Stickman's Weekly Column November 20th, 2011

Nana Plaza Survives!


It is widely agreed by long term expats and visitors that Nana Plaza's lure was strongest in the late '90s when what was then Bangkok's best bar area would draw in even those opposed to the naughty nightlife. The plaza's gogo bars were full to the brim with slim, smiling, naked bargirls. It was so popular that the best bars were often full and it was standing room only. Nana Plaza was not just the expats' favourite spot for an after work drink, it was a place Western men all around the world dreamed about visiting and every weekend armies of expats based in Hong Kong and Singapore would fly in to Bangkok and spend the entire time on Soi Nana.

Nana Plaza's gradual decline began in 2001 when the government of the day cracked down on nudity in bars, which coincided with a 20%+ increase in drinks prices. Attitudes of the girls slowly deteriorated – although no worse than in other bar areas – and with increasing speculation over the plaza's future and the lease, bar owners chose not to improve their properties. The plaza saw little investment and started to show its age. Money was pouring into Soi Cowboy just a kilometre down the road and Nana Plaza lost the crown of Bangkok's favourite bar area.



The future of Nana Plaza has been a hot topic in both expat and sex tourist circles for years with endless speculation. As is widely known, the master lease for the plaza, currently held by Nana Castle who sub-lease space to the bars, expires at the end of next year.

For many years talk has been that the Landmark Hotel, the 30-storey monstrosity which towers above Nana, would convert the plaza into a car park building. Anyone with half a brain knows the real estate is much too valuable. This was never viable.

Developers looked closely at the possibility of putting a hotel or a condo building on the land. Due to height constraints due to the distance from the main road, this wasn't feasible.

There's been talk of Nana Plaza reverting back to a regular shopping centre as it was some 25+ years ago, when the Soi Nana area was more popular with Middle Easterners than it was with Caucasians. It's only a generation ago that Nana Plaza was known as Nana Shopping Centre and most of the shops and restaurants served the Middle Eastern market.


Nana Shopping Centre

A couple of foreign-owned groups with nightlife holdings have been in talks with the Nana Plaza land owners, each of which is keen to develop the plaza further as a nightlife area. The good news is that the master lease for Nana Plaza is as good as sold. Negotiations are complete and the master lease will be taken over by a group which owns and manages a number of popular Bangkok bars, including gogos and expat pubs. The group has a strong foothold in the industry with bars across different genres, so the Nana Plaza we know will continue!

The price to be paid for the master lease is staggering and the group behind it will be looking for the best possible return on their investment. Expect rents to go up which has to be a good thing. Higher rents means higher prices in the bars. To convince punters to part with more of their hard-earned, the bars will have to invest and look to be more innovative. Ultimately we should see an improved Nana Plaza with nicer bars, possibly a premium product at a premium price.

Too many bars in Nana have rested on their laurels. They've had it easy for so long. With sex tourist class hotels littered up and down Soi Nana, punters would naturally gravitate into the Nana bars. Some years back a big name Nana Plaza bar owner laughed to me at the 45,000 baht monthly rent he paid for one of his bars, revealing that the venue turned over more than that each night. How could he not make money?

Low rents and elegant success in the plaza's glory days appear to be the reason why one group makes little effort, why their once great bars are a shadow of their former selves. I'd love to see the new leaseholder put conditions in the individual leases to force owners to up their game. There are a number of venues in Nana whose departure few would miss.

The plaza has improved markedly over the past year but is far from its best. The opening of Billboard has seen it quickly become one of the best bars in Bangkok. Rainbow 4 and Angelwitch are always good. Spanky's is fun. Straps is new. Las Vegas has massive potential. Erotica has invested in their bar and made improvements and every bar on the top floors on the left hand side has something to offer. If the plaza is cleaned up and bars invest in their properties the potential is there for Nana to be great again.

Nana Plaza should always be better than Soi Cowboy which, if we're brutally honest, only has half a dozen decent bars. The two superstars of Baccarra and Tilac aside, it's a drop down to the next tier of Shark, Dollhouse, Sheba's and Suzy Wong's. Most of the other properties have limited appeal.

