Seen more licks in two years than Jimi Hendrix plucked in a lifetime: On Sunday night 30 May the Baby Dolls go-go in Soi 15, off Walking Street, will be celebrating their second anniversary. Naturally, this will involve a party in which a large porcine creature will find itself impaled on a metal spike and turned into free food for patrons. Actually, in past times when Baby Dolls has thrown a party the food has very often been ordered from one of Pattaya’s more popular English-style restaurants, so this may well be the case again.
No matter where the food comes from, the atmosphere in the den is likely to be livelier than usual. While the place rarely has what anyone would term stunning examples of the art of chrome pole molestation, it more than makes up for this by employing wallet emptiers who will make you smile and laugh. Most people come away from Baby Dolls having had a good time and without having been financially raped.
No Iron Hoofs in Here: Two copycat go-go’s, side-by-side, are arguably the most popular and best in Fun Town at the present time. The first of the pair to open was Airport and it really must be a cash cow as the place is usually filled with customers from just after opening until closing every night of the week. The owners must be wondering what all the talk of a tourist downturn is all about. The one good thing is that management have maintained the air hostess theme, with the girls outside dressed in such an alluring fashion you wish British Airways and Qantas hostesses looked half as good. I must admit I doubt the Airport girls know anything about trolley service or how to dispose of the contents of a sick bag.
Next door, the strangely named Iron Club is also packing them in. I wonder how many Cockney lads ever pass under the portals, given that the term ‘Iron’ is rhyming slang for ‘Iron Hoof’ or ‘poof’. In plain English, for a London Cockney the name of the place would suggest it is full of homosexuals. Anyone who has ever set foot inside Iron Club knows it is chock full of very attractive young ladies who are not in the least shy about displaying their physical charms. Drinks prices have risen with the popularity of the den, but they have not yet reached the stage of being outlandish or a blatant gouge. As Pattaya prepares for what could really be a very low season places like Iron and Airport will be relying more and more on local expats to keep them afloat and most of these punters have to watch what they spend.
Short changed in short time: I was out and about with a good friend of mine from England and we wandered into the revamped Ruby Club boozer (Soi 6; aka Soi Petting Zoo). People with long memories may recall this place being one of the more popular in the street a few years ago when it formed part of a trio of Sierra Tango (S/T) bars dotted about Pattaya. The other two were Onyx in Soi Lengkee and Jade House in the Jomtien Nivate estate off Thappraya Road.
Ruby Club has been remodelled so that there is an open bar at the front with benches and stool seats which suit smokers and those who want to have an almost quiet drink and just watch the passing parade on the street. For more intimate and private slobbering there is the standard darkroom seating inside.
The girls in Ruby were friendly in the standard knob-fondling way expected in these kinds of bars. Unfortunately, the pleasant hour or so we spent in the place was dampened for my friend when, after paying his bill, no change was forthcoming. The amount was only 15 baht, and he said he would have left it as a tip anyway, but he at least expected to be given a choice in the matter. "I don’t think I’ll be going back there again," was his comment.
Of course, this is something that is not unique to Ruby Club. Where change happens to be 20 baht or less there is a tendency in many places for the staff not to bother bringing it back to the customer, assuming, usually correctly, they will leave it as a tip anyway. Of course, that’s not the point: most foreigners hate being faced with a fait accompli like this and I wonder just how many bars have suffered from people voting with their feet and going elsewhere simply because of a failure by the staff to proffer five, 10 or 15 baht in change? After all, it’s not as if there’s a serious lack of choice when it comes to where people can find a drink or 20 or a girl or 10.
Necking in the back row: Many of the operators of the dine-and-dash bars in Soi 6, and elsewhere, understand their business model and the kind of customers they are hoping to attract. To this end they provide reasonably comfortable seating with light that is so low their electricity bill is probably measured in satang rather than baht. A very good example is Kiss Kool. It’s so dark when you first walk and sit down I kept waiting for the movie to start. The place is done out with a go-go stage and chrome poles in the centre, although loud music and dancing damsels is not what this place is all about. Bottled beer is 85 baht, which is steeper than some similar joints, while lolly water is a standard 50 baht. The crotch-feeling wallet emptiers are the usual mixed bunch ranging from attractive and young to frumpy and veteran. The standard fees apply: 300 baht for the bar fine and upstairs horizontal furniture facility and a 700 baht tip for the damsel and her ministering services.
A good place to pot your balls: Although I am in a Soi 6 kind of mood in this column I know there are people who like to play pool while also enjoying the company of attractive, or at least willing, females. The Tornado boozer at the Second Road end of Soi 6 fulfils both these requirements. There is a decent and free for customers pool table, some friendly damsels and reasonably priced thirst quenchers (60 baht for bottled amber fluid). The view across the street to the young ladies of dubious virtue who sit outside the Good Fellas and Thai Rose boozers makes it even more attractive. Mind you, it can be a tad off-putting when you’re about to pot the black and happen to look up just as a damsel across the street bends over in her short tartan skirt to retrieve a coin or two that might have fallen through the cracks.
An Escalator to Nothing Much: Just prior to the entrance of Walking Street, where the Siren beer bar complex is located (with the popular Pattaya Beer Garden in the rear), there is now an escalator to go up to the first floor. Regulars to Fun Town will no doubt remember the long-running Marilyn go-go and, after it closed down, the Highway Star go-go that was the centrepiece attractions of the first floor. The revamped upstairs area is now full of shops, a nice looking restaurant overlooking the bay and a beer bar called Koyo 7 overlooking Beach Road. This bar probably derives its name from the fact its employees are of the nuts and butts variety, who flounce about and squeal like stuck pigs. Attractive enough if you happen to fancy batting for both sides.
On the Menu: The Seaside 2 munch house in Soi Chaiyapoon closed its doors with what at first appeared some finality late last year. It has since re-opened and is serving the same popular and relatively cheap nosh that made it popular with expats and regulars in the first place. As anyone who has lived in Asia for any length of time knows, plurals are not exactly understood by the locals. So I guess it’s no surprise to see an item such as ‘cornflake and milk’ on the Seaside 2 menu. One would hope there would be at least a bowl full of cornflakes, not just a single example of the fibrous food.
Where’s Darcy? Following a personal spat with the owner, the Aussie manager of the popular Darcy’s Bar in Soi Arunothai has decamped and is now performing the meeting and greeting duties out of the old Valentine’s guesthouse and boozer in Soi Lengkee. The place has been divided into two parts, with the Ned Kelly boozer on one side and the Golf Connections tour operating bar on the other.
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