Prices are going through the roof, the bars are empty of girls and those that are left are a bunch of barkers you wouldn't look twice at. If you listen to some, the good times are finished. Perhaps we have passed the golden age, but things aren't that bad. And if you know where to go, things are actually pretty good!
* The Strip is an advertiser of this site. If you think it's questionable that a bar which advertises on this site is profiled on this site then close your eyes and scroll down past the photos. Otherwise enjoy a collection of photos of some pretty girls who can all be found in just one bar, The Strip in Patpong soi 2.
Outside The Strip, a long-time member of the team poses.
Tattoos aside (it's hard for me personally to overlook tramp stamps, and I must confess I've never had a girlfriend with a tat), she's fun to chat with. And she really lights up the shower cubicle when it's her turn to perform!
Slim, fair skin, soft features, hints of Chinese ancestry and a sweet look…she's after my heart! But the dyed hair is never a winner with me and that tattoo on her back…scary!
Dodgy contact lenses and sunnies, it's amazing she can see anything in a dimly lit bar! I've never found dyed hair a winner on Thai women so I prefer her in the previous shot.
Two girls fool around and put on a show for customers, some of whom appear to be in a Thai gogo bar for the first time. They really don't know what to make of it all!
If one is overcome with amorous desires, there are booths in the venue which are unique to The Strip. For less than the cost of a barfine you can enter the booth and close the curtain…
Quite possibly the most attractive lady I've seen in a Bangkok gogo bar in years. Tall, fair-skinned and curvy, she has a personality to match her looks. How such an attractive lady ended up in a farang gogo bar, I'll never know. Thai guys would be all over her.
The way the girls interact with customers can make or break a bar. There are bars with attractive ladies whose ice-cold attitudes put punters off, just as there are venues with less attractive women who are more than friendly, their attitudes making the bar. With all that said, the stage isn't the place to cavort around. Spring for a booth, buddy!
A coyote girl poses outside. The Strip has a mix of their own house girls and coyote girls – who do go. This is probably the way of the future, bars having a mix of their own recruits plus girls from an agency to which the bar pays a day rate. From the bar's perspective it makes sense. They can get agency girls in on the busy nights only – Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And if the agency sends different girls each night it keeps things fresh.
An oldie but a goody. I should imagine she can teach many of the young ones a few good tricks. She's fun, enjoys a joke and she won't cling to you and misinterpret it as anything more than fun banter.
My thoughts on tats are known. I just don't think they add anything to a girl's look. I don't think that many more girls have tattoos in the bars today than when I first came to Thailand, but those girls with tats seem to have a greater number of tats. Where it was one that could be concealed, now it's many that would take some imagination to successfully conceal.
It's just a little prick, a coyote tells her workmates.
One of the coyote girls takes a break in the back corner of the bar.
Presenting the package, some girls just love to pose for the camera.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at the Siam skytrain station. 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.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Relationship success, a reflection of yourself.
Your column brought back many memories, not only of Patpong, but Thailand in general. What great times were had in the "old" era. I was out for a good time, like most blokes, but never chased a girl. If one came along who appealed, well, we had a good time. I was lucky enough to meet a Thai lady, and I mean that with the greatest respect, and we eventually married in Australia. When I retired we moved back to Thailand. My wife and her daughter already were paying off a home in Bangkok and we sold that and moved to Chiang Mai. The point I want to make is that some of your correspondents are very cynical about relationships between farang and Thai. My advice? Man the fxxk up. You buy a ticket, you go for the ride. Nothing's guaranteed. Certainly not marriage. Our marriage is great. I'm almost 70 now, an amputee stuck in a wheelchair, but my wife could not be a better carer. Some of the people who write to you should have a good hard look in the mirror. If they are as good as they think they are, why are they so unhappy?
Has it become sanitised?
I first came to Thailand in 1988. On that very first evening in Bangkok I ended up at Patpong. I guess it was Superstar. The next morning I knew I had been infected by yellow fever, an addiction still going strong 25 years later. On my first visits I stayed at cheap guesthouses on Soi Ngam Duphli. I heard crazy stories about dubious characters that lived in these guesthouses and about the coffee shop at the Malaysia Hotel, stories about catfights involving razor blades and gasoline. Today when I see parents walking down Patpong and Soi Cowboy with their teenage kids in tow I wish the Bangkok nightlife would become more dangerous again. It's not a place for western females and definitely not for kids. I would never ever take my kids to these places. Never.
Those were the days.
