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Thread: Wong's

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    I don't know barbaro's Avatar
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    Wong's

    Here's an article on "Wong's Place." There have been other articles, but this is worth a post.

    I liked Wong. He was a nice guy. Sammy is nice, too. I was in there bout 2 weeks ago for 2 beers.

    by Cod Satrusayang
    5 February, 2010



    The legend of Wong's Place, a dive few leave sober


    We take an intoxicating trip back in time to trace the history of this adored Bangkok pub


    From the outside, Wong's Place is an unremarkable little dive, one of many reasons for its unique staying power in a city where pubs come and go weekly.



    On any given post-midnight day, tiny Bangkok bar Wong’s Place will be filled with drunken partiers hell bent on making sure the night’s not over yet. This hole-in-the-wall dive bar near Sathorn and Rama IV Road is a Bangkok institution, attracting everyone from the odd local celeb to curious backpackers looking for a late-night hangout.
    Expat regular Stuie Matthews sums up the charms of Wong's Place best: "It's cramped, it's dark, it smells. It's the best damn place in the universe!"
    The bar’s origins are the stuff of Bangkok backpacker legend. Before Khaosan, Sukumvit Soi 11 and all the other tourist magnets, there was Malaysia Hotel, the center of the growing backpacking scene emerging in the 1980s. The only bar in the area was a tiny little hovel named Wong’s Place. Unlikely, improbably and through word of mouth alone, the wee backpacker’s bar became a meetup hotspot of Southeast Asia.
    Sam Wong raises a glass while enjoying a puff on his shisha pipe.



    We asked owner Sam Wong, the youngest in a family of 12 children and born in the late 1950s in Southern China, to explain how it all began.
    From Southern China to Yala and beyond

    To escape the harshness of totalitarian rule in China, Sam says his family emigrated to Southeast Asia when he was a young boy. After drifting for a few years, they eventually settled in the southern Thai province of Yala, which is where Sam grew up.
    “It was a small little town with Chinese, Buddhist and Muslims, but everyone got on,” he says, noting that of his 11 older siblings he was closest to his brother, who Sam simply refers to affectionately as "Wongsie," only a year older than he was.
    “People used to say we were twins, I suppose it’s true though, we looked alike and thought alike,” Sam says.
    The two brothers eventually traveled up the Thai countryside, arriving in Bangkok to seek their fortunes.
    They settled in the area around Soi Ngam Duplee sometime in the mid-1960s and stayed there well into the 1970s. During this time the world’s eyes were transfixed on Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War was raging and terms like "rolling thunder," "Viet Cong," and "body count" became part of everyday vernacular. This was the scene that Sam Wong stumbled blindly into, a scene that would open his eyes.
    In those days the corner of the road opposite the Malaysia Hotel was the Blue Fox bar, says Sam. “Everyone was there -- GIs, reporters; they would sit around listening to VOA [Voice of America] or the BBC.”
    Many of the VHS music videos at Wong's Place were donated by travellers passing through.



    It was the sort of watering hole where you could get anything for the right price; sex, booze and drugs sold readily alongside breakfast. Here Sam and his older brother tried to make a living selling t-shirts to GIs and other foreigners. It was during this time that the siblings were introduced to the sounds that would influence their bar, discovering everyone from the Beatles to Marianne Faithfull.
    The birth, and rebirth of Wong's Place

    Eventually the two brothers parted ways with Sam going to China and meeting up with a Thai senator who he “followed” around for the next decade serving as a bodyguard, secretary and translator.
    Wongsie opened Wong’s Place in 1987. Almost immediately, it was a hit, serving its first drinks at a time when the backpacker trail across South Asia was becoming more defined, with Bangkok forming a major stop.
    Sam would stop in intermittently in the following decade but day to day operations were handled by his brother. In 2003 though, Sam got a call from his brother complaining of chest pains. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him and was soon hospitalised so Sam cut short his travels to attend to his brother.
    “He was a really healthy guy too ... so it came as a shock," recalls Sam. With his brother in hospital, Wong's Place closed its doors.
    Wong's Place is small, which means that on many nights it's standing room only.

    During this period, Sam realised what the bar and his brother meant to a lot of people. Editors and writers from the Nation and Bangkok Post were among those that visited them in hospital and people constantly stopped Sam to wish his brother well. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse and his brother passed away. As news broke, flowers began piling up outside the bars faded red exterior and people pleaded with Sam to keep the bar going.
    “It was completely filled up, the front of the store, flowers and cards from everywhere, people offering to finance the bar, people passing on letters of condolences, there were messages from nearly every continent!” says Sam.
    After a few weeks of soul searching, he took leave from the senator and restarted Wong’s bar, a process that required a lot of hard work. News of Wong’s Place's reopening spread and people as far as Stockholm booked flights to be there on reopening night -- around six months after it shut -- with over 500 people cramming into the tiny bar.
    “It was definitely standing room only and people still couldn’t fit so they stood around out front," he says.
    Fast forward seven years to today and the pony-tailed Sam is still there, telling stories and playing VHS music videos from an impressive collection to a packed late-night house, right down the street from the still-standing Malaysia Hotel.



