Soi Hongnam: Sukhumvit Soi 7 has become the city center’s de facto public toilet

Some resourceful soul tried to resolve the lack of toilets on the street by fashioning one out of a bucket.
Some resourceful soul tried to resolve the lack of toilets on the street by fashioning one out of a bucket.

One rarely considered side street in Nana has become home to several pop-up bars each evening, drawing a mix of regulars, tourists, and working girls — and all without a bathroom in sight.

Unless, of course, you count this DIY facility crafted out of a bucket, toilet seat, and shower curtain by some ingenious — and perhaps desperate — soul.

The DIY toilet as it often appears at night, and when it is disassembled in the daytime. These two toilet photos were contributed by a reader.

The natural result of the bar minus toilet situation on the street has meant drinkers have used the sidewalk as their bathroom for the past few years. As one does.

However, as the street has gotten more popular, there are now so many arriving nightly at the street’s five bars that the road reeks of urine around the clock, leaving a few residents downright pissed. Late-night taxi drivers that cruise the area have also begun to use this street as a de facto public bathroom, report locals. The state has gotten so bad that some now refer to the area as “Soi Hongnam” (Toilet Street).

Coconuts spoke to one of the bar owners as well as a few locals to get the lowdown on the street’s um … shitty situation.

Though Sukhumvit Soi 7 hardly has the reputation of its neighbor, infamous club street Sukhumvit Soi 11, it goes hard most nights, with the party lurching on until 6am and ending with drunk men and working girls sleeping it off on the sidewalks.

One of the street’s pop-up bar owners, who declined to be named since she does not want trouble from police, has run her bar for years and understands how bad the toilet dilemma has become as more as more people flock to the street to drink each night.

“I tried to rent a toilet. They wanted THB1,500 (US$47) for eight hours,” she said of her inquiry to a portable toilet company. Though the cost was too high for her, there was no viable place to set up a rented toilet on a street full of illegal bars anyway.

The road is mainly residential, with the Royal Benja Hotel at the back end and the Boulevard Hotel and the legit Soi 7 Beer Garden at the top. The beer garden and hotels have expressly forbidden non-customers from using their toilets.

So, drinkers have designated a few regular piss spots on the street. They go behind this green gate:

Behind this blue coffee cart, after it’s stored for the night:

Or, more recently, in the fake bathroom comprised of a white five-gallon bucket, toilet seat, and shower curtain to protect toilet-goers modesty. The bucket is periodically drained into a nearby sewer, according to those in-the-know.

The bars start setting up at around 6pm each night, with plastic stools, ’90s-era stereos, metal tables, and questionable booze.

By midnight, farangs and ladies of the night sit drinking, flirting, and playing Connect Four. Occasionally, they wander off the use the “toilet.”

Street resident Lucy Roberts bemoaned what she called the area’s “street juice,” frothy puddles of piss that remain from the previous night’s party as she heads to work early in the morning. After two of her neighbors got bacterial infections from walking on the street in sandals, she said she’ll only walk on one side of the street — the one where fewer people piss.

Erin Burney was one of the neighbors that got an infection from the street and now sprays her feet with antibacterial medicine when she enters her apartment. She’s disheartened by the situation, which has put her face-to-nether region with a urinating prostitute as she leaves for work at 6am and has had her boyfriend get covered with beer by a very drunk (but not ill-intentioned) guy that was still drinking on the street in the morning.

“This is our street; it’s where we call home, but it can be disgusting,” Burney said.

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