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Three Nights in Bangkok Part 3


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Night 3, Thursday 29th September

Thursday was my last night, and I had an early flight to Manila next morning, so I resolved on no more than four beers (= four bars) two in Soi Cowboy and two in Nana Plaza. But Soi Cowboy at 7:30 was dead. Some of the bars hadn’t even opened, and in those that had there was nothing doing, so I decided to go back to Nana. I went to the hotel first to sort out my taxi, so it was about 8:30 when I finally hit the Plaza. Like Cowboy, there wasn’t much doing. I popped my head through several curtains to find empty or nearly empty stages. Angelwitch seemed to be doing OK, though, so I settled down there.

The first thing I noticed was the music: classic rock played at reasonable volume, including such old favourites as I Want to Break Free and These Boots Are Made for Walking (appropriate because of that scene in Full Metal Jacket where the girl says, “I give you anything you want, long time.”) Another pleasant surprise was that Beerlao IPA was available (a very different beer to the usual lagers). So I settled down to drink my IPA and enjoy the music. I wish I could say that I enjoyed the girls – but it was “ladies” again. My guess is that there was nothing under 30 on that stage, and none of them were in great shape, what with two sets of fake boobs and several ugly tattoos, one of which covered the whole of the girl’s back. Their faces were plain, and their bodies plump, with thighs full of cellulite and wrinkly, stretch-marked bellies. What’s the point? It’s like going to an art gallery expecting to see Manet and Monet and seeing instead a display of splodges from the local primary school. Basically, if it ain’t worth looking at, don’t flaunt it! My last visit to this bar was in February 2020, and the girls weren’t great then, but they were a sight better than the current crop! I’m sorry to say that the Bangkok bar scene is turning into a parody of its former self.

There were more customers in Angelwitch than any other bar I’d looked into that evening, so the old formula still works (despite the lard ladies on stage). I counted 15 of whom about 50% looked Japanese, several of them with a lard lady on their laps. I suppose that newcomers to Bangkok just accept it for what it is. The ladies may not be up to much these days, but they’re still better than anything you could pull in Blighty on a Saturday night, especially if you’re no Spring chicken.

I commented in Part 2 that it is interesting how bar practices carry on down the decades, and the same is true in Angelwitch. Back in about 2008, the girls (and they were “girls” then) wore black, strappy bikinis with their tops pushed aside. It was the same in 2020 and the same today – except that what was on show was not worth looking at. The bar’s deco is basically unchanged, though the witch on the broomstick which used to hang over the bar, along with several other bits of clutter, have been removed.

Just like always, the gogo girls alternated with shows, usually a few girls (no better than any of the others) cavorting in various stages of undress. Two shows in particular stick in my mind. Three ladies dancing to Hey Big Spender and gesturing to the customers (highly relevant, though I didn’t see any big spenders just then, just a group of Indians sharing a Coke), and another three ladies in costumes made of pink ribbons. The ribbons fluttered as they danced giving what should have been tantalising glimpses of their naked bodies – but the glimpses weren’t tantalising because the bodies weren’t worth looking at.

The shower show was even worse. Part way through the proceedings, a fake blonde with saggy boobs, proceeded to strip off and take a shower. She was 30 if she was a day and might have been nearer 40, and child-bearing had made a lunar landscape of her belly – not an appealing sight – you might as well have put me in the shower!

That said, I’d go back to Angelwitch just for the music and the IPA. The moderate volume makes it easy to chat to a lady (though, unfortunately, there was nothing that remotely interested me). This is the only bar out of the dozen or so that I visited on this trip (plus around another dozen that I looked into) that doesn’t play that horrible techo stuff. (Does anybody actually like it?). Later, in Tycoon, I ended up sitting quite close to the DJ. He was demonstrating his mixing desk to his girlfriend, and it seems that it is programmed with all sorts of loops which he can activate at the press of a switch (all of them variations on “boom, boom, boom”) – so it’s not even music really – you know, that stuff with a tune, a bridge, a middle eight, and lyrics that you can sing along to. If he wants to play an instrument, maybe he should take up the guitar, in the meantime, please play stuff that somebody who knows what they are doing has actually composed.

My Beerlao IPA was 190, a lady drink is 295 (pricey!) and the barfine is 900.

After Angelwitch, I walked around the Plaza, taking a look into various bars on my barhop list: Blondie was quiet – a disappointment, because I wanted to see in the flesh some of those gorgeous fake blondes featured in Stickman’s weekly. “Meet her in Blondie,” said the caption. Well, I didn’t. There were only two girls on the stage (not blondes) and only two customers. I didn’t meet her in Whiskey & GoGo, either, and there weren’t enough girls or customers to tempt me to stay.

