All hell broke loose on the internet earlier this week and for a while, a lot of us were reminded of how our stay in Thailand is impermanent, just as Buddha teaches us. This was because someone started to post personal details about people who write about Thailand on the internet, a move which not only jeopardised the future of a few websites, but also some people's continued existence in Thailand.
This combined with existing caution by Thailand website operators in lieu of the recent crackdown resulted in two of the most popular websites being taken off-line as a precautionary measure. It was a very difficult decision to remove parts of this website from the internet and a message that I posted online, stating that the reason was due to a moral dilemma, is more than partly true.
As people tuned into the site on Monday morning to read last week's Stickman Weekly, they were presented with a notice saying that the site had been taken offline. This all resulted in me receiving what can only be described as a truckload of email, and I can see why Santa hires elves to help him reply to all of his mail. Anyway, thanks to all who emailed me, and a few excerpts have been included here. I'm sorry that I had to send out a form email to reply to some people, but by Wednesday, emails were simply coming in faster than I could reply to them.
As the week went on, website operators started to become a little more comfortable about everything but then on Friday and Saturday, two articles appeared on the front page of the Bangkok Post in consecutive days, discussing how some Thais had been upset at comments on the Marriot hotel's website stating that Thai women wearing sleeveless tops and / or shorts must be prostitutes. Oh dear…there is far worse than that out there.
There are many websites with information about Thailand's world famous nightlife, probably around 200 or so at a guess. Some of these sites may be just text based, some include pictures, others include full on pornography, some promote the industry, some promote certain bars and include pictures of the girls and their prices along with their nicknames, height, weight, measurements etc, some take a sociological approach and others make money from it all. The number of Thailand sex / prostitution / nightlife / call it what you like websites is big and is growing rapidly. While the Thais may not like their country associated with prostitution and sex tourism, the simple fact of the matter remains that huge numbers of people do travel to Thailand for sex. With this in mind, much of what these websites report is factual, and not a bunch of made up stories. And this can be seen at the many websites with pictures, which serve to verify the text based information. But it seems that the Thais don't like this sort of thing being talked about or published…and that is where problems arise.
But what I see as the big issue, is the reluctance of many Thais to see outsiders talk about their country in anything other than a positive manner – even though these people are often talking about factual matters. You see the big issue is that there are many things that go on in Thailand that make a lot of money, and while the Thais are happy for outsiders to partake – and to take the participants money, they would much rather that the rest of the world didn't know about it.
So, with this in mind, my message to Thailand is this. If you do not want the world to know about certain things that happen in your country, you should deal with the issue, deal with the problems – and then there will be nothing to write about. The internet is here to stay, and it is becoming the preferred source of information on various topics for many people. The internet cannot be controlled and the number of websites with information about Thailand is huge. If there is no prostitution in Thailand, there will be no websites about prostitution in Thailand. It's as simple as that.
In running this website, I have had the pleasure to correspond with and eventually meet many wonderful people. As I went through a difficult and at times stressful period this week, many people passed on wishes of support so to guys like Ranger, TJRD12, Fughi, Viking, Khun Sanuk, Chicago Dave, Josh Ingu, Bangkok Phil, Loo Doot and the several hundred others who have emailed me or who wished me the best this week, I thank you for your support. There is a great spirit amongst Bangkok expats and the overseas fans of Thailand.
In response to last week's column, a reader writes:
nightlife I've already scheduled in for my trip in 2 months, Elephant Round up in Surin, stop over in Korat, trip to Ayyuthya, Udon Thani, Cha Am, Khao Yai Park and who knows what all. As for the ladies, even if they close all the bars in Thailand, there will still be sanuk to be found, on the farms in Isaan, barbershops, restaurants, fruit carts etc. and at a cheaper price.
In addition to this she has to spent 25,000 THB for HIV drugs every month and Nana is her only source of income. Her case is extremely tragic and I have known her well for years, but I don't want to reveal her identity by presenting too many details.
The Chao Praya River is still the best place in town
to take friends who are in Bangkok for a short-time.
During the past week, each day at work, we have talked about the rain, or rather, the lack of rain so far. Yep, it is that time of year when you need to pack your brolly next to your Marmite sandwiches as you leave the house for work. The rain can't be far away at all and it'll be a good test to see if my shoes have developed any new holes…
Where's the fifth largest concentration of farang scene bar girls in Bangkok after the four major areas? At the city's various Western Union offices of course! I can't help myself, curiously poking my nose over the girl's shoulder to see how much money she has been sent and from which country it is coming.
