Paving Over Paradise

My first visit to Bangkok was in 1990. I stayed at the Malaysia Hotel on Soi Duplei, once the 60s haunt of the infamous backpacker murderer Charles Sobhraj. The trees were bordered by sylvan compounds and I played basketball at the military school next to the Lumpini Muay-Thai stadium. Patpong was a twenty-minute walk through small sois. The city retained the charm of its past, although nothing like the Bangkok of the 1950s.

Prominent farangs and Thais drove Ford Fairlanes. Opposing traffic was the occasional tuk-tuk and trolley. The Hotel Royalle had an unobstructed view of the river. A beer on the veranda was 10 baht. The waitress wai-ed with a smile.

Most people traveled by the klong ferries. Kids swam off the docks and the water was drinkable. Klong Toey was the after-night destination for Thais and ex-pats. The infamous Mosquito Bar featuring dim-lighting? First and foremost among the Klong Toey bars was the notorious 2nd floor Mosquito Bar on Kasemrat Road.

According to old-timers this dive’s seedy decor was camouflaged by a stygian darkness dispelled by the occasional flicker of a match. The gloom suited the female dok-thongs, since their age in the dim illumination was indecipherable to the drunken patrons. The beers were reputably cold and no one ever got killed in the frequent chair-throwing fights.

Equally disreputable was The Venus Bar, which the late David Musserie claimed was Thailand’s seminal go-go bar serviced by Klong Toey slum girls.

When asked about bar fines, he laughed with his ample belly jiggling like Jello under electro-shock.

“I think it was 10 baht. The Venus was paradise, because it was only for locals. We knew each other. Sort of CHEERS for the wicked and the little angels, until they got mad and then it was every man for himself running for the door.”

Hundreds of bars are packed in Nana. I can’t say I like drinking in any of them.

If only I had a way-back machine.

Wouldn’t it be nice?

For further information on these bars please go the following URL

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