Some bars' names evoke grandeur; Harry’s in Venice, The Oak Bar in the Plaza, Raffles’ Long Bar in Singapore.
Other bars elicit yawns from real drinkers; TGIF, Hooters, Harry Beans.
Yet a few are notoriously renowned for their sleaze and mayhem, where most people’s fun ended where the fun of those those frequenting these haunts begins.
Such dubious dens of inequity as Ave B’s Save the Robots, Miami’s Ace of Space, Phnom Penh’s Sophies and the late Grace Hotel in Bangkok faced a rival in Pattaya.
JP Bar off Walking Street and this beer bar doesn’t gather steam until the other bars shut their beer coolers and the discos closed their doors. By some miracle of light-refraction sunlight refuses to pierce the corners of this bar, where drunken farangs drink with beautiful dok-thongs and more beautiful ka-toeys well past dawn.
JP's is a bar to avoid and be seen avoiding, except for when holiday-makers refuse to call it quits and head to JP Bar for a coup de gracelessness with drugs and drink and the dregs of society. I’m not condemning their behavior. Every city should boast of a dive that hardcore miscreants can frequent rather than roam the streets endangering the public.
I even know people who go the JB Bar.
My holidays in Thailand are spent with the lovely Mam and our son Fenway. We're in bed with Mam long before the guns are firing into space off Walking Street. I'm almost a good boy, although if I were 20-30 years old and single, I’d be at JP's every morning.
Probably once a week in my 40s.
At 58 I drive by it on my way to buy the Bangkok Post on Pattaya Klang.
Several of my friends have taken my place on the dawn patrol.
I'm proud of their dedication to the wicked ways of life.
They deserve medals.
Joey from New Hampshire hangs out at JP Bar in a ketamine hole. He drags home beastoids who inevitably rip off his cellphone and remaining cash.
Mark from OZ likes to drink and suck down whiskey until the warning lights on his kidneys flash ‘failure imminent’. A ladyboy once dosed him a knock-out drink. His friends saved the Aussie from a fleecing on the beach.
The ever-lovely JP Bar.
Girls on ja-bah, lady boys on Viagra, boy band karaoke gigolos, and 40-50 year-old men pretending to be 30 present an eclectic scene best suited to those not willing to question the sins of the previous night, because this kind of fun has its own special costs as my friend, Klaus, found out the other night.
Klaus was an ex-armed robber from Germany. The biker knew his way around bad places and told vicious stories of being a teenage bank robber and his nine years in prison.
“They kill people in German jails. They are not a hotel.”
The Bader-Meinhof Gang can attest to that testimony from the grave.
Klaus was usually a happy-go-lucky guy. His preference was for fat dark-skinned girls. Plenty of that type can be found on Soi 6, Pattaya’s short time Strasse. I’ve rarely seen him in go-gos.
Klaus was a married man.
10 years to the same woman, but that week his wife deserted him after he said she was drinking too much.
Left with no address or phone.
Gone with the wind.
Freed of this entrapment, Klaus told me over the phone. “I can do what I want when I want and don’t have to tell anyone anything.”
“Sounds good. You wan to join me?”
"Love too, but I am a prisoner to my son's sleeping hours."
My liberties were measured in minutes, not hours, and Fenway's mom said, “You want join him. I leave you. You can be free too.”
I didn’t want freedom and I vowed not to go out at night.
Not easy for someone who spend most of his life in bars and discos and restaurants, but my loving son was tons of fun, plus I don’t mind drinking at home, especially since most of the bars are packed with British lager louts looking for a drunken brawl about a football team.
The next morning I drove to Pattaya Klang via Walking Street. The pedestrian way had re-opened to motor traffic and bars were hauling out their empties from a busy Saturday night. Not everyone was Thai, for I spotted Klaus staggering in the road. I stopped my bike and pulled him to the sidewalk.
“Was ist los?”
“Bad Story.” His eyes were pinned like he had shot China White.
My old habits rose like smoke from a napalm explosion.
“You have anything?”
“No, it’s not like that.” He leaned heavily against a shop window and several passing locals laughed at Klaus. They loved seeing farangs in trouble. “I was at the JP Bar.”
“Yeah.” I could hear the music from the bar.
“Last night I went home with a girl and had a drink. I don’t remember anything else, but when I woke, my money, 100,000 baht, and computer are gone. First my wife leaves me and now this.”
He wasn’t teary, but angry at himself.
Obviously the girl had dosed him with a sleeping powder.
An old trick taught to the young girls at JP Bar by the veteran ka-toeys. Mark from Oz said most of these slut-thieves wake at 5am to prey on unsuspecting partygoers. The money goes to fueling bizarre sex parties with Ja-bah and Viagra. I didn’t tell this to Klaus.
“So what do you want to do?” I hoped he wasn’t going back to the bar to seek revenge. Ka-toeys and drugged Thai girls were much tougher than they look and Klaus was in no condition to take a senseless beating from a crow-voiced shim.
“Can you take me home?”
“Warum nichts?” I could get my newspaper later.
His house wasn’t far and I put him to bed after he sent his son to school with the maid.
He was lucky that he hadn’t been given a bigger dose.
When I arrived back to our Jomtien apartment I told Mam about Klaus’ loss.
She shook her head.
“Why he not go to a hotel?”
It was a good question and I said, "Klaus probably wanted to rid the house of his wife’s ghost."
His mission had been accomplished, but for the rest of you be warned of JP bar.
Sometimes it’s best to end your fun before someone else’s can begin or else Sunday morning could be spent coming down harder than a Kris Kristofferson suggests in SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN.
"Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt."
And I know that feeling all too well.
Rolf’s one-night stand also clipped his bankbook and drained his account for another 140,000 baht.
Greedy, because she transferred the money to her own account. The police were immediately interested and said, “We will get the money for you. No problem. And we find her, you get one hour to do what you want. We get 30%.”
The girl has yet to show her face again in Pattaya, but she will, since bad girls have one place to go and it’s rarely up.
I'm back in New York. Mam and Fenway were in Jomtien.
Klaus called the other day with good news. The police had tracked down the thief to Surin. They recovered his passport, computer, camera, telephone and 100,000 of the 140,000 stolen from his ATM. The rest was used for expenses by the diligent police. They even brought Klaus to the Chonburi prison to gloat over his one-night stand.
“Was she sexy?”
“She was okay, but no one is sexy in jail.”
Having spent 9 years in German prison, Klaus knew how sexy gray walls can make a person.
Not at all.