This week seemed to race by and it was Sunday afternoon before I knew it….and the opening piece wasn’t anywhere near ready. Rather than publish something I am only 70% happy with I’d rather work on it for another week, get it right and then run it. I have been working on an article about why I think Thai women are so popular with Western men – and I reach a conclusion that some won’t like. Because it’s controversial I would prefer to get the article just right before I run it, hence I will play around a bit more with it before I run it next week. That’s a long way of saying there is no opening piece this week, I am afraid.
Where Was This Photo Taken?
Last week’s photo was taken in the middle of Sukhumvit soi 16, outside Somerset. This week’s was taken not too far away from last week’s.
Stick’s Inbox (The best emails from the past week.)
Do those who despise harbour secret desires?
In answer to whether attitudes towards ladyboys are evolving, I would say yes. I discovered that part of the nightlife 8 years ago. I’ve never looked back, it’s so liberating! There’s none of the bullshit jealousy you find with the girls who expect you to repeat barfine them and get angry when you do not. I have my favourite ladyboys and there are no problems and no jealousy. They even suggest other ladyboys for me. Look how many ladyboy bars there are in Bangkok now and they all have customers. Where do these customers come from? Could it be that some of those who claim to despise ladyboys actually have secret desires hiding behind harsh words? People in general are more open today than 10 or 15 years ago.
I think you did the sensible thing by not following that guide to Sonagachi. While I didn’t feel threatened in Kolkata at all, I thought it had a very high general level of aggression and stupidity (Mumbai feels much more sane and safe by comparison; never tried Delhi). You could have gotten trouble with your guide, with your transport, with thugs, with the ladies – and the latter two aren’t likely to speak any English whatsoever (surprising given that it is India).
It’s your lucky day!
I think you made the right decision with that Indian. I would consider going anywhere with a total stranger in a strange country. I had one of those gentlemen from the sub-continent approach me on the odd side of the Sukhumvit. He smiled and said, “Hello sir, it’s your lucky day”.” How is that?”, I replied, ”I’ve just met you!”
Dodging Indian bullets.
You dodged a bullet in Kolkata. At best you would have made your flight without cameras or wallet. I don’t know anyone who’s gone there but India is not exactly safe and a red-light district in a big city? You’ve heard the word “dacoit“?
Beware those who approach you.
I know India quite well, though my visits to Calcutta have been only a matter of a few days. I think your reasoning and your considerations are quite valid, and under the circumstances you made the right decision. Underlying it all in my opinion is that the tout (that’s what he is, whatever his motives and end game) approached you. Relationships are safest when you approach someone, or get to know them by reliable introduction. This is true anywhere you are a stranger who stands out.
Thailand is gogo, India is no go!
I’m not sure if you dodged a bullet or not but it was a wise move not to go with that fellow. I have been to India several times and the red light areas are definitely NO GO for photography. Those places are filled by the worst criminals of Indian society and prostitutes in India do not like being photographed whatsoever. As for the chap you met, you could never be sure of his story, especially if he thinks you would be interested in the dark and dangerous side of Indian society. Like anywhere in India, a stranger who is friendly and approaches me on the street, I either completely ignore or politely say no thanks to their offer. You do meet so many friendly Indians in your travels who are genuinely interested in you as a person and you get it straight away. People who approach me on the street I treat with the utmost suspicion. Better safe than sorry.
The reason for compulsory travel insurance?
The mooted compulsory travel insurance for Thailand sounds like a real money spinner for whoever’s “uncle” gets to run the program.
Is Thailand really a bargain?
I’ve been comparing prices of a night out at an average sort of pub in Spain, England and Thailand. In Spain, an average meal out will be around 11-12 Euros (420-460 Baht) and a large beer in a pub is 2 Euros (75 Baht) max. In England I’ve paid around 12 pounds (520 Baht) for a pub meal, and a pint is 4 pounds (175 Baht) or less. In Thailand I probably pay around 400 baht for a meal, and a large beer is in the region of 180 baht. So, Spain is the same as Thailand for a meal but a beer is less than half. England is about 20% more expensive for a meal and a beer is the same as Thailand. All in all, Thailand is not such a bargain as some might think.
Girl Of The Week
Alisa, dancer, Billboard, Nana Plaza
* Photos kindly provided by the Nana Plaza marketing department
The Strip in Patpong 2 has been remodelled and the signature steel booths with the purple curtains have been replaced by lounge-style seating. No amount of remodeling makes up for the loss of the previous owners and the word is that while the interior might look a little nicer, the current owners ought to concentrate their efforts on improving the vibe.
Who is really in charge of a bar? Still in Patpong 2, the Thai manager of Glamour has banned customers enjoying a cigar, despite the French owner explicitly saying that cigar smoking in the bar is ok. The French owner was not on the premises when the Thai manager told two regulars that they were not welcome to smoke cigars. These two regulars are well-known not just in that bar but two of the biggest spenders on Patpong 2 but the Thai manager didn’t care about that. Once a Thai gets something in their little mind they will not let go. The bar will be the loser as these two regulars will now spend the 30,000 – 40,000 baht a month they spent in Glamour in other bars in the soi.
Popular Patpong 2 gogo bar Club Electric Blue went off the boil for a while but manager Dan has done a great job turning it around. Electric Blue doesn’t have any agency girls, in stark contrast with the two neighbouring bars that it is often compared to, Bada Bing and Glamour, where a majority of the girls come from an agency (which usually means they come with an attitude and may not be barfineable). The Pattaya branch of Club Electric Blue is agency girl free also.
And in the next soi over, King’s Castle 1 in Patpong soi 1 still has the most girls of any Patpong bar. 60+ dancers were shaking up a storm on stage on Friday night which begs the question of how the bar can afford the salary bill.
Another troubled farang is living rough on Soi Nana with a reader sending snaps of the latest in a long line of foreigners who have lost the plot on Sukhumvit. This fellow was as high as a kite and covered in talcum powder. Drawings over his face and body looked like they had been done with a marker pen. In the company of 2 equally troubled local women, he drew a moustache and beard on one of the women who was oblivious to it all. He then drew a moustache on himself that looked similar to that sported by Hitler before he started making Nazi salutes and marching like a German soldier from World War II.
Not a soul claimed business was good in Bangkok’s naughty bar areas this week. June, like May, is not a great month. July, on the other hand, is the northern hemisphere summer and the number of Europeans who descend on Thailand usually increases in July and August before falling off a cliff in September.
Hooters in Soi Nana has not received great raps in this column in recent weeks. Word is to give the branch on Soi Nana a miss and head straight to the soi 15 branch which is said to be busier and more fun than the Soi Nana branch.
I just found out that the renamed Rewind bar on Sukhumvit soi 8 is no longer. It closed a few weeks ago.
It’s party time in Nana Plaza on Tuesday night with Mandarin throwing an Isaan Party. The DJ will spin tunes from the Northeast – and that always gets the girls in party mode. There will be the usual free buffet and prizes with every drink purchase – from free drinks to chili-fired kisses from the girls. The Mandarin troop will be decked out in traditional Isaan dress. Doors open at 7 PM for what should be a fun night.
Down the road in Pattaya, trade is no better than in Bangkok; some say it is even worse. Whenever people talk about Pattaya these days there is one word you often hear: “change”. It seems that everyone I know who makes it to Pattaya says the place is changing. OK, so it’s not quite everyone; the hardcore would have you believe that Pattaya today is no different to how it was when Soi Pattayaland 2 was the place to go and in most Walking Street chrome pole bars bikinis were optional. So what are all of the changes? Prices, attitudes, standards, you name it! And many say that the whole Walking Street experience these days is more about observing things than partaking. It’s much less, what’s the word they use these days….interactive. You can watch but often you cannot play. Pattaya is evolving and Walking Street is changing. One day people talking about Pattaya will say something like, Wasn’t that the place that used to be known for sex tourists? You know it’s coming!
You know things are bad when even naughty boys admit that it is becoming staid. There are more coyote dancers and fewer gogo – read available – dancers. And with so many girls – both those who are available and those who are not – asking for a Jack Coke AND a Vodka Soda i.e. 2 lady drinks, you’d better have plenty of cash in your pocket. It’s only a short time ago that Walking Street was an inexpensive adult playground where anything goes. Not now.
Even some of the best known and most popular Pattaya bars aren’t doing well. Angelwitch Pattaya has been in decline for years and management has been unable to turn it around. Sapphire has loads of hot girls – but as an all-bikini affair some say it feels more like a beach party than a Pattaya gogo bar. Even the old favourite Babydolls is kind of quiet, but at least the attitudes are good and with a superstar lineup of hosts including Larry, there are other reasons to stop by.
One Walking Street gogo bar which is doing very well is G Spot. The beautiful neon and cracking location near the start of Walking Street has been a boon for G Spot which is now one of the most popular bars in Sin City.
And there’s a new kid on the block farther down Walking Street where Pheromone is getting the big thumbs up. Pheromone has a huge line-up of dancers and lively shows which get going around 10 PM. It’s another bar worth stopping by.
Further down Walking Street, what is known to many as Soi Arab is as dead as a rotting camel. The ban on shisha smoking helped kill that colourful lane.
Some would say that Walking Street is yesterday’s news and some of those in the know spend more time on Soi LK Metro. Soi LK Metro has become a destination but suffers one significant problem. The authorities always seem to be messing with the opening hours on Soi LK Metro and many punters have been put off by venues with opening and closing times that change as often as a Thai girl changes her mind. For a while, some Soi LK Metro bars opened during the day and it became an alternative for afternoon delight to soi 6, but that all changed. Even popular LK Metro gogo bars Queen and Lady Love are relatively quiet. Champagne is doing well.
My old favourite Pattaya bar Secrets will soon have a new night manager and the fellow’s young son will be the new chef with a new menu planned. The two Londoners should fit right in to the Englishman-owned bar.
If you fancy hosting a party in a Pattaya gogo bar, pop by and see the team at Babydolls which is running a host a party promotion from now through September. For 9,999 baht you can run your own party – details on the poster below. For more details, drop an email to the team at Babydolls at : [email protected]
For those of you who can read Thai and are interested in meeting a lady who is arguably more attractive than what you find in the bar areas this column covers and whose financial expectations are lower than what ladies ask for on Sukhumvit, check out this website which is a hit with Thai men and where arrangements can be made to meet an attractive Thai lady : Fanfinfin.com You’ll need to be able to read Thai.
And if you’re looking to venture somewhere in Thailand that has a developed nightlife sector but is well and truly off the beaten path for Westerners, check out this guide to nightlife in Dannok.
If you want to know what is happening in a bar, it’s natural to think that the best way to is to ask the owner or manager. I’d disagree with that. Many bars in the naughty sector aren’t run like a business (in fairness, things are getting better) and in the case of service failures or screw-ups, how many bar bosses make a genuine effort to put a wrong right? To this end, many bar owners think nothing of refuting any negative comments or bad publicity about their venue and just flat out lie and deny incidents that may not show their business in a positive light. “Deny, deny, deny” seems to be the bar boss mantra. If you want to know what is really going on in a bar or wish to verify whether a reported incident really did take place, you’re better off asking girls in the bar, or seeking out the boss’s confidante. The boss’s close pals have the boss’s air and in Bangkok many feel there is currency in being the first to know something – and telling others about that scoop. Many of those close to bar bosses think nothing of betraying their trust and will tell you what is really going on. I mention this for two reasons. First, if you are foolish enough to think that buying a bar could be fun, talk to staff and the boss’s mates about how trade is. And second, from time to time I write about things which happened in such and such a bar to which a reader may respond and tell me that I got it wrong and they know that because the owner denied it. If there is one thing I have learned from writing this column it is that you can’t take what many (not all, but many) bar owners say as Gospel. Oh, there are some good guys out there, some straight shooters and some professional operators. There are also rather a few who fancy themselves as underworld figures and run their business like they are Mafia godfathers.
Reader’s story of the week comes from Steve Rosse, ”Transcendence”.
A Thai woman describes what it’s like inside a women’s prison in Thailand.
An Aussie is the victim of an unprovoked attack late at night in Pattaya.
A visa run van crashes near the border with Cambodia, killing 5 occupants.
A Thai man puts his head in a crocodile’s mouth and the beast decides to chomp!
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to answer your legal questions. Email any questions you may have to me and I will forward them to Sunbelt and run their response in the next column.
Question 1: In our children’s school the management hired a photographer to shoot pictures of students on the school premises for commercial use. They have not asked the parents’ permission to use these pictures and they are now all over posters, brochures and other marketing material. Further, the photographer has featured some of the photos, mainly of primary grade student girls, on his own website along with his other photo shoots where the majority of his work is erotic pictures with links to titles like “Katie & Laure’s Fancy Panties Photo shoot”, “Boudoir Photo-shoot” and “Bikini Swimwear Photo-shoot Pattaya Thailand”. We asked the photographer to remove the girls next to these pictures and links which he has done. The school management took no action even when we wrote to them about it.
1: What is the Thai law of taking pictures of students i.e. at school and using them for commercial marketing? (In most Western countries, by law you would have to get parents’ written permission first.)
2: Can a photographer use these pictures on his online portfolio without the parents’ permission?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The school does have the right to hire a photographer and use their photos on their website or school related advertisements. However, the photographer does not have the right to use these photos without school permission in his portfolio. The school should have taken steps to have these photos removed from his website. If he uses the photos for his own commercial purposes then he needs permission from the parents of the minor children.
What do you make of what is happening in the bar areas these days? Do you agree that things are changing or do you think that comments to that effect are overblown or exaggerated? I don’t think anyone is saying that naughty boys can’t party like they used to, more that things aren’t perhaps as wild – and certainly not as cheap – as they once were. As always, I welcome your thoughts!
Your Bangkok commentator,