A Bit of Local Culture? Check
Partying You Ass Off? Check
Shopping Your Little Heart Out? Check
With three of the top ten Bangkok experiences under your belt, it’s time to devote a day’s experience to what is under your belt. And as touring themes go, for a gay guy in Bangkok, Dick ain’t a bad way to go. To steal a line from The Hangover II: There’s a reason why they call it Bangkok instead of Bangcunt, sweetie.
Praying for it, praying to it, playing with it, protecting it, and reassuring yours that you won’t go wild in Bangkok and take experiencing the city too far is what my #4 suggestion for doing the Big Mango is all about. Of course devoting an entire day of your vacation to penis would just be silly. Because no man’s is an island and your penis would be of little use without the support of your balls. So to remind you of their importance, today’s entry into the Top Ten Experiences category will take those puppies on the local version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Twice. And it’ll be cheaper than an E ticket to boot. (Oooops! Did I just date myself?)
Scheduling the activities and experiences you plan on enjoying during a holiday in Bangkok can be organized in several different ways. You can work your way through a list of attractions and sites, starting with the ones you want to see the most. But that can easily have you travelling from one end of town to the other. Which results in your #1 Bangkok experience being its parking lot-like traffic congestion. You can play Buddhist, and accept that the fates are in control of your destiny, allowing whatever happens to happen, but that can result in your not seeing any of the things you wanted to experience other than spending time in the bar closest to your hotel. You can also cram a few hundred attractions into your daily schedule, which is a popular mode of tourism, but that results in your not ever actually getting to experience anything fully. Though if you take a lot of pictures you might remember a bit of your trip once you get back home and turn to your photographic evidence of having been to Bangkok.
I favor a leisurely approach that encompasses a variety of experiences in a single outing, all in and around the same area of town to avoid wasting time getting from one spot to the next while allowing you enough time to get lost, relax a bit and do nothing, and wander off on the road less travelled when something unexpected captures your attention. It’s often the places you didn’t know about and didn’t plan on visiting that become the most memorable part of a trip. So today’s itinerary may seem to stretch out longer than necessary, but I expect you to put that extra time to good use. Even if that means nothing more than plunking your ass down and watching the world go by.
A leisurely approach to tourism also means not having to get out of bed any earlier than your hotel demands by cutting off the serving time to their free breakfast buffet. So today’s fun starts around 11am. If you are an early riser, hopefully you arranged a long-time off the night before and will have something warm to occupy your time before your day officially starts. If so, you need to show your appreciation to the gods for that with which you were blessed. If not, a little merit making might convince them to intercede on your sex life’s behalf. And your first stop today will be one of the city’s more popular places to converse with the higher powers. That it sets your location for the day’s experience is just a happy bonus.
Praying For It.
A little bit of local culture is never a bad way to start off your day; when there’s a good chance there will be some eye candy there too it’s an even better beginning. The Erawan Shrine is a favorite among locals hoping the gods will look favorably upon their wants and desires, so your first want and desire – the aforementioned eye candy – is almost a given. Located at the foot of the Chitlom BTS station at the Ratchaprasong intersection of Rachadamri and Ploenchit Roads, this small shrine is a beehive of worshipers who place great stock in its power to bring them all of the things their little hearts desire. The little thing your heart desires may have more to do with size, but since it’s always good to hedge your bets there’s no good reason to rely on happenstance alone; make a bit of merit, say a little prayer, and cross your fingers that the gods reward your efforts with the man of your dreams.
Making merit is the Buddhist approach to gaining favor with the gods. Realizing that nothing in life is free, before you can expect to be blessed you need to offer up a blessing of your own. It’s a you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours approach to religion. And from the huge number of people returning to the Erawan Shrine to say thanks for having gotten what they prayed for, it seems to work. Don’t worry that it might be inappropriate for you to engage in any of the merit making activities available here because you are not a Buddhist – the four-faced Than Tao Mahaprom, the deity this shrine honors, is a Hindu god anyway. So tacking on your own religion isn’t going to raise an eyebrow. Besides an interactive experience is always better than a site you just look at.