Tycoon was a different matter. This is a small bar up a small staircase just off the first floor where the old Erotica used to be. There were eight girls in black bikinis on the stage who were well worth looking at, so I sat down and ordered a Heineken. “No have.” (What! The most popular beer in Bangkok!). So I had a Singha. Singha is a great beer, but slightly sweet, and no good (for me, at any rate) to get tanked up on. Never mind, if I want a decent beer, I’ll go to a pub back in Blighty where I can choose from a range of fine ales. I’m here to choose from a range of fine girls, but there aren’t any – just middle aged…what shall I call them? We used to call them “dogs” when I was on the razzle as a younger man, but that’s disrespectful, and I don’t want to convey disrespect when I criticise their looks. I’m no oil painting either, but then, I don’t go strutting my stuff on a stage as though I were Gypsy Rose Lee, or expect people to pay for the privilege of getting their hands on me.

The Tycoon girls were, however, a little prettier and looked a little younger than the OAP’s in Angelwitch, though four of them had tattoos. I don’t like tattoos in themselves, but they are also a sign of a hardened attitude. They usually indicate that the girl has been in the bar business for a while and that she is identifying with its values.

Tycoon turned out to be a great little bar, with a good line-up of girls and the music not too loud. (It needs to get its drinks inventory sorted, though!). My drink was 160, lady drink, 220, barfine 1,000.

Rainbow 2 was just next door, so I decided to pop in even though there was not much doing. There were five girls on stage, somewhat overdressed in two-piece costumes. I weighed them up, looking from left to right and then back again and – there she was, right in front of me – a pretty, petite girl without an ounce of surplus fat or any tattoos. Her breasts were small, but large enough to display a tantalising hint of cleavage. She looked to be in her early twenties.

As I have said, I had no intention of barfining that night. I had not even bothered to spruce myself up, but she was too good to miss. I pointed her out to the waitress, and in a moment, she was by my side with a watered Coke lady drink. Som-O, from Buriram. She was pleasantly touchy-feely, but had little to say for herself. I found out why when the waitress explained that she was new to the bar and spoke little English. She had a few words and phrases, though, and I have a few words and phrases of Thai, so it was enough to get started on the introductory stuff: “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” from both of us. “How long you stay?” “Where you stay?” from her, and “How old are you?” from me.

I hate to ask that question, but it interests me very much to know. She was 29. I expressed surprise and said she looked younger (with my usual joke – saying she looked 28). I told her my age and she said I looked younger too (I hope so, then I can stay in this game a bit longer – not that’s it’s about looks on our side, or they’d all save themselves for those handsome young Japanese). By now, she had got out her phone and was using Google Translate, speaking in Thai into the phone, then showing me the answer in English. It worked the other way round, too, so we were able to communicate surprisingly well.

She looked even prettier close up, and I was getting all the right vibes from her, so, though I had not planned it, and though I had only just enough money for it, I said the magic word and she went to get changed. It was short time, and the cost was 1,000 to the bar and 3,000 to be paid later to the girl. I was told that she must be back in two hours. A 1,000 barfine for two hours! Things are really going downhill! The Bangkok bar scene is getting more and more transactional. A few more steps in that direction and you might as well go to Amsterdam and save a packet on the air fare. Anyway, on this occasion, it didn’t really matter, as I had to get up early anyway.

She reappeared looking more gorgeous than ever in an LBD (Little Black Dress). Just as we were getting up to go, the mamasan said, “She’s only been two weeks in the bar, and this is her first barfine. Take care of her.” I was thrilled to hear that and promised I would. Why thrilled? Because as I’ve said before, I like ’em fresh. She was very far from fresh in one sense, being 29 and having two kids, but she was a barfine virgin and she was all mine for the next two hours.

I took it slowly, watching TV, chatting (mainly via Translate), stroking and kissing. Then, bit by bit, I eased her out of her clothes. When I took off her bra, she apologised for the small size of her breasts, but I told her that they were fine for me as I don’t like blockbuster boobies, especially fake ones – and they weren’t so small after all, just Asian-sized. Her body was perfectly shaped with a flat stomach and a small, but well-rounded, posterior with just a hint of stretch marks. When all the clothes had come off, she went to get her shower.

