Blackout Bangkok

Those fine lads of the British Empire, Dan and Stu, have been at it again.  After a one-month hiatus from the bottle, both have been working up a thirst that can only be quenched by a Herculean boozing marathon. Luckily, Bangkok’s hospitality is as free flowing as the night is long.

5:50pm, Tenderloins, Sukhumvit 33

Tender lonis indeed

Stu: In a departure from our usual late start/late finish nights and on the recommendation of our Great Leader, we hit the after-work drinking scene in naughty- but-posh Soi 33.  The big draw for Tenderloins at this hour is the Bt69 happy-hour pints.  Unlike most happy-hour places, this establishment employs a cunning sliding-scale of discounts, keeping you on your barstool until you slide off it.  Taking full advantage we caned five pints before the next step up the price ladder.

Dan: Outside was blazing Bangkok sun but inside was cool minimalist slick.  Tenderloins touts itself as an Australian-style drinker but I had trouble reconciling the plush interior with the pubs I know in my homeland.  For a start, where’s the smell of piss?  Why isn’t anyone bleeding?  And shouldn’t there be horse racing on TV?  As it is, Tenderloins is more of a city pub in that mid-Atlantic metro style, and firmly planted in the expat market.  No Sangsom buckets or dreadlocks here!  The astute and dirty-minded may note that the name, Tenderloins, the location on Soi 33 and the beer price suggest a risqué element but despite a bevy of local beauties there isn’t any monkey-business to be had here – time to move on.

7:57pm, Q bar, Sukhumvit 11

LTJ Bukem gets fitted for his wedding suit

Dan: Q bar wasn’t open yet, but we were there to escort our fellow writer, Cassandra, to her interview with famed D&B DJ LTJ Bukem (see September 2006 issue).  Unlike most clubs, Q bar looks OK when it’s empty, so we lingered in an effort to collect gratuities, though not too long, as we accompanied LTJ up the road to the tailors for his suit fitting.  While we didn’t get a free beer at the club, the tailor was very generous with the Chang.  Ahh, Bangkok.

Stu: Not wanting to miss a chance to meet the man to whose music I wasted my teenage years, I was more than happy to break the Bartripping schedule to shake him by the hand and ask him what he was going to do about all my failed exams.

9:20pm, Old German Beer House, Sukhumvit 11

Stu: More like a Bavarian beer hall than a bar, the street-frontage gives no hint to its size, kind of like boozy version of Dr. Who’s Tardis.  Big tables, big rooms and big steins.  The five pints and the Chang I had at the tailor’s were getting the better of me.  The only sensible thing to do was keep drinking and hope for a second wind.  My lasting memories were of tiny fraulein waitresses, pasty German men and Dan reminding me not to mention the war.

Dan: Always one to sample new cultures and always thirsty for another one, we staggered into this monster of a bar.  The first item on the menu was Bismarck Herring in Brine but, in a concession to my hangover, I opted for the Fassbier Heinekin, by the half litre.  I don’t actually know how to order in German but the helpful operators of the place give each table a service bell.  Several dings later we were happily bending our arms, which get quite a workout with these enormous tankards.  To sum up, bargirls and moustaches served with a whiff of cigar smoke.

10:36pm, Gallery 11, Sukhumvit 11

Dan: Tucked away in the Sukhumvit maze is Suk 11, a backpacker oasis.  Barely remembering a drunken bartripping night here a year ago, we went in for more.  “We don’t sell beer,” the pissed-off looking guesthousier snapped so we pulled up a couple of Thai cushions next door, the attached Gallery 11.  Obviously the beer had done its work for we were charming, charismatic and undeniably attractive to the two Pippi Longstocking Scandanavian types at the next table.  For some reason, though, when they announced that they were going to bed they didn’t invite us, leaving me crying into my garland-bedecked beer.

Stu: Designed in Ayuthaya-period style, this place is the Shangri-La of Sukhumvit, all very quaint with its wood, Thai cushions and pansy-looking water features.  Hardly the place for belting down beers and cruising for snatch, we found ourselves dining on delightful traditional Thai snacks while discussing Thai art with the Swedish ladies next door.  As soon as it got out that we were ‘journalists’, the manager made us take a tour of the attached spa.  Stumbling up the stairs we made the appropriate noises about aromatherapy and the merits of detox, not easy when you’re more than half-cut.  Mildly traumatised by this break in rhythm, we happily spilled out onto the soi.

Midnight, Q bar, again, Sukhumvit 11

Stu: Completely hammered by now, I was keen to return to the spirit of my teenage years.  Unfortunately my at-one-time-envied Drum and Bass two-step dance moves were impeded by my ballooning waistline and ravaged bladder.  Luckily I was too drunk to care, although the people around me were acutely aware.  My apologies, fellow Bartrippers, but for some reason from this point on, my notes and memory become unreliable and my journey home a mystery…

Dan: Our Great Leader’s five-hour plan of starting early was an excellent vision, but our corruption of the policy by finishing late was admittedly stupid.  LTJ put in a sterling set of trad-style D&B and was a superb showman.  Not that I can remember a damn thing though.   By any account we’d had a respectable night.  Cheap pints, tailor’s shops, a jaunt in Germany, rebuffed by Swedish birds, hobnobbing with the stars, and nary a vomit!  It’s a tough job, reporting on Bangkok’s nightlife but it comes with rich rewards, like the screaming hangover I had the next morning.

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