How much merit you gain, of course, depends largely on what that merit making activity costs you. For just a few baht you can but some incense to light, a few baht more will provide you with a floral tribute to offer too. 100 baht buys you a small red, wooden cage with a bird inside for you to set free, or you can hire the dance troupe to entertain the gods on your behalf for a few hundred baht. Of course you can also be a cheap bastard and say a prayer sans merit, but then don’t come bitching to me when you land a dud tonight at the gogo bar.
Merit making and praying for dick aside, the Erawan Shrine is a great place to kick back and watch the locals do their thing. This is not a Take A Picture And Move On attraction, you need to spend some time here to fully experience what the shrine has to offer. At a minimum, expect to enjoy the religious festivities for half an hour. An hour will not be wasted in the least bit either.
By now if you’ve been following my previous suggestions of things to do and see in Bangkok, you’ve taken a boat ride, used the BTS, and ridden in a few taxis. It’s time to expand your transportation experience and see just how highly the gods think of you. It’s probably a good thing you just racked up some Karma points, because you might not survive the next ten minutes. You may have noticed the number of worshipers at the Erawan Shrine was second only to the number of vehicles slowly crawling past its gates. You are at one of the city’s most heavily congested traffic areas. And since your next destination is just a tad too far to walk to, you’re gonna have to either be part of the parking lot-like traffic, or bypass it. And the best way to do that is by using a motorcycle taxi. By law, motorcycles are allowed to use the sidewalks in Bangkok. Which means you’ll be zipping past all the cars on the roadway, as well as scattering those pedestrians foolish enough to think the sidewalk was their safe haven.
Back at the foot of the BTS station, there are always a half dozen or so motorcycle taxis waiting to be hired. Pick out the driver who looks to be the least affected by the yaba he’s been smoking and tell him you want to go to the Nai Lert Park Swissotel. It’s a short ride, about a 15 baht fare, so agree to 20 and hope the extra 5 baht will entice him to keep you safe, uninjured, and alive. Better yet, bet your fare on a game of checkers. Not that you’ll have much of a chance of winning – the motorcycle taxi drivers that hang out here spend more of their day shouting, “King Me!’ in Thai than they do scoring fares. But playing a childhood game made out of cardboard and beer bottle caps with a drug addict who speaks not a word of English while hordes of locals bump past you on their way to pray for lucky lottery numbers is not only a surreal experience but a uniquely Bangkok one. Win or lose, while many touri think they are livin la vida loca by taking a tuk tuk in Bangkok, if you live through your motorcycle taxi ride, you’ll be able to laugh at their pretensions. And that’s always a win in my book.
Praying To It.
You’d think your best bet in Bangkok for seeing a few hundred peni would be on Soi Twilight. But the Goddess Tuptim Shrine has that popular bar area beat, four hands down. And unlike at the gogo bars in Patpong, at this shrine the wooden woodies are all sporting wood. Tucked away at the rear of the Swissotel Nai Lert Park’s grounds, the Goddess Tuptim Shrine is littered with hundreds of lingams. (That’s a polite word for the mass of cocks you’ll find here.) It is said that years ago a woman came to pray at the shrine asking for help, from Chao Tuptim, to conceive. Nine months later, she gave birth to a healthy chid. She was so pleased that she came back to the shrine and left a large wooden carving of a giant penis in thanks. Others have followed in her footsteps. Their offerings are hundreds of cocks lining the shrine’s pathway and filling the surrounding area. For a gay man it’s Bangkok’s version of Shangrila. And a photo op hard to beat.
Most of the peni are made of wood; some of metal, stone, horn, or bone. Others are incised with special Buddhist inscriptions or have names written on. There are little fat ones, tall thin ones, tall fat ones, small thin ones . . . some even have legs. Others have colorful pieces of fabric tied around them for protection blessings; some are dyed bright red, blue or green.
Size queens will be in heaven viewing the large black phallus standing on end next to Tuptim’s spirit house, nestled under the huge ficus tree in which her spirit is said to reside. Regardless of the size, shape, or material the cock is made of, essentially they all offer the same message: Offer up a penis to the shrine, and you too may undergo the miracle of conception . . . or maybe you’ll just luck out and find a fun penis to spend the night with.
Playing With It.
