Bangkok’s Soi Twilight Go-Go Bars to Close?

Jupiter to Move

For several years there has been a string of complaints from gay tourists and residents about falling standards and rising prices in the famous Soi Pratuchai (usually called Soi Twilight), home to the original sleaze go-go bar that started business at the end of that soi at the top of Suriwong Road). Some seven go-go bars presently operate here along with a slew of open-air beer bars and massage spas.

Bangkok’s Soi Twilight - redshirtliving.wordpress.com

Bangkok’s Soi Twilight – redshirtliving.wordpress.com

According to a post in one of the Thailand gay chat rooms, the German owner of two of the bars, including the ever-popular Dream Boy, had a meeting with his staff last week. He announced that he would be closing his bars within two years. He is getting on in years and no longer needs to make money from the bars. Once these bars disappear, the belief is that the character of the soi will totally change and lead to the end of go-go bars in that area.

Four factors have contributed to Soi Twilight’s problems. First the rapidly changing ways guys meet guys. The apps have taken over and it is much easier now to meet a Thai money boy on-line. Why spend a hour or more in a smoky bar, spend US$25 on drinks for yourself and the boy of your choice, another $15 for the bar’s off fee, perhaps $15 for a short time room and then $50 or so as the tip to the boy?

Soi Twilight Bar Boys

Soi Twilight Bar Boys

Second, the failure of the other owners to adapt. Old-timers talk lovingly of the old Barbiery go-go bar just across Suriwong which in the late 1980s and 1990s was packed at the week-ends with up to 100 boys and a full house of customers with many standing at the doorway – a mix of some westerners but more Thais. Now Thais are rarely seen in Soi Twilight go-go bars.

Thirdly, though, economic and social conditions in Thailand have changed dramatically since the start of the first bars opened in the 1970s. Whilst there will always be economically disadvantaged young guys seeking work in a sex industry, this is now much less so than before. Also the government has been making it very clear since 2001 that it does not approve of Thailand’s reputation as a sex tourism destination.

Hotmale, the Reincarnation of the Original Twilight Bar

Hotmale, the Reincarnation of the Original Twilight Bar

Lastly, the older westerners who always made up the bulk of the clientele are disappearing fast. Now it is younger Chinese and other Asians who visit. But their aim is not to take a cute guy off for a good time. They go for one drink, see the show and depart. Bar owners have seen off fees shrink and so drinks prices have shot up to make up the difference. US$12 for a 50 ml bottle of water?? Excuse me! The business model which worked so well for about 25 years may finally be collapsing.

Closing Time: the Twilight of Soi Twilight?

Closing Time: the Twilight of Soi Twilight?

The news is not all bad, though. The owner of the also popular Jupiter go-go bar has announced he will close in the present location and move over to Silom Soi 4 where Telephone and Balcony Bars are situated. As Soi Twilight has been in decline, Soi 4 has been thriving. This new addition may make for even more visitors to the soi.

Even better, Jupiter’s landlord wants to take back the property to try his hand at running a go-go bar. So maybe there will be two Jupiters in due course, although the present Jupiter is usually packed with Asian rather than western tourists.

The present Jupiter Go-go Bar off Suriwong

The present Jupiter Go-go Bar off Suriwong

And for those who remain interested in sleazy type go-go – i.e. a few boys on a dimly it stage who do nothing other than stare into their phones and hope you might still fancy one to get him a drink – there is still a cluster of bars close to where the muscle bar Tawan is located.

AGN Gay News and Updates

(c) AsiaGuys.NET

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Thoughts on Gay Paradise, Ups and Downs…

and Too Many Men!

We all tend to think of Paradise as an idyllic nirvana, a place where the vicissitudes and pettiness of our daily lives are replaced by perfect peace, love and harmony. A Garden of Eden where there are no serpents hidden in the apples and we can bask in its glory amongst gorgeous flowers, sumptuous fruits and an endless supply of beautiful gay guys.

The Fall of Eve - William Blake

The Fall of Eve – William Blake

For some there will be an abundance, too, of virgins ready to fulfill their every wish. Another interpretation of that particular religion suggests that there will also be youths attending to them and presumably also fulfilling their intimate desires. Really? Can’t wait!

