Stickman's Weekly Column January 13th, 2002

MBK, Bangkok’s Trend Centre



Mahboonkrong is one of the capital's best places for people watching. Located next to Siam Square, it is the place where Bangkok's hip and trendy relax after they have wandered around all Siam Square's back alley boutiques. Being the hangout for very much the "in crowd", it is the best place to go to get a snapshot of just what is happening in the capital. It is THE place where the trends start.

When Mahboonkrong got spruced up recently, so too did a lot of the central city. As coffee shops and cafes started to spring up in Mahboonkrong – and then went on to be successful, so too did such shops start to appear elsewhere in the city shortly afterwards. And when pirate software started disappearing from MBK, so too did it disappear from elsewhere too. So, what is the latest trend taking place at MBK, Bangkok's trend setting centre? The biggest change I have noticed recently is the high number of farangs walking around, hand in hand with Thai ladies… But is this anything new? Well, actually it is, because a good number of the girls walking around hand in hand with farangs are NOT bargirls. But again, this alone is nothing new for many farangs have taken their regular Thai girl girlfriends to MBK. It is the vast numbers of these inter-racial non-bar girl couples that have caught my eye.

Back in 5/10/2000 I wrote an article called Sex or Love which hypothesized that so many of the customers who frequent the bargirls are looking for love, but don't really realise it – or are simply too pig headed to admit it to themselves. In the weekly column of 8/7/2001 I discussed my prediction that there will be a sexual revolution in Thailand VERY soon argued that there Thai girls looking to rebel may look to farangs… Put these two pieces together and we might just have something.

My thoughts on bargirl / customer relationships are well known and I will not dwell on them further here. But one thing to bear in mind is that there is a huge misconception out there that regular Thai girls are difficult to meet. They are not! If you are a decent sort, a Thai girl will give you much more time than the average Westerner would. A well presented fellow who makes an effort and respects her beliefs – which are often quite different from our Western ideas – has a huge opportunity to meet a wonderful local lady.

There are a huge number of Thai ladies who are interested in meeting farangs. Some of them are Thai ladies who are getting on in years and who have missed the boat with the local men who can be somewhat pedantic about the age of their future bride. Others may have previously been married and / or had a kid and suddenly 95% of the Thai men are totally disinterested. But, these are not the only groups of Thai ladies looking to meet a Westerner. There are huge numbers of of younger, highly desirable, Thai ladies who are very open minded to meeting a nice farang guy. They are not necessarily looking for anything specific, rather just open minded to the idea of meeting a farang guy and seeing how it develops.

As farangs trying to woo that Thai girl, we have to try and play the game the Thai way. Using the same tactics that work at home may not necessarily work here. But that is a piece for a future column.

And for folks who are working locally yet continue to troll the bars after many years in Thailand, just what are you doing? Let me say that that group of people who get so much grief, teachers, are looked up to in Thai society and for all of you English teachers who still find yours trolling the bars, looking for love, what on earth are you playing at? There are so many ladies out there who would be DELIGHTED at the opportunity to meet you… There really is no reason to pursue relationships with bargirls unless you are lazy or totally undesirable.

If Mahboonkrong is anything to go by, and I believe it is, there are a lot of Thai girls out there who are just waiting to meet you!

Last week's picture was taken at Wat Saket, also known as The Golden Mount (Poo Khao Tong in Thai), in the Rachadamanoen Road area.

Where is this pic?

Clue: A zebra cross crossing with no zebras

Ahhh, Stickman's revenege…will anyone get this right?!

The following excerpt from a reader's email raises several points, but for now, I'll just comment on one. Within Thai society, teachers are generally looked up to, BUT, amongst the bargirls who work the farang sector of the industry, English teachers usually mean a low paying customer – meaning that they are not usually in favour. So, for all you English teachers, you may want to consider a nice girl…

