Just 8 years ago a good night out in the naughty bars of Bangkok could be had for well under 1,000 baht. These days that may still be possible, but it is a lot harder to have such an experience, at such a reasonable price. Why is that?
Let’s break down the cost of a night out in the past. In the past, I would invariably go out to the bars with my partner in crime, the pride of Canada, Whosyourdaddy. We were not there to meet girls and taking girls back to our respective apartments was really the last thing on our mind. We just wanted to go out, have a few drinks, and then go home. We would usually hang out at Rainbow 1 bar in Nana, and often stick our heads into one or two other chrome pole venues.
Back then, and I am thinking around ’99 or 2000, drinks were about 80 baht. We would have 5 or 6 beers each. We may have bought perhaps one lady drink, but often would not. (You can call us stingy but we were happier having a laugh ourselves watching the girls than having them entertain us.) We were also several years younger and the girls DID come and chat with us without the expectation of anything. We quickly became known as two guys who would go to the bars, have a few drinks, and happily go home alone. So, 6 drinks @ 80 baht was 480 baht. A 20 baht tip made it 500 baht. We’d go there by skytrain which was 20 baht and we’d share a cab home as we lived in the same area, which was about 25 baht each. We’d invariably get a bit to eat, often a burger at the entrance to Nana, or a meal at the Offshore. Total price of the food was 60 – 90 baht. So, all up, a night out cost about 650 baht, for food, drinks and transport. Bear in mind that we were really poor teachers back then.
These days, the same thing would cost a bit more. 6 drinks would run you 750 baht alone, and you'd not have ladies chatting to you without buying them a drink within a couple of minutes. Food prices have moved up too, but transportation costs remain the same.
You could hang out at many bars in the past in Cowboy and to a lesser extent, Nana, chat with the ladies, and buy no more than one, or possibly two drinks. Cowboy used to be a relaxing place where the pressure to buy lady drinks was almost zero. Oh, how that has changed. I dropped into one of the really skanky Cowboy bars a couple of weeks back to make some notes and was immediately approached by a woman old enough to be my grandma! The last thing I wanted was someone bothering me and the thought of having to go through all of the usual silly questions annoyed me, made worse with me knowing that telling her to piss off, even if politely, would make her lose face. So, for once in my life I was relived when she said immediately, “Hello Handsome man, I Da, you buy Cola for me”, to which I replied, “No” and she was gone. Yep, even in these dodgy bars the girls are immediately asking for a drink.
It was only a few years ago when it was very easy to agree to meet a girl when she finished work and take her home, so as to avoid paying the barfine. This wasn't just an occasional thing done by poor teachers, but was actually fairly common. The only drawback for a guy was that back then the bars usually closed at 2:00 AM and by the time the bar had closed, the girl had got changed and had met him outside, it was getting on for 2:30. There wasn’t even a lot of secrecy about this and you’d often see a girl walk outside and meet her customer for the night right outside the bar and off they would stroll, hand in hand.
Nowadays, bars have put in place draconian rules against this sort of thing. Any girl who meets a customer outside of the bar will be “fined” and the fine ranges from the cost of the barfine to 1,000 baht, the money docked from her salary at the end of the month. And it isn’t just customers from the bar who the girls are prohibited from meeting. If a lady meets *any* guy outside the bar, or anywhere in the vicinity of the bar – can even be a few hundred metres from the bar, if she happens to be seen going off with a guy, she can be fined! When this policy was introduced a few years back – and it is policy in most bars in Bangkok, many bar owners well and truly crossed the line from being just a bar owner, to being pimps.
Another contributing factor to the cost of a night out in Bangkok is SLUT. SLUT is the Sexy Ladies Union of Thailand. It would seem that the ladies in many bars and many areas have got together and agreed on minimum prices for their services. This first
happened (at least during my time in Thailand) in Patpong in the late ‘90s when the mamasan would walk around with a piece of cardboard clearly stating the cost of a girl, which was 4,000 – the short time fee. While the most attractive
girls often managed to secure such a pay out, that sort of went by the wayside with many guys simply refusing to pay such lofty amounts.
These days it is not just the girls in the bars who have organized themselves and effectively fixed the prices. Freelancers are in on the game too and are also seeking much higher prices for services, and in such salubrious hang outs as the Thermae and the Nana Hotel Car Park, many girls refuse to go for less than 1,500 baht for short time! Some are dragons and I cannot understand how any guy would actually pay them.
In the past many ladies never bothered you as much as they do now for lady drinks. Many bars only introduced minimum numbers of lady drinks that the staff had to get a few years back. But that is not the only problem with lady drinks. In the past, a lady drink was generally about the same price as a standard drink, meaning around 90 baht pre mid-2001, and around 75 baht, pre-1999. But these days, lady drinks seem to run about the same price as a standard drink, which in Bangkok means 110 – 130 baht. But the story doesn’t really end there. In many bars there are now three levels of lady drinks – a standard Cola at around 100 – 130 baht, a Cola with local whisky which is usually 30 – 40 baht more, and the top tier, a Cola with imported whisky which can be around 60 baht more. Offer a girl a lady drink and you could get a bill for that one drink that is much closer to 200 baht than you think! In the past, if a girl was offered a lady drink and wanted something other than a standard Coke, she would ask permission, but that seems to have gone by the wayside, and now the average bargirl will order the most expensive drink they can.
Even in Sukhumvit Soi 33 where policy in many bars dictates that the girls may not ask, or worse harass, punters for drinks, the girls still continue to ask for drinks. I am friendly with a couple of bar owners in Soi 33, and they always tell me how the girls are prohibited from asking customers for drinks. These are straight guys, not someone just giving me lip service. Little do they know that customers are truly being harassed for drinks.
But perhaps the biggest factor of all is the number of girls receiving money from boyfriends, husbands – guys in love with them. My feeling is that more than 50% of gogo girls who have been working 6 months or more have guys sending them money. And often
it is more than one guy. Let's say these girls have 50,000 baht + per month coming in from multiple sponsors, they really cannot be assed being nice to guys unless there is something in it for them, such as a number of lady drinks, or if
for services rendered, a significant amount. Sending money to girls and spoiling them, while nice for the girls, has spoiled the industry for other guys. And guys who are based locally are really suffering as the girls aim for tourists, knowing
there is a chance of making a lot of money over a period of time, as opposed to a local guy who knows the deal and will only pay a small amount – with little hope of future earnings.
Bar owners have long signalled that they want the high paying customers. One high profile bar owner once said to me that he liked nothing better than seeing a “sea of yellow” in his bars – as those guys spend the most. His words, not mine.
On a personal note, I have not been affected by the drinks prices. I don’t go to the bars so often these days and when I do, I’m not in the habit of buying drinks for girls. I most certainly do not pay barfines or take girls anywhere with me. But I do resent paying more than I think I should be paying, and getting poor value – when you consider what other venues charge. But that doesn’t get away from the fact that I think the naughty bars of Thailand, while cheap in comparison with what’s available in the West, have reached a pricing level at which many people are starting to question things.
Truthfully, I think most of the gogo bars have a cheek charging 125 – 130 baht. Perhaps the one exception is Angelwitch in Pattaya where you get good shows, in a nice environment (great bar with the best sound system) with reasonably good service. Few
bars can boast this. But I'm digressing. This article was supposed to be about Bangkok, and once again I find myself looking south, looking at Pattaya.
For anyone fed up with things in Bangkok, there is always Pattaya. Prices down there have crept up, but only crept up, not soared. The levels of service down there are generally superior to what is offered in Bangkok, the number of venues far greater and the prices tend to be quite a bit lower, across the board.
WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?
It was the white temple in Chiang Rai.
Where is that?!
Last week's pic was not of a snow covered temple in the West, but rather, Wat Rong Khun or the white temple, as it is known, in Chiang Rai. The first prize is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar and prizes 2 and 3 are a 600 baht dinner voucher for 2 at Sin in Sukhumvit Soi 4. The prizes are only available to people in Thailand now – either residents or tourists, and must be redeemed within 2 weeks. You MUST say that you are in Bangkok and able to claim the prize or I will consider you ineligible. If you do not explicitly mention you are local or will be in town in the next two weeks, you cannot claim any of the prizes.
FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX
Less fun being a serviceman these days?