Since you lived through your motorcycle taxi ride and were rewarded with a massive number of peni to enjoy, you might as well finish off your stupid tourist trick transportation options for Bangkok and catch a tuk tuk to your next destination. If you are smart, it’ll be the only tuk tuk you ever step into during your holiday. Though Wireless Road, where the Swissotel is situated, isn’t the most heavily trafficked street in town, the surrounding area is pure bedlam and once again choosing the most life-risking form of transport will save you in travel time. Plus you’ll have a good excuse for paying someone to convince your balls to descend again at your next destination.
As synonymous as Bangkok is with sex, it is equally renown for the massage services offered everywhere in town. Most come with a happy ending, at least at those places billed as offering massage for men by men. Not that you have to partake of that particular menu option; you can get a foot or full body massage without providing your best buddy some relief too. But since today’s experience is in his honor, go for it. Just like the massage parlors themselves, you too can pretend it’s not really about prostitution: it’s therapy. You can order up a massage in your hotel room, or hit any one of the places in Patpong, But for the full male massage experience, your best bet is one of the larger and more popular spas. And Hero fits that bill.
Located on Sukhumvit Soi 11, Hero is a short but wild tuk tuk ride away from the Nai Lert Park Swissotel. That ride should run you 25 baht, so expect to pay 50. Every tuk tuk driver in town knows where Hero is, many of them will offer to preform your planned on massage themselves. Save that experience for another day, the rub and tug you get at Hero will give you something to compare it to.
The masseurs at Hero tend toward the boy next door to muscled body types, and unlike at some places in town at Hero you get to choose the guy who will be working on you. The staff, dressed in jeans or shorts, are on display behind a sheet of glass much like meat at a deli counter. Use the mamasan to select a guy – let him/her/it know exactly what you like and want and he’ll help you pick out a guy who will deliver. After your masseur bathes you, you’ll get a full massage that’ll last about an hour for about 750 baht plus a minimum tip of 1,000 baht. What is involved with and the extent of your happy ending is up to you and will cost more as you progress from a hand job to full-on sex. As for your balls running and hiding thanks to that tuk tuk ride you just exprienced, they undoubtedly decided to hang out again soon after you walked into Hero.
Hero’s facilities are clean and hygienic and they offer private shower areas. Their hours of operation are from 3:00 pm until midnight. If you spent your day right so far, you should have arrived here about an hour after opening, long enough for all the guys to show up for work so you have a full stable to choose from, but not so far into their day’s business that the hotties have been taken. Or already worn out for the day.
You could walk out to Sukhumvit after your massage, but it’s just as easy to flag a taxi, tuk tuk, or motorcycle taxi down for the short ride out to one of Bangkok’s most heavily touri populated boulevards. Soi 11 will dump you right into the middle of the action, though since your next destination is in that direction, hang a left when you hit Sukhumvit. The sidewalks are filled with street vendors, offering all the crap you walked past at the Patpong Night Market for half the price. At this hour of the day, some will still be setting up their stalls, many will have just opened and willing to make their first sale of the day at a heavy discount. That baht will bring them good luck for the rest of the night’s business, and the vendor will usually flap the handful of baht you just passed over against his merchandise to spread that luck across his stall.
Stroll along the street, stop at any of the small cafes for a drink, or do a bit more shopping in the streetfront stores that line Sukhumvit. If you need to shop in comfort, or find a place to sit and rest after the exertion of your massage, head down to the still somewhat new Terminal 21 shopping mall. Like most shopping centers in Bangkok there’s always plenty of eye candy to enjoy, and since its been almost half an hour since your last orgasm, being a gay man you are probably already thinking about your dick again. And so am I. But it’s time to get some food in your stomach, so we’ll kill two birds with one pair of stones next.
It would make logical sense that the sois running off Sukhumvit followed in numerical order. And they do. As long as you stay on one side of the street. Cross over to the other side, however, and you’ll find yet another example of Bangkok’s uniqueness. So though your next destination is on Soi 12, that doesn’t mean you have to hike all the way back up the street to where you started (Soi 11). Instead you’ll find the street you want just across from where you are (give or take a block depending on where you decided to soak up some late afternoon atmosphere. Or some suds).
The original branch of Cabbages and Condoms has been around for decades. It’s easy to find, just a short walk up Soi 12 off Sukhumvit. Over the years the size of the restaurant has changed, slowly growing to spread out along the soi. Cabbages and Condoms offers an extensive menu of Thai dishes but it’s true claim to fame is its decor with everything from the lamp shades to wall art made from condoms. Everyone, from fellow touri to bar boys, that I’ve taken there has thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And the garlic shrimp appetizer are to die for.
