Southeast Asia, Day 8: Spending the night on Silom Road, Bangkok's scene for gay nightlife

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Yesterday, Sil said it was weird to be moving on in his trip, to a new place, a new destination, a new group of people, a new environment. He’s right. In such a short time, you make a connection with a city, a hostel, and the travelers inside of it.

This morning I woke up to a completely empty hostel room, and it was sad. I am solo travelling, so it shouldn’t bother me that much, but that visual of five perfectly made beds (I guess the maid was very efficient as I slept) was a bit of a disappointment. I met new people every single day here, and every single day, someone left. Now, it seemed, they were all gone, and I was on my own once again, back to square one. Will my next destination be social? Will it be fun? Will I like the city?

But I’m getting ahead of myself…today is my last full day in Bangkok and I don’t leave for Siem Reap until tomorrow. However, other people being around has largely shaped my plans on this trip so far, and now I am actually by myself completely. My day is 100% in my own hands.

I used the day to mostly rest. Tonight I wanted to go out to Silom Road, the red light district but also the gay friendly area of town. I don’t mind exploring places alone in the day, but going to bars or clubs alone is just boring, so I was hoping new people would arrive for me to invite on my adventures.

Lea and the hostel mural

For lunch, I went with Lea (a German girl from the hostel) down the street to Rambutri road and found a quick place for lunch, Sawasdee Hotel, where I ordered some green curry chicken (which I now knew how to say in Thai because it was definitely an important phrase to learn). They also had WiFi, which I latched onto for dear life, organizing my tour through the floating village tomorrow in Cambodia and checking my flight information.

I ran to the post office, where I shipped myself some souvenirs to lighten my backpack’s load. After all, this was just country number one of four…I couldn’t keep packing more in. I was amused by the young male clerks at the post office who all pulled out their smart phones upon hearing “Vanuatu” and searched for maps on the mysterious place. The entire interaction was faster and more efficient than any other post office I’ve ever encountered, but I did find it weird that you couldn’t ship liquids of any kind. I’d acquired some free toothpaste from the Phuket hotel, but don’t need it all right now, but the Thai post said my package would be rejected if it were inside. Strange.

I went back to the hostel, but not without first stopping next door to a café, where the wifi password was conspicuously posted on the wall. I stepped in and out, then slipped into my hostel and accessed WiFi through the wall. Finally, I could sit in my hostel and get a connection.

When the day fell to evening, Lea and other stragglers left on their shuttles to the airports or bus stations, leaving me alone. But just in time, three new travelers arrived: James, Jesse and Stevie. I quickly learned they were my new roommates and I just as quickly sold them on the idea of heading to Siloam road. Two of them are gay and were happy to explore the gay-friendly area of town.

After some drinks with Haley, an American also staying in the hostel, on the hostel rooftop, we went off.

Our first stop was food, and just off of Silom road was a dead end road with about five vendors selling mango sticky rice, drinks, soups, and pad Thai. I got some pad Thai and sticky rice for about three dollars, and once we were full, we went off to Maggie Choo’s, a slinky speakeasy-style bar decorated in the theme of 1930’s Shanghai, developed by the same woman behind Iron Fairy in Hong Kong, which I absolutely adored.

It was a nice walk on a beautiful night, and when we arrived at the bar, which is just inside the Novotel hotel, we were turned away by dress code. No sandals or shorts allowed. In a hot climate, what on God’s earth would a man wear to this bar?! I of course was wearing sandals, but not flip flops…they were gold Kate Spate sandals, but even so, they were not appropriate. I was bummed, but James was quick on his phone and found our next destination, DJ Station, a gay bar back near where we began.

It was funny when we got near. We looked at the map on the phone and a woman selling some wares on the street saw us and just said some stuff in Thai as she pointed down an alley. Apparently just from the looks of us, she knew that the five of us were heading to the gay bar.

We paid the 300 baht entry fee, which included two drinks, and we stepped inside. The place was not actually one single bar. It was an alley of gay bars, all part of the same venue. Our drink tickets worked at all of them, and you could carry drinks from one place to the next. The first place we stepped into was a three-story nightclub with thumping techno and house music, pitch black with the only lights coming from white and green lasers flashing about. On the second floor, there were giant bird cages if you wanted to unleash your inner go go dancer. Stevie had no problems unleashing his.

There was a smoking balcony that faced the alley, which was great for people watching. We saw a Thai drag queen covered in silver from her feathered hairpiece to her eyeshadow to her dress and giant burlesque feather fan. A majority of patrons were dressed very casually, and the crowd was mixed between expand and locals.

We went back downstairs to explore, popping into a karaoke bar where karaoke was not the event of the night, but instead a male singer was just covering light 80s pop music from Madonna, Whitney Houston and other similar artists. It was a bit boring, so we moved across the way to another bar that was spinning danceable music, but without remixing or adding extra thumps. Here, it was just pure Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and other top 40 artists. I was quite entertained by Jesse’s and Stevie’s on-point vogueing, especially when it was performed in front of the DJ who doesn’t fit into any sort of DJ stereotypes and was a middle-aged Thai woman with librarian glasses and a red long-sleeved sweater.

I grew tired, and as it was nearing 2am, I needed to make the adult decision to go home…because I needed to wake up at 5:15am.

James helped me grab a taxi and off I went to the hostel, squeezing in as much sleep as I could in the night before I was heading off to Siem Reap.