Is this Paradise? - Uface

Is this Paradise? – Uface

Seriously, though, Paradise, to misquote Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, is a life-ending experience “devoutly to be wished.” After all, who wants to spend millennia zooming around purgatory desperately trying to find an exit? As for hell, well I am reliably informed that nipple piercing and excision of part of our proud dicks as mandated by certain religions, is certainly not as practiced here on earth. Down there, they lop off the whole damn organ as well as a great deal more, leaving our never-ending supply of blood continuously oozing forth. Not a happy thought!

Hell on a Buddhist Temple Door

Hell on a Buddhist Temple Door

Who wants any of that hideous hereafter? To quote the lyrics of a Coldplay song, we all want to get “up there” as soon as the grim reaper taps us on the shoulder –

She ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of
Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise
Every time she closed her eyes.*

This Way to Paradise - photoblue0.blogspot.tw

This Way to Paradise – photoblue0.blogspot.tw

But before I leave the horrors of hell. I picked up a rather interesting little tale from one of the Asian gay chat rooms I look into from time to time. This one is mostly for expats based in Thailand. The poster quoted from the Preface of an amusing book written a few decades ago –

“What if God knows everything except ONE THING. What if He has a blind spot: there is no one around as intelligent as Him to put Him right, and He doesn’t know He doesn’t know it because that is the one thing He doesn’t know…

“What, for instance, if God has always pushed a red button to send people to Hell, and a blue one to send them to Heaven. And what if the one thing God doesn’t know is that He is colour-blind. And sees red for blue and vice-versa.

Chaos!”*

Is this Angel taking me to Paradise or to Hell? - tumblr.com

Is this Angel taking me to Paradise or to Hell? – tumblr.com

Reading that I wondered what God would do if instead of being colour-blind He was suffering from a touch of dementia, to the point where His short-term memory would be unable to recall which button He had last pressed. And thinking that it had been red, he continually was pressing blue. Wonder of wonders! A world filled mostly with men. Then Hamlet would certainly have hit the nail on the head in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy – “a consummation devoutly to be wished!”

Scene from Hamlet - New Perspective Theatre Company

Scene from Hamlet – New Perspective Theatre Company

Might it therefore have been God rather than the Chinese leadership which brought forth an overabundance of males during the now-abandoned one-child policy? Do we have God to thank because by 2020 there will be more than 30 million guanggun, or “bare branches”, Chinese males who will never be able to find a female mate? Oh, to live in China where many of the gays will, I assume, finally come out of the closet and where gay marriage could be the logical conclusion to having too many randy sex-starved young men wandering around!

Is he waiting for me in Paradise? - Uface

Is he waiting for me in Paradise? – Uface

But Paradise has graduated to become a much more general term. Nowadays anything that gives us a lift from our mundane everyday lives tends to be termed Paradise. It can be a fine sandy tropical beach at sunset, nuzzling up to our partner after the most intense orgasm of the year, speeding down an open road in a sparkling new red Ferrari… Even our gay community has adopted the word. The southern Thai Island of Phuket is no longer particularly gay but most of Patong’s few remaining gay bars are clustered near the Paradise Complex.

Fallen Angel - tumblr.com

Fallen Angel – tumblr.com

Paradise is also a common name for towns. In the USA alone there are no less than 27. Perhaps not so surprising given that the USA was founded by religious pilgrims. But it’s not just the USA where you can find small citadels of eternal happiness. In Asia there are two in the Catholic-mad Philippines. Would you believe there are also two in Australia, two in the West Indies – and even one in Albania! I wonder what the communists thought of that during the Soviet era!

Is this the Door to Paradise? - tumblr.com

Is this the Door to Paradise? – tumblr.com

More recently I discovered another Paradise. From time to time I tune in to a light classical station when I’m working (or writing articles for AsiaGuys.NET!) The other day I was listening to a rather pleasant piece of music quite unknown to me. The composer, too, was a name I had never heard before, Frederick Delius, an Englishman who composed around 100 years ago. The music sounded rather like a cross between the impressionism of Debussy with hints of the Germanic nationalism of Richard Wagner. I was quite surprised when the announcer informed listeners that the title of the piece was “Walk to the Paradise Garden.” Enchanted by its perfumed harmonies and sultry textures, I could imagine being led through shimmering golden fields of wheat and then up a magical stairway to present myself to my Creator in the most beautiful of all gardens.

Stairway to Paradise

Stairway to Paradise

Imagine, then, the absolute comedown when far from being a second Eden, the announcer informed listeners that “Paradise Garden” as envisioned by Delius in fact refers to a common or garden dilapidated country pub! Paradise – a pub? Come on! Oh well! I suppose for most of us, our regular gay pub is as close as we’ll ever get to Paradise down here on earth.

Paradise Reality Check!

Paradise Reality Check!

But I still like the idea of those youths up in the hereafter ready to look after my every need! Ah! But then I worry. What if I don’t end up by going up, as it were? What if I go down? Oh God! Surely not? Clearly time for another drink. If thoughts of Paradise can’t cheer me up, hopefully another large vodka martini will! Perhaps Delius was right after all.

Waiting for us in Paradise - photoblue0.blogspot.tw

Waiting for us in Paradise – photoblue0.blogspot.tw

* from the Coldplay album Mylo Xyloto

** from “Who Had Who” by Simon Bell, Richard Curtis and Helen Fielding originally published by Faber & Faber, London

(c) AsiaGuys.NET

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Terrific Taipei – Gay Friendly, a Luxurious Hotel and an Anxious HIV Test

I was not sure what I was expecting when we arrived in Taipei as I’ve never been there before but I was excited about visiting a new location and one of Asia’s most gay friendly destinations.

Welcome to Taiwan! Taipei Gay Pride

Welcome to Taiwan! Taipei Gay Pride

We arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at midnight and by the time we got to the Hsuanmei Boutique Hotel it was 2am. Feeling a bit tired we headed up to our rooms. As soon as I walked in, I was impressed! Very high quality furniture, with lighting, TV, heating, cooling etc. controlled by a convenient panel next to the bed. The bathroom was even more impressive!! It’s equipped with a massage shower with turbo jets to blast every part of your body and a huge hot tub jacuzzi spa.

Hello from Taiwan – photoblue0.blogspot.tw

Hello from Taiwan – photoblue0.blogspot.tw

Gay Asian Network

I wasn’t feeling tired anymore. My friends called me as they were hungry, so we went to 711 and got some microwave munchies. But my plan was to get home a.s.a.p. and get into the jacuzzi. I fired it up, with bubbles turned up on full-bore, moonlight lighting on and jumped in. It was hotel room heaven! A gay writer friend, Callum McLeod, suggested and recommended this hotel to me and I’m glad that he did. I really enjoyed my stay there. It was extremely comfortable, luxurious and includes a nice buffet breakfast with a lovely selection of Asian and European food.

Hsuanmei Boutique Hotel

Hsuanmei Boutique Hotel

The first day I slept in till 3pm. I eventually got active after the turbo shower massaged my body for thirty minutes with relaxing hot water. I got very aroused and hard with the water blasting my dick and ass. A little ticklish but enjoyable. By this time I just wanted to get outside and see what Taipei has to offer. The first thing that I noticed was the streets are so clean, open and wide. There is no rubbish or litter anywhere. The city is extremely well organised and everything runs like clockwork. There are shrines and small temples scattered through the city where people go to take time out, reflect and pray.

Taiwanese Guys Praying at a Shrine

Taiwanese Guys Praying at a Shrine

For the next two nights we did what we came here for… and that was to spend time at the Red House gay entertainment complex checking out and meeting local Taiwanese gay guys. When we arrived at around 8pm it was quiet but it definitely picks up as the night goes on. I counted at least twenty gay bars. There are probably more as some are hidden away. There are also restaurants, retail shops and adult gay shops. There is a bar for everyone. Most are your normal gay type bars but some are more specialised and have a theme such as bears, leather, S&M and drag queens. We spent most of our time drinking in the large outdoor terraces as it’s ideal for watching hot guys walk by.

Red House Outdoor Area

Red House Outdoor Area

Forbidden is a lovely quaint adult gay shop conveniently located as you enter the gay area. They sell everything from sex toys to sexy underwear. It’s the perfect shop for getting your boyfriend a gay-related gift.

Forbidden Adult Gay Shop – Click to see full sized image

Forbidden Adult Gay Shop – Click to see full sized image

Red House and surrounding Ximen is the premier gay red light district of Taipei. However there are other gay venues dotted around the city at Zhongshan, Dunhua and Taipei City Hall.

Cute Staff at Red House

Cute Staff at Red House

If you need somewhere close by to have gay sex instead of going back to your hotel, then don’t worry; short-term hotels are abundant. They cost about $NT 300 (about $US 10) for a three-hour stay. Just look for the signs similar to the one below. Massage bars are abundant as well. A lot are open 24 hours and have guys on staff. Prices are about double of that of Bangkok.

Taipei Short Stay Hotel – Click to see full sized image

Taipei Short Stay Hotel – Click to see full sized image

Another night we had an interesting visit to Bear Junkies gay tearoom where government officials had set up an AIDs booth and were doing free HIV testing. I took advantage of it. It’s simple pick of the finger and a wait of five minutes to see if a secondary line appears on the test strip (click the thumbnail on the left to see how it works). It’s an anxious five-minute wait but no second line appeared, so I was all clear. They also test for syphilis which was negative as well. They give you a free gift pack which includes a HIV ribbon bath towel, soap, shampoo, condoms and a massive one litre bottle of lube as a thank-you gesture for taking the test. The government official told me that in the past anyone testing positive had to be immediately reported to the health department and if it was a foreigner he would be open to deportation. Things have thankfully changed and it’s now totally anonymous and not a reason for deportation anymore.

Bear Junkies

Bear Junkies

Pokemon and gay apps are the “in thing” at the moment. Every time I opened Grindr and Hornet there were massages waiting from guys wanting to meet up. It was also evident to me that many of the guys are into older foreigners. If you’re into Pokemon then Taipei is perfect. Wherever I went in the city I observed groups of people gathering trying to catch a Pokemon.

Pokemon and Gay Aps are Popular

Pokemon and Gay Aps are Popular

Getting around Taipei is quick and convenient. Most people commute using the MRT subway or walk or ride a bike or catch a taxi. English is not widely spoken by taxi drivers, so make sure you keep a card from your hotel with its address on it so that you can get home. Similarly get the hotel staff to write the name in Chinese of any destinations you plan to visit by taxi.

Taipei is a city of contrasts. It has shopping malls, night markets, temples, hot springs, a vibrant club scene, bars, sophisticated hotels, fine restaurants, cafes and street food. There is truly something for everyone. We did lots of sightseeing, all the usual stuff like Taipei 101, Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola.

Taipei 101 and Maokong Gondola – Click to see full sized image

Taipei 101 and Maokong Gondola – Click to see full sized image

The food selection is vast, delicious and convenient. We had everything from fine dining to cafe meals and from fast food to street food. I loved the street food as it’s tasty, quick and easy to eat on the go. If the outlet has a massive line up customers out front then the food quality is good and worth lining up for. Surprisingly you get to the head of the queue fairly quickly as the staff are so organised and efficient at taking orders and getting the food out.

Taipei Street Food is Popular and Cheap

Taipei Street Food is Popular and Cheap

Taipei is home to three million people and is known as the San Francisco of the East. It’s tolerant, open and progressive. People mind their own business and aren’t pushing things on you which was a welcome change from Bangkok. Everyone can be themselves without being judged or labelled. Same-sex sexual activity is legal and it is believed gay marriage is poised to become legal. Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned and the annual gay pride parade attracts more than 80,000 people each year, making Taipei one of Asia’s most gay friendly destinations.

Gay Couple Heading Home After a Big Night at Red House

Gay Couple Heading Home After a Big Night at Red House

The main reason we added Taiwan to the itinerary was because of my friend from Australia. Ben has a Taiwanese boyfriend, Devon. They wanted to travel down south so that Ben could meet Devon’s family and, if everything went well, ask his parents for their blessing on their gay marriage. As it turned out the parents are very old fashioned and Devon was reluctant and maybe a little scared to tell them. Instead he told them that Ben was his professor from uni LOL and they were on a holiday in Taiwan together. Everything was accepted but mums being mums I’m sure she knows that her son is gay and he’s in a relationship with his uni professor. 🙂 .

Taiwan Lanterns

Taiwan Lanterns

(c) AsiaGuys.NET

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Garden Surprises – and They’re Not Gnomes!

Suzhou’s Magic

All big cities have their own almost unique irresistible charm, culled from a blend of architecture, ancient and contemporary cultures, town planning, cuisines, shopping – and inevitably crowds. They are usually great for bars and nightlife, with eye candy a-plenty when cruising around in the malls. Depending on the city some of those cute guys might even be happy to join you for a drink or, if your luck is in, a bit more.

I’m ready for more! - weibo.com

I’m ready for more! – weibo.com

Boykakke

But cities tend to have their limits. One mall is much like the next and Chinatown in New York does not differ that much from the one in London – although I think its restaurants win hands down! So you’ve done most of your sightseeing, you’ve spent a night or two with some lovely guys and you still have time to spare… what next? One suggestion is to take a break for a day.

If your vacation is in a city by the sea or a large lake, escaping from the crowds is usually just a matter of jumping on a ferry. Sail a few kilometers off Hong Kong’s south coast, up New York’s Hudson River or Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach and you are all but on your own, the hustle and bustle of city life virtually a world away.

Sailing off Waikiki

Sailing off Waikiki

If water is not nearby, buses and trains usually are. And it is one of the joys of travel that even short day trips away from large urban conurbations can be akin to a complete breath of fresh air. Take Shanghai as an example. Shanghai is not merely China’s largest city with 24 million residents as of 2016, it is in the handful of the largest cities worldwide.

Thanks to China’s rapidly expanding network of high-speed trains, day trips from Shanghai are increasingly in demand. Go west for an hour to the great lakes of Hangzhou, once the capital of the country during the Song Dynasty and described by Marco Polo as “the finest and most splendid city in the world.” Or for a shorter distance, 30 minutes takes you northwest to the Venice of the Orient, Suzhou. Not surprisingly, some 42% of its area is covered by water.

One of Suzhou’s many small canals

One of Suzhou’s many small canals

These two cities are linked by more than just their beauty. Both are actually massive cities in their own right, and yet neither appears so to the casual visitor. And both are situated on China’s own Grand Canal, the longest in the world at over 1,700 kms and now a Unesco World Heritage site. Completed during the Sui Dynasty around 600 A.D. this enabled commerce to flow south as the country’s population migrated away from the increasingly unstable north.

The Ming Dynasty Beisi Pagoda in Suzhou

The Ming Dynasty Beisi Pagoda in Suzhou

Like all cities on important trade routes, Hangzhou at the southern end of the Grand Canal and Suzhou became of increasing importance in matters of trade and commerce. Suzhou’s merchants and ruling elite soon became fabulously wealthy. One source of that wealth was silk.

They promised me this was Suzhou Silk - but I’m not so sure! - tumblr.com

They promised me this was Suzhou Silk – but I’m not so sure! – tumblr.com

For centuries Suzhou has been the centre of the Chinese silk trade, much in demand within the country as it was in later centuries when the western powers discovered it. Soon every European lady of standing wanted Suzhou made silks, brocades and embroidery for the many elegant gowns they would wear each year.

An example of Suzhou Embroidery

An example of Suzhou Embroidery

Over time many merchants returned some of that wealth to their native city by creating large classical-style gardens of supreme beauty, many of which remain today. Hundreds were created, of which some 70 remain, the largest at almost 14 acres boasting the quaint title The Humble Administrator’s Garden. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty in 1509 and featuring a maze of interconnected pools, a variety of pavilions, grottos and classical bridges, this is one of the most famous and most visited of all China’s gardens. And if the title sounds quaint, some of the structures within the Garden are more so, as for example The Hall of 36 Pairs of Mandarin Ducks!

Pavilions in the Humble Administrator's Garden

Pavilions in the Humble Administrator’s Garden

Other gardens have equally strange-sounding names – the Lingering Garden, the Lion Grove Garden, the Garden of Cultivation, the Couple’s Garden Retreat, The Master of the Nets Garden, and the Retreat and Reflection Garden. They may have many similar elements, but all are laid out in their own special arrangement. The oldest, the Canglang Pavilion, dates as far back as 1044 during the Song Dynasty.

Suzhou Tea House

Suzhou Tea House

The beauty of Suzhou is that just a short taxi ride from the high-speed rail station you can take in a quick trip along the small canals, have lunch, visit several of the gardens – including the Humble Administrator’s Garden, grab a coffee and still get back to Shanghai well before dinner and the next round of bar hopping.

The Master of the Nets Garden

Should you want to spend the night, the gay guides all mention massage services, a gay bar and one gay sauna in Suzhou, although the latter sometimes has money boys and is not especially clean. Better just to return for nocturnal adventures in Shanghai – unless of course you happen to have bumped into the cutest guy in one of the gardens. In that case, go for him – don’t be humble!

Garden Surprise - JQ Vision

Garden Surprise – JQ Vision

Contributed by Alex Cummings

(c) AsiaGuys.NET

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail