Completing the Triumvirate of Tease is Soi Cowboy, always and forever associated with the red-lights of Bangkok, it is a neon landing strip that is blessed with all-important accessibility in the commonly congested capital.
Soi Cowboy’s evolution mirrors that of almost any other Entertainment Hotspot in Thailand: gold mines that enjoy explosive growth, are poorly managed and neglected with new investment tending to come from the turnover of new bar owners. Notwithstanding, the punters come en masse. Sometimes the numbers dwindle but owing to the nature of these areas, curiosity, the promise of getting one’s rocks off or simply going because it is a rite of passage ensures that there will always be people.
This particular Soi has a lot going for it in terms of the foot flow: 200 yards long and packed tight with – at the last count, 34 – bright, boorish bars full of scantily clad Coyote Girls. It is very much like running a gauntlet, but unlike other areas, one can see the exit. There is commonly quite a bit of congestion at the Soi 21 end of Cowboy, with taxi drivers – in cars and on bikes – food vendors and the obligatory dumb asses that just stand there, blocking the route.
Out on the Frontier
Cowboy has always held an odd location. Back in the late Seventies when the Soi began to manifest as a bar Soi it appeared out-on-a-limb and not as well placed as some other entertainment areas. Following the expansion of the Asoke interchange in the early Eighties, Soi Cowboy was spared, the bars of Soi 14 & 16 weren’t and they moved down to Soi 4 and helped create the Nana Plaza. Now, with the BTS station just a few hundred yards away, the development of the immediate area has seen big banks, the Terminal 21 mall, sky-scraping office blocks and a host of restaurants and businesses arrive to form a rather impressive commercial district in Cowboy’s immediate proximity.
While it is safe to assume that this Soi must toe-the-line in terms of keeping the place from going into a dilapidated state, its survival in a piece of prime real estate is likely to come to an end one day. This alone should be the catalyst for the owners to make a concerted effort in delivering above and beyond the expectations of its’ punters, thereby maximizing the spend and revenue in what appears to be limited time. The obvious argument against is that, of course, people still come regardless.
*This article is the 1st of a 3 part series about Soi Cowboy