Stickman's Weekly Column December 16th, 2001

Nana Plaza’s Nosedive



For three long years I have termed it the expats' favourite after work drinking venue, but I truly wonder how much longer that phrase will remain accurate. As Mr Purachai's social order policies begin to get tough, Nana Plaza is rapidly suffering, and for now at least, it is not the fun environment that it once was. About a third of the Plaza including the biggest bar closed, girls forced to dance in full bikini, price increases and a noticeable attitude change are issues which individually can be overcome, but together, they represent a huge problem. It has almost reached the point where you would need a damned good reason to choose Nana Plaza over any of the other bar areas in Bangkok.

Nana Plaza has nosedived over the last three or so years from an area with some very attractive girls and a warm, inviting atmosphere, to a place that now feels like a tourist trap. The girls are on average not nearly as attractive as they used to be. Drink and bar fine prices are a whole lot dearer than they used to be and Nana Plaza has the dubious title of being the dearest of all farang oriented gogo bar areas. The general atmosphere in the place has definitely become more businesslike with dancers and service staff alike both far more pushy, and at times, genuinely unpleasant. And let's not forget that presently, the girls in Nana Plaza are dancing in old fashioned bikinis like Grandma used to wear…and some of the girls aren't much better looking than Grandma either. Nana Plaza used to be place to go for a laugh and if one was interested, to meet fun girls. It now seems to be a place to go for expensive beer and commercial sex.

There are so many places in Bangkok that one has got to wonder, is the love affair with Nana Plaza over? If this turns out to be the case, where will punters decide to go? Soi 33 is too expensive and Clinton Plaza is fighting a losing battle. Soi Cowboy is well worthwhile, but truth be told, a lot of the bars down there are a little small and pokey, and there must be more than a few grandmothers shaking their wrinkles on stage. Is it time for the pendulum to swing back towards Patpong?

For a long time I never liked Patpong. With aggressive touts not only barking at you in an obnoxious effort to lure you into their bar but even physically grabbing you and trying to pull you inside, it was easy to jump in the nearest taxi and head for another venue. The girls were very pushy and if one got down to talking money, prices were sky high. It seems that for a long time, Patpong simply fell off the sex tourist's map and became little more than a tourist attraction for those who wanted to gawk at Bangkok's naughty nightlife.

But when one looks at what has been happening in Sukumvit recently, perhaps Patpong isn't so bad? At the bars in Patpong, drinks and barfines are much cheaper. Patpong has arguably the most attractive girls and if you get chatting with them, it seems that the silly prices previously quoted are largely a thing of the past – possibly due to people simply refusing to pay such outrageous amounts. There is nude dancing and there most definitely are lewd shows – if that is your thing. The obnoxious touts still exist and the market is a pain to get through, but amongst all of the chaos, there are more than a few bars that do warrant a visit. Nothing, I repeat nothing, can be as bad as Nana is at the moment. Try Patpong. You might be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else, it is somewhere to go while Nana gets its shit sorted.

Patpong. Does it deserve the bad rap that it so often gets?

Eating at the restaurant is much better than takeaway.

I wanted to again give some insight into what goes wrong when you "take your holiday home", i.e. take the Thai girl to the West.

You are totally convinced that with your "saving" the girl and giving her a "better life" she will be forever grateful and you will have a blissful life. Wrong! What you haven't considered is the influence of other Thai girls in your area back in the West. It takes no time till they meet up in restaurants, supermarkets, etc. You have no control over these meetings as they will be talking Thai.

The first question your darling will be asked is not if you are a good partner by being kind polite and caring, but it will focus on what you are giving her and her family. To make matters worse these other girls will lie about what their partners are giving them in the way of allowances and money to be sent home to their family each month, upstaging each other.

This is when the "friendly fire" starts. "Why you not give me same other girls?" "When I get new dress?" "When I meet you I think you kind but now you change."

The worst scenario is if these other Thai girls have left their partners who brought them to the west and are on the game in the West. In no time they will be telling of the high income, and your darling will have been poisoned.

With the tightening up of immigration in the West against Thai girls coming into countries to work as prostitutes, you may find local brothel owners actually sending girls out to target new girls arriving from Thailand in relationships.

If you think your little Thai flower will stay home and cook and clean and wait for you to come home from work with a cold beer already poured, think again. More likely you will come home to an empty house, and don't be surprised to meet up with her on your next visit to your local cat house.