Conceived as a source to fund the local charity’s efforts at rasing awareness for safe sex, Cabbages and Condoms has become a landmark in Bangkok thanks not only to its unusual decor but its tempting and award-winning menu. Prices are a bit higher than you may find at a more local-style Thai restaurant, but not as dear as at some of the Hi-So places in town either. Most main dishes run around 200 baht. And if you are a cheap bastard, you can always off-set that cost by stocking up on the free condoms the restaurant offers. You can choose to dine in the original, old teak building, or take a table upstairs in the open-air where a slight breeze and a large bank of misters will keep you cool and fresh. And if you are still in need of some truly unique souvenirs, stop in their gift shop on the way out for a selection of condom-related tchotchkes perfect for everyone back home. Well, maybe not your mom . . .
Scaring The Hell Out Of It.
Some like to walk off a meal after a great dinner. Getting back out onto Sukhumvit is far enough in my book. So head back to the Asoke BTS Station and use the Skytrain to get down to the Nana Station. The street will be filled with vendors by now, so you can stroll further up the road a bit, or duck down Soi Arab – just before Soi 3 – and enjoy the experience of sucking on a shisha pipe. Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city filled with people from foreign lands, many communities of which have claimed a small part of the city as their own. The area around soi 3 is popular with touri, expats, and transplants from the Arabian gulf and the sweet apple flavored hookah pipes are a ubiquitous staple at the small restaurants and cafes lining the soi off Sukhumvit. You can mutter under your breath about terrorists, stick your nose in the air, or join in on the fun. Your choice. But experiencing new things is one of the rewards of travel, and opening yourself to new experiences is what makes a holiday memorable. Besides, that thinking outside of the box mode of tourism will set you up nicely for your next destination.
Nana Plaza is hard to miss. If you are a breeder, your dick will automatically lead you there. Fortunately, the plaza (entertainment complex if you want to be anal about it – which might be appropriate all things considered) has a large neon sign out front to make it easier for a gay touri to hone in on. But why should you? Because besides being the home to the city’s most raunchy and numerous girl gogo bars, it’s also the #1 spot in town for bars featuring the third sex: ladyboys.
Not that you have to enter the complex to get your fill of ladyboys. There’s always an aggressive pack of them hanging out at the entrance. But those are not the vision of ladyhood you’ll find inside. Most would never refer to those curs as ladies. At any of the dozen ladyboy bars inside the complex though, you’ll quickly see why so many breeders are fooled (wink, wink) into thinking he’s a she.
You’d think ladyboys would be more prolific on Soi Twilight, where all the gay bars are. But the Thai ladyboy, or katoey, is not considered gay; ladyboys are not the same thing as drag queens. And the straight punters tip better to boot. Thailand is famous for its ladyboys, and if you are gonna check them out – or indulge – you should go to the source and not fall for the over-the-top fake version when the real thing is just waiting for you to step through the door. Lady Gaga and pretentious queens think that supporting Bangkok’s ladyboys and the gay community means taking in one of the drag queen shows at the popular venues for touri out for a night of tittering at the freaks, like the revue at the Calypso. Not. Those places are fine for the faint of heart, but man up and remember you still have a pair of balls even if many of the katoey do not.
Patronizing a ladyboy bar isn’t all that different than how you deal with one of the city’s gay gogo bars. Except they are more fun. That dour, unsmiling stare perfected by many of Soi Twilight’s denizens won’t cut it here. And you’d better be willing to buy a lady a drink or two too. Unless you plan on taking a walk on the wild side, fess up that you are gay and only interested in dick. The ladies’ are out to make a living and though they’ll gladly share a few laughs with you for a small tip, they’ll appreciate your telling them that you won’t be bar fining them. So when a better opportunity walks in they’ll be able to move to where the cash is. Then again, the rewarding part of international travel is experiencing new things . . .
Today’s experience, including transportation, appeasing the gods, appeasing your best buddy, pleasing your stomach, and deciding to not walk on the wild side will run you about $100. Not a cheap day out, but you covered a lot of ground, spent a full day doing it, and got done in the process. What more could you ask for?
Related Posts You Might Enjoy: