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Nightlife Scene Not Doing Well In Vientiane

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I go to Laos twice a year, but on my December 2011 trip I brought sand to the beach, so I hadn't partaken of the nightlife for one year until just a few days ago.

 

Man, things are not looking good.

 

Over the past couple years I've noticed a marked improvement in the bar scene there, particularly as regards freelancers. Also, there were (as of two months ago) no shortage of after-hours (til 2 or 3; regular bars have to stop serving at 11:30 and kick everyone out by midnight) bars and discos.

 

In the past few years the freelancer population has really shot up in Vientiane, many of them "grey area girls" who don't consider themselves hardcore or "lifers" in the sex work business. Many a cool night I've enjoyed being ferried around town on the back of a motorcycle of one of these girls, sometimes I even get taken to their homes.

 

Well, things are not looking good, at least to me on this trip. First of all, there was a fatal shooting (son of some rich fuck, 'natch) at Marina disco two months ago, and then two days after that, a fatal shooting at Don Chan Palace Hotel disco (this was reported to me by my taxi driver as I road in from the bridge). The result: a heavy police crackdown on after-hours venues.

 

Whether that's the sole cause of the huge drop in freelancers that I noticed on this trip, or just one cause out of many, I can't be sure...but lemme tell ya, the pickings were SLIM.

 

One of the worst things that can happen to a country's sex work industry is heavy enforcement of anti-sex work laws. This drives away the casual, "grey area" worker, and leaves only the most hardcore, drug-addled, scamming type of worker (and the pimps who take advantage of them). Makes everything dreary and dangerous...just look at the US! I wouldn't touch a hooker with a ten-foot pole there.

 

Vientiane is looking rough around the edges in other ways, too, and it's really sad to see after its recent economic growth and positive energy (and not just in the realm of sex work, but, yeah, that). For the first time, I encountered hyper-aggressive ladyboys on motorcycles, who would cruise slowly next to me as I walked down dark streets, giving me their "pitch"...and they would NOT give up or go away, they followed me for blocks. I also saw a few gaggles of scruffy looking punky (and not in a good way) Vietnamese males, and there is NO way they're up to anything good (remember the Viet. pickpocket gang busted last week at the Lady Gaga concert in BKK?). AND, I was approached by what I think was a Filipino scammer in Bor Pen Nyang, the big fourth floor freelancer venue (or so it was previously) on the river. Not sure he was Filipino, but he wouldn't respond to the only language I answered him in--Lao--and he didn't seem to understand me. He was trying to "fix me up with his friend, who likes the way I look, but is shy..." The Flips have been doing their "my sister is going to your country" card-playing scam like gangbusters in Phnom Penh recently, btw.

 

And here's probably the scariest thing I saw: on one night, there were more farang backpacker chicks in Bor Pen Nyang than Lao freelancers...!! It gets worse: two of them actually tried smiling at me across the bar. I responded with the patented "thousand yard stare" (I learned it from studying photos of Khmer Rouge child-soldiers)...yeesh. Doughy, obnoxious, smelly fat creatures.

 

At the next stop on the "circuit" (for both sex-seeking tourists and freelancers), Samlor Pub (which used to open til 2, after BPN closed at 12), it was amazingly dead, and the girls who were there weren't trying very hard. Very depressing. It closed at 12:30 or so. Last time I was there a year ago (so, low season, just like now) it was just bursting with freelancers, farang, bad Thai techno and lots of great energy, and wall-to-wall people.

 

Anyway, hopefully this is not a trend but a momentary glitch in what was Laos' delightfully unique growing sex work industry.

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When I think of VT, I cant say that the nightlife would be my main game in deciding to live there - it would be the cheaper cost of living and the fact that I would get a decent night's sleep. I've only experience Bor Pen Nyang, but the other places on that street didnt look terribly enticing - I guess its different when you are there for a long stretch.

 

One of the things that keeps rolling around in my head as I contemplate life in Pattaya is 'What will I do when Disneyland starts to bore/annoy/disturb me ?'. Nothing you've mentioned in your post - crackdowns, violence/murder, scammers and female tourists in bars - would be a novelty in Patts, but I can see the prospect of violence being a concern, whether its Farang or Thai. As things get harder elsewhere, its not hard to see increasingly desperate people from other parts of the world descending on a place like Pattaya looking to get money any way they can - in your case, it seems that the Viets have easy access to Laos, in Patts they could come from almost anywhere. Russian mob ? Check. Euro-trash ? Check. And dont even get me started on the Katoey population ...