The problem is we get the idea that we can keep the Thai experience going back home by importing a girl. It is often cold and lonely back home and the thought of returning home after being in Thailand on holiday is not pleasant. But my advice is go home alone, save your money, return to Thailand for another holiday.

Was it some Philippines fans visiting Thailand?
I saw a couple of things in weekly 35: 02/12/01 that I wanted to comment about. I wondered if the guys who ripped off their girls saying they had already paid at the bar had recently come from the Philippines. I believe that there you pay for everything at the bar.
We say the girls get damaged, but what about us?
From personal experience and from observing others I've decided that guys who regularly pay for sex develops a unique (perhaps distorted) perspective on male / female relationships. They can flirt but this mostly takes the form of finding out what they can get for their money. Where the outcome is not in doubt i.e. you know you're going to get a blow-job, get laid in all the usual and unusual positions etc. you tend to get lazy and "normal" relationships become difficult. Variety is the spice of life but too much variety
and it becomes impossible to fall in love…..in the worst case scenario it becomes impossible to feel anything.
More bad rap for the Rainbow bars.
I agree with your readers about Rainbow 2, and other Nana Bars being shoddy on service, and downright rude. The waitresses are so damn rude! Especially in Rainbow 2. I like G Spot, although some nights one or two of the waitresses there can be pushy also. And the standard of the girls is falling, not as many pretty ones, or at least not so many "stunners".
Nothing on display IS resulting in less tourists.
I was entertaining some foreign business colleagues who were very disappointed with the new Victorian dress code at the Go-Go Bars. Everywhere we went the girls were wearing at minimum bikinis. The comment heard from our Australian colleague was that he sees more flesh at the beach back home. Next time he needs to come here for business, we will just wrap up during the week and he will not stay for the weekend.
Be careful when holding private parties!
We ended up rented a room at the Penthouse Hotel (Soi Pattayaland 2). With the 2 AM closing time and the girls having to be fully clothed, we opted for a private party. We were shocked when we checked out and where given an additional bill of THB 3900 for the mini-bar. We had brought in our own drinks (Vodka, which was not available at the mini-bar) and there were no empty bottles or remnants of any of the items they said we used (including Vitamilk and Hand Lotion). The mini-bar and room was filled with so many things for sale that we did not inventory everything upon our 1 AM drunken check in and just left it as a rule to only consume what we brought in ourselves. Handbags were checked and we volunteered to pay for anything they can prove that we used, but there were no empty containers from any of the items. This went on for a while, until we went to fetch the local police. As soon as we showed up with the Gendarme all mini-bar charges were dropped with some excuse from the front desk staff of an earlier accounting error when they stocked the room. It is obvious that now even Pattaya wants to see a recession which will of course be blamed on foreigners.
Anyone want to be a movie star?
On Friday I went down to Pattaya. About 9:30 PM I went into a bar in the middle of soi 6. I found a girl I liked, she asked me to go upstairs just after 10:00 PM. We went into a room and then she gave me a towel and we took a shower. We returned to the room and just started to kiss when a loud knock on the door brought everything to a stop. The girl said be quiet I put my towel around me and more knocking on the door. The girl got up and answered the door. In came two police in street clothes. One said he was the tourist Police. He could not speak English. I pretended not to speak Thai and I started to put my clothes on. He told me in Thai to stop but I went on like I did not understand him. He called someone on his phone and in about 5 minutes to my surprise about 6 or 7 men with video cameras and lights came in the room. They started shooting video of me and the girl still in her towel. The lights were blinding but I saw channel 3, 7, 9 and 11 on the side of their cameras. One reporter asked how old I was in English and how old was the girl in Thai. Thank God the girl was 19. When they found this out they quickly lost interest turned off their cameras and left. I think they were hoping the girl was underage. Then a policeman asked me how much I paid the girl. I told him I did not pay witch was true as nothing had happened before they came in the room. He said is she your wife? I said maybe. He just looked at me. Then we went downstairs into the main bar and were told everyone was going to the police station on soi 9. 7 girls, the owner of the bar and myself were loaded into a pickup and taken to the police station. We were taken to a room upstairs again no one could speak English at the station and I pretended I could not speak Thai. They asked for the girls ID cards and my passport. I only had a copy of the first page of my passport. They said it was ok and that I was not in trouble. They took my information from my passport and copied the girls I.D. cards. Everything was fed into a computer which took about an hour. The girls each had to pay a 500 baht fee. I was then told to sign the report. I told them I wanted to know what it said in English. They could not so they then just told me to go home without signing it. As I left I saw about 40 other girls from soi 6 waiting to be processed and fined 500 baht each. Needless to say I went back to my room but I could not sleep very well. The next day, Saturday, I went into a different bar all of witch were open. The manager asked me if I wanted to take a girl upstairs. I said no because there was a problem the night before. The manager told me she could guarantee the police would not be back and that everything was ok. All the bars had paid money to the police and at least for a few months there would be no problems. I guess the whole thing was just a big show. The media got their show. The police got some money. The bars are all open again. And the bad foreigners took all the blame.
The fountain in last week's where is this pic picture is located next to the intersection where Petchaburi Road meets Phyathai Road. Well done if you got it correct.