Whosyourdaddy is convinced that Rock Hard A Go Go selected their new location is because just like their old bar in Clinton, the new location in Nana (the old Vixens bar) has carpet everywhere but on the floor… But on a more serious note, it is good to see the old Rock Hard team back together, with the girls who had gone off to Asoke Plaza re-joining their friends at the new locale in Nana. In fact more than 90% of the staff from Clinton Plaza have re-joined the team at Nana.
Rock Hard have already made one major change to the bar and that is to erect new mirrors inside the bar. The girls complained about the previous set up which consisted of lots of small mirrors next to each other, a situation which made it difficult for them to stare at themselves in the mirror while dancing! But the management heeded their words and at great expense removed the old, smaller mirrors and replaced them with new, much larger mirrors. As the bar is two floors, the idea of installing a dance floor upstairs has been discussed, and the upstairs dance floor would have a glass floor so that it can be seen from both levels, ala Bacarra in Soi Cowboy. It would certainly help to draw more people to the bar as the location of the new Nana Rock Hard, is not ideal.
Hollywood Strip on the top floor of Nana Plaza erected a new neon sign this week advertising their happy hour with drinks costing 80 baht from 7:00 – 9:00, instead of the usual 110 baht. Is this a sign that bars with 110 baht drinks are feeling the pinch – or is it a drive to get customers to come in earlier?
As the crackdown on closing times and the sale of liquor late at night continues unabated, Took Lae Dee, the excellent diner inside the entrance to Foodland on Sukumvit soi 5, has put up tacky photocopied notices saying that they are unable to sell alcohol between midnight and 11:00 AM and that this is because the police have told them that this is the new policy. In some areas, there are definitely less street vendors operating late at night.
Closing times are still a bit up and down. In the last few days, bars in Nana Plaza have been closing at 1:45 AM sharp and the Thermae has been open until 2:00 AM. But don't expect these times to be fixed as really, anything could happen and they could close at any time!
It seems that while mid town branches of Asia Books don't carry Dean Barrett's "Thailand: Land Of Beautiful Women", the bookshop out at the airport does. Funnily enough, that particular shop has a big sign saying books are supplied by…guess who? Asia Books of course!
Is it me, or is Bangkok starting to look a little more pleasant on the eyes? Around a lot of the central areas there seem to be a lot more plants, gardens, and a general effort seems to have been made to spruce up the appearance of the city. I guess it is all just part of Bangkok becoming more and more modern, but in some areas it must be said that they have really made an effort to make the city a bit easier on the eyes.
Bangkok is starting to look a bit better and is not quite as
drab as it used to be…
There have been several late night rallies with folks marching outside Parliament House protesting the late night closing and the negative effects that it is all having on their income. Several different groups have already rallied including girls from the naughty nightlife industry, street vendors and taxi drivers. But the biggest protest is the mooted closure of all bars in Pattaya between 16-20 September when Prime Minister Taksin and co. will be in Pattaya for another tourism conference / workshop. Yep, I couldn't believe it either….if it was to take place, and surely that is a HUGE if, imagine the cancelled bookings and the impact upon Pattaya. And regarding the bargirls and their loss of income, one nagging Isaan girl is enough, but imagine 15,000 odd of them whining for the best part of a week!
Rumours abound that one of the few farangs working in Nana Plaza bats for the other team. Yep, a whole load of the girls in the bar where he works were more than a little keen on him until they realised that he was more interested in the male customers… Now who could it be?
In last week's column, I hypothesized where Eric Rosser, the alleged paedophile may have been studying as it was reported that he was caught while training to be an English teacher – and there are only three such teacher training schools in Bangkok. It seems that he was attending the Text'n'Talk course though the details of his capture are sketchy. Two leaked reports from the school tell two different tales, and I'm not sure which one is right. According to the first report, he was nabbed while going to lunch with two other students. Two undercover police jumped him and proceeded to kick the hell out of him. The other two students jumped in (not knowing what was happening) and suddenly one of the Thais identified himself as police, pulled his gun and yelled "hit the dirt"! The second report, from a teacher working at the school is that cops stormed the teacher training classroom with their guns drawn. Now that would be really scary! While it is difficult to work out which story is true, the way in which he was found is known. One of the farang ladies at the school was at home watching TV when she saw an item on the TV programme "America's Most Wanted" and she recognised the man. She contacted the authorities and the rest is history… Again, it's a rumour, but apparently the $50,000 reward money has been given to charity. A nice touch.
