So I’m with the daughter sitting in a bar in the PatPong Market in Bangkok. The PatPong is a well-known night market selling just about everything you can think of. It’s a bustling side street off Silom Road—the main thoroughfare of that part of Bangkok. We’ve had a great time—we’ve bought a few t-shirts, a wallet, a handbag and a couple of watches, and thought we’d have a quiet drink before we find somewhere to eat.
The little bar is called EXtra Time and constantly plays soccer matches—some connection there—on a huge plasma TV hanging on the wall over the bar. It’s a nice bar—quite classy really with solid timber tables and benches, a nice stone floor and a slightly Spanish look about it. A few guys come and go; don’t prop up the bar drinking, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s obviously a rear exit and most guys seem to leave that way. We order a couple of Singha beers and they arrive nice and cold with chilled glasses and bowl of peanuts.
The owner is a Londoner and is what my mother would have referred to as a spiv which the Urban Dictionary defines as ‘someone who deals in black market goods of questionable authenticity’—quite appropriate for the PatPong Market.
He meanders over to our table, ‘everyfin’ awright my darlin, anyfin’ else I can get ya?’ My daughter, Australian to the core, needs a translation. Yes thank you, everything is fine, and could we have a couple more Singhas. ‘Course you can sweet-art, anyfin you want jus ask.’
We finish our beers, bid goodnight to the spiv, and step out into the market where we’re once more assailed by the noise of people, carts and traffic on Silom Road.
We find a nice little restaurant with a lovely outdoor eating area; order Tom Yum Soup and share a main with rice and another Singha, and wander happily back to our hotel where we enjoy a nightcap at the bar. We both agree it was a very pleasant evening—so much so that we decide we’ll do the same tomorrow.
Fast forward 24 hours.
Back in EXtra time, the spiv is nowhere to be seen. So we order the beers from the nice bar girl who is wearing a very short skirt and very high heels. She puts two nice ice cold beers on our table and leaves. Excuse me miss—could we have a couple of glasses and the peanuts would be nice too. ‘Sorry?’ A couple of glasses and a bowl of peanuts. ‘Peanuts??’ We got glasses and peanuts last night. ‘I no peanuts.’ Fine, but could we please have a couple of glasses for the beer. ‘You want more beer?’
At this point we’ve started drinking from the bottle in desperation, when from the rear exit the spiv looms into view, ‘everyfin’ awright my darlin?’ Well no, you see last night we got glasses and a bowl of peanuts with our beer and tonight we just got … ‘don’t you worry my darlin’ you don wanna be arskin’ her, she don’t know, I’ll sort it for ya’. OK.
Two chilled glasses and two more beers, ‘I won charge you for them my darlin’ appear on our table and seconds later a bowl of peanuts. Nice. The spiv turns and says something in Thai to the bar girl who looks somewhat annoyed, then she turns and bends over to pick up her bag.
OH MY GOD!!! Did you see … what?? Did you see … she’s wearing, she’s not wearing, she’s not wearing—UNDERWEAR!!
She’s not wearing underwear. I look somewhere else. At the TV—yes, still soccer. At the bar—spiv is moving bottles around—well that all seems very ordinary. Maybe I imagined it.
Then I look at the sign: EXtra time. I did wonder why the X was a capital. I look closer, and at this point I realise the X is not a letter—it’s a pair of crossed female legs with um, er, um, no underwear. I’m in a brothel! Was I blind last night?
I turn to the daughter. Did you know? ‘Yup.’ What! Why didn’t you tell me? ‘I thought you knew.’ How would I know? ‘Well ….’ No never mind—drink up, we’re leaving.
Back at the hotel we’re both hysterical with laughter. Me—because I’m gob-smacked and obviously quite dim, and never take any notice of my surroundings, and my daughter because I’m gob-smacked and obviously quite dim, and never take any notice of my surroundings. It is some months later that I learn that the PatPong area is one of the biggest red light districts in Bangkok.
The next night we have a drink in the comfort of the hotel bar. Cheers!