It took me a while, but I managed to figure out when I was becoming bored of a girlfriend. It was when I started to resent spending money on her. Even buying something as innocuous and as inexpensive as an ice-cream would make me feel like I had just thrown money away. That was the signal to me that it was the beginning of the end of the relationship.
When I visit Nana or Cowboy I almost always avail myself of happy hour prices. After happy hour there are few bars in which I am prepared to spend 130 – 150 baht on a drink. It's not that the prices are unreasonable, or that I am broke, it's simply that spending any more than happy hour prices makes me feel like I have wasted my money. Given the parallel with knowing when a relationship with a girlfriend is coming to an end, does this mean that my love affair with the bar industry is over?
I don't think I ever did fall in love with the bar industry and its existence had nothing to do with my decision to first visit Thailand or later move to the country. But since relocating to the country I have enjoyed spending much time in the bars and for sure I enjoy covering what is happening in the industry.
It's ironic, perhaps even hard to believe, that every Sunday night thousands of Western men from all around the world tune in to catch up on the gossip and to find out what is happening in Bangkok, for some the primary reason is to find out what's happening in the city's nightspots – and they read the words of someone who today cares little for it, someone for whom the industry lost its luster and its lure a long time ago.
I have questioned and criticised many aspects of the bar industry, from continually raising the issue that bothers me most, that of underage women, to the massive problem of unprotected sex and the resulting infections and unwanted pregnancies, to the damage done to the women involved and the men who partake. I have called the industry as a whole dirty – not because it is about sex for money, but because of the way so many operators lie and cheat and how so much that takes place is a facade and an illusion.
I really struggle to enjoy myself in the naughty bars these days. With a few exceptions – Secrets in Pattaya being the main one as well as Tilac in Bangkok, I have little interest in going into a naughty bar. I have no interest in getting to know the women and so many things annoy me, from the consistently crap service in most bars, to the poorly mixed drinks, to the deceitful nature of many involved – the whole gamut from wait staff to the girls to include many of the foreigners involved.
Of course it doesn't help that I have cut down on drinking. If you're not drinking, you see it for what it is. I have eliminated beer and pretty much given up on Jack + Coke as well as Gin + Tonic, my preferred drinks. I've been trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and reducing my alcohol intake is part of that. I'd never order a cocktail in a bar where they can't even get a Jack + Coke right and I am dreaming if I think I can find even a semi-decent wine in that environment.
It's not just that I have gone off the bars, but as much that I have a much better time when I go to venues away from the naughty bar industry. Take that old favourite, the curiously named Tawan Daeng German Hall on Rama 3 Road. The drinks are fantastic, the service staff efficient and polite, the venue impressive and well-maintained, the music and entertainment excellent and if you're interested in meeting someone, you can – just don't go thinking that the contents of your wallet will be the ticket.
Even farang-oriented venues away from the bar industry are much preferable to me these days. I made it to The Londoner one night this week. Good service, good drinks, good music, nice environment and atmosphere – and again, if it is what one is looking for, more than a few single, farang-curious Thai ladies about.
My declining interest in the naughty bar industry is hardly a recent thing and I've upset more than a few readers for whom the bar industry seems to be what they live for. Some readers even hate me for not just for losing interest in the industry, but in their minds turning on them personally! It's as if I've made a personal affront against them. Did they have it in their minds that participation in the industry was somehow legitimized by the success and popularity of this column? Did the poster boy turn against them?
Of course I did use to enjoy going out in the bars. I remember many years ago going out the night before I flew back to my homeland for a few weeks. I made a point of going to Rainbow 1, thinking I would not be seeing that sort of venue for a while. I chuckle to myself about it now. Whereas in the past I would be happy enough to go out alone, I simply don't go to the bars unless there is a specific reason – to gather news and gossip for the column or to have a few drinks with friends, notwithstanding that I would rather be elsewhere.
I just so much prefer hanging out with friends – real friends – and doing real things. You don't need to be watching semi-naked dancing girls to have something to talk about. I'd much rather hang out at a mate's place with a bottle of wine and a pizza and share good conversation. To me that's more what real friendship is about. Like I've said so many times over the years, it's easy to find drinking buddies in Thailand, much harder to find real mates.
There are things about the bar industry I still enjoy. It remains a fabulous arena for photography and I enjoy carrying out investigations, not that there are many these days. For people watching the bar industry is of course first class.
It's not that the bars are bad or that the bar industry is bad or morally wrong – I have no issue with the idea of prostitution at all – I am just so burned out on it. If others enjoy it then that's great! I am happy for them and happy they are doing things that they enjoy. After your health, the most important thing in life is happiness. But I don't enjoy it. I really don't.
With all of this said, I don't have any plans to stop covering what is going on in the bars. I know that many readers tune in exclusively for the bar industry coverage each week. Last night I popped into Angelwitch, arguably once Bangkok's best bar in the gogo genre. It was just plain boring. Even a friend I was with from out of town couldn't get excited. We went to Rainbow 4 next and it was much the same. There were heaps of really pretty ladies, but we just couldn't get excited about it – and these are two of the best bars, yet we were bored.
Whether I'm bored because I have been doing it for so long, or the industry has changed or perhaps some other reason, I just do not honestly know. But I do know that for me, the naughty bars have become a terrible bore.
Many guys move to Thailand with the nightlife as their prime motivation, and some seem to be happy going to the bars night after night after night. I don't know how they do it. If they're happy then that is just great – and I am happy for them. But for me, I am just so burned out on it.
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken upstairs in the Starbucks branch on the corner of Sukhumvit 5, which looks across at the Landmark Hotel. 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! The third person to get the photo correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the very best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is very conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok.
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 – The traditional values have been lost.
I was expecting to read many comments from your April 18 column about why bargirls don't seem to receive as much sponsorship as they used to. Very interesting subject and so I guess I have to post my own view on it. To me, no doubt, the primary reason is the deep change of attitude of the girls from, say, 5 or 6 years ago. The girlfriend experience is no longer there. Why? Because the new generation have lost the graciousness and all the traditional values of Thai society. They have become international, not different from their counterparts in other countries. A 20- or 25-year old girl today – even if she comes from Isaan – has absolutely no idea about how to make a man feel unique and important, how to hook him and manipulate his emotions. They don't know how to "take care" the way their older sisters did. And so punters are left with a sex-limited kind of service that does not include the illusion, the make-believe. The know-how is lost, and so is the rent.
Amorous times with a Thai girl make your blood dirty?
It's good to see that Thailand is following the world practice on safe blood donations. It takes up to 20 years or more for CJD to appear, so their practice is correct. However I have a different spin on blood donations here in Australia. Having been a regular blood donor for more than 10 years, last year I was unable to donate blood as I had participated in sex with a Thai woman. I'm not talking a prostitute. The questionnaire each donor must complete with each donation asks about new relationships and also asks about sex with prostitutes. However, any sex with any Thai woman excludes a donor giving blood for a period of 12 months.
Is the relative scarcity of foreigners in Thailand a reason why we can do so well with the local ladies?
I think the reason western men tend to get a lot of attention from women in Thailand may be because western men are so scarce. I mean I can't imagine that the population of Bangkok consists of more than 3% western males. If 10% of Thai women are interested in western men, wouldn't they far outnumber the amount of western men in the country? That would give western men great odds, and it would leave the other 90% of Thai women interested non-western men. Now what if the demographics were changed and Thailand's population consisted of 30% western men and 70% Thai men? Would this mean that farangs would get no attention as only 10% of Thai women want them? I don't know and maybe it's silly but I thought I'd run it by you. A lot of farangs seem to forget they make up but a tiny portion of the population so this makes them a little harder to come by for those women who are interested. If suddenly we hit a jackpot diamond mine but gold became much rarer, wouldn't the value of gold go up while the value of diamonds go down? Just a thought!
The recipe for a quiet flight.
The quietest time I ever had in my life on a plane was when I was asked by a couple what my favourite place in Thailand was. So I responded Nana Plaza and the bars at the top end of Second Road in Pattaya. Well the women's faced screwed up into what I call the cat's arse expression, where they suck their lips in resembling a cat's arse, a severe sign of disapproval! Her partner let out a guffaw but when he saw her face he quickly shut up and not another word was said from Bangkok to Melbourne.
This is why there are taxi complaint details in every cab!
Well I knew that it would happen to me one day and that day finally came. I got into a taxi with a rigged meter, a pink taxi from MBK to take me to Uropong where I'd left our car to get washed while I was doing some shopping. By the time I was half way from MBK to Uropong the meter was already showing 100 baht – and that's just 3 km. I tried talking to the driver a few times and asking why the meter was going so quickly and was just ignored. My wife rang me after the third attempt to talk to him had failed and I told her that I thought there was something wrong with the meter in the taxi. When I said this, immediately the driver looked into the rear vision mirror so I told the Mrs. that I'd talk later as I was still on my way. Wow, this bloke just went off and the English was coming thick and strong. "What's your problem, motherf***er, meter not wrong!" I told him that I'd never paid more than 100 baht to go this far and the meter was showing 140 and we still had about 1.5 km to go. Well that set him off even more! The f*** word was getting a good work out and his eyes were like fireballs! He stopped the taxi and I got out and he was still calling me every name under the sun as he drove off. I can tell you the heart was pumping at that time as where he dropped me off was very close to a large taxi area. I walked as quickly as I could to safety!
Only Somchai would counterfeit the 50 baht note!
Not enough 50 baht notes in circulation might be partly because of counterfeit notes going around and vendors refusing to take them. According to the law, they are not supposed to refuse any denomination but it's Thailand here. I was recently at a gas station close to Chula, waiting in their office for my car to be washed. A Somchai looking like a manager was drilling one of his employees after noticing a counterfeit 50 baht note. There were three of them – one real, the other two counterfeit. I was listening in to what to look for in a counterfeit note and finally asked to see the notes and to feel them. One note was a little thinner than the real one and did not have that little black stripe running vertically inside the note, and the print was smudged. That one is easy. But the other one was more difficult because it had the black stripe. They made it by scanning and printing the real notes front and back on very thin paper, put the black stripe in the middle and glued them together. The note is ever so slightly thicker than the real note but you can't really tell. The giveaway of this counterfeit note is in that little black stripe. But if you hold it against the light you will see the print on the front and back pieces may not line up perfectly, and the words "๕๐ บาท" repeated along the thread of the real note do not exist on the counterfeit one.
Thoughts on Pattaya and Thai girls plying their trade.
Excellent report on Pattaya. My exact feelings about the place before I left. Full of weirdoes from around the world and Thailand. Two days was always enough for me as well. After that it just became depressing. Saying that, it will always have some attraction for me and I can't think why. Maybe just memories of a few good times there with the boys. That goes for Thailand in general for me now. Had a ball for most of the time there but just got to that stage in life when I needed reality. Most of my buddies from the same era have departed as well. Just finished doing a night shift here in Singapore and finishing work at 5 AM you get to see some awful sights, mostly Thai hookers staggering around the streets in Chinatown, drunk after their night working in a karaoke bar. Makes your stomach churn. Just returned from a trip to Kuala Lumpur. Same old story, bars full of Thai hookers. The Thai girlfriend is so ashamed to see this sort of thing now. Everywhere you go in the world it is the same appalling sight of Thai girls selling themselves. Myanmar is significantly poorer than Thailand yet in Singapore I have never seen a Burmese hooker, and there are a lot of them here. Why do the Thai girls do it?
Don't think the red shirt occupation in Bangkok has had no effect on the city's nightlife, the farang sector of which is located just a couple of kilometres away. Two of the better known upmarket venues where entrepreneurial Thai women show interest in Western men have been caught up in the mess – CM2 in the basement of the Novotel Siam Square and Spasso's on the ground floor of the Grand Hyatt Erawan. The girls who ply their trade in these venues have been showing up elsewhere. Some from Spasso's have made their way over to Q Bar which is open through until 3 AM and has been jam packed some nights this week. The Russian contingent who are a popular fixture at CM2 have gravitated towards the late night venue Bossy which has a large raised dance platform in the centre of the club with 3 or 4 chrome poles for the girls to swing off. It too is heaving.
To encourage customers to return to CM2, one of Bangkok's longest running discos which also happens to be freelancer hang out, it's free entry from now until May 26 as they attempt to drum up business lost due to the occupation of the red shirts just behind the hotel, under the Siam BTS station.
Scott from The Tavern on Sukhumvit soi 4 is expanding his empire to Hua Hin. The reopening party for All Nations Cafe on Hua Hin Soi 57 will be this coming Saturday, May 15th, and The Tavern Hua Hin is supposed to follow in about a month. All are invited.
It might be located in the thriving soi 15 off Walking Street, home to such success stories as Angelwitch and Baby Dolls, but the oddly named Sakura 69 – it always sounded like a venue targeting Japanese to me – must have been doing something wrong because it has closed its doors. Expect more venues to follow in these troubling times.
The next party at Sukhumvit soi 7/1's Bangkok Beat will be the Motown party, on May 29. They also have a Full Moon night every Thursday with discounted drinks, as per the flyer here.
Now with that said, if you find yourself in Bangkok Beat and are keen to avail yourself of the happy hour prices – which run all the way through until 11 PM – do make a point of carefully checking the price on the chit. Bangkok Beat's clock seems to be rather fast, to the tune of a quarter of an hour or so.
Arabic songs are de rigueur in Tony's in Pattaya so if they're your thing, that's the place to go! Who said that Pattaya isn't changing?!
I hear that Nana Liquid, the recently opened disco in the spot where Nana Disco used to be, is open all the way through until 5 AM and that it is doing well. I can't confirm that as I am not out that late, but I can say that at midnight it is dead. I guess it must get going pretty late, perhaps when Nana Plaza and the surrounding bars empty out.
It's always hard to know just how business is in the bars unless you know people on the inside. A trusted friend with business interests in the Nana area who has access to the books tells me that the income on a number of the gogos in Nana Plaza shows a 30% decrease over the past 2 years.
Cowboy might be the place that the punters are gravitating towards but for girls the movement is often in the opposite direction and up the road to Nana. A lady I used to chat with in Cowboy struggled in Apache Coyote to make enough money to be able to send any money home to her poor family in Nakon Sawan. Despite living above the bar almost rent-free, she was only barfined a couple of times a month, her total income for the month was usually around 10,000 baht a month. She transferred to Rainbow 4 several months back and I bumped into her this week and had a nice chat. She has transformed and has a completely new look, one which the Japanese will just love, and I believe her when she says she now averages 80,000 baht. She said she never dreamed she could make so much money. She also noted that many, many girls in the bar make MUCH more than she does. Good on them. So while Cowboy might be punters' heaven, for the girls Nana could well be a better bet.
AUA has been forced to lay off about 25 foreign English teachers. The main branch of AUA is possibly the largest language institute branch in the country and is located on Rajadamri Road, right in the middle of the red shirt encampment so I guess this is no surprise. Many of the teachers had been there for over 10 years and were told that their work permit had been cancelled and that they should clean out their locker. They were given no priority at other branches and reportedly received no compensation – for which they should pursue things with the Labour Department as under Thai employment law they would be entitled to severance pay based on the period of their employment. These teachers feel unfairly treated and there is said to be a lot of anger given the length of their service to the school. In one of the daily newspapers this week an article stated that only 45 people of the estimated 65,000 directly affected by the occupation had lost their jobs, a figure which sounded rather unlikely to me. I can report that some retail staff who worked in a store in Central World were told to report to the Pattaya branch the next day if they wanted to retain their jobs. There was no mention of transport, accommodation or anything else – just get your asses to the Pattaya branch and make sure you're there tomorrow if you want to keep your job!
One of the most consistently popular venues in Sukhumvit during daylight hours is the Biergarten in Sukhumvit soi 7. The venue is said to be German, but I wonder if it is in fact Belgian. I mean, come on it's a ho garden, is it not and of course Hoegaarden is Belgian! So the Biergarten must be Belgian!
I heard a rather amusing story this week about a fellow who planned to become the newest bar owner in the Soi Nana area. The asking price for the venue he had his eyes on was 1,000,000 baht to which he agreed. The buyer and the vendor agreed that 750,000 baht would be paid up front, and the buyer would raise the remaining 250,000 baht which would be paid shortly after, at which point he would take possession of the bar. The 750,000 baht was duly paid but then the buyer found that no matter how hard he tried or who he approached, he could not raise the remaining 250,000 baht. Eventually he just walked away from the deal, leaving the vendor with a cool 750,000 baht in her pocket for doing nothing!
If you want to check out a really odd venue, and I mean that, downright odd, check out Iron Fairies in Thonglor. The best description I can give is that it is in what I imagine was the speakeasy style. Iron Fairies is located between Thonglor sois 12 and 14 – look out for the venue with a VERY old-fashioned looking entrance. It's easy to walk past and miss. If quirky venues are your thing, this is the place for you.
There are all sorts of stories banded around about how you can get a hit man in Thailand for as little as 5,000 or 10,000 baht – which is of course total nonsense. A real hitman would cost way more than that. What if you chose to do your own dirty work but subsequently got caught? What would it cost to buy your way out of a murder rap? It would seem that a continental European found himself in exactly that position recently and was able to wrangle his way out of things for a paltry 500,000 baht. It is alleged that he threw a girl off the balcony of his condo. She did not sprout wings and fly away. Half a million baht later and he was able to quietly slip out of the country, presumably never to return. It's probably easier, more efficient and less costly to get a pro to do it for you…although in this particular case it sounds like it was unplanned and more a spur of the moment thing.
There seems to be something of a crackdown at some land border crossings on duty free items being carried into the country. As a reminder, you are allowed to bring in one carton of cigarettes and one litre of alcohol duty free. Over and above that and duty will be charged. It really is wise to follow the rules because the fines for failing to declare items which exceed the duty free limits are extremely high. It might seem like a trivial issue to have an extra carton of cigarettes but believe me, it's is not the same as dropping a cigarette butt in the gutter. Not everything can be fixed in Thailand with 200 baht!
Popular Pattaya nightlife columnist Nightmarch has jumped ship from Pattaya Today to Pattaya Times – so if you want to know what is going on in Pattaya at night, pick up a copy of the Pattaya Times.
I'm very much a creature of habit and tend to go the same places over and over again – something that is reflected in this column with the same venues constantly mentioned. There are venues I have been in the past, which I have enjoyed, but for whatever reason I have not returned to. One such place is Bei Otto, the German restaurant just a short walk into Sukhumvit soi 20 on the left-hand side. I made it back this past week for only the third time in all my years in Bangkok and as per my two previous visits, it was excellent. German food might not have the reputation of French or Italian, but don't let that put you off. Bei Otto is a really nice venue and has great German food which I guess must be authentic for everyone around us was speaking German. It has a very nice vibe, EXCELLENT (WAY better than I expect in Thailand) service and overall just a really good time was had. Highly recommended and we will return.
And I finally made it to Durty Nelly's this week, the Irish pub about 400 metres up Ekamai on the right-hand side. Visiting with a pal, we were more concerned about getting something to eat than drinking, but when we saw the food menu we were a little disappointed. It is really quite limited with only a limited number of choices and amazingly, for an Irish pub, there were no pies on the menu. None! Not one! We ordered our food, my pal going for the lamb Irish stew while I chose the pan fried sea bass. The portions were not large but the quality of the food was exceptional. This isn't typical pub fare at all but fine dining cuisine in a pub setting. Without a doubt, this is the best food you'll find in any British pub in Bangkok. That said, the portions are only moderately sized – but quite rich. It should be noted that Durty Nelly's is running a 50% discount on all food until the end of the month so now is the time to try it.
A few continental European readers have told me that Thailand is too expensive for them and they won't be visiting this northern hemisphere summer. Perhaps Greece might be a bit cheaper? I reckon they'll be back after they see the prices in southern Europe. And with one pound Sterling getting just 46 baht, the Brits are screaming too.
The UK's Foreign Office has changed its travel advisory for Thailand again and slightly reduced the strong warning they had in place last week. They are now saying that Bangkok and four provinces in the deep south are to be avoided and that you should exercise caution in Sin City (Pattaya). Maybe it will be easier for Brits to get travel insurance for Thailand now?
