Stickman's Weekly Column March 26th, 2017

Bangkok’s Best Gogo Bar?

 

What is the best gogo bar in Bangkok?  I can’t definitively answer that question but I can comment on each of the eleven gogo bars I stopped by recently.  We all have different ideas about what makes a great bar, and here are my impressions of the bars I stopped by this trip, ranked from worst to best.

 

11.  Crazy House, Sukhumvit soi 23

Survey Bangkok bar hounds about their favourite Bangkok gogo bar and I’d be willing to bet that Crazy House would be near the top of the list.  Regular bargoers love the place.  For others – like me – Crazy House is a bit too much.

Crazy House has the reputation for being the raunchiest gogo bar in Bangkok.  Not only do the girls dance in the buff, many don’t clothe up between dance sets.  They lounge around, chat amongst themselves or linger with customers without covering up.  It should be no surprise that many punters like this but you don’t have to be an expert on body language to see that the girls are anything but comfortable being groped and poked by strangers in full view of everyone in the bar.

Throw in a layout that probably breaks every rule of feng shui, music that at times is manic, flashing lights that could cause those so inclined to go in to a seizure to say nothing of the nastiest and most aggressive security staff in the industry and Crazy House is hardly a fun place.  And fun is what I am looking for in a bar.

I regret stepping inside Crazy House.  It’s a bar for the hardcore.  It’s absolutely not for me.

 

10.  Suzy Wong, Soi Cowboy

I never understood why Suzy Wong was so popular for so long.  It never had the prettiest dancers – not even close.  Probably the raunchy shows had something to do with it but surely those get boring?  I guess its enduring popularity suggests that I am wrong about that.

Suzy Wong was acquired by the owners of Bacarra but if you hadn’t heard you wouldn’t know.  On the surface little has changed – and that is where the problems begin.

Like so many gogo bars in Bangkok these days, Suzy Wong lacks imagination.  That’s all very good and well if the formula is successful but I am not convinced that it is.  Suzy Wong girls still perform the fluorescent paint show a couple of times a night which always gets the thumbs up, but for me that’s where the positives end.

It would be hard to find a more disinterested bunch of dancers in any gogo bar than the current crew at Suzy Wong.  Many don’t dance and some don’t even shuffle!  Watching bored-looking mothers standing around on stage conversing with their friends is no fun.  It doesn’t matter that they’re naked – any notion of sexiness or sex appeal is lost due to the feeling of compete and utter boredom they fill the bar with. Never have I seen dancers so lacking in enthusiasm and so disinterested in customers – and that is about as damning a thing as you can say about a gogo bar.

For this reason alone, it is very hard to recommend visiting Suzy Wong.

 

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One of the bunnies from Bangkok Bunnies.

 

9.  Bangkok Bunnies, Nana Plaza

The largest gogo bar in Nana Plaza takes up most of the left-hand side of the ground floor.  The bar is very nicely done out but it suffers from the problem that critics pointed out from the outset – it’s just too big.

The music played in Bunnies is decent, the décor is nice, the girls are pleasant and the sound system good – but there is no getting away from the fact that the bar is so big that there is no atmosphere.  Bunnies is the classic example of where bigger does not mean better.  It’s kind of like a single guy living in a 500-square metre downtown apartment – it just does not make sense.

There’s nothing wrong with a super-sized bar *if* you have enough girls to give it an atmosphere. Bunnies has more dancers than most bars – but it’s still not nearly enough.  I give the owner full marks for effort and for being willing to invest so much time and money in to the bar….but the sad truth is that it’s just not working.

 

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Like the sign outside, the interior of Butterflies is huge – and that brings challenges.

 

8.  Butterflies, Nana Plaza

Butterflies is owned and run by the same people behind Billboard, the standout Bangkok gogo bar of 2016. But Butterflies is yet to experience the same sort of success and is very much the ugly sister.

The conversion from Jail Birdz to Butterflies went well and the redesign of the bar’s interior helped overcome some of the design flaws of the previous iteration which was cold and uninviting.  The owners have made good use of the space with lounge-style seating on one side and a large Jacuzzi at one end.

