Stickman Readers' Submissions September 12th, 2003

Changing For The Better

By James James

I couldn't agree more with Austrian Chap’s posting about the changes in the bar scene being no bad thing. The whole bar scene has got out of control in recent years and I for one am grateful for the present ‘crackdown’.

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While I’m a big fan of Stickman’s site, it has to be said that websites like this, highlighting the Thai bar scene, have attracted the wrong sort of guys to the Land of Smile. In droves.

Being a Brit myself, I’m ashamed to admit that my countrymen tend to be the worst, though I’ve met more than my fair share of ugly Americans in the bars of Nana, Patpong and Cowboy. Loud-mouthed, obnoxious, taking Polaroid photographs of every hooker they screw, boasting to all and sundry about the number of times they’ve been laid. Sex tourists, one and all. Cheap flights and the weak baht are partly to blame, but it’s also a result of too much information being available. Telling a chinless, balding football thug in East London that he can get laid all night for twenty quid and drink himself senseless until two in the morning is like a red rag to a bull.

As the sex tourists have piled in, the bars have got out of control. Asoke Plaza with its girls sitting in short skirts and halter tops at the intersection of two of the busiest roads in Bangkok is an insult to every Thai in the city. The hookers lining Sukhumvit Road between Soi 3 and Soi 15 every evening are an eye-sore. Soi Nana used to be a quiet road and you had to go looking for Nana Plaza. Now the road is lined with hooker bars to the extent that regular Thais are too embarrassed to walk down it.

It wasn’t always like this, and I’m long enough in the tooth to remember the better times. Fifteen years ago. Maybe more. There were no go-go bars in Nana back then, just a couple of beer bars. The guys you met in Cowboy worked in Asia. They had real jobs, were earning real money, and were in town for a week or so to blow off steam. There were shows in Patpong, but not that much nudity. And get this ­ the bars closed at 1pm. And that was fine.

And you know what? Back then, you didn’t get bargirls spinning you lines about sick water buffaloes and dying mothers. You didn’t get grabbed by the arm and pulled into bars. You didn’t get pestered to buy roses from Vietnamese children. You didn’t meet loud-mouthed sex tourists bragging about the number of times they’d been laid. You sat down in a bar and had a drink and the music was good and the girls were pretty and attentive. Chances are that the guy on the stool next to you was an oil rig worker from the Gulf or a Hong Kong broker or a banker from Jakarta.

So, bring on the clampdown. Send all the sex tourists back home and let the bar scene go back to the way it was. Do I care if the girls are naked or not? No, sir, I do not. Do I care if they pull razor blades out of their pussies? Not really. Do I care if the bars shut at 2pm? Nope. If I start drinking at 7pm then seven hours is more than enough for me.

There will always be a sex industry in Thailand. That’s the nature of the beast. The government has already said it wants to confine the bars to specific areas of the city, and that’s fine by me. I don’t need a hooker bar on every street. And I don’t need a sex tourist on every bar stool. I just want it back the way it was, before it got ruined. And I don’t think I’ll have long to wait.

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Stickman says:

There is an increasing number of Westerners who agree that the bars bring trouble and an increasing number who would not be sad to see the back of them, many of these people may have even enjoyed the very bars in the past.

nana plaza