Stickman's Weekly Column January 10th, 2010

Stick’s Top People Watching Spots In Bangkok



One of the things I like most about Bangkok is that life is on the ground. Wherever you find yourself, something will be going on, there'll be things to see and people to watch. For people watching it's hard to imagine a city that compares to Bangkok.

I love people watching, perching somewhere, ordering a bit to eat and a drink and just waiting to see what happens next. For me, an ideal people watching spot needs comfortable seating, decent food / drinks and more than anything, an unobstructed view of the comings and goings. And when those comings and goings are a little unusual, or involve interesting, eccentric or colourful characters, all the better!

What follows, in no particular order, are my favourite people watching spots in Bangkok.

Big Dogs Bar, mouth of Nana Plaza

At the mouth of the infamous horseshoe-shaped sex shopping centre, perching at Big Dogs bar provides the best view of the entrance to Nana Plaza, a ringside seat of the girls arriving for work, followed later by hungry customers. And later in the evening you can see those who came alone leaving as couples.

It's fun to watch the girls arrive for work early evening, leave with a customer and then return to the plaza, sometimes as quickly as 40 minutes later, back to work and then in record time leave with another guy.

The best spot is at the edge of the bar, looking down on the main entrance. The seats at the front look out over soi 4 and across to the Nana Hotel, not nearly as interesting a view.

Big Dogs is ideal if you're people watching alone. Being a beer bar, there are heaps of girls who are happy to join you, chat with you and watch the world go by, and it's just as possible to engage the punters around you in conversation.

Khao San Road

The backpacker ghetto for more than two decades, the face of Khao San Road is changing. 10 years ago it was almost exclusively a budget travelers' enclave but today many properties are being developed into more upmarket venues. Where once you could find somewhere to lay your head for less than a hundred baht, today you could pay thousands if you wanted – although budget properties remain the mainstay of the area.

Khao San Road is a great place to go people watching with Thai friends. Most Thais find Khao San Road fascinating, seeing it as a genuine slice of Farangland in their own backyard. I haven't had the heart to tell those I've been out there with that it's hardly representative of Farangland at all.

If you're a visitor to Thailand the Khao San Road freak show might hold little appeal but for those of us who call Bangkok home, it's like a visit to the zoo.

Khao San Road is used by automobiles by day and the sidewalk is crowded with street vendors who don't vacate until late afternoon at which point Khao San becomes a walking street – and ideal for people watching. There's no favoured spot as pretty much all the restaurants and bars lining the 400 metre long road set up outdoor seating from where you can sit back and watch the show.

Soi Rambuttri, pictured below, just around the corner fro Khao San is also excellent for people watching.

Telephone Bar, Silom Soi 4

Not for the homophobic, this is where you can see some of the capital's most camp and glamorous characters. Mrs. Stick and I used to quite like it early evening for a few quick, inexpensive drinks. Well-mixed cocktails are much cheaper in soi 4 than just about anywhere bar street booze booths and the cheapest venues at Khao San.

Telephone Bar, in the middle of the short, narrow lane gives you a vantage point from where you can see all of the soi. Needless to say, sitting outside is much, much better than sitting indoors.

The soi is predominantly gay but very much straight-friendly. While the halcyon days when I actually found Silom soi 4 to be rich pickings, there still seem to be quite a few straight women lingering who are approachable. Not money girls, just regular open-minded Thai women who would be delighted to meet a decent straight bloke.

The people watching possibilities are good all night long. Weekends are more happening but weeknights are good too.

The one tip I have is to visit with your girlfriend or wife. Go along with a mate or two and you might be mistaken for a queen.

Nefertiti Restaurant, Soi Arab

Sukhumvit sois 3 and 3/1 are ground zero for Bangkok's transient Arab, Middle Eastern and Islamic African visitors. You won't find a greater concentration of restaurants, bars, travel agents and prostitutes targeting this lot elsewhere in Bangkok.

You can sit back and enjoy fantastic Middle Eastern food while watching the circus parade by. Should you choose to interact with the soi's denizens, you'll encounter entrepreneurial Africans who can source you any drug you desire, bags of US dollars dyed in black and blocks of concrete that magically turn to gold with a special solution they'll sell you for a song. This is one of the few places in Bangkok where photography can upset the natives so be careful if you're waving a big camera and lens around.

That expert on Indian cuisine, Brian, publican of Crossbar, tells me that Al Hussein has the best food in the area. I would not argue with such a renowned culinary exert, but would suggest that the view from Nefertiti is just that little bit better.

The best time to watch the comings and goings in Soi Arab is during Bangkok's brief twilight period. During the day the area gets a lot of Thais, office workers and Thai Muslims. At night there's more grit, more unsavoury characters and more colour. Late at night the area becomes home to some decidedly dodgy characters.

Except for very late at night when the area takes on a bit of an edge – as does much of Sukhumvit – don't worry about any problems being a Westerner in an Islamic area. Plenty of Caucasians pass through the area all the time.

Tilac / Sam's 2000, Soi Cowboy

The frontage area of the three shophouse-wide Tilac Bar makes for excellent people watching. Cowboy never used to be great for people watching but with most bars building outdoor seating areas in the past couple of years there are ample spots to sit back and watch the Isaan workforce and their foreign customers.

Sam's 2000, next door to Tilac, has reasonable food at fair prices and you can order food from there while sitting in Tilac. The street-front seats give a great view although a pesky mist is sprayed over the outdoor seating area to keep customers cool but frankly, it's something of a nuisance.

A number of the girls who work in Soi Cowboy also live in Soi Cowboy above the bars so at any time of the day you'll find ladies lingering around the lane. Most don't look nearly as good under the harsh Thai sun and through sober eyes – so you're best to conduct your Cowboy people watching after sun down, or at least no earlier than late afternoon when they have had their hair and make up done.

I haven't seen any for maybe 2 years now, but in the past it was not uncommon to see elephants paraded up and down the soi.

L'Espace in Siam Paragon

For upmarket strumpet and spying local celebrities, look no further than L'Espace in Paragon, the Oriental Hotel-run restaurant with fabulous food and drinks. L'Espace is located on the same level as the connection to the skytrain and is where you can look out for those who appear in the society pages.

L'Espace is not cheap so if you're on a budget, go for the daily set menu – 395 – 495 baht gets you get a very nice three course lunch plus a really excellent, strong coffee. By the time you've wolfed it down you'll probably still be hungry, so small are the portions, but you'll have had the pleasure of viewing some of the best strumpet in all of Bangkok – and that's saying something.

Molly Malone's

In the heart of one of the city's business districts, Molly Malone's sits on busy Soi Convent, one of many eateries in the neighbourhood with an international flavour. On Soi Convent you can find French, Italian, Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Thai – and with so many dining options in an area where there are thousands of office workers, it's lunch time when people watching, or perhaps more succinctly, office girl perving, is at its best. Emptying out of their offices at midday with the precision of a Swiss watch, they battle their way to Convent to grab a seat at their favourite eatery. Funnily enough, Molly's is quiet at lunch time so getting a seat is seldom a problem.

To make the most of the people watching opportunities, grab a window seat on the ground floor. It's best between midday and 1 PM when the lane is at its busiest. Keep a look out for the lovely nurses from the nearby BNH Hospital.


Central World Plaza beer gardens

Open only in the so-called cool season – that's right now – the local breweries set up their flagship beer gardens in the large area out front of the Central World Plaza. This has been a tradition for as long as I've been in Bangkok and with the weather usually more comfortable at this time of year, they're a great place to hang out and watch the world go by.

The area attracts a young, middle-class crowd, office workers winding down and enjoying a few drinks after work. Not only is the people watching first class, it's also a decent place to meet some locals. Passing a note via wait staff with one's mobile number to commence a textathon seems to be the way the locals do it.

There are many more great spots for people watching in Bangkok. Other favourites include the upstairs area in the Starbucks branch on the corner of Sukhumvit and soi 5 where, if you are on the soi 5 side by the window, you have a great vantage point to watch over what's happening below. Directly across the road, out front of the Landmark Hotel can be fun late afternoon watching the Nana girls get off the skytrain and head to work – although as good as the view is, I find it can get uncomfortable as it's sheltered and there's seldom any breeze. The Golden Beer Bar outside the infamous Nana Hotel is good and outside Gulliver's in Sukhumvit soi 5 isn't bad.

It really is hard to imagine a city with better people watching opportunities than Bangkok.

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken in the original Sunrise Tacos branch in the Leader Price Complex next to Sukhumvit soi 12, where you can find the best Mexican in Bangkok. The first person to email with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to correctly guess the photo wins a signed copy of Stephen Leather's superb Private Dancer, which many refer to as "the bible". It's widely regarded as the best novel set in Thailand's bar scene!

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. To claim the book prize you must provide a postal address within Thailand now. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!

FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Exactly why some fans of Bangkok don't care for Pattaya.

Early morning sitting in a family style restaurant in my budget hotel on New Year's Day in Pattaya, there were Thais, Chinese, Indians, whites and even one black-skinned man eating. 2 lager louts sit drinking beer and Breezers with their evening dates. "That's the best pussy I've had all year!", exclaims lout #1. He, his friend and the "classy" ladies carry on an extremely loud and sexually explicit conversation which fills the room. I am NOT a fan of many of the new style tourists, but I hate the lager louts from Britain. Lack of class is a mild way to put it. Also, if you are over 25 pounds overweight or have boils, scabs, etc. on your torso, please wear a shirt!

The Nana sign, a business indicator.

The best indicator of the current state of the nightlife industry in Bangkok is the number of illuminated letters working in the neon sign above the entrance to Nana Plaza. I recall in the early 90s all the letters consistently worked. The number of working letters decreased until the depths of the Asian recession of the late 90's. Then they all were working again a couple of years ago. Now there are only a couple working. Things are looking dark.

The argument for the angels of Angeles.

I read with interest the emails describing Angeles City as both heaven and hell on earth. After five trips to Angeles totaling 11 months, I would say there was a bit of truth in each report. Yes, some Filipinas want short time after the punter has paid the bar for a supposed all-nighter. Yes, a Swede was beaten by the Dollhouse goons over a disagreement. I've also found the Filipinas to be sweet and less mercenary than their Thai sisters. Fewer tramp stamps on the Filipinas and most keep an Asian girl's best feature intact – that silky long jet black hair. What's up with all the Thai girls going blond? Filipinas will giggle about their "Coca Cola" body, but I like some curves on a girl. Their are still plenty of petite, 90 pound girls if that's your thing. My dollars fetch 46+ in Angeles, a paltry 33+ in Pattaya. My favourite beer, San Miguel Light, is as low as 40 – 50 pesos during the day time happy hours. There is no beach in Angeles but the PI has 7,000 islands so I think a guy can find a beach somewhere. It's fun to explore the Philippines and communicating with the locals is less challenging than up country Thailand. In a nut shell, Thailand receives 14 million visitors annually and the PI gets a paltry 3 million. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt?

The old Tequila scam still works a charm.

I was recently in a gogo in Pattaya just off Walking Street. After talking with a dancer for about 10 minutes and being a little lit myself, I decided it would be more fun if she was mao as well, so I ordered tequila shots for her. After 3 shots without any noticeable reaction on the part of the girl, I took the 4th shot out of her hand and sipped it. What do you know…it was water! Be careful if you are ordering clear liquid shots!

500 baht for what?!

I've occasionally frequented the booze booth just in front of the Parkway Hotel on Sukhumvit when I was staying there, which does have a couple of girls that seem to hang around semi-regularly – not to be confused with the two ladyboy sidewalk bars that are further down towards the corner of Soi 4. They expect a barfine if you take them out. I think I paid 500 baht which is fairly steep but then so are the drinks prices. I think these girls just show up as they feel like; probably just freelancers happy to have a place to sit down and cadge a few lady drinks before maybe getting a barfine.


Looking for Thai girls? Look no more – you just found ThaiFriendly.com

Was your Christmas lonely?

It is evident that a percentage of mongers are lonely men by the fact that there are so many of them in the LOS over Christmas and New Year. They have no-one to share Christmas with. This time of year also has by far the highest rate of suicide in Western countries. I personally know one such guy but at least he is honest with himself. It's a very sad situation and maybe there are far worse things than being a lonely monger in Thailand at Christmas time.

Addiction.

Really enjoyed the opening piece to last week's column. It struck a nerve with me because I have a similar problem in dealing with my local friends who are addicted to the bar scene. I have 3 or 4 friends who are educated, intelligent and successful in their chosen fields, but after years of living in Bangkok still live and act like the stereotypical sexpat. One jumped down my throat when I called people from Northeast Thailand "Isaan" even though this is the term the indigenous people use to refer to themselves. Obviously he is tired of everyone thinking all Isaan people work in bars. Another guy was even more incensed when I used the word "prostitute" to refer to someone with whom you can exchange money for sex. He says the gals in the bars who exchange sex for money are no different from any office worker. What a joke! When he referred to how pleasant one of his favourite gogo dancers was another mate said she was nice but obviously just doing her job. He went nuts. These guys are still living like a tourist on a 2-week holiday even after many years of living permanently in Thailand.

Do they care what others think of them?

This week's weekly was probably one of the most pertinent I have read in years. Are these guys aware of what they look like parading a prostitute down Sukhumvit, or Loikroh Road in Chiang Mai? How many times do we all recognise, if not the girl, all the signs? We of course can say nothing. Inside we want to scream at the guy to wise up! He'll smarten up on the plane home minus his money.

Taxi safety tip.

Everybody is always paranoid about leaving something in a taxi or in some cases, people are paranoid about having a run-in with their taxi driver, particularly if he's a shady character. They should do what I do every time I get into a cab. I snap a photo with my phone camera of their mug-shot license on the dash before or right after we take off. You never know. I've heard some horror stories from friends of mine here where a confrontation almost turned into a donnybrook.

Business is very much up and down in Bangkok at the moment with little pattern. You can pretty much count on Friday being busy and Sunday quiet. Other nights are a bit of a lottery.

The erratic and unreliable local power system failed in nightlife central, Sukhumvit soi 4, on Tuesday night from a bit before 8 PM until after 9:15 PM. Virtually the whole of Soi Nana was dark but sex tourist central, the Nana Hotel, was OK because they have a backup generator. Even McDonald's was in the dark. Someone broke out a couple of bongo drums and was tapping away on them and some of the girls started dancing outside the bars and out on the street. A bunch of ladyboys accumulated and minced, mingled with and harangued passers by, later migrating back inside when the power came back on.

Inside many of the bars on Walking Street it is already looking like the middle of low season. Crowds may be mobbing the street every night but most come from Russia, India or the Middle East – and none of these nationalities are known for drinking in the gogos. Many places this past Friday night had only a handful customers between 11 PM and 1 AM. You could see the bar owners almost in tears, crowds out on the street but not typical gogo customers. To many visitors it seems they see Pattaya and the gogo bar industry as being like some sort of an amusement park that you wander around and take photos of, but they're not daring enough, not interested or are simply too cheap to do anything more than that.

Rigor mortis is about to set in at some Walking Street gogos on the other side of the tree. The owner of Sin City went back to Finland for a month and hired a new Thai manager, a fellow who has been relieved of his duties at a number of Pattaya gogos over the last 2 years. X Zone girls report that they are mainly getting Russians through the door which does nothing for business given that the Ruskies aren't know for buying lady drinks. Boesche is slow, as is Catz but as every reader knows, I still love Catz. And just when you think it can't get any crazier, lo and behold, they are nearly completed with a new venue above Catz and across from X Zone. Someone's optimism is to be admired.

A number of Pattaya gogo owners are quite angry that many of the better looking girls took off and told the bosses they were heading back home for a couple of weeks after raking in plenty of baht during what is rapidly becoming known as the 1-week high season. The question is did they really go home, go to Phuket or another beach or island with a newfound boyfriend, or perhaps just find a couple of new sponsors? Let's be honest, while visitors stuck with lard-assed women in their homeland might find the offerings in the Walking Street gogos to be delightful, there remains a shortage of smoking hot birds in most bars.

Even in the new Baccarra, there's nothing to write home about – some of the showgirls in there definitely need to go on a diet. Baccarra in Soi Cowboy has it all over the Walking Street operation.

And from the same owners comes word that Peppermint, one the busiest spots in Pattaya as long as I can remember, will relocate downstairs to where the boxing ring is just in front of Dollhouse. It would seem their lease in the current upstairs location has expired and Marine Disco is keen to expand into the space currently used by Peppermint. All this is supposed to happen next month but considering that the boxing ring is still up and running, this time frame would appear to be rather optimistic.

Things continue at a snail's pace at Pleasure Doom, which will be the largest gogo in Thailand when it opens. The owner has 2 other major projects going on including Torus, a live music venue on the water just past Soi 16. The bar is open, but work continues on the hotel which extends out over the water. At Bali Hai pier, next to Mixx Disco, he is building a huge new disco. Perhaps things will go faster now that the last of his Bangkok projects, Radio City in Patpong, is now finished. The farang owner is no newcomer to the entertainment biz in Thailand and currently owns five other venues in Patpong, as well as a few in RCA in Bangkok and several restaurants scattered around the capital. Being informed about my paragraph on the decline of Patpong last week – which he agrees with – he has asked the publisher of a very well-known nightlife publication which has been mentioned in this column many times, to help in resurrecting the dead. In the planning stages right now is a magazine or newspaper which will be solely devoted to the Patpong area. To be distributed free in hotels in the Silom and Suriwong area, the new publication needs to be toned down from its sister publication in order for it to be palatable to the hotels. Also in the plan is to arrange cooperation and changes with the 2 other major players in Patpong 1. Yep, there really are only 3 major players in Patpong 1.

Trapeze acts, rocking pigs and an optical show but no, the circus hasn't come to town. The upstairs area in What's Up in Soi 15 off Walking Street in Pattaya is spicing things up and refusing to let Tricky Ricky and the team at Baby Dolls dominate the sector of the market known as filth bars.

Everyone has noticed that trade picked up in Sin City for a while. One soi 6 bar owner let me know he has been visited by the boys in brown 7 times in 10 days. Ah, everyone wants their share of the spoils. And you thought you'd like to be a bar owner?

Joe's in Soi Cowboy is closed again and this time it looks to be permanent. The big sign has been removed and the bar appears to have been gutted.

Starting Tuesday January 19, Bangkok Beat will host what will become a regular feature, a Night Club Party for which there will be no entrance fee. So what does nightclub party mean, I hear you ask. Several tables will be removed to create a larger dance floor area where you can grab a bird and boogie to the sounds of the live bands & DJ. Bangkok Beat also has plans for Tuesday nights with prizes of free nights at a resort in Rayong to be given away.

Magic Table on 7/1 has made a few upgrades. The theme remains the same but what the girls are wearing more closely resembles Pretty Lady of Nana Plaza.

The psychology of the change of rules regarding showing in Nana is starting to show. The despair that was the growing theme has been replaced by glimmers of optimism across the board. Girls are expecting more bar fines and bar owners are expecting more customers. This is also true deeper into the soi beyond the plaza itself. But don't go thinking that the increase in customer numbers may see better attitudes or lower drinks prices. Some girls and bar owners claim to be hurting and if anything, they might try for more money. Reasonable drinks prices and happy hours are major factors in Soi Cowboy's popularity but with that in mind, if business in Nana does pick up then I would not be surprised to see drinks price increases across the board in Nana. Traditionally it has been Nana Plaza bars which have been the first to increase drinks prices although with business bad for a long time, they could not afford to do that. With business on the increase, watch this space!

Richard, a former co-owner of Spider's Web in Nana Plaza, has departed this world. Richard was a colourful character, once a barrister in his native UK as well as a writer, with a book published about plants one of his prouder achievements. Bernard Trink always included Spider's Web in his weekly rounds. Richard was a charismatic fellow who will be missed by all who knew him. RIP.

I'm a big fan of Lee Shamrock, a damned funny and talented farang comedian / musician. You can see Lee at The Sportsman in Washington Square every Friday night where he performs from 9 PM until around midnight.

Things got a little hot at the original Sunrise Tacos branch at Sukhumvit Soi 12 this week when a fryer caught on fire. Part of the kitchen was damaged but fortunately no-one was hurt. Sunrise Tacos' main dining area between Sukhumvit Soi 12 – 14 is temporarily closed. In the meantime, you can still get your Sunrise fix at the two other branches, Siam Paragon on the ground floor (before the supermarket entrance near counter 7) and Emporium 5th floor in the park food hall. They have set up a temporary location across the car park from the damaged branch, next to the small Sunbelt Asia office, which will serve as a takeaway location. 02-229-4851 is the 24-hour number to call for take out!

In last week's column I mentioned Bell Travel's bus service from Pattaya. A number of readers have contacted me, each and every one of them giving it the thumbs up. Apparently when you catch the coach at the airport they ask you where in Pattaya you are staying and when you arrive at the bus station in Pattaya they transfer you to a minibus and drop you off at your hotel – much better than getting a songtaew to the beach and lugging baggage to your hotel.

The sight of self-serving Christian radicals barking at friendly gentlemen entering Nana Plaza for a quiet drink or some mutually consensual adult fun is a sight residents and long-term visitors have long got used to. But if it is not enough to bark at us when we enter the plaza, these religious zealots have set up their own propaganda resource. It's great that they are trying to help bargirls and those in the industry, however, when they do so by spreading lies AND being self-serving, attempting to convert these girls to a religion they are not interested in it becomes questionable.

To further demonstrate that the good times of the high season are likely to be short-lived, some hotels which had informed potential customers that they were full have since emailed those same potential customers, informing them that they now have vacancies and not just that, they would be happy to offer the room at a discounted rate. One hotel has many vacancies from today, January 10. Book in February and you get an even bigger discount! It looks like this year's high season will be all of about a month.

If you liked a girl in a bar and you found out that your mate had been there, done that, would it put you off? A friend told me recently that he had heard that one of his favourites had not just been with a friend of a friend, it had been as part of a threesome. Everyone has a history and unless she had done something really wild, weird or foul – which admittedly is a possibility with some of these girls – is there any reason to be particularly bothered about it? It's just like using a taxi, isn't it – do you even think about, much less care, who the last customer was?

Do any readers know where one can get their hands on the blacklisted Leo Beer calendar which is full of the images of some genuine Thai lovelies? I don't know where it can be found. They've been blacklisted ever since a member of the Prime Minister's staff secretariat office brought a few boxes to work and handed them out in the parking lot outside Parliament. Such a shame that such beauty cannot be appreciated. There must be stashes of them somewhere. I remember in my early days in Bangkok when not far from the Indonesian Embassy on Petchaburi Road, vendors would set up late afternoon and sell various items like imported Playboy and Penthouse magazines along with other contraband. That used to be the place to get all the stuff that was banned, just a couple of entrepreneurial university students with a table and all the goodies on display! I don't pass by there these days but I might just have to make the trip.

You really do need to have your wits about you when pursuing girls online. Most of the big dating sites have messages in a big, bold font stating that you should not to send money to people you meet online. But it would seem some men fail to heed that sound advice as blood rushes from their brain to fill other parts of their body. Many of the girls on dating sites are seeking to supplement their income and despite the fluff in their profile are not necessary looking for love at all. Take care with women who suddenly appear online between 2 and 4 AM Thailand time. Many have been spotted by Stickman and the doctor working earlier in the evening in various venues. Tilac Bar has a number of TLL members whose profiles make absolutely no mention of their primary job. But it's not like Tilac girls are the only ones there, just that we know that bar best. But these girls really are not that sophisticated and it is hardly difficult to find out what they're really up to. A friend in the States was recently sent photos by a TLL lady he has been communicating with who said she was upcountry yet the photo was clearly taken in Pattaya. Yeah, you can meet some great women online and have a lot of fun, but keep your eyes open.

Is the new airport link going to be a hit or a miss? In cities where taxis are expensive – read most Western countries – an airport to downtown link is viable, getting you into town quickly, without emptying your wallet. The point I want to make is that Bangkok taxis are damned cheap and even if it costs an extra 100 baht in a taxi over and above the airport train link to get you home or to your hotel, I bet most people are willing to pay that, especially after an intercontinental flight. And with all of your luggage, surely it' just too much hassle. With a taxi, you're taken point to point, which is so much more convenient! I find myself wondering just who it is that will be using the airport express?

We had thunderstorms in Bangkok this week and lots of rain with cloudy skies most days. Just barmy is the only way I can describe the misleadingly named cool season's weather. Friends around the country have relayed reports of heavy downpours so it's not just been Bangkok hit. So much for the cool season when you could usually bank on clear skies and temps of no more than 30 degrees for most of January. It is much warmer than you would expect in the evenings too with the air-conditioning needed to sleep at night. So much for the power bill dropping 1,000 baht in January. The photo here was taken from Cathouse in Nana Plaza late afternoon on Wednesday this past week.

