Patpong – a review for Tripadvisor

Getting to Patpong was itself quite difficult. Our taxi driver first took us to an alleyway, full of broken tuk-tuks, where a crowd of Europeans were being herded into some sort of industrial facility. After some remonstration with him from the Thai-speaking part of our group, he finally exclaimed ‘Patpong’ with great surprise, as though it hadn’t been the one thing he’d been told for the last half hour, and sped off again to take us to our destination.

Probably about the third or fourth time that a different tout shoves the same laminated sheet listing a series of ‘shows’, you’ll begin to suspect that the ‘Special Show’ isn’t so ‘special’ after all. Of course, as you get further away from the main road and deeper into Patpong, that pretence evaporates completely. There’s just squalid establishment after squalid establishment, filled with gloomy, dead-eyed women and decaying, musty men, looking for something that you shouldn’t be buying. But still, the laminated sheets persist.

No, I do not want a balloon show.

On the roadside outside Patpong itself there are crowds of pallid, rotting Eurotrash, seeking out bargains. Those bargains may be a t-shirt to show the folks back home what a zany sense of humour they have, or some flesh, cheap at current exchange rates.

No, I do not want a tiger show.

The centre of Patpong is nothing but cheap geegaws and nicknacks. Like a dirtier version of Khao San Road, if backpackers had grown bored with tie-dye and only wanted bastardised versions of imagery from their own culture, spelt and printed badly on cheap cotton.

No, I do not want a ping pong show.

Eventually, we walked deep enough in to find a bar that wasn’t part of the flesh trade. Instead, this was where old bar bands come to die. If you wanted to chug down cheap beer and listen to 1980s ‘classics’ be massacred by a German lady of indeterminate age and her colleagues, a motley rabble of knackered looking men, this would suffice.

No, I do not want a razor show.

No, no, no.

Later, the German and her allies were replaced by five men who looked like they were moonlighting from their jobs as plumbers. Or accountants. Or low ranking civil servants. Or unsuccessful guitar teachers. They played Brian Adams’ “Summer of 69” over and over again. We drank more to forget. In the toilets, the attendant, quite unprovoked, gave me a head massage when all I wanted to do was wash my hands.

Much later, a middle aged, middle manager of a multinational corporation was twerking on the stage, his shirt somehow discarded in the bar. That man was me. Nobody benefitted from this.


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