Tag Archives: Sukhumvit

The Sois of Sukhumvit

18 Jan

Sukhumvit is readily accessible by sky train, with the most convenient stop being Nana.  A main road runs through the area, with a number of smaller streets or “sois” running at right angles off of it.

Soi 5
I first went exploring Soi 5 – this, like most of the other streets, is quite busy with a lot of bars. There is Gulliver’s sports bar which serves “Pharang” food and shows premier league football. There are pool tables and fusball machines. The bar is pretty standard and I didn’t spend too much time there.

Inside Gulliver's Bar

Inside Gulliver’s Bar

A number of taxis run up and down this road and there are vendors along the side selling coconuts and advertising clubs (Insomnia / Insanity). The Bangkok taxis are multicoloured and look like sweets (candy). The green and yellow taxis are independently run (one man, one taxi). The single coloured taxis – pink, orange etc. – belong to cab companies who own a fleet.

Bangkok taxis and coconut vendor

Bangkok taxis and coconut vendor

Pharang

Before we go on, let me explain the word “Pharang / Ferang”. Wikipedia defines this as “a generic Thai word for someone of European ancestry, no matter where they may come from”. Wait, does this mean that I am not a Pharang? Alas no – anyone who is not Thai can be called a Pharang.

My favourite Sois are 4 and 11 – they are the busiest and most interesting.

Soi 4
There are a number of food vendors along the side of the street, selling barbecued chicken, insects, noodle soup and Som Tam (green papaya salad). There are also a number of inexpensive and good restaurants (such as Charlie’s) along the side of the roads. There are busy walking areas and lots of bars. Soi 4 is also called Soi Nana as it houses the well known Nana entertainment plaza, which is reputed to be full of Go-go bars. (As I discovered, saying that you’d like “to dance” will often mean that you are asking to get up on a table.)

It is busy outside the "dancing" clubs

It is busy outside the “dancing” clubs

Bars in Soi 4
The bars in Soi 4 (and this may be true of the area in general) are owned / run by women, with key elements of their role being to look after the girls in the bar and to ensure that the men behave.  As part of this they generally have a good relationship with the police (in the event that men do not behave well). Many of the bars in Soi 4 are inhabited almost exclusively by Pharang men and Thai women.

At the bar in Soi 5

At the bar in Soi 4

Soi 11
Soi 11 rapidly became my favourite street – there are a number of really good (and more up-market) restaurants along this street. If you walk to the end of the road, there is “Chilli Culture” restaurant, where I had red duck curry. They serve the duck curry with lychees, which works beautifully – the sweet, light flavour of the lychees acting as a counterpoint to the hot, rich flavour of the curry sauce and the fattiness of the duck.

Chilli Culture Thai Restaurant

Chilli Culture Thai Kitchen

If you follow the road to the left, rather than stopping off to eat, you get to Le Fenix hotel, which is home to the Nest Bar. The Nest Bar is on the top floor of the hotel and gives great views of Bangkok. However, the key feature of the bar is its “beach” – about half the floor area of the bar is covered with sand and hooded straw “beds”, with tables, where you can lie down and have a few drinks. This was probably my favourite bar in Bangkok.

Nest Bar

At the entrance to Nest Bar

 

Chillin' in one of the "nests"

Chillin’ in one of the “nests”

Following the “Nest” experience, we went back around to the main drag of Soi 11. All along the road, there are number of the mobile VW bars that I love.

Mobile Volkswagen Bar

Mobile Volkswagen Bar

Apparently, these are licensed bars that park along the side of the road. The VWs have been modified, so that the sides can open and form a sort of a roof, when propped up. A bartender stays inside and mixes drinks, while there is usually another person who works as the waiter. You can get beers, mixed drinks and cocktails at these bars.

Mixing drinks in the VW bar

Mixing drinks in the VW bar

A number of plastic chairs and tables are set up next to the van for the bar’s clientele.
We sat at the bar and insisted that they crank up the music (something to do with Rhianna and me both being from the Caribbean…). Soon a number of people, on hearing the cool (and loud-ish) music, joined us, including these ladies.

"Laydeez" in Soi 11

Who is the prettiest of them all?

Er, did I say ladies? I meant lady-boys…..

 

You gotta love Sukhumvit……