Things are getting back to normal in Bangkok’s oldest red-light district, and barring any govt turnabouts or surprise police crackdowns, it’s looking like we’ve turned the corner on the most hideous global event in our lifetime.
The curtains came down at several gogos last week (or rather, they came down off the stage and went up in the doorway), and a smattering of girls tentatively took to the poles. King’s Corner on Soi 1, the only Thai-owned gogo in the Pong, is back to being rammed with girls and customers. The former are still adorned in cocktail dresses instead of cosplay or bikinis, and the stages aren’t yet full. But there’s a clear, steady push toward normalcy that so far hasn’t been curtailed.
Tourists are out in—I wouldn’t say “droves”—whatever the word is for crowds slightly smaller than droves. There’s a helluva lot more now than a week ago when there was considerably more than the week before. It’s enough to make regulars like me downright surly. I’m glad to share the gogo with horny, agog strangers if it helps the red-light economy. But I do loathe them. They swoop into the bar flashing wads of cash like they won’t run dry by Friday, pulling girls in and bouncing them on their laps in an unflattering imitation of what they saw me do in Twitter videos. To me, they’re like human barracudas invading my lascivious lagoon. Fierce, fast, and fastidious. They get in, they get off, and they get out. They try to measure me up, try to assess my place in this ecosystem. I can save them the trouble. I’m an old shark, swimming in a circle in the same habitat I’ve hunted for years. I move languidly, with the detached boredom of a predator whose pray asks politely to be devoured. Actually now that I think about it, maybe the girls are the sharks and I’m just chum. But I digress.
Aside from these signs of reanimation, my week was pretty routine. I spent every night in Patpong, bouncing back and forth between the bars. Pink Panther is enjoying a small increase in popularity and the number of girls there has doubled since the previous week. They’ll undoubtedly see more foot traffic once the girls start dancing again. King’s as I said is roaring. Black Pagoda is now two bars—BP on the bridge above Soi 2, and Club Black, the back room on the 2nd floor. Each bar has a separate roster of girls and they don’t mix. Bada Bing is riding a wave of optimism fueled by the throngs of clunge-seekers fresh off the plane, and the party at both XXX Lounge and The Strip are back to their previous levels of frenzy. Overall, the Pong is operating at around 50% capacity. Half the joints are still closed-down, and that feeling is reflected in the atmosphere. That said, everyone’s markedly happier. The girls are making their rent money again, the owners are back in the black, and the customers are positively delirious. You’d think they spent the last year cooped up alone in their basements or something.
On Saturday night I was hanging out with the Strip girls on Soi 2 when a tourist approached me and asked, “Where can I have group sex?” and I said, “……What?” to which he replied, “Where can I take part in group sex. It doesn’t have to be all girls. I’m cool with like, one girl and a bunch of guys.” After throwing up in my mouth I pointed at BarBar and said, “This is the kinkiest place in Patpong.” As he cast his gaze toward the entrance, I vaulted into The Strip and hid behind the bar until he wandered off and the girls gave the all-clear.
Speaking of BarBar, it was packed last night for their 15 Year Anniversary party, and a new exhibition went on display in the Patpong Museum featuring photography by two Thai artists—Pradit Tungprasatwong and Sittiporn Banjongpetch—that runs until 22 April.
In other news, in an attempt to curb the recent spate of cars hitting pedestrians in zebra crossings, the Thai govt produced a brainchild: pink flags in baskets on both sides of the street that walkers can wave at oncoming traffic, forever ending the problem.
I ended up buying somtam and ice cream for the girls all week, as well as some candy and beer from Foodland. I hope it doesn’t backfire on me by turning the girls into chunky monkeys. Maybe my upcoming USA holiday will counteract all the food I stuffed into their pie holes in March.
Speaking of beer, I’m still making my way through the Bavarian beverage menu at G’s German Restaurant on Soi 4. It’s not easy to keep up with G, who seems to add new bottles to his fridge every week. But I feel I’m up to the challenge. I won’t rest until I’ve sampled every brew on the new menu. And yes, I know that rhymes.
Believe it or not, that’s all that’s fit for a monger to ponder this week–at least in Patpong. Until next week, keep your balls shorn, you beer cold, and here’s to another week above ground in the country with the coolest red-light district on Earth: Thailand. Cheers, dudes.