t would be folly to mistake Bangkok's new Patpong Museum as just another excursion through A Go-Go bars of past times. Patpong Road's newest addition to the Nightlife Scene is a tour de force, historically speaking, of the Patpongpanich family and their influence on Bangkok's early and recent development - literally putting Bangkok on the World Map. A most unlikely history unfolds, from the area's earliest beginnings as a banana plantation, to the Patpong family's singular, pivotal influence in the creation of Bangkok's Central Business District ...and then, in the middle of all that, the spontaneous eruption of the most notorious Night Entertainment Capitol the world would ever know. The Patpong Museum will be an eye-opener to new arrivals to the Kingdom, as will it be to the jaded 'Old Hands' who think they 'know Bangkok'.
The plot of land, the banana plantation, was purchased by Senior Patpongpanich in 1946, just after the war. The potential : connecting two main arteries, Silom Road and Surawong Road, was not lost on him, and he went to work networking his many local and foreign wartime contacts; convincing them that the area was ripe for development as a centralized business district. And it is fair to say the success of that budding Business District growing up in and around Patpong Road was no accident of fate - it was a direct result of the Patpong family's commercial instincts and perseverance.
The very first ticket to the Patpong Museum (and the Patpong Museum Passport). A collector's item...
And this growing centralization of international and local businesses, of course, attracted a commensurate number of restaurants. One of those restaurants, Mizu's Kitchen, commenced construction scarcely a decade after the Senior Patpongpanich purchased those banana plantations. Mizu's opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1957 in the new 'Patpong Road'. But what differentiated Mizu's from the others is it became a 'meeting point', or as Bernard Trink would say, 'a Constellation', of expats in the community, eventually becoming the ad-hoc 'go-to' place for foreign correspondents. -Some crediting Mizu's as the birthplace of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Bangkok (FCCT). As a result, Mizu's would stay open long hours after the closure of the airlines and banks and other offices in the area. And Mizu's 'till-late success' was not lost on other intrepreneurial types - soon a number of 'lounge' bars began to open in Patpong Road. Mizu's is credited with being 'the match that lit the torch'...
A life-like full sized "A Go-Go dancer". One of several realistic '''hologram-type''' displays. There is much more to see here...
While the Business District continued to grow in Patpong and the Surawong - Silom Road areas, the Night Entertainment Scene grew like mushrooms after the rains in Patpong 1 & Patpong 2 Roads. And what a mix - this unique combo of Business Center / Entertainment Center became a 'magnet' - drawing in foreign businessmen, journalists, remnants of the OSS and its follow-on organizations, overseas construction workers on work breaks, US soldiers on R&R, the onslaught of European sex tourists... And along with this group of strange bedfellows and one-off characters came the visiting entertainers, sports figures and movie-makers... And, inevitably, the histories, the stories, the legends and the myths would build, one on the other - all of which 'History' will remember collectively as "Patpong". There is absolutely no way, not in a million years, this website can do justice to this grand story of light-and-dark, this kaleidoscopic microcosm called Patpong. The best we can do is visit, once again, the Patpong Museum and take up where we left off last time, searching out the 'jewels' we missed last visit.
If we are to make a single recommendation on the Patpong Museum, it would be that anyone interested in Bangkok's broader, comprehensive history should pay a visit. This would include a mandatory visit by those visiting Bangkok for the first time.
There is a story that goes with the vivacious smile of the Pink Panther dancer - in the 1980's the young lady would dance and jump around (really dance - as in days gone by), eventually causing a wardrobe failure, which she would pretend not to notice for a while. A crowd-pleaser to say the least.
An entire wall of Bernard Trink'sNite Owl columns (1986). A lot more to be seen at the Museum. Take your time - read at your leisure...
The iconic Grand Prix neon (real neon!).... We also miss the Amarit beer...
A reproduction of the Deer Hunter poster - in Thai !
Nope... We won't be able to reveal what this is all about....
...Just in case you forget where you are.... An authentic reproduction of a Patpong Road sign.
*"It's a gas, gas, gas" -Jumpin' Jack Flash
-The Rolling Stones
Quite a series of write ups in your "Bangkok Eyes". I haven't been down in Honolulu's Chinatown at night and have rarely been back in years. My understanding is that it's now a sleazy place, lot of drugs and taken over by the homeless at night with it's share of problems. The Vietnamese of Honolulu that had many of the business's for the last 30 years, except for the Bars, back in the 80's now want out and pretty much have abandon it as they have aged and the attachment to the homeland faded. My (Vietnamese) wife goes maybe once a month and says it's a sorry place, all the people she knew that used to go are no longer there or favor Ala Moana or other spots, says nobody there is making and money.
While I was in Honolulu, friends from our years in Viet Nam during the '60s & '70s gave me the 'Cook's Tour', during which I took a lot of photos (some of which appear in my Chinatown articles this month and last). On first take, I had no intention of doing an article on Chinatown, because I wasn't going to be there long enough to get to really know what was going on. (-I recall our days in Viet Nam during the war when US Congressmen would come to Saigon and spend three days (only in Saigon), then go back to the US as instant "experts". We used to call them the "Three-Day Wonders". So, I didn't want to be a '3-Day Wonder' writing about Honolulu's Chinatown.) But because my friends are Honolulu residents since the '80's, and knew the area, I was able to get at least some general idea of the comings and goings in Chinatown and its history. I also spent many days on the Internet researching Chinatown - mainly to avoid (as much as possible) screwing things up with inaccuracies. Your input on Chinatown is most relevant; I wish I had more time to discuss with you while I was on Oahu. Not coincidentally, a couple of areas (subjects) I stayed away from were the 'homeless problem' that you mentioned (which is bad in some parts of Chinatown) and the Vietnamese community of Chinatown (which I would have loved to write about, but I knew there was no way I could do a decent job in the time I had). Thanks for writing in.
We went to see Deep Throat at the Risque Theater in the 70s...
What better way to celebrate Old Chinatown than this?
Your Chinatown piece last month was tops. I saw your reference to "Jake", did you also reference the movie classic "Chinatown"?
At the very bottom line in the article we did pay homage with the actual quote...
It is disappointing about Bangkok's disregard for us, we who built them. I have been going to BKK since I was in my 20's, before the new stupidly large 'Airport-With-Mass-Confusion'. -And its just not a good airport to relax before a flight, once you get there... BKK used to be a very friendly place, and was cheap. Now they have placed themselves at Tokyo rates; and the little brown shaved rats are nowhere near what Japanese girls are. And in Japan you don't get sick. Now it seems one cannot take a holiday to Bangkok without an 'interruption' of some kind, be it holiday closures, rip offs or being drugged. What a shame. But maybe another country will take their place. Living in Japan I can see most of Asia, and be just as relaxed. While an exciting and, yes, cheap place is needed, most who go to Bangkok surely have the money - they just do not want to feel cheated. Unless Thailand sees this, they may find themselves just a maid for other Asians and Arabs. Well, just venting, but I know you live there and may deeply disagree. I can understand that. Either way, I'm not old yet and will give BKK another shot, and spend too much money, but it is a break from work and drama here. Hope I'm lucky, and there are no closed days (for holidays). Once again, have a great weekend.
"A long time forgotten" (1975 to be exact) - way before the commencement of this website - I and fellow street-crawling flat-mates prophesied the end of Bangkok as we knew it. (Those years now wistfully remembered by many as 'Bangkok's Golden Years'.) Our prophesy was summed up as "The Ginza Effect". It meant, of course, comparing Tokyo's riotous Ginza just after WW-II with the Ginza of today. The short-take: today's Ginza has gone way 'Uptown' and has become unreasonably expensive. Ditto, Bangkok, since the end of the Viet Nam conflict.
While they yet exist (in ever-shrinking numbers), gone are the days when A Go-Go's, and 'Steam-and-Cream' massage parlors, and lounge-bars, and 'freelancer coffee-shops' ruled the day. Now we are inundated with Pubs and 'Clubs' and discos, and open Bar Beers, and single-shophouse specialty massage parlors, and bar-restaurants and Pool / Sports Bars. Now we have black-suited, hard-eyed
bouncers with military brush-cuts outside -and inside- Nitespots (where none were, or are, needed), and snooty 'up-market Clubs' with dress codes. And we need not belabor endlessly the disproportionate rise in the prices of absolutely everything. Yes, this is the anticipated, inevitable, dawning of "The Ginza Effect". And we who have elected to stay are 'living it'. The overarching adage prevails, "The only 'Constant' is 'Change'."
We hear elsewhere that the Queen's Park Plaza is closing. Your website, however, not only hasn't reported this yet, but it seems to us you are implying it might not close. While we hope you are right, is there something you are not telling us?
Well, first a bit of background. During the Viet Nam War, each Headquarters had a fictitious and most facetious 'Section' called 'Rumor Control'. Its function and effect was to put a lid on the never-ending stream of Bullshit that passed through channels as supposed fact. Our old issues of Bangkok Eyes used to have a section inspired by this tongue-in-cheek 'Rumor Control' called: Rumor of the Month - Where there's Smoke there's Mirrors'. See a facsimile below...
Rumor of the Month
'Rumor' is defined as "no-fault confabulation,
chain-reaction speculation...." Nevertheless MIDNITE HOUR again presents the most outrageous / prevalent rumor to cross our desks this past month:
We discontinued our Rumors section for two reasons : the first being - many misread our monthly rumors as 'fact' - and caught us up on our 'error', pointing out that our 'fact' didn't come true (...really). The second reason was the equation hasn't changed - exceedingly few rumors do see the light of day, and as an historical news site, we didn't want to get into 'Speculative Journalism', even by implication or misunderstanding. As to the Queen's Park Plaza "closing" rumor, when we see the 'closing' notifications being nailed up, we will report on those signs. When we see all the bars close, we will report that. When they tear the place down, we will report that. As we are wont to say, "A good rumor and 65 Baht will get you an iced coffee at the Thermae".
It was a big night out on Patpong 1 on 1 November (and we couldn't miss the party...). Exactly 50 years ago, the Madrid opened its doors to the public. And not only is it the oldest bar on Patpong 1, it has had but a single owner, Khun Daeng. May they be good for another 50...
Khun Daeng, the ever-cheerful 'Matriarch' of Patpong 1's oldest bar was there to greet 'old hands' and new. Daughters Khun Janie and Khun Annie, both 'dressed to the 9's', were also an integral part of the ongoing celebrations.
Two ghouls staked out the entrance to King's Castle 1 on Halloween. The King's Group always has great Halloween participation...
Superboys closed its doors (for good?). Leaving, now, none of the 3 boy-bars originally opening on Patpong 1. Begs the question, are they going to move to Patpong 2 in the largely gay Suriwong end? A wait and see item...
Although it looks like they are trying to get it together for some kind of an opening, Flares is not open. If they do eventually open, we shall shout it out...
The 2nd level Powerpuff Girls Bar has opened in what was a rip-off bar called Pussy Magic. Remains to be seen what kind of a bar Powerpuff ends up being.
The Patpong Museum opened, softly, on 28 October 2019. And it was much more than we at MIDNITE HOUR anticipated (see our lead article above.) Although all will enjoy (guaranteed...), those with a penchant for 'the historical' will spend long hours and several visits there. A perfect place start off with those curious out-of-town visitors who are pestering you to 'show them the Bangkok Nightlife'.
The Triple XXX Lounge opened in what was, historically, a number of successful A Go-Go bars - the most recent being the Electric Blue. Opening night was packed, and the line-up was worthy. The interior much the same as the Electric Blue and the Rififi before it. May they continue to rock 'n roll...
The Door Art Of The Month goes to Triple XXX Lounge this month - a balance of everything - lighting, signage, and a sense of 'energy'.
For some, this will be the first look at Nana Plaza since the removal of the awnings in front of the ground-level bars (now not needed with the new overhead roof). What haven't been removed are the raised platforms and the 'fences'. Perhaps when the fire department comes around again in another ten to fifteen years, they will raise the usual complaints of accessibility & egress (in the hypothetical case of a fire)...
The 4 Bar has closed, and renovations are proceeding rapidly on what will be, well, something different. We will keep an eyeball peeled and get back atcha.
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
The King Indian Night Club, located on the 2nd level of the Rajah Hotel outbuilding, was closed down (again). We'll check back, and provide our 'update' -if there is anything to update- but the prognosis is dire...
The Footjoy House has replaced the Miss Beauty, which replaced the Miss BS, which replaced the Miss BJ - all in about 4 months. Someone is not his / her "Business Plans For Dummies"... We wish them good luck - they obviously need it....
The Lan Massage is the latest Nitespot to find its way into Sub-Soi Titanium. Welcome them to the slippery slope.
The Yuuka Snack Bar (Japanese 'Snack Bar', not Western...) was closed down tighter than a tsuzumi drum when we passed by the other evening. We'll check back again, but it looks like it's 'sayonora'...
The diminutive The Flower Club, usually with a cat asleep on one of the tables, looks to be closed down for the long haul. Located in Sub-Soi Starlight. Greener grass, ladies...
Last month we noted the Market Rooftop had opened, finally answering what sort of a Venue it was going to be. This month we stopped up to sample the wares - and we were surprised, not once, but a couple of times. First, it was not on the 2nd level as we had thought : it was on the 3rd level (after a Herculean stair-climb). Secondly, it was literally on the roof... (what were we thinking?). It was half-under a rooftop 'awning', and half-outdoors, and had three kiosk outlets - two for ordering food, one (a counter bar) for ordering drinks. Pick up your order and seat yourselves (waiters/ waitresses were hard to find). A DJ corner (no DJ, no music)?! It was decorated throughout in a faux-graffiti motif - most eye-catching. May they persevere.
