Welcome to Soi Cowboy, one of at least 4 red light districts in Bangkok.
Over a year ago, during my second time in Bangkok and my TESOL training course, our group of eight had gone out into the city for the first time together. After a higher-end dinner than most of us had been having recently at the tactfully named Cabbages and Condoms, there was talk of going to the nearby Soi Cowboy.
My first week in Bangkok, about a month before that, I had been to the Silom neighborhood’s equivalent, Patpong. There had been some flashy lights and blatantly named bars along that street, but it had mostly been dominated by a night market and pushy barkers trying to get passer-bys into go-go bars and strip shows.
Soi Cowboy, on the other hand, was a visual sensory overload. The neon lights skimming every edge of the architecture on this little street seemed to put Vegas to shame. The only similar experience I could draw on was a small stretch of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. But, even that was nowhere near this sight.
I love the reactions caught in other members of the group in this picture. Some seem to have a look of awe at their surroundings. Others (Sarah in particular, on the right) seem underwhelmed.
Picking one of the more innocent-looking bars, we went in out of curiosity for a drink. However, nerves got the best of Morgan and she chose to remain outside, prompting Bobby to stay with her. It wasn’t long before we got bored and left as well, starting a long search to find them, since none of us had working Thai mobile phones at that point.
They had returned to our hotel.