The list of things to do in the afternoon in Bangkok is almost endless. High tea in one of the 5-star hotels would be nice but it’s hardly something you can’t do elsewhere. You could hit the river and drop by Wat Arun, but I’ve done that so many times that it gets old. If you’re at a loss about what to do on a Bangkok afternoon you could do what I did and spend it in the company of a bunch of working girls.
Another great afternoon Bangkok option is Smooci, and the ideal alternative for those not keen to leave the comfort of their hotel suite. Smooci is a next generation directory which allows you to live search freelancers and agency escorts, with exclusive discounts, and live tracking.
In the weeks leading up to my departure from Bangkok, I scurry around gathering material to use in the column. Part of that is building up a library of photos for the girl of the week section. So I contacted the owner of an escort site, offered to feature a bunch of her girls and she helped me arrange a photo shoot.
The scene was set. A large short-time hotel room was booked which was perfect. There was heaps of space for the girls to make themselves look good and being a short-time hotel there were mirrors everywhere. There was a Jacuzzi and I was looking forward to shooting the girls in it. And best of all, the large room was bright with sunlight streaming in through the windows.
I’d measured the light in the room and fired some test shots. Some girls were doing their makeup, some were getting changed and one was ready to get started. She whipped off her robe, jumped on to the bed, posed and at that very moment the phone rang.
There’s something about receiving phone calls in Thailand from an unknown number. It has been my experience that when a phone number I don’t know shows up on my phone that what follows is never good. So these days on the odd occasion when I am in Thailand and my phone rings, I don’t answer if I don’t recognise the number. If someone calls again on that number, I block them. Problem solved. That’s just one reason why I get a new SIM card and phone number every time I visit Thailand.
So when the phone in the short-time room started ringing (which strikes me as a design flaw; why on earth does a short-time room need a phone line?), the escort service boss and I looked at each other. We both just knew that it wouldn’t be good news.
The room had been booked (yes, the best short-time hotels allow you to make a reservation), and we had been up front about what we would be using the room for – taking glamour photographs of a bunch of pretty ladies. Nothing too naughty and certainly no nudity. Reception was fine and made it sound like what we were doing ranked very low on their list of unusual requests.
But it seems like reception failed to inform the hotel manager. And when he found out what was going on, he instructed reception to inform us that, no, we were not welcome to take photos on the premises. Despite being explicitly told what the room would be used for and despite having already given us the ok, we were told that we had to stop immediately. We tried to negotiate with management and offered for them to come and observe what was going on, even offering to keep the room door open, but they were insistent – there would be no photo shoot in the hotel!
We would learn that the hotel had been used in the past to film porn movies and perhaps there had been some blow back from that, hence they weren’t taking any chances. A first for all concerned, we suffered the indignity of being ejected from a short-time hotel room before we’d had a chance to shoot.
There I was with all of my gear from camera bodies to lenses to flashes to diffusers. And there were several Thai ladies all dollied up, their hair and makeup done, some of whom had battled traffic to cross town and raced to get there on time – and we were all being ejected from the premises.
The logistics of a photo shoot should be simple – specify the time and place and everyone meets there, but in Thailand nothing is ever that easy.
For me, it was the one and only chance to do the photo shoot. I was about to fly out and this was the only day it could be. Most of the girls had appointments, some of which were well before the sun went down. We had a very tight window. No photo shoot would mean no girl of the week section for months. So we got on the phone and after a few calls we found a short-time hotel that was not a dump and, importantly, which was happy for photos to be taken on the premises. It was, however, on the other side of town.
Why were we so concerned about getting permission to shoot photos when there’s hardly a short-time room in the country where risqué shots have not been taken – and that’s without mentioning all of the porn – amateur and otherwise – that’s been shot in short-time hotel rooms over the years. Things aren’t what they were in Thailand and it’s best to be open about what you’re doing and seek express permission. We had made every effort to do that in the first hotel – but management had never been informed and we had been unable to allay their concerns. How would it be in the next property?
In to the cars we jumped – many escorts have their own wheels, some rather flash – and across town we went.
It was the blind leading the blind as we hunted for our destination. One girl would be giving directions while another insisted her local knowledge was superior and we were going the long way. And Google Maps disagreed with all of us. Eventually we would make it there, well in to the afternoon.
Describing the rooms in many of the short time hotels known around Sukhumvit as functional would be accurate, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story. Being functional doesn’t necessarily mean something is fit for the purpose and with some short-time hotels in downtown Bangkok dating back to the Vietnam War, they have had more than their fair share of usage. At times one wonders whether ’70s decor is de rigueur for short time hotels or whether they have simply never been refreshed. It’s not like anyone really cares about the facilities, is it?
I wouldn’t quite describe the venue we ended up as a 5-star short-time hotel, but it sure was nice and if I was in the habit of using such venues, it would be a pretty good choice. Its one and only downside would be location, at least if being somewhere near downtown is important to you. With various room types, some with a Jacuzzi and a pool, rooms offered all sorts of possibilities to have a time to remember.
Just getting in was a mission with professional security guards of the sort you see in said 5-star hotels, traffic gates, cameras everywhere, all in a complex designed so that those entering cannot be seen by anyone outside. If your vehicle had tinted windows, no-one would see you.
Time was tight and while I wouldn’t say the mood had been lost, it wasn’t what it was so the escort service owner sent out for drinks. The girls needed to be relaxed and they wanted to make an afternoon of it and have some fun. Who said the idea of pursuing sanuk was dead!
In a room in a fancy short-time hotel in a far-flung suburb of Bangkok, drinks were flowing, the sound system blaring as a bunch of working girls who don’t know one another shared stories. With the girls in high spirits, what followed was a lot of fun and a great photo shoot.
While I prefer not to hang around with working girls per se – crazy coming from a guy who writes a column like this, eh – when you spend time around these ladies as a regular Joe they see you as a person and not as a customer – and they treat you accordingly. Some revel at the chance to have a real conversation and open up about their lives and lifestyles.
I would learn more about the girls and their lifestyles than when I have sat down with them and interviewed them, almost as if they felt guarded when interviewed.
About half the girls have something else on the go. For many, escorting is not their only gig, something I found surprising given the sort of money they make escorting compared to, well, just about anything. I mean, seriously, if you want to make big money fast, there aren’t many options. For women, it might be selling their body. For men, it might be selling white powder.
Some of the girls have online businesses. One has a salon. And even those who don’t have something else on the go are constantly looking for an opportunity and considering their future. They struck me as genuine entrepreneurs. Often the money doesn’t go where you think – supporting family, building a house up-country – but is used to help set up and fund more mainstream business interests.
Spending a few hours shooting a bunch of working girls mightn’t sound like a typical way to spend a Bangkok afternoon but it was a lot of fun, real afternoon delight.
All of these ladies will be featured in the column over the coming weeks.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week’s photo was taken of the distinctly orange condo building on Sukhumvit soi 22 called Aguston. Surprisingly, it proved too difficult for most. For a change, I have a photo from inside a popular bar….but which bar is it? An easy one for the bar hounds and probably near impossible for those of you who don’t do the bar thing.
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.
Where customers are a sorry second.
The problem with many gogo bars is that they’re run to attract girls, with customers a sorry second. Smoking like chimneys, crap music, squatting on all the best seats – all designed to keep the girls happy. It’s like management has given up on ideas so they’ve resorted to a nonsensical business model inevitably doomed to failure. Billboard, I hope, will prove it can still be done if the effort is made.
Where to find Miss Right.
My 9-year old daughter has been learning to ride horses in Chiang Mai since she was 4 and I have to admit that if I was young, single and looking to meet a sensible, attractive Thai girl then I would be spending a lot of time at the local stables. Some of the single, 20/30-something women who ride horses at these places really are stunning and I am sure none have ever set foot inside a gogo bar. Most young ladies I have met are educated, pleasant and have proper jobs with enough spare cash for what is essentially an expensive hobby. Just a thought for anyone thinking of alternative venues to find a mate.
T-shirt of the week.
I spotted a great t-shirt at the Thermae last night, “There is no other god but me”. She had the goods too. The olde venue is still 90%+ Asian guys and packed. They have no shame, poking and prodding the girls like they are buying a camel. I stopped by for the first time in around 2 years. Nothing has changed.