The investment made in Soi Cowboy and The Arab's great efforts to beautify the soi hit Nana at a time when investment in the plaza was at an all time low. Punters were drawn down the road. But there is no reason they won't go running back to Nana if it ups its game.

Nana Plaza

Once new leases have been signed and bar owners have the certainty of knowing that their business has a future, expect to see some real investment in the plaza. Exciting times lie ahead at Nana and it's great news for punters.

Nana Plaza features in Steve Leather's iconic Thai bargirl novel, "Private Dancer". It may be a work of fiction, but the accurate portrayal of the bar industry has the author respected as a fountain of knowledge on the bar industry. I sought comment from Steve on the good news that Nana will continue.

"I hope that Nana Plaza does continue to thrive as an entertainment venue. It plays a huge part in my book Private Dancer and I'd hate for it to disappear forever. I don't visit as much as I used to do but it's comforting to know that it's there and I still think that a ringside seat at the Big Dog's Bar at the entrance to the plaza is the best way of starting an evening's drinking. Nana Plaza used to be the best entertainment venue in Bangkok and I hope that some money is invested to restore it to its former glory. And a few fire exits would be appreciated!"

Steve Leather
– author of the best-selling "Private Dancer"


A piece of prime real estate in the heart of the city, Bangkok's increasingly pricey real estate market means the price paid for the master lease of Nana Plaza is staggering. Does this represent a good purchase from an investment point of view? To answer this question, I put it to a local stockbroker and investment analyst.

"Sounds like a good trade for the increasingly ambitious operator in the local bar scene. To try to put it into stock market terms, I see comparisons to the mighty Microsoft, whose share price increased over 100 times in the 1990s but peaked at the turn of the century and has gone sideways ever since, as younger, smarter operators have come and taken market share. Similar to Nana that has clearly lost its former glories, especially to a resurgent Cowboy, but Nana has excellent branding and above all, an excellent location. Many commentators have written off both Nana and the bar scene over the years but the basic business model of cold beer and hot girls is as fundamental as you can get. Companies that know what they are good at and stick to it will always succeed in the long run. Thailand's tourism industry continues to grow year after year despite floods, coups, protests and global recessions. And while the nationality of the new tourist arrivals may change, no matter what race, color or creed you are, everyone wants to have fun when they are on holiday."

The Mad Stockbroker
– expat stockbroker with 20 years experience in Asia, 10+ in Thailand (and once a regular visitor to Nana Plaza)


Nana Plaza


The group behind the master lease has the experience and expertise to make the plaza flourish. From a punter's point of view, it's hard to imagine a better choice for the new landlord.

But not everyone will be happy. It's no secret that some soi 4 property owners have long been hoping that the plaza would be demolished and a hotel or condominium developed; anything that would free the soi from the nightlife industry. Their street would be free of the scourge of bars and drinking spots, redeveloped and its proximity to Wireless Road would see property prices increase. These property owners face another 30 years of pain!

Nana Plaza has provided many of us with great memories. Its slow deterioration through a lack of investment and a lack of interest by some owners has been sad, but its departure as an entertainment area altogether would have been even more disappointing. The Christmas tree which went up in the plaza on Friday night was auspicious and the news that Nana Plaza will continue in its current form is like receiving an early Christmas present.


Nana Plaza

Big Mango

*When* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken in 2010. So when was the photo above taken?! All you have to do is tell me the year the photo was taken. The first person to email me with the correct year wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the fish and chips restaurant. The second person correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok. THIS IS THE LAST WEEK OF THE WHEN IS THIS PHOTO COMPETITION AND I WILL REVERT BACK TO "WHERE" NEXT WEEK.

Terms and conditions: The Duke's Express voucher MUST be redeemed by June 2012. The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. Prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week! If you wish to claim a prize, you must state a preference for the prize you prefer, or list the prizes you would like in order of preference – failure to do so results in the prize going to the next person to get the photo right.

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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 WEEKThe soaring cost of living.

