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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review

Arise  !  Soi 11

01 June 2007
William R. Morledge
Ask Us - Of Steam & Cream
A Thai Smile......

June's Nightlife News
Graffiti  -Bangkok's Art Vandals # 21


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A Bangkok Eyes Photo-Essay

         There was a time, some forty years ago, when Soi 11 Sukhumvit's sole sources of Nightlife were the Federal Hotel Coffee Shop and the Lobby Lounge at the old Ambassador Hotel.   But then, that was forty years ago...

Just say, "Bed".   The taxi drivers will know where to take you. This upmarket Nitespot is half lounge, half disco, and is so well known they don't even bother to nail up a neon shingle.

         Of course, after 4 decades, one would reasonably expect that the scene would have changed, but what is a surprise is how much things have changed recently.   We'll cut to the chase and get to the photos and map - as there is so much to see, and so little space....
The Zanzibar Bar & Restaurant is a large, indoor-outdoor venue, most appropriate for drinking and conversation - the upcoming rainy season notwithstanding.


The Fun House is a Poolbar which is slowly turning into a lounge.   They are located all the way at the end of the Soi.

The Venezia Ristorante & Wine Bar is geared - at least on the night of our visit - to couples.   A pleasant experience.   We have one question, though - if they are going to go all-out "Italiano" on us with their name, why not "Vino Bar"?

The Bai Po Massage is one of the several Massage Parlors on the Soi.

This Tapas Cafe is no relation to the one on Soi Katoey.   Check our map; it's on the small "U" soi, out of sight from the normal Soi 11 foot traffic.

The Spice Club is three things.   First, it is in the Ambassador Hotel.   Second, it is a disco, and lastly it is owned by the Soi 4 Hillary Group.   It is known to keep late hours on occasion.

The Senz Spa An Salon is all of a half-shophouse wide, but still manages to make a lot of feet happy.   (They do almost exclusively foot massage.)

The Sabai Sabai Massage is just that: sabai.   They are hidden around behind, in the little soi opposite the Ambassador Hotel.

The President Inn Thai Massage is, as expected, in the President Inn mini hotel on the side soi that also exits on Sukhumvit Road.

The Pickled Liver has a real British Pub atmosphere - also hidden in the back-soi opposite the Ambassador Hotel.   Worth chasing down.

The Old German Beer House, located in the Grand President Hotel has a license to print money - they always have a good crowd.   Probably has something to do with a spacious bar and restaurant layout, good food and lots of cold beer.

The owner wasn't there when we passed by the other night, so we couldn't confirm if this is the same Nice Bar that was first-in, last-out of Easy Square, and before that, on Soi Cowboy.   We'll have to follow up and get back atcha.

The Koreana Karaoke is 'Orientation Oriental'. One of a very few Korean Nitespots in Bangkok.

Joy & Joy Massage is not only ambiguous as to types of service, they are also quite ambiguous about their closing times.....

The Joke Club have had their sign out for some time now, but they only recently got serious about opening the front door.   The attractive PR girl also promotes the Chang beer while she's at it.

No, this isn't a misprint - Hillary Bar now have a branch on Soi 11.   While not as busy as the one(s) on Soi 4, they do keep a crowd.

There have been several Genesis in Bangkok, but this is the one that survived.   All the way down at the end, on your left.

This is one of several Foot Joy Massage parlors Bangkok.   They aren't just for foot massage, they also have "traditional", etcetera.

Charlie's Bar is unique in Bangkok - they only have about six seats at the bar, but they are always packed to overflowing.   -Most of the custom prefer standing around in the street and talking.   We have no idea what their secret to success is.

Charlie Brown's has been around a number of years - surviving in spite of being hidden away in the small "U" soi opposite the Ambassador with a few other bars, pubs and restaurants.

The Golden Eyes Bar is a survivor - they only recently moved down into the soi after their old Night Entertainment Area, the 13 Night Market, was taken by "development".   Some of you may remember that the 13 Night Market was the Night Entertainment Area built on the rubble of the hallowed Thermae Coffee Shop (the original).

The Domino Restaurant has a defitite European atmosphere - and is a Pub more than a Restaurant, with a very healthy bar, and a daily 'special' that can be eaten at the bar or at your table.   Worth a visit up the stairs.

Q Bar is still there - still providing an up-beat, up-market brand of entertainment at the very end of Soi 11.

Although you can barely read the name (Baan Phuan), it is apparent that they offer (a wide range of) local massages.

In spite of a fairly grungy bit of neon, the Ava Pub seem to do a good business on the weekends.

The 11 Health Care & Beauty are also located on that small side soi at the top of Soi 11 (see map).

         In summary, while there are a more than ample number of Night Entertainment Venues on Soi 11, they are stretched out along the Soi in smaller clumps, rather than in a "contiguous" area that would allow easy walking from one to the other.   We therefore can't really consider Soi 11 a separate, stand-alone Night Entertainment Area.   At least not yet.   But the way they are growing, they could be the next " Soi 33 " ( Soi Dead Artists )type Night Entertainment Area.   We will be visiting often, and will be keeping an eye open....


 Historical Minutiae Dept.


Of Fish Bowls
and Steam & Cream

The Q & A Lowdown


      Some years ago when I was working and living in Southeast Asia I had occasion to visit Bangkok on a regular basis.   During those years, I used to visit the massage parlors that had a large glassed-in viewing room adjacent to the "reception" where the masseuses waited.   The customers could select the masseuse of their choice from this lot, and go to a private room, usually upstairs.

Recently I had occasion to stop over in Bangkok, and while I found many more massage parlors, they were quite small, and without private rooms.   The massage areas were just curtained off from one another.   Also, I was not able to select my masseuse, as they would assign me one from the waiting group of girls.

I much prefer the old places and old system - do you know if Bangkok still has the old style massage parlors?   I would prefer something in the Siam Square or Pratu Nam areas.



      The short answer to your question is, "Yes, there are still many of the "old style" massage parlors remaining in Bangkok.   Over the years, that style of massage parlor has gained the nick-name of "Fishbowl" massage parlor (from the glassed in area you mentioned where the masseuses waited).   They are often also referred to as "Steam & Cream" massage parlors.

      Some of the very old Fishbowl massage parlors near the Pratu Nam area are the Chawala, the Chao Phraya 1 (recently renamed), and the Chao Phraya 2 - all on Sri Ayuthaya Road.   You may even remember these from years past.   Enjoy.


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    - In the LAND OF SMILES -

             The irresistible dimples belong to a young A Go-Go dancer at the Bangkok Bar on Patpong II.   Thus, the MIDNITE HOUR's awarding of this month's "Thai Smile".

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    Many Thanks,
    William R Morledge

    Let the June 2007 Follies begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  
                As not much was happening on Patpong I, we thought we'd take a shot of the Lucifer Disko Tk neon for the historical archives....   

                Anyone who's roamed Sin City's streets of shame for any length of time in the late evenings will likely have seen this most unusual person, and her tattered half-pack of Tarocchi cards.   Around about midnight on the weekend we caught her taking a quick cat nap at her usual spot on Silom Road.

      PATPONG  II  
                A welcome change at the Bangkok Bar - they now have A Go-Go dancing -albiet a more subdued variety than found in the various chrome-pole emporia.   This way they can get away with calling it "Coyote Dancing", don't you know.   Hey, what ever gets them through the night.   (You may have noticed that the young lady front and center is our June "Smile" awardee.)
    - Photo with permission

                Let's welcome the XXX Bar, which has much the look-and-feel of The After Bar which occupied that very same bit of real estate last month.   Which has everything to do with who owns what after they sorted out why they now have a very prominent drug warning on the door.   Don't ask, don't tell.   They are located 4th floor, Cosmo's stairwell.   The joined-at-the-hip Sisters, however, is still going full-throttle.


                Just barely (softly) opened, and tentatively called New Steve's Bar, they are the new kids on the Patpong II block.   They have taken over half of the Bar Bar 'sa-dit' bar.    We welcome them to the neon machine.


               The fat lady sang rather abruptly last month at the venerable old Trade Winds Pub.   By the time we got there, the place had been stripped - including their signage.   All that remained to indicate they had even existed was this painted sign on the wall.   Saaay, do you think the reason they went out of business was because their prices were a little too low?   As we have oft said, Darwin plays no favorites.   Ashes to ashes, so be it then....