I was lucky enough to get a job in Indonesia in 1971 and was thrilled to learn on my schedule 2 weeks on / 1.5 weeks off I could get back to the Bangkok I knew from 1965. It didn't take long to settle into the Nana Hotel with a permanent suite on the top floor – which was the 4th floor back then! Anyhow, I was in Patpong with a friend on the evening they filmed "The Deer Hunter". They had changed a lot of the bar signs to make it look like Saigon and the photo provided is of the Grand Prix Bar, opposite the Mississippi Queen with a Vietnamese sign Bamuoiba beer 33 which was the main Saigon beer at the time – and it tasted fairly lousy! They tied Patpong up all night with the filming with quite a crowd looking on. A friend I was with was offered a part but he said he was too busy and had other more important matters on his mind. To this day when I see him I reckon he cut my movie career off before it even started. If he had said ok, we probably would have been sitting upstairs in the Mississippi Queen at the bar when Robert De Niro did his thing. The Grand Prix Bar was very successful. I sank many a beer in there – Singha, not beer 33! Madrid used to be a great lunch time hangout with their pizzas, baby clams and, of course, the girls.
Not all young guys and new expats are the same.
I want to speak of the new expats I see cropping up in the column whether it is a mention from you, or as in this week from one of the readers. Granted I am not an expat (I'd love to be) but I do frequent Thailand, and moreover I am in my 20's so I am exactly who all of this is directed at. We are not all the same! I don't wander the streets with my shirt off! I don't disrespect the locals! I am making an honest attempt to improve my language skills! I don't drink to excess and cause scenes! I enjoy the bars and have never disrespected the ladies and frankly I think it's disheartening to see folks lump all of the younger guys in to the same category. Sure there are idiots, there will always be folks both young and old who can't act with some modicum of respect but not all of the 20-somethings are in the same group. Thailand is changing, and maybe I'm on the ground floor with only a few weeks of experience so I don't see the big picture. Maybe that's why people are unhappy – it's going away from the normal they know to the new normal. Things always change and so you improvise, adapt and overcome. But let's call a spade a spade and not throw all the young guys under the proverbial bus. I for one love Thailand, and don't see myself shouting in the streets anytime soon.
Real or placebo?
Lots of sellers are peddling fake Kamagra tablets. From side stalls on Sukhumvit around the soi 5 area, to shops on the Cambodian border accessible during border runs. Wonder if it is real or fake? Buy the minimum amount. Put one tablet in your mouth and bite it in half so that you can taste the ingredients. Do you get an awful medicinal taste so that you have to remove, or swallow the tablet very soon? (Have a small bottle of water with you for this test, to rinse the awful taste out of your mouth.) If you get that awful medicinal taste, you probably have the real deal. If there is no awful medicinal taste like if the ingredients could be compressed white flour then you have the placebo.
Bye bye, Pattaya.
I just got back from my 8th (I think) and most likely last weekend in Pattaya. First time fell in love with it, second time loved it, third time liked it a lot and now almost loath it. The water is too dirty to swim in so why bother going there? So much more class in Bangkok where I now live. Don't have those shirtless tattooed sheep-like followers wandering around. There were even very fat gross topless Russians on Cosy Beach. I almost puked.
The beautification of Beach Road.
Your report of road widening and trees being uprooted at the north end of Beach Road in Pattaya is outrageous. What they should be doing is exactly the opposite, which is to close the road entirely and plant more trees. Surely pedestrianising Beach Road is the answer. The road is almost always choked with traffic, hardly what one looks for just a couple of metres away from relaxing on the beach. Now they want to add an extra lane. I can think of no other beach promenade with such traffic and resulting pollution and noise. All traffic should be directed along Second Road which is wide enough for two-way traffic, with access to Beach Road only to make deliveries.
Took Lae Dee, Foodland's signature diner, has opened a new branch on Patpong soi 2. Tasty food at low prices, it's a great place for a late night snack. Don't go thinking all Took Lae Dee outlets are like that awful dive of a branch at soi 5 which is NOT representative of the others!
The source of the foul smell in Tilac has been identified – burning wires – and has been dealt with. The dancers are mighty relieved.
In what appears to be a measure to prevent the age old trick of arriving passengers taking a taxi that has just dropped people off, one-directional rotating gates have been installed on the top floor at departures at Suwannaphum Airport. Signs on the gates warn against climbing them. Could this really stop those of us who go up to departures to avoid the queues at the main taxi rank (and the 50 baht surcharge)?
The Strip is offering an expat discount of 10% off all drinks and booths, on Sunday and Monday nights. They don't have the physical expat cards available yet – they are working on it – but if you mention that you live in Thailand you'll get the discount. With the slow season upon us, it's good to see bars looking at ways of attracting expats and turning them in to regulars.
Spanky's has also come up with an expat card promotion – at the Pattaya branch of Spanky's in Soi Diamond ONLY. The sexpat, oops, I mean expat card works like this: You show the bar something that proves you are an expat and you are given a Spanky's card. When it's time to pay the bill you present the card and all bottled beer with the exception of Corona is just 80 baht, as is all shelf liquor meaning gin, vodka, whisky, rum etc. Basic mixed drinks are also 80 baht for expats with the card. It should be noted that this is a 1 card / 1 person promotion. So if 2 expats come in, each needs their own card to avail themselves of the special price. And if an expat brings a visitor in, the expat gets the expat discount and the visitor pays the standard price. Remember, it's only for the Pattaya branch of Spanky's. If you're not sure how to prove you're a Pattaya expat, wearing sandals, a tank top with the insignia of a Thai brewery and displaying at least 4 tattoos should do it.
Please note that Spanky's in Bangkok will close from the 14th – 16th to give the girls a break. I'm surprised how few bars actually do this. Songkran in the bar areas is a nightmare (unless you actually want to take part in one big water fight).
Word has it that the owners of a large show bar will take over the premises next to the popular Rockhouse in Soi LK Metro where a new gogo bar is planned. Let's hope they fill it with lots of angels and few witches.
The nauseating distaste some Caucasians have for Japanese customers who frequent the same bars they do gets a bit much. As many bar owners will attest, Japanese are the best customers. They are well-behaved, they don't cause a scene when things don't go their way and they pay whatever the going rate is. The dramatic plunge in the value of the Japanese Yen hasn't been lost on some Westerners who suggest we will see fewer Japanese customers in the bars. Don't count on it! Activities in naughty bars in Japan come with such outrageous price tags that despite the Yen's fall, Bangkok still represents a bargain for our Japanese friends. And frankly you should hope that they continue to visit because if they don't, one of the basic principles of Thai economics 101 will kick in – when customer numbers drop, prices go up. Be careful what you wish for!
Contrary to popular opinion there are in fact 4 great lies, not 3. Along with "I love you", "The cheque's in the post" and "I won't come in your mouth", there's the 4th great lie…"I fell!" And that lie is being used by a foreigner with a stake in a certain bar in a thriving soi off Walking Street with a number of chrome pole bars. Why would you say you fell? It's pretty obvious, really – when you got a beating that's particularly embarrassing. Said fellow told some people he fell down the stairs and another he fell off his bike. The truth? He got a beating from 2 ladyboys! What was he doing with 2 ladyboys? Hehe, one can imagine! Just who was it? My lips are sealed!
Back in Bangkok, Five Star in Soi Cowboy is a nice bar for a change of pace, a venue very much in the old style. There's a live band which like the classic hits they pump out – predominately Beatles tracks – feel like they have been around forever. The staff are pleasant and with 80 baht beers it won't break the bank.
If you've got an itch that needs scratching but don't fancy getting drenched trying to get to a gogo bar this long Songkran weekend, why not get the gogo girl to come to you? GogoGirls2You.com is a newly launched service which sends a gogo girl direct to your condo or hotel room. The service is available in both Bangkok and Pattaya.
Songkran sees many bar ladies head home to visit and spend time with family. Some return after a few days, some may be gone a few weeks and some may not return until the next high season. Keep this in mind if you can't find your favourite.
Patpong's Black Pagoda was real good this week with the best lineup of girls I've seen there. Black Pagoda has suffered at times from a light lineup but this week there was a full complement of girls, a mix of house girls and coyotes. One of the great things about Black Pagoda is the architecture of the bar. Girls can sit with you all the time, or dance around you. Set in a unique bridge connecting to buildings over Patpong 2, it's one of those bars you've got to check out at least once.
Two reports came in this week from readers stopped by police east of the Asoke intersection. The first was a businessman who had a large amount of US currency on him. He was taken to the police station and grilled over the cash. He managed to extricate himself after something of a scare. The second case concerns a fellow who was stopped, searched and found to be carrying 4 pills – 2 x 500 mg Aspirin and 2 x Migraleve pills. He said that one cop's face lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the pills! The copper went on to explain that medicine should be carried in the original packaging so cops can determine exactly what it is. Needless to say, the police are still stopping and searching foreigners around and just east of Asoke.
Prices in Thailand have been moving, especially in the farang areas, but you can still have a great night out for not a lot of coin if you know where to go. Take a recent night out as an example. I met up with two friends at the Sukhumvit underground station and we took the train down to Rama 4 Road (20 baht) where we had a lovely dinner in an Italian-owned and run restaurant. My order, salad and a delicious pasta dish came to just 360 baht. We took the underground back to Sukhumvit and headed to the rooftop bar at 4 Points By Sheraton. A couple of cocktails each was 250 baht – that's the cost for 2 well-mixed cocktails made with quality spirits – not the lighter fluid you find in some places. We then took a taxi several kilometres (90 baht = 30 baht each) to a great Thai-style nightclub where I made an exception to my no beer rule. Half-litre glasses of micro-brewed lager run 120 baht each (4 x 120 baht = 480 baht; I suspect my pals had more than me!). Had we ordered a 3 or 5-litre tower the cost per glass would have been less. We left a little before 2 AM and the taxi back to Sukhumvit was less than 100 baht – 30 baht each. We'd met at 6:15 PM, enjoyed a nice dinner, cocktails on a rooftop bar, micro-brewed beers, had enjoyed live music in a fun Thai-style venue and the total cost including taxi fares was around 1,200 baht / $40 each. Where in the world can you find that sort of value for money with that sort of quality? Prices might be higher than they once were, but you can still have a great night out in Bangkok for not a great deal of money.
But it looks like I will have to find a new place to enjoy low cost / high quality cocktails. The low season is here and you'd think that venues would fight for customers. Not Am Bar, the venue I refer to in the previous paragraph. Their 2 cocktails for 250 baht net with free snacks promotion has been canned. Cocktails are now priced at 320 baht ++ – and there's no free snacks. Basically, the price of cocktails has tripled. Swinging by this week, Am Bar was dead. Hopefully they will bring back the old promotion or come up with a new one.
The skytrain and underground have become so busy that if you are getting on the train at one of the main hub stations like Siam, Asoke or Sukhumvit, you ought to think about getting a pre-paid card. The queues to change money and get a ticket can be long, especially at the Sukhumvit underground station where the touch screen ticket machine seems to confuse many. No exaggeration, you can spend longer in the queue waiting to buy a ticket than you do in the actual train.
IPhone users can download Tourist Buddy, a free app from the Tourist Police with various information about Thailand including warnings about common scams. An Android version is on the way. It's nice to see the Tourist Police being proactive.
Bourbon Street's Reuben sandwich is great. If you're in the mood for a Reuben, wander along to Bourbon Street (Ekamai, a 5-minute walk from the Ekamai BTS station). It's the best I've had in Bangkok.
I've never liked shopping in my own country and I dislike shopping in Thailand even more. I wish there were more online shopping options here because you simply don't get service in most shops. In fact shopping can be a genuinely bad experience. This week I went hunting for a camera accessory and I accidentally stumbled upon an easy way to find what you're looking for. Consult Mr. Google, find a photo of the packaging of the item you're looking for and save the photo on your mobile phone. You do not have to go though the whole rigmarole of explaining exactly what it is you are looking for as often saying the name of the product is not enough and you have to explain in much detail before getting a "no have" or "mai mee". Simply show the staff a photo of the item and say, "Do you have this?" It's so much easier!
ANZAC Day is probably Australia and New Zealand's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Aussie and Kiwi forces during the first World War and marks a special day of remembrance of our fallen. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day. There's been a resurgence of popularity at home and in particular Gallipoli, where some of the first joint actions took place. In Thailand the infamous Hellfire Pass north of Kanchanaburi will host its own dawn service with wreath laying at the Kanchanaburi war cemetery later that morning. Checkinn99 will host an ANZAC Dusk Music Salute at 8 PM on Thursday 25th April. The house band Music of the Heart band will belt out over five hours of classic Down Under music. Checkinn will serve Bundy Rum all night until stocks run out at only 99 baht and Stickman jugs will be 199 baht. Aussies and Kiwis love to smash the shit out of each other at most sports and trans-Tasman rivalry can be fierce, but off the paddock we're best mates. Come and join some Aussies and Kiwis in a joint celebration for what promises to be a another great night in a traditional old, and most fitting venue.
Quote of the week comes from Sawadee2000, "I have the worst possible curse for an English teacher in Thailand – I actually care about what I am doing!"
Reader's submission of the week comes from Korski, "Why Learn Thai?"
A raid on an illegal casino in Bangkok doesn't quite go to plan!
Tourism numbers in Chiang Mai are being dominated by visitors from China.
The UK's Telegraph newspaper should stick to writing nice obituaries about Thatcher than analysing Bangkok sexpats.
London is going to throw a Songkran party at Covent Garden with the area transformed into a mini-Thailand.
I don't normally link to posts on forums but this discussion at the Bangkok Post about multiple farang deaths is a concern!
There is concern as Australians turn to Thailand for surrogates.
The never-ending story of hassles hiring jet-skis in Phuket continues.
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.
Question 1: A friend of mine will be teaching English in Bangkok. We got talking this morning and he is saying a few things which I have never heard. My friend says that if you reside in Thailand for 5 years or more you are eligible to become a Thai citizen which entitles you to the same rights as Thai nationals, such as voting and buying land in Thailand in your own name. He said they only give 100 foreigners a year citizenship? Is this true?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: It is possible to obtain Thai citizenship, but it would be a bit more complicated than that. Firstly if you are not married to a Thai citizen, you must first apply for Permanent Residency where you must hold 3 years of unbroken one-year visa extension plus income of no less than 960,000 Baht a year. You must hold Permanent Residence for at least 5 consecutive years before you would be able to qualify for Thai citizenship plus having a sound level of Thai language and earning more than 100,000 baht a month. But if you are married to a Thai citizen and holding a one-year extension for 3 unbroken years with a certain level of income and Thai language skills, then you would be able to directly apply for Thai citizenship. Please note that there is a quota of 100 persons per nationality for the granting of Permanent Residence. If you qualify, please feel free to contact Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors for further advice and information.
Question 2: Is it true that if you marry a Thai national she cannot buy land, and that she must purchase the land in her own name BEFORE she gets married to a foreigner?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: It is possible for the Thai wife of a foreigner to purchase land, however the foreigner must personally be present at the Land Office to sign a document stating that all rights to this land are relinquished and that the money used to purchase the land did not originate with the foreigner. The newly acquired property shall not be considered as part of the marital assets (sin som ros).
Question 3: My wife tells me that in order to get married in Thailand (it will be easier for me, she says), we have to have a copy of our US marriage certificate (which we have – we have been legally married for 12 years) translated into Thai, then get it stamped by the Thai embassy in the States or in Thailand somewhere (we don't know where) and use the stamped copy to show to the Thai marriage officer, so that they give us a Thai marriage certificate. Is this the easiest way?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: If you are married in the United States then your marriage is legally recognised by the Thai government. There is no need to get married again. However, you may wish to register that marriage with the Thai embassy, but it is not necessary.
Question 4: When one sells their condo in Bangkok, what is the specific procedure to get the proceeds from the sale transferred out of Thailand and back to the original country of origin? After the initial deposit is deposited by the buyer, at what point during the transaction is the balance due and given to the seller? In the U.S. there are escrow companies that handle this portion of a sale, however my understanding is that escrow companies do not exist in Thailand. Therefore I would like some assurance that the seller will give me the balance due, before the title to the property is signed over.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: For a foreigner to transfer the proceeds from selling his / her condominium out of Thailand, he must complete the bank's transferring record form after the funds have been transferred to his Thai account. The form will include information on the source of the funds. You must specify that the funds are derived from the liquidation of your condominium. You will also need to provide a copy of the official condominium sale and purchase agreement (originated by the Land Office) to support the transfer. You may want to attach the initial Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (the forms that you used when you originally purchased that specific condo).
The final sum is usually given to the seller by the buyer upon handover of the Condominium Ownership Certificate (with the new entry that reflects the buyer's name as the new owner of the designated unit). You can request it in cash or a cashier's cheque, which is the method most buyers and sellers prefer. If you sell your condo, Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist with the draft of the purchase agreement or review the contract to make sure there are no loopholes.
It's Songkran, it's the holidays and it's time for me to take a break. There won't be a column next week. I'm always thinking ahead about future columns and I have plans to take a closer look at Patpong and cover the area more than I have. Patpong doesn't get the exposure it deserves and the area is overlooked by many while at the same time I think Nana and Cowboy are sometimes over-exposed. Last week's look at the Patpong of old, this week's photo shoot from a Patpong bar and some Patpong stuff I'm working on have shown me that there is more to Patpong than meets the eyes. Anyway, no Stickman weekly next week. See you April 28th.
Your Bangkok commentator,