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Soi Nana

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Have you ever been to Sukhumvit Soi Nana?

The even-number side that leads to the dead-end of the Tobacco Monopoly. If you do not have a particular errand, it is not a street you would be likely to stroll along. However, that doesn’t mean it is a quiet Soi (street). Rather this is a famous Soi (or notorious, should I say?) where one of the major red-light districts in Bangkok exists near the Pak Soi (entrance of the street).

There is not much going on during the daytime at Soi Nana. Street vendors are selling fruit and vegetables and people are eating noodles and one-plate dish at food stalls. A little busy but not that much different from other streets of Sukhumvit. Things gradually start moving in the early evening for Soi Nana to become Soi Nana. Ladies in tight T-shirts and Thai woven salon skirts, presumably the uniform for massage parlours, are having Khao niyao (sticky rice) and Somtum (green papaya salad), the soul food of Esan (Northeast region of Thailand), on the side street, getting ready for work. Vendors are now selling revealing dresses (I guess they are for the ladies working on this street?), a single stem of roses (for customers to give a worker? Or someone waiting at home?) and big teddy bears (not sure who are the target customers for this one).

Most customers are men. Sometimes you see a couple but it is very rare to see a lady customer. On the other hand, workers are mostly ladies or lady-look-like persons who are the entertainers. Men workers seem to take supporting roles such as cooking and carrying drinks.

Soi Nana doesn’t sleep at night. It’s busiest time is around midnight, from 11 pm to 2 am. Traffic is heavy with people coming and going at Soi Nana. There is always traffic in Bangkok, but at this particular time zone, there shouldn’t be any traffic. But you have to wait and miss the signal at least five times in order to turn into the Soi. Because people get out of taxis near the Pak Soi and an empty taxi moves trawls the sidewalk trying to find new customers. Also, drunken men or women cross the street randomly and you have got to be careful of not running them over. The music is on in full volume and you can feel the sound vibrate in the air. Animated laughter and screams are heard here and there. Neon is brighter than daylight. Ladies or ladyboys are standing a few feet apart on a shady part of the street, giving a meaningful look at potential customers. Street vendors are busy selling late night snacks for both customers and workers, including deep-fried insects with a sign in English “Do not take a photograph.” I haven’t really walked around Sukhumvit past midnight, but certainly this must be one of the busiest Soi at this time.

I don’t know what time Soi Nana goes to sleep, but it seems the Soi still hasn’t woken up at nine o’clock in the morning. It is the street’s cleanest time, after early-morning sanitation vehicle collecting last night’s mess. Nylon-woven coasters are hung to dry on the side-street until they get wet again tonight. It is still morning, but there are some farang (foreigner) guys sitting on a bar stool at the counter facing to the street, with half-drunk beer bottles on their side getting lukewarm. There is not much to see on the street, but they seem to be fine with it. I have no idea if they are tourists or expats, and if latter, how they make livings. A couple of ladies leaning on their elbows idly, no intention of entertaining customers at this time, looking at their small screens of their smartphones. There is not much sound at this time, only the occasional engine sound of motorcycle going up and down the street. Boredom and decadence in drowsy morning sunshine. That’s what it is.


Source: Expat Life Thailand

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

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