Where is this pic?

clue: You don't need one!

This picture is easy…far too easy! If you have been
to Bangkok, you most likely walked past this place!

* If you have any photographs that you would like to submit for the "where is this pic", feel free to send them to me. The photo should be recent and have been taken in the capital.

More bad news from Nana Plaza where four bars have been forced to close for 15 days. Possibly the best bar in Nana Plaza in recent times, G Spot, along with the all of the top floor – the Hollywood bars and Carnival are all closed until the 27th of this month. Late on Wednesday night, the police came and ordered them closed. There are now notices outside these bars saying that they will re-open on the 28th. There are other notices and scribbled hand-written notes stating that the girls can now be found at some of the other bars. Outside G Spot on Thursday night, a lot of the G Spot girls were milling around looking lost….hey, no bar fines! This all couldn't have come at a worse time for the managers of these bars who want to make hay while the sun shines. It is the high season after all.

All sorts of rumours are doing the rounds about the closures, but the rumour that is most believable is that all of the bars were told that all of the girls had to cover up – no nudity. These four bars didn't take notice of the instructions and flaunted the police's request to their peril… Not only will this be disappointing for customers and the girls, it will also be one hell of a headache for the bar owners. The bar owners miss out on potentially large profits over this busy period and to top things off, the fickle nature of Thais as employees may result in some of the girls drifting off to work at other bars. In the case of G Spot, which employs close to 200 girls – if you include all of the service and bar staff, these girls will likely be shifted around to other bars in the group. But for Hollywood, also a big employer, this might be a little more difficult….

Chatting with one Nana bar owner who's bar remains open, he said simply that if the cops tell you to do something, then you do it! Seems like simple advice to me…

A new neon sign has been erected outside Nana Plaza, next to the dead Nana Entertainment Plaza neon sign. The small brightly lit sign, conspicuous with the other signs in complete darkness says "closed 2:00 AM". Who was responsible for its erection? Mr Purachai?

And if there isn't already enough bad news coming out of Nana plaza, I'm sorry, but it doesn't end there… In a move for which there seems to be absolutely no logic, except a desire to charge as much as they can, the Crown Group of bars has INCREASED the prices of bar fines in their bars from 500 to 600 baht. So with all of this shit going on at Nana Plaza with bars temporarily closed and those that are open being forced to ensure that the girls are dancing in a bikini, it seems that some bar owners are doing their very best to drive us away to other bar areas. Well done, IT IS WORKING! But its not just the Crown Group of Bars who are going to suffer reduced trade due to these increased prices. This new pricing structure is going to have a detrimental effect on other bars at Nana as punters decide "to hell with Nana" and drink elsewhere. Think about the owners of bars like Rock Hard and Titty Twister who do their best to keep prices at their current levels. Less people going to Nana means less customers for bars likes these, which is a real shame.

But if you still do make it into Nana Plaza, two bars that I would recommend at the moment are Playskool which with G Spot closed, has to be the best bar in Nana. Also, Rock Hard is well worth visiting. They have a friendly bunch of staff and with all of the price increases going on around them, they have resisted raising their prices and continued to offer drinks at fair prices.

Nana Plaza as it looks at the moment with the whole top
floor in complete darkness…YES, it REALLY is that dark!

A banner up across the entrance way to Nana Plaza states that there will be a fancy dress party held by the Crown Group in Voodoo Bar on December 30.