Having about 1 million baht to spend per year in my early retirement, I thought, when I planned a couple of years ago, that I would be really rich here in Thailand. However, things have changed dramatically. On one side there is the currency effect. Our friends from the US and UK suffering the most, getting a mere 30 baht instead of 40 a while ago for a dollar and a mere 49 instead of 70 for a pound. On the other side everything seems to have skyrocketed in price. Living in Khon Kaen, you will not find a lady in the bars quoting less than 2,000 baht for a short time endeavour. This is Khon Kaen, not Bangkok or Phuket, where I once thought prices were way higher. Together with the 400 baht for a barfine and a few drinks, priced maybe a tiny little bit lower than in Bangkok, for less than 3,000 baht you will not use your little brother (unless you go for a very seasoned lady really late at night). Not only have the prices for fun increased, but so they have in my favorite eateries. Sizzler, to start with, increased the prices of all items about 20 – 25% a month or so ago. The real hammer hit me when I went to my all-time favorite Fuji restaurant to see that prices of certain menu items have risen in the region of 50 to 80 to 120 baht, per item, this is! Best illustrated on their "Take Away Menu", where the price of a "Fuji Bento Sashimi Set" has risen from 200 to 280 baht, or a "Fuji Bento Tempura Set and a Fuji Salmon Steak Set" which went from 210 to 280 baht. Fuji Khon Kaen is always full, mostly Thais, a few farangs, so customers seem not to care. I met an American in a bar recently who told me how he struggles with his 30,000 baht a month. I told him that not only would I struggle, I would not know how to survive! He told me that he almost cannot buy ladies of the night, drinks only a few beers now and then, and eating in the eateries I mentioned is a distant dream for him.

Is her education level that important?

The issue of communication is raised frequently together with the girls' education level. Communication is key to a certain degree but for me education level is not. Upon arrival in Hong Kong many years ago I dated a Japanese air hostess. Well-educated but communication was an issue and that relationship ended. Next was Thai girl #1, with hardly any education. Met in a disco (in the times when the Wanchai discos were fun and not packed with whores) and had a fun relationship for the next three years and almost married her and took on her daughter. Her English wasn't brilliant but we clicked. However one day she went mental Thai style out of the blue and that was that. Next was Thai girl #2, highly educated with a master's degree. We met at work. Got on very well for around a year but then despite her education we ran out of things to talk about. Next was Singapore girl #1. Highly-educated and a high salary earner. Communication was excellent but the high education and career that came with it never gave us a chance and she has split up with a number of guys since we ended our relationship. All due to the same problem – the 6-star lifestyle. Roll on Singapore girl #2. Reasonably educated and communication was fine until one day she went mental throwing glasses around the kitchen and threatened to kill herself. I won't bore you with the details but I had to stick to my guns and go through 6 months of hell until she left. Finally Thai girl #3. Finished high school in Isaan so hardly any education. We met in Korat, clicked and she is now my wife and we have a daughter. Her English has improved amazingly over the years but we have always been able to communicate through a mixture of Thai and English. So for me a girl's education level is not that important. I say for me because I don't want to discuss current affairs when I get home from work. We play with our daughter, take the dogs for a walk, go for a run or just have a beer or two and chat about simple things. I find that relaxing after a day of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and accountants.

The mossie menace.

I have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of mosquitoes in my neighborhood. I suppose that the flood zones are fertile breeding ground for the wretched creatures. So much for mosquito abatement in Bangkok. I'm in Bangrak and I killed at least 20 mosquitoes last night in my condo. I had the windows open, as usual; but normally I have no more than two or three mosquitoes per night. I also saw an unusually large number of mosquitoes last night at an outdoor restaurant in Silom. A friend in Prathuwan has noticed more mosquitoes there, too. I've heard that Don Meuang Airport has a lot of these pests, as must all of the flooded areas.

Pattaya this week.

I was in Pattaya all last week, and as you say there is no problem getting there or back. Traffic in Pattaya was crap on Friday afternoon, but I'm guessing that's the normal egress from Bangkok. A full tour of Walking Street last week, taking in both sides (I know, a great sacrifice on my part, but I felt you needed an update!) showed that most tourists on Walking Street are doing just that – walking. Every bar I went in had a handful of customers at most, with the beer bar areas, even the one next to Pattaya Beer Garden, barely having enough to fill one bar. Walking Street was absolutely ramming on Loy Kratong night, and my group of four still had no problem finding space in any of the popular venues. The golf courses were surprisingly empty as well. The airport was quiet both ways. The only real delay came trying to get into Swampy to depart. The airport car park is obviously full and people have gone as far as dumping their cars all the way up to Departures, which made it a bit hard to find a space to drop off. I know they are being lenient, but I would have expected them to at least keep the drop off area clear. Then I remembered I was in Thailand. Bangkok is one hell of a sight from the air, with water as far as you can see. I flew over Don Meuang on the way out which is now a dark lake with some planes parked in it, quite an incredible sight (some of the military aircraft on the opposite side are just gloomy shapes, clearly underwater).

Phuket this week.

Phuket is 800 miles from the flooding of Bangkok and northern provinces, and in theory from what we were told we should not be affected. I have just returned from purchasing a loaf at my bakery in Chalong this morning, only to be informed that the owner cannot get any beer and believe it or not, water. This of course is born out and confirmed by visiting any of the big local supermarkets – the shelves are bare, and this is already one month after the crisis has broken. Of course there are those that will be pleased to hear that the beer bars of Soi Bangla have run dry, but their smiles are soon wiped off their faces when they hear there's no water as well. Sourcing 500cl bottles is the only availability at the moment if you are lucky. 1.5 litre and 6 litres options ran out last month!

Come, come!

II have been to Bangkok a few times, most recently last week. I love the city and always stay in Sukhumvit in the Sheraton Grande which was extremely quiet, practically deserted. However that was great because it meant early check in, late check out, no crowds and discounts in the restaurant. I personally enjoyed the fact that Bangkok was less busy than usual, and it was odd being the only customer in a bar in Soi Cowboy watching a number of girls dancing just for me. It must have been quite boring for them but at least I didn't have any competition for the best-looking girls. However some of the gogo bars were busy and although perhaps the overall volume of people was lower, maybe the punters are becoming more discerning in their choice of bar. I really hope the floods don't reach the city and feel so sorry for everyone that is affected. However apart from not being able to visit Chatuchak Market, and avoiding the tourist attractions on the river, the flooding did not affect my holiday at all. To anyone asking whether or not to come, I would say of course you must come and spend your money and help the economy which is hurting. If you stay downtown, chances are you won't see any floods and you will have a great time meeting people who are happy to see you, even more happy and welcoming than Thai people normally are. You will be spared some of the crowds and traffic that you normally have to deal with.

The number of tourists flying in to Bangkok is still much lower than you would expect for this time of year and business in central Bangkok, and in the bar areas in particular, is still down. The mainstream media's relentless pursuit of the money shot and their attempts to get the most dramatic flood photo / footage that shows Bangkok in the worst possible light has pummeled the tourism industry and is primarily to blame. Many girls have gone home and haven't returned to Bangkok so all in all it's quiet in Bangkok's red light areas. One bar and grill owner told me business was down 20% – less than I would expect and another bar owner revealed that he is spending more time in the bar, playing the role of host and chatting with customers to try and keep them in his bar! The few bar owners I could prise numbers out of admit business is off 30 – 40%!

Strong rumour has it that the Mexican restaurant in Sukhumvit soi 14, Los Cabos, will close in December and The Dubliner will move from their prime position at the front of Washington Square, right on the main Sukhumvit Road, into that spot. With the future of Washington Square still very much up in the air, it seems that The Dubliner is looking for a new home. That's a shame asSpankys Pattaya their present location is a great spot to enjoy one of the best cooked breakfasts in Bangkok and watch the city wake up through the venue's large windows. Ok, so you can't really watch the city wake up as they don't start doing breakfast until about 9 AM but you know what I mean!

