Stickman's Weekly Column August 29th, 2004

Mr. Lazy Or Mr. Busy?


Mr Lazy or My Busy?

It has been a crazy week and I have not had time to hammer out an opening piece for this week's column. Plenty of nightlife news this week, mind you.

Stick

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic.

This week's pic.

It was the Fish And Chips Shop on soi 23.
How well do you know Bangkok?

Last week’s pic was taken

inside the Fish and Chip Shop on Sukhumvit Soi 23, just down from the eastern side of Soi Cowboy. Each week the first reader to correctly state where the pic is wins a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. Please note that the credit MUST be claimed within two weeks. So, to claim that prize, you must be in Bangkok at some time in the next two weeks.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX:

The bargirl uniform!

Is it just me or do any other farang men find the dress of so many attractive Thai ladies, unattractive? I realize that it is mostly the younger crowd, but the cloned look of factory faded hip hugger jeans and tight spandex tops really puts me off. On my last trip through BKK I decided to ask my lady of choice to wear something nice as we were off for an evening of jazz and blues clubs etc. I had made such requests with others in the past with disappointing results so I wasn't expecting much. To my amazement, she arrived wearing stunning, form fitted silk slacks and matching blouse with her long black hair brushed and flowing down her back! This was a first for me and I liked it. Being a rather particular dresser myself I felt very comfortable walking beside her and we had a great time together. I know clothes don't "make the person", but they sure can heighten the experience.

Is change always for the better?

Just a quick comment on the changes in Thailand. I have been playing around in Thailand since the late '70s and in my opinion there has been a very drastic change in Thai attitudes towards life and people, tourists and freedoms. Originally and still amongst the older generations the Thai laid back lifestyle remains. The latest generations with its influence peddled to them via internet, videos and live television have lost all sense of tradition. It is sad to watch this deterioration of a society, the disregard for one's self and then the disregard for all life, but it happens in all societies. I have tried for over 25 years to explain that the perceived "great white way' is a pipe dream. That it happens to less than 1% of any society, that there is far more crime and homelessness in the west than here in Thailand, so cherish what you have here or can attain here. Try explaining that if life is such a golden road in another country, why do farangs want to live here?

A patriot speaks.

When in Thailand, I never carry my passport on me, only a copy. If the boys in brown take me to the station, there's no way I would let someone take my key & open my lock box! If I did that my other valuables would be stolen for sure! this country is really going down hill in 5th gear! The more I read, the more I never want to go back to that sweaty, greedy, shit-hole "police state"!! It's no surprise that the bars are empty. I’m so glad I live here in the #1 country in the world, the USA baby!!! You can have anything you want without having to pay the cops! The only thing Thailand has is greedy young pussy, & even that is turning fat & ugly! Enjoy it you fools!!

The changing face of Bangkok.

I have lived here for over five years and also feel that certain aspects have gone downhill while others are better. Girly bars have got worse in general. Restaurants have got better (maybe not the service!) and many more types of food are on offer at every price level. Infrastructure is better. New roads to Pattaya and Hua Hin make driving easier. The skytrain and underground make getting around Bangkok easier, but they need park and ride facilities to ease traffic congestion. Opening hours are getting worse. Bars are closing earlier and earlier. Now they want to close gas stations, shopping malls and who knows what else, early. I love this place but am frustrated to see that it appears to be the only country on Earth going backwards. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia all offer similar attractions to Thailand but they are on the rise. Ok, they may be more expensive in some areas, but they are cheaper in others and tourists will gladly go to another destination if it means sun, sand, sex and beer. Thailand needs to look at the long term repercussions of their decisions. All too often they come up with a "solution" to a perceived problem that is not thought out and doesn't address all of the issues. If tourism and expat living dies, this country will collapse. They have no clue how much money farangs contribute to the economy. Without tourism, many hotels, bars, gogo bars, restaurants, travel agencies, taxis, local airlines, limousine services, car rental agencies, dive shops, high end massage parlours, serviced apartments, condos, personal drivers, maid services, international schools, shops and banks will be dead jobs. The result will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions more without work and moving to illegal activities to survive.

Think Panthip is cheap?