To all you teachers who work at schools that outsource teachers to teach on the premises of corporations, please note that your work permit is NOT valid! Really! Work permits are not valid for outside contracts as the permit explicitly states your place of employment and the address where your duties will be performed. Your work permit doesn't cover work at third party locations or for that matter, private students who you may teach on the side to make a bit of extra money. But there is no need to worry because the odds of one ever having a problem like this are remote…for now. But in this country, who knows what might happen next?

Will Cascade Bar, the bar with the cave like entrance on the top floor of Nana Plaza, ever be completed? Its the high season now and would it not be the best time to get a new bar open, especially given that it is a Crown Group property and they have a couple of hundred surplus girls at the moment… Workers were in there on Saturday night, but every time I stick my head in the door, I really don't see any progress being made.

While bars in Pattaya are supposed to close at 2:00 AM, many close later. Most of the gogo bars do close at 2:00, but the beer bars simply dim the lights, turn down the music a little, and continue to operate. They usually close around 3:00 AM, though may close earlier if most of the customers have disappeared. Discos seem to be running beyond 2:00 AM, though until exactly what time, I couldn't be sure, because that is well past a Stick creature's bed time.

Some of the Pattaya gogo bars are reporting that business in December is WAY DOWN! Looking at the books has confirmed for some bar owners that the supposed low season months of June, July and August were busier than the high season month of December! Just why is this? All bets point to September 11 and Mr Purachai's social order crusade. In recent months there have been a lot of people writing to the Bangkok Post and other publications saying that they would not be coming to Thailand, the idea of being told when to return to their hotel not their idea of a good holiday. At the time I thought this was just talk, but perhaps these people are doing as they said they would? Still, for those folks who do come, it means that you can always find a seat in a bar.

But, all of this does not necessarily correlate to there being an abundance of girls in the gogo bars… In what seems to be one of the trends of 2001, a lot of guys are coming into gogo bars early in the evening, having one drink and then barfining the girl of their choice. Now, this is all very good and well, until come midnight and a bar that had 60 girls at 8:00 PM, now has just 10! Guys poking their head into a big bar with just a handful of girls left invariably decide to go elsewhere. So, the girls being bought out earlier means that the bar suffers reduced business through lower drink sales. This has all resulted in many bars changing the way that the barfine system works. Some bars are increasing the prices of bar fines, with some of these bars dropping the price after midnight. Others are implementing a system whereby the girl cannot go long time before 11:00 PM. If the bar fine is paid before that time, the girl can ONLY go short time, and has to return to the bar! Its not great for customers, but you do have to see it from the bar's perspective. All of this seems to be happening in Pattaya and it doesn't seem to be such a problem in Bangkok.

Remember last week how I mentioned a Chinese fellow barfined every girl in Sexy A Gogo and the bar then closed for the night? Well, walking past Sexy A Gogo on Friday night, I thought that the guy might have been as rich as the Sultan Of Brunei, because the bar was closed, and I wondered if he had barfined all of the girls for the entire week. But, walking down the side alley beside Sexy A Gogo (which leads to Dream A Gogo) told a completely different story. The whole wall of Sexy A Gogo had been knocked out, and it looked as if Osama bin Asshole had dropped a bomb in there. It seems that there were some problems between the land owner and the bar management, and the whole situation went pear shaped really fast. The bottom line is that Sexy A Gogo is no longer…

That mess on the right us what used to be Sexy A Gogo!
Photo taken from alley, looking back towards Walking Street.

Think you can escape all of the crackdown nonsense that is taking place in the farang dominated areas – Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket? How about a trip up to some far flung corner of Isaan where surely, the crackdown police haven't thought about looking? Wrong! A reader reports that Mr Purachai and co. have been doing the rounds in Udon Thani and that bars are being forced to closer earlier than they used to…. It's nationwide!

I thought I had got lost and wandered into the Japanese consulate in Pattaya but then I realised that it was in fact Super Baby Gogo after all. But unlike the Japanese consulate where farangs are welcome, the same cannot be said for Super Baby…Asian customers being the preference.

On Friday evening, Super Baby Gogo made the Guinness Book Of World Records for 20 girls putting on their bras in record time. As is the case when one of the outside staff notices cops approaching the bar, a button was pressed and all of the lights went off in the bar and a single strobe started flashing. Before you even had a chance to say "the cops are coming to bust our ass", the lights came back on all of the dancing girls had already put on their bra – in record time! All of the girls who had been topless now had their nom well and truly covered up. Actually, this is a very effective system, because even if cops had entered the bar looking for girls dancing topless, with all of the lights off, they couldn't see anything anyway!