But Butterflies suffers the same affliction as Bangkok Bunnies – it is just too big.  If you are sitting on one side of the bar you cannot see ladies dancing on the other.  That is nothing new, of course, and in other large Nana Plaza bars like G Spot and Rainbow 4 you never heard people say the bar was too big.  That’s because in their heyday those bars were crammed with girls, many of whom were hot.  With fewer dancers these days and many of whom simply wouldn’t have been hired by gogo bar bosses 10 years ago, it is a problem.

And the size issue in Butterflies is complicated by the high ceiling which makes it feel like a cavern. Bunnies is big, but with such a high ceiling Butterflies feels even bigger.  If I were in charge I’d install an artificial ceiling to reduce the perception of the size of the bar.

In fairness to Butterflies, it is well-run and management is certainly trying, but honestly – and I genuinely mean this – you see more attractive ladies in downtown Auckland than you do in Butterflies.  Really, you do.  This is the point rather too many bar bosses seem to be missing these days – do they really think customers fly half-way around the world to visit a gogo bar full of average-looking, disinterested ladies who are no more attractive than the ladies back home?

I fear that Butterflies may go the same way as Bangkok Bunnies – and I’d make the same recommendation for Butterflies as I would for Bunnies – split the bar in to two (or more) separate venues.

 

7.  Shark, Soi Cowboy

At times Shark has been right up there with the best gogo bars in Bangkok; at other times it has been rather average.  It was not great this past trip.  Not bad, but not great either.

Shark has a decent happy hour early and the lineup is better than most bars with a heap of attractive ladies.  That’s the good part.  The bad is that everything about the bar feels tired.  There’s a rank smell and I can’t think of any bar in need of a major refresh as much as Shark.

I’ve long felt that Shark (and Bacarra) is the Soi Cowboy equivalent of the Rainbow bars – where many of the dancers are only interested in Japanese or Korean customers.

Shark also suffers from some of the most surly wait staff in the industry.  It’s amazing to think that one of the owners of Shark – where some of the service staff are dragons – also has a share in Lighthouse – where the service staff are darlings.

Shark is the perfect size for a gogo bar and no matter where you’re sitting you get a good view.  The eye candy alone makes it worth a visit but honestly, it’s just not that much fun.  I find myself returning for the happy hour and the eye candy, but that’s all.  A quick cheap drink and then on to somewhere better.

 

6.  Long Gun, Soi Cowboy

Anyone who has been a fan of Bangkok’s naughty nightlife for a long time probably has fond memories of Long Gun.  For so long Soi Cowboy was the domain of expats and most bars were quiet, relaxed and laid-back.  It was not unusual to enter a Soi Cowboy bar at 10 or even 11 PM on a Friday or Saturday night and be the only customer.  The one exception was Long Gun which was almost always full.  On Soi Cowboy, Long Gun was an aberration and almost felt out-of-place.

Today, Long Gun looks much the same as it did 20-odd years ago – and that is no bad thing.  The layout is the same, a lot of the songs played are the same and the shows are much the same.  Long Gun seemingly hasn’t had the same difficulties recruiting as many bars and there are so many dancers that management can afford to be choosy.  That’s not to say it is full of beauties because in Bangkok today few bars are, but Long Gun has a solid lineup with many ladies very much of the farang spec.

Long Gun feels like it is stuck in a time warp but in the bar industry that is no bad thing.  That so little has changed at Long Gun makes it very much worth dropping by.

 

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Billboard was good but the class of 2017 has nothing on the class of 2016.

 

5.  Billboard, Nana Plaza

Regarded by many as the best bar of 2016, Billboard arguably had the best lineup of dancers, fantastic Jacuzzi shows and a real party vibe.  If you had asked me what the best bar was last year I would have said Billboard without hesitation.  So why has it slipped from #1 to #5?

I stopped by a few times but only stayed once.  Each time the lineup just wasn’t what it was last year when the bar had a lot of lovely girls – pretty and friendly.  The 2017 crew were pleasant enough, but not a patch on the beauties I photographed in the bar last year.

Like Bunnies and Butterflies, Billboard is big, but management has worked hard on recruitment so size is not a problem.  There is a large team of dancers and some nights dancer numbers reach 100 – the bar is adequately staffed.  And the clever way the Jacuzzi is jammed with dancers makes it feel like there are more girls in Billboard than there really are.