Granny needs love too.
It’s often said there’s no substitute for experience. Those interested in a fine vintage may like to check out the White Bar in Soi 22, where a lady well into her golden years is in residence. After all, our senior citizens need love too.
Girl Of The Week
Rebecca, escort, PureBangkokEscorts
As expected, bars returned to regular business hours this week meaning they could open until 2:00 AM, while some are pushing it and stay open until almost 3:00 AM. But longer hours hasn’t helped much and trade in the bars wasn’t great this week. Even Soi Cowboy late on Friday night was really not that busy at all. Impressions are that while those naughty boys who stayed home when the bars were closed early have headed back out to their favourite drinking spots, mainstream tourists have not returned and it was very much a naughty boy crowd at Soi Cowboy on Friday with few of the lookyloos which have become a feature of the soi since Hangover 2.
I am reluctant to perpetuate what often prove to be nothing more than rumours, but there is one rumour gaining traction which cannot be ignored any longer – that the Biergarten on Sukhumvit soi 7 might not be much longer for this world. This rumour is nothing new of course, and we’ve been hearing of the Biergarten’s supposed imminent demise for years, in much the way rumours persisted that Nana Plaza would be levelled to make way for a car park for the Landmark Hotel, which of course never happened and almost certainly never will. Given all that is happening in the Sukhumvit soi 5 / soi 7 area where venue after venue is seeing sky-high rent increases which are essentially forcing them to close, fans of the long-running freelancer bar might have to mentally prepare themselves for bad news. How much longer can the iconic Sukhumvit soi 7 venue that is one of an increasingly small number of throwbacks to the Bangkok of old last?
Sometimes it feels like Patpong soi 1 fell off the map, with seemingly little of interest happening on the original Bangkok gogo bar soi. But things are changing and some say that Patpong soi 1 is seeing a renaissance. Kings Castle 1 has a large number of dancers – primarily because it pays a 900 baht day rate for dancers. Most bars pay a day rate in the 500 – 700 baht range. The high day rate offered by King’s Castle 1 has seen girls being hoovered up from other bars in Patpong whose bosses are grumbling. Amongst the recruits at King’s Castle are 10 girls who used to work at The Strip in Patpong soi 2. Paying a higher salary to attract girls to the bar that some say was once a venue by which all others were measured marks a major shift for a group whose bars have been quiet – some would say lacklustre – for many years now. This influx of girls has given King’s Castle 1 a new lease of life. The question on everyone’s lips is with the experiment a great success, will the other bars in the King’s Group offer a similar day rate? Could we be on the cusp of a renaissance in Patpong soi 1?
Patpong 2 has not had a good week with a couple of the big name bars very quiet. And it’s not just the bars on Patpong soi 2 that are dead, Dragon’s Head is virtually empty every night while G’s – the German restaurant that used to have that spot – goes from strength to strength one soi over.
Following the closure of The Office Bar in Sukhumvit soi 33, the sporting memorabilia that was displayed on the walls is offered for sale. Most of the collectibles have an Australian theme and come from a range of sports including rugby union, cricket, Aussies rules, bogan ball, boxing, horse racing and golf. All of the items are described as beautifully framed and offered at reasonable prices. If interested, drop Bob an email to: [email protected]
2016 has been a really bad year for bar bosses and we have lost some great guys. First was Dollhouse Darel who fell to his death from his condo building. Next was Steve, a popular Englishman and long-time Pattaya expat who managed Secrets for a while. Most recently was American Scott from the small Soi Nana bar, The Tavern. I am very sad to report that my old friend Rock Hard Larry, AKA Los Angeles Larry, and known to some as Crazy Larry, was killed whilst riding his Ducati. Larry ran Rock Hard in the ill-fated Clinton Plaza but was best known for making Rock Hard A Gogo the best bar of its type in Phuket for many years and, some would say, one of the best chrome pole bars in all of Thailand at that time. Larry left the industry some years ago but you’d often bump in to him around the traps, particularly in Patpong where he loved to hang out at Club Electric Blue. Larry was a real fun-loving guy who enjoyed the bars, the girls but more than anything, he loved driving his collection of high performance bikes and cars in the way that the designers envisaged they should be driven. Larry took a genuine interest in people and for him, business was as much about the fun and the people he met as it was about making money. Larry will be greatly missed.
From the crazy rumour file comes another rumour doing the rounds that I would usually dismiss instantly….until I heard the name of the bar and then it becomes a case of the extremely unlikely becoming possible. So the rumour goes, this controversial chrome pole bar that is extremely popular and is known for all sorts of questionable practices is said to operate a bus between the bar and one of the provinces in the lower north. So the rumour goes, on Friday after school a bunch of high school students said to be of barely legal age get on the bus and are transported down to the capital where they work Friday and Saturday nights in this bar which is known for its general craziness. For the short time they are in Bangkok, the girls are said to be housed on the premises. On Sunday morning they are bused back up to their province and they return to school the next day. In all likelihood this rumour is pure fiction – and I sure as hell hope it is a BS rumour – but whenever you hear anything about this bar you just cannot dismiss it totally.
Which downtown sports bar has a sign outside advertising a 199 baht lunch special with the sign written in a fancy font where the digit one look like a four and makes you think it’s a 499 baht lunch special – which is hardly a special price at all!
Bar4, the popular beer bar on Soi Nana a little further down from the plaza and on the opposite side, will celebrate 6 glorious years of trade this Tuesday with an anniversary party. There will be drinks specials and a big fat juicy pig will be sacrificed. All are welcome!
The word is that the space up the top of Sukhumvit soi 11 that was once home to Q Bar is to become a supermarket. I hope they do better in that location than those who took over Q Bar, spending a reputed 95 million baht in acquiring it in what would seem to have been a very bad investment indeed.
Fans of Christopher G. Moore’s novels should note that while the latest Calvino novel is now available for order at Amazon.com, it is NOT available in paperback form at Asia Books, Kinokuniya or any other bookstores in Thailand – so you will have to get your copy by ordering online.
The most popular food court in Bangkok is probably at Terminal 21. It is so popular that one website even put together a Terminal 21 food court guide. As it has gained in popularity, more tables have been added with small tables jammed in next to each other in the prime spot next to the windows. There are more seats so more people can be accommodated – which can only be a good thing – but they’re so small that they’re much less comfortable which makes you more likely to split once you’ve finished eating – which I guess is what their goal was in the first place to increase seating and increase turn over.
In last week’s column opener I suggested that to meet Miss Right in Thailand you should forget the bars and you should also consider ignoring the conventional wisdom of getting online and instead get out, live life and you will be falling over attractive, available women. Most Thai women are approachable and I have NEVER known a Thai woman to be rude to a guy approaching them so long as he was polite about it and didn’t look creepy. Really, about the worst that can happen is that they won’t give you their phone number. Thai women don’t bite!
I used to enjoy legitimate / therapeutic massage in Thailand but I eventually gave up on it after masseuses seemed more interested in offering extras than actually doing their job. But going for a massage in New Zealand? Oh my God, the prices are outrageous – which is hardly a surprise given the cost of labour. Still, plenty must go for it because there are Thai massage outlets opening up all over town. A dozen hours of massage in Auckland costs about the same as a return airfare to Bangkok.
Thais can be very matter of fact, something which can be mistaken for rudeness if you’re not used to how they can be at times. A friend told me about the time he visited a pal of his in hospital. He’d been to visit his pal a few days earlier and returned for another visit. In the hospital ward, he saw an empty space where his friend’s bed had been and when he asked the nurse where his friend was, she simply replied, “He dead” and carried on with her duties!
It used to be that Thailand tourism was dominated by the white man, that Thai teenagers keenly followed Western culture and that your average Thai woman wanted to look like a Western woman. Oh boy, has that all changed. Today, far and away the largest group of visitors to Thailand are the Chinese with the number of Asian tourist numbers greatly outnumbering Westerners. Many young Thais enjoy Western food but Japanese food would have to be more popular and when it comes to foreign culture, many Thai teens worship Korean pop groups. And your average Thai changing their looks craves the classic Korean look. Adverts for one clinic plastered on the underground state that they can recreate the look of a Korean nose. We farangs haven’t been flavour of the month for, oh, quite a while now!
Frustration is setting in amongst those who game the visa system as they struggle to get a clear understanding of the algorithm in the immigration computer system which alerts the officer that a visitor has spent too much time in the country and instructs them to pull that person aside and question them before allowing them to enter, or otherwise. Visa rules have been reasonably clearly understood until now but no-one knows whether the new algorithm relates to the number of visa waiver entries someone has had already. Or is it the total amount of time spent they have spent in the country? Or is it a combination of both? And what is the period in which the algorithm applies – and does it ever reset? Those gaming the system hate not knowing how it works which makes it difficult for them to continue to game the system. It seems that loopholes are (slowly) being closed and the enforcement of existing laws that used to be overlooked are now being applied. You wouldn’t say it’s difficult to stay long-term in Thailand if you’re not working legally and not married to a Thai, but then neither is it as easy as it once was.
For as long as I can remember, Bourbon Street has been the hottest ticket in town on Thanksgiving Day. While Doug and his team are guaranteed to put on a fantastic spread, it’s not really what you’d call a relaxing dining experience. With demand high, it’s first in, first served – and that can make it something of a frenzy. Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a similar spread. Details for this year’s Thanksgiving buffet at Bourbon Street are below. I have also included the details again for the Thanksgiving dinner deal at Margarita Storm which should be a much more relaxed affair.
Quote of the week comes from a Angeles City expat, “The Filipina bargirls lie just as much as the Thai bargirls but they have good manners when fxxxing you over.”
The new Pattaya – Hua Hin ferry service is to start on New Year’s Day.
The Post looks at the mafia-controlled businesses on the paradise island of Samet.
The Aussie press reports on an Aussie criminal who fled Thailand for Cambodia.
A Kiwi missing in Bali has reportedly been found playing bongos in Thailand.
Cuba Dave gets 5 years in jail Costa Rica after being found guilty of promoting sex tourism.
Pattaya’s finest put the cuffs on a crazed European behaving manic on Soi Buakhao.
A Bangkok-based gang of Thai pickpockets who targeted foreigners is arrested.
Question 1: How does the 30-year lease work for property purchases? What steps do I need to take to get a 30-year lease correctly set up? I will marry my Thai girlfriend soon and buy a house for 4.3 million baht, paying for the house outright and I want to make sure that I can live there should things not work out. I don’t foresee a problem but it doesn’t hurt to be pragmatic, right? Can you please give me a brief list of the steps that must be taken to ensure a 30-year lease is valid. I know all the steps required to buy the property but the 30-year lease part I don’t quite get.
Sunbelt Legal responds: There are two options for the foreigner who wishes long-term use of the land; the 30-year lease and a usufruct. The 30-year lease can be renewed but there is no document that will enforce a renewal agreement, and any renewal would be at the discretion of the landowner. A usufruct would give you the right of use of a property for your lifetime.
The lease or usufruct is added as a lien on the land title at the Land Office and the owner cannot sell or lease the property while the agreement remains in place. This arrangement does not give you ownership rights but would enable you to enjoy the use of the property.
Some foreigners have had difficulties when trying to separate the ownership of the land and house without a lien such as a lease or usufruct as it appears to the Land Office that you are trying to minimize taxes and transfer fees. Also, it is seen as the Thai person trying to help the foreigner indirectly own the property. Even if you manage to separate the house and the land, there is no real ownership certificate for the house, unlike a plot of land where there is a Title Deed Certificate to confirm the ownership of each plot / parcel. It is for this reason that Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors generally recommends that you go with a usufruct or a 30-year lease registered on the title of the land.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has extensive experience in drafting both leases and usufructs and would be happy to guide you in choosing the one that works best for you.
Thanks for all of the kind emails and questions about how things are in Kiwiland following the 7.8 Richter earthquake in the South Island this past Monday. The damage is nasty, not so much in terms of personal property bur rather it is infrastructure that has been hit hard with a lengthy section of the main north / south road that runs the length of the country munted (Kiwi slang that means it’s fxxxed!) The damaged area includes a beautiful stretch of road which hugs the east coast near the top of the South Island – driving that road was one of the highlights of my South Island trip last year. Fortunately, I personally have not been affected and Auckland is a very long way away from the areas that were hit.
Your Bangkok commentator,