Friday, October 22, 2010

Patpong's Afternoon Metamorphosis, Part 1

Thanon Patpong II, looking towards Silom Road

An almost unbelievable transformation takes place along Thanon Patpong II every afternoon, beginning around 14:00 (2:00pm). By "unbelievable" I don't mean a man juggles elephants, but if one did it would still only be slightly more amazing than the daily set-up and breaking down of the Patpong Night Market, in my book.

Thanon Patpong II is a relatively short street, somewhere around 800 feet between Silom and Suriwong, close to the Sala Daeng BTS station. As a point of reference, if you enlarge the vertical photo on the left you can see a green label for Suriwong Road at the top and a blue one for Silom Road at the bottom. Less than a city block to the right of the Silom label are the stairs to the Sala Daeng BTS station. You'll see there are almost no cars parked along it, and almost no vehicular traffic

There's also another image (below) showing the general area that will make more sense if you take a moment to enlarge it. In it you can see the BTS station, a few key restaurants and hotels (not yet covered here, but they will be) and another street I call "Soi Yipun" that we covered back in March.

The general area of Silom from Google Maps

At night, both streets share an explosion of activity: club touts, vendors, tourists and enough bright lights to probably make them both visible from space. The main differences are that Soi Yipun is still open to traffic, while Patpong II is a long stretch of multiple LONG rows of stalls and sidewalk vendors that fill the length of the street, making it only navigable on foot - and even that's sometimes a will of wits to get through the thousands of people who wander along there every night, looking for bargains and tourist items.

However, during the first half of the day Patpong is almost completely deserted. You can see in the top photo today - looking towards the Silom end - that there's nothing but an empty street, lined with businesses waiting to open late in the afternoon. The odd delivery truck stops to make a delivery (one guy sleeping on top of some beer here from Sleeping: Part 7) and there are of course folks living and working inside and above many of the shops, restaurants and clubs, but for the most part it's empty, and quiet - populated by street cats and dogs, scavenging for food in the leftover scraps from the night before.

Ah, but it's the flurry of human and mechanical activity while assembling this night monster that's the real show. Photos of that work and the guys who do it tomorrow.

Patpong II - before the setting up - looking towards Suriwong


Anonymous said...

...someday you need to write about creative and borderline dangerous wiring hanging over the streets of Bangkok.

khunbaobao said...

Soon, thanks. There are a half-dozen or so photos of these "ball of snakes" safety hazards already set aside. I get a kick out of the creativity involved, too.