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
Replacing the Spice Bar & Restaurant on the 2nd level above The Australian is the brand new Bafros Bar & Lounge Welcome them to the neon circus...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
It looks like the Liquid Elephant and Soul Salt will be replacing the Cordonnier and 'The Bar Upstairs', both having closed a couple of months ago. Located next door to Apoteka.
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
We don't normally comment on 'restaurants', per-se, but should you find yourself on Soi Ambassador wandering between bars -and feeling hungry, the pizza at the Cantina can't be beat. Peroni craft beer by the glass...
Nutz & Booze, the tiny bar beer adjacent to the Baan Beer closed temporarily last month, as Baan Beer busily usurped half their real estate. Never mind, they have reopened yet again, just a little bit smaller than small... Welcome back to the fray...
QUEEN's PARK PLAZA
The White Bar, closed last month, has sprung from the crypt, and has rolled out the red carpet once again. While looking good, it doesn't have the same 'look-and-feel'... New owners? Hmmm....
The Down Under was decked out for Halloween a day or two early... We've been noticing this at several locations - is Halloween going to keep stretching until it becomes another Songkran holiday? (Don't get us wrong, we are NOT suggesting this...)
SOI EDEN (Sukhumvit 7 / 1)
The Pickled Liver Pub is not 'dead', in spite of the many eyewitness reports... We have noticed snail-paced progress this last month in the renovations - they put up some of the electrical wiring...
Bangkok Eyes goes back in time to see
Who was New - And Who was Through
in the Expat Night Entertainment World
How many of these old 'Oases'
Do you remember ?
* The King's Castle II reopened after a month's renovations. It is still at that location today.
* The tiny second-level Pou-Pee closed its doors for good. It was located above today's Bangkok Massage. No Nitespot exists at the Pou-Pee location today.
* No changes that month / year.
* To make it official, the second level Hollywood Stars added "Bar" to their signage. Today Angel Witch occupies those premises.
Soi Katoey ( Silom Soi 4 )
*Film Mix reopened for business that month. Today those digs are occupied by Bas Living Room.
* The other half of Rome Club closed (the remaining half on the right-hand side going in). Today those digs are occupied by The Balcony.
Buckskin Joe Village (~ December 1988 to 9 June 2006) -dates corrected this month
(Also known -originally- as Tobacco Road or Soi Rot Fai or, 'The Tracks', and later as Machim [Thai] and Soi Zero)
*Som's Place Beer Bar - CLOSED -
*U & I Bar - REOPENED - after a brief closure.
*Turtle Bar - NEW - next door to Species Bar & Internet.
Washington Square (~ April 1999 to April 2014)
*The Cat's Meow - NEW - in the ex-No Probl'm bar digs.
(Was ''Entertainment Plaza'')
[ ~February 1999to June 2003 ] (Dates corrected this month.)
*Saloon Bar - NEW - 2nd Level - Main Building-
*Bill's Bar (no sign) - NEW - Against main bldg.- *Yahoo Bar - NEW - Against main bldg.- *Lek's Boozer - CLOSED - Against side wall - move next door to 13 Night Market.-
''13 Night Market'' Entertainment Area"
(Was 'Old Thermae Compound')
[ April 1999 - March 2005 ] (dates corrected this month)
*Arcadia - CLOSED *Rib Shack - CLOSED *Lek's - NEW(from Clinton Plaza - no sign)
Last month we noted we would be covering the graffiti murals of Honolulu. The murals shown here are part of a graffiti beautification program taken up by the Honolulu Municipality, which was a part of a larger program to revitalize the old downtown areas (primarily 'Old Chinatown' and surrounds) .
A 'graffiti beautification' program sounds like an oxymoron, but Honolulu's Powers-That-Be decided to flip the paradigm - using graffiti murals to draw attention to the otherwise drab and (historically) notorious Night Entertainment Area and surrounds, (instead of writing-off graffiti as a plague-of-vandals). They called it "Graffitification" - a portmanteau of Graffiti + Beautification, of course...
-And the system worked... The Old Chinatown area has seen a number of old historic buildings become 'heritage sites' - brandishing their own bronze plaques and an 'Historic Area' complete with 'tour walk' plans. Additionally, the private sector is gradually moving back in, opening new Nitespots and restaurants.
Old Chinatown (at least some parts of it) are coming back to life - (to include the 'Nitelife Scene'). Goes to show you never can tell...
Below are additional samples of the graffiti murals of Honolulu.
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork and photographs resides exclusively with the creators.
Flower-Power Zero Zero
38 ft high x 38 ft
The Eyes Have It
11 ft high x 10 ft (central pic)
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered,
under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....