The doors to one Chinese hangout, which happens to be above Tesco-Lotus, are tucked away and hidden from plain view. In fact, on my subsequent return, I only managed to find the entrance after walking up and down the street and looking at each and every door. One would assume any building with a Tesco Lotus has to be easy to find, right?
Walk inside, make a sharp right away from Tesco Lotus and go up the escalators. In the past, the escalators carried a handful of the curious and those in the know up and down. Nowadays, the escalators are locked stiff and human power is required.
At the top of the escalators are massage parlors. Traditional massage parlors, supposedly, but I'm guessing (only guessing) if you were bring up the subject of a happy ending, you might be taken to a secret room in the back. In the past there were around ten massage parlors and four or five restaurants, two with karaoke. Now many of the massage parlors have given way for makeshift restaurants and coffee shops; cheap tables and plastic chairs are abound. Chinese women work the customers and cackles and smiles are abundant.
There is Chinese music playing and there are karaoke singers who sound like sick dogs yet think they sound like Andy Lau or Jacky Cheung. A few seconds of karaoke and garbled Chinese words floating through the air is all it takes to bring inscrutable pain to my ears.
In between the gaudy restaurants, massage parlors, chunky prostitutes with clown makeup, and the tiny plastic chairs, there are Chinese goods. Mostly junk but undeniably Chinese. There are even framed photographs of The Great Leader - oops, that's the now deceased North Korean jackass with an equally moronic son - there are photos of many of China's leaders, all dressed in military garb.
The hookers, oops, another mistake...I mean the waitresses, kneel down on the ground to cook. Seems the tables are for customers and coffee machines, the floor is for woks and the Chinese food in them. The 50 or so senior citizens sitting around don't seem to mind, so neither should you. I had a guy who didn't look a day over 102 ask me if I wanted to drink whiskey and get shitfaced with him. Had it not been 11AM, I might have accepted. It might have been fun, not to mention an adventure, getting hammered with a Chinese guy old enough to be my great-great-great grandfather.
I love this place! There's a whole lot of nothing going on in the place but it sure is fun to sit and watch the nothingness.
If you want to kill an hour or two in Chinatown, this is the place to do so. It's air-conditioned, provides free entertainment (for those with eyes and/or ears), you can get a happy massage, and there's even some halfway decent food and espresso.
I brought my mother and sister here and they couldn't stop laughing. It's that kinda place.
Do not be surprised if a one or more Chinese women who look like Bozo the Clown walk up to you and ask where you come from. Tell her Eritrea...that should shoo her away. Unless...nah, my readers have better taste than...well, maybe not. If men will fall in love with Thai bar girls and lose their shirts, falling for a Chinese hooker working with 80-year-old men might not be out of the question.
To get to this old person's hangout:
Coming from the entrance to Chinatown on Yaowarat Road, walk to Soi Mangkon. Walk back a few steps and look for a door set in to the building. That's the place. You can also take a right at Soi Mangkon, then look for another small door. There's a big sign on the building facing Yaowarat Road. It very clearly says TESCO LOTUS...but I never knew it was there until I Googled Tesco Lotus.