I have an ex-girlfriend who is a gogo dancer at Clinton Plaza. She has told me that very recently a lot of guys have been paying bar for dancers, taking them to the hotels and at the end of the night saying they only have 500 baht. Now that is just down right rude let alone nastily deceitful. She said most of these guys say they are tourists, so we may assume that no local ex-pats are doing this. But just a thought for men who like to try this on, remember these girls are working girls, and if you are prepared to pay bar and pay for a hotel you should be prepared to pay her at least 1000 baht, if not 1500, which is the standard rate for a dancer. If you want to try the "sorry I've only got 500 baht" trick, I advise you to go try that on a freelancer, but tell her BEFORE you sleep with her. Then at least she can decide whether she likes you enough to accept 500 baht. Many of these girls are lovely girls who don't deserve to be ripped off by assholes that pull the "500 baht trick" after the deed is done. For those of you who are culprits, a word of advice : one day it will backfire on you, and you'll end up second best. Some of these girls carry knives, some carry guns and some have policemen friends or boyfriends who won't hesitate to help her out if she is insulted by a farang. So good luck to those of you in the "500 baht club" who get a kick out of doing this. If you truly can't afford sex why don't you just go and buy a Penthouse and jerk off at your hotel!? The reason so many Thai working girls are so hardened and untrusting towards some of their customers is because of men like you. And it doesn't help the more honest men around who have more respect for the girls.
A similar message: are teacher's REALLY respected – or are they the bottom of the barrel?
I have since read through again some of your Weekly pieces, paying particular attention to both your comments and those of some of your contributors who seem to have found a change in attitude to the English teaching group. Could it be that many Thai ladies whose work brings them into regular contact with Farang have decided, as far as Farang goes, that teaching is not the respectable profession they had always been brought up to believe. There does seem to be an outbreak of Cheap Charlies amongst certain English teachers.
Who is taking these girls home?
I spend most of my time on The Pong and during the past week or so I have noticed that a lot of the bars there are seriously short on dancers. Some bars are down to having only one or two girls dancing by the end of the night and have even made bartenders and waitresses dance fully clothed. In one bar 6 girls have been permanently bought out by farangs in the past month. The regulars have not gone home and not returned so I am wondering if this is a trend in all the areas or just pong? It's getting so bad that some bar owners are hiring anything that walks in the door and there are some real uglies dancing now. One bar owner said the only good thing about hiring the uglies is that he knows that he will have at least one dancer dancing because no one will ever buy her out.
Jigsaw Bar took those pictures from elsewhere…
I checked out the Jigsaw bar website, and a few of the pictures did indeed look familiar. In particular, the lady with the bobbed hair and (sort of) wearing the semi-transparent white shirt seems to have a more comprehensive gallery of herself at <not suitable for the younger readers of this column so edited to protect the innocent – Stick>

Since, as you say, a Thai bar would NEVER use unauthorized photos on their website to deceive potential customers, I can only conclude that this bargirl is moonlighting as a Internet porn queen. She sure does have a killer bod, albeit a bit on the heavy side for a Thai.

And you thought gogo girls didn't have Thai boyfriends?
One bar that shall remain nameless – though the big clue is that it is generally considered the best in its area – has started an "anti-Thai boyfriend" campaign among her girls that is extremely draconian. One of the long term DJ's (male) and one of the long term show dancers (female) have both gone because of their love for each other, along with some other girls. The mamasan said that she employed girls to give them a chance of finding the right farang, and she didn't want girls who were willing to bullshit customers about their "brother". She has so many girls wanting to work that she can take her pick, and she says she doesn't want girls who gohok (lie)! Is it really a boyfriend free zone? One of my fiancee's best friends has moved bar to fit in with the new rules, so it seems it may all be kosher.

On board the Saen Saeb Canal boat. A quick way to
get around certain parts of the city.
The girls are back in G-strings at Nana and granny's knickers have been discarded for now. I think we can safely say that this is a step back towards normality. So how long will it be before we get to see the girls in their birthday suit again?

Rumours that the crackdown has also hit Soi Cowboy are wrong… It's all action down there as usual with girls nude in the bars, where they are usually nude…and shows taking place in the venues where shows usually take place. Remember that some bars in Cowboy, such as Tilac, do not show anything anyway, whereas others like Long Gun go to town with wild shows. At Cowboy, it is business as usual – and there are more than a few punters heading down that away, abandoning Nana.

What is happening with Cascade Bar, the Crown Group Bar on the top floor of Nana that has been under for construction for what seems like an eternity? The problems relate to the, from all reports, very impressive (and expensive!) waterfall and lighting system that they sourced from lands afar and wish to install. It seems that the poor old Nana Plaza power system can't handle it and despite requests from the Crown Group to upgrade it, the Nana management haven't done anything about it yet! Having said this, I'm told that Cascade will open around the end of next month. A cynic might say that the drink prices in there are going to be really expensive with the huge level of investment that has gone into this bar. It looks like it will supersede G Spot as the Crown Group's flagship bar.

Did you see the TAT brochure in the Bangkok Post this week about visiting Pattaya? Reading through it, I was amazed to see that they gave naughty nightlife and in particular gogo bars, a mention! YES! At last the TAT seem to be acknowledging that that is the number one reason why so many people visit Pattaya.

Following on from last week's comments about Jake Needham's new books, I can confirm that "The Big Mango" – Thai edition will be out around the end of next week. I'll be picking up a copy for the on again / off again girlfriend.

Work is in progress at Lucky Luke's Bar at the entrance to Nana. About a third of the bar has been sort of chopped off and it looks like something new will be constructed. A small fast food vendor? A BJ bar?! With a glass front, could it be a short time room with girl a la Amsterdam?

Car accidents are no fun anywhere in the world, but in Thailand, they are perhaps a little more stressful than elsewhere. After an accident has happened, the vehicles are supposed to remain in their place (which doesn't always happen) until the police come along. The boys in brown will then spray paint the ground to mark the spot where the vehicles ended up – and may also spray a few other marks on the ground, presumably marking where the vehicles had come from, or perhaps other vehicles that caused or contributed to the accident. After this, the cops will make an on the spot judgement of who was at fault. This is important because if anyone is injured and / or requires medical treatment or hospitalization, the guilty party must pay there and then. OK, it is a little bit more complicated than this, but you've gotta cough up buster! Anyway, this all begs the question: when you have a minor accident, is it worth getting the police involved?

Now this happened to a colleague of mine this past week. He had an accident where there was a dispute as to who was at fault. At the time of the collision, the Thai fellow that he had collided with said that as the damage was relatively minor, and both vehicles remained driveable, they should sort it out amongst themselves, and not report it to the authorities. My colleague agreed. However, from that moment on, things spiralled rapidly out of control, and my colleague ended up footing the entire bill for damage to the the other fellow's car, even though it is unclear as to exactly who was in the wrong. If you have an accident, getting the cops involved is not always a bad thing.

The new Buddy Village now stands where my favourite old
Khao Sarn bar, Buddy Beer Bar, used to be.

Khao Sarn Road is changing, and believe it or not, its going somewhat upmarket. Well, a little upmarket anyway… Signs outside Buddy Village where work construction continues indicate that it will soon be completed and will be home to 76 boutique rooms, each with air-conditioning, a balcony and other swanky features which are not usually found in Khao Sarn Road properties. It's going to be interesting to see how well this place does – because if it does take off, perhaps more upmarket places may follow – and the whole face of Khao Sarn might change. Remember that Khao Sarn Road has not always been the budget travellers base. Around 20 or so years ago, that honour was held by the guesthouses in the now very dubious Ngam Duplee area, around the Malaysia Hotel.

I made it down to Silom Road last Sunday for the so called festival where there were supposedly all sorts of activities going on and the street was closed to traffic. Awfully quiet…and not really worth the visit, truth be told. Maybe everyone had been there on previous weeks and old Sticky is a laggard?

Have you noticed that in some of the gogo bars, the waitresses are, girl for girl, more attractive than the dancers, and the situation is accentuated as the night goes on – and the best of the dancing girls get barfined and disappear?

I was told that Long Gun in Cowboy had been refurbished so I popped down for a look. having not been in there for a while, it was hard to say what had been changed. The mirrors looked new, but other than that, it looked largely the same to me. I will say though that there were a lot of really pretty girls dancing in there.

This week, someone asked me where they could go to buy sex books and magazines, in fact it was an adult book store that they asked about. Such shops do not exist in Bangkok as far as I'm aware, until I suddenly realised that all of these sex magazines are actually available from vendors on the street who sell them to anyone who happens to be passing by – and the vendors seem to do a roaring trade. Many of the vendors on Petchaburi Road in the area just east of Panthip Plaza seem to peddle this contraband.

