The bar industry is more challenging than ever but one bar operator is striving not just to get customers but to offer an enticing product so that customers feel it's worth going out of their way for. The Strip in Patpong soi 2 is making up for the debacle of recent months as it winds back the clock to capture the fun atmosphere the bar was once known for. The Strip has introduced a new version of the show that made the bar famous. Snake shows are back!
Over the years a number of Bangkok bars have featured shows that go beyond merely sexy. Some bars have become known for shows that are more exotic than erotic.
In Nana Plaza, G Spot's legendary shower shows were tasteful, sexy and sensual. For me, they are still the best shows I've seen because they actually made you want to barfine the ladies.
At the other end of the scale, the frog and fish shows in Hollywood Carousel were anything but sexy.
Many of the bars doing shows these days are stale. Think of the famous show bars and Angelwitch and Long Gun come to mind. I swear the shows performed in Long Gun go back to the '90s – maybe that's one reason the bar gets so few customers these days?
In late 2008, and early 2009, a sexy snake show was performed at the newest bar in Patpong soi 2, The Strip. In the bar that was previously known as Target, a Burmese python was brought in and one lady would perform a sexy routine with the snake draped around her. Now punters had a reason to visit the, until then, unknown Patpong bar – it was offering something not found in any other venue in any bar area.
The current management wanted to repeat the snake experience but the original snake girl was long gone. The first task at hand was to find a girl willing to do a dance with a snake. Amazingly, there was no shortage of takers.
A spread is put on for the girls before the snake arrives. It's a big night and the bar is keen to get the girls sweet and ensure everyone is happy and in a good mood.
The snake shows of old in The Strip featured a sexy girl in a bikini. The new management wanted to do something special. Costumes were sought for the girls. The whole idea was not to replicate the snake shows of old, but to create something new and make a statement to punters and the industry that, yes, some bars are willing to invest money and daring to be different.
At every part of the process The Strip sought something different, something to make them stand out from the crowd, something that would make it genuinely worth punters' while to go out of their way to visit the bar. Remember, we're talking Patpong here, far and away the quietest of the three major Bangkok bar areas. So when they discovered that an albino python was available, they made a booking. The striking looking beast is no ordinary snake!
This variety, the Burmese python, is common in Thailand, and albino snakes are hardly unique and not nearly as rare as say albino humans.
The unnamed snake – I like the name Randy – is 6 years old and weights around 10 kg. That makes it a fully grown adult. It can expect to live to around 20 or so.
But the snake was nervous at the thought of performing in front of a bunch of foreigners so its handlers brought its younger pal along to keep it company.
The girls of The Strip love the snake, almost like he is a favourite uncle. They all want to pat it and be around it.
When they go outside to pose for a photo with the beast around their neck it creates an instant scene with traffic coming to a stop on Patpong soi 2. Everyone stops at the sight of a giant albino snake draped around a tiny, pretty Thai lady. Even taxi drivers – many of whom are natives of rural Isaan, an area known for a variety of wild reptiles – stop to admire and snap a selfie of the exotic beast.
No cues are taken from the snake shows of old that were full of sexual innuendo with gesticulating, hip-thrusting and general sexual carry on.
Sex has been eschewed and the snake show at The Strip today is much classier, more in a cabaret style.
The little snake was as cute as could be and in many ways reminded me of a puppy, putting its nose in to everything, is very curious about everything going on around it and appeared to be, for want of a better word, playful!
Three snake handlers are on hand at all times to ensure that the snakes are looked after and the girls – and the punters – are safe. The snake handler is fully licensed and the snakes taken very good care of.
