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Where Old Chinese Hang Out in Bangkok's Chinatown...Yea, Baby!
In all my years of travelling, I've never come across a Chinatown I didn't like. There's always an element of cool attached and the vibe is lively and full of positive energy.
Chinatown in Bangkok is my favorite place in the city. It never disappoints. Every trip promises a new and exciting find; every trip an adventure. A person can walk for hours, even days, and continually stumble upon hidden alleys, restaurants slightly larger than phone booths, and come across things rarely seen.
The doors to one Chinese hangout, which happens to be above Tesco-Lotus, are tucked away and hidden from plain view. In fact, on my subsequent return, I only managed to find the entrance after walking up and down the street and looking at each and every door. One would assume any building with a Tesco Lotus has to be easy to find, right?
Walk inside, make a sharp right away from Tesco Lotus and go up the escalators. In the past, the escalators carried a handful of the curious and those in the know up and down. Nowadays, the escalators are locked stiff and human power is required.
At the top of the escalators are massage parlors. Traditional massage parlors, supposedly, but I'm guessing (only guessing) if you were bring up the subject of a happy ending, you might be taken to a secret room in the back. In the past there were around ten massage parlors and four or five restaurants, two with karaoke. Now many of the massage parlors have given way for makeshift restaurants and coffee shops; cheap tables and plastic chairs are abound. Chinese women work the customers and cackles and smiles are abundant.
There is Chinese music playing and there are karaoke singers who sound like sick dogs yet think they sound like Andy Lau or Jacky Cheung. A few seconds of karaoke and garbled Chinese words floating through the air is all it takes to bring inscrutable pain to my ears.
In between the gaudy restaurants, massage parlors, chunky prostitutes with clown makeup, and the tiny plastic chairs, there are Chinese goods. Mostly junk but undeniably Chinese. There are even framed photographs of The Great Leader - oops, that's the now deceased North Korean jackass with an equally moronic son - there are photos of many of China's leaders, all dressed in military garb.
The hookers, oops, another mistake...I mean the waitresses, kneel down on the ground to cook. Seems the tables are for customers and coffee machines, the floor is for woks and the Chinese food in them. The 50 or so senior citizens sitting around don't seem to mind, so neither should you. I had a guy who didn't look a day over 102 ask me if I wanted to drink whiskey and get shitfaced with him. Had it not been 11AM, I might have accepted. It might have been fun, not to mention an adventure, getting hammered with a Chinese guy old enough to be my great-great-great grandfather.
I love this place! There's a whole lot of nothing going on in the place but it sure is fun to sit and watch the nothingness.
If you want to kill an hour or two in Chinatown, this is the place to do so. It's air-conditioned, provides free entertainment (for those with eyes and/or ears), you can get a happy massage, and there's even some halfway decent food and espresso.
I brought my mother and sister here and they couldn't stop laughing. It's that kinda place.
Do not be surprised if a one or more Chinese women who look like Bozo the Clown walk up to you and ask where you come from. Tell her Eritrea...that should shoo her away. Unless...nah, my readers have better taste than...well, maybe not. If men will fall in love with Thai bar girls and lose their shirts, falling for a Chinese hooker working with 80-year-old men might not be out of the question.
To get to this old person's hangout:
Coming from the entrance to Chinatown on Yaowarat Road, walk to Soi Mangkon. Walk back a few steps and look for a door set in to the building. That's the place. You can also take a right at Soi Mangkon, then look for another small door. There's a big sign on the building facing Yaowarat Road. It very clearly says TESCO LOTUS...but I never knew it was there until I Googled Tesco Lotus.
Last edited by anamericaninbangkok on July 25th, 2013, 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
When I visited Thailand in 2009, I actually never went to one of those illicit message parlors, I only went to the legitimate ones. The Korean owned-ones tend to be by-the-book operations, unlike the Chinese or Thai owned ones. They cater mostly to the Korean tourists. I was with my family the whole time, so I didn't have a chance to engage in any of the illicit activities the country is known for. But even though I never did any of the bad stuff, I had a blast in the country. I would live there if I could.
And thanks, anamericaninbangkok, for the advice you gave me on where to stay in Chinatown on the cheap, which I passed on to my sister. She visited the country a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Next time I'm in Bangkok, I gotta check out Chinatown for myself...
Wow, our secret is out.
Everdred, Falcon and I have been in there a couple of times. Falcon and Everdred managed to find out some of the life stories of the ladies there, but it was getting too darned expensive to talk to them.
We haven't been there for a while - it was getting cheaper to go to Patpong or Soi Cowboy. And the KTV there is terrible - just old patriotic songs and no Jolin or other MandoPop.
A couple of the ladies are pretty hot still. Our favourite seems to have disappeared though - shame! I guess these ladies come and go, floating through life.
It remains the cheapest legit massage place I've seen in Bangkok.
I love it, "our secret."
Were you there when there were around eight massage parlors in the middle area of the main room? That's when it was good and when I know for a fact happy endings took place. I took several of my buddies there. But it's always been for old Chinese and Thai-Chinese. I've been going to the place almost from when I first moved to Thailand and it hasn't changed much, with the exception of the center area. The place has always been a dive.
There were always Chinese hos there but the majority have always been lacking. They've almost always been older, younger and worn out, or just hideous. Once in a great while I'd stumble upon one that was fresh and cute but they are few and far between. I've never been one who worried much about price but the hottest one I met there was asking 5000 baht and this was 15 years or so ago.
They come over to work, have to pay back the loan their families were given, plus exorbitant interest, and rarely do well enough to stash a large chunk. Most go back broke after paying the loan back, some die, who knows...frankly I could give a shit, I worry about my family and myself. That's enough.
I've been going to Chinatown once or twice a month for almost 20 years now, sometimes more, and hit this place up for a massage or something to eat almost every time. It's such an entertaining place though that I hate leaving. This place and the Shangri-la Restaurant are my favorites. Many years ago I scammed on a Burmese girl working at the restaurant...she was something else. Some of the same staff is still working there, including the manager who is around 75 years young.
I love chinatown in Bangkok too because it's so dingy, weird, and completely authentic. It's like they gave up trying to give it a veneer of respectability a long time ago. I like the indian quarter too and there's some pretty good vegetarian indian food around there. I also liked stopping by Saphan Lek the piracy market underneath the bridge. You could find all sorts of interesting knock off stuff there everything from fake auto parts, fake remote controlled helicopters, to guys running kiosks which rebuilt your fake watches.
For me, anywhere that is dingy and the antithesis of what is viewed as normal is where I like. It usually makes for easier photography and is less sterile. Chinatown in Bangkok is a mix of cultures and of old and new. Add in the grit and glitter (gold shops) and it's a perfect place for me. I love the place and would probably live there (or a beach on an island) if I were single. Now...off to Sukhumvit.
Felt bad for this old dude in front of Hualamphong...gave him a few baht to eat.
While I was at Hualamphong I almost got a haircut...how difficult is it to shave a head? Decided against it.
Another poor dude sleeping at Hualamphong. Hang out there long enough and you'll see one homeless guy after another.
We all miss that hot Hubei chick! She's from Jingzhou, which was a famous former capital of China. Single mom, with a 10-year-old son I think.
The Shanghai MILF's were older with some wrinkles. Many were very, very eager to talk to me (yeah, they're cougars).
I need a haircut - anyone know any semi-legit places? I want a place filled with pretty girls, but I do actually want a haircut.
The salon back in China gave me an amazing haircut (plus two hairwashes) for 50RMB, but sadly the salon was staffed mostly by dreamy looking dudes! The girls' sole job was to show the punters to the salon chairs and to make sure the pile of magazines was straightened.
Saw some nice ladies today, but the two best ones were both tall, white legged Chinese women. Also saw a very hot ladyboy on the arm of a much older farang. Well after the disaster area Thai women I've been chatting to recently, I'm coming to think that ladyboys are a far safer option!!!
I should get out and take more photos of Bangkok. Some things you just have to experience and enjoy the moment though. Like the 7-11 here which is so atmospheric in the evening. Outside is a dirty unwashed begger, a Soi dog and a guy playing the guitar. Sometimes a white cat even joins the man and sits for a listen. All to the smells of the nearby cooking stall and the sights of myriads of office ladies, school girls, monks, hookers, farangs, 4" tall old Thai women and motorbike taxis trying to get past.
Is the Bangkok Chinatown different than the ones in America? There's a Chinatown here in Las Vegas with cute female shopkeepers, but they look cold and closed and don't make eye contact. How are you supposed to start a conversation with them? It feels kind of inappropriate for some reason. If they made eye contact it would be much easier to start a conversation, but if they don't, it just feels a lot harder to for some reason.
Anamericaninbangkok, why don't you post any photos of the Chinese hookers?
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(1) They don't like pictures.
(2) You should go in person if you want to see what they look like. Everdred, Xiongmao, and I saw some stunners!
Watch the video and you'll see some. Personally, I've never been very impressed by the talent there. Texas Massage is pretty grotty but I managed to find a couple of decent ones - the price ranged between 500 and 1000 baht - this was after negotiating down and was many year ago.
Go to the villa supermarket located at sukhumvit soi 11. There's a pretty decent barber shop across from the exit inside the building where villa is located. It's around 200-250 baht I think but the lady there does a pretty decent job.
Yeah the soi dogs are incredible in Thailand. They know to use the crosswalks and bridges to avoid traffic. They are also very territorial and camp out at various outdoor grill and various food stalls that give handouts. The dogs also like to sleep at the entrance of convenience stores because of the air conditioning. I once even saw employees at a local family mart let in the soi dogs and let them sleep beside the magazine rack.
Get away from Sukhumvit, even if only for the experience.
BTW - The day before yesterday I got my hair cut and a shave day for 70 baht. There's no reason to pay 250 baht unless you just don't feel like going anywhere and that's the price in the area. Of course Sukhumvit is going to be more expensive.
I was walking up an escalator today and walked right into this place...note the name.
Pee is used when referring to elders and Poo means crab and is also used as a nickname. But to have Pee Poo (old sister Poo) as the name of a shop is pretty wild. Apparently the owner of the place (Poo) didn't know about the English words Pee and Poo. A little late now.
Speaking of wild things...check out these massive fish. This particular photo was taken in The Mall Bangkapi...there are also several parrots set on a little island.
Most of the better haircut places (even the thai ones) are around 200'ish baht. These are the guys who can actually do good pro cuts with layering or something fancy like a faux hawk.
You're talking about the small local joints that cater towards mostly middle aged thai men and young kids. They are alright for maintenance trim and a shave but if you can't speak Thai at all it's a bit risky. They might f**k your hair up if you can't describe exactly what you want.