Hold tight riders! The rollercoaster ride has returned to the Bangkok bars. Apart from a few exceptions it has been an exceptionally quiet month so far in the nightspots of Bangkok. Generally the volume of visitors to the bars has taken a considerable drop in numbers. For some of the less fortunate bars the steep drop in trade is like the big dipper. Whoosh!
Talking to a few bar owners the general consensus is that low season has hit very early this year. My theoretical slow season did not happen as bar trade just suddenly dropped straight into low season. This is good for the babe hunters because there will be less competition and less crowded conditions. The time has arrived for the local guys to have more fun.
I am pleased to report that closing time has gone back to 2:00am around Bangkok’s nightlife areas. This is very welcomed news and it appears that the cat and mouse games have settled down.
SOI NANA NEWS
Hillary 2 Bar boasts a modern look with all the right amenities. It is located just down past Dynasty Inn inside Soi Nana. Here you can enjoy some great live music because the owners really try hard to provide good entertainment. Currently the best live bands perform on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10:00pm until 1:00am. Check it out!
CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
Happy Chinese New Year! OK, it is a bit belated but I want to wish all of you the very best of luck for the year of the pig. Hey guys, not sure if you are into Chinese, but you could treat yourself to a takeaway. Just pay bar for a little sweet and sour, or a spicy chick.
This year some people were concerned how Chinese New Year would be celebrated. What with all of the political turmoil just lately it was feared that there may have been more trouble. However, we are pleased to report that this was not the case and the Chinese New Year festival “Trut Chin” was seen in without any violence.
You instantly know that it is Chinese New Year in Thailand because the noise of cymbals clashing, drums bashing and firecrackers exploding permeates the atmosphere. This very distinctive sound echoes throughout Thailand and nowhere more prevalent than in Chinatown in Bangkok. On Monday evening in Chinatown the procession of lion and dragon dancers entertained the onlookers. One of the dragons was very long and rumored to be one of the longest in the world, but I have no confirmation of this. The Chinese do not do things in half measures and this delightful festival is by far one of the most colorful and exciting events.
This year saw the 115th anniversary of the founding of Chinatown on Yaowarat Road. Traditionally it is not only a joyful celebration but a time for the Chinese and “Jeen-Thai” or Chinese-Thais of mixed descent to pay homage to their ancestors. Amid a sea of red and gold (the traditional colors) this lively and vivid festival packed Chinatown out with spectators. To draw a comparison, this very special festival is like the equivalent of Christmas and New Year’s Eve mixed together.
Ever since the Chinese migrated to Siam towards the end of the Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767 A.D.), they have become integrated deeply into the City of Angels. It is estimated that as many as one third of Bangkokian blood is from Chinese descent.
BOTTLED BEERS – For some considerable time now the land of sanuk has undoubtedly lacked a sufficient selection of bottled beers. High import duties and other complications have led to bars and pubs offering a less than desirable selection for their customers. To add to this problem quite a few suds suppers were very upset to see Carlsberg Beer disappear from Thailand’s bars. A fair amount of Carlsberg fans inform me that few other beers come close to their favorite. As my well traveled friends tell me, “Thailand seriously lacks a decent variety of beers; many other countries do not have this problem”. But things are changing.
ATTENTION PLEASE! For all of you dedicated beer imbibers I have some good news. Recently there has been a significant boost to Thailand’s beer selection scale with a flurry of new arrivals. Times are changing rapidly as we welcome a surge of suds. Although Heineken and Singha are the best selling beers in most establishments there is a much wider choice these days. On that note I have decided to do a brew review. Cheers!
Beer Chang (Elephant Beer) is a very strong brew indeed; in fact it is apparently the strongest local beer in Thailand. But, because of its elephant kick you might want to be careful whilst swilling down this monster! My friend Big Bill is the size of a house and it got the better of him one evening. An accident resulted in Big Bill going to hospital with a badly cut hand as he sustained the injury from dropping a bottle of Chang Beer. Even worse than that, Chang Beer has influenced some blood baths, when violence explodes from this loony juice. Drink it with extreme caution; this brew is not to be taken lightly, and it is not suitable for speed drinkers. Some bars refuse to stock it because customers get drunk too quickly, and because the results are often problematic.
At long last some new beers are being introduced into Thailand, giving the land of sanuk a much needed variety. Most of these recent arrivals can be purchased from suppliers at a reasonable price too. In addition to your regular local beers like Heineken, Singha, and Kloster, now Tiger beer has become more popular and many bars stock it. Tiger beer has been floating around Asia for some time and eventually found its way into Thailand. This is a welcomed addition and it is neither too strong nor too bland.
Some bars still stock Asahi, which is the Japanese beer that never made an impact in Thailand. One could go so far to say that it was a big flop. Some people like it but in general many bars have decided to give it the big thumbs down. Following the disappointing departure of Carlsberg, Thailand went through a barren patch with a poor selection of available beers in the mainstream bars. We then received some imported beers with the biggest problem being that they come at a hefty cost from suppliers. Corona Beer is a very light beer but it certainly does not come at a light price. Corona beer has become a luxury for some customers, because bars are forced to sell it at a significantly higher cost. At this time there was not that many beers available but there were other much less expensive beers. Corona is still selling but there are now some very competitive light beer rivals. Some people like to submerge a slice of lime into the beer, as was the tradition. Come on guys this is so 1980’s! To have to put lime in a beer means that you probably have to enhance its taste, hence like when old Mary orders her lager and lime. Some bars were persuaded to try Tetley’s Draught Bitter that comes in a specially designed can that maintains its original head and flavor. I thought it would be good to see an English bitter on the market but it was over 100 baht to buy in and the marketing of Tetley’s in Thailand was poor. I know beer lovers complained about the poor selection of beers here, but you can now see what an uphill battle it has been.
