Zenith, Climax and Subsequent Flaccidity
Today, most of these bars are very easy to walk past if you do not know what you are looking for, particularly Madrid and The Old Other Office – two bars that should be on top of your list to check out while there. Both ooze history, have long-standing owners and maintain the ubiquitous service levels that most people only heard about and have rarely experienced.
Mizu’s Kitchen, Safari and Pussy Collection hark from that era too, though sadly it is only Mizu’s that has invested in keeping up appearances. The real sadness in these streets is for those venues that opened fifty or so years ago allowed the magic to disappear under an awful and irresponsible state of repair. There are cleaner, newer and better venues to spend your money at, so why would you bother when the tenants and business owners do not?
Once the night market hawkers were allowed to move in and trade, the area became the complete tourist attraction, therefore, a pain in the posterior. Navigation is difficult and you are pestered from seemingly everyone. The night market thrived and sold everything imaginable. However, the added crowds and increased pressure on a hot Bangkok night to just get to where you want to go is simply too much at times.
There were also clear alternatives to Patpong by this time too: dedicated service areas that took the Patpong business model to places such as Nana and Soi Cowboy concentrated on delivering the one thing that Patpong created. Patpong business owners slowed in their promotion and some in their standards while other City hotspots demonstrated more glitz and glamour.
Nevertheless, Patpong’s reputation and notoriety ensured that tourists continued to visit in high numbers, though mostly just to say that they’ve been there and done it. Like any city High Street, almost everyone is going to walk down there at some point.
Go, Now, Today!
Two terrific touchstones for tales and timelessness still remain and are absolutely worthy of a visit: Goldfinger, owned and ran by the charismatic Randy and Cosmos on Patpong 2 which is shepherded by ever present and cool Khun Vinai: the former is a go-go bar and Cosmos is your standard lounge bar. Both hosts are very welcoming and will engage with you on a daily basis. The ex-pats that frequent both of these bars are the men of yester yore; relaxed and wise fellows, many amassing decades of experience in the Kingdom who on the right day will entertain you for hours with their knowledge, anecdotes and network, not just of the Patpong streets but far and beyond the city, the country and the region.
When it comes to origins there are two major camps: creationism and evolution. Patpong is arguably where the Red Light, R & R concept that one often sees began, and yet, while there has been little evolution when considering today’s service areas including Patpong, it is fair to surmise that it all started with a Big Bang.
*This article is the 3rd of a 3 part series about Patpong