The charming American couple behind Billboard are striving to make the bar a better place and pay particular attention to detail.  The bar looks great from the outside and the Jacuzzi at Billboard is still the hottest ticket in the plaza.  From the moment the music is turned on – and sometimes even earlier – locals flock to those seats at the edge of the Jacuzzi.

Billboard is a very good bar and one of the industry’s success stories.  That said, I can’t help but feel that the 2016 version was more fun, hence Billboard only makes #5 on my very subjective list of the best Bangkok gogo bars.

 

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Lighthouse is super consistent and always has a fun vibe.

 

4.  Lighthouse, Soi Cowboy

If Lighthouse was a car it’d be a Toyota86 – well-designed, affordable, nice to look at, reliable and heaps of fun.  And that describes Lighthouse to a tee – with the classic gogo bar design it is well laid-out, the girls are fun and there is both a decent happy hour and nightly drinks specials.

The girls of Lighthouse are a fun-loving bunch and even the wait staff are friendly and like to joke around.

There’s a pretty good argument that the vibe at Lighthouse is amongst the best in the industry.  If there were some genuinely attractive ladies it would have threatened the top spot but on the couple of times I visited there wasn’t a single lady in the bar who made my heart race.  If you’re looking for a fun bar where the staff have a great attitude, Lighthouse is hard to beat.

 

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A dancer at Mandarin.

 

3.  Mandarin, Nana Plaza

Where Lighthouse doesn’t do anything badly, you can take that a step further and say that Mandarin does everything well.  Pretty dancers, great music – probably the best in any gogo bar at this time – and a fun vibe all make you want to stick around.  Mandarin is a little like opening your favourite pack of biscuits – you only mean to have a couple but you end up having many more.  Mandarin is like that – you go for one drink and end up staying for a few hours.

Mandarin keeps things simple.  There aren’t any corny shows.  It’s just a good old-fashioned gogo bar with a good mix of music and, importantly, attractive dancers.  If you have genuinely attractive girls you don’t need to mess with the basic formula.

For me, Mandarin is probably the best bar in Nana Plaza at this time.

 

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Some of the current lineup at Dollhouse.

 

2.  Dollhouse, Soi Cowboy

Dollhouse didn’t have a great 2016 after founder and owner Darel tragically fell to his death early last year.  The ownership issues and management changes are all in the past and Dollhouse has bounced right back.

Under manager Dino, Dollhouse is humming.  One of the best laid-out bars and one of few bars with two floors where the concept actually works, Dollhouse packs in the punters from early to late with a happy hour that lasts longer than most other bars.  There’s a good crew with a nice mix of ladies new to the industry and those who have been around a while.  The music is as good as it always has been.

If I had one criticism it would be that smoking is allowed upstairs but that aside, Dollhouse has got its mojo back.

 

The Best Gogo Bar in Bangkok:  1.  Tilac, Soi Cowboy

The time you visit a gogo bar is a big deal and perhaps nowhere is this clearer than at Tilac. The bar’s happy hour starts from when the girls get on stage around 7:15 PM and runs through until 9:00 PM.  The drinks are cheap but for the first couple of hours Tilac is subdued.  The music volume is a little softer, the girls less enthusiastic and it feels like auto-pilot has been engaged.  Honestly, sitting in Tilac through happy hour I was a little bored and if my pal had not ordered more drinks I probably would have called it a night.  But it was my last night in town and I would not set foot in another gogo bar for many months so I decided to order another.  I’m glad I did.  One more became quite a few more…

From 9:00 PM onwards a steady stream of girls were seen walking through the bar in street clothes and just minutes later each would appear on stage in a bikini.  In the hour or so following happy hour the number of dancers in Tilac must have tripled.  Most seats filled up and the best bar of a decade ago felt like it had turned back the clock.

Around 10:00 PM the DJ arrived, the computer was turned off and the soundman got to work.  With a full complement of girls on stage joined by a team of coyotes – real coyotes who really can dance / and cannot be barfined – Tilac burst in to life.

With a full stage – and I mean FULL – and girls scattered all around the bar, Tilac was pumping!  I felt like I had been transported back in time.

The lineup in Tilac is not the best in town and the average age of the dancers is somewhat older than the likes of Dollhouse, Lighthouse or Mandarin.  But with a few more years on the clock those old girls are more in touch with what is going on, more adept at reading customers and don’t pester those who obviously want to be left alone.

