Lao Beer Koozies, Foot Massages and Soi Cowboy Red Light District. Yeehaw.
We met up with my cousin about an hour after the sun went down for some Thai beers at a Mexican restaurant and sat on the AstroTurf patio downing beer like it was…well, beer in the hot Bangkok night. We ordered one after another until it was finally time to move on. Johannes got up to use the facilities and a few minutes later returned with a bizarre and surprised look on his face. My cousin smiled because he knew what went on in the mens’ room.
Get your mind out of the gutter.
Johannes explained after he finished using the facilities, he was met by a small Thai gentleman who turned on the faucet for him to wash his hands, meanwhile, the Thai man gave Johannes a quick, karate-chop massage, turned off the water and handed him a warm towel to dry his hands and sent him on his way. Jaw-dropped, Johannes tipped the man and left. When my cousin learned this, he jumped up to do the same.
Six beers down, my cousin announced ‘Now, we’re going get a foot massage.’ Well, why the hell not? Heavily buzzed, we followed my cousin to a shopping mall where the only place open was a dark massage parlor. Inside, petite Thai women worked to the soothing sound of the native music. We were shown to our oversized leather reclining chair, blanket draped over us. I promptly slipped into a half sleep, half conscious state of peace and relaxation. At one point my cousin, at over six feet tall in his chair, looked over at Johannes, huge cheesy grin on his face and two thumbs up in the air.
Feeling very relaxed, the next stop in my cousin’s wild plan was Soi Cowboy, or the red light district, named after a tall, cowboy-hat wearing African-American, an ex-airman, who opened the first bar there in the 70s. This street came out of no where like driving through the desert to Las Vegas. One street was normal and the next street was neon lights, Thai trannies, strip clubs, and girls clad in next to nothing carrying trays of drinks. Although it had a distinct carnival-like feeling. Real girls and ‘ladyboys’ waited to to be approached by their next ‘customer;’ sometimes you couldn’t tell how old they were and sometimes you didn’t want to.
It almost didn’t feel sleazy, and far less so than Vegas. Being one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, the bars are heavily regulated for safety: drug and weapon warnings hung on in the windows and cops on mopeds frequently drove down the short red-lit promenade. Penalties for these infractions are much more severe in Thailand, not that it doesn’t happen at all…
We stopped at an inconspicuous bar with a porch to watch the world go by sipping Lao beers – which came in koozies! We had long since sweated out the Singhas from the Mexican restaurant. We were obviously very much enjoying imbibing at this point because these seem to be the only two photos I have of the evening!
After several more beers and several games of pool in one of the go-go clubs, it was 3am, and time to call it a night.