Thailand now also boasts pubs that sell a much wider selection of beers on tap than they ever used to. Due to a competitive pub market there are finally some fine real ales and bitters, so you can more conveniently enjoy a good pint of beer. In fact, The Londoner Brew Pub (on the corner of Soi 33) even brews their own ales and bitters. It is about time too that you can drink an original ale or bitter. However, almost all bitters are only readily available in pubs, so I like to drink the great Aussie bitter “VB” which is available in places like The Big Mango in Nana Plaza. The Australian Victoria Bitter can be purchased in The Big Mango during their Happy Hour for a reasonable price. “VB” is also available in Bus Stop in Soi Nana. Considering it is the original imported Australian Bitter this is very good value for money. For those that like to drink bitter try “VB” I think you could find it a tasty little number.
Fairly recently we have seen the introduction of San Miguel and (Mig Lite) San Miguel light beers. They are however brewed in Thailand and therefore they will not quite be the same, but at least they are available. This is good news and at long last some new beers are currently on the market. Among the very welcomed addition is a selection of light beers. It appears that rival beer companies felt it time to introduce a light variation of their own brand. Two examples of brand new light beers are Chang Light and Singha Light. Some of the first bars to stock these new light beers in Bangkok are Swan Bar and Jersey Pub in Soi Nana (on the corner of Soi 6), and also the Morning Night and Hillary bars. Cheers lads!
BE MY VALENTINE
Valentine’s Day is a lovely time in Thailand, when the girls and guys can have some fun and offer hearts in the form of gifts and stickers. It is also visually appealing to see the pole performers in the go-go bars all wearing seductive red outfits. Valentine’s Day is a time when the world can celebrate love and romance, but in the nightlife areas in Thailand it is a time for fun and frolics. Being the man with the reflective dome, my head ended up being completely covered with love heart stickers. This is another good reason why I still enjoy my time here, because the Thais will spontaneously party and have fun. The world can be such a serious place, so it is always enjoyable to be able to escape that.
SIAM OCEAN WORLD
The City Of Angels is home to nothing short of a spectacular tourist attraction that continues to impress the masses. The awesome Siam Ocean World is the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia and is a staggering 10,000 square meters. This “fishbowl” is one hell of a size! It cost a cool US$30 million and immediately attracted big crowds when it opened in the Siam Paragon. Visitors travel through several aquatic zones like the Weird and Wonderful, The Rainforest and Open Ocean. There are over 30,000 aquatic creatures representing an impressive 400 species, ranging from blue ring octopus, leafy sea dragons, and giant spider crabs to various types of sharks. Siam Ocean World is open daily from 9.00am until 10.00pm and an adult ticket costs 450 baht. Take the BTS (skytrain) to Siam Station and it is located on levels B1 and B2. Some people say that they do not like Bangkok because there is nothing to do during the day. This is absolute nonsense and here is another very good reason to check out Bangkok’s wonderful sightseeing opportunities. I am sure this would make a very interesting day trip for anybody. So, if you are at a loss as to where to take your teerak (sweetheart) during the day in Bangkok, then here is one suggestion.
WHERE TO BE ON SOI 33
The Londoner Brew Pub is located on the corner of Soi Dead Artists, which is that unique section of bars on Sukhumvit, Soi 33. Actually, it is in the basement of the UBC 2 building. You can take the BTS (skytrain) to Phrom Phong. The Londoner remains a regular haunt for many ex-pat residents and frequent visitors. The Londoner is a large public house that still packs them in for the big sports events, such as football (soccer) and rugby matches. The large TV screen and lively crowds provide an exciting atmosphere and great entertainment. However, visiting during popular sporting events is not advisable for those who do not appreciate very crowded and at times noisy establishments. The Londoner also brews their own beers, so you can sup a real pint if you want to experiment.
There is a very appealing Happy Hour where you can get two drinks for the price of one up until 7:00pm. They host a “Wild Wednesday” with a two for one drinks special which runs for the entire evening. This must be one of the best drinks deals in Bangkok with their “Wild Wednesdays”, no wonder they are packed to the rafters. Check it out!
EASE OFF THE GAS BABY!
An enthusiastic service girl in Angelwitch was asked for a cigarette lighter. She responded immediately, but as the tiny Thai steps forward with her lighter a HUGE flame shoots out towards a terrified farang’s face. Accidentally, the smiling service girl unleashed a miniature flamethrower on the unsuspecting customer. The petite waitress intended to light the bearded farang’s cigarette, but ended up almost setting his face on fire. With a hairy beard like this guy had it almost started a bush fire. With that the startled American said, “Hey, ease off the gas baby!”
NOTE THE QUOTE
In a country like Thailand the theory that you should not mix business with pleasure is always a challenge for bar owners and managers. I recall a quote from a former go-go bar owner that sums it up in one line.
“Never let your little head rule your big head.”
EMAIL DAVE THE RAVE
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