t had been a while since we had 'hit the bars' in Soi Sarasin and Soi Lang Suan. And we assumed there would be changes; some of the old places gone, some new places popping up. However what we did not expect was that everything had changed - absolutely none of the old haunts still existed, and that included bars and restaurants. Where did the 'other' Pan Pan Italian Restaurant go? Where did the Whole Earth go? Where was the blues bar? And mainly, where is the Brown Sugar? (Actually, it did go somewhere - but that's another story.)
The Wine Bridge doesn't look like much from the street. In fact it looks like nothing more than this neon sign stuck on a small overhead footbridge. But don't be fooled - walk inside, and find a large Night Entertainment facility of several separate areas, to include an outside (under roof) area. Live music on the weekends.
If we can steal a line from Heracleitus, you cannot step twice into the same river. And that couldn't be more true than on Sois Sarasin and Lang Suan. Not only are all the entertainment and eating establishments gone (and sometimes replaced with other venues) but the entire area has more acreage under renovation than any area I can recall in Bangkok history. This is not superlative-laced ranting; there are several large tracts of land under redevelopment on both sois. I'm not talking about the occasional vacant lot - take for example a single development on Lang Suan that stretches from Soi 3 to Soi 6, having closed off Sois 4 and 5 entirely (have a look at the map below). And this is only one of the several projects. Most of Soi Sarasin from Lang Suan to Witthayu Road is now demolished and under redevelopment. This is big-time.
Were it not for the street sign, I wouldn't have known the Soi Lang Suan of recent memory. And once the redevelopment-in-progress is completed, I will not be able to recognize it yet again. 'The only constant is change' : truer words never spoken. Nevertheless, in spite of the vast ongoing redevelopment, there is a Nitescene to be found, however limited.
Yes, the Trio is a Jazz Bar, and yes, it really has art exhibitions. Worth exploring.
It is immediately apparent that the Nightscene development on these two sois, such as it is, is the same as can be found in virtually every other part of Bangkok. If the City of Bangkok were to be a participant in the O.T.O.P. Program*, it's most ubiquitous product would be 'Massage Parlors'. In the Bangkok Nightlife world, the 'Massage Parlor' is definitely the flavor of the decade. There is virtually no main road or adjacent soi in Bangkok that you might twist and turn onto, or out of, that doesn't have a smattering of massage parlors.
The Stonehouse Bistro & Bar is the closest thing to a mixed Nitespot (Farang and Thai) to be found on Soi Lang Suan. A large facility with adequate seating, both inside and out. The larger percentage of Farang visitors to Soi Lang Suan appear to enjoy this pub atmosphere.
But this isn't meant to imply that Soi Lang Suan is only massage parlors. The beginnings of an Night Entertainment plaza can be found at The Portico, which currently has 5Nitespots and a couple of decent restaurants. Further on down the soi, the Stonehouse can be found, which caters to all, and further yet on down the soi, the Wine Bridge sets the mark for 'full entertainment'.
The question which we, as a matter of course, ask : Are Soi Sarasin & Soi Lang Suan now, or will they be in the foreseeable future, viable Expat Night Entertainment Area(s)? The immediate answer is - these two sois, singly or in combination, currently do not have the 'critical mass' - they currently do not have the 'draw-power' to bring crowds and keep them there for an evening. And, currently, the existing Nitespots are not contiguously located, too spread out to qualify as a single Nitespot Area. But, never say never. In another year or two, when the massive construction projects are completed, we are likely to see, first, new restaurants opening, then (in order) Bistro-bars, Music (jazz / blues) bars, and perhaps a karaoke or two, much as what we currently see happening on Soi 11 Sukhumvit.
We will be keeping a closer eye on Soi Sarasin and Soi Lang Suan in the future, but I suspect, because of the widespread ongoing construction, we are about two years out from seeing a rush to open new Nitespots. When that happens, we shall mount another serious survey.
The @ Langsuan Boutique Spa is set off the main soi but is easy to locate. Geared mostly to female custom, but presumably open to all.
