Purely in the interests of research, Woolly Days went for a wonder down Sukhumvit Road last night. Sukhumvit Road is not only the longest road in Thailand, but one of the longest roads in the world. It goes all the way to Cambodia, but I didn’t quite make it that far.
Lower Sukhumvit Road lies mostly hidden in the concrete shadows of the BTS skytrain. Under the line lies a huge market carrying everything from luggage to fake Rolexes. Later at night it transforms into cafes and bars full of drunken expats and tourists. There are lots of small entertainment areas in the ‘sois’ (alleys) off the main road heading from the hotel.
Starting from the Ploen Chit end of Sukhumvit, the first stop is Nana Plaza. Nana Entertainment Plaza is a three-story building with an enclosed courtyard. The entire building and courtyard are full of bars. Each bar has its own “mamasan” the lady of the house, who approves any “take away” orders and collects bar fines.
At Soi 13 is found Clinton plaza. It takes its name from the misadventures of the Monicagate president. One establishment styles itself as the White House Go-Go, and features a columned portico in the style of the presidential mansion. Bring your own cigar.
You really have to wonder though what sort of cuisine is served by a nearby restaurant called “Cabbages and Condoms”. On further investigation, it turns out that this Thai restaurant is run by the Thailand's Population and Community Development Association and the odd name refers to the founder's belief that condoms should be as cheap as veggies. At the end of the meal, customers receive a complementary condom in lieu of the more traditional after-dinner mint.
At Soi 23, the street is known colloquially as Soi Cowboy. Here there a couple of dozen places where scantily clad Thai girls dance on their podiums, and there are another dozen assorted beer bars and cafes. The girls there are coyly described as “dancing sinuously to western pop music” in the brochures. I’m no midnight soi cowboy and I’m not sure how exactly a sinuous dance looks, though they certainly looked sinful from a distance.
Continuing further down at Soi 33 lies the artists’ quarter. These cater to the “upscale foreigner”. The area gets its name not because the locals are out with their canvasses but because several have adopted the names of famous European painters such as the Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Monet and Goya clubs. More weasel than easel. This is also the Little Japan area and there are a couple of clubs that cater exclusively for Japanese patrons. Have your Yakuza membership card handy.
And so on Sukhumvit goes, as likely serving cabbages and condoms all the way to the wats of Cambodia.