    Read more: The legend of Wong's Place | CNNGo.com The legend of Wong's Place | CNNGo.com
    Link, here ^

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    Yeah, I've been there once. Soi ngam dupli right? I remember his impressive music video collection. You want to watch some old Bob Dylan footage, then he'll slap it on for you.

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    Nice review, used to drink there with "Donginthekhlong" from AF. Anyone know if he still posts?

    Sammy is ok, but Wong was much cooler. A few good places to eat down that soi too.

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    Spent some time there when Madam Guesthouse (Soi Saphan Khu) was my budget place of stay in BKK. Phen is really nice, Kai is a nice guy but had some drinking problems.



    Liked this soi. Very quiet even near a busy place like Rama IV. The cambodian restaurant at the paak soi open 24 hours was nice. The food was so so but the beer was fresh. A good point when thirsty at 4AM.

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    The only bar in the area was a tiny little hovel named Wong’s Place.
    not quite correct, some may remember the legendary "blue fox" just across the road from wongs.

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    "Before Khaosan, Sukumvit Soi 11 and all the other tourist magnets, there was Malaysia Hotel, the center of the growing backpacking scene emerging in the 1980s. The only bar in the area was a tiny little hovel named Wong’s Place."

    Also, of course, the infamous Malaysia Hotel Coffee Shop.
    “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy Parker

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    blue fox,yeah.
    now 7/11 is inside!

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    That is really a surprise that it is still open. I wouldn't have thought that Wong was so healthy, sitting in that bar so long.

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    Errrr I though wong kicked the bucket long ago and sammy took over

    If my memory serves me there was a cremation in early 2003 down Sathorn Rd way, could be thinking of another bar owner though?

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    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo View Post
    "Before Khaosan, Sukumvit Soi 11 and all the other tourist magnets, there was Malaysia Hotel, the center of the growing backpacking scene emerging in the 1980s. "

    Also, of course, the infamous Malaysia Hotel Coffee Shop.
    It's now a gay place. Sad, coz they have a nice small swimming-pool.

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    ^ yep that sammy bloke is a dead set shirt lifter, pillow biter whatever ...

    A quick search to remind me if Wong was dead or not revealed an exact same thread on Ajarn forum started on the same day, says the same shite, nice OP mate

    Wong's

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    I don't know barbaro's Avatar
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    ^ Wayne, yes, I started that thread as I occasionally post on that site.

    As for Wong's, I remember going to Wong's and chatting with Wong in 2002. I returned in January of 2003, and I think he had passed.

    I liked Wong. As stated on the other channel, Sammy just ain't the same. And a small beer is 80 Baht, as I was at Wong's 2 weeks ago.

    Places change. Prices change. And yes, people pass on.
    ............

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikem View Post
    That is really a surprise that it is still open. I wouldn't have thought that Wong was so healthy, sitting in that bar so long.
    Wong died of cancer right? Sitting and breathing that second hand smoke all the time?

    Was he as smoker? I forgot.

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    the articile is twaddle, i have looked in there for years and its mostly empty and the owner looks like death from all the late nights .occasionally you see some farangs in there partying but its rare . The Blue Rose across the street was also a dump as well,never saw any action in there when it was open .
    i'd rather have a phlebotomy than a full frontal lobotomy

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    The Blue Rose across the street was also a dump as well,never saw any action in there when it was open .
    you should have been there ( blue fox, btw) in the late eighties, it was a hot bed of debauchery, a veritable sodom and gommorroh, a place where depths could be plumbed, a sleazy backwater filled with beauties and grotesques. could have been the inspiration for henry miller, tom waits, and hogarth.

    no place since has ever come close. a one off.

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    I remember Wong - the original. Things kind of went downhill after his wife cleared off to Japan with their daughter. She was Japanese. He went out there a few times to visit after the split. I saw some of the video he took from the train etc.
    He was badly affected by it all.

    Incidentally - Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet) was taken there by the staff of Metro magazine about ten years ago and poor old Wong didn't have a clue as to who she was.

    I live in BKK - but haven't been to Wong's for a very - very long time.

    In 1995/96 a small Singha at Wongs was 25 baht.
    Last edited by Khai Toun; 01-06-2010 at 09:52 PM.

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