In fact the snake earns more than the girls. It costs The Strip A LOT of money to get the snake in for just a few hours. Figure a coyote girl's barfine, long-time fee and then some…
Off the top of my head, I guess there are around 150 or so gogo bars in Thailand these days (80 odd in Pattaya, perhaps 50 in Bangkok and another 20 or so around the country). With the profile of customers changing and many of the mainstream visitors who end up in the bars looking more for entertainment and a spectacle than a hot little number to barfine and take back to their hotel room, bars which do something different to set themselves apart from the crowd will give themselves a great chance to succeed. The new management at The Strip doesn't want to be just another Thailand gogo bar; they want to stand out from the competition, and they know the best way to do that is to do stuff no other bars are doing and which cannot be easily replicated.
The snake show – tentatively called Snake Dancer – will take place each Friday. The first show takes place at 10 PM with another performance at 11:00 and the final show of the night at midnight.
The management team is looking at tweaking the choreography and lengthening the show. They're also looking at an Egyptian theme, a Chinese concubine, rock & roll and other themes – figure the same snake and ladies but different costumes and show. Basically, they don't want returning customers to say the same thing we have been saying about Long Gun and Angelwitch for years – that it's the same show at the same time and we're bored of it! At the same time, they don't want to promise too much right now and are concentrating on what they can deliver. Improvements will follow.
But single guys just want hot girls, cold beer and good music, right? What have snakes got to do with it? The industry is changing and every year mainstream visitors make up a bigger percentage of customers in the so-called naughty bars – and critically, some of these mainstream customers spend a lot. As such, the snake shows are, in my humble opinion, a step in the right direction in terms of a bar's business model. The Strip has snakes AND cold beer and plenty of hot girls.
Of course, if there is no snake show there's always something going on at The Strip and when the snake is not present you'll have to make do with the Nina & Noi Show – which like the snake show of old is absolutely full of sexual innuendo!
The snakes are as popular with the girls as they are with the punters which makes the snake show at The Strip a hit. Do drop by to The Strip in Patpong soi 2 and check the snake show out for yourself. A bar which strives to be different by offering customers a unique experience is a bar that is worth going out of your way for.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the small alley between the original Villa Market on Sukhumvit, between sois 33 and 33/1 and the Subway branch opposite it.
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 – Eradication of the sickness.
Many Stickman readers have pointed out the demise of the industry and all things sanuk in Thailand. Among the contributing factors mentioned are changing demographics, new technology, alternative employment opportunities, etc. Readers have differing opinions regarding the tipping point for when we knew the party was over. Regardless of our respective jumping off points, it is worth noting that there is one affliction among Westerners that seems to have waned over the years and is a good indication of when the atmosphere changed. The contributing factors mentioned above have provided an immunization effect on this illness which clearly demarcates just when fantasy land lost its lustre. Consider “the sickness” which Christopher G. Moore mentions in his novels. In summary, “the sickness” is when a man has an obsession with Thailand and / or a Thai bargirl to the extent he has no control over the urge to repeatedly travel to Thailand or to see her, even when it makes no logical sense. It's all he thinks about. When not in Thailand he obsesses and plans his next trip. Many visitors in the past would often start planning their return at the airport when boarding their flight back to Farangland. Years ago, and well before “the sickness” was even coined, Stick wrote about this affliction on many occasions. There was a man so obsessed with Thailand and Thai girls that he would travel from his job in Los Angeles to Bangkok just for a long weekend! Another considered selling his passport for extra money to stay in Thailand. There was even one bloke who farmed in Isaan just to stay in the country. The stories used to go on ad infinitum and while many of us may have scoffed at these men, we understood their predicament very well. Many of us had a friend who caught “the sickness” or perhaps we were even infected ourselves at one time. Fast forward to 2016 and how many friends or acquaintances do we know who now suffer from “the sickness”? It is a rare occurrence, if ever, in the last several years that we hear about this affliction. The immunization has been remarkably effective and “the sickness” has been sadly eradicated along with the memory of sanuk. But what a great memory!
What's that smell?