Having sex with a prostitute has always been punishable under the UCMJ (uniform code of military justice) article 136 which is a catch all that can be used for conduct detrimental to the military. This new regulation sounds like a politically correct move. As a military policeman in Vietnam 1970 – 1971, article 136 was used on top of everything else we had busted the guy for. Sunburn is grounds for an article 132 (non-judicial punishment) if you cannot perform your work. The military has you covered for any hanky-panky. I am happy I served when I did as all the fun has been taken out of the service. At one time a blind eye was turned to activities a young man might indulge in as long as you could do your job the next day, and no one was hurt. Now if you have a few beers and a bit of a hangover its captain’s mast for you. Times have changed. The puritans are taking over and they are alive and well in Thailand.
The benefits of reading Thai.
Beware when you rent a room for your sweetheart – can you read Thai? Some girls present the leasing documents to their darling all written in Thai except for the monthly rent which may say 6,000 baht. This doesn't seem too bad, does it, and the deposit of 18,000 is ok. What you may not know is that the actual rent is 3,000 per room and she has just got you to pay for a room for her boyfriend / bar lady friends / family too.
The demise of a once great bar.
What has happened to the Safari Bar? I dropped by there last Thursday evening around eleven-ish. There weren't any dancing girls, just a handful of overweight, old bags who immediately surrounded me demanding drinks. A couple of them uncovered their breasts for my 'benefit'. I gave them a hundred baht each to put them away, finished my beer and buggered off. I won't be rushing back.
Psychology – Asia style!
Always check your bills and change on EVERY occasion. It's been reported here many times that some establishments 'add' an item or two, hoping that after a few beers we might not notice, and that the addition is quite often incorrect – always in their favour, of course! (in all the years I've been here I have NEVER, EVER been UNDER-charged!) At bus stations, airports, wherever you might be in a rush. These are prime places where you can be taken advantage of. Take your time and examine your bill and change. Treat it like a game (they do), you'll be surprised and substantially better off for doing so! However, it's NOT just about money. Learn from this: take a closer look at that 'smile' as they rip you for 50 – 100 baht, and the oh-so-cute-and-innocent 'apology' (Oooooh sooorlly misteurr) that follows. It's all part of the con that actually has the effect of endearing you to the person who knowingly just tried to steal from you and to rip you off! Think about that. Psychology – Asia style! Now you are starting to see behind the veil, behind the 'front' to so much personal and commercial interaction here. That smile should never be taken at face value. You are going to get caught out. Trust all smiles, at all times, at your peril.
Fishing in Thailand.
If you like fishing head out to Bungsamran Fishing Park at Nawamin Soi 42. Gear can be rented in the local shop and they can also arrange a Thai helper for you to show you the ropes (tip according to the quality of service). There is a common platform, or if you prefer, bungalows at varying costs around the large "pond". All up the cost is about 2,000 baht per day per person. Avoid the farang guides found on various websites – they are very happy to charge 10,000 baht per person and just love groups!
Somboon Restaurant – too big for its boots.
Having been a long term customer at Somboon seafood it is disappointing to see the quality of service falling to such lows. When patrons book they write the reservation on a notice board. It seems more often than not the board is not getting updated and seats are simply given on a first come first served basis. Our booking was recorded in a waiter's writing pad but not on the board. Too bad and no apology – we had to walk home pushing the pram all the way back without our awaited for dinner (this was the second and last time). We won't be back but they won't care.
More fake monks!
This week we (3 Thai male colleagues and myself) were approached by someone who looked similar to the guy you mentioned. We were in a Bangkok suburb where no farangs venture. His hair was very short but not bald and his dull-orange dress (which was much thicker material than the usual Thai monk one) was more fitted / tailored. Interestingly he approached my Thai colleague instead of me and asked if he would buy the monk some food (we were in a restaurant). The monk spoke Chinese & English, a little Thai and possibly some Indonesian. We were not able to get a lot of info out of him as to what he was doing here but he certainly wasn’t a local Thai trying to rip off tourists which was the impression I got from your recent column.
Muay Thai price hikes FOR FARANGS!
In a sad sign of the times in our ever-changing City of Angels, already expensive Muay Thai prices have shot up almost 100 percent (at least at the Lumpini Arena). Second class seats that used to be 800 baht are now 1,500 baht, and the tourist VIP seats are now 2,000. But of course, my Thai girlfriend only had to pay 200 baht for her second class seat. I think that I will be watching the rest of the fights from the comforts of my apartment!
The major bars in Nana ARE staying open until 2 AM! Yippee!
I haven't checked it out yet myself but they're telling me that Cowboy is open until 2:00 AM too.
I spoke too soon. The farang preachers were seen outside Nana again this week. I think a short, surreptitious interview with them might be fun…
Rumours of the 100 baht happy hour at Cathouse are just that, rumours. That 100 baht promotion, at least at that price, has long gone. The all-you-can-drink happy hour still runs from 4 – 8 PM, but the prices are now 350 baht for Heineken, 250 baht for Singha or Tiger and 200 baht for the loopy juice marketed under the name of Chang.
Away from Bangkok for the second half of the week, I have been unable to confirm it, but it looks like there might be something of a beer price war down in Soi Cowboy. It looks as though Dollhouse have shaken things up and are offering draft beer for 50 baht a glass ALL NIGHT. Could this be the beginning of Pattaya gogo bar like specials in Bangkok, at long last? If it is, it's WAY overdue!
A large group of young children are hanging around, selling flowers on Sukhumvit Soi 4, in front of the Dynasty. They are a very aggressive, disrespectful, obnoxious group, blocking the sidewalk, swearing and flipping the finger. Who knows what else they may be up to? Pick pocketing perhaps? I'd give them a wide berth.
I finally managed to give Angelwitch in Pattaya a decent go this week, following some mixed comments about it. I take back all that I said. This bar is light years ahead of pretty much every other gogo bar in Thailand, and the shows, while not the smut that you see in some bars, are actually quite tasteful, in parts. The lighting, the music and dare I say it, even the choreography, are better than anything I have ever seen in such bars. It will be interesting to see how well this bar does.
Worldwide A Gogo on the Beach Road used to be a good spot for an afternoon drink, opening around 4:00 PM. It would however seem they are down on ladies and the bar opens around 6:00 PM or later these days.
And speaking of the Beach Road, the crackdown they had on ladies of the night – as well as ladies of the day (and I guess katoeys of the day and night too for that matter) seems to be well and truly over and friendly locals looking to entertain can be found on the Beach Road in serious numbers once again. Just avoid the area near Pattaya Klang as there are a heap of aggressive ladyboys in that particular area.
There is something about the number 8 that makes it sound a lot better than the number 7. 8 out of 10 is rather better than 7 out of 10, after all. And so in Pattaya where two of the most popular sois of beer bars can be found is in sois 7 and 8. This week, Soi 8 was a lot better than soi 7, which with all due respect, seemed to be home to a lot of ladies who really were rather optimistic…
One of the things I noticed about the gogo bars in the Walking Street area this time was that there seem to be slightly less girls in them than there were, say, one year ago. This would make sense given that there are more bars, but probably still only about the same number of girls in the industry.
The bars in the Convent Garden area are continuing to do well, although there is something of a different atmosphere in each of the four bars there. Club Boesche is definitely the most lively and I can see why it is so popular, but really I didn't think it was that good….just my personal opinion. Babewatch was doing ok although I'm not convinced of the layout. X Zone is nice, although the idea of two gogo stages in the bar separated by a lot of seating, meaning that you cannot keep your eyes on both is a bit awkward. It is therefore with some surprise that I say that my favourite of the four gogo bars in the area is Catz. It might be the smallest of the four, but it is well laid out and it has a very nice atmosphere in there. Really though, all of these gogo bars are good and well worth visiting.
I have to laugh at the sign out the front of Tony's which says that anyone taking food or drinks from outside into Tony's will be fined 5,000 baht! The sign is in English, and Russian, which makes us suspect that the Russians have been caught sneaking in some goodies from outside.
And after the false start in the late '90s, I can confirm that Russians are back in Pattaya in serious numbers. More and more signs can be seen in Russian, there are Russian ads and presenters on the local Pattaya TV channels and you hear folks speaking in Russian wherever you walk. But unlike the late '90s when many business owners got burnt after investing heavily for the anticipated hordes of Russians, I have not seen menus in Russian or waiters and waitresses practicing their recently acquired Russian language skills. A few of the Thais I spoke to said they didn't like the Russians. Why, I inquired? Because they don't tip! Money, it all comes back to money…
That devil Dave The Rave will breathe a sigh of relief with what I have to say next. Dave has been mildly surprised, to put it lightly, that I have been so full of praise of the gogo bars in Pattaya, and Pattaya as a destination for a fun night out. Well, this week in Pattaya I have to say that while things are generally better than Bangkok, if you want the gogo bar with the biggest collection of genuinely attractive women, it remains in Bangkok. My eyes didn't see any bar in Pattaya that could challenge Rainbow 4, and I checked out most of the big name bars in Pattaya. Even Peppermint can't match Rainbow 4, at least in my opinion.
A warning goes out to guys using Bangkokchat.org. The folks behind Farangs.org are intent on ruining Bangkokchat and are currently compiling information on guys who use it with a view to passing this information on to the Thai police! While there may be a few guys up to questionable things on there, I have little doubt that most guys are just there for a laugh. It is sad that the people behind Farangs.org think they can bully people like this. Farangs.org have already suffered the wrath of one site, and might just suffer the wrath of a few more major Thai websites….watch this space – but watch your backside if you are a guy on Bangkokchat – do everything you can to ensure the girl you are talking to is genuine before divulging too much about yourself.
From a very good source it has been said that The Target Bar on Patpong 2, which has had the front completely bricked up, is to open very soon as an S&M club. Ooooh, that could be worth a look!
Some girls from Electric Blue have been sent to Pussy Collection.
And still down at the Pong, rumour has it that Kings Corner is to close early next month for a month of renovation and lots of their staff are to go working across the road to work in Pussy Collection.
Mojo's, Livingstone's and The Office Bar have got together to organise a night with two famous Australians, Rodney Hogg and Tommy Raudonikis. They'll be talking / performing at Mojo's in Sukhumvit Soi 33, this Wednesday, 29 March, from 8 PM. Tickets are 900 baht and include Heineken draft, whisky, gin and vodka. There will be an auction at the end of the show.
I have long mentioned concerns about using internet cafes in Bangkok as many of the computers in these spots are riddled with spyware, keystroke loggers and the like, allowing the person who installed such programs to get access to any accounts you access
online – your email accounts, your website accounts and God forbid, your bank accounts! Accusations have come in about the expensive internet shop in the Nana area, you know the one, opposite Nana Plaza, has software installed that records
details which have resulted in transfers being made from their foreign bank accounts. At least two people claim to have only used this particular internet café and then had problems with their bank accounts in Farangland. Using your own laptop
to connect to connections in hotels or free / pay as you go wi-fi connections is better, but still not foolproof. If you are really concerned, or paranoid, the safest way is to use your own laptop to connect to the internet directly, using a dial
up connection in your hotel room. You can buy internet packages locally in many computer shops, and internet access is cheap at around 10 baht an hour. Setting up an account is very quick and easy.
The English teaching industry has changed a lot over the last decade, but there are still some really awful positions out there. I see one school still persists in offering contracts which could see teachers teaching up to 36 contact hours per week for a mere 30,000 baht a month.
Big John's has a heap of specials coming up. On 1st April – April Fools Day – to celebrate the soft opening of the new Big John's at Sukhumvit Soi 1 they'll be playing the fool with buy 1 get 1 free pies all day and free draft beer to anyone dressed as a clown. On 14th April they will have a swimsuit & Easter bunny party. FREE Large bottle / bucket set of Thai Whisky, coke, Red Bull & ice to all parties of 4 people in swimsuits or bunny costumes. There will be an all you can eat BBQ / buffet from 6 – 8 PM at 200 baht or 300 Baht including all you can drink Chang draft beer. FREE Chang draft will be offered from 9 – 10 PM.
My laptop went tits up a couple of weeks ago and I tried to fix it myself, but couldn’t. I am never a fan of taking it to the cowboys in Panthip – some of the guys there are really good, but some of them are less trustworthy, as can be seen by the Anna story (when they copied a home made porno movie from the hard drive of a computer they were repairing and distributed it nationwide) that I mentioned a month or so back in this column. If you are looking for a Westerner to fix your computer or network, you could do a lot worse than contacting American Scott. He fixed my laptop in no time and he has a number of contracts locally, including one with the Aussie Chamber Of Commerce. Scott can be contacted on 07-931-0617.
It's the hottest time of year, and most students are on holiday until mid May. If ever there was a time to use the swimming pools in condo buildings, then this is it. So why oh why are a number of condominiums using this time of year to repair swimming pools? In the building where I live, as well as three where friends live, the swimming pools are closed for repairs. Madness!
Roxy Bar is coming soon to Pattaya, but can anyone remember the old Roxy Bar, the sign of which you can see here?
This site has been doing the rounds on the net this week, a series of photos of bargirls in Korat from the late '60s.
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. Please do try and limit the length of questions to Mrs. Stick to about 100 words. We get many questions that are entire stories of several hundred words which I'm afraid are just too long to run here.
Question 1: Ok let's say that you meet a good Thai girl, not a hi-so family but wealthy, you know that she's totally against pay for play. Now if she ask you if you p4ped before, do you tell her? But if you say no with all your friends being linked somewhat to the p4p scene and her living close to it she will definitely know sooner or later one way or the other unless you cut all contacts with your friends which is impossible. One thing I didn't mention is that we are not in a relationship yet but it could happen and I fear that being honest and saying yes could be a deal breaker before anything happens. What I was curious about too was the "face" aspect of it, would she rather have me saying no even though she knows to save face or would I tell her and it would be our secret (face again) or she wouldn't mind cause it s the past and I was way young and foolish?
Mrs. Stick says: No woman wants to know that the man she is in love with has used the services of prostitutes. I don't really know what else to say here, except that if you don't ever use them, you will not have to lie, and if you don't lie, then things will be a lot better. If you have used prostitutes before, then I am sorry, that is a situation you will have to deal with. The only piece of advice I can give you is that once you are involved with someone you care for, you do not go to those places any more.
Question 2: Which features would be more attractive to typical Thai women: A. slim or muscular; B. short, medium, or tall; C. facial hair or not; D. white or tanned; E. blond, brown, black, or red-hair; F. hairy chest or not; G. green, brown, or blue eyes; H. small, average, big, or huge sexual equipment; and I. any other physical attributes that you think are worth mentioning? By the way, I don't expect a description of Stickman.
Mrs. Stick says: I think you are getting unnecessarily worried about the way you look and should worry more about the way you are. Try not to do things that upset Thai people such as talk loudly, complain all the time, especially about Thai people or Thailand. Make sure you are always well presented and that you are always clean. Different Thai women prefer men to have a different look so what I like may be different to other Thai women.
Question 3: My girlfriend’s son – 8 years old, most of the time calls me "Pa" – but when
talking to others I have heard him call me "puutow" (old man). About a year ago I screamed at him once for using what he has obviously learned from children at school "f…. you". It may be because of a reaction to my screaming. Does puutow have a negative connotation?
Mrs. Stick says: The meaning here simply is old person. It does not have a negative meaning.
Down in Pattaya again this week, I found myself enjoying it, yet again. Pattaya is a funny place and has a funny reputation – most of it deserved, but that does not get away from the fact that despite all of the nonsense, it DOES have a lot going for it. I have begun to discover more and more great eateries in Pattaya and as a final note this week, I would like to mention one really sensational restaurant. Called Restaurant Cuisine Au Beurre, this French owned spot has without a doubt the best value French food I have ever had in Thailand. They have a daily special menu which goes for less than 200 baht, for which you get a choice of appetiser or salad, a choice of main, a choice of dessert or cheese, plus tea or coffee. Of course you get served a generous helping of French bread. I have a healthy appetite and it fills me up. All for under 200 baht. Think of it as great quality food, in a relaxed dining atmosphere and you can't go wrong. It is located in the soi that runs alongside the computer shopping centre on South Pattaya Road. If you are looking for 5 star service or ambience, forget it, but if you are primarily concerned about the quality of the food, this place gets the thumbs up.
Your Bangkok commentator,