 

End of the day, BKK/PP/AC are only an Air Asia flight away - keep the faith.

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...One of the worst things that can happen to a country's sex work industry is heavy enforcement of anti-sex work laws.

 

I'm sorry, I do know what you are trying to say, but just think a minute about that particular statement.

:doah:

TH

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Vientiane has always been, and will continue to be, poor pickings when it comes to night life. A pale shadow of any Thai city.

 

That's one of the reasons I came here to live.

 

If I need Disneyland I'll go to Pattaya.

 

The Farang female scene seems to be concentrated at the river front, it's a pity they can't move it further away.

 

The whole country seems to be in bed by about 11pm. Officially there is still a curfew. Though in the unlikely event one is stopped, a small bribe is welcome, they tend to ignore Farangs after dark unless they're making a problem.

 

A quiet, laid back place is this, with a high degree of simple pleasantness and honesty in the people.

 

Now I'm here, I hope the nightlife doesn't develop. Whilst I like nightlife, I look at what it's done to the Thais over the last 20~30 years. The Lao people are still as nice as the Thais were back then.

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A quiet, laid back place is this, with a high degree of simple pleasantness and honesty in the people.

 

Now I'm here, I hope the nightlife doesn't develop. Whilst I like nightlife, I look at what it's done to the Thais over the last 20~30 years. The Lao people are still as nice as the Thais were back then.

 

Exceelent point, and I'm sure the Laos residents, and most of the expat population, take no joy in the events ratchada describes. I like Disneyland, obviously, but I also like the fact that its concentrated in a single city in Thailand - Cowboy/Nana/Patpong notwithstanding. The bar strips in CM, Hua Hin and Udon are a pale imitation of even a single Soi in Pattaya, and thats as it should be. I will still go to AC and Cebu City just to be able to say I've been, but I dont expect it to be a patch on Pattaya regardless of the number of gals.

 

Getting back to VT, if it is ever overrun by backpackers OR mongers lured by cheap nightlife (in my experience, its not THAT cheap with the exception of Beer Lao tallies), I think it will be a sad day. As for Farang women in the bars, they dont bother me and I dont bother them, but then I tend to keep my trousers on and my hands to myself, even in Go-Gos. I guess I'm a prude like that. :surprised:

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Sorry, forgot to add - one way to harden the attitudes of the locals to foreigners is to behave the way many do in Pattaya - Vang Vieng should be sufficient warning to the Laos government that lowlife backpackers arent going to be their favourite tourists.

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There wasn't much of a nightlife when I went there in 1974 either, just knocking shops and lots of opium dens! The "nightclubs" (brothels really) back then all seemed to be run by Vietnamese, with two photos prominently displayed on the wall - King Sawang Wattana and RVN President Ngyuen Van Thieu. The women were young and cute - and came from both sides of the Mekhong River. It couldn't have cost more than 20 or 30 baht. Ah, the good old days.

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I'm sorry, I do know what you are trying to say, but just think a minute about that particular statement.

:doah:

TH

 

I fail to see your point. Are you saying you're anti-sex-work? I am not.

 

Over-regulation of sex work helps nobody and harms many. Think: Prohibition (of alcohol) in the US in the 1920s...a similar disaster.

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Vientiane has always been, and will continue to be, poor pickings when it comes to night life. A pale shadow of any Thai city.

 

That's one of the reasons I came here to live.

 

If I need Disneyland I'll go to Pattaya.

 

The Farang female scene seems to be concentrated at the river front, it's a pity they can't move it further away.

 

The whole country seems to be in bed by about 11pm. Officially there is still a curfew. Though in the unlikely event one is stopped, a small bribe is welcome, they tend to ignore Farangs after dark unless they're making a problem.

 

A quiet, laid back place is this, with a high degree of simple pleasantness and honesty in the people.

 

Now I'm here, I hope the nightlife doesn't develop. Whilst I like nightlife, I look at what it's done to the Thais over the last 20~30 years. The Lao people are still as nice as the Thais were back then.

 

I agree with you, and I'm not saying I want Laos to ever have a sex industry like Thailand...for god's sake, not like Pattaya especially, I hate that place.

 

But that doesn't mean Laos can't have a modest sex industry in their own style. They deserve a slice of the pie too.

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Patts is overkill - no question - but who goes to an all-you-can-eat night after night and makes a total pig of themselves ? I cant think of anywhere where I could retain my 'holiday mode' persona and keep breathing - even if I simply drank myself to death.

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