Good morrow, my dudes. It is I—Bangkok Seven—bringing you a report from the heart of Thai nightlife. No, not Bangkok. I actually spent a weekend in Pattaya recently, and was both shocked and at the same time totally unsurprised by what I saw. In case you haven’t visited lately, here’s the lowdown on Ptown…
First, as to the burning question: Are things as bad as you’ve read? The answer is yes, and no. It’s pretty evident that tourism is down, though you wouldn’t know it by trolling (or trawling) Soi 6 or Walking Street. They’re both fairly jammed with people, even if those folks mostly avoid the gogos. Where you’ll find real evidence of a downturn is in the outlying areas and extra sois like 7 and 8 on the Beach Road. They’ve turned to ghost towns in the daytime with half a dozen closures on each alley. And when the sun goes down, those bars that remain open practically fight Mad Max-style for the few customers who’ve come to wet their whistles. One sight that just blew me away (and sent me running) was the roster of morbidly obese girls onstage in Shooters. It used to be the place to go to get your arm around a smoking-hot babe. All the best girls between 6 and WS worked at Shooters. Not anymore, bruh. It was a shit show. I had one sip of my beer and had to bail. As my old flatmate used to say, “Better to go home alone than go big.” And these girls were BIG. But let’s get to the good stuff:
Despite a reputation for being low-brow, Soi 6 is an oasis of relaxation amid the frenetic pace of Ptown. The low-pressure, low-stakes atmosphere and easy-going girls make it easy to forget all your worries for a few precious hours. In recent years The 6 had seen a decline in quality, both in venues and bargirl hotness. And when the junta put the kibosh on daytime hours, the buzz on that street slowed to a crawl. But I’m happy to report that it’s rounded a corner, and good times on The 6 are making a comeback. This is due in part to a collective of owners called the NightWish Group who have taken it upon themselves to scoop up a whopping 18—yes, you read that right 18—bars on The 6 and instituting a few company-wide rules for all of them. Those rules are: similar uniforms, so you can always tell when you’ve got your hands on a NightWish gal; loud raucous music in each venue; all staff must come to party. The positive effect has been an overall lift in optimism soi-wide, and fresh life breathed into the 6 as a whole. It’s not 100% back to its glory days, but the improvement is palpable and while not many girls are (fittingly) above a 6, the number of customers is growing again. Here’s a list of the bars currently in the hands of the NightWish Group: Wrath, Avarice, Seduction, Passion, Envy, Lust, Repent, Butterfly, Kawaii, Where Angles Play, Horny Bar, Pussy Club, Nature Bar, Playpen, Toy Box, Offshore, Foxy, Roxy, Mods Bar, and of course NightWish. It’s a real muff mafia, and you’re bound to have fun in any or all of ‘em.
And with every month that passes that the junta doesn’t re-clampdown on opening hours, the courageous owners on the 6 flick on the neon earlier and earlier. As of my visit, the soi gets lit starting at 14.00 daily.
Similarly, many of the bars on Walking Street are also opening earlier. It might be because of the changing demographic. A lot of tourists are lookie-loos, and go to bed early. So maybe the earlier hours will help offset the dwindling whoremonger crowds. They have to do something, because the evidence that bars aren’t making money is everywhere. The time span between my most recent visits was four months, and in that short window The Social Lounge & Bar opened and closed. Which it clearly should’ve done, since it wasn’t a gogo bar and the girls didn’t barfine. It was a joint where you just sat, bought drinks for girls, and then left. I predicted its downfall from day one. Super Model A-Gogo also opened and shut in that time.
Speaking of shut, Angelwitch has been closed down for quite some time now, as has the Pig and Whistle on Soi 7. But it’s not all bad news. My buddy Andy has opened a brand new gogo called Beavers on Soi 14 next to Electric Blue. He always hires fun, outgoing dancers who like to party, so I’m excited to spend some dough in there over the coming years. Speaking of coming, Coming Bar on Soi 6 was shut down by the cops last month for underage dancers and still hasn’t reopened.
Contrast that with the Windmill, which got hit with the same charge on a Friday and was open again on Saturday. Somewhere in there’s a story about the price of tea in Thailand. I’ll just leave it there. Speaking of Windmill, across the alley they’ve opened a sister bar called Diamonds. Their gems are a bit rough, full disclosure, but it’s a nice comfy place to sit and relax, unlike the cramped, damp and trampy digs in Windmill. In contrast with the drastic state of weight of the girls in Shooters, Walking Street has some of the fittest girls in town. Joints like Pin-Up seem to go out of their way to showcase hotties. Out of over 60 girls, I saw only two chunky monkeys in there. Hat’s off to their hiring department.
As Thailand writhes in the grip of a global economic downturn and bloggers nationwide bemoan the sad state of affairs, I’ve always maintained that these conditions are a benefit for expats. A slower-than-usual low season means 1-deprived girls in need of rent money, 2-less people crowding into our watering holes, and 3-excellent hotel deals. This time around I stayed in The Sunbeam between Sois 7 and 8 near the 2nd road for $25 per night. Aside from some confusion at check-in when the dude asked me for my TM-30 and I said I had no idea what he was babbling about, I had a blissful and stress-free stay. The highlights this time around were Taboo, Play-Pen, Tantra, Dollhouse, and Sapphire on WS, and Pussy Club, Avarice and Repent on The 6.
And that’s about all the time I can bear to spend as a pretend-journalist. Swing by on Friday for a frowback, and if you’re lucky enough to get a weekend away down in Ptown, may you find it as titillating as I did.
And cheers to another week above ground in the greatest place on Earth: Thailand.