Saturday, May 20, 2006

Taipei Pubs: The Zone



The Zone is a block of bars hiding just off the main street on Lane 32 Shuang Cheng St. It is located within walking distance of Minquan MRT. Also called The War Zone or The Combat Zone, The Zone started as an entertainment district for foreign soldiers and has a mix of good pubs and annoying or sleazy hostess bars.

If you spend about 30 seconds in the hostess bars here you will have a bar girl ask you to buy her a drink. Regardless of your intentions this is not necessarily good or bad, as this is a normal part of Asian culture. If you buy a lady's drink, be prepared to pay about $300 for it. If a lady asks you for a drink, don’t be afraid to ask the price or to refuse her. If service has been good, consider buying a lady’s drink instead of tipping. Tipping is not part of the Asian culture, but bar hostesses are.

Some bars and girls are quite aggressive. My best advice is the harder the girls try to get you in the door or solicit you to buy them a drink, the less you will probably want to be there. These bars are often marked by women standing in front of the entrance; either loitering or encouraging you to come in for “one drink”. Some but not all of them are prostitute bars. I usually don’t spend enough on the lady’s drinks to be propositioned, but don’t be surprised if it happens.

Most bars don’t even open until after 7pm and are open until 4am; others are open as long as you want to stay. Some of the bars never seem to have any customers, so it is probably pointless to list all of them, as the name may be different next week.

Getting to the Zone

Exit at Minquan MRT, Red-Danshui Line. Come out Exit 1 and turn right on Minquan Rd. You will take a left on Zhongshan N. Rd. and then cross to the other side of the street. You can also take the underpass diagonally across the street. At the next block Zhongshan will intersect Nongan St. Cross the street and turn right. Then make an immediate left into the small lane. You will pass by some lanes where you can only turn right. The third lane is Lane 32. You will know this is the right one as the glow of neon goes down the lane on both sides. In the surrounding blocks you will also find many bars. You have reached The Zone.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in The Zone

My Place

This British pub features friendly service, free popcorn and a pool table. This is one of the spots that I keep stumbling back to. They are open until 4am, and they have a good assortment of pub food. They will occasionally stay open later if there is a football (soccer) game on.

Located in The Zone, about half way down Lane 32. This appears to be a typical British pub and does not have much ambiance but the friendly people on both sides of the bar make it worth checking out. You can check out their website at www.taipeipubs.com

Address: No. 3-1 Lane 32 Shuang-Cheng St., Taipei

Telephone: 02-2591-4269, 02-2592-8122. Most of the employee’s speak English so you can have them give directions to your taxi driver if you are having trouble.

The Farmhouse: This pub is next door to My Place. I've never been inside, but it's supposed to be ok and from time to time they have live entertainment.


The Manila

Across the street from My Place on Lane 32, this is a typical pub with good service that attracts a steady crowd.

Tokyo

This is a small hostess bar. I don’t recommend it unless you want to buy lady’s drinks in the hope of feeling up your hostess. Tokyo is located next door to The Manila on Lane 32. There are several similar bars along this block.

The Manhattan is a small hostess bar. It used to be ok, but since I've been there most of their staff has turned over.

Meilann

This is a bigger hostess bar located at the end of the zone, on the corner across the street on Shuang Cheng St. This place offers what you can expect from hostess bars here. The girls range significantly in looks, from hot to not, and I have been offered additional services here. I don't really care for this place, but it is what it is.

Malibu West

This is a laid back place for a drink. They have a pool table and darts. It is located across the street from the main block of the zone. If you cross the street from the main zone, head East down the Lane 32 past Meilann, which is on the corner. The same owner and website as My Place: www.taipeipubs.com.

Ai-Mei’s Coyote Pub

Open until 4am or until the last drunk stumbles out, they have friendly service and free Karaoke in English and Tagalog. The same management also has a Sunday afternoon disco, which is popular among the Filipino expatriate community. There is a free bus from the pub to the disco. Although it’s not strictly a hostess bar, the girls may ask if you want to buy them a drink.

B-52s

This is a basement disco located on Shuang Cheng St. It is depressingly empty on Saturday nights. It will fill up with Filipino expatriates on Sunday afternoons.

Phoenix Piano Bar

They have a posh interior, but the musicians where not my style, especially when they started to do karaoke. This is located in the basement level of Shuang Cheng St. #23.

Other Bars in Taipei: http://taipeiguide.blogspot.com/2006/05/pubs-bars-nightclubs-in-taipei.html