Following on from last week's piece about the total uncertainty regarding the age of consent, Interior Minister Mr. Purachai has once again come out talking about underage prostitution. He has talked about severe penalties for people fiddling around with underage girls and this is something that I find very, very welcome. But, there is a question that must be asked: Should he also target people employing underage girls? A bar owner facing the possibility of jail time for employing underage girls would have a real incentive to ensure that all girls are of legal age. In my opinion, that would definitely help matters. Imagine going into a bar and being guaranteed that every girl is of legal age. Hell, I forgot, guarantees don't exist in this part of the world. Perhaps I'm being idealistic but I would just love to see some bar start by erecting a bright neon sign outside clearly stating "all girls of legal age". And I bet that amongst farang bar owners, if a bar owner really thought that he may spend some time in the clink for employing underage girls, EVERY girl would be of legal age.

Do some of the gogo bars require a bouncer or security staff of some sort to deal with some of the raucous behaviour that gogo bars unfortunately attract? This past week in Voodoo Bar, Nana Plaza, I saw some of the most disgraceful behaviour I have seen in a gogo bar. There were two fairly heavy set farangs who had decided that the bar was their playground and they were going to do as they pleased. First of all they were up on stage harassing the girls, and then, these two fellows decided that they were going to stop the centre carousel from rotating. So the two of them, using all of their strength – and straining from the energy they were exerting, tried their level best to stop the carousel from going around. They came damned close and I was waiting for a large clunk as the machine died but somehow the carousel was just a bit too much for them, a bridge too far, and while they managed to slow it dow, it burst out of their grasp and continued to rotate. Assholes like this ruin the bar for both the girls and the other customers. It would only take one upcountry Thai lad with a bit of Muay Thai experience to keep an eye on some of these frisky farang jelly bellies who at times get a little too adventurous. Some of the bars have the odd rough looking Thai guy hanging around, but most do not.

I've got to admit that whenever I get off the skytrain in the evening at the Nana station, I quietly chuckle to myself because there are often more farang alighting at that station than there are Thais. I guess there must be something in the area of particular appeal to farangs…

Apologies to Rock Hard A Gogo for the false info put in last week's column. Unfortunately, it just re-iterated to me that pieces from readers constitute nothing more than rumour, until I or someone I know and trust has had a chance to confirm it. The piece in question was pulled before most people reading the column had a chance to read it.

Did you hear that the most popular search at Google last Sunday and Monday was for "Nakon Nomyai Thailand"? Ahhh, some people will never learn…

Long tail boats on the Chao Praya River. They are
great to photograph, but are expensive to hire…

What's the bet that nothing out of the ordinary happens in Pattaya on D Day. January 15 or 16, depending on where you read it… Business as usual, methinks…

I really liked this quote taken from an email I received from a reader this week. It is SO TRUE! "I think there are a lot of similarities about the sex scene and the drugs scene. Just because it’s available, people think it’s safe, normal, and don’t realise the dangers."

Several people emailed me about the pictures on the Jigsaw bar website which was highlighted in last week's column. Yes, it seems that the pictures of at least four of the girls have been taken directly from pornographic websites…before the girls got their clothes off.

Would someone please kindly tell the waitress at Woodstock that it is pronounced Stick-man, with just two syllables, and not Sar-tig-gee-man, as she likes to spit it out.

It always seems to me that when business in Bangkok advertise on one of the English language radio stations, they are getting desperate, and business is not nearly as good as they would hope. Well, Tony's Disco, the new flash Bangkok version of the established Pattaya disco of the same name has started advertising… With competition in the form of the Ministry of Sound opening recently and the odd location for Tony's – given that farangs are most definitely a significant part of the target audience – I would suggest that Tony is not doing quite the trade he had hoped for. He has also erected a huge billboard at the Asoke intersection advertising his club. I hope Tony does well, but that location really is a problem…

In Thailand, what do going to the cinema and going to a funeral have in common? Whilst watching a movie in a crowded cinema or while paying someone their final respect at a funeral, Thais have absolutely no qualms about using their mobile phones… Sad, but true. A cinema is not good, but a funeral…tacky, really tacky.

I visited the Thermae for the first time in a while on Friday night and it was packed, reminding me a little of how it used to be before the enforcement of the 2:00 AM closing times. But, I admit that I thought to myself, "did I really used to love this place". How times have changed. Or is it me that has changed?

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick