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Sukhumvit 22 - Washington Square

 I am sitting in a cafe at the entrance to Washington Square in Sukhumvit Soi 22 trying to make sense of a Thai newspaper written only in Thai Language. I have been taking lessons in Thai Language for a while and I am beginning to make sense of Thai words in the newspaper, but it has been a struggle.

When I say make sense, I mean I can pronounce the words but I do not know what most of them mean. Even when I do know a word, the tone may be different from the word that I know, so I might still not know what the word means!

The two bar/cafes at the entrance to Washington Square from the Soi 22 side are called Sidewalk Cafe and Denny's Corner. I prefer Sidewalk Cafe because it does not have bar girls, and it is easier to relax. The coffee is drinkable only with a lot of sugar added. But the location of these two places is perfect for watching the world go by in both Soi 22 and Washington Square.

Neither place has air conditioning which makes them very hot to sit in, even in the winter months. Denny's Corner has more shade from the sun than the Sidewalk Cafe. It is best not to wear jeans and not too much other clothing to stay cool.

Across Soi 22 is the Regency Park Bangkok Hotel which has two big stone dragons sitting on each side of the front entrance. This is quite an expensive hotel, but not so expensive if you are used to paying for hotels internationally and in First World countries. They also don't mind if you wander across the road to use their bathrooms, which is great because they are clean.

Washington Square is an area of land and buildings that lie between Soi 22 and Sukhumvit Road. It is a very large area which appears to be in need of re-development. The buildings have a mixture of apartments, bars, a well-known Muay Thai gym, massage, and a few restaurants come bars. The Muay Thai gym is very expensive, but I hear that the training is good.

There are two very large buildings in the centre of Washington Square and a ring-road that runs around them with buildings on the outside of the ring-road as well. As you walk away from Soi 22 within the Square, business activity declines, and there are many empty shops and apartments in the buildings.

At the far edge of the ring-road from Soi 22 there is a bar called Texas Saloon which is away on its own. As you keep walking towards Sukhumvit Road the business activity improves again and this is where the enormous Sportsman's Bar and The Dubliner are located.

There are lots of bars and some massage places in Washington Square, but it is not really thought of as one of the red light districts of Bangkok. It is more unassuming than that. The traditional red light district closest to Sukhumvit Soi 22 is Soi Cowboy which is on the other side of Sukhumvit Road. It is adjacent to Soi Asoke, and Soi 23. Soi Cowboy is actually a sub-soi, or soi that runs off another soi.

Washington Square is much more relaxed than Soi Cowboy. There are not banks of aggressive, but friendly Thai Girls sitting in-front of bars, urging customers to part with their money. It is unlike Soi Cowboy probably because the bars in Washington Square are so spread out around a much larger area.

Some of the well-known bars here are Bourbon Street, Silver Dollar, and the Japanese oriented bars the Kamome Club, and the Izakaya Hanamizuki Club. There are quite a few Japanese bars in other areas of Soi 22, and the girls in front of them seem only to want to talk to (or at) the Japanese people who walk past.

In is well-known in the Sukhumvit Area that the girls prefer Japanese customers because they pay more for everything available in a bar than other foreigners pay. Japanese Clubs have their names in both Japanese and Thai lettering on the front of their establishments.

It is now 4.30 pm and the traffic is starting to build up in the Soi. Soon it will be dark and Washington Square will transform into Night-time Washington Square which is a very different place.

Some of the bars start opening between three and four in the afternoon. Across Soi 22 there are already girls sitting at outside tables next to Regency Park Hotel. They all are wearing black dresses, heels, and are made up for whatever the night brings.

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