Stickman's Weekly Column June 26th, 2005

Slack Stickman!


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There is no opening piece this week as I have been showing family around the City Of Angels and haven't managed to find the time to write an opening piece.

Stick

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was Empire Tower.

Somewhere in Bangkok.

Last week's pic was taken from the Chongnonsee BTS station looking at Empire Tower, the huge building on one of the corners of the Sathorn / Narathiwat intersection. There are three prizes available this week, one for each of the first three people to email with the correct location of the pic. The first is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. The second prize is a signed copy of Steve Leather's cult novel set in Bangkok's bars, "Private Dancer". The third prize is a beautiful hand-cast, crafted sandstone sculpture offered by BKIThailand – for this prize, you MUST be in Bangkok. Unfortunately, these prizes are only available to people in Thailand now – either resident or tourist. If you would prefer one particular prize over the others, please do not be shy to tell me! Next week we should have a new prize available, exclusively for the Pattaya readership. More next week!

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Tricks of the maid trade.

Had a maid at the hotel I worked at in Phuket show me once how they steal stuff from the guests. When it's the day of check out, while the guest is eating breakfast in the restaurant, they come into the room and put something nice on the top shelf in the closet, way at the back. That way, if the guest finds it, he just assumes he put it there and forgot. But if he does not find it as he's packing, he'll assume he left it on the beach or in a bar somewhere. If he does complain that somebody stole his stuff, the head of housekeeping comes into the room and in front of the guest and the general manager "finds" the missing item in the closet. The guest feels ashamed and tips everybody heavily. But most of them never mention the missing items, most of them don't even realize they're missing anything until they get home. Then after they've checked out, the maids come back in to clean the room and score a nice sweater, or pair of Levis, or expensive mask and snorkel, or whatever. They stick it under the dirty laundry and wheel it off down the hall.

Actually salaries ARE better there….but are the teachers?

It is not just Thailand that pays the English teachers badly. Having worked in Korea I can confirm the salaries are no better there and the standard of teachers even worse. I know of one un-skilled guy from my home town who was convicted of aggravated burglary (assaulting an old lady) and he has had a teaching job in Seoul for 3 years+.

The cost of too much time in the gogos.

It's well-documented that in Thailand the young women in the sex trade have the unexpected occupational injury of going deaf because of the incessant loud music in the bars. This means that the customers in the bars are losing their hearing too. I quit going dancing – disco and ballroom – with the wife, who loves dancing and is very good at it, because of the tremendous noise level that I know damages hearing. She'll "incessantly" respond that I don't like dancing, but I'll always respond that I like the dancing, but don't like the tremendous noise that will cost me my hearing. And I advise her that with interpreting as part of her job description, she needs her hearing, and should stay away too. But they are ignorant – they don't have the concept that loud noise takes hearing away and permanently.

Demand from farangs isn't the cause.

The idea that prostitution in Thailand is a response to demand from horny farangs, or any men for that matter, is not only false but dangerous too, as it ignores the real cause of the 'problem' – poverty. If you look at all the countries in the world where prostitution and AIDS are rife, particularly zones hit by war and famine in sub-Saharan Africa, the causes are more obvious. If countries like Thailand really want to clean their streets up, then the government as well as the moneyed classes need to start by redistributing their wealth to the poorer regions of Isaan, making education free until 18, creating job and equal opportunities for women, etc. Is this gonna happen? Not on my limp dick!

Parting with your cash.

On my first day in Pattaya a baht bus driver got me aboard then said it would be 1,000 baht to go from Soi 3, Second Road back around to Central Road at 2nd Road, about a 4 minute ride. This made me suspicious of the direction things were taking in Thailand. One night soon after that incident I got caught up in a spending frenzy in a Walking Street bar, gave a dancer a 1,000 baht note and asked her to get change for more tips for her and others. She came back and said they can't change my 100 baht note. 100 baht? I know I took the note from a pocket with reserve cash containing only 1,000 baht notes. Rather than protest I decide to leave and ask for the damage for all the drinks I had been buying for half a dozen staff. I hear her say 4,700 baht. I hand over 5,000 baht and the waitress is saying something to me that is being drowned out by the music. I finally get her drift, the tab is 2,700 baht and she's trying to give me back two of my 1,000-baht notes. So there are honest people and dishonest people and maybe I made a mistake about the 1,000 baht note. So what's new? But I can't forgive that baht bus driver.