It's all happening in the Nana area this week with what is known in as "the Billboard group" picking up Nana Liquid, the venue previously known as Nana Disco. This is, in my humble opinion, a good thing, as the Billboard group actually improves properties and is willing to invest in a business. I see only good things coming from this change of ownership.

The bar name Spanky's might not be familiar to the perverts of Pattaya but Spanky's has developed a following in Bangkok where American owner Marc has proved to be quite the innovator in an industry where new ideas are about as common as a freebie with a showgirl. The good news for Pattaya is that Marc is expanding to Sin City with the newest venue bearing the Spanky's name due to open on Soi Diamond on December 3rd.

On a run through Nana this week there two highlights. First of all, whoever is doing the recruiting for the girls in the tub in Billboard deserves a pat on the back. There's some real quality in there and the seats at the tub are the best view in Nana. And surprisingly, downstairs in PlaySkool one shift is very easy on the eyes – but the B team is a bit of a disaster!

No, there is not a new bar in Nana called Traps. It's still Straps, but the recently opened bar appeared to cut costs on the neon with and the first "S" no longer glows.

It looks like the old Sukhumvit soi 5 branch of Foodland won't be opening its doors for a good while yet. Construction doesn't seem to be moving at the usual brisk pace we see in Bangkok and peeking inside this week revealed but a shell on the inside. There's a heap of work to be done before they can open. Fans of Foodland and the Took Lae Dee diner can still venture to the soi 16 branch which like all Foodland branches is 24 hours.

A couple of weeks back I mentioned in this column that there was a problem in Tilac Bar which was no cooler inside than out. It seems that two air-con units went tits up at the same time and Tilac's air-con serviceman could not get in as he was trapped in a far flung part of the city by flood waters. The problem was soon fixed and it is cool in the bar once again…while the girls remain hot.

The wait staff at Bangkok Beat are amongst the most attentive in all of Bangkok, but perhaps it wouldn't hurt for them to back off just a little. They are never far from your table and it seems that every few minutes a waitress comes to the table, lifts the bottles & glasses and wipes the table with a cloth before placing the glasses and bottles back down on the table. They seem to do this at every table every few minutes. I'm not convinced there is any benefit in it…but hey, the waitresses are pretty so it can't be such a bad thing to have them fussing around you.

The Londoner printed new menus, a practice in Bangkok expats pubs and restaurants that doesn't always see improvements, but almost always results in price increases. The Londoner has eschewed that practice and it seems they simply updated and tidied up the menu – and left the prices the same. Amazing!Sukhumvit Road

There appear to be far fewer blacks lingering around the Nana area. Whether this is due to the flooding scare (unlikely), the crackdown on those existing in Thailand on back to back tourist visas (unlikely as this would take time to filer through as those with existing visas would be ok), a crackdown on them as a group (Thais are openly racist and do not like the Africans at all) or some other reason, I do not know. The smiling characters who often inquire into strangers' well-being used to be abundant in the lower Sukhumvit and Nana area are very much conspicuous by their much lower numbers.

Anecdotal reports suggests there has been an increase in crime, no great surprise given the huge number of people out of work because of the flooding. We're talking bag snatchings and threats against people in downtown Bangkok i.e. sois off Sukhumvit during the day time. While Bangkok is generally safe, it may pay to be a little more aware of what is going on around you than you normally would and it goes without saying that flashing lots of cash or jewellery is foolish. Remember, to many Thais, 1,000 baht is still a lot of money!

I am not shy to give bars a hard time often and perhaps I need to balance things out with some positive stories highlighting some of the positives I experience. This week I received exceptional service at Tilac. Tilac is one venue where you can pre-order drinks at happy hour prices before happy hour finishes, and consume them later in the evening. I did this one night this week, ordering my current favourite drink – Jack Daniels and Diet Coke. As much as I like Coke, I am conscious of just how bad it is for you and so on the odd occasion I drink soft drinks, I prefer Diet Coke (which probably isn't much better, but that's another story). Anyway, what the service girl did was bring me an unopened can of Diet Coke and each time I wanted a new Jack Daniels, she brought me a tumbler of ice and a shot glass full of Jack. That way I could mix the drink to my taste – and I could also see that I was getting Diet Coke and not regular Coke. Some bars tell you they have served you Diet Coke – when in fact the sods don't even stock it! So a big thumbs up to Tilac which despite the frequent digs I give them still is right up there in the best handful of gogo bars in Bangkok.

And to further demonstrate Tilac's commitment to customers, in the absence of draft Heineken, a mate ordered bottled Leo instead. Tilac doesn't sell it but Sam's 2000, their small open air bar next door does, so staff went and fetched a bottle for him. It's just 70 baht all night, unlike the regular Tilac beers where the price increases after happy hour ends.

Fee-free withdrawals from foreign bank accounts at AEON ATM machines in Thailand are a thing of the past. Withdrawals are processed as normal and everything seems just fine and dandy, but check your account back in Farangland and you will see the fee has been deducted from your account in addition to any fee your home bank may have levied. I guess it was too good to last. It seems customers get hit by TWO fees, one locally and one from your home bank – and a single withdrawal can easily cost $US10 or equivalent in fees! (Email feedback from readers since publishing this paragraph is totally contradictory and shows that some people are charged and some aren't. I can only presume that perhaps there is some issue with certain banks where some account holders pay and others don't. I just don't know what else would explain it!)

Do Americans have a special gene that makes them less susceptible to jet lag than the rest of us? I'm amazed at the way that so many Americans spend the best part of a day on the big bird getting to Thailand, spend but a week or so in the country, and then fly all the way back, their trip often so short because of the limited amount of time holidays – or vacation time – as theyAir New Zealand call it. Hell, I don't fly nearly as far as the Americans have to, don't have a stopover, and am still buggered for a few days!

On the subject of long journeys, while central Bangkok may have missed most of the water, there's still plenty sitting over central Thailand. This means journey times to the provinces may be longer than you would expect. I heard of a trip to Khon Kaen taking 12 hours, instead of the usual 5 or 6!

The most sought after title at second-hand bookshops in Bangkok has to be Jack Reynolds' "A Woman Of Bangkok" which was published way back in 1956 and is described by those who have read it as the best book of its genre. I still haven't worked out if people say that to gain bragging rights. I have never even seen a copy, let alone read it. Bangkok's best second-hand bookshop, Dasa, has a list of people keen to get their hands on a copy and on the rare occasion a copy comes in it goes straight to the next person on the list, missing the bookshops shelves altogether. We will have a chance to see just what all the fuss is about with word reaching me that that "A Woman Of Bangkok" will soon be republished. I am keen to see how it compares to *the* modern day Bangkok novel "Private Dancer" which really isn't that modern at all – it's set in 1996!

On October 1st, ASN cancelled their contract with Thailand cable provider True Visions. Before ASN I am told you were able to watch several American football games live but now there are zero American football games shown on UBC. After many trials and delay, the original branch of Sunrise Tacos on Sukhumvit Road between sois 12 and 14 has live college and pro football games from ASN. A full schedule can be found here.

Stumble Inn on Soi 4 is now the venue for the official Bangkok branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club. Anyone who is a fan of what they call God's own team is welcome to turn up on match days to support the blues. The sound is always on for the City games, so it makes for a great match day experience. They will even lock you in the fridge at half time just so you can feel like you are really at the game. And with all beers still only 65 baht all day and all night, it makes for a great night.


Stumble Inn Bangkok

The pro, Khun Mong, at Diana Golf Driving Range in Pattaya, is looking for a farang to teach English to a group of kids there. Not sure on details but sounds like a few hours a week of tutoring. His number is 081-8470670.

Many pussy lovers read this column and I am sure someone would love the chance to adopt their own Thai pussy. The little charmer pictured here was found roaming the streets of Thonglor and with her mum nowhere to be found, this orphan is looking for a home. She's a few weeks old, ginger and very sweet and being so young hasn't developed any bad habits. She is with the local vet where they are vaccinating her and feeding her up. A pal found her but can't take her in as he already has threeThai cat soi cats in the flat! If you would like a new friend, let me know and I will put you on to him.

If you're after apple, pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving, or any other holidays, Sunrise whole famous pies are available at most Villa supermarkets in inner Bangkok, the Sunrise Tacos Terminal 21 branch and direct from the restaurant on Sukhumvit Road between sois 12 to 14. You can pick them up with a day's advance notice at the Emporium, Siam Paragon or Central World locations. For any whole pie purchased before Christmas, 20% of the 650 baht price will be donated to Bangkok flood victims.

Duke's Express on the 5th floor of Emporium will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this coming Thursday, November 24th. It's always a big hit and should be especially so this year as Chef Andrew, the American chef from Chiang Mai, has moved down to be the Executive Chef here. There are also plans to expand the Duke's brand in Bangkok to new locations.

Bully's has gone through 2 Thai hotel chefs, but owner Boss Hogg is not the easiest character to please – especially when it comes to food. If you've met the Hogg, you'll know what I mean! According to the Hogg – and he knows food, Thai chefs just don't cut the mustard. To keep quality up, the Hogg decided to go all the way and sent an executive chef from America, formally with the Ritz Carlton in Hawaii to Bully's. He arrived on October 1st and is doing a great job. While in the kitchen for up to 12 hours a day, Chef Tim can be seen at Bully's being friendly with the customers and making sure the food is top notch, or is that top nosh? As usual, Bully's will have a Thanksgiving Bounty Buffet on Thursday, November 24th, from 1 PM – 9 PM. 6 months ago Bully's contracted for 300 kg of US Swift Butterball turkeys and they will be delivered on time. Reservations are required for booth seating and are 860 baht per person. Children aged 12 and under are only 25 baht per year. All prepaid reservations before November 22nd will receive a 100 baht discount per adult. Bully's has an extensive Thanksgiving buffet menu which includes Herb Roasted Butterball Turkey with Giblet Gravy & homemade cranberry sauce plus way too many choices to list here!

Bourbon Street will host their Thanksgiving Day dinner on both 24th and 25th November. On the 24th it's first come, first served – and expect the venue to be packed as Bourbon Street is usually the busiest spot in town at Thanksgiving. On the 25th, reservations are accepted. Also on the 25th they will be doing Long Island Iced Teas for a bargain 120 baht.

Christmas comes early every year in Bangkok and this year is no exception with a giant Christmas tree outside Terminal 21. I've yet to hear Christmas carols being played in any shopping centres just yet but they cannot be far away…and expect them to be played all the way through until about Valentine's Day! Oh, and the bargirls are getting in to the Christmas cheer already with a Christmas tree set up on the ground floor of Nana on Friday night.


Christmas in Bangkok


Quote of the week comes from a reader, "Thailand seems like an endless succession of Jerry Springer episodes."

Reader's story of the week comes from Akulka, "Creeps ", the story of a Brit's questionable recruiting techniques in Bangkok.

The flooding in Thailand may spur some Japanese companies to shift production to Indonesia.

An interesting interview with a popular Pattaya gogo manager ran on Pattaya 105 FM this week.

From The New York Times, anger erupts over plans for an amnesty which could see former PM Thaksin walk free!

If you're wondering where the regular women are, check out what CNNGo is touting as Bangkok's best ladies night.

To prove that it's not specifically a Thai thing, an American gets fleeced by a Ukrainian he met online.

A tourist in Phuket had sex 4 times in quick succession and then died!

An amazing story ran in the Bangkok Post about a large cash theft from the home of a minister of Parliament.

Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.

* No questions were received for Sunbelt Legal this week.

Bangkok


The flood waters in Bangkok are receding and downtown never saw the flood waters. That means there is absolutely no reason to cancel, postpone, delay or otherwise put off your travel plans to Bangkok. As far as downtown is concerned, the danger has passed and not a single person believes that the water will make it to downtown. The bullet has been dodged! Bangkok is at its best at this time of year with the weather warm and not oppressively hot, the sky is blue, there is no rain and as we get closer to the end of the year and the holiday season, everyone gets into party mode. Come back! You'll have a great time!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick