to Rainbow 4, so I decided to find out if it had survived the ten years of my absence in better shape than Angelwitch. It had. There were 20 – 22 girls on stage, many of them of the right sort – enough to bring back that appreciative grin.
We looked into a few more bars and, on the way out, I noticed another bar with the Twister name (Twister Bar), and decided to check it the following night to see if it was a coincidence, or if it was under the same management.
I will end this account of a night out at Nana Plaza with a pet peeve – smoking. Is this the only place in the world where your night out is spoilt by the acrid taste of cigarette smoke? – Perhaps I should get one of those coronavirus masks after all! (Note: I read recently that the Thailand authorities are clamping down on smoking in public places).
Then it was back to the hotel. I won’t give a blow by blow account of the bedroom antics (pun intended), but Chompoo promised to take care of me – and she kept her promise.
* * *
We began Saturday night at Soi Cowboy. The soi was quite lively, though I was to find that several bars were almost empty – but low season is looming. Judging by hotel pricing, it begins on March 1st, and all the hype about the dreaded lurgi is only going to make things worse. We popped into Dollhouse to pay Chompoo’s barfine, but didn’t linger. I asked her if she had been to Baccara, and she said she hadn’t – which is amazing to say that it is just next door (these girls might get round a lot of hotels, but they don’t seem to get round much else!). Of course, I had to show my unsophisticated tilac the famous glass ceiling.
These days you have to pay for your first drink outside the bar, and the prices are high. A Heineken costs 190 baht. That put me off, so we went away, only to come back again for the sake of Chompoo. For myself, I find Baccara soulless these days. Perhaps because I have seen it all before – or perhaps it has lost some of its former vibe.
On my last visit in January there was a queue to buy drinks at the bar on the forecourt. This time there was hardly anybody. It was quite busy inside, though not as busy as usual, as there were several spare seats available. It was the same old formula: two-piece costumes downstairs, navy blue skirts, with no knickers, and white blouses upstairs. I noticed that this was one of a very few bars where the girls were not wearing monster shoes, just normal, elegant, high heels. I pointed out the glass ceiling to tilac, but she was not impressed – the up-skirt view being a bit OTT (OTT = “Over The Top” – and in this case, the expression can be taken literally!) for an older woman. She gave a wry smile as if to say, how immature can men get! There were many Japanese in the bar, including two men sat next to us who looked as though they should have been in school (aged perhaps about 18 or 19) – handsome young men, too. She had seen Japanese men in the Dollhouse, but never ones so young, and I must admit, they were the youngest I had ever seen in the bars. We agreed they should be out in the real world looking for real girlfriends.
After a while, I decided to take her upstairs, but my pleasure in the on/off blouses was, once again, spoilt by smokers. In most of Soi Cowboy, smokers have been banished to the bar frontage, but it seems that smoking is tolerated upstairs in Baccara. While we were there, I noticed something I have not seen before (though I guess it has been there for ages); a second glass ceiling – just imagine how much one’s enjoyment would be increased if that were also packed with girls (or if the smokers were sent up there and sealed off!)
I’d not been to Shark for ten years, so decided to go there next. There is a medium-sized centre stage, and it was packed with many girls of the right sort. We sat on the right as you enter the bar, and to the left of the stage from where we were sitting, the girls danced in transparent tops and rah-rah skirts, while to the right, they wore patterned bikinis. Customer numbers were reasonable, but there were many empty seats in the bar. The set change revealed another 20 or so pretty girls, so there must be 40 to 50 girls in this bar on any given night. There are not many bars like this now, and it is heartening to see a packed stage. There is something exciting about the sheer numbers – perhaps it is the illusion that the more girls there are, the more chance you have of finding – the one.
I would have stayed longer in Soi Cowboy, but tilac was hungry, and I couldn’t find another bar that looked inviting enough. All too often we would go through the curtain to find a stage with a handful of below average girls, and few or no customers. Even Midnite, an old-time favourite, seemed a bit forlorn. By contrast, Cowboy 2 seemed to be doing brilliantly, as there were about a dozen girls milling around outside. However, a quick look through the curtain showed that it was just a marketing ploy, as there were only about another dozen girls inside, and not many customers. Perhaps the reason is that the girls are finding it easier to pull customers directly off the soi rather than having to shuffle about on stage in front of empty seats.
Before going to eat, I said I would like to check out Twister Bar in Nana Plaza to see if there was any link with Twister BKK. As soon as we walked in, I could see that it was a successful bar. There are two L-shaped stages, both full of girls, many young and pretty, wearing thong bikinis and the usual monster shoes. When we ordered our drinks, I asked the waitress if it was under the same ownership as Twister BKK, and she said that it was. There were quite a few Japanese in the bar, one of whom, a young man with his hair dyed blonde, got a lot of bargirl attention (at one point there were four clustered around him, and he wasn’t buying them anything). One of the girls even smiled at me (well, it was getting late) but the nicest thing was that Chompoo could just laugh about it, and not get jealous.
We rounded off the evening at Gulliver’s in Soi 5 (another old time favourite). We sat outside near the pool, which was lit by coloured lights (very romantic). I left it to tilac to order a Thai meal for two, which she did with usual Thai zest for food. I noticed that a bottle of Heineken cost 115 in this bar, and we had an excellent meal with a bottle of wine for just over 1,500 baht.
The meal made Chompoo very happy – well, that’s how I understood her when she said, “Mee khwaam sukh.” After all, eating out is a girlie thing. I don’t think she was so keen on the gogo bars, but she wanted to please me, so she didn’t complain. Mellowed by the wine and the food (and a couple of hours in a romantic setting, away from the bars), Chompoo was wound up to fever pitch (a romantic meal is a sort of foreplay, after all) and worked me so hard in bed that I missed the alarm the following morning, and was late for my taxi.
Over that weekend, I got to like Chompoo so much that I planned to see her again, and actually booked a flight for the following Friday week – but it was cancelled, and probably just as well. I can’t imagine how I could sustain such a relationship with Bangkok prices as they are these days.
* * *
A week later everything had changed, thanks to media hype and bossy politicians, and in countries where they wipe their bums with paper, there was panic buying of toilet rolls (!). Not long after, many more countries introduced lockdown and draconian travel restrictions. Only one country has chosen an alternative route – Sweden. The trouble with lockdown is that there is no exit strategy – you come out, and you catch it. It remains to be seen whether Sweden had the best approach to coronavirus, though it is almost impossible to make accurate comparisons between different countries.
At least we in developed countries are receiving financial help from our governments, but my heart goes out to Chompoo and her fellow bargirls who have no salary or social security to tide them over the months of lockdown. They will have no choice but to return to their moobaan where they will be just another mouth to feed.
The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]