Have you noticed the way Thais often prefer going to new places, be they shops, bars or restaurants. I always attributed this to their desire to be one of the first to visit the newest hip, fashionable or to-be-seen spots so they could then tell all and sundry where they'd been. I think this might be part of it but…it also seems to me that when new venues open in Thailand they are usually at their best in the first year or two. After that standards seem to slowly slip and after a few years they may descend into mediocrity – hence you should get in early to experience it at its best.

Quote of the week. "You have been in Thailand too long when one of the most gorgeous specimens of Thai beauty comes up to you because she remembers you, but you have completely forgotten her."

Reader's story of the week is the latest installment from Dana, Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 242.

Richard at Connecting The Dots has published an interesting new series, Love or Lies.

The FT interviewed Thai Prime Minister Apisit this week.

A Thai pollution dispute targets an Australian giant.

From the BBC, the Thai Airways executive caught up in the excess luggage scandal has resigned.

Last week it was a Frenchman, this week a Canadian as Phuket's tuktuk drivers assault the whitey!

From The Age, was Club Med responsible for transforming Phuket into the international destination it is today?

Not Thailand-related but fun nonetheless, MSN Travel covers the world's quirkiest brothels.

Ace local photojournalist Nick Nostitz's recent work on the frontlines is highlighted in The Nation.

Some randy Russians in Pattaya are unable to overcome their amorous desires in public.

Ask Mrs. Stick

Mrs. Stick is happy to answer any questions regarding inter-racial relationships as well as cultural peculiarities that may be confusing or baffling you.

Question 1: My girlfriend of 2 – 3 years calls me her boyfriend, sometimes her husband, but lately when in taxis restaurants or travel shops etc refers to me as her sappapan. I am not sure of the spelling on that, someone said it was a bit like fiancée but I don't know. Yes, I have lived in Bangkok for 6 months but have returned home for a while to Oz. I met her family up country, have had family visit me in Bangkok and yes, I have supported her for 2 years or more. I have just not heard this expression before. Could you perhaps enlighten me?

Mrs. Stick says: Nah, I cannot think of any word even near to that. Sorry! For other words, we might say samee (husband) when only our boyfriend or we might say fan (boyfriend) when it is our husband. Those words are changed a lot and not always used like in English. But "sappapan" I don't know!

Question 2: My wife is Cambodian and we live in Cambodia, so maybe this is a bit different in Thailand and you don't have an answer. Despite hating each others' guts, Thais and Cambodians seem to have the same attitude toward footwear, so here goes: For a construction project at our house we needed to move a large amount of dirt. My wife's brother and some workers they hired and several neighbours were helping move this dirt, and she asked me to help as well. So I went to put my socks and shoes on, but then she stopped me and said, "No, look: they are all in sandals or barefoot. You can't do manual labour while wearing socks!" I refused to do it without putting on real shoes as I am very bad at maneuvering in sandals – I would be slipping and falling and getting my feet covered in dirt besides – and she refused to let me help if I was going to put shoes on. What is the problem with wearing socks and shoes? Thank you for any explanation you may be able to provide.

Mrs. Stick says: I think this is different for us. If we pay for workers then we let them do the work. Asking our farang husband to help the workers is not something we do. I never heard of that. Maybe we watch them do the work and check they do what we want to the right standard but not join in. Shoes and socks? I don't know!

Not everyone agrees with my ramblings. Not everyone agrees with the summations I make and the conclusions I reach. Last week's column was a case in point with a couple of Stickman readers taking exception to what I wrote by questioning my parentage while another tried to show off his exemplary awareness of 4-letter words. I may or may not publish your email feedback in the column the next week – it all depends on the other emails I get during the week although I do have to say that if your command of the English language only stretches to words with 4 letters then don't hold your breath. If however you want to voice your opinion and be guaranteed that it will be published, that is possible. You can send in your views as a reader's submission, the criteria being that it be a full-length article of at least 800 words. I will bump it in the queue and run it as soon as it is received. The readers' submissions section of this website where you have their chance to raise whatever is on your mind.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick