The Combat Zone

About 25 years ago and before when the Vietnam war was happening (a brief mention of the combat zone is entered in the novel " Chicken Hawk"), it was a sort of an R&R place for US marines, but when the marines left Taiwan after the recognition of the PRC, the wildness went too. Now it is much tamer. You still got the Romeo club (Entertaining The Weary Traveller & Business Man For Years) with the Grannys outside trying to get you in…but all in all… unless you want to go for a quiet drink…it relies to much in its name rather than the atmosphere that is there…haven’t been there for a long time…but I lived near there for about 2 years…eachtime I went back the bars were a little quieter and the bar maids were a little older

When I had my interview, a few of the Guys, wanted to take me to the “ZONE”. Lack of time meant no Zone, but now that I’m coming in 3 days time, please enlighten me.


and do I really want to go there

I mean it’s not a tacky HongDengQu is it?

The “Zone” is a rather seedy little district of Taipei. There are a lot of bars there and “the guys” may just want to get you drunk. On the other hand, there are also a lot of “hostess clubs,” which in case you haven’t spent that much time in Asia is a a joint where you buy the “hostesses” expensive drinks and get to chat and fondle them up. As you can imagine, for an extra fee you can take her back to your hotel. My guess is that your coworkers want to get you a prostitute. Do you want to go there? If that’s what you’re looking for, otherwise there are lots of better places to drink in Taipei.

The “Zone” or “Combat Zone” is indeed a seedy area of bars and hostess clubs but that’s not the worst aspect of the place.

Probably the worst part (apart from the fact that these days its geared far more towards Japanese salarymen) is that most of the dives have seen little reburbishment (making them look more `burbish, of course. What, did you think I meant to type "reFurbishment?)or moving with the times since the 1970s, when it was an R&R destination for American troops in Vietnam. Quaint, rather than raunchy, is how I’d describe it. Be warned, also – more than a few of the “girls” were probably plying their trade to GIs in their younger days

You’ll need to go once, I guess, just to confirm to yourself that you have no desire to go back – as Grizzly said, there are far nicer and FAR more “hip” places to go.

I’d be a little worried about starting work with a bunch of guys that think a night out in the Zone is cool!

If you want to see images of ‘The Zone’, from here on known as the ‘Twilight Zone’, just take a look at the ads in ‘This Month in Taiwan’.
The fat german? geezer licking the girl’s shoe in one ad sort of sums it all up…

The only thing more pathetic than The Zone is This Month in Taiwan and their stupid, dated advertisements for the establishments in that area. On top of that, the magazine likes to refer to the Zone as “Taipei’s Soho” in a misfired attempt to somehow give it a hip vibe.

Before there was “The Combat Zone”, there was “Sugar Daddy Row” which ran (mostly) east of Zhong Shan N. Road along Min Zu E. Road - pretty much the same area as the current Combat Zone. It consisted of many, many, many bars catering to the G.I. trade. The location of Sugar Daddy Row was dictated by the fact that the largest U.S. military installation in Taipei was the U.S. Navy compound located on either side of Zhong Shan N. Road immediately north of Min Zu Road (there is now a large sports stadium where the Navy west compound was located). Also, another fairly large Air Force installation was Lin Kou Air Station (where I was stationed and which looked nothing at all like the Lin Kou of today). The bus that took us to and from Lin Kou dropped us off in front of the Navy compound. This meant every day a fairly large number of, umm - how shall I say this, how about “anxious”, G.I.s poured out the front gate of the Navy compound looking for fun. A great many of the G.I.s found the bars along Sugar Daddy Row just around the corner from the Navy compound an irresistible draw.

When I first came to Taiwan in January 1974, serving in the U.S. Air Force with two stripes on my sleeve, I found out right away about Sugar Daddy Row, although it wasn’t a scene I ever got into. The bars along Sugar Daddy Row packed them in until the U.S. military pulled out in 1979, then “The Combat Zone” showed up, Armed Forces Radio Taiwan became ICRT, etc. However, Caves Bookstore on Zhong Shan has endured without changing.

Been there, seen it and probably will never go again. Nuff said.