I really don't understand why so many Thai companies insist on a comprehensive health check when taking on a new member of staff. Some of what they check for is neither infectious nor would it have any bearing on whether the person is fit to perform the job or not. It's just another thing that just makes no sense to me…
In the opening piece of last week's column I touched on the fact that while typical Pattaya visitors used to be attracted to Thailand by the availability of local women, many of today's visitors are curious about the concept of sex tourism. I bet there are more visitors intrigued by the concept than by the girls themselves. This reminds me of Amsterdam, a city I visited some 20 odd years ago. One of the attractions was walking around, looking at the girls behind the glass windows and watching the guys who availed themselves of their services. This is exactly what's happening in Pattaya now and I wonder if it will start to happen in other spots around the country, perhaps the Nana and Cowboy areas as well as Patong in Phuket. Already we see tour groups wandering through Soi Cowboy from time to time. Is the whole concept of sex tourism becoming an attraction in itself?
There are some bargains to be had around town, I hear. A friend managed to renegotiate a tariff down from 2,000 baht to a meagre 800. Said friend believes that the prices being asked simply fall outside what would be accepted as basic economic principles – and it would seem he was right. Given some of the crazy numbers that seem to be banded around these days, the 50% figure in the photo below would seem to be a reasonable number to aim for, not with your opening gambit, but your final offer.
Quote of the week, "There are probably more farang morons in LOS than there are in Farangland."
Reader's story of the week was extremely hard to pick this week with heaps of really thought-provoking stories published. I thought the best came from A Mixed Guy and was titled " A Reality Check – The Same for Every Asian Country."
The New York Times comments on the Thai PM's peace plan.
A Swedish woman is knifed on her first day in Phuket.
A leading global think tank says we're heading for civil war in Thailand.
A Russian is arrested in Pattaya on suspicion of secretly filming encounters with bargirls.
A Thai mining firm buys a large stake in an Aussie firm.
From CNN comes the interesting article, 40 Thai foods we cannot do without.
Here's a nice article on musical instrument shops in Bangkok.
Ask Mr. Stick
Mrs. Stick is unwilling to answer any questions at this time. If I receive any interesting emails to which I think the answer could benefit other readers, I may include the question, and my response, here.
Question 1: Mate i will make it short and sweet, I am a 45yr old male painter n decorater in australia i have been to thailand 5 times and just love everything there,i have been trying to learn the thai lanquage for a number of years through books and cds i also have a mate who speaks thai and he helps when he can i will also undertake a english teaching course through a local tafe college this year,so i hope you can help me is there work for farang painters mate and is it easy to get into the construction indistry or can i get into teaching at my age.any information will be very gratefull mate. thank you.
Mr. Stick says: With all due respect, your command of written English suggests to me that your language skills might not be sufficient to be a teacher in Thailand. You need to understand that teaching is one of the most respected professions in Thailand and while there is always demand for native-speaking English teachers, I think it's a real shame that there are a number of folks masquerading as teachers as well as many folks who have worked their way up in schools to management level who know almost nothing about teaching. You're just not teaching material, at least not on the evidence of this email. As far as employment in a blue collar profession in Thailand goes, nah, little chance of that either. You might want to look at something completely different such as buying or setting up a small painting / decorating business in Thailand.
Question 2: Right now I am separated from but not yet divorced from my wife, but living with my girlfriend. She keeps getting cross and saying I don't want to be your mia noi. In the UK I would tell everyone I am separated and live with my girlfriend which is what I explain to her and what most UK people would simply accept as fact. My understanding of mia noi is someone who you like, support and bed frequently but don't live with. She tries to tell me that because I am still married she is mia noi whatever the situation. Which definition is correct from a Thai perspective!
Mr. Stick says: I guess the best definition of a mia noi in Thailand would be a woman who is kept by a man who already has a wife. The woman he keeps is there for him at all times and he provides for her to the extent that she does not need to work – being a mia noi is essentially her "job". The mia noi will usually be a private thing whereas the primary wife will be the one that everyone knows about. Applying this to your situation, that you remain married and that you are presumably keeping your girlfriend makes her feel that she is in fact nothing more than a mia noi.
The effects of the red shirts' occupation on the Bangkok populace seems to be reducing. Shopping malls in the area appear to be opening limited hours and the skytrain has resumed full service with all stations open from 6 AM until midnight. That said, with the occupation continuing it means that getting around by car or bus may sill require detours to avoid the large swathe of downtown under red shirt control. I won't speculate as to when the occupation will end, but here's hoping it's soon.
Your Bangkok commentator,