You mentioned the smell of Patpong in your weekly. There is another repugnant smell that lately has been catching my attention in Bangkok which I smell in many places. When walking in to many establishments, notably massage and soapies, but it can be anywhere, even in nice places. I smelled it in a JW Marriott room. I smell it on towels, in bathrooms, on bed linen and I've even noticed it on lovelies' breath. It can often be encountered on clean dishes, cups and drinking glasses. Also, it is in the watered down Listerine one is obliged to imbibe. Klongs have it and certainly the odiferous sewers can assail one's senses with it, although that is usually mixed with other pungent fragrances as well. I refuse to drink Bangkok tap water because there is that same damn smell. I guess it must just be the local specific mildew microbe that is so prevalent here. Last week even the little lady de joir's private (commercially available, however) freshly washed bits emanated of that Bangkok smell, and we're not talking jasmine and incense here!
What are you paying for?
I think many men lie to themselves about the nature of their relationship with their Thai lady. A woman I have known for awhile who is clever in a good way, and a great companion, made me this offer knowing that I would prefer a regular girlfriend to a paid consort. Knowing how much I pay for a hotel room, she offered to let me live with her and receive the full girlfriend treatment if I paid her the same rent as I was paying the hotel. She also said that if I preferred, I could stay with her for free and pay for the girlfriend treatment, but that would be prostitution. The amount was exactly the same. I believe that some men convince themselves that they aren't paying for services rendered by just paying for everything else.
I have been to Thermae an amazing 4 times in 15 years. 2003/4 – it disgusted me, both girls and clients. I went 6 months ago as a friend needed a wingman. We went last night and we were amazed! 100+ girls and 30-50 men. Of the girls, I would rate 15 as outstanding, 15 more as very good, and 40 or more as good as anything at Nana Plaza. There was one girl we chatted up from Chiang Rai, so beautiful I was very tempted – and I get regular sex and do not buy hookers, yet I was very tempted. Her English was outstanding. I felt like asking "What the F are you doing working here?" She never goes with farang, only Asian. We were there from 11:30 PM – 2 AM. 100 baht beers, lots to watch and they played Eagles greatest hits and then repeated it, so 1.4 hours of decent music at decent volume, and no smoking inside. I would go there just to drink and observe. I wonder how many nights I could do it before I break down?
Pattaya not same same.
I am in Pattaya now and I have to say that this place feels different from just last year. I walked by many beer bars and either they are almost empty, closed, or have nothing that could possibly interest most guys.
Thailand: where girls-who-are-girls like girls-who-are-boys better than boys-who-are-boys. Where everyone (especially boys-who-are-girls) pretends to like foreigners, but only to get money to give to their landlord, girlfriend, boyfriend, or family. The foreigners don't care – anything is better than being back home, where women expect men to be men who treat women like women, except when they want to be treated like men. Clear?
Recreating a lost world.
Thanks for the update this week on the development in Washington Square. Given the reputation the Square had to the end for Korean and Vietnam war veterans and CIA spooks, recreating a 'Lost World' environment is rather appropriate. It is a radical idea for farang minds like mine but ghosts, monsters and dragons are Asian symbols that resonate with billions of people. Dinosaurs will capture imaginations of young and old! I look forward to visiting.
Could Patpong, Bangkok's oldest, most infamous and most historic foreigner bar area, be under threat?
2 more bar operators in the area plus one old Asia hand can be added to the list of those confirming leases in the Patpong area are only being extended for a year, suggesting the land owners are, at the very least, considering things. Could the end of Bangkok's oldest and most infamous bar area be a possibility? Nothing concrete has been leaked – the Patpong group runs a tight ship so there's no surprise there. The land on which Patpong sits is prime real estate, the value of which I can only speculate. A billion US dollars? More, perhaps? There's a decent argument that Patpong is a throwback to the Bangkok of old and it could be developed in ways which produce a much greater return. The area is full of history with some venues operating continuously for 50 years. If the end really could be coming, a lot of memories will go with it. Who knows what's going on, but leases limited to 12 months sure has chins wagging.
All of this makes the mooted Patpong Historical Museum which is at concept stage seem rather apt. It's only in the very early stages of planning at present with one bar owner who is passionate about the Patpong area in talks with various people.
The dancer from The Strip who suffered serious wounds after being stabbed in the bar multiple times by another dancer has made a great recovery and is back dancing, sporting a number of grisly scars. The longest scar runs the length of her left thigh and has been covered with a large, multi-coloured tattoo, with multiple scars over her legs and abdomen.
Rumours persist that Crazy House on Sukhumvit soi 23 will take over the rest of the building between it and the entrance to Soi Cowboy. The latest rumour is that this will happen before the end of the year. This rumour has been doing the rounds for a couple of years. The latest version has it that the ground floor will be another gogo bar (I would have thought it would be best simply to expand Crazy House given how busy it is) and upstairs is to be a pool bar.
Billboard, on Nana Plaza's top floor, is doing well. With more girls than it has had since its inception, the Jacuzzi is again full of small-bodied, large-breasted dancers which for many is the main draw. At the other end of the bar is the carousel on which the girls gyrate next to a pole as the carousel spins around. Billboard's DJ revels in playing with the carousel's speed control, increasing speed so that it rotates at a speed that causes some girls to get dizzy. A Tequila or two too many and customers sitting right next to carousel be in danger of being vomited on. Billboard expects another 25 girls to start early April so if you haven't visited recently, do drop by.
On the ground floor of Nana Plaza, it's the complete opposite in Bangkok Bunnies which is losing girls. Bunnies was acquired by the owner of Bacarra but don't take that to mean it's doing well. There has been a mass exodus of staff and customers are turning their back on the bar. It can't help that lady drinks now run 200 baht. I'd expect things will improve in Bunnies before long, but for the time being reports aren't encouraging.
200 baht for a lady drink? What's happening? Part of the appeal of Bangkok was that things were supposed to be cheap! You can get a decent Thai meal in Bangkok for 200 baht or take a 25 km taxi ride – so why oh why would you pay that for a girl who very well might sneer at you and walk away before you've had a chance to learn her name?!
Angelwitch in Pattaya turns 10 years old and there will be a party this coming Wednesday, March 30th. To celebrate, there will be giveaways – free shots, food and fun. A host of new shows will be performed for the first time too. 10 years of the best shows in Pattaya and Angelwitch is still going strong.
Dollhouse in Pattaya is extending its draft beer promotion until the end of April. Draft will set you back just 45 baht, all night, every night until the end of next month.
Faline at Pure Bangkok Escorts is getting great reviews. If you're looking for a fun escort who speaks good English and is very much in the style your average white guy in Thailand likes – dark skin and busty – do check Faline out.
Speaking of popular girls, Taitle is back at Club Electric Blue and is now dancing as #55. Taitle was girl of the week some 3 years ago and is one of the best dancers you will see on a Bangkok gogo bar stage. She disappeared from Club Electric Blue long before I left Bangkok but has returned.
Some time in the past few months the frontage of Pussy Collection bar on the main Patpong soi was removed, having long since received its closure orders. The classic frontage was one of the best designed bar facia, featuring a 3D image of a lady's torso, with the breasts and other parts protruding out. Maybe those talking about creating the Patpong Historical Museum have procured it? It would make a great exhibit.
Speaking of Patpong, the army was out checking the ID of staff in some bars in Patpong bars late this week – and curiously, were looking for ladies aged under 20. Yes, 20, not 18. 20 could be a shock to Patpong bar owners who are already nervous following the busts which effectively killed Pussy Collection and more recently Pink Panther which was busted last month after underage girls were found. I imagine there are quite a number of bar staff aged under 20…
Contrary to what I thought, Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy has not removed the notices in the bar stating that you will be fined 20,000 baht if caught taking photos or video in the bar. I don't know what is dumber, the notices or the idea of trying to fine a customer 20,000 baht.
What's up with the strange domes that have gone up near the start of Sukhumvit soi 14 which have a temporary look about them. Next to them is an open air bar which serves fusion food such as penne tom yum, which I have heard is good.
Will Chi in Sukhumvit soi 13 manage to recapture the magic of the venue it replicates, Bed Supper Club? What set the original Bed Supper Club apart from other late-night venues was that it was the one place where genuine Thai hi-so types and even Thai superstars (actors, singers) rubbed shoulders with low-market hookers. A friend and his Mrs. visited Chi this past Saturday night and reported that it was dead. They were there from 8:00 PM until after 10:00 PM and had what they described as a lovely meal in a venue all to themselves. This was Saturday night – one night you'd expect the crowds. Time will tell if Chi takes off, I guess.
Some people visiting Bangkok tell me that they can't see the point in checking out Khao San Road, the most common comment being that it's much the same as home. I wouldn't call Khao San Road special, nor would I say that is it a must visit, but it is worth a visit one night to see what all the fuss is about. Don't dismiss it completely.
Do the signs outside McDonald's branches in Thailand still have the name of the chain in Thai script? Or is it all in English now? I was looking through some photos of my first trip to Thailand and noted the Thai script – but I don't recall it being like that more recently. I note the likes of Burger King, Subway and Starbucks branches in Thailand only use signs in English.
From a friend in Phnom Penh comes word that traffic in the city is terrible these days. The days of going for an exploratory motorbike ride in the districts surrounding the Cambodian capital is not the fun it once was with the number of vehicles on the roads increasing every year and traffic much worse than it was just a few years ago.
A friend and his Thai Mrs. flying in to Don Meuang Airport on an international flight were hassled by Customs to pay duty on second-hand clothes. The amount requested started at 5 figures and eventually came down to 1,500 baht. The official Customs website specifically states that clothes more than 6 months old for personal use are not subject to duty. A standoff took place and it was not until a lawyer was contacted and the phone passed to a senior Customs officer that they (very quickly) backed down. The ordeal was written about and posted to Facebook, drawing comments from others that they had experienced the very same thing. It seems that it is Thais who are targeted but that does not mean they would not try it on with foreigners.
I've heard many reasons why expats leave Thailand but I heard a new one this week. A retired American had a fantastic condo in downtown Bangkok and loved the Bangkok lifestyle. The bane of his life was the long flight back to the States to see grand-children. The flights became harder for his body to deal with and recently it took up to two weeks for him to feel that he was functioning at 100% again. He tired of the lingering fatigue from transcontinental flights and didn't want to take them any more. So it came down to a simple choice, where to live in Bangkok or New York. And New York won.
It used to be that if you hunted around you could find some bargains on a condo purchase in Bangkok. I heard of one guy who paid less than 4 million for a unit downtown that was over 100 square metres and had never been occupied since the building had been completed. It used to be that there weren't that many agents selling real estate – as opposed to finding rentals. For a long time the second-hand / resale market for condos in Bangkok struck me as Mickey Mouse. Things have changed and it's a little more professional now and there's much more information out there. Today, condo owners, condo building office staff and most condo owners know the details of recent sales in their building. A good agent can show you the details of recent sales and show that there is a correlation between the size of the unit and the price per square metre i.e. the last 5 sales in the building may have been for between 90,000 and 100,000 per square metre so if you were looking at unit in that building of, say, 70 square metres, you could expect to pay in the region of 6.3 million and 7 million baht. There are probably still some bargains out there but you might have to hunt harder than previously.
Quote of the week is a sarcastic post from a Thailand forum, "It's difficult to understand how the west has managed not to collapse when I think about the high quality individuals who have left for Thailand."
A foodie videographer passionate about Thai food is profiled in The Australian newspaper.
Deaths caused by reckless driving in Thailand again raise issue of ‘double standards'.
More people are saying that the Thailand expat experience is not all it's cracked out to be.
The Thai public is fed up with what it sees as special treatment for the rich.
