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Gogo from Esan and Udon Thani nightlife

Well it is up there and it is cold at this time of the year. An open air party might have been possible and there was certainly no sign of rain: but coats were de rigueur. Of course, that did not stop everybody having a good time. As I sat down at the table and the first of many drinks and many platefuls of food arrived, my host leaned over conspiratorially and said: “That’s what it’s all about. Food and drink will keep arriving just as long as you sit there”. He was right.
As I drove around Issan, I somehow could not help but compare it to England. It has that look of Home Counties park land. I was told it was flat: it is not: it is undulating. It was a bit dry to be sure, but there were still plenty of trees and hedges scattered in a hotchpotch around the landscape. This was Constable’s England of centuries ago: only the flora was different.
I am told the party was also a typical Issan-style party, in which case I suddenly understand why those nice little rice farmers’ daughters can gravitate, with ease, from country girl to pole hugger. Throughout the party a collection of girls was always dancing on the stage: they were good as well. I discovered that some did it for a living. But the younger ones in particular took to the stage with gusto although however you tarted them up, they would never pass muster as 18.
As the booze flowed, the party never slowed: even the inevitable speeches could not slow things down. A good old fashioned night with plenty of distilled drugs, dancing and sex. (for those who had not over-indulged that is.)
That was my night at the heart of the real ‘boondocks’. However I did spend some nights in the comparative sophistication of Ubon Thani. Unfortunately one of those nights coincided with the King’s birthday and the Old Bill were as determined as ever to protect my liver. Even my supposedly four star hotel refused to serve wine in its restaurant. When I finally threw all my toys out, they reluctantly agreed to deliver wine with food to my room.
On the night when the bars were open, there was no shortage of places to bend the elbow, and even do a little hunting for a willing rice-grower’s daughter. Opposite Robinsons and the Charoensri hotel there is a low set of buildings called the Charoensri complex. In the middle there is almost a full on bar soi. I suppose there are about ten bars in that soi, mainly farang operated. I had drinks in The Black and White, run by long time Thailand resident Steve, from England, and Nit. I had an interesting chat with a few friendly English expats then trundled on to the Aussie Pub set up by Justin from Oz. The Aussie pub is larger than the rest and seemed to have a good crowd most of the time. It was in here that the Plod arrived on the King’s birthday and suggested that we should not be celebrating the said birthday. Well not in the manner that we deemed suitable at any rate. May, Justin’s wife, was a lot keener than her husband to close the bar and rid herself of celebrating farangs.
We then wandered across the main street busily being cleaned up after the official party, and up Prajak Road to Steve’s Bar. There all the interesting drinkable substances on offer came in a tea mug! A few mugs later, the boss lady seemed to think closing would be a good idea. I am not sure if that was because she feared the local Old Bill, or because she had had enough of a very boorish gentleman at the bar who had completed his own birthday celebrations early. Next door to Steve’s Bar is the Horseshoe Bar. We tried that another night and found that Steve now runs this bar, having sold his named bar to another. Steve’s Bar is more about food than drinking, and Steve’s new bar, the Horseshoe, is more about drinking and pub games than food. Steve was a nice enough guy and has been around Ubon for a number of years. He was one of the first ex-pats to open a bar in this town.
In the front of the Charoensri complex there were a couple of lively Thai operated bars. The Trjky pub, presumably named by a dyslexic, was packed when we went there. The techno was nearly deafening but here was one hell of a buzz and the DJ held court in the middle of the room. There seemed to be quite a lot of un-escorted young ladies around, and young was the operative word. Most appeared more interested in the swarm of young boys around rather than the dirty old men from farang land.
Not far away was Mr Tong’s Bar. Now this was an interesting operation and had a goodly number of farangs inside. Mr Tong camped it up behind the bar and greeted and minced to all who would notice. Elsewhere in the bar it seemed there were ladies that would be interested in a sweaty farang with a suitably filled wallet. Also at the bar, four large American girls gave the impression that they were trying to get the barman to go play with them: I suspect they did not realize it was only a question of discussing the price! This was a fun bar and well worth a visit. At about 1.30 am we left. The crowd had drifted away and I had the feeling that Mr T was just waiting for the BiB to turn up and close him down.
I did not venture outside the central area as the only transport seemed to be some very small tuk tuk-type vehicles into to which I fear I would not have fitted. However I did get some pointers from the locals. I would have gone to the gogo, the Wolverine, had not everybody, without exception, told me it was a rip off and to avoid it like the plague. I was also told that this was the first gogo in Thailand established back when Udon T was a major US airbase during the VN war.
For those looking for a little company, I was assured that Adunydet Road, out from Watthana Road, which runs from the centre is full of small and not so small Karaoke joints. Also the Eagle bar out on the ring road is a rather more than just a celebrated bar and restaurant.
Back at the Aussie pub earlier, Justin suggested that he had a excess of waiting staff as well as a few rooms to let of his own! And of course there are a couple of large massage parlours as well as a surfeit of smaller ones!
Overall I enjoyed my couple of nights in Udon Thani and I had always wanted to go there. I am now properly convinced that there is enough there to keep one amused for more than just couple of days!

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