Expat Magazine

One Night in Bangkok (RS)

By Harvie

This is a reader submission by “Wilco”.

The sun was going down but the neon was out to play by the time I stepped out onto Soi 4. I had showered, shaved and dressed like a civilized man but with a pocket full of magic paper and ready to throw caution to warm night wind of little old Bangkok town.

Only a fool like me would tell himself I was only going out for a meal and a quiet beer, then turn in for a good nights sleep ready to hit the sights during the daylight hours tomorrow. My subconscious, conscience and libido new better than my greatest intentions ever would care to admit.

Linda and the Belgian

After a street side plate of Pad Thai, a Chang and a Marlboro later I was chalking up for a few rounds on the table at Hilary 2, ready to whip some been there too long farang or some plucky little Thai wench who was too used to winning. I challenged a farang who looked like he used to be a mafia bagman or a used car salesman but worked the table like an amateur champ who had done too much coke to make it on the pro circuit.

The arrogant Belgian then proceeded to advise me on the mechanics of backspin into the played ball to stop a follow on and top spinning into the cushion to slow up the double, in between casually mentioning – or blatant boasting depending on how you took it – that he’d once beaten Jimmy White in snooker. After I beat him twice, he  told me how much potential I had, which would’ve been nice if it hadn’t come from a gin soaked, has been European who thinks gym shorts and sandals are an acceptable standard of evening attire, even in Thailand. Why do all these f***ers think every day is casual Friday?

The bar manager bird, or some such I had been told, had been throwing me a few casual eyes from over the shoulder of the farang she was letting buy her lady drinks. In her sleek green dress she was a thirty something with a typically sleek Thai figure and looks which could still cut the mustard. The farang departed and I positioned myself casually near her. She had an air of casual tartiness that said she like to party privately but without being too slutty. Fifteen minutes later I had her name, which may or may not have been Linda, and a phone number. A couple more drinks and I parted with Linda, but made a mental to follow that up – which I did with an acceptable result on my next visit, but that’s a tale for another time, and may or may not contain details of illegal and or immoral activities.

Not your Nana’s

The ubiquitous plaza was the next obvious target. Like a poor tiny sister of Bangla Rd Patong Beach, it was nothing amazing, but it didn’t have to be. Everything a man could need was here. It was my planned arena for the rest of the night, and there was ample eye candy on display, and some of it would be mine to taste.

The Plaza was a short stumbling distance back to where I was staying at a friends apartment… even in the most liquored state I was sure to not get lost less than a k  from my bed. But stranger things have, and would continue to happen.

An uncounted number of rum and cokes and Marlboros later, my conversation with the nearest liquor serving wench was coming to an unsatisfactory level of boredom. A few exchanges with another girl who spoke good English, another few rounds on the table while I was still in the mood, and another thousand or so baht laid at the feed of the great Goddess of The Asian Night Scene.

Nana Plaza in Songkran

Nana Plaza during songkran

Tunnel vision was closing in, the kind of funky kaleidoscope where only the things within 10 feet of you and standing directly in front are still clear, but everything else is a nondescript blur of light and sound, like a moving Salvador Dali painting lit up with red neon and sound tracked by dance DJs.

I tucked the last cigarette into my mouth and strolled aimlessly around the plaza like a piece of bait waiting for a hungry little Thai fish to come take a bite.Then, suddenly, the pond began to empty.

I grabbed a girls arm in a slurred and feverish Johnny Depp plays Hunter Thompson tone I asked

What the hell is going on? Where is everyone going? Is there an emergency? Is it the Chinese invasion? Damn woman, speak! Can’t you see what’s going on?

It was closing time, she said. Dumb farang.

What? Thailand has a closing time? Not here, now, at 2am! Surely this is some kind of scam of the highest magnitude. We’re all being rounded up on the street like dumb drunk cattle by the Thai police and extorted for our first born children! (Or something of equal value to these shrewd tricksters.)

But we weren’t. The crowd wandered out onto the street and joined the other denizens of the night scene, where neophytes and stalwarts alike were being set upon by tuk tuk jockeys and ladyboys. I’ll take you where you want to go… seemed to be the theme.

I looked at my phone and it was just after 2. George Thorogood sang one drink aint enough jack you better make it three from the deep recess of my consciousness as I stood waiting for divine intervention.

3 wheeled Intervention

‘Where you want to go man? Only 70 baht. I take you anywhere.’

I looked around and one of the jockeys was leaning against his machine like an Asian parody of Steve McQueen. He was looking right at me. There were other people around, and other tuk tuk drivers. But Steve was looking right at me. I wondered what manner of deal he was conniving.

‘70 baht huh. Anywhere?I asked.

I repeated myself. Again. Constant and moronic repetition was the only way to cut a deal with these sharks of the night. Steve waived me onboard. ‘Oh yeah. 70 baht. Anywhere.’

I want a bar that’s still open. ‘Do you know * Bar?’ (* is substituted because I still cant remember the name of it, or even which part of town the bar is in.)

‘Ye ye I know’

‘Are you sure? * Bar?’

‘Ye ye!’

Bullshit. He didn’t know.

Boozed and flying solo into the night on the back of Steve McQueen’s machine of death. Bangkok had me now.

Bangkok Tuk tuk

Chasing the Goose

I told Steve to stop at the 711.

‘You give me cigarette? You pay me cigarette ok?’ He tells me.

Last time I checked a pack of Marlboros were 110 baht. The joyride and gone up in price already. I got two packs and gave him a single smoke, I kept the rest as insurance. The 2 stroke oriental express rolled on.

We pulled up outside of a some dark and seedy joint where a couple of staff loitered at the door. I walked in… it was a brothel. The girls were seated on a long couch on one side of the room, with bored I don’t wanna be here looks on their sad faces. Some where picking their nails and staring out into the space of their own private hell, others were having melancholy conversations with each other, but none of them looked at me. This was the saddest excuse for an atmosphere I have ever seen in a brothel. It felt like someone had just died.

I ordered a beer. It was my never leave a bar without having just one drink rule.

A couple of seedy looking middle easterners came in and we were the only customers. No girls made a move to talk to anyone else. Only the waiter came near any of us.

I chopped the rest of my beer quick and got out of there before I slit my wrists.

Outside Steve was waiting. I didn’t expect him to be there, but here he was.

‘Hey,’ I said, ‘now I want to go * Bar. I know you know it. No more fucking around.’

It was useless and I knew it, I would be going wherever he wanted to go but I didn’t care. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

brothel in Bangkok

The three wheels of terror lit up and we were back on the streets, gunning it past the other jockeys and pushing through gaps in the traffic that no sane driver would’ve taken for the price of a pack of cigarettes. Steve kept that throttle wide open on any straight piece of road and even some of the corners, he was a madman of the highest caliber, off his leash and grinning like a baboon with belly of hash cake.

I was beginning to sober up by the time we slid to a stop outside the next den. It was no surprise Steve had taken me to another brothel. This time he followed me in. Maybe he thought I was going to jack him for the cigarettes, or maybe this was just his favorite pickup joint.

I spied a pool table and made for it, then ordered a beer and a game while Steve bugged me for a smoke. There were fewer girls in here but they seemed a lot friendlier and were walking around talking to everyone, one of them waved at me but went back to talking to her friend.

Instead of the slick young Thai candy I expected to come greet me at the table.. I got the pimp. Some cheap gangster who looked liked Chow Yun Fat on a crack binge, who proceeded to try and sell me a girl and gamble on the game at the same time. I turned down both offers, the prices were too high and I knew he was about to shark me as soon as I laid a bet. By the time I beat him twice, he was getting agitated.

‘No way man. I just came from Samui and only 500 for barfine down there, and I only give one thousand tip.’

”This not Samui, Joe.’

Anyway, I’m not that kind of sucker if you think I’m gonna bet for pool.

Steve wanted another cigarette and then asked for a beer. I said no. They were trying to pull a pincer movement on me, attacking from both sides. I finished my second beer and cleaned up Chow for a third time. I played cheap charlie, owned the table, got my buzz back on and wore out my welcome. Chow and Steve and thrown in the towel and it was time for the circus to move on.

A cunning Ploy

I was done being surprised at whatever was coming next, so when we pulled up outside * Bar I was almost disappointed. Id only picked this joint because Id been here before and I new it had pool tables.

Some guy waved us off as we stopped, he jabbered something in Thai to Steve and we started turning around.

It was closing, Steve told me. Then he actually asked me where I wanted to go.


I got off the tuk tuk of terror outside Spicy and threw Steve his pack of smokes. He tried to follow me in, claiming I didn’t pay him. Snap, there it was.

I walked past the bouncer and waived my arm back at Steve, ‘I paid him already’ I said and looked back to see Steve being intercepted my some juiced up blackshirt just before I slinked inside.

It was packed full of bodies inside and the music was terrible. I ordered a bourbon and coke and got what was probably a cocktail of ethanol and paint thinners instead. I switched on the radar and made a lap of the big stage in the middle of the room. There where all kinds in here, girls, boys, boy girls, freaks and farang. This was not my scene but time was running out. Halfway around the room a girl touched my arm. She tried to speak to me but she was too quiet and I didn’t understand most of what was trying to say.

Straight from the Thai girl factory in the standard size, about 45kg and 160cm tall. In the haze she looked like a decent 9. We tried making conversation but I gave up and resorted to some kind of hand signals, smiling nodding and just pretending that I understood. I think we came to some kind of agreement that we would be leaving together. After the obligatory rounds of saying goodbye to her friends we left.

It was getting light outside now, and the decent 9 was predictably a passable 7. Her name was Ploy. She wanted to take a taxi. I told her no baby.. Its tuk tuk time.

The fact that she new exactly where to find a cheap hotel a short distance away told me all I really needed to know about her.

We checked in, showered and got comfortable. I kicked my stuff under the bed and tucked my wallet and phone into my side of the mattress while she was in the shower.

A bit of precursory small talk, ‘Are you on Thai friendly? I asked her ‘You look really familiar.’

‘No baby what Thai friendly?’

After The Deed was done, and we both fell asleep, I woke up a short time later naked and freezing with the ac set to Arctic Circle.  More sleep later, we got up and got dressed. I counted my cash and figured I was about two grand short, but I couldn’t account exactly for what Id spent so I wasn’t in line to go make accusations, but she didn’t ask for money so I figured she’d taken the liberty of paying herself, but I couldn’t be sure. She gave me her number and said she wanted to see me again, then left. Unlikely, I thought, but she text me every day for about a week after, until I told her I was going to Manila.

I walked out of the hotel and onto the street. It was mid afternoon, I had no idea where I was, the sun was blaring and my shades were fuck-knows-where. A hangover was coming on, and a cold from that damn aircon. I lit a cigarette and waved at a tuk tuk.

Take me to a bar. I said.

Another night in Bangkok awaits.

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