"K O M P A G N I E T"
Om livet i ØK EAC skibe.
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Bangkok, 1 September 2004
Historically, Klong Toey has been the deep water river port since the Capitol was in Ayuthaya. And as with any international port, waterfront bars and other entertainment venues were an integral part of the commercial mix from the very beginning. Klong Toey's traditional Night Entertainment Area has been located at Kasemrat Road where it ends at the entrance to the deep water port near the train terminus and the southern end of the oil storage tank farms.
In August 2004 MIDNITE HOUR revisited Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area for the first time in almost 20 years. Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area had its heyday in the 1960's and 1970's dying out almost completely in the 1980's when the Bangkok Port Authority claimed the land that was home to the majority of the Night Entertainment Venues. MIDNITE HOUR therefore harbored no unrealistic expectations that our visit would reveal a 'gold mine' of bars, lounges and/or other Night Entertainment Venues, but we thought it worth a look-see and at the very minimum, make a permanent note for the historical record.
Our first visit to Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area was in 1967 - the time of the build-up of US and Allied forces involved in the War in Southeast Asia (Vietnam War). In spite of the large number of US military in Bangkok, either on R&R or assigned here, almost no military personnel ever visited the Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area - most of them didn't even know of it's existence. While Klong Toey wasn't really a "best kept secret", the source of it's custom was primarily from visiting foreign ships' crews and Bangkok's Expat resident community.
But the lack of any significant G.I. participation didn't stop Klong Toey from being far-and-away the rowdiest and most varied Night Entertainment Area Bangkok has ever known. A look through our diaries found this terse December 1967 journal entry, which said it all, "...wild dancing, wild girls and wild & terrible stripshows."
Our nightly routine in 1967 was to depart to Klong Toey before sundown, and walk the waterfront pier, talking with ships' crews and inveigling an invitation for dinner aboard one of the cargo vessels tied up to the quay. Whenever possible, we would angle for Scandinavian vessels, as they had homemade breads and wonderful European cheeses and, if we were lucky, wine with the meal. This suited our backpacker budgets as well as our stomachs. The crew saw us as "resident experts" on the Night Scene (far from true), and sooner than later would ask us where the best bars were. We readily obliged by inviting them to at least one of the three most well known waterfront bars, not fifty meters from where they were tied up to the wharf.
First and formost among the Klong Toey bars was the notorious Mosquito Bar. Located on the second floor, the atmosphere -if one could call it that- was that of darkness, the flare of someone lighting a cigarette and the acrid smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer, with ceiling fans to keep everything well mixed. At the top of the stairs, a full minute's wait was necessary while one's eyes adjusted to the darkness, but before the end of the minute, one of the freelance female denizens was attempting to escort you to one of the tables. Tables and chairs were, for the greater part, folding metal chairs and card tables - the chairs suitable for throwing during the frequent brawls, usually started by one of the female denizens. There was no need for 'decor' - no one would have been able to see it. As far as could be determined, the darkness served to conceal the age of the female denizens tugging at your sleeve for attention and a beer, and more importantly - to preserve the identity of the patrons. In spite of the total absence of redeeming qualities, the Mosquito Bar was almost always full, if not packed.
But all that 'wonderful' atmosphere changed in the late '70's when the owners decided to do a complete renovation - fancy scalloped plaster on the walls, artificial flowers in the entranceway, partitions, paintings (reproductions) on the walls, new abundant pink lighting and real furniture. The Mosquito Bar was never the same - there was just something about the original wild and rowdy and dark 'atmosphere' that got lost in translation.The 'legend' was dead; it was just a matter of time...
A daytime shot just downstairs at/next to the Mosquito Bar location - we must admit we never saw the Mosquito Bar in the daytime.
Equally popular -at least to the Expat locals- but with less notoriety, was the Venus Room. The Venus Room was also upstairs, and was quite large, and best described as a primitive A-Go-Go and show bar. In addition to the A-Go-Go area, it had a small wooden dance floor, which was never used. It was very well populated, many of the staff being local Klong Toey slum girls. The Venus Room can be credited with the first use of "door girls", whose sole job was to beckon passers-by upstairs for a drink. While door girls are de rigueur today, with bars advertising specifically for the position, in the '60's it was an original and welcome relief from street touts.
This is the 'outside' area under the wide overhang, where the building curves slightly, and very near the Venus Room. (And if memory serves us well, in the distance is the entrance to the "Freedom", but we will need to confirm that before we etch it in stone.)
Less popular, at least in terms of volume of trade, was the Sea Man's Mission. It was open during the day, closing in the late evening. One had to cross a covered wooden foot bridge which spanned an as-yet unfilled swampy area. In the covered area, and on the front of the mission itself were a variety of posters in support of the International Trade Union movement, and other Socialist and Communist causes - placed there apparently without fear of having them torn down by the Authorities. Inside was a long and otherwise unremarkable bar. It's one 'saving grace' was the abundance of daytime and early evening freelancers, who would readily come to share a beer with you. It, like it's next door neighbor Mosquito Bar, was completely renovated, and is now named The Mariner's Club of Bangkok (Samoson Mariners in Thai). It is still open today, and as such, is the last soldier standing -the last barnacle on the rock- of that which used to be Bangkok's night-time "Wild-West". The Mariner's Club currently sports no Night Entertainment activity whatsoever.
This shot taken from the middle of the
street towards the main building (as shown in
our map) - the Mosquito Bar is upstairs on
the corner (nearest to us), although you
wouldn't know by looking at it.
At the right, you can just see where the
small soi leads off to the Sea Man's Mission.
Klong Toey in the '60's and '70's would have qualified as a Night Entertainment Area - even by today's stricter criteria. There were over a dozen Night Entertainment Venues at that 'bend in the road' as well as a good seafood restaurant and local restaurants - more than enough to have reached that self-sustaining 'critical mass'. In that this Night Entertainment Area probably arose at this specific location at the time the permanent port facilities were originally put in place, it likely predates anyone still alive today, so there could be no determination of which venue was the 'seminal bar' - the bar that got the whole scene started.
As you have already surmised, MIDNITE HOUR's walk up and back the length of Kasemrat Road, provided less relevant information than it did old memories. In that the aforementioned The Mariners Club Of Bangkok is now a non-starter, we saw only three places open to the public that would qualify as Night Entertainment Venues.
The Sea Dragon Spa - offering a variety of non-traditional massages, and the Sea Dragon Karaoke (upstairs) are to be found near the Expressway (away from the Port). They are almost exclusively for Thai clientele - only the spa has the occasional foreign tourist.
Two doors down from there, at the entrance to the Expressway is the Man Nee Karaoke (Thai sign - heavy on the Christmas light sets). All the rest we saw that night were just so many ghosts from a once-raucous, slightly out-of-control past.
With anecdotal stories of the Sea Man's Mission and the Mosquito Bar going back at least to the '50's, Klong Toey qualifies as Bangkok's first full-scale Expat-oriented Night Entertainment Area, although it ceased to qualify for such Night Entertainment status from the mid-1980's. As such, it holds a premier place in Bangkok's Night Entertainment history.
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© 2004 Bangkok
Eyes / bangkokeyes.com
Visitkort til et gammelt værtshus
Bagvej fra gaten i Klong Toy
2 billeder med kort tids mellemrum.
1974. Bemærk der er kommet skilte på facaden, Venus Room og Mosquitobar og ved vinduerne er der blevet installeret aircondition.
Mærsk i Mosquitobar downstairs 65
Mosquito Bar downstairs 1967.
Venus room 1967.
Dans i Venus Room
Dans i Venus Room
Flere af disse billeder er taget af Søren Tuxen og Erik Corneliussen.
En del af billederne er udlånt til "Bangkok Eyes" med kommentar fra William R. Morledge
Halløjsa igen Willy!
Du har rørt mig dybt med din utvivlsomt ægte beklagelse over at det godt kan tage laaaaaaaaaaang tid før jeg får taget mig sammen til at rode nogle af mine mange ØK billeder frem og putte dem i scanneren. Jeg har derfor fattet medlidenhed med dig og rodet lidt i mine gemmer, - og på mirakuløs vis fandt jeg relativt hurtigt kasserne med Bangkok billeder fra min ØK tid, - og deriblandt også de meget ønskværdige billeder fra "Mosquito Bar" eller "Myggen", som vi ofte bare kaldte det noble etablissement!
Mosquito Bar 1970.
Mosquito Bar 40 år senere. (2010).
Tæt på. 1970
Mosquito Bar 1970.
Her et forsigtigt svar på dit forsigtige spørgsmål: Har jeg flere billeder fra "Myggen ????
Det er jeg sikker på at jeg har, dog tror jeg ikke jeg har noget fra "upstairs" og heller ikke fra "Venus". Der var simpelthen for mørkt! Kulsort,- så skulle man fotografere der, måtte man have en god blitz med sig! En anden ting var at vi faktisk ret sjældent opholdt os de pågældende steder. Det meste foregik absolut i underetagen! Her blev der virkelig "byttet løgnehistorier" og grov-hygget til den lyse morgen indtil nogen pludselig kunne udbryde:" Ihhhhhh du milde! Klokken er snart 6! Vi skal ned om bord og på arbejde!" Det var der ingen der umiddelbart troede på,- men et hurtigt kig på klokken måtte jo overbevise selv den mest skeptiske om at hele natten faktisk var gået uden at vi egentlig havde bemærket det! Men det var selvfølgelig fordi vi havde det hyggeligt og var i godt selskab!
Mosquitobar downstairs 70.
"Boribana" og slæbebåd på Chao Phraya floden under manøvrer for at gå til kajs ved ØK's pakhus i Klong Toey, blot et stenkast fra "Myggen"!
Et sjovt billede af et udvalg af "Boribanas" besætning i storslået humør! Årsagen til den overstrømmende begejstring og glæde ses på næste billede.
Ja, - her er så det syn vi alle havde set frem til, - Bangkok pigerne klar til at stige ombord ad den såkaldte "kusselejder", som faktisk bare var en lodslejder, - men ekstra godt vedligeholdt og nylakeret og skinnende ren, og kun til brug for specielle gæster, som for eksempel de viste Bangkok piger.
Når vi ankommer Koh Sichang og lader "krogen" gå
De kommer alle ilende, de søde piger små.
Her er bådsen i selskab med fru Jensen i "Mosquito Bar". Jeg kan desværre ikke huske hvad bådsen hed, men han ser ud som om han har hørt for meget "Black Sabbath" og fået mange øller indenbords - - Fru Jensen hed faktisk fru Jensen, - og det er ikke engang løgn -, idet hun havde været gift med en dansker og boet i Danmark i en årrække, så hun snakkede særdeles godt københavnsk - - - - Hende er der sikkert mange der husker - - -
Dette er så afslutningen på denne lille serie og viser floden og "Boribana" "på arbejde" ved ØK pakhuset i Klong Toey
Kort over gaten.
På dette luftfoto fra Klong Toy området kan man se at Mosquito-Bar for længst er blevet til en parkeringsplads og Mariners Club er alene tilbage.
På dette billede 2004, er Mariners Club blev revet ned.
Nederst til højre i billedet ses ØKs lagerbygninger og helt til venstre nord for olietankene ligger "Sumpen" hvor mange gode minder ligger gemt. Ved siden af "Sumpen" anes den gamle jernbanelinje som blev brugt flittigt som genvej dertil.
Nu er alt væk, Mariners Club er blevet til en parkeringsplads.
Herunder ses billeder indsendt af Søren Jørgensen.
Brochure fra Mariners Club.
Tak til Henri Holm, som har sendt den fine gamle bruchure.
Hele hjørnet med Mosquito Bar, Venus Room, OK Bar og div. samt Mariners Club blev revet ned.
......Men minderne svæver over stedet til evig tid !
Se også de andre sider !!!