      SOI  COWBOY  

                Pam's Cocktail Lounge was from another era - the era of the Loretta's Bar and the original Cowboy's - back before Soi Cowboy was an international name in Night Entertainment.   Pam had been hinting around at retiring for some time, perhaps hoping that her offspring would take up the gauntlet.   But that wasn't to be - the offspring now having opened a restaurant in another part of town.   So, finally, after these decades in the 'bar business', the call of retirement became irresistible.   She has sold out lock, stock and chrome barstool to the next door Baccara.   Renovations are under way as we speak.   As that era ends and a glitzier Las Vegas-like era ramps up, we wish a fond farewell to Pam's Cocktail Lounge and, of course, we also wish Pam greener pastures.

    - Photo: Courtesy ATM Charlie   
    The years have been kind to Pam, as she smiles for what was perhaps the last photo of her in the bar.   This photo and the next three were taken on 28 May 2007, the night Pam's Cocktail Lounge closed it's doors for good.   Reader and contributor ATM Charlie has kindly given us permission to use these photos on this month's Midnite Hour.

    - Photo: Courtesy ATM Charlie   
    Closing night was happy and sad - a 'beers and tears' affair.   But there were a lot of good snacks and beverages to be had.   And, not mentioning any names, but that gentleman at the bar, the one sitting front-and-center, has been around these parts as long as Pam herself....   Good to see a few of the old hands made it by to wish Pam well.

    - Photo: Courtesy ATM Charlie   
    This photo gives us a last look at interior of Pam's Cocktail Lounge before the well-wishers and friends began to arrive.

    - Photo: Courtesy ATM Charlie   
    Pam's Cocktail Lounge on closing night, as seen from outside Soi Cowboy.   This photo taken, presumably, early in the evening before the celebrations got under way.

    For those of you who didn't have a chance to get to know Pam's Cocktail Lounge, this probably says it best...

    The old original sign is still in place; we wonder how long it will stay there unnoticed.


     NANA  PLAZA  
                          Cat House has popped back out of the crypt and are continuing to march as if they hadn't closed down last month.   Welcome back to the same-old same-old.   We do note however, that they have a way with signs.   It's not a good way, but it's a way.   The last time they set out to repair their broken neon ....well, see for yourself.........
    - File photo

             We noted last month that the Silver Dragon was closed for renovations.   As we passed by this month, we were pleased to see that they had once again thrown open the door and rolled out the red carpet.   But the lovely PR girl noted that it was no longer the Silver Dragon - it had been absorbed by the parent Mandarin, just upstairs.   Still one big happy family, however.   Keep on keeping on.
    - File photo

      SOI  KATOEY  
                You may have noticed on Noriega's sign where it says, "Food 'N' Drink" and "Live Music".   They aren't kidding - plenty of both last night, as their house party swelled to the point of explosion, and became a street party.   Rock on.

                33 Center Massage are showing off their brand-new neon - and we have to admit, it's looking good.   Here, ambiguity is the name of the game.   If an 'ambiguous' massage is your game, you've come to the right place.

                As the new sign looks almost identical to the old, we almost didn't notice that CK's Sports Bar had become Powelly's Sports Bar.   Same good service, as well.   Welcome them to the Big Uneasy.

                Bacchus have a new bit of neon up, as well as some new hostesses.   The rock still rocks, however, and the roll still rolls.

                 Doug, from Bourbon Street, has been trying to get his Cajun food mural to work for about two years now.   But this time, we think he's done it (partial shown below).   You will be able to view the entire mural when you drive up - its on the back of the old Washington Theater just opposite.   Still the best New Orleans chow in Thailand.

                The Garden Spa have been quietly doing their soapy-steamy thing for years at the back of The Square, and, until now, we have not yet made note.   Now seems as good a time as any to make said note - if only for the historical record.   Keep on slippin' and a-slidin'.

                The Sweetheart Bar wasn't dead, it was only playing 'possum.   And we (below) can prove it.   After seeing them closed down last month, it's good to see them back at the tap.   
    - File photo

                Part of the success of a Night Entertainment Area is having an ambiguous massage parlor in it's midst.   The Queen's Park Massage fills the bill - you need look no farther.   Note: outside service is available.

      SOI  EDEN  
                No news is good news, except when the rain keeps the customers away.   Soi Eden was quieter than usual as we passed by during one of the almost daily showers we have been getting - now that the monsoon season is getting ready to, well, get ready.

                The Funny Bar went down for the count last month, however they did manage to get out from under it all by off-loading the whole shebang to the Get Lucky.   We hope the runes, against all odds, will rattle auspiciously for the newcomers.

                The Alibi Cocktail Bar, open only a couple of months, have already been rent asunder.   Alas, the Darwinian Imperative cares naught of who makes it, who tumbles headlong into the Abyss.
    - File photo

                The Relax Bar no sooner rolled out the red carpet and unlocked the liquor cabinet, than they rolled the carpet back up and, not only relocked the liquor cabinet, but took it home with them.   Normally a bar setting up for business will plan to have a few slow months at the start - someone must have forgotten to read their Business Plans For Dummies.   
    - File photo

                The Angel Bar has had a rough ride of it.   They started out in a good location, and were bumped to all the way in the back, where the only foot traffic they saw was someone on the way to the can.   The inevitable happened (does it ever not?) - they stuffed the last chit into the cup this last month.   Hopefully they will find things a little more to their liking a little further on down the road a piece.
    - File photo

                The New ScrewBoy X is, as one would imagine, the old Screwboy from deeper in the Soi (formerly above the 5 Star).   They have taken over the reins from the Fresh Boy, as of last month.   Business as usual.





    Graffiti Rock
    Becomes Freedom Rock


           The below photo and the following article have been reprinted without permission (and hopefully without repercussions) from the American Forces Press Service  <link>  website.

    By John D. Banusiewicz
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2003 - Something about a 12-foot-high, 56-ton rock north of Greenfield, Iowa, must scream "Paint me!" to the artistically inclined.   For years, it played host to teenagers' graffiti as it stood sentry next to Highway 25, about a mile south of the Greenfield exit off Interstate 80 in Iowa.

    Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II, 24, now of Des Moines, Iowa, grew up in Greenfield and had seen the rock countless times.   Until 1999, if the rock was calling him to paint it, he wasn't listening.   But then he saw the Tom Hanks film "Saving Private Ryan," and soon he answered the call.

    "It was right around Memorial Day, and I was driving by that rock and wondered what it would be like if I actually took the time to go out there and paint it," he said in a telephone interview.   "And so I painted it with the flag- raising at Iwo Jima."   He included the inscription, "Thank you, veterans, for our freedom" with his depiction of the famous World War II image.

    "I got such a huge response that I kept painting it," Sorensen said.   "I've been painting it for the last five years with tributes to veterans on Memorial Day."

    A rural road on the Great Central Plain might not seem to be a venue that could bring worldwide renown to an artist, but Sorensen said he gets anywhere from five to 15 e-mail messages every day from all over the world expressing admiration or thanks for his work.   Photos of the rock are posted on at least 10 World Wide Web sites.

    But seeing the rock on the Internet wasn't enough for one Maryland man, Sorensen said.   "He had seen it (on a Web site) right before he had to go to a wedding," Sorensen said.   "He didn't really have time to research who did it or where it was."

    Sorensen said the man later sent an e-mail message to his friends, offering to cover the expenses for a visit to the rock with him if someone could find it for him.   "Somebody got back and said it was in Iowa," Sorensen said, adding with a chuckle that "he didn't realize it was that far away" when he made the offer.   "But he kept his word," Sorensen said, "and drove out one weekend from Maryland to see the rock."

    Though the rock had been festooned with ever-changing graffiti for more than 20 years, only once in the nearly five years since Sorensen started painting the rock has his work been vandalized   A 60th anniversary tribute to veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack was defaced just a few weeks after it was finished.   The vandal, Sorensen said, got a punch in the face from a Vietnam War veteran for his trouble, and vandalism has never again been a problem.

    Sorensen said that although he never has served in the military, he always has been patriotic, and he hopes his work makes veterans and military members feel appreciated.   He said he had planned for this year's tribute -- which features the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action flag, the U.S. flag, and various patriotic scenes and quotations -- to be the last.   "But I've got such a huge response from so many people who want me to keep doing it, I know I'm going to do it at least one more year," he said.

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

    Graffiti #141
    7 ft high x 24 ft

    Graffiti #141-A
    7 ft. high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti #141-B
    Front Loader
    7 ft. high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti #142
    8 ft high x 24 ft

    Graffiti #143
    East Wall
    8 ft high x 41 ft.

    Graffiti #143-A
    Gopher Gasper
    8 ft high x 15 ft

    Graffiti #143-B
    Hippo Bones
    8 ft high x 15 ft

    Graffiti #144
    Pork Trotter
    7 ft. high x 15 ft.

    Graffiti #145
    Silver Grape
    7 ft. high x 11 ft.

    Graffiti #146
    The Taker
    7 ft. high x 17 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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