The sewer cleaners.

An observation I made was that of the street cleaners down here in the Pit, that is Pattaya, and how industrious they are at cleaning up the terrific mess made each and every night by the partiers. When I ran through Walking Street on my way up to Jomtien for my morning run, the place looked like a bomb had gone off. There was trash and debris everywhere, to include loose trash from litterers, bags piled up from the shops and bars awaiting collection, and also a lot of debris washed around as a result of the torrential downpour experienced down here last night for hours. Well, upon my return trip through Walking Street (about 2 hours later), the place was looking pretty good. That must have been a lot of work. Without these street cleaners that the city employs, and who clean up the huge mess each and every morning after the action dies down, Pattaya would be nothing more than an open sewer. Same goes for Jomtien, which also had its cleaning contingent busily at work beautifying things.

What is it with bar owners and their customers at the moment? Is there some funny stuff in the water in Sukhumvit or what? Another bar owner has belted a customer. Details are sketchy but a bar owner in a soi just off the main Sukhumvit Road, not in Nana or Cowboy, belted the crap out of a customer so badly that he needed medical attention on his hand!

There are a bunch of lounge lizards who inhabit the Nana Hotel and who are very much like fixtures of the hotel. Most are actually resident in the Nana, yeah, they really do live there year round. Brave souls. An hour in the restaurant and I want to escape. Perhaps the most recognisable of them all was an American by the name of Izzy. Sadly, Izzy, the warm Texan, passed away this week. His warm demeanour and friendliness will be missed by many.

A satellite dish was finally installed this week at Sukhumvit Soi 1 and they've been watching some great sport, not least of all yesterday's great rugby match. Also in the Soi 1 Complex at Revolution Bar is a special deal for Stickman readers. Say you're a Stick reader and you can get Singha any day, any time, for just 50 baht. However, you must first sing one song from their karaoke machine. You can choose between English, Thai, Japanese or Korean songs – the latter could be interesting when you're pissed. I'll see if I can twist the owner's arm to make it Heineken instead of Singha…

The new Champagne Club above Bully's on Sukhumvit is not for everyone and its pricing will scare off more than just the city's poor English teachers. While its location just a stone's throw from Sukhumvit will stereotype it as a standard farang nightlife venue, it really is something quite different. Champagne is a membership lounge. Unlike other membership clubs whom charge a fee and you receive various services and several bottles of JW Black whether you like it or not, Champagne collects a pre-paid fee (5,000 – 50,000 baht) which is loaded into a membership card and used by the customer towards all charges for him or his guests and is fully transferable. You may purchase drinks by the glass or the bottle, buy lady drinks, or off fees with the card. First timers are allowed a guest membership and may pay cash for drinks etc. These guest memberships are also used by hotels to send their guests to Champagne. The girls do not negotiate with the customers. The lounge charges 4,500 short time and 8,000 baht all night, this is paid to the club and includes the barfine and girl's fee for services rendered. Feedback has been good and repeat business is coming in. In regards to the fees for ladies which I thought would have been considered awfully high for that neighbourhood, I was surprised to hear that there have been several guys take a girl for 2 – 5 days and pay the fees in advance. At maximum, Champagne will cater to 60 men per night. This venue really is in a different market to all the other bars in the area.

The owner of Hilary bar, Sukhumvit Soi 4, has announced that the original bar will be closed for a month around August for a refurb. It will reduce in size due to the new lease requirements and its name will change to ‘Original Hillary Bar’ – remember there is now a new one on the opposite side of Soi 4.

Sin in Sukhumvit Soi 4 is an impressive looking venue and a lot of money went in to putting it together. It has also been cleverly designed and the outdoor bar area upstairs is a very pleasant spot to enjoy a bite and a few beers with friends. The food is pretty good too, and reasonably priced it has to be said. The outdoor area had been open until late but Lumpini's finest have put a stop to that. Last orders at 12:45 AM and they're being told to close at 1 AM sharp, just like everyone else. That's a shame as that spot looked like it was going to become something of a late night venue in Sukhumvit Soi 4.

But if you are looking for a venue that is open late at night, just walk around the front of Nana Plaza after 1 AM and look lost. No doubt you'll be approached by a shady looking Thai guy who will say, "you want open bar mister?" I've no idea which venues they're promoting but for sure, there are some spots open late.

At 1 AM sharp Nana Plaza bars are closing and girls are hurriedly shooed off the gogo dance floor and out into the changing rooms by mamasans and managers petrified at being closed for a month for opening late. In Rainbow 4 where I was enjoying the view last night, the management seemed quite nervous about it all and quickly shepherded the girls not just off stage but into the changing room.

And speaking of the Rainbow bars, the owners might soon see their names on Thailand's rich list if business keeps up the way it has been. My estimate – and I reckon I'd be pretty close on this, is that the Rainbow bars combined would be doing over 500,000 baht a night on both Friday and Saturday nights. These bars are absolutely booming. Rainbow 1, 2 and 4 all seem to be a licence to print money at the moment. Remember, Rainbow 3 is currently closed for renovations. What is the secret to their success? Their business model seems to be simple. Stuff the bars full with as many pretty girls as possible! All three of these bars are full of girls, many of them really attractive. Rainbow 4 especially has a huge number of lookers. It was amazing that at closing time last night, there were still close to 100 dancers who had not been barfined! I didn't notice how many girls had been barfined but I bet it was a similar number. The Rainbow bars have been sucking the life out of other bars, both by enticing dancers from other bars, and by providing such fine entertainment that guys are actually going to all three Rainbow bars on their trip to Nana and spending less time in other bars.

Two bars worth visiting in Nana are Pretty Lady and Erotica, and it will become apparent why when you see what's on offer.

G Spot seem to be taking extreme measures to get customers in the door…

Pretty Lady continue to have a following with interesting views from cleverly positioned mirrors.

Erotica has improved too and trade is picking up, no doubt in part due to the cute dancers. They dance on the second level glass floor. They are covered but they are very friendly and some titillation goes on with the customers.

Quote not just of the week, but of the month, or perhaps even the year. "If you're paying her, then she's not your girlfriend – you're her customer." That says it perfectly!

I went for a run through Soi Cowboy on Friday night. Dollhouse was doing reasonably well and there were a lot of pretty girls on stage. The girls were mostly smiling and you got the impression that the bar was well managed – everyone seemed happy. Next was Sheba's which had a lot of on stage entertainment and was also fairly busy. Other bars were doing ok, though nowhere seemed to be as packed as say some of the Nana bars are at the weekend. It would be fair to say that there has been a huge swing from Cowboy back to Nana, led by the Rainbow bars.

I can also confirm that the rumour doing the rounds about underage girls in Soi Cowboy is, sadly, 100% true. One of the so called better Cowboy bars has at least one 17 year old employed….and she has been working there for two years. Do the maths! And she just recently brought her 15 year old sister down from the village. Worst of all, it is plainly obvious that this girl is 15 years old. She looks 15 years old. Stomach turning. So Horrible Even By Asian Standards.

Pattaya is pretty quiet right now. There are literally armies of ladies in the bars with very little custom for them. There are huge numbers of ladies just sitting around with nothing to do, all looking a little lost. Despite the downturn in punters, gogo dancers are still quoting 2,500 baht long time.

For those who like to work out, you should note that the former landmark, Universe Gym, previously on Beach Road in Pattaya, has been shut down and has relocated to Sukhumvit Road. However, there is a new gym down there on 3rd Road called Tony's. It has half decent equipment, good hours, has air-conditioning and is only 99 baht a workout. Contrast that with some Bangkok gyms which charge 800 baht for ONE VISIT!

Beer bar closing hours in Pattaya are not being scrutinized at all. Beer bars are often still open at 4 AM, with a couple paying customers on hand still drinking.

Virtually all Pattaya gogo bars seem to be showing and a good number have shows every hour or so where the ladies parade around in their birthday suits. It really does sound as though it is business as normal in Pattaya. No early closures, no great concerns about dancing in one's birthday suit and all manner of shows.

I have yet to meet a farang male who is not bemused, and that is being polite, by these middle-aged hi-so women who are characterised by that gigantic hair-do that must have taken hours to tease up. But it's not the hair that bothers the average farang about them, but the way they strut their stuff, posing as if their shit doesn't stink, bossing people around and generally treating all and sundry with disdain. The next time a Thai asks you why you are with such a young Thai woman, simply respond to them that the last thing you want is to be stuck with one of these women, so if you marry someone young enough, you'll be long gone before she gets to that stage.

A few readers have asked me about the situation in Phuket and how things are now, given it is six months to the day since the tsunami hit. I've not got a brass razoo to my name at the moment so cannot make it down there to check it out myself, but this report from the Sydney Morning Herald paints a bleak picture. Anecdotes from readers and friends who have visited suggest that tourist numbers remain way down.

Ask the Sticks

Mrs. Stick is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Please note that for general bargirl related questions, Mr. Stick might answer them. It has to be said that Mrs. Stick is not your stereotypical Thai woman. She is not Buddhist and she is not shy to criticise things about her own country and culture, although having said that, she remains proud to be Thai. Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about. Just one thing to consider. Mrs. Stick is a middle class woman from a middle class background and with all due respect to her, Thai people in one class do not always know what is going on in another class. She'll do her best to answer all questions but remember, she'll be looking at it from a middle class point of view!

Question 1: I'm married to a Thai lady living in Australia and happy as. One thing that gets me is nearly every night she will dream and as soon as she awakes looks up the dream in a book to see what it means. Is this a common thing for Thais and what is the importance of the knowing the meaning of the dreams.

Mrs. Stick says: She must be quite superstitious and strongly believe in such things if this is a daily occurrence. I have heard about this before but it is not so common amongst me and my friends. I've heard of a book which interprets dreams and predicts the future, but I do not believe in this myself so don't really know enough to answer in any detail. Sorry.

Question 2: A while back I read a great fictional novel by a Thai author. In the novel, he said that Thais believe that police and criminals are believed to have had reverse roles in previous lives. That is, criminals were police in prior lives and vice versa. So, is this an accurate belief among Thais? And if so, would it then follow that punters and ladies of the night have interchangeable roles in the world of reincarnation? What do you think?

Mrs. Stick says: No, not at all. I have never heard of this and do not know what he was talking about!

I notice in recent weeks an increasing number of complaints about the content of this column, and the fact that it is not nightlife only. Some people have it in their mind that this is a nightlife site with a column that tries to be nightlife but is not. This could not be further from the truth. This column is for Westerners with an in interest in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, both those people resident here and those who holiday here frequently. It therefore covers a variety of topics from employment to healthcare to technology to entertainment to nightlife to local personalities to a whole heap of other stuff. Yes, there will always be nightlife coverage, but the column is NOT a nightlife only column, nor has it ever been. Just as the Bonk also covers politics and dining out, and Mekhong Kurt covers a whole host of varied topics, so too does this column cover a range of subjects. Now having said all of that, the news and gossip in this week's column is predominantly nightlife related. Seriously though, if you want nightlife only, subscribe to one of the nightlife specific sites like Club Hombre where it is exclusively nightlife.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper, Caveman, Dirty Dave and Kipara.


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