Tilac in its heyday was one of the best bars ever and my night out in Tilac this past trip was a journey down memory lane.  It really did capture the magic of the past.  What we thought would be a quick drink before heading over to Long Gun turned in to hours of fun and laughs.

In 2009 I stuck my neck out and said that Tilac was the best gogo bar in Thailand.  I wouldn’t quite go that far today and I am the first to admit that I am out of touch with what is going on – you can’t visit only 11 gogo bars and declare one of them the best in Bangkok.  What I would say is that it was in Tilac that I had the best night out this trip and later in the night it had the best vibe of any bar.

Early evening Tilac is quiet and it doesn’t come alive until much later – but then that is true for a lot of bars.  And the lineup isn’t what it was – again, you can say that for pretty much every bar – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Tilac is still heaps of fun – and ultimately fun is the reason we go out to these bars, right?

 

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Nana Plaza’s vibe has an edge, a nasty edge.

 

Summary

That the top two bars, and three of the top four, are in Soi Cowboy does not surprise me.  Nana Plaza might be more popular with the hardcore sex tourists but in terms of a fun atmosphere and a more welcoming vibe, Soi Cowboy strikes me as a better bet.  It’s all very subjective of course, but that’s how I found it.

Nana Plaza has plenty of fun bars but the atmosphere in the complex reminds me of strip clubs in the West and it isn’t helped by the many grimacing security staff, some of whom look like they are spoiling for a fight.

With not a single Patpong bar making the list, put that down to a combination of factors including Patpong bars being smoky (which is a deal breaker for me).  The few bars in Patpong I stuck my head inside (but did not stick around) did not impress me.

The trend in recent years of more mainstream visitors flocking to the bar areas continues and Soi Cowboy has more visitors of the non-sex tourist variety than ever.  Particularly noticeable are the many older Western couples who now feel confident to not just visit Bangkok’s red-light areas but to stick around for a few drinks.  Sexpats and sex tourists decry their presence but they aren’t going anywhere.  All three of Bangkok’s gogo bar areas are now firmly on the list of Bangkok’s must-see attractions.  There’s no shortage of younger Western couples as well as plenty of Asian tour groups.

Soi Cowboy hasn’t been the exclusive playground of naughty boys for some time and those who are bothered by the presence of couples, Asian tour groups and Western females will have to head to the freelancer venues, massage parlours and the secondary bar areas like sois 7/1, 22 and 33 to escape them.

Different bars appeal to different people.  Some look for a fun vibe.  Others like eye candy and may place importance on a full view.  And some hunt for the cheapest drinks and the longest happy hour.  Once upon a time that would have been me but these days I prefer somewhere with a nice vibe, a mix of music and a DJ who eschews playing some of these modern styles that all sound the same to me.  Needless to say, the bars that appeal most to me might not appeal to you.  It’s all very subjective.

 

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Where Was This Photo Taken?

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Last week’s photo was taken out front of Benjasiri Park.  I thought it was super easy but only a few people got it right.

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Twisted Logic.

When you talked about the Thais’ twisted logic, it reminded me of an accident I was involved in while living in Thailand.  I was making a left turn, with my blinker on, when a kid on a motorbike with passenger passed me on my left.  He clipped my front bumper and went down.  I called my insurance lady who arrived in 10 minutes.  She said that the insurance company would pay for the damage to my car, pay for the damage to the kid’s motorbike and have the kid checked out at a clinic.  I said that the accident was his fault.  She said that the police would not be called.  If the police were called the accident would be my fault!  Why?  Three reasons (1) you are farang and he is Thai (2) you are driving a car and he has only a motorbike and (3) if you hadn’t been making the turn the accident would NOT have happened!  Twisted logic!

The Thai wife roller-coaster ride.

Reasoning with a Thai is useless!  You must be referring to my Thai wife.  I would suggest that not only is arguing useless but if one continues the dialogue, so does the risk of her going nutsoid on me.  I learned early on that it’s better to hunker down and weather the storm with a “Sorry, honey, won’t happen again.”  That said, after 11 years of marriage I love her very much.  She’s a life-saver.

Investigations not always necessary.

I just read One More Investigation and was reminded of the request I sent you several years ago. You probably don’t recall, but back in 2013 I inquired if you could investigate my then Thai fiance who worked at a popular American-themed sports bar as a waitress.  With the information I provided, you advised me that she seemed like a good girl and maybe an investigation was not needed.  I followed your advice and you were correct, it was unnecessary.  We are now happily married and living in America. I have never been so happy in my life.  She’s the sweetest and most loving partner a man could dream of.  She has adopted extremely well to western culture and is now working on obtaining her U.S. citizenship and finishing her college degree.  I don’t see many people post successful Thai / farang relationship stories so I thought it might be nice to share mine and say that I’m very thankful to you for advising me that an investigation was pointless and that I was just being paranoid.

Moose Head beer.

Moose Head beer is fine, but chilling and warming then rechilling will cause the beer to go skunky.  The green bottle causes this to happen more so than the brown bottle.  When I was a bartender we made sure the Moose Head cooler was colder to combat this problem.

Flann O’Brien’s and the Bangkok Beatles.

It’s sad about Flann O’Brien’s closing at the end of the month as Friday nights are a hoot there with the Bangkok Beatles performing.  I used to catch the Bangkok Beatles at the Royal Orchid Sheraton but the hotel management didn’t renew the contract.  I hope they pop up somewhere in town as they are the best Beatles cover band I’ve seen…and they ain’t even Westerners!

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Girl of the Week

Namwan, escort, BangkokDreamEscorts.com
Also available at Smooci.com

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Iconic Sukhumvit soi 11 bar Cheap Charlie’s will shut this Friday.  The owners are looking for another venue on the soi but even if they are successful it will be a tough act to recreate the street atmosphere of that space.

Another bar being farewelled this week from Soi 11 is CheckInn99 where it showed the strength of a loyal customer following, consistent branding and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances.  Last week I mentioned CheckInn99 was to move down the road to Sukhumvit soi 33 in what will be its 4th location in the last 9 months.  No mean feat, considering the Aussie husband and Thai wife owners who have run CheckInn99 successfully for the last seven years both have full-time jobs away from CheckInn!  Their next move will be to the space that has been Christie’s on soi 33, previously one of the dead artist hostess bars that dominated the soi until they went out of fashion several years ago.  The decision to move from Zaks on soi 11 in what looked like an ideal location was primarily driven by the need for Checkinn99 to operate its own format and restaurant whilst scaling up.  They were paying a disproportionately high share of the overall rental for the small space above Zaks.  The venue itself had massive potential if the two formats of restaurant and nightclub could have converged.  Its popular mix of nightly entertainment from the Philippine house band and weekend jazz and blues jams were doing extremely well.  However Zaks’ lease with the landlord is coming up for renewal this November with a huge hike in rent expected and without collaboration or a shared vision with CheckInn99 it will be unlikely to survive as just a wine bar serving a menu of tapas, pizza and spaghetti if their kitchen closes at 10.30 PM most nights.  The collaboration needed was not happening.  CheckInn99 will close this Tuesday for 8 – 10 weeks and while the staff and band will go on paid vacation the Christie’s space will be renovated.  With a favourable long-term lease they have been able to commit to investing in the facility (and to anyone interested they are still open to additional partners).  The interior of the bar will be reconverted to closely resemble the original Checkinn99 interior.  A lunch-time menu option will be aimed at Thais working in the area along with a high-end café and bakery in the front courtyard catering for well-heeled locals coming back from Villa and Emporium.  The area used by the old Velvet nightclub will be totally refurbished in to a playhouse / musical theatre space with stage with a second stage set up in the middle of the ground floor.  They will open up a large mezzanine dining room and bring back the old CheckInn99 steakhouse offering their signature Chateaubriand I loved so much.  The last stage will be to reopen the large open rooftop as a garden bar.  What will be interesting will be the impact on what has become a dead street entertainment-wise.  I have said before that soi 33 is poised to benefit from the crazy rental hikes and development in lower Sukhumvit and a quality live entertainment offering could be the critical mass soi 33 needs to swing it around.  CheckInn99 has a large, loyal group of followers so it should be able to pull it off.

Confirmation this week that the reason for the closure of another expat pub, Flann O’Brien’s on Silom Road, is because the rent is so high that it is simply not viable.  With rents for commercial space in Bangkok so high I wonder if in years to come expat pubs and the like will move a few skytrain / MRT stations further out?  The Flann O’Brien’s closure is scheduled for late April and not late March as I had indicated previously.

Wait staff at the Biergarten in Sukhumvit soi 7 say its closure has been pushed back beyond the end of April.  The long-running freelancer venue which just so happens to serve perfectly decent food refuses to die.

A reminder that another long-running venue, the (in)famous Honey Hotel in Sukhumvit soi 19, will close in September.  The Honey has hosted many who have a history with Bangkok’s nightlife and has been a favourite of Americans who served in Vietnam.  It’s hard to believe that when the Honey Hotel finally closes it will have been in business for 50 years.

Big Dogs Bar celebrates its 2nd anniversary since being taken over by the Stumble Inn Group, with a big birthday bash this coming Thursday.  It’s happy hour prices all night long and there will be a free buffet with food from the Stumble Inn kitchen next door.

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Following on from my recommendation for the Long Island Iced Tea at Sam’s 2000 (slap in the middle of Soi Cowboy, right next to Tilac) which is a bargain 90 baht before 9 PM, it should be noted that all of their cocktails are just 90 baht before 9 PM.  But beware – they’re strong!  As the dirty doctor said to me on my last night out in town recently where we started the night at Sam’s 2000, “I’ve got an 11 o’clock buzz going and it’s only 7:15!

Many retail outlets have a website these days where they sell product online as well from their bricks and mortar stores.  So why don’t Bangkok gogo bars do the same?  Most gogo dancers girls will go with anyone so it’s not like they have to see a customer first to decide if they are going to go with him or not – it’s all very transactional these days.  So why don’t bars set up a website with all of the girls’ profiles where customers can make a choice of lady online and click to order?  Actually, a few bars have done this and in each and every case I know of it has proven to be a disaster.  The main problem is availability – demand tends to be in the evening and a girl could be sitting with a customer who she actually likes when the mamasan comes over and says she has been ordered online and she has to go and see Mr X at the X Hotel.  She gets pissed off, the customer in the bar gets pissed off, the guy who made the order online has a bad experience and ultimately it just doesn’t work.

Pattaya’s sixth annual Ladyboy Water Volleyball competition is now being planned, following announcements that last year’s was the last.  According to its organiser, Tony Sales, the popular charitable event, held at Areca Lodge on Diana Street, was revived after unsolicited staff and pledges arrived, followed by the sponsorship of six teams.  With the concept of a fun day in the sun, Sales said the goal was to raise 500,000 baht for Thai charities while giving the ladyboy community some good headlines for a change.  He said 4.27 million baht had been raised the first five years with 3.52 going to Charity.  0.75 covered all expense and cash balance.  Five of the teams represent sex worker venues – TJ’s Bar, Kathoeys r Us, Lita Bar, and New Bar from Pattaya, plus the Why Not Bar, the new ladyboy lounge on Sukhumvit, Soi 22, in Bangkok.  A final, unaffiliated team returns for its third year of competition from transgendered workers at Laem Chabang.  The date for the all-day event (followed by dinner, auction and awards) is November 11. Tickets cost 1,500 baht and are available from the team venues or from the official website.

Mandarin on the middle floor of Nana Plaza will host what it is calling the Red Hot Bunnies party, this coming Tuesday.  There will be a free buffet and free lottery.  Mandarin is one of the best gogo bars in Bangkok so do stop by if you’re out on Tuesday.

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I have been told that Thai Airways runs a slide-show before international flights descend in to Bangkok with various announcements including a recent addition that anyone overstaying their visa may be barred from re-entering the kingdom for a period of time.  I have only heard of Thai Airways making this announcement.  Perhaps the visa runners’ favourite airline, Air Asia, should also make that announcement?

Speaking of announcements, do you remember when Thai Airways used to announce on international flights that it was not ok to sleep on the floor of the cabin?!

And on the subject of flying out of Thailand, what a mess it was last week at Immigration at Suwannaphum Airport leaving the country.  I’d heard the stories about long queues at Immigration but this was the first time I experienced it for myself.  Things were backed up to security with a queue from security to the top of the escalator and then a queue from the bottom of the escalator to the “queues” in front of the immigration booths which were a melee.  It felt like half of China was flying out of Thailand that day, and it was a case of every man for himself as (mostly Chinese) people shoved to get ahead in scenes unbecoming of an international airport.  In fairness to the Immigration officers, all of the booths were staffed and the queues moved reasonably quickly.  I didn’t time it, but I guess it took about 25 minutes or so to get through from joining the queue to being stamped out.

With an ever-increasing number of visitors to Thailand will things get worse at Immigration?  I am hopeful that they won’t.  I note that e-gate / machine passport readers have been set up for electronic passports and when they are opened up to foreign passport holders that should really speed things up.  They were set up and turned on, but the facility still only seems to be available to Thai passport holders and not the rest of us.

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The UK’s Daily Mail website is blocked in Thailand.  The Mail is an “aggregator” – a fancy term that means they nick stories from other sources, edit them a little and run them as their own with little or no reference to the original source of the story.  The Daily Mail covers many Thailand-related stories such as the piece this week about a monk in Chumpon who stole an iPhone.  But if you’re in Thailand you can’t read the Daily Mail because it is blocked, right?  There is an easy work-around – just download the Daily Mail App to your iPhone and that bypasses the block.

Many shops in Bangkok’s mega IT malls like Panthip Plaza and Fortune Town will service / upgrade / fix your computer and the prices are ridiculously low, usually only a few hundred baht – but which shops are actually any good?  Pro Corner on the third floor of Fortune Town is recommended.  It’s not far from the Banana IT shop.  There is a guy there in a wheelchair who is particularly helpful.

One of my favourite restaurants in Bangkok is May Kaidee, a vegan restaurant, behind Burger King at one end of Khao San Road.  I’m not vegan and don’t seek out vegan food but May Kaidee’s food is outstanding and the restaurant has a great reputation amongst foreigners living in the area.  May has expanded her operation and opened her first outlet outside of Thailand – in New York City of all places!  Recently, they also had a pop-up location in Phnom Penh which went so well that they are looking at opening a permanent location in Cambodia later in the year.  So if you find yourself near East 28th Street in New York or in Bangkok’s backpacker area and have a craving for some tasty, nutritious food, don’t let the idea of vegan fare put you off – May Kaidee’s offerings are outstanding!  I particularly like the curried vegetable fried rice and the haw mok but really, it’s all good!

thaicupid

Quote of the week comes from a friend, “How do you know when Stickman is doing an investigation? – when he buys a lady drink!

Reader’s story of the week should appeal to those who are weighing up their options, “Colombia As An Alternative To Thailand“.

A CCTV video shows a Thai monk stealing a woman’s iPhone and hiding it under his robes.

Thailand is to adopt a teenager pregnancy prevention program pioneered by the English.

The Daily Star is the latest British tabloid to take a salacious look at Pattaya’s sex industry.

From 2019, all arriving luggage will be x-rayed at international airports in Thailand.

A Kiwi relays his experience of getting caught with drugs in Thailand.

SunbeltLegal

Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to answer any legal questions you have related to Thailand. Drop me an email and I will forward your questions to Sunbelt Legal and run their response in the next column.

 

Question 1:  I have a Thai female friend that lives in Pattaya.  She slept with an Italian guy and got pregnant.  The guy also lives in Pattaya and owns a business.  She told him she is pregnant with his child. He wants nothing to do with her or the baby.  Is he legally obligated to pay child support?  If so, how strictly is that enforced in Thai courts?

Sunbelt Legal advisors responds:  If the child is born out of wedlock, even if the father is listed on the birth certificate, he is not considered the legal father until DNA tests are done to prove that he is the father.  However, the mother can take the father to Court to force a DNA test and once proven to be the father, he will be required to provide child support.  Sunbelt Asia Lawyers have had child support cases like this before and can help your friend.

 

 

auckland-harbour

Maybe it’s time to travel closer to home?

 

I noted with some worry this week how US and UK authorities have introduced new regulations that mean anyone flying from a bunch of airports in the Middle East and a couple of other countries cannot carry laptops, camera gear or tablets in the cabin of the plane and instead these items must be checked in with other baggage.  I sure hope this does not become more widespread – I would not be willing to put my camera and computer gear in to checked luggage – and if I could not travel with it I’d probably just say bugger it and travel around my own country instead.  I’m as interested as I am concerned to see where this is all going.  If this policy is extended to other airports and becomes the new norm it will be a real worry for those of us who travel regularly and for whom photography plays a big part of why and where we choose to travel.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

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