The Zone is a favored haunt of middle aged white collar expats. It also draws heavily on the visiting businessman crowd looking for some local “action”. There are several business-class hotels in the vicinty of the Zone - so it’s easy for the business men to go there. Even the pubs that are not Japanese style hostess bars have bar-girls that are there to encourage customers to drink more and to buy them drinks, too. Many of these girls are Taiwanese aborigines, some of them are young “hottie” types, but the lifestyle of getting drunk everynight, dealing with an ever changing cast of foreigners, and making money on the side by sleeping with the customers, make them pretty jaded, pretty fast. The whole scene is kinda depressing, and definitely not the kind of place most of us chose to go to. The area that the Zone is located is old and very dingy by Taipei standards - a distinctly seedy feel.

There is ONE pub, called the “Farmhouse” that has remainded popular with locals - because of the live music and dancing. By Zone standards, it’s a happening place, but few of us who actually live in Taipei bother going there, because there are much better places to frequent, in nicer parts of the city.

The Zone area is very popular with Fillapino workers on the weekend. The area around the Catholic Church on Zhong-Shan N. Rd.,is packed with Tagalo speakers on Sunday. There are one or two clubs, that are favored by these folks for Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday dancing and socializing.

All-in-all, I’d give the area a miss, if I were you.

Seedy is cool now !
Many of the old ‘hostess’ bars have been renovated. There are pubs there.
You can even buy a decent meal.
At least a pub crawl is possible on two legs!

The previous posters are reflecting upon their ancient drunken memories !

…which oub would you recommend ?

I recommend the “full bodied” ambiance of Hollywood Baby.
When I was in the service, I heard a lot of stories about the Combat Zone in Boston, where I assume the Taipei name comes from. I’d like to see it some day, but not without armed escort.

The other night a few friends and I stumbled into the Zone around 3am. It wasn’t anything there… a few patrons were staggering out of the Farmhouse by then.

My favourite pub in the zone is Malibu best pub food in Taipei by a long way. I often have their all day full English breakfast, great value.

Malibu has an all day English breakfast? I’m there.
We should have a happy hour in the Zone. My Place is big enough.

My Place is the closest thing to a “real” pub around there and Malibu is similar.
Hollywood Baby has nice staff, but I found it to be ultimately boring.
A number of expats go to Patina.
B52 after 4am used to be interesting (that’s when many of the other places close and the ladies congregate at B52), but these days the action is sparce.
Just walk around; you don’t have to buy ladies’ drinks.

OK, will have a look again in the Zone, it has been a long time.
Hollywood Baby is a place where I used to get bored too. Always same stories, dirty jokes, artificial fun, the constant asking for drinks (one for the lady you chat with is no problem, but they expect you to buy all staff a drink, including those who sit at the other side of the bar and you have never spoken to). Wish me luck…

[quote=“wolf_reinhold”]My Place is the closest thing to a “real” pub around there and Malibu is similar.

Some of my mates and I used to go to My Place about once a week. Last time we went, we were charged NT$240 each for cans of Boddington’s. When we questioned the bill (something we’ve never done before, but it seemed awfully high, and we were drinking Boddington’s all night), we received the response that the import price on a Boddington’s had gone up, and instead of the original NT$180, we had to pay an extra NT$60 per pint. When I questioned the bar manager, he repeated the same thing.

The price on the menu still read NT$180. No notification of the change whatsoever.

A few nights later, when we were at another pub, and were charged NT$180 per pint of Boddington’s, we asked the owner if the import price had gone up. He said it hadn’t.

My friends and I will not be returning. If the price had gone up that much, there should have been a warning of some kind. I have no tolerance for this sort of attitude toward customers, particularly customers who regularly patronize a place.

FYI: I believe My Place is part of the chain that includes My Other Place, Saints and Sinners, and the Malibus.

Yes, they’re part of the group who advertises here.

That’s really low down of them. :raspberry:

That is an odd story. The people at My Place are very up front about things and have no interest in cheating anyone, to my understanding. The menu deal could have been an oversight but I will have to check.
I was there last night, in fact – you missed your chance…:wink:
I should mention that a number of small pubs have sprung up along that lane recently that are aiming for the more upscale sort of establishment. One has big cushioned seats, but I didn’t go inside to check them out.
The change to a higher level is probably good, but the fact remains that there are too many pubs in too small an area.