Nightlife @ Clark Quay, Singapore

Friends know that I’m somewhat of a Cinderella when it comes to hanging out past bedtime, coz I’m usually home by 12am. Never been much of a drinker (due to my ridiculously low tolerance to alcohol). Plus it’s not much fun to stay out late when all your friends get woozy on the dance floor and cheer up a toast, while you sit in a corner with a mocktail. 😀

But on my last night in Singapore, I decided to hell with playing the prim and proper nerd. I had a date with my high school bestie, G, and she wanted to get drinks.  Since she got off work late, we only arrived at Singapore’s party central, Clarke Quay, close to midnight.

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Located at the mouth of the Singapore River, Clark Quay is a historical site that was once a key port for ships passing through from the Malay states of Perak, Sungai Ujong and Selangor. Today, five blocks of its restored warehouses have been converted into a sprawling expanse of bars, hotels and clubs. The place is lively even in the wee hours, with both locals and foreigners doing their nightly pub crawls.

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G and I wandered around for a bit in search of food and a nice quiet place to talk. Most of the bars were filled with rowdy patrons, so it was awhile before we found a spot.

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We finally settled for Ramen Keisuke, a Japanese chain specialising in lobster ramen. The interior, which seats about 60, is cosy with lots of wooden accents and a large bell in the middle of the dining area ala Japanese shrine (great for aesthetics, but not so much for space).

I had a drink called a Green Tea Cola, which was fizzy, sweet and super refreshing. Basically green tea, but cola-fied, like sparkling water. It was so addictive I had two bottles! 🙂

G had some Suntory Whiskey. Wasn’t too bad, but I was scared to take a shot so I watered it down so much it tasted like water xD

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G opted for their Lobster Broth Ramen, which uses rock lobsters from France. The shells are pan-fried, crushed and simmered for six hours. I tried a sip. Personally, it didn’t taste very different from regular ramen soup to me (oy vey, all this hard effort is lost!)…although it was quite yummy, with a clear and sweet taste.

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Being the Queen of Fried, I had to get something crunchy – in the form of Ebi Gyoza (shrimp dumplings). These were fried whole with the tails still on, served with a ginger and vinegar dip. Good, but nothing fancy.

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The best item of the night, imo, was the Chicken with Homemade Tartar Sauce: juicy, fleshy pieces of meat that are battered and deep fried to crispy golden perfection. The meat was tender and well marinated, but what I liked was the creamy topping of hard boiled egg, mayo and onions, which the servers mix fresh at your table.

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Walked around for a bit, but G hadn’t had her fill of alcohol so we hung out at one of the smaller street-style pubs.

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I had some sort of mocktail which was syrupy sweet. But what blew me away was G’s Bailey’s with Milk. Never having had a Bailey’s in my life, I was surprised to find that when mixed with milk, the concoction tasted like coffee. A little dangerous imo, coz it’s easy to drink more than you should.

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G actually wanted to get wasted, but it was 3AM and I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so we took a cab back to Orchard Road where my hotel was. Street was empty, but it didn’t feel dangerous or anything. Unlike KL lol.

 

Bangla Road, Phuket’s Red Light District

Sundown is when the party starts at Bangla Road, Patong. 

Notorious as Phuket island’s red light district, the place comes alive each night with neon lights, loud music and sexy girls at every corner. This is where members of the oldest profession in the world openly ply their trade along the 400m long street, amidst a backdrop of sleazy strip bars and clubs.

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Although the arch says ‘Patong Beach’, this is really the entrance to the infamous Bangla Road. H & I were immediately accosted by dozens of people toting placards for ping pong and tiger shows. “Free entry! Free entry! Just buy drink only!” one girl nearly screamed in my face as I tried to rush past.

There were vendors selling cheap Winston cigarettes, people selling souvenirs, and transgenders dressed up in elaborate stage costumes, whom you can take photos with for a fee. At first glance and from afar, most wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from real women – until you see their Adam’s apples bobbing up and down their throats.

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In steamy bars, men (and women) sat around sipping cold beers, watching as scantily clad dancers gyrated around glowing poles. Sex was everywhere.

It was all quite overwhelming, the easy way sex was bought and sold in this place. Sex was a service, and the girls (and guys) could love you long time –  for a fee. Even though I was at the heart of it all, it was still odd to see all these big, burly white men walking with small, busty Thai chicks. Knowing that later that night, they would go back to the hotel and fuck. The guy would pay her, and they’d go their separate ways. Heard the phrase mixing business with pleasure? Here, pleasure was a business.

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I’ve read many books written by former sex workers on the sex trade in Thailand. How some of these girls are emotionally and psychologically damaged beyond repair because of what they are subject to. Clients who torture them, who think they can do whatever they want to because they pay them.  And I count my lucky stars. If I had been born under different circumstances, who’s to say I wouldn’t be among them?

I don’t think I could ever do that for money, but then again, I’m more fortunate than most people. Some of these girls have no choice, while some choose it for the quick and easy money.

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We sat down to people-watch and have some drinks. I don’t drink (Yeah. I’m a prude and I don’t drink. I’m ‘uncool’ like that) but I didn’t want to be a killjoy so I ordered one with the least amount of alcohol – something called Spy. It’s this sickly sweet lady beer that tastes like soda. H had a Pina Colada.

The bar girls who prepared our drinks were all dressed sexily. Some (but not all) will be available for sexual favours, but clients will have to pay the bar for the amount of time that they take her out (it’s a loss of business when there are no bar girls working, see).

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H poked me in the arm.

“I think those are prostitutes,” she pointed at a pair of girls, who were just standing and waiting. One was dressed sexily, but the other had jeans and a long-sleeved blouse on.

“What makes you say that?”

“They haven’t moved from that spot for some time now. The girl in pink keeps checking her makeup in the mirror.”

There were two older ladies with super thick make up hovering nearby. I assumed they were mama-sans. The modus operandi went like this: the two mama-sans usually targeted men walking alone, whom they would drag towards the girls. But despite the big crowd, it must have been a slow night because we sat there for 45 minutes and the girls didn’t get even one successful ‘transaction’.

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If you’re just looking for good, clean partying, there are a couple of bars that offer live bands or sports TV, with no dancing girls. Note: A beer is priced at a minimum of 80B.

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Further down the road were more ‘family-friendly’ shops. After all of that, I saw a Starbucks and nearly burst out laughing. Even in the middle of all this, you can’t escape….

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All that walking and people watching was tiring, so before we hopped back onto our motorbike, we stopped for a crepe snack.

Okay, so I stopped at this particular stall because the guy was cute. He had dimples omg. No, I did not take a picture of him because I was shy lol.

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Our Nutella and condensed milk crepe was thin and crispy, almost like a wafer. Costs 80B (yeahhhh pricey but what the heck).

Walking down Bangla Road was an eye-opening experience. Will I come back again? Maybe not. It was interesting though.

Here’s an informative article if you’d like to read more about Bangla Road and the different bars/clubs there. Link: here.