* O.T.O.P. Program - a Thaksin initiative. - A program, One Tambon, One Product, where the Government provides assistance to each Tambon, or Subdistrict in Thailand to promote commercially it's most important product. This still-struggling program never really took off - firstly, villagers were already 'promoting' their products to the best of their ability, and the government helping them to market didn't equate to the average villager, all of a sudden, selling more. Secondly, there are way too many Tambons, too many trying to sell the same wares - there are only so many wicker baskets, only so many umbrellas, only so many dried banana fritters you are going to be able to sell in a given period, and it doesn't matter how many commercial fairs you organize to try to change that.
I got several emails and SMS from friends about a general crackdown on "naughty" massage parlors in the Sukhumvit area. I traced these back to a website called 'Stickboy.com". The problem is I know people who own properties on some of the sois they mentioned (Soi 22, Soi 24 Soi 33, and Soi 26), and I was visiting on Soi 33 the night of the supposed 'crackdown'. My friends and I are not aware of this supposed crackdown, can you shed any light on this? How can a website spread a report like this?
B in B
Greetings, B in B,
We also got a number of queries on this - in addition to yours. We were not previously aware of any website called Stickboy.com, but it in fact exists. We at Midnight Hour tend to encourage any and all new websites on the Bangkok Nitescene, and will promote those with original output.
However, it behooves all Bangkok Nightlife websites to insure accuracy in their reporting, otherwise, they will lose credibility with their readership public and their advertisers. And in this instance, they might also lose credibility with the powers-that-be, which would be a most undesirable 'unforeseen consequence'... We should note that when we first heard this rumor, we went to a number of venues on Soi 22 and Soi 33, and to a person, we could not find a single individual, to include massage parlor staff, who knew anything about this reported crackdown. We later checked at other locations - and found no, zero, substantiation. It is indeed possible that there were some combined police-army checks at some venues somewhere, and the rumor-mill blew the story out of proportion, but we do not know this to be true, either. Suffice it to say, things in the Sukhumvit world of massage parlors, are, and were unchanged.
As a matter of historical reference, we used to publish Night Entertainment rumors - as rumors, under the kicker "Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors" and rate them as bogus, or factual. 'Bogus' won more than 90 percent of the time. The reason we stopped this feature was people were reading our rumors, not too carefully, and later writing in to us demanding to know why they didn't come true. WTF? Go figger....
Likewise, the Black Pagoda has opened what must be the smallest bar beer in Thailand - just downstairs, at street level, from their main A Go-Go venue on the 3rd floor. Said A Go-Go continues to rock 'n roll status quo ante.
This past month The Strip A Go-Go had a Bikini Beach Party. The Strip regularly has various new 'themes' to keep things all the more interesting. May they keep on keeping on.
The Top Light Bar, closed briefly last month, has reopened. We were told that they closed last month for a few days because no one came to open the bar. Huh? Welcome back, just the same.......
The Dollhouse, looking very much the worse for wear, is not falling apart - they are in the throes of a major renovation - which should be finished this time next month. We note they aren't closed, or even slowing down inside - the chrome poles continue to be well staffed.
The talk-on-the-block about the Bubbles replacing the Wild Thing appears to be at least mostly true - however it doesn't look like the Wild Thing is entirely out of the picture (so to speak). We wish Bubbles fame and fortune as they join the neon circus.
Door Art Of The Month
The Bubbles A Go-Go neon provides an attractive addition to the NEP - reflections included. The best new signage we've seen anywhere this last month. We anticipate more of the same to come, once they drop the rest of the Wild Thing neon - and at that time, we shall be back with our cameras poised...
The 2nd floor Straps may just be the best single-shophouse A Go-Go in Bangkok - a well run bar -in the old style- with an attractive and energetic staff. Say no more.....
Suckers now have their permanent neon up - and looking fine. Actually, it's just like their previous temporary sign, except it doesn't have the old Lollipop sign showing through anymore. May they continue the romp.
Last month we noted that i Darts Metal officially opened their doors to the public. This month they have added some prominent new neon - easily seen from the streetside passers-by. Located in Soi Big Mango.....
Last month the Swan Massage & Salon (sometimes written 'Salon & Massage)', took over the reins from Sabai @ 4 Massage. May they continue to slip and slide.
After a brief closure last month, the Guess Bar is open, business as usual. Actually there is no guessing, this is a transgender bar.
The Polaris, a long running Japanese lounge, has cashed in their chips. The sign on the front says the premises are up for lease. May they find satisfaction further on down the road.
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
We noted a couple of months ago, with some trepidation, that the Wine Depot, had newly opened across the street from the now-closed (and renovating) Imperial Queen's Park Hotel. Our fear was that their timing was bad - with the closing of the hotel, they would have greatly reduced passing foot-traffic. Well, we were wrong - not only do they keep customers coming through the doors, but they have opened an additional lounge-room at the side, making for a spacious Nitespot. May the force be with them.
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
Waew's Massage has taken over the reins from the now defunct Momiya Massage. Located deep in the Soi, across the street from the New Cowboy Bar. Welcome them to the sharkpool.
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
Lotus Massage has closed after a fairly good run. Greener pastures, ladies.....
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
What's with the Be Rich Massage? On the one hand, we have never seen them open, on the other hand they have a sign up for hiring new masseuses. Located in Soi Lemongrass. We'll keep an eyeball peeled, and get back atcha.
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
The Momiya Jasmine massage has reopened after a brief closure last month. Welcome them back to the slippery slope.
- File photo
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
The Rin Massage has thrown in the towel - they will not be coming out for the next round. (They were) located in Soi Lemongrass.
The new Tomoe Club (Japanese-oriented) has taken over from the previous occupants, the Mirai Club (Japanese-oriented). Located deep in the Soi, in the small sub-soi on your left. Welcome them to partytown.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
The Honey In Soi 33 has opened in the now closed down Massage Club Mitu. Welcome them to fun city. Some are saying their sign is just a tad too explicit... ...in the immortal words of Mukda, 'Shake it, don't break it."
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
The Sakura, located in the old Gauguin digs, never did reopen, however, it did paint "Snack" on the window - so there are signs of life, after all. And at least we know what type of Nitespot it may someday become. We will put them on the vigil, and report again next time around.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
No. 1 Massage, was closed briefly at the end of last month, however should be reopening right about...... now.
A for-the-archives photo of Dr. BJ's Salon. While 'prostitution' is at least technically on the books as a 'no-no', apparently some variations-on-the-theme are not, as may be implied when the sweet young lady in librarian glasses demurely mentions to passing foot-traffic, "Browjob, Kha."
Singapore vs Graffiti
SHOULD PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME ?
wo German nationals were detained by police in Kuala Lumpur for allegedly spraying graffiti on a Singapore MRT train in Bishan Station on 8 November 2014. They were then extradited back to Singapore - in a remarkably quick case of inter-governmental cooperation. On their return to Singapore, they were promptly arrested and charged not only with vandalism (spraypainting graffiti onto government property), but with tresspassing (into the government owned train yard).
Copyright Singapore Straits Times - Fair use terms and conditions apply.
Police stated the two men, Andreas Von Knorre and Elton Hinz, both 21 years of age, were preparing to leave Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a flight back to Australia, where they were reportedly employed.
A photo of the Singapore MRT train allegedly spraypainted by the German nationals. However one can't help but note that this train has been vandalized multiple times. Surely an explanation will be forthcoming?
Both tresspassing and vandalism can warrant extreme punishment in Singapore. Trespassing is punishable by up to 2 years in jail, a fine of up to S$1,000, or both. Vandalism, is punishable by up to 3 years in jail or a fine of up to S$2,000, and between 3 and 8 strokes of a rattan cane. If convicted of both crimes, the pair could face a long and bloody stay in Singapore's correctional facilities. (Yes, caning can be a bloody and crippling affair...)
A video-outtake of an earlier, 2010 paint-bombing of a Singapore MRT train. A Swiss national was convicted of the crime.
This latest incident involving foreigners apprehended in Singapore for graffiti vandalism has once again grabbed international headlines. The two previous incidents, likewise, made international news. The most recent previous imprisonment for graffiti was in 2010, where Swiss national Oliver Fricker was sentenced to seven months in jail and three strokes of the cane. Previously, in 1994, an American teenager, Michael Fay, was caned for vandalizing automobiles. Appeals from the US Government on his behalf fell on deaf ears.
The illegal deeds , the graffiti vandalism and the tresspassing, are not particularly newsworthy, in that perpetrators are being caught on a regular basis in practically every country on earth, every day of the year. What makes the Singapore graffiti stories 'newsworthy' is the disproportionate nature of the punishments. These stories serve to cause readers throughout the world to ask, 'Does the punishment fit the crime?