My mouth feels like the inside of a khlong — it’s ingested and vomited out the bile of South East Asia, it’s full of liquid pollution.
My head is pounding with the same quick, intense pace of a woman jabbing a pestle into a mortar to make som tam.
I am stuck to my bed and I have things to do — a life to live. Hell, I had aspirations at one point.
I also had my wallet, my keys, my phone… and, where am I again?
It seemed like a good idea at the time; going out, having a few drinks, enjoying a laugh, meeting new friends and bonding with old ones. Things went bad at some point, but where? Where was it that I went from the neon lights to broken down fluorescents?
There is no doubt that BKK is a party city — it’s a big, big, city with bright lights that keeps it going 24/7. From the clubs on Sukhumvit to the tucked away house parties in Lad Prao there is always something popping off.
What’s important is not only knowing where the good times are but where the horrible times are. So here are 3 of the worst parts of Bangkok nightlife…
Khao San Road
Hopping off the plane and heading straight to Khao San is a great idea if you are young, white, and into tie-dyes.
The last time I went out clubbing in Khao San the ladies were quite impressed with me because I was wearing shoes with laces. My competition for the fairer sex was a young, bearded pot-bellied boy who was interested in feeling out the clubs with bare feet — a low bar for the love scene.
On a positive note he was giving out free hugs to people who couldn’t dodge his outstretched arms.
Khao San is an iconic place with cheap beer and lots of “exotic” white people to hang out with.
It is also a tourist trap where the only authentic experience you will have is your hangover. The buckets of red bull and piss are a smashing way for you to get the type of “real” Oriental hangover you’ve always been looking for and the type of morning you’ll always regret.
It is also a great place if you want to get on the piss with your friends and enjoy your youth in a slightly different locale than back home but, really, if you wanted to just hang out at the same places with the same people, why bother coming to a foreign country? Best to stay in the motherland than to come out to Khao San.
Added pro — late night trolling of lady boys, because when you are drunk and horny, love finally sees no race, gender or class.
Added con — the instantaneous regret of said love affair the next morning when you remember all your asshole friends laughing at you for going off with her.
The club scene in Ekkamai and Thong Lor is the complete opposite of Khao San.
Where you can just be another shoeless, fugly mensch in the backpacker’s ghetto, at the high-end clubs of Thong Lor you will be scoffed at and turned away.
Thong Lor is the where they have model nights, plush couches, and mid-shelf liquors parading themselves as high-shelf. There is enough plastic surgery to make you wonder if everyone was born with a Michael Jackson nose.
With the heels as high as the cultural capital necessary to actually talk to someone, this is a great place to be ignored, to shell out premium prices for watery lagers, and to wonder why you left your flat to begin with.
The worst part about it? Going home empty. It won’t be just your savings account; it will also be your heart. Ouch.
Pro — You can tell your hi-so friends that you went out on a rager in their neighborhood.
Con — You don’t have any hi-so friends to go here with nor will you make any here.
After Hours Bars
Ending up in these hell holes happens in two ways, either:
You stagger outside the bar and you see a taxi cab driver. You make a zig-zagging line for his back door and he tells you he knows a club. You’re awake enough to understand him but too drunk to comprehend. Next thing you know you are in a dingy club with blaring top 40 American crap and you’re not sure who is working and who isn’t but hell since you only have 100 baht to your name you’re willing to work it too.
“Listen I know a place,” your friend says. The bar is about the size of your run down one bedroom apartment and 200 drunks are smashed against each other tighter than the BTS rush hours. The guy next to you, who may or may not be French, is chaining smoking three cigarettes at a time and if you weren’t so booze-blitzkrieged you’d realized that you’d just gotten lung cancer.
These places are great if you have that YOLO attitude and know a bevy of outrageous people looking to have the time of their lives at any expense. These places are loud and fun and debaucherous.
The only problem? Survival.
When you wake up 8 hours, 10 hours, 24 hours later — if you made it home at all — you are full of regret and survivor’s guilt.
You just wish you were dead. You can’t even remember if you had fun or not. Flashes of your life pass by but are quickly eclipsed by the existential pain of your current state.
Pro — You met some cool people, maybe you even got laid.
Con — You can’t remember them.
So where is an emerging Bangkok party animal to go then?
Well there are a ton of other venues to choose from. The sky is still the limit and even if you do decide to slum in Khao San, “class” it up in Thong Lor, or deprave yourself til the wee hours, you can still have a good time — you just have to have the right crew, the right mindset, and be in the mood to PARTAY.
And speaking of right crew, make sure to give me a shout the next time you go out and need a white dude with body odor to give out free hugs at the club… I know a guy.
I got connections like that.
Looking where the dredges are? Try these spots and test your mettle!
What’s your worst Bangkok nightlife tip?
Featured image is by Just Call Me Mo and used under a Creative Commons licence