I quite like the rainy season. I like the way the rain clears the air and the temperature drops a couple of degrees. I like the city when it's quiet with fewer tourists around the traps and generally fewer people out and about. And I love wandering around taking photos in the rainy season, getting shots that aren't possible at other times of the year, scampering around capturing reflections of neon in puddles and of office girls with their hair and umbrella being blown in the wind as it picks up just before the rain comes.
But the rainy season can catch you out and that's exactly what happened to me this week. I was making my rounds down at Patpong, looking for news and gossip, when the heavens opened. I had been heading along Patpong soi 2 making my way for the skytrain and I scampered into The Strip to take shelter, no doubt looking like a drowned soi rat. Inside there were just a few girls and only one other customer.
The Strip sits at the Silom Road end of Patpong soi 2, a curious designation because 2 implies that it's not number 1, as such not as good as number 1. But it's generally agreed these days that the best bars in Patpong are all in the second soi.
First they noticed me because I was drenched, but then they spotted the camera. One girl intimated that she'd like me to snap while she was dancing. The mamasan saw me taking shots and came over and had a quiet word. A photo of the girl was ok, just make sure no customers are in the shot. That wouldn't be hard I said, as there's only one other guy here. That sarcasm didn't go down well.
The other girls saw their friend looking at the photos of her on the camera's LCD screen and came over. Before I knew it I was firing off shots of all the lovelies in the bar while I was waiting for the rain to stop.
You could never accuse the girls in The Strip of doing the Bangkok shuffle. The bar features a number of girls who perform like acrobatic dancers and love to dance up a storm, spontaneously grabbing the pole and swinging themselves around. Even with the rain killing trade for the night meaning no customer to perform for, they didn't let up and seemed to enjoy bouncing around and making their own fun.
The Strip is unusual for a bar in 2012 in that there's not a single fatty in the bar. That's not to say that every girl is a knock-out, but most are in the sort of shape that our buddies in the West can only dream of finding.
The Strip features a shower booth, a swing and booths. Unique to The Strip, the tall booths along one side of the bar have curtains which can be closed if those inside would like a little privacy. Closing the curtains incurs a 400 baht fee.
I once sat inside the booth for a moment with the curtains closed. It was weird, with the music and chatter from the bar still there, but your view of the bar blocked and along with it the feeling of being very much out of sight.
Where The Strip excels and what sets it apart from many bars is the interaction between the girls and customers. One of the issues in the bars these days is what I refer to as the disconnect between customers and girls in a bar. In plenty of bars the girls behave as if there was not a soul in the bar and the venue was in fact empty. They shuffle around on stage and joke and laugh amongst themselves. In poorly managed bars, some girls openly play around on their mobile and show zero interest in customers without so much as even making eye contact. It's me, me, me as they stare in the mirrors at themselves, gossip and laugh with other girls. In The Strip the girls bounce around like the Energizer bunny and play for customers giving it a fun vibe.
Even the cashier is a bit of a looker and what beautiful, big, brown eyes! She didn't have a lot to do on this night though with the rain keeping customers away.
September in Bangkok and you can damn near bank on rain most days. To that brave soul making his way along the soi – mate, Club Electric Blue is good but it's not that good that you'd want to arrive drenched!
Business was so bad across Patpong that the girls took turns standing outside The Strip wearing precious little in the hope of luring customers inside. They could have stood there in their birthday suit and yelled out lurid invitations and still no-one would have come into the bar, because no-one was around.
What is interesting about the rainy season is not so much that punters may stay home, but that many girls genuinely fear the rain. They believe that if their head gets wet they will become ill. As such they may choose to stay home when it rains rather than battle to get to work dry. When it rains heavily, even popular bars might have few girls arrive for work. As the manager of a Cowboy bar said to me earlier this week, heavy rain late afternoon / early evening kills trade for the night and with some bars really struggling for girls, any reason for girls to stay home is a double whammy to a bar.
Apparently smoking was rather more prevalent in Thailand in the past but today only a small percentage of Thai women smoke. Even amongst Thai men, there aren't that many smokers. What percentage of Thai girls smoke? Maybe 5%, if that. And working girls? Maybe 15 – 20%. No more, I reckon.
Another feature unique to The Strip is the small trough behind the counter at the bar where kerosene can be poured and lit creating flames which illuminate the bar for a few seconds.
See what I mean that the lovelies in The Strip are in shape? You can't say The Strip is fatty friendly.
Despite so few customers, she had a smile to light up not just the bar but the whole soi.
It's a measure of a good bar – where the girls have easy, genuine smiles. Some guys like cheap drinks, others like lots of pretty girls and others go for shows or other spicy carry on inside. I like bars where the girls are happy. I don't care if they are the hottest thing in the soi, miserable girls are just no fun to be around.
And again, she couldn't help but pose and loved to see the photos of herself. Despite no customers and no chance of getting a few lady drinks let alone a barfine, that sweet smile never left her face.
There were never more than a 4 punters in the bar. You can tell the locals because in September and October many of us carry a small umbrella. The fellow in the photo was obviously a local from the way he was dressed to the small umbrella in his right hand.
A little bored and with almost no customers in the bar and nothing to do, a couple of the girls jump into the shower cubicle and perform an impromptu show.
The shower show came to an end almost as soon as it started and I glanced out through the curtains and saw that the rain had almost stopped falling. I spy a Thai-style chariot through the bar's curtains and yell out to the girl at the door to tell him to wait a minute while I settle up the bill.
Dashing outside I spy a familiar face, one of the lovelies from Club Electric Blue who had popped out between rain showers to grab a bite.
She's not bad looking although admittedly tats aren't my thing but yikes, those pecker wreckers look a little scary.
The weather had broken and I had a window to escape before the heavens reopened. Finding a taxi in Patpong willing to use the meter is easier than finding a virgin in the area. So a tuktuk it would be…
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken out the front of the Palladium Shopping Centre, on the north-eastern corner of the Pratunam intersection and proved difficult – not many readers got it right. There are two prizes this week, a 300-baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.
Terms and conditions: The 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! You MUST specify which prize you would like and failure to do so will result in the prize going to the next person to get the photo correct.
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.
Preferring a girl willing to drink liquor.
I always let a girl choose her own drink, but when she says she is having a Tequila I would expect that is what she is having. Why lie about it and not just say she'll have a cola or orange juice? It's the trickery I don't like, being lied to for no reason when I'm helping her achieve her drinks target. Having said that, if a girl isn't drinking alcohol then I tend to move on. I like a girl who drinks, but I don't force them to do so if they don't want to. I discouraged my Morning Night filly from mixing Tequilas with her whisky colas, but she still had a couple. I believe the set time in a Thai bar / member club is 20 minutes a drink, isn't it?
Agree totally with your thoughts concerning lady drinks. A very attractive gogo dancer I got to know well told me that she set herself a daily drink target of having 12 drinks bought for her. Whenever a customer bought her a drink it was always supposedly Tequila. As she worked all but two days of each month and virtually always hit her target as she was a stunning looker, understandably the drink was almost always water. Whilst she was always very attentive and spent plenty of time with me, I have seen other girls down a supposed Tequila bought from them and depart from a customer rapidly. The system of buying a girl's time when a customer purchases a lady drink would lessen the number of customers who feel cheated and exploited by some of the sharp practices that are used by the girls under the encouragement of the mamasans.
A dislike for paperwork.
You posed the question as to what would happen if a crime was committed on the boundary of two police districts. If a dead body was found on the border of the police districts, the first police to find the body would carry it across to the other police district and then inform the other police district that a body was reported in their area, thus avoiding lots of paperwork for themselves. They would stand and watch the body until picked up by the police from the other district to make sure it did not "walk" back across into their area again. Now you know how police operate!
Bangkok canal trip recommendation.
I went on a canal boat trip around the klongs in Bangkok Noi a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It's so close to downtown Bangkok yet seems like another world. There's a tourist boat that goes from Taling Chan floating market (floating in name only, all the market is on the land) that takes you on a 2-hour trip round the canals for 150 baht. Most of the clientele were Thai, but there were a number of foreigners too. Most of the commentary was Thai, but it's mainly a trip for the sights and atmosphere because you don't go past anything interesting. The seats in the tour boat were a bit small though, and anyone on the large side will have trouble fitting in. The market is easy to get to with a bus from outside Central World.
On the ground in the Lion City.
I have spent a lot of time in Singapore recently. As you mentioned, the majority of the girls in Orchard Towers are now Vietnamese but my experiences with them, and those of my friends, differ somewhat from those that you mention. In general, their English is not good at all. Mostly their style is very hard hooker – they want you to buy them a drink immediately, they want to know how much you'll give them, and in the bedroom they feel very business-like and tend to leave at the earliest opportunity. I only went with two, and with neither could I do the deed due to their attitude. As I said, this mirrors the experiences of my friends who live there. They tend to avoid them. Attractive Thai women are in serious demand. For any Thai girl looking to catch a boyfriend or / husband, Sing is THE place. The good ones can ask S$400 short time, S$800 long time, and that's not just from tourists.
Hitting the bull's-eye with your first shot.
I'm 24 and I went to Bangkok for 3 weeks holiday a year and a bit ago. I met a girl in a normal bar and went home with her. I was a little tipsy. I had protection but she didn't want to use it and kept saying no. I asked if she was on the pill and she said yes. I bought her the morning after pill the next day anyway. She popped them out, but I found out later she put them in the bin. 9 months later I have a baby. I completed a DNA test at the Police Hospital and it came back as my own. I'm disappointed something so serious came out of something that was only poked in fun. She's an office worker on 24,000 baht a month. I am back in Australia. I gave her my credit card and she takes what she needs for the child, which is looked after by her parents in Ubon Rachathani. She withdraws 15,000 baht monthly. I'm past the anger and annoyance at what she did. I never considered what would happen. I've never imagined that someone could do that. Despite what happened, I now have a child and no matter how that came about, I have responsibilities.
Sometimes I receive email from a reader I have never heard from before which contains a profound or serious message with potentially widespread implications. Of course from time to time there are people who send spurious information purported as fact which they would like me to propagate because it will somehow benefit them. With people you don't know, it's almost impossible to know just what is fact and what is fiction. This week I received such an email. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the information but the tone struck me as genuine and my responding email received a quick response with further info including the name of the clinic and the doctor concerned. OK, let's get to the point. There *may* be a mini outbreak of HIV in Pattaya. A reader's girlfriend of 3 years was found to be HIV positive as part of the process of applying for a visa to relocate to her boyfriend's country. A second check was carried out and again, she tested HIV+. Horrible news for the poor girl and I cannot imagine how the guy feels. Fortunately the boyfriend has tested negative. What is scary – and this is where the idea comes from that there may be some sort of outbreak – is that the doctor at the clinic – A FOREIGNER – said that the reader's girlfriend was the sixth person to test HIV positive that day! Six girls testing positive for HIV at one clinic in Pattaya at one day is a worry. So there you are, you've been warned. Let me add to this that one of the best known visa lawyers in Thailand said to me not so long ago that he had seen a spike in the number of girls who tested positive for HIV when carrying out the mandatory check for long-stay visas. This reader's anecdote is not a one-off.
Are some bars in Soi Cowboy trying to save on their power bill? Some venues don't have their beautiful frontage neon turned on some nights. There seems to be no pattern to it – some bars have their lights turned on one night but they are turned off the next, suggesting that it's not a problem with the neon per se, but a conscious choice. What's the reason? Complacence? Budgetary constraints? Wet weather and dodgy wiring?
And it really was quiet on Cowboy last night. Just like a few nights ago when I was stuck in The Strip, rain saw the number of girls who had bothered to go to work down – kind of surprising for a Saturday night – and I bet many bars had a crap night turnover-wise.
And the lights at Cocktail in Cowboy will be out for a few weeks from tomorrow. The venue may be closed for as long as 5 weeks as it's about to go under the renovation knife.
Zen Bar on Sukhumvit soi 4, opposite the Golden Beer Bar, opened this week meaning there are beer bars on the soi all the way down from Morning Night to Hillary 4. The soft opening promotion sees 79 baht pricing for all spirits (including red, black, Jack Daniels etc) and all local beers. The grand opening will take place this coming Friday, September 28th, with free food and prizes.
Nana Liquid seems to be making a habit of parties on Wednesdays, a good thing in my opinion because if people know something special takes place each week on a particular night it gives them a reason to go along. Sort of like you know that every Saturday night there will be a Premier League match on TV. Anyway, the next party at Nana Liquid this coming Wednesday is a wet t-shirt competition. I wish I could be there for it but alas, I have other plans. Still, it's the rainy season…you don't have to wander far to see a wet t-shirt at this time of year!
It has become a little clearer why the renovations at Pretty Lady Bar on the ground floor of Nana Plaza are taking so long. They were supposed to be finished at the end of last month but are dragging on and the venue still looks like a construction site. The mamasan explained that the electrician who was to complete the lighting, air-con and fans inside the bar around the dance floor to blow the girls' skirts up took the money and ran! It took some time to find a new electrician to come in and complete the job. Building and / or renovating a bar is just as much of a headache here as is building a house – someone needs to be on site the entire time to monitor those carrying out the work.
Club Electric Blue in Patpong soi 2 is expanding its services. If you fancy a girl who works in the popular Patpong bar and would like her to pay you a visit rather than you going to the bar to get her, that's now possible. With the heavy rains we've been experiencing likely to last another month or so, there's no need for you to battle the traffic and dodge the rain drops. For 4,000 baht all in you can get on the Club Electric Blue website, find a girl you like and the bar will send her out to you. I guess when you work it all out, 4,000 baht is about what it costs in the farang bars today when you factor in transport to and from the bar, a few drinks, lady drinks, barfine, hotel room etc. Will this concept catch on? Certainly it has always been possible to do this if you had the girl's phone number – and you often see girls in bars furiously SMSing local guys keen for the girl to barfine herself and go to the customer who then reimburses her the cost of the barfine. Many bars are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for their piece of the pie so it could catch on.
But if the idea of 4,000 baht all in is more than you wish to part with, there are some less pricey deals to be had. I was in a taxi speeding along Petchaburi Road this week when I noticed one of the large Thai-style massage parlours on the northern side of the road with a huge advertisement – in Thai – outlining a daily special with service available before 6 PM for 1,100 baht all in. I imagine the selection would not be that great and there are probably only a dozen or so girls on the premises at that time of day but at 1,100 baht all in, it's a pretty good deal – and it really makes you think about what many Westerners routinely pay on Sukhumvit. Where exactly on Petchaburi Road was it? It was north of Thonglor and Ekamai, around that part of Petchaburi Road. The writing on the side of the building facing the road was HUGE so if you go looking for it, look for large Thai characters and the number 1,100 along with 6 PM. The name of the venue I just do not know as I did not see it when the taxi sped past.
Don't worry if you lose the TM card that is stapled into your passport when you are processed entering the country at Passport Control. If it is lost, Immigration will provide you with a new one. It's no big deal.
A few weeks back a new law was introduced making it an offence for taxi drivers to refuse to pick up a passenger. Any driver who had the taxi available light on but refused to take a passenger could be fined by police. When you understand how the taxi drivers work and how dreadful Bangkok traffic can be, you can understand why the drivers are complaining about the new law. Imagine a taxi is cruising near Emporium and the driver has to return the cab to base at Rama 3 Road in 45 minutes. Let's say he comes across a passenger who wishes to go the airport. That is the opposite direction from where the driver needs to be in 45 minutes. If he was to take that passenger it would impossible for him to return the cab to base on time. And if the cab is returned late, the driver would have to compensate the other driver of the cab. Most cabs are driven in 12-hour stints with one driver doing one shift and another driver the other. And yeah, these drivers take the same cab day in, day out. It's not a case of just grabbing the next available cab in the fleet. Since its introduction the new law doesn't seem to have made any difference. Recently I have found drivers are less likely to take me where I want to go which I put down to the rainy season – and greater demand for taxis so drivers can be choosier. One way around this – not that I would recommend it – is to get into the cab and tell the cabbie where you want to go rather than opening the door, leaning in and saying your destination which is very much the Thai way – and which gives the driver a chance to refuse the fare.
A fellow is trying to sell some Thailand websites and has asked me to list them here. The prices seem very reasonable to me, but then what would I know given that I wouldn't let this site go for less than 10 million baht. The available websites – and that means the actual website and not just the domain name for sale are Thaisnitch.com which is priced at 25,000 baht and Thaixcort.com at 65,000 baht. He also has for sale EscortServiceThailand.com – the domain name only – for 8,000 baht which seems like a particularly good deal to me and it should be noted that he will include that particular domain name free if you buy Thaixcort.com.
The Pattaya baht bus pickpocketers are still up to no good and one place they look for new prey and launch their attacks from is the intersection of Pattaya Klang and Second roads. 5 or 6 women linger, each with a large shopping bag to place on their respective laps to conceal their hands as they reach underneath it to get into the pockets of a potential victim. What is interesting is that the driver of the songtaew a reader was in saw the gang move towards his vehicle and put his foot down and left them behind! The driver later confirmed what they were up to. While it's good to see there are decent drivers around, it also shows that the problem is widely known about but like many scams against visitors in Pattaya, it persists despite widespread awareness.
What is it with some Western guys in Thailand being totally obsessed with sex? A good mate lost a Burmese maid he was very happy with because another guy in the condo building took a fancy to her. This particular lady was neither pretty nor young but a relatively young guy resident in the building hit on her and whisked her off to Farangland in a heartbeat….and my mate had to find himself a new maid! In last week's column I included a photo of a female employee on the river boats, a plain but not unpleasant looking lady. I had emails this week from readers asking how they could meet her. Some guys in Bangkok really do have one-track minds.
Does anyone in the expat community know anything about this sack of shit Dale Cregan, a yob who blew away 2 female cops in the UK and who claims that he lost an eye after a run in with a Thai cop with a knuckle duster – specifically what he was up to in Thailand? Give that Thai copper a medal and a promotion – but have a quiet word and suggest that he should have taken the other eye while he was at it. Perhaps we should refine the search. Does anyone in Pattaya – which surely was his choice of destination – have anything to report? There was a time when Thais saw us white boys and thought that because we were relatively wealthy we would be sophisticated and polite – and they treated us accordingly. With so many deadbeats here and sacks of shit like Cregan, we all get tarred with the same brush.
Revisiting Istanbul restaurant on Sukhumvit soi 4 this week, I have to say that it's the best deal in town if you're a lamb lover. The lamb kebab dish is just 180 baht for which you get 9 tender, juicy and reasonably large cubes of perfectly cooked lamb, served with salad. Lamb dishes are usually expensive in Bangkok and often not well cooked – but Istanbul gets it just right. You might like to order something else like mezi or hummus to fill yourself up, but for sure, Istanbul has very good food, assuming Middle Eastern food is to your taste.
And if you fancy some really good Thai food, or have friends in town and want to take them to a Thai restaurant that serves classic Thai cuisine in a venue where the service and surroundings are pleasant, try Sorndaeng. I ate there for just the second time this week and it was great. The sign outside Sorndaeng says "The best Thai cuisine restaurant since 1957" so it's been open long enough for the operation to be fine-tuned. Sorndaeng is popular with hi-so Thais, isn't cheap and you wouldn't want to show up in a rugby shirt and shorts, for example. Sorndaeng is on Rachadamnoen Road, on the south side of the road from Democracy Monument. The photo below was taken standing outside with the restaurant behind me.
Quote of the week comes from a reader responding to my closing comment in the opening piece of last week's column, "The best of Bangkok isn't found at night but I wouldn't agree if you replaced Bangkok with Pattaya!"
Reader's story of the week is the compelling argument made by Khun Bill, "In Praise Of The Older Woman".
More Thai women in Bahrain were rescued from a trafficking ring.
A drunk Thai dude swallows a live centipede and dies!
The UK's Telegraph this week asked if expats can really be friends.
An Englishwoman is stung by a jellyfish in Thailand and describes the pain as being bitten by a shark.
Cybersex has been outlawed in the Philippines which has long been a host country for sex webcam services.
Have Vang Vieng and tubing in Laos become ruined by becoming too touristy?
A Thai wife uses her English husband's money to pay for a hitman to kill her husband!
Mystery surrounds the death of a Brit in Chiang Mai who fell from a height…but there were no witnesses.
Ask Sunbelt Asia 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.
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: The arrest would show up on a Thailand criminal records check but most likely not on an international or Interpol check.
Question 2: My wife generously came to the aid of a friend who needed 50,000 baht to pay for her child's medical expenses. My wife was told that the money would be repaid in a short period of time. Now, many months later, the 'friend' says she has no money and can't repay the debt. The 'friend' has a good job and is capable of repaying the sum by instalments. Is the debt recoverable or would the cost be more than it is worth? Is there such a thing as a garnishee in Thailand or is there another avenue to recover the money?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: In Thailand the prosecutor can seize the debtor's assets. But such must be appointed by the court (at your request) and with the court's ruling that you (as the claimant) have won the case. Did your wife enter into a loan agreement to lend her friend this money? Is there any kind of written documentation between your wife and her friend about this loan? If not then the court may release such a case due to the lack of evidence.
Question 3: I am thinking about buying a car in Thailand. I would like to have the title in both my girlfriend's name and my name for a little added security. I have been told, by my girlfriend of course, that it is not possible to have two names on an automobile title in Thailand. Can you please tell me if this is true. It is routine here in the States for the title to be in two names, either Joe or Sue or Joe and Sue for example. This makes it easier to transfer the title if something happens to one of the individuals who own the car. In the first case either party can sell the car, in the second example both people would need to sign the title in order to transfer ownership.
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: There is a section (page) in the Vehicle Registration Booklet, where it states who has ownership and who has the possession of the vehicle. Usually (for the individual), the 2 titles are the same name. The only time that the 2 titles would be different is when you (as the buyer) purchase the car via hire purchase methods (this would state that your finance company [must be a finance company] holds the ownership, while you (buyer) would have the possession of the vehicle.
You can have co-ownership of a motor vehicle, where the foreign co-owner must also provide either:
1. Work permit.
2. Permanent residence.
3. Letter of confirmation from the embassy confirming a permanent address in Thailand (or yellow house registration book that you are listed in).
There might be some misunderstanding of the concept of having 2 names on the ownership title of an item (e.g. a condo). Should something happen to the one of the parties, in order for the surviving party to be able to transfer the ownership to a third party, he / she must obtain a court order in order to do so. But it helps to protect assets from being liquidated without the other party's acknowledgement and acceptance.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of producing this column? Is it keeping on top of what is going on in Bangkok and making sure I don't miss anything important? Nah, I'm out and about often and know many people so that part is easy. Is it coming up with something for the opening piece each week? Nah, at any time I have a dozen or so ideas for opening pieces sketched out, many of which will never see the light of day although admittedly taking an idea and presenting it in an engaging manner can be a challenge. Is it managing the odd situation which arises when there's an overlap with friends or even advertisers? That admittedly can be a challenge. If, for example, I said that my favourite salad is the Santa Fe salad at Sunrise Tacos – which it absolutely is – and I eat it at least once a week, one could say that I am only saying that because the owner of Sunrise is a friend of mine. He is a friend, but at the same time I'm being 100% honest in that it really is my favourite salad. The most challenging part of managing this column is dealing with the people who respond to the where is this photo competition. The amount of crap I get from some who appear desperate to win a prize is amazing. I have to deal with people cheating – entering multiple responses using multiple email addresses all sent from the same IP is the most common. I have had people try to claim both prizes in the same week and make the mistake of sending the same postal address for the prize to be sent to! And then there are the nasty comments when someone correctly guesses the location of the photo but were not one of the first two correct entries meaning they miss a prize. Some claim they could not possibly have been beaten to be correct and others even have programs running which notify them as soon as a new column has been published so they can be first. Many of these people who get nasty have one thing in common. Have a guess what that might be. If you're the first to get it right, I'll send you a voucher. I'll explain what these constant complainers have in common next week…
Your Bangkok commentator,