Songkran revisited

 | Fri 11 Apr 2014 14:52 ICT

When I started writing this blog it was with enthusiastic intentions to write a post once a week.  Slowly that slipped to once a month, and now we seem to have dropped to the level of annual posts about Songkran.  Indeed, why even bother with that?  Re-reading what I wrote for Songkran 2013 last year I might as well just re-post that, it is not as if anything changed much.  Soho Bar, Ram Bar and Club One Seven are still the gay places hosting Songkran events.  Soho’s Mr Songkran event has been and gone, as has Radchada Garden Café’s pre-Songkran party, and the guys at Adam’s Apple Club have finished rehearsing their special Songkran show.  For more details of gay Songkran events visit

Soho Bar Songkran 2013
But, some things have changed.  Yokka Dok is no more.  

The Edge, a smart newish restaurant on the river, behind the River House rub and tug, has already re-invented itself as a Thai restaurant after bravely attempting to turn British food into real cuisine.  G-Star Vintage has perfectly redefined Chiang Mai’s gay club scene for younger Thais with its winning formula imported from Bangkok.  See Man Pub had its lunch (or should that be lunch boxes?) stolen, firstly by the aforementioned G-Star and then by a welder’s torch.  Anyway, it seems the ladyboys of Phucome have got their acts and thongs together to claw back the customers with the promise of a very foamy Songkran.

Down at the ole Gay Night Bazaar the lights went off for good on 1st April.  Secrets Bar and CU Bar have left the smelly klong, smellier bathrooms, dead bodies and a million mosquitos, to move to seemingly more salubrious accommodation, close to Spicy.  And, that’s a first: “Spicy” and “salubrious” in the same sentence!  Their new location is in Somphet Gold Place, right behind the Jack Van Bar, in an area that has notorious late night credentials.  The new bars are a work in progress, but already looking quite presentable, and I’m sure this setting will do well for them.  It also provides a moat side venue for Songkran, and both bars will be open form 10.00 a.m. on 13-15 to take advantage.
Of course, the “baht boys” will be happy too, this location is just a stone’s throw from their traditional hustling ground around Thapae gate so no more commuting for them.  It should make it easier for the homophobic god fearing happy clappers to keep an eye on them too.  Though holding prayer meetings at Jack Van might not go too well.
Meanwhile, back near the Night Bazaar, Orion Bar has been taken over by, a likeable and well, um….known Adam’s veteran, K. Mai.  He has succeeded in creating an ambiance more akin to the old Peak bars with a fun, mixed group of customers in keeping with that area.  Orion Bar is inside the Kalare Night Bazaar off Chareonphrathet Soi 6 (between Le Spice Restaurant and Boys Blues Bar).
Orion Bar at the Kalare Night Bazaar
As always, the government’s anti-pollution campaign has been another roaring fire of success this year, so no change there.  The congestion around the city’s overcrowded streets shows no sign of easing either.  Songkran should be a blast this year, with Maya now open the chaos at Rin Kham intersection will be more entertaining than ever.
Maya is one of three new major malls opened around Chiang Mai since last year.  We are waiting on reports as to whether third floor KSK’s elderly farang toilet tourists have found any new cottages to cruise.
In the interests of researching this piece, last night I wandered around Chiang Mai’s gay bars for a few beers.  By the time I had gotten to the third bar and been the only customer in each one, I had had plenty of opportunity to reflect on the lack of excitement in Chiang Mai gay bars these days.  You can read some previous thoughts on that topic here: where did all the nice boys go?  Moreover, whatever happened to those nice, cute, gay bartenders (Ram Bar and Orion Bar excluded ;))?  The only ones worth a shag seem to be frustratingly straight, whilst finding a sloth with the facial expression of a bulldog licking piss off a nettle behind the bar, is hardly encouragement to stay for another beer.

In desperation, I decided to explore a couple of Chiang Mai’s more wholesome entertainment venues.  Both were well attended and pleasantly well-endowed with atmosphere.  Some things never change; it seems prostitution and a fascination with twenty something Shan males are both alive and well in gay Chiang Mai.
From the Shan State, Burma