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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review

Pattaya's Soi Bua Khow

01 September 2006
William R. Morledge
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         After being bombarded by the buzz from all directions on Pattaya's "Soi Bua Khow", we felt we owed it to ourselves, and perhaps our readers, to check it out.   Was it worth the recon?   Well, yes, and no....
The Champagne A Go-Go is one of Soi L.K. Metro's hotter bars.

         The first thing a new visitor must know is that there is no sign saying "Soi Bua Khow" - it is South Pattaya Rd Soi 22.   The second thing worth remembering is if you plan to tour the whole Soi, it is a little more than one mile in length, terminating at Central Pattaya Road, the 'long and winding road'....   Of the more than sixty bars on -and immediately joining- Soi Bua Khow, most are spread out too thinly to gain a "Critical Mass" - the self-sustaining density needed for survival as a Night Entertainment Area.   We anticipate, however, that many Nite Venues will survive individually, as they are part and parcel of small hotels and guest houses.   
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 Photo Essay >>

         One area there is proving to be the exception, however - and that is Soi L.K. Metro.   This Soi is located about half way in from either end of Soi Bua Khow (about one kilometer), and is clearly marked at the Soi Bua Khow entrance.   It already has twenty-one (21) separately identifiable Night Entertainment Venues, and the potential to grow to a considerably greater size.   (Note: we did not include in our survey those venues that were part of a guest house or small hotel unless they identified the bar with separate signage.)   

         Soi L.K. Metro has a few venues that one would likely see as 'competitive' with those found on Walking Street, or other 'front row' Pattaya Nitespots - there are a few A Go-Go's within, and a few more Pubs (that really qualify as Pubs), as well as the specialty venue, Lolitas.
Memories Gentlemen's Club advertises itself as an A Go-Go bar.   They also offer rooms in the guesthouse on the upper floors.

         In summary, we fell victim to not listening to our own advice : "The only source of disappointment is unrealistic expectations."   We found Soi Bua Khow to be much more, both in physical size and in number of Night Entertainment Venues, but we found it to be much less than the hype - much too spread out to be considered a viable Night Entertainment Area (Soi L.K. Metro excepted).   While it is certainly worth a visit, it is far from being able to compete with the multitude of other first-class Night Venues Pattaya has to offer along the beach front areas.   -A case of 'more is less' ...more or less.

This is the only sign indicating the entrance to Soi Bua Khow.   Not to worry, if you don't want to 'diy', just jump on a motorcycle taxi, and say, "Soi Bua Khow" - you will get there just the same.

 Historical Minutiae Dept.


   Way, way back - about 1983 - I was in Patpong and somebody took me to a show in a pub called Dominoes.   I remember it was a fair walk away.

   Anybody know about Dominoes - still there?   Where it was?

         Your's is a most interesting inquiry. There were in fact two Domino's (or Dominoes) that opened up in the very early 1980's.   One was an 'A Go-Go' club on Rama IV Road, and the other, a Pub - Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11.
       Dominos 'A Go-Go' Club' on Rama IV was near the Sam Yan intersection in the district of the same name, but moved from there in the mid 1990's (rumored to have moved to 'Maha Nakorn').   The other Domino Pub & Restaurant (since 1982) is still in business at it's original location.
      The owner of the Soi 11 Dominos relates a story dating back to the time you were in Thailand - a friend of his came out to Thailand on a package tour and decided to look him up at his Pub.   As you might have guessed, the friend was directed to the steamier venue on Rama IV Road, and even before he got in the door, he was warned off, hearing that the Nitespot had a very bad reputation, and that he was in a dangerous part of town.   His friend returned to Austria without having met him.   Years later, on a home leave to Austria, they ran into each other, and the mix-up was put right - but not before the word had spread throughout his home town that he (the Soi 11 Dominos owner) was earning a very sordid living in a most dangerous part of Bangkok.
      At any rate, from your description (that you walked from Patpong), it is most likely that the 'Dominoes' you remember is the one that used to be at Sam Yan.   We have included a photo of the other (surviving) Domino's, below.

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    'Boge' Hartman
    Historical Research
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    - In the LAND OF SMILES -

             This month the MIDNITE HOUR awards the "Thai Smile" to a young hostess on Soi L.K. Metro in Pattaya.

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    William R Morledge

    September's Follies
    begin here

         MIDNITE HOUR presents the NEWS on the Bangkok Night Scene; - the 'history-in-the-making' for all major Expat Night Entertainment Areas  - for the month :
      PATPONG  I  
                Closed (again) is the upstairs show bar Queen's Castle II - (again) 'for renovations'.    (They last closed Sept - Dec 2003 for this stated reason).   Also notice how they have hastily changed the sign to read, "Queen's Castle 1".   Our sources on the ground are saying they will reopen in about one month.   We have also heard other rumors as to why it closed.   We'll put a marker down on this one and get back atcha.

    Check out the heavy-duty bronze knockers - one of the last remnants of the old Patpong.   We wonder if they will survive the renovations.

      PATPONG  II  
                When the Bangkok Bar opened in June, we noted they did so without benefit of neon.   They now have some dayglow Styrofoam signage, which seems entirely serviceable.   Keep on a-rockin' and a-rollin'.

                The Kanoknart is actually a Bar - Restaurant, but the bar beer is separate and opens onto Patpong II just across from the Pink Panther bar beer.   It didn't look like the bar beer was doing any business last weekend, but being a quite comfortable venue, that should change once they become better known.   We wish them luck as they wade into the sharkpool.


                The fire damage repaired, and all the new Greek columns agleam, the Plaza Massage was back a-slippin' and a-slidin' on schedule this last month (see our last month's issue).   Welcome them back to the snakepit.

                Since the closing of the Pink Panther A Go-Go in May, we have been getting a lot of reader response from those who remember it as part of their "Bangkok Scene".   Below are a couple of pics sent in by readers, one old, one new.

       The new "Pink" has taken over from the once-famous Pink Panther - and features an open front with a more casual "coyote dancing" format.
    Contributed by Dirty Dan
      PINK - PATPONG  II  

       This slightly unusual memento of the original Pink Panther is a card that folds in two.    As you open it, the lady on the inside "pops-up" and her arms open wide to 'welcome' you.   This was a hand-out to customers circa 1987.
    Contributed by J.N.

                We received a surprisingly large response to our Thermae 10-year anniversary article <LINK> last month, so we thought we would include a couple more photos for your perusal.
       A young lady briefly poses for a pic wearing the Thermae Tenth Anniversary T-shirt.   Only a couple of these T-shirts made it into the 'public domain' - rare collectors' items, indeed.

       This shot of the original Thermae Massage Parlor grounds from atop the 32-storey Ambassador condo project shows the Miami Hotel on the right and the new (unnamed) hotel under construction on the left.   The outline of the old coffee shop is still visible.
    Photo August 2006

      SOI  COWBOY  
                The big news on "The 'Boy" this month was the disruption caused by the filming of yet another Hollywood movie, this time - Bangkok Dangerous, the upcoming actioner starring Nicholas Cage.   Although in the minds of the film production company, photography was prohibited, we at MIDNITE HOUR have our own interpretation of what may, and may not, be photographed.   And while we did not have their permission for the following pics, we did obtain actual permissions - if, and where required.   Special thanks to Suzie Wong and Shebas A Go-Go bars for unspecified courtesies.

    A view of the "Patpong hawker stalls" movie set (right) as viewed from the Suzie Wong (yes, it's still on Soi Cowboy).
    Pic courtesy Khun P.

    A Bangkok Dangerous film crew sets up in front of the Cactus A Go-Go bar.

    Behind the scenes.   As the Bangkok Dangerous camera rolls (lower), the official photographer (center, right) keeps a record of the proceedings.
    Pic courtesy Khun P.

    'Roll-call', however the cast and crew of Bangkok Dangerous were a little too busy to be sitting down....

    When in doubt, call in the shyster lawyers from Hollywood.   Most people just ignored the sign posted by the Bangkok Dangerous production people, except, of course, for it's inherent entertainment value....   "Big Hit In Bangkok" was the film's 'working title', as the Producers didn't want to offend local authorities by inferring that Bangkok was a "dangerous" place.
    Pic obviously without permissions.

     NANA  PLAZA  
                The Cat House sign looks like it has been in a cat-fight, one of the letters hanging by a thread.   Sign-gremlins?   But this hasn't stopped them from offering their usual by-the-pitcher "happy hour" special.

                Likewise, it appears that the sign-gremlins have been at the Morning Night's neon - the "nine-ball" has gone missing from between the two words - but we feel they would continue to do a roaring trade even without a sign (location, location, location).

                What could be better than a door-dwarf?   Why, two door-dwarfs, of course.   The "Mr & Ms" door-dwarf team working at the Lollipop are always polite and courteous - would that all door touts were so.

                Last issue we had a preview of the Teen 3 VIP Massage sign just prior to it's opening.   They opened on schedule this last month, taking over the helm from the now-defunct Patou Massage.   The modus operandi remains unchanged - specialty steam-and-cream.   Welcome them to the maelstrom.

    Door Art Of The Month

         This month's Door Art Award goes to The Oshare Japanese karaoke palace - newly opened in a small lane at the end of Soi Dead Artists.   Welcome to the big uphill.

                The Chi Haru Karaoke Club, located next door to the Oshare, is, as may be gathered from the sign, geared toward Nippon custom.   Welcome them as they throw their hat in the ring.