Over 33 million international visitors are expected to visit Thailand this year.
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: I see restrictions on the number of cigarettes a tourist can bring into Thailand. How does that translate in to limits on pipe tobacco, which is of poor choice there? I will be in Thailand for 5 months. Would I be allowed to have the same amount of pipe tobacco mailed to me one or more times during my stay?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The duty free allowance is applied to personal effects valued up to 10,000 baht if the items are intended for your own personal or professional uses; the quantity are reasonable; and the items are not subject to prohibition or restriction.
However, there are limits on the amount of cigarettes, cigars and smoking tobacco which you may include in your duty free personal exemption. The limit is 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco or equal weight of cigars. While you may have pipe tobacco mailed to you, it will be subject to Customs duty on arrival.
Question 2: I realise that this may be a hard question for you to answer given that you're a Thailand legal firm and the scope of this questions extends beyond Thailand's borders. If I get married in Thailand, legally and with the marriage registered at a district office, and we get a prenuptial agreement drawn up and agreed on (we each have our own considerable assets), how does the prenuptial agreement work if one of us chooses to divorce in another country i.e. my country, Australia. Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated!
Sunbelt Legal responds: Thailand has strict laws that govern the enforcement of prenuptial agreements. Couples who plan on signing a prenuptial agreement in Thailand should be cautious. A foreign court may apply Thailand law to a prenuptial agreement made in Thailand. Many countries, including some jurisdictions of the United States and Asia, will apply the laws of the country in which the couple signed their prenuptial agreement. This can invalidate a couple's prenuptial agreement in the event that the couple did not comply with the appropriate country's laws. For many couples this comes as quite a shock. Therefore, couples who sign a prenuptial agreement in Thailand should comply with Thailand's procedural and substantive laws.
It is possible to get divorced in Australia if you marry in Thailand and register that at the Thai embassy there.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has an experienced legal team that can guide you through the required rules and regulations. We can arrange a consultation to go over the whole process in more detail and complete the drafting of the agreement as required.
Question 3: I have just learned that my Thai girlfriend is pregnant. She lives in Bangkok. I'm a Danish national living in Kuala Lumpur. As of now I travel often to Bangkok on standard tourist visas, but I guess I will need to spend longer periods of time in the near future when the child is born. What visa options do I have once I become the father of a Thai child and what are the requirements?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Dependency would form the basis for your extension of stay application here. If you have a Thai child you may stay in Thailand on a Non Immigrant Type “O” Visa based on supporting a minor child in Thailand. There are certain regulations governing this stay. You would initially apply for an “O” visa at a Thai embassy or consulate abroad which is valid for 90 days and then extend it in country thereafter.
It is important to note that if you are not married at the time of the birth then you will need to prove paternity.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has an in-house visa team that can assist with the review of paperwork as well as the visa extension at the Thai Immigration Department.
Publishing this column is obviously part of my Sunday routine. Each week, the column is basically done by Friday night. That way I can enjoy the weekend without having to worry about the column and don't have to gather news and gossip etc. I usually take Saturday off completely and then do a final edit of the column on Sunday with fresh eyes, having not looked at it since Friday. I also write the closing piece – the paragraph you're reading now – shortly before I publish. This approach works 99% of the time. Today, however, is not part of the 99%. Today is that 1%. I was out for much of today with good friends, enjoying good food, fine wine and great company. As I sit here writing my closing comments, I have to acknowledge that this week I did not make a final edit of the column. What that means is that there are probably more errors than usual – typos, grammatical mistakes and probably some silly mistakes that I would have (hopefully) picked up had I given it a final once over. It's not that I'm drunk – I'm not – but I am tiddly, and there is no way I could edit the column the way I feel right now. If I tried I'd probably make it worse! With this in mind, I do hope today's edition reads ok, doesn't feel too much like an early draft and there aren't too many errors. If this week's is a bit of a mess, you have my apologies.