Friday, May 27, 2011

Soi Cowboy

Soi Cowboy (ซอยคาวบอย) is a red-light district in Bangkok, Thailand. A short street with some 40 bars, it is similar to Nana Plaza and Patpong and caters mainly to tourists and expatriates. Its only about 300 meters long and runs between Ratchadapisek road and Sukhumvit 23. It is conveniently located next to the Asoke skytrain and underground stations.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Soi Cowboy entrance from Ratchadapisek Road 
Prior to obtaining its current moniker the street was known as "Soi Gold Label".  The new name was coined by the Night Owl  Bernard Trink and named after an African American airman bar owner. The "Night Owl's" column was still running in the Bangkok Post the first couple of years I came to Thailand. Stickman has a very interesting interview with him here.

According to Wikipedia

Bernard Trink (born 1931) is a former columnist for the Bangkok Post. A native New Yorker, Trink came to Bangkok in the mid-1960s and taught English at various universities before taking over the "Nite Owl" column in 1966 at the now defunct Bangkok World, Bangkok's evening English-language newspaper. Trink's popular "Nite Owl" column ran weekly for the next 37 years, covering Bangkok's night time entertainment (go-go bars, nightclubs, pubs and massage parlors). He also wrote restaurant reviews as Friar Tuck and did regular film and book reviews and interviews under his own name.

Originally, Trink's "Nite Owl" was an informative three page illustrated section that appeared in the World every Friday afternoon. However, when that newspaper was bought out and shut down by the Bangkok Post in the mid-1980s, Trink's column was shortened to just one page and the photographs were eliminated. The Post also restricted what Trink could write about and his column became decidedly tamer. However, he continued to have his dedicated fans and when the Bangkok Post tried to stop his column in the late 1990s, a letter-writing campaign persuaded the paper to change its mind. Nevertheless, the column was further reduced to just half of a page.
In December 2003, Trink's column was dropped without fanfare by a new editor, who decided it was time for Trink to go. There was no announcement that it was ending, nor any farewell party for the longtime columnist. The "Nite Owl" column simply vanished. Trink still writes occasional book reviews for the Post and for a time did his own website, but he is now more or less retired.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Over the last decade the street has transformed from an obscure local expat hangout to the neon jungle that you see today.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Soi Cowboy Street Scene
There is such an immense competition from the other businesses in the area. Other nightlife districts in the city are finding it difficult to compete with the conveniently located & well lit tourist attraction.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Soi Cowboy - View from Sukhumvit Soi 23 

From Wikipedia...
T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards
The go-go bars follow the pattern common in Thailand: alcoholic drinks are served and women in bikinis dance on a stage. Topless or even nude dancing occurs in some bars, even though illegal. (The police are paid to look the other way.) Most of the dancers are also prostitutes and will go with a customer if he pays a "bar fine" to the bar and a separate fee to the woman. Sexual services take place in the tourist's hotel room.

The soi was given its name by longtime nightlife columnist Bernard Trink, after the late T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards, a retired American airman who opened one of the first bars there in 1977. A tall African-American, Edwards got his nickname because he often wore a cowboy hat.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Nothing says, Christmas like Tilac Bar 

The view of Soi Cowboy from across Ratchadapisek Road just before it intersects with Sukhumvit at Asoke.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
The view looking towards Sukhmvit 23 from Soi Cowboy

One of the more popular red light districts in central Bangkok, Soi Cowboy has drawn the attention of big budget Hollywood movies.  Loads of new neon has gone up here over the last decade.

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
View looking west towards Ratchadapisek road across Soi Cowboy from Sukhumvit 23

The view from Sukhuvit Soi 23 looking towards Asoke / Ratchadapisek Road

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Ratchadapisek & Sukhumvit Roads Intersection at Asoke

The intersection of Sukhumvit & Ratchadapisek Road

Soi Cowboy  - ซอยคาวบอย © Michael LaPalme
Sunset over Asoke
The view looking towards Asoke from the 23rd floor of the Hawaii Apartments on Soi 23.

Short History of Soi Cowboy

The Soi Cowboy Go Go Bars:
    • Deja Vu
    • Dundee
    • Five Star
    • Jungle Jim's
    • Kiss
    • Lucky Star
    • Midnite
    • Moonshine Joint
    • Rawhide
    • Rio
    • Sahara
    • Shadow Bar
    • Shark
    • Shebas
    • Spice Girls
    • Suzie Wong
    • The Dollhouse
    • Tilac
    • Toy Bar

View Larger Map

ซอยคาวบอย เป็นย่านสถานบันเทิงยามค่ำคืนในกรุงเทพมหานคร ซึ่งทราบกันโดยทั่วไปว่ามีการแอบแฝงค้าประเวณีอยู่ในซอยแห่งนี้ เช่นเดียวกับนานาพลาซ่าและพัฒน์พงษ์ ซอยคาวบอยเป็นซอยสั้นๆ ประกอบไปด้วยบาร์ต่างๆ กว่า 40 บาร์ การบริการเน้นไปที่ลูกค้านักท่องเที่ยวและชาวต่างชาติที่มาเมืองไทย
ซอยคาวบอยตั้งชื่อตามทหารอากาศอเมริกันที่เกษียณแล้วคนหนึ่ง ชื่อว่า T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards ซึ่งเขาได้เปิดกิจการบาร์แห่งแรกของซอยนี้ในปีพ.ศ. 2520 Edwards เป็นชาวแอฟริกันอเมริกัน (อเมริกันผิวดำ) เขาได้ชื่อเล่นว่า คาวบอย มาจากการที่เขามักจะใส่หมวกคาวบอยเป็นประจำ

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