The press keeps reporting that there is going to be a major crackdown on pirate CDs from January 1 onwards. It may pay to pick up any titles that you need before then. The crackdown will probably come and go…but software might be scarce for a while. While its not right, most Thais simply do not have enough money to buy original software, so this crackdown will likely be temporary.

TEFL International, Thailand's leading English teacher training school are expanding further. Always the butt of criticism concerning the recognition of their certificates outside of Thailand, the school will soon open a new branch in Mexico, to add to the branch it already has in China. A new branch in Morocco which had been planned to open a couple of months back suffered a setback due to September 11 and is likely to open some time in 2002.

I notice on the Emergency A Gogo site that they have a small bio about each of the girls, and that it includes information about when the girl started working in that particular bar. The information seems to be accurate, with quite a few of the girls having been there for quite some time – but I wonder if they are quite so honest when asked this question by customers? Bargirls are well aware that saying "I work bar 3 years" is not the biggest turn on for a lot of customers.

Perhaps the biggest complaint of all about the skytrain is that many of the stations do not have any escalators, requiring that you have to climb up all of those steps yourself… The disabled aside, anyone under 145 years of age should be able to make it up there, but if you are one of the moaners and groaners, I note that quite a few of the stations are being upgraded with escalators being installed.

A friend went down to Hua Hin for the long weekend, and a bit of time away from the craziness of Bangkok. Arriving at the bus station late morning to buy a ticket back to the capital, he was told that all of the buses were full, right through until 8:00 PM! So, he bought a ticket and had to wait around all day… If you are going away over a long weekend, remember that half of Bangkok is also going away, and that public transport back to Bangers can fill up very quickly.

I notice a new brand of condoms out called One Touch Condoms. They are presumably aiming for a slice of the local market as apart from the brand name, all of the packaging is in the local lingo. There appear to be two different varieties, and they are priced a little less than the brands targeting farangs, costing between 35 and 40 baht for a pack of three.

From a reader: Thai justice – he who has more money and power wins!

For all you teachers who feel that they are underpaid, you could always try and employ this trick which was relayed to my by a Canadian teacher who never used to have enough money. If you need to go just one or two stops on the bus, this lady claimed that the 3.5 baht fare was too expensive (they must be DAMNED cheap up there in Canada…) so she had worked out how to get it for free. Simply say that you are going to a destination that is nowhere near where the bus is going. The conductor will say wrong bus, off you get and you are a princely 3.5 baht richer than you would have been… Pretty tacky really…

Bangkok remains a safe city despite all of the nonsense
that has been going on recently with Tesco Lotus.

Again, let me re-iterate that Bangkok remains a very safe city, and most people who get themselves into problems tend to fall into those in the wrong place at the wrong time and those who tend to attract trouble, no matter where they are.

An expat friend went to the Emporium department store this week and bought a new washing machine which they agreed would be delivered and installed that same day. Emporium called him a little later and said that there was no truck available to deliver and asked if he would pay half for a taxi to deliver the washing machine to him! His response was an emphatic no! They then showed up and just dumped it on the floor, attached some of the connections before realising that the piping that they had brought was not adequate…so they just abandoned the job and left! So there he was, with a washing machine that wasn't hooked up. He called the manager and gave him hell but the manager's response was that there was nothing that he could do. In the end he was forced to go and buy the part and install it himself. Very simple moral to this story. The service at some of the bigger, and supposedly better (!), department stores is in fact often no better than anywhere else. This expat will not pay the premium that Emporium charge anymore and will stick with Big C where funnily enough, the service is better – so long as you speak Thai.

The management at Woodstock bar should do everything they can to hang on to the current crop of waitresses. After giving this bar no end of grief over several service failures, I notice that the current batch of staff are not only friendly and courteous, but they are fairly attractive too. Service with a smile is the norm. For non-Thai speaking customers, difficulties may still arise, but on the whole, I think this is the best bunch that they have had in the last two years.

I enjoy receiving and responding to email. If you have any comments about the site, the weekly column, stories to tell or news to submit, do feel free to email me at the email address below.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to the Dollhouse management and
The Mad Stockbroker for help with this week's column.