You can take the punter out of the bar, but you can't take the bar out of the punter. Sound familiar? Well, while it may seem like a joke, it's something that I believe to be absolutely true. While we point at the girls and say how they are ruined, perhaps we should have a look at ourselves first?
Nose hair in Bangkok grows a hell of a lost faster in Bangkok than elsewhere. Why is this? A multi choice question follows, but I'm sorry because I don't have the answer.
A) The hotter weather.
B) It just happens with age.
C) Its your body's reaction to all the shit in the air and its attempt to filter it all out.
D) Stick, you are the only one who has fast growing hair in your nose.
Where is this pic? This week's pic is included especially for TJRD12, the only person to get the last one correct. This is in a very central area – and that is the only clue you are going to get…is that most people have probably not walked down this street, but have been to an area very close to it.
Where is it? What can we see? Food vendors, a motorbike taxi and the
usual bird's nest of telephone and electricity cables….
Many of the better bakeries around Bangkok sell off stock at a 50% discount after 6:00 PM – in some places, 6:30 PM. Establishments that do this include the bakery at the Intercontinental Hotel at Siam Square, the bakery at the Tawana Ramada down Silom way and one of my personal favourites, Snax, the gourmet sandwich shop on the second floor of Sogo Tower. But be quick, because as soon as the 50% discount kicks in, you'll be fighting with armies of Khunyings who buy up in bulk, buying as much as they can carry – and sometimes more.
Looking to invest in a Bangkok gogo bar? Only 750,000 baht is required to become a full partner in a bar in Bangkok. I can vouch for the integrity of the person who is requesting a business partner, but obviously can not make any guarantees about whether the bar will be successful or not. If you are interested, send me an email and I'll forward it to the person in question.
The hot rumour of the week is that the Hare & Hound bar in Soi Cowboy was sold for 5.5 million baht to…the owners of The Dollhouse. So, will this be the new location of the Dollhouse? If it is, it raises a few questions as The Dollhouse is a slightly more modern styled gogo bar, somewhat different in style to the predominantly older bars in Cowboy. And what will the prices for drinks be, given that The Dollhouse did increase their prices recently? Will they be the first bar in Cowboy to offer beers at 110 baht? And if they do, how will that affect the prices at other bars in the areas. One other Cowboy bar owner mentioned to me that the 110 baht prices will spread like wildfire, like a vicious cancer were his exact words. Hmmm, I don't like the sound of that…
It's funny really, because for me Soi Cowboy evokes feelings of the history of Thailand's naughty nightlife, and this is because a lot of the bars are old and decrepit, much the same as some of the female staff are in that part of town. But that old world Thai charm remains with the girls much more friendly and laid back, and that is what draws many locals back to Cowboy, notwithstanding that nicer looking girls are easily found elsewhere. I'm one of the Dollhouse's biggest fans, and recently stuck my neck out and called it the best gogo bar in Bangkok. But I'll stick my neck out again and say that while I'm pleased to see that they have a new location, I just hope that all of the older Cowboy bars retain their old Siam charm…and don't try and go upmarket to keep with The Dollhouse.
The Hare and Hound is in this dated shot, next to Shirtz (now Fanny's). How will
The Dollhouse change Soi Cowboy? Competition for Long Gun at long last?
Sorry Midnite Bar, but now that Mike has left, it really isn't the same… Why change the music? Sorry, but three Thai songs in a row is a bit too much for most punters. The girls still have a great attitude and there are even one or two new girls who are very pretty, but the question that has to be asked, is Midnite Bar without Mike the same?
The next Nanapong dance contest will be held next week at Playskool Gogo Bar in Nana Plaza. I'm sure it will be a great night out as again, Nanapong have invited girls from Pattaya as well as Bangkok. If you are in town, get on over to Nana as it's bound to be a great show. Notices up around Nana Plaza advertising the event state that there will be free food too – even better!
And to the question that everyone has been asking, when will the Stickman site return to normal? I have been working on a fairly extensive re-write of what many consider the main section of the website, removing a lot of ambiguities, updating it and generally giving it a much needed overhaul. It should be back online before the next Stickman Weekly is published. All reader's submissions are still very welcome and that section too will be back up in the next few days.
This week, I'd like to draw your attention to a nice little site, called Sanuk Maps. It features regularly updated maps with the bars and hotels of Bangkok's naughty nightlife areas. It really is well put together and these are probably the best, most up to date online maps of the popular nightlife areas.
Still Your Bangkok commentator,