                Last month we noted that there was a massage & spa at the very end of the Soi, and that the best we could determine, the name was "Thai Massage'.   Now that all their neon is up, we see that they in fact have a name : the Rakuten.   They offer the gamut of legitimate spa facilities and services.

    Feel Better About Feel-Good

          Last month we also mentioned the new Love Teen Massage that opened in the old Lucky Luciano digs, and noted that they had some specialty massages we had never even heard of.   We weren't making this up.   'Spirulina and geen (sic) tea oil massage', indeed....

                Now that Denny's is reportedly under new ownership, and has removed about ninety percent of the potted forest that previously obscured the place, the crowds are starting to come back.   Management might, however, think about some more visible neon....   Keep on keeping on.

      SOI  KATOEY  
                The unusually heavy rains at the end-of-the-month kept most of the people away from Soi Katoey - The Balcony being the exception.   They managed a fairly large, if soggy, crowd.   The below pic shows the expansion out in front of Helene's Place, that they utilize in the evenings after the Vietnamese restaurant closes.

                Last month we noted the closing of the 2 Corner Bar, and that they were going at the renovations like the Winchester Mansion.   Well, renovations are behind them now, and the all-airconditioned Tube Bar has popped up like a mythical soldier from a dragon's tooth to take it's place.   Welcome them as they step out, and into the line of fire.

    Two old friends from the Soi 7 Food Court meet up again at the Queen's Park Plaza.

                The Olive Oyl has glassed itself in, and air-conditioned the premises - so don't be too hasty pushing your way through the "soccer net".....   Same good service and friendly pool.   (And, yes, it's the sister bar to the Popeye 2, just across the footpath.)   Let the good times roll.

      SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA   
                The latest arrival from the now defunct Tobacco Road (Soi Zero) across the street is the Rooster Bar - we are pleased to hear they didn't wink out of existence entirely.   They have promised some new neon (or perhaps the old neon relocated) by next month.   We'll do a come-back and shoot a better photo if and when they do.   Welcome back to the nightcircus.

      SOI  EDEN  
                Over the last few months, the Subway & Coffee World at the top of Soi Eden has become a favorite hang-out of Bangkok's European ladies-of-the-evening.   On the weekend, there is a steady stream of Sub-Continent and Dark Continent punters approaching the waiting fair-haired damsels.

      SOI   TWILIGHT  
                Gone but not gone, the Bar Lover Shot Bar has reopend after a 3-month mystery holiday, looking pretty much the same as before the 'renovations'.   
    - File photo

                The Vegas-strength neon jumps out at you when you walk by : "The Players".   We looked down the narrow lane near Sukhumvit Soi 14 in the direction of what used to be a Korean Barbecue, and saw even more bright lights, so we walked in to have a look, and found that "The Players" refers to 'pool players', just as sketched in neon out front.   We were there for more than an hour (midweek) and didn't see any (of the seven) pool tables empty.   We assumed this was a brand-new venture, but in fact, this is the relocated After Work, formerly just above Country Road at the top of Sukhumvit Soi 19 - they had just moved across the street.   The pool tables themselves (2 nine-ball and 5 eight-ball tables) are well tended by the inhouse table attendants, and are well hustled by the lovely in-house poolsharks.   We asked the manageress how it was that they were already quite busy, having only been open less than a month.   She replied that most of their customers had followed them over from the old digs.   Break a leg, gentlemen, and gentle ladies....


          The After Work quietly closed down just over a month ago, and reopened just across Sukhumvit Road as The Players.   We note they still turn their sign on at the old location, though (?)


                The Koi Restaurant, open almost one year now, has become one of the "hot" Night Entertainment Venues - every Tuesday and Thursday is "Model's Night" at the Lounge, where the young ladies get a free pass (a free drink), thereby attracting the large crowds.   (You might be asked if you have a reservation.)   They also have a well-appointed a la carte restaurant and private dining rooms (and a great sushi bar).   And while the prices aren't aimed at the bar beer set, the drinks in the Lounge are from 120 baht - on up.   Well worth a look.   Telephone reservations @ 02 258 1590.

          The Koi Restaurant's sign is not all that visible to those passing by on the Soi, so keep your eyeballs peeled....

          On "Model's Nights" the young mem-farang models arrive early at the Khoi Restaurant's Lounge to sign in for the evening's entertainment.   This photo taken from one of the upstairs private dining rooms.
    Photo with permission

                The Crystal Lounge & Galleria (just say, 'Crystal Lounge') on Sukhumvit Soi 20 - has been open for three months (softly), and only this last month did they have their grand opening.   The modus operandi is pleasant up-market indoor/ outdoor garden drinking and dining.   -And then, mix into that a most interesting exhibit of crystal art-works, which includes crystal-encrusted thumb cuffs and a psychedelic bejewelled iguana.   At the rear, they have a popular bed-sitting lounge.   Again, not for the backpacker crowd, but shouldn't be missed.   While reservations are not usually required, telephone reservations can be made @ +662 258 1599.

          The Crystal Lounge employs interesting and colorful graphics.

    Or, how about a jewel-encrusted tuk-tuk?   No?   OK, then, how about the jewel-encrusted Harley?   We had to ask, but the Receptionist at Crystal Lounge didn't have the price for these two items.   .....If you have to ask-

                All the way at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 18 is the Toxic, a small and very well appointed lounge bar.   A great place for a quiet get-away drink - you won't be inundated by loud music, and the hostesses will either chat with you or leave you alone, if that is what you prefer.   No hustle, no hassle.

          The Toxic's 'neon' is, as far as we know, an original - their signs are projected onto various surfaces - making for an interesting 'visual'.

          This probably says it all - a young hostess from Toxic smiles for the camera, talks on her hand phone and plays with a bubble machine....


    (No News !)






    Derived from an article originally titled "Geek Graffiti Takes on New York"

          NEW YORK -- A dozen graffiti artists surrounded their target - "The Cube" - a well-known Manhattan sculpture, waiting for the signal to begin tagging.   It was going to be anything but easy, as the 15-foot metallic sculpture in Astor Place had recently been coated with a graffiti-preventive paint.
          A 'close-up' of the 'LED Throwie' - which is basically a bundle of batteries, magnets and light-emitting-diodes of various colors.

          But seconds after the signal was given, The Cube was covered in glowing LED Throwies, the most recent brainchild from Graffiti Research Lab, (GRL), which refers to itself as 'an open-source think tank dedicated to developing new methods and tools for street artists'.
    An inside look at a Throwie assembly lab - Throwies are being readied for a 'non-destructive' assault on a billboard, or other metallic surface.       

          In spite of The Cube's coating of Acrolon paint, the sculpture wasn't protected from the magnetic, multicolored LEDs, which are capable of attaching themselves to any surface.   The glow-in-the-dark spectacle in Astor Square soon attracted a throng of passers-by, many of whom joined the 12 artists in throwing Throwies at the sculpture.
    Members of the Geek Graffiti class at Parsons and members of the graffiti group Visual Resistance pepper The Cube in Astor Place with Throwies.   They were soon joined by passing youths, and it wasn't long before the sculpture (previously coated with anti-graffiti paint) was covered with glowing multicolored clumps of light.

          The GRL was started by graffiti writers Q-Branch and Fi5e (probably their real names) after a brainstorming session on the perennial question of how to get around ever-developing anti-graffiti measures being employed by the authorities.   The lab is a part of the wider see-saw 'war' that graffiti artists constantly wage with municipalities and campus authorities.   Various anti-graffiti paints are the most recent weapons in the authorities' battle against the artists.   But GRL co-founder Fi5e. summed it up, ".... if the cat ramps up, so does the mouse."

          The LED Throwies cost only 75 cents to make and continue to glow for two weeks.   They are one of a growing handful of do-it-yourself street-art innovations that have emerged from the twisted minds of the terrible GRL twins since they ramped-up last February.

          (Another recent revelation is the Electro-Graf, an application technique that attaches LEDs, tiny electric motors, and even solar panels & other electrical devices onto a wall using a conductive spray paint.   Needless to say, Electro-Graf-ing can give your tags a a blinking, or vibrant shine, and even moving parts.   Electro-Graphing will be covered in detail in a future MIDNITE HOUR article.)

    *The above has been sourced from articles by David Cohn and other reporters (See <links>, below).

    Graffiti Research Lab <link> <link> <link>

    As a matter of general interest, below is another recent publication by an author and publisher who are among the growing number of people who see a social significance in graffiti as an art form -
    Belong: A TV Journalist's Search for Urban Culture
    by Jennifer Morton
    In paperback (2004) ISBN 1894663780

    - And now to Bangkok's own brand of Graffiti....

    Graffiti #085
    Almost Me, Almost You
    7 ft high x 7 ft

    Graffiti #086
    Clearing The Tubes
    10 ft. high x 8 ft.

    Graffiti #087
    Corner Tag
    3 1/2 ft. high x 5 ft.

    Graffiti #088
    Haze Days
    7 ft. high x 10 ft.

    Graffiti #089
    Urban Herbie
    7 ft. high x 30 ft.

    Graffiti #090
    7 ft. high x 5 ft.

    Graffiti #091
    10 ft. high x 18 ft.

    Graffiti, graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original and ONLY graffiti Site !

       The M IDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman .

    (Boge's photo, above, is not a graffiti per-se, although there are those who have insinuated....)    

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                   William R. Morledge


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