When she came back, she turned off a few lights, took off her towel and slid into bed – and the wrestling match began. I took easy, checking that she was OK and that I wasn’t hurting her, and bit by bit we got going with the help of KY Gel. She told me afterwards that I had hurt her a bit, towards the end, when I got carried away (I remembered too late that “Jep!” means “It hurts!”).

It was a much better experience than that frustrating fumble with the shy and inexperienced Bee, who couldn’t wait to get away. When a girl just gets dressed and goes, it wipes out any intimacy you might have shared and reminds you that those embraces were for money and nothing else. But Som-O was made of finer stuff, and I hope I am, too. I suggested going for a meal, and she accepted readily. She took me round the corner of Soi 4 to a Thai seafood place she knew, and we had Pad Thai. As we ate, we continued to chat, mainly via phone. I complimented her on her slim body and commented that many of the girls in Nana were “uan” (fat). She responded with pride that she looked after herself, didn’t overeat, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink alcohol, and had no tattoos. What a girl! I didn’t say it, of course, but I couldn’t help wondering why such a paragon was working in a bar. The answer came out later. Her mother has cancer and Som-O is paying for her treatment – a sad story, but many bargirls have sad stories. That’s why they’re there.

After the meal, we went back to her bar where I bought her a lady drink (and also one for her waitress friend) and had my last beer of the evening. It was nearly 11:30 by now and my two hours were up. The mamasan, with a wai and an apology to me, shooed her upstairs to get changed again. Clearly, with so few girls, they need them back on stage as soon as possible. Som-O was back in no time. She looked great in her black two-piece gogo outfit – low top and skin-tight hot pants, but it signalled that she was no longer mine – who knows, some other punter may be inside those pants before the evening is over. It’s a funny game this. It’s a bit like the dating game in some ways (and, indeed, every now and then your barfine turns into your girlfriend) but it’s also horribly transactional. We kissed goodbye, and she led me to the door to see me out – a nice touch. Then, with a final wave, I was on my way.

It was late and I was tired, and I had to get up early in the morning, but I thought I’d end the evening with a quick peek inside Billboard, which is often mentioned on this forum as the number 1 bar in Bangkok. The place was so full it was hard to find anywhere to sit. That was good, because it allowed me to wander around without being steered to a seat by a waitress and threatened with a drinks menu. There were 16 ladies in bikinis on the carousel, and another seven naked in the pool. Once again, I felt that disconnect – why are these girls parading themselves when they are in such poor shape, and why do these guys seem to be enjoying themselves so much when the ladies are so unappealing? How can I put it? It would be like going to a body building competition and finding only the oldies, baldies and fatties of my peer group instead of bulging biceps, six packs and sculptured abs – or going to a Formula One race and seeing, instead of McLarens and Mercedes, a collection of old bangers (come to think of it “old bangers” would be an appropriate term for many of these ladies).

On my last visit to this bar in 2020, I can remember being so awestruck by a young beauty in the pool that I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and there were several others in the same league. Where are they now? Why didn’t they come back after Covid? Why isn’t there a new crop of farm fresh Isaan innocents to harvest? (Answers on a postcard please, or to the email address below).

Throughout the three parts of this series, I’ve had a lot to say about elderly bargirls, but when I calculate the average age of the 11 girls I spoke to during my stay it comes out at 26.5 – which is not so bad after all. Bear in mind, though, that my preferred age range is 18-25, and that’s what I look for, so the sample is biased towards the younger end of the age range. Actually, the problem is not their age, but their looks, the vast majority being plain Janes at best, and, at worse – “old bangers”. I still think that Thai women are the most beautiful in the world (along with Singaporean women), but, these days, you don’t see many of those beauties in the bars.

In summary, the bar scene is back, and those happy punters in Billboard indicate that it will thrive, but it’s a shadow of its former self: transactional, expensive, and with very few women worth a second look. It’s still better than Tiffany’s in Doncaster, so I’ll be back on my next visa run. I do hope girl quality has gone up a little by then – but I doubt it, demographics being what they are. Prices will probably be up though. I was surprised to find that prices were more or less the same as on my last visit in February 2020 and that the 200-baht beer has not yet arrived, as Stick predicted it would in his Weekly of 26th January 2020 (or if it has, I didn’t come across it in the bars I visited). True, barfines are up a tad, but girls’ fees remain the same at 3,000 short time and 5,000 long time. However, if prices go up much more it won’t be worth it, and I’ll have to find another destination for my visa run.

If you enjoyed this article about my recent experiences in Bangkok, you might also enjoy some of my books about Thailand and the Philippines. Take a look here or here.

 

The author of this article can be contacted at : rumblejungle19@gmail.com