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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


The German Invasion

01 September 2010
William R. Morledge

September's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Ask Us ! - Guesthousing In Khao Sarn
Graffiti  -BKK's  Midnite Vandals - #59

         In response to the below inquiry from one of our readers, Midnight Hour feels it would be timely to revisit the mid-1970's "German Invasion", a distinct historical period in the Night Entertainment landscape of Bangkok, and Thailand in general.
Note the dual spellings on recent neon at the Soi 7 Bier Garten.
- File photo         

Greetings, 'Boge',

In ploughing through your "Archives", I have noticed the repeated terminology, 'Bar Beer', but occasionally you use, in reverse order, 'Beer Bar'.   There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the varied usage.   Is there a method to your 'madness' (no offence) or is this perhaps a typo on the part of your team?

Graeme P.

         Although we have covered this issue of the Bar Beer (and the Bier Garten) generally in earlier issues, it is well worth an elaboration - as there are, in fact, interesting "historical" reasons for these varied usages.   

         In the '60's and early '70's, the predominant farang in Bangkok, and Thailand in general, was the U.S. G. I., or American soldier; either on R&R, or assigned here in-country.   This was referred to -in the tourism sense- as the "American Invasion".   

         However, in 1973, the Paris Peace Accord was signed, and the so-called peace treaty was put into effect in Viet Nam - resulting in all U.S. armed forces in Viet Nam and in Thailand returning to the U.S. of A (and therefore no more R&Rs to Thailand).   Between 1973 and 1975, only the residual U.S. advisers remained here in Thailand, effectively putting an end to the "American Invasion".

         As the last of the U.S. forces departed the Kingdom, Germany "discovered" Thailand, and there was a flood, figuratively, of German tourists throughout the late 1970's and early 1980's.   It, likewise, was referred to as the "German Invasion".   (And it was followed by the "Saudi Invasion" in the late-'80's.   After that, Thailand's tourism was expanding more rapidly, and was of a more homogeneous international mix - no more "Invasions".)

         Not surprisingly, many of the "invading" Germans of the late '70's became enamored with Thailand, and decided to open businesses and stay.    As a result, two new types of Night Entertainment Venue quickly appeared on the scene.   The first was the "Bar Bier" - prior to this time, open-air bars were scarce to non-existent.   Although the Bar Bier became vastly more popular in Pattaya, and later in the other beach communities, they did get a solid foothold in Bangkok.   These bar biers would, of course put up signs reflecting the name of their establishments, such as, 'XYZ Bar Bier" - thus - the entry of the term "Bar Bier" into the Nightlife lexicon.

         As time passed, the names appearing on these bars' signs would either be spelled, "Bar Bier", or "Bier Bar", or "Beer Bar", or, finally "Bar Beer" - (don't try to say that too fast...).   At that time, we at Midnight Hour decided that if the sign above the bar spelled out either of these variations, we would use that exact variation, as spelled out by the owner, when reporting on that particular venue.   However, for the bars which had names exclusive of these variations, such as,"XYZ Lounge", or other, we would generally classify them as either "Bar Bier" or "Bar Beer" - as the generic of that type of bar (in deference to the German origins).   Later, when referring to these bars, either generically, or when referring to individual bars which were not otherwise specifically signed "Bar Bier" (or one of the other variations), we settled, rather arbitrarily, on a standardized "Bar Beer".

         We earlier noted that the "German Invasion" introduced two new types of Night Entertainment Venue to Thailand.   The second was the 'Bier Garten', which differed from the 'Bar Bier' in that it was greater in size, having an indoor-outdoor format, and functioned as a bar-restaurant.   As the spelling, "Bier Garten" appeared on their signage, so the term, in like fashion, entered the Night Entertainment lexicon.    As with the 'Bar Bier', the name 'Bier Garten' became Anglicized to 'Beer Garden', and both spellings appeared on the various signage in Bangkok.   An example of the 'Bier Garten' spelling can be found at the Soi 7 Bier Garten on Sukhumvit Road.   As there are very few Bier Gartens left in Bangkok, Midnight Hour tends to use the spelling on the individual signs when referring to a Nitespot of that flavor.

         Not to infer that the Bier Garten concept is going out of style - quite the contrary.   Bier Gartens, being indoor-outdoor, are not suited to the monsoon season (June through October) , but rather to Bangkok's cool season (November through February) - the Bier Gartens obviously don't do much business during the rainy season.   However Thai entrepreneurs have found a way around this - every year during the cool season, each of the beer companies sponsors large open-air "Novemberfest" Bier-Gartens around the city.   Although they don't (usually) sport the name "Bier Garten", as with the original German venues, food is abundantly available.   The Thai version of the Bier Garten has become so popular (and competitive) that the various venues have started sponsoring main name entertainment, as well.

         It would be fair to say that this was one "German Invasion" which had a decidedly positive and permanent influence on the Bangkok Night Entertainment landscape : firstly, a more relaxed, laid-back style of nightcrawling, and secondly, a lot of good German cuisine.


          This month Midnight Hour "Thai Smile" goes to a young lady who works hard for the money.

? Old

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Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

Khao Sarn Road


         My plane lands in BKK Around 11:30 p.m.   I will try to catch a bus to Khao San Road, but best bet is I will have to catch a taxi.   My question is, being my first time in Bangkok, I plan on staying around the Soi Rambutrri area; to check into a guesthouse.   Do most guesthouses have vacancies?   The reason I am asking is I have no reservation.   


Justin from the USA.

Greetings, Justin,

         Khao Sarn Road has many guesthouses within, and nearby.   In that it is now the rainy season, they are rarely full, so no reservation would be necessary (the rainy season is actually a good time to come to Bangkok, as it is much cooler than usual, and the rain is only for an hour or two most days.)   You should look for a guesthouse which has a lockable door, and bring your own padlock.

         As you will be arriving late, you may want to take a taxi into town.   Don't take a taxi from one of the people inside pushing their special taxis or limos.   Walk outside and get in the Taxi queue and take one of the regular taxis.   You pay only the meter fare plus 50 Thai baht service (about 32 baht = 1 dollar US).

'Boge' Hartman

  • Email bangkokeyes@gmail.com and "ASK" - -   Click Here
  •           We can answer virtually any (reasonable) question on the Expat Night Entertainment Scene in Bangkok - be it Historical or very recent.   Send us an e-mail and we will do our best to answer you soonest.
    'Boge' Hartman
    Historical Research
    * Zootramp Publications

    Let the September 2010 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  

                Below is a photo of the entrance to an unnamed Night Entertainment Venue located between the Safari A Go-Go and Silom Road.   From long years' experience, we have found it best never to patronize such unnamed, upstairs establishments.   Their custom is almost always tout-driven - usually some lout shoving a 'naughty' brochure up your nose asking if you want to see some kind of show, or get some kind of massage.   Stick with the legitimate places - there are plenty to go around.   (Editor's note: The Safari, however, is still well worth the visit, and in no way associated with the above-mentioned.)
      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
    Door Art Of The Month
                   The Black Pagoda has utilized an in-place graffiti-like mural to display posters of upcoming events.   Very effective.   They could still use a more public place to promote their Nitespot, however.   The Black Pagoda is suspended above Patpong II on the overhead bridge.   May there always be a chinchoke on their wall....

      PATPONG  II  

                Bobby's Arms Pub was, once again, closed.   This has been a recurring problem of late - however, we can't help but think that, like Arnold, he'll be back.....
    - File photo         
      PATPONG  II  

                Last month we noted the closure of the Three Ladys up on The Ramp on Patpong II.   We were hoping this would be a temporary condition - the Three Ladys is one of The Ramp's founding members - going waaaay back.   We wish them a soft landing, wherever, and whenever.....

    - File photos         
      PATPONG  II  

      SOI  COWBOY  
                Last month we noted the (neon-less) Kanjana Poolbar had undergone major renovations, having become an indoor live music & coyote venue.   At that time, they were struggling with a new name (or should they keep the old one?).   But that was then, this is now - welcome The Corner 'Live Music'; may they keep on keeping on.   
      SOI  COWBOY  

     NANA  PLAZA  
                The 'courtyard' of Nana Entertainment Plaza continues to be a construction site - with slow, if constant progress.   The area which used to be the Pharaohs, the Roadhouse and the Alibi bar beers has a new foundation - but instead of the usual structural anchor bolts, it has what looks like heavy-duty 'slides' - indicating the new structure will perhaps be temporary or semi-permanent in nature.   It shall be interesting to see what will appear center court....
      NANA  PLAZA  


    (But see the fine print....)

                Cat House has closed it's doors "temporarily".   Let's wish them a speedy return to the sharkpool.

      NANA  PLAZA  

      SOI  KATOEY  
                We noted that Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4) seems to be getting a more hetero mix this last year.   To be sure, Noriega's and now Nomad's were, and are, 'mixed', but it seems the previously gay-centric Nitespots are now also experiencing an upsurge of hetero couples.   The below pic taken at the long-established Telephone Pub.

                The Pheeran, it seems, has closed it's specialty massage for keeps this time 'round.   Further proof that Darwin plays no favorites.   Perhaps failure was inevitable - in consideration of the ever-increasing number of such Nitespots, and the Pheeran's end-of-soi location....

                Hookers, (a working name only at this juncture) located in Soi Wall Street, has once again resumed feverish construction.   It is slated to open on, or about, 10 September.   It is (will be) located in the old Ran Maru digs.   We'll keep a finger on the pulse, and get back atcha.

                A for-the-archives pic of the The Sportsman.   It looks like The Sportsman has established itself as a permanent fixture in the neighborhood.   Let the good times roll.

                Although the Tip-Top Restaurant wasn't exactly a Night Entertainment Venue, and although it wasn't exactly in an Expat Night Entertainment Area, it played a large part in the Night Scene over the last thirty ++ years.   It was an after-hours rendezvous for both Thai men (and their mia-noi's) and we expats, who would meet up later with the bargirls we didn't barfine.   An end of an era - another of Bangkok's mollusks walks the longest mile (if I can mix a metaphor or two....).   Fare thee well, old friend - you have well-earned your niche in Bangkok's nightlore.

                The No ! Bra wasn't really gone last month when we passed by - they were just playing 'possum.   They are back in the saddle, and it's business as usual.
    - File photo         
       QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  - SOI  22

                Gone, but not gone, Crazy Girl Bar has moved into the old Queen's Bar digs, lock, stock and chrome barstool.   They are the seventh occupants of that loc over the last two ++ years; "lucky seven" says the owner / manager.   Crazy Girls was originally in Washington Square (Feb - June 2009), before it moved to Sukhumvit Road near the top of Soi 29.   It recently closed up shop there and now resides permanently in QPP.   Wishing them all aces and faces as they return to the machine.
       QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  - SOI  22

                The Platinum has taken over the other half of the now-defunct Sweetheart Bar (the other half already occupied by XXXX Bar).   They have an interesting 'lady-dink' policy - the cost of the hostess' drink is the menu price plus 50 baht - the fifty baht going to the lady in question.   Bar Beer remains the modus operandi.   May the capricious nightgods see things their way....
    (No photo available at this time.)
       QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  - SOI  22

      SOI  EDEN  
                The long-standing Down Under looked darker than a poisoned well when we passed through the other night.   However, judging by the large wide-screen TV still in-place, I doubt they will be gone very long.   We'll keep an ear to the ground and give you a come-back next issue.
      SOI   EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                As promised by the new management last month, the Blue Lightning has been (or should I say 'is being' ?) renamed Cafe Des Sports.   Both signs are currently on view, so until it all gets sorted out, we shall refer to this Nightspot by both, or either, names.   May the nightwinds blow kindly....
      SOI   EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                Banana, located at the Suriwong Road entrance, has reopened after completing some renovation works in the front of the venue.   Back to the same old - same old.

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    Bangkok Nightlife



    Bangkok Eyes jumps back in time to have a look at who was new - and who was through.   We'll be willing to bet that many of you "Old Bangkok Hands" will be reminded of some bars you'd almost forgotten.   (We also will be willing to bet you WON'T EVEN REMEMBER an even greater number....)
    10 YEARS AGO  :
          Ten years ago, the S.T.V. Bar reverted to it's old name, Memphis Queen, which it hadn't used since May 1999.   It has since reverted back to S.T.V. Bar, and is still there today.   (We liked the old Memphis Queen name better....)
    PATPONG  II -   2000

          A decade ago the Topless Bar (actually, topless and bottomless) officially became the Kaeng Topless Bar (which was an open bar beer).   As noted last month, it is still there today as Topless Pool Bar / Sports Bar (topless in name only).
    PATPONG  II -   2000

          The Opium Den Restaurant & Pub closed it's doors a decade ago this month.   Never very popular, it was located between the Executive Club and Suriwong Road.   There is no Night Entertainment Venue at that location today.
    PATPONG  II -   2000

          Bobby's Deli became the Aroy Dee a decade ago (still owned and operated by Bobby).   There is no Nightscene Venue at that location presently, and the property is up for lease.
    PATPONG  II -   2000

          Suzie Wong closed it's doors ten years ago this month.   It would be a short closure - lasting one month.   It is still at that location today.
    SOI  COWBOY -   2000

          Deeper closed its doors, or rather had it's doors closed for it, a decade ago.   It was located where Spanish On 4 is now holding court.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   2000

          A decade ago this month, Speed also had it's doors closed for it, reportedly for speed, as irony would have it.   It was located where today's Bearbie applies it's trade.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   2000

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2000

    A decade ago, two new bars appeared in the now-defunct
    Asoke Corner / Asoke Plaza Night Entertainment Area :

                 New on the Nightscene this month, ten years ago, was the Coffee Bar - a bar beer.

                  The Sabai Sabai Bar bar beer rolled out the red carpet a decade ago, taking over the reins from the Moon Light.

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2000

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2000

    A decade ago, one bar opened, and another closed in the now-defunct
    Clinton Plaza :

          The Crack House A Go-Go bar, (Clinton Plaza's third) opened it's doors to the public, after an extensive re-construction of the facilities.

          Chan's Corner, located on 'the island' between the back row of bars and the main building, closed it's doors for the last time ten years ago this month.

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2000

    TOBACCO  ROAD   - 2000

    A decade ago, one bar opened, and another reopened in the now-defunct
    Tobacco Road (Soi Zero) :

          Lucky Luke bar beer (Not "Lucky Lukes" of Nana fame) opened it's doors for the first time a decade ago.

          The Last Stand Bar, a bar beer, reopened ten years ago after a brief closure.

    TOBACCO  ROAD  - 2000



    [ Check out Bangkok's own source of evil spraycans, etc, at Montana Land <link>. ]

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

    This month we depart slightly from our usual Graffiti column; we were fortunate enough to be contacted by one of the local graffiti artists, who goes by the moniker, or tag, "Adit".   He contacted us through the Midnight Hour website email, and after a brief exchange, he kindly agreed to send a selection of pix of his works to us for publication.   We have selected seven photos, as is our standard monthly offering.   The selection appears immediately below.   For the record, we do not have confirmation of whether or not the person in the first photo is the artist.

    Graffiti #407
    Adit # 1
    5 ft. high x 8 ft.

    Graffiti #408
    Adit # 2
    6 ft. high x 12 ft. (x 2) (est)

    Graffiti #409
    Adit # 3
    7 ft. high x 12 ft. (est)

    Graffiti #410
    Adit # 4
    8 ft. high x 23 ft.

    Graffiti #411
    Adit # 5
    6 ft. high x 18 ft. (est)

    Graffiti #412
    Adit # 6
    8 ft. high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti #413
    Adit # 7
    6 ft. high x 38 ft. (est)

    **The stated owner of the photographs above has given Bangkok Eyes permission to use this copyrighted material on our website.   Accordingly, and by prior agreement, we have attributed ownership of these photographs to him.

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

       The MIDNITE 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....   - Ed)

     --- Datzit Fernow

    William R. Morledge

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