Something about Panthip I noticed is that compared to RP, prices are VERY HIGH. I mean incredibly. In RP (AC too) double and triple movies are real common. This is one DVD which has two and three movies on them. Cost for these are 70 to 110 pesos (56 peso to the USD – about 50 – 90 baht), so one DVD has say Kill Bill 1&2, Rambo 1,2,3, Terminator 1,2,3, Scary Movie 1,2,3, Toy Story 1&2, etc. They sell very few double movies in Panthip at a very high cost of 200 – 250 baht.

Those songtaew drivers. (But surely, this cannot be true?)

A farang couple were in South Pattaya and wanted to take a jeepney to that expensive hotel near Hard Rock. The farangs were dressed in expensive clothing, jewelry, etc, and oblivious to their surroundings. So, they asked a jeepney which was filled with passengers to take them to their hotel door. They got in the front seat and the jeepney took passengers with the usual 5 / 10 baht fare, and then dropped the wealthy farangs at the hotel. Mr. Well-heeled asked how much and the driver said 500 baht. The farang took out his wallet, and then driver then added "each". OK, 1000 baht payment made. Everyone in the jeepney smiled. The driver drove away with a huge massive grin. Grin turned to a laugh. Laugh turned to hysterics. He driver went a hundred feet, stopped, and told everyone in the jeepney "Get out!" He had made his money for the day. Perhaps even for the week. He was now retired!

Last night the gogo bars opened at Nana as per usual. There was no alcohol on sale because of the election for the Bangkok Governor which is held today so it was just Coke, music and the girls. The bars were doing a reasonable trade, all things considered. Barfines were good and then around 8:30 PM the police arrived and closed them all down! They told Big Dogs and Lucky Luke's that they could stay open, but were told that they were not allowed to sell alcohol, which they already knew. Those two bars stayed open and adhered to the new rules. At around 10:30 PM the police arrived and arrested two cashiers at these bars. It would seem that they do not have a license to allow the girls to sit with customers… They then checked all the receipts and find that they sold a beer at 7:57 before the original police came to Nana. Licenses in open air bar beers for girls to sit with customers? What is the world coming to?! None of the bar owners or managers received anything in writing concerning the dos and don'ts of Thai election etiquette in Nana Plaza. Boss Hogg, proprietor of the two aforementioned bars, has stated that he will be fighting this through the courts, and in his words, "for the good of all mankind".

Yet further down Soi 4, the Swan was doing a roaring trade, serving booze like there was no tomorrow. In full view, no pretence, lights on, serving beer and spirits to one and all. Yet it was no busier than usual as the folks who frequent in the Golden Bar and Big Dogs rarely venture any further down Soi 4. The Swan finally shut at 12.30 with not a problem from the boys in brown…

And down the road, Soi Cowboy had a few hours of trade before they were closed at 10:00 PM by the police.

On Thursday night Soi Cowboy had a couple of "shortly after 1 AM raids". One bar owner was finishing his drink when the authorities grabbed the license and took his photo. Ooops!

The Pennyblack on Soi Cowboy got busted at 1:30 AM with 28 customers drinking upstairs.

Notice a trend here? Soi Cowboy and Nana were once places where one could go out and have a fun night, a few drinks with friends and a laugh. Are they now?

In a sign of the times I noticed that ANYONE who comes into bars carrying a bag or package is scrutinized first by the staff and then by other customers to see what they do with their packages. Any bags left unattended are watched closely until the person comes back to them. Looks like customers are finally taking a hand in their own security as no one wants to be the first one blown up by some fanatic.

The Witch's Tavern, that pleasant, somewhat upmarket bar in Soi Thonglor were advertising a gogo dance contest on a huge banner erected outside the bar. There were to be a few heats followed by a final to be held on September 18, with a prize of 50,000 baht! Now the banner has been taken down. Is the contest still on? My attempts to confirm the contest have been unsuccessful. It seems awfully unusual that such a venue would host a contest of this ilk, especially with the current atmosphere.

Friday before last 6 – 7 Thai customs officials, in full uniform, trailed by their own cameraman, pounced on the cigarette vendors down at the Pong. Vendors of various types of dodgy goods scattered as soon as word of the customs men being in the area spread like wildfire. When it became apparent that they were concentrating on the cigarette vendors, the other vendors let out a sigh of relief and went right back to selling their contraband while the customs men just ignored everyone but the poor cigarette vendors. It was impossible to get anyone's favourite non-Thai brand of cigarettes that night so for the immediate future if you are heading for the Pong best make sure you are stocked up with your favourite brand of smokes.

Still down at the Pong, there were a group of several farang walking into bars and milling around to confuse the staff waiting to take their drinks orders when a tall blonde women in the group whipped out a camera and took photos of the girls dancing and she screamed something at the dancers. The whole group then dashed out of the bar without ordering anything. The group did this in several bars and disappeared before anyone could ask them what they were up to. Will the photos show up in some negative article about naughty nightlife in Bangkok? Remember, with some of the new digital cameras, you can fire of several frames in a second or two, which with bit of skill would be easily of publishable quality…

The dancers in Electric Blue have returned to wearing their white see-though bikinis while dancing with just nipple covers is off the menu for now.

In another potentially explosive situation, a lone Thai man, about 20 years old, was in Electric Blue and was very drunk. He was dancing in his seat, if that can be possible, and singing along with the music, vigorously swinging his arms causing a couple of farang customers to move well away from him. He then lit a cigarette and put it down on the new counter top and promptly passed out. The cigarette burned a nice mark into the nice shiny, new counter top and it took several staff to try to get him to wake up. Then unbelievably he ordered another beer and worse yet, the staff got it for him! He then slid over and started grabbing the hand of an unsuspecting farang and started to introduce himself. At this point one of the dancers on stage started screaming from the stage at this Thai guy to leave the customers alone and to get out of the bar and go into the back room and wait for her! Looks like he was "with" this dancer in some way. Now do you see why Thai guys are banned from most gogo bars?!

One of the dancers in a bar told a regular reader, a purveyor of some of Bangkok’s finest establishments, that she "needs" to make at least 400 baht a day to keep up with her ya ba habit.

In one Patpong bar some of the more popular dancers have moved on because the mamasan there had been demanding a 100 baht cut from the girls that off with customers. Which bar do you think it was?!

There has been an unexplained influx of new dancers to Patpong and there are so many girls looking for work that bars can be picky in their choice of girls. In most bars the number of girls in the upper half of the beauty scale has increased dramatically making that popular old sport of bird watching the best it has been in quite a while. If you haven't been to the Pong lately, it's definitely worth a look. There are so many willing girls around that some bars are even being choosy in which girls to employ which has been unheard of for the past few years.

Several bars in Nana Plaza have displayed police notices in Thai and English saying that ID must be checked at entrance for all customers. Some bars also have signs up clearly stating that the bars must be closed at 1:00 AM. Punishment for violation is a 30 day closure. Such notices are up in the Beergarden in Soi 7 too.

Business hasn't been great at all, what with 1:00 AM closing, the Olympics, the English Premier League starting again, and this unrelenting torrential rain! When the rain comes lashing down the bars struggle to get anything like a decent number of girls turning up for work. Allowances made for it being the low season notwithstanding, what some people do not realise is that most bars profits are considerably down on previous Augusts and it is not jut the gogo bars. Even some beer bars in Soi Nana are down between 30 – 40% on last August. There have been four days of bar closures this month and the strict enforcement of 1:00 AM closing commenced this month too. From one of the biggest gogo bars comes news that August 2004 looks like it will be their lowest bar take ever, i.e. since the bar started, which is all the more staggering given that prices of alcohol now are MUCH higher than in the past.

For the brave, you could try this new Archa Beer on the market. 18 baht a can, super cheap. At this price, can it be any good?! I just can't bring myself to drink alcohol at that price. I've found there is an ugly correlation between low price and a bad hangover…. If anyone wants to tell me what it tastes like (after consuming an adequate sample, read: a few cans), feel free.

Another British pub has opened. Ye Olde Bell bar has opened in a small sub soi which runs off Sukhumvit Soi 11, opposite the Ambassador Hotel, just a little bit up from the 7 Eleven. It is a smallish place and has a very similar lay out and feel to the Bull's Head. It is a pleasant place, the staff are friendly and the food is pretty good. I hope they do well.

Why does Angel Witch manager Ricky always go for a stroll over to the Nana Hotel to use their toilet, early each evening? Is is that the the toilet in Angels Witch is unusable? Maybe Ricky drops a potent bomb, better dropped elsewhere, away from his place of work?! Or is there another reason?

A certain Pattaya bar owner will be publishing yet another gogo girl photo book soon, and this one promises to be a lot better than the last couple released on the market which have been a bit disappointing.

It would seem that the Nana Hotel has raised their standard room rate, which was previously at 990 baht a night, up to 1170 baht a night. While the Nana Hotel has raised their room rates (and their restaurant prices recently went up A LOT too), a few minutes walk one can find hotels for 500 – 700 / night. Still, the Nana is a favourite of many.

In response to last week's column entitled "the passport fiasco", I have been sent some horror stories of people have not had their passport on them when approached by officials. It seems that if emails that I have received this past week is anything to go by, MANY people have been taken to the immigration department on Soi Suan Plu where the authorities awaited the arrival of their passports before releasing them.

Dasa Book Cafe is looking for two full-time employees. Working shifts can be from 10 am – 7 pm, or 12 pm – 9 pm. Employees must be able to work weekends but will get one week day of their choice as a day off. Applicants must have good English language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) so that they can communicate easily with foreign customers and management. Employees will be responsible for stocking and organizing books, making and serving coffee, and helping to keep the store clean (dusting bookshelves, wiping counters, etc.) Contact information: Mr. Don or Mr. Kiwi: 02 – 661 – 2993 E-mail: [email protected]

In response to last week's question from a reader who asked what you say to a Thai woman who has heard "I love you" about 1,000 times too many comes the following: In the West, when a woman says "I love you" she holds a psychological gun to your head and almost demands a like response. Thais rarely converse on such a serious level about anything and lying seems to be a national pastime, so I never get too stressed when a Thai girl says "I love you". I try to keep it playful and simply respond "mai choo-uh" (I don't believe you) or ''mai nae" (I'm not so sure). I've found that this keeps my teeruk's mantra in the realm of the superficial (where it probably belongs) and has yet to provoke emotional outbursts or physical violence.

Mrs. Stick's Corner

Each week, Mrs. Stick answers your questions about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average Westerner in Thailand. Mrs. Stick likes to think of herself as an open-minded Thai lady so go ahead, ask anything because you won't shock her. Please send questions for her, via me, at the usual email address. Two questions will be chosen each week and answered in the following week's column. The responses are hers and NOT mine although I may attempt to correct her English from time to time. Please note that I may not necessarily agree with what she says. Unfortunately, she doesn't have time to reply to your inquiries via email. Questions for her should be limited to 100 words. Mr. Stick may answer the odd question in place of Mrs. Stick of he thinks he can do a better job.

Question 1: Perhaps you can clear up this confusion. In Thailand, I thought all men said "Krap" to be polite, and women said, "Kaaa". However, several young men are saying "Kaaa" to me. At Imperial Queen's Park Hotel, one young man on staff (at the gym), always uses "Kaaa" when he speaks to me. He looks like a man, dresses like a man. Similar at different hotel: young man at registration uses "Kaaa". These are not gay places. Are these young men katoey – but working in "day jobs"? Am I doing something which brings out "Kaaa" from these men? I hope not, because I am an old – and totally straight – farang man. Or is it something else I don't understand about Thai language? I hope you will explain.

Mrs. Stick says: This is one way a guy can be extremely polite when talking to woman. Sometimes you will hear "ka", and occasionally you will also hear "ja". You don't need to be concerned that these guys are gay just because they say "ka"!

There are certain things which I just cannot include in this column. Sometimes I am accused of not telling the whole story – and sometimes this is a fair comment. BUT, there is always a reason. Unfortunately, one has to be a bit careful what they print….some people / organisations do not appreciate negative comments being said about them, irrespective of whether they are genuine or not.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Dave The Rave and Claymore.