Is it an insult to offer a working girl 1,500 baht for what will in all likelihood be no more than 30 minutes of her time? If the reaction to innocuous comments in last week’s column about a friend who could not get laid outside Nana Plaza is anything to go by, it would seem rather a few readers believe that offering a lady of the night 1,500 baht is an insult.
To recap, in the news, views and gossip section of last week’s column I briefly mentioned how a friend was outside Nana Plaza one night when it closed. Horned up and in the mood for fun, he propositioned a few girls as they were leaving, but none were interested. I commented that they preferred to go home rather than make 1,500 baht. I said that because I know that 1,500 baht is what he pays. I have no idea if he offers the money up front or pays them after the business is done with no mention of price beforehand. This is the standard amount he pays when he plays and he has never told me of a lady who complained. But that didn’t stop many readers saying that offering 1,500 baht to a working girl is an insult.
So what is the standard short-time rate these days? That is and has always been a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question. There are so many variables from where she works to how popular she is to how desperate she might be to what the guy looks like to whether she fancies him or they have a past history to the night of the week, the time of the night and even the time of the month. An ugly, obese guy who is fun may be a more desirable customer than a young Tom Cruise lookalike with a bad attitude.
From the hundreds of emails I receive every week come some from those who wish to share their nightlife adventures. The sample is not small and 1,500 baht is hardly outside the range for short-time. Some say you cannot get a chrome pole dancer short-time for less than 3,000 baht; others say they have no problem finding ladies in gogo bars happy to go for 1,000. Some guys boast about how little they pay while others gloat about how much.
Outside Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, prices for a lady’s company plummets. In some of the more far-flung farang bar districts like those in downtown Udon Thani, 1,500 baht will be enough for many ladies to stay all night. These are the same girls from the same part of the country who entered the bar industry for all the same reasons as those plying their trade in the capital and down south. 1,500 baht will be gratefully received in Udon by most ladies for long-time.
The bars for foreigners in Udon tend to attract expats, so how about the bars in another far-flung area popular with foreigners? How about Ko Chang where it’s very much a tourist market? Currently on Ko Chang, barfines in the beer bar complexes run 500 baht and long-time – yes, long-time – is the same price as it is in Udon Thani, 1,500 baht. Ok, so you might not meet the best-looking ladies who tend to end up in Bangkok or Pattaya but there are plenty of friendly ladies around. 1,500 baht is no insult on Ko Chang.
OK, so what about those places for Thai men, those in which foreigners are welcome? The large Thai-style massage parlours in Bangkok typically have tiered pricing where younger and fairer skinned ladies (in this context, younger likely means 18, 19 and 20) command higher prices and the older ladies may go for much less. Generally these types of venues charge in the 2000 to 3000 baht range for 90 minutes of fun. Typically half the fee goes to the ladies, meaning they get 1,000 to 1,500 baht per customer, per 90-minute session – and they are happy with that.
Escort service ladies used to charge a standard 5,000 baht for a 2-hour session but the online escorts on demand platform, Smooci, has caused prices to come down to 2000-3000 baht – and for that she is expected to be dollied up to a much higher standard than your typical Sukhumvit working girl is, to travel to the customer and to spend 2 hours with him and do the business more than once.
At the bottom end of the market, streetwalkers in the old part of the city do the business for 500 baht. I won’t insult them and say they are happy with that because many are drug-addled and mentally unstable. To say these girls would be happy with 500 baht would be an insult.
The farang sector of the bar industry is an anomaly with service providers earning more from foreign customers than they would if they were servicing locals, in much the same way that Thais generally wouldn’t pay the prices that foreigners do for trinkets and other goods sold at street stalls in tourist areas. The girls exploit the punters’ lack of knowledge and charge as much as they can – and who can blame them?
These girls should charge as much as the market will bear. I see no reason why they shouldn’t ask for 3,000 baht for short-time. We all wish to maximise our earnings.
What I don’t get is the way some foreigners get so angry and so vocal about what others pay the girls. I admire those who care for the welfare of the girls and who want the best for them – but suggesting 1,500 baht is an insult has nothing to do with caring for the girls at all. It is being sanctimonious and a Thai apologist.
I don’t think that offering 1,500 baht to a working girl for short-time is an insult. A working girl who tells a potential customer that short-time is 3,000 baht and intimates that she will rock his world but who in actuality rushes things and tries to get it over with as quickly as she can, now that is an insult!
Where Was This Photo Taken?
Last week’s photo was taken in Sukhumvit soi 11/1 of the small space that was for so long home to Cheap Charley’s. I thought it was tricky but a lot of readers got it right. A few readers thought it was Washington Square and looking at it again, I can see how it kind of looks like it.
Stick’s Inbox (The best emails of the week.)
When the plaza is raided.
I witnessed first-hand the swarm of boys in brown (actually, they were all in black) raid and shut down Butterflies in Nana Plaza. Girls from Butterflies were handing out flyers as you entered the plaza when 20 cops came in to the plaza and went straight for the escalator, up the stairs and directly to the bar. Immediately, a few Japanese guys tried to squirt out the door but after getting just outside, they were physically prevented from leaving and ushered back inside. The sliding gate was closed and a couple of cops posted outside. The flyer girls at the entrance to the plaza were oblivious to what was going on and continued to hand out flyers for another 10 minutes or so. I was surprised that they didn’t get word quicker given the speed of instant messaging. Another smaller squad of officers came in after the first and it seemed like they grabbed a girl from the second floor and escorted her out of the plaza under arrest, in the grip of a police matron. A cop cameraman followed, filming as they left the plaza. At one point he turned and filmed the interior of the plaza, catching all the railbirds looking on including me. After the first wave, a second group of officers entered the plaza. I suppose they were the supervisors. It was sort of like watching a play. Finally, the big boss comes to survey the work. Inside Billboard an announcement was made to make sure no-one was smoking as the authorities were nearby. I guess this is the new normal.
Be grateful, Messrs Pitt and Beckham.
All of the Brad Pitt and David Beckham lookalikes sending you emails complaining about Thai women amaze me. I bet 90% (at the minimum) of them are a fat sloppy mess, or oddballs, and could not get laid in their country by anything close to the beauty they can get here. They forget where they come from and what they look like but they still expect the perfect lady with the perfect face and body to fall head over heels for them. I walk around Bangkok and Pattaya and see very few guys who would get ANY attention from a lady in a western country. When a Thai girl steals their money, takes their house and the herd of buffalo they paid for they knew very well why the girl was with them and should be thankful it lasted as long as it did. Do they really think these girls fall in love with them because they have a good heart? These guys need to wake up, stop complaining and be happy a pretty Thai girl will talk with them and sleep with them for only a few thousand baht. It’s a bargain!
Suffering for the mistake of a lifetime.
It was interesting to read that you had decided to postpone an intended visit to Thailand, based on so much negative news emerging from the country. Once you know the reality behind the Land of False Smiles and spend time overseas away from the garbage that we are constantly bombarded with it becomes crystal clear what a sh*thole Thailand really is, and any reason to visit becomes increasingly obscure. It is so dis-functional that it is difficult to know how the country functions at all. I’ve just returned from a period overseas, and the contrast is huge. The ignorance of the locals and their immature behaviour is staggering. I would leave in a heartbeat, had I not made the error decades ago of marrying a local and moving to the country. The only thing the country offers to many is that it is cheap, but that is fast becoming a thing of the past and I can think of no reason to travel halfway around the world when better attitudes and infrastructure and often cheaper prices can be found nearer to home. No reason at all.
The Philippines is calling.
I am done with Thailand after being a 15-year expat fluent in Thai with all of the benefits that come with that and youth. I may return when I am over 50 for the easy visa but that is many years away. I’m speaking directly with expats in the Philippines, some of whom were formerly expats in Thai, and they are all happy. They can’t all be lying.
The changing face of Pattaya.
On a recent visit to the Pattaya Healthland, I saw 20+ double-decker tour buses during the less than 2 km distance between the spa and the Dusit. Gazing down Second Road at the intersection, there were at least another 5 – 6 such buses waiting their turn. That definitely brings home the changing character of Pattaya tourism over the past 15 years.
35 and counting.
I walked back to Nana from Cowboy and counted 35 Nigerian hookers between Asoke and Nana. A group of lookouts hang out at the start of soi 13 and also outside the 7 Eleven nearby. Another group of lookouts are at soi 7, and as I got to soi 4 I watched a Nigerian hooker palm pass a package to someone. Yeah, it’s bad. One of the guys at soi 7 was there this afternoon when I took a walk. The irony is that just near where they hang out at soi 13 there was a cop sitting at a table & tent less than 25 metres away. He had his phone out and was playing on it.
I had an experience on Ko Tao. I was on a dive trip there 3 years ago and one night headed down to the beach late and sat in one of the little bars and had a drink. There weren’t many people in the bar and I noticed two farang girls at another table being somewhat harassed by a young Thai bloke. Normally I mind my own business in Thailand so I let it go but the guy kept coming back and annoying them and I could see they didn’t like it. So after the guy had walked away to the other side of the room for the third time I got up and asked the girls to shift to my table, which they did, and we finished up our drinks and I walked them back to their hotel without incident. The guy was super pissed and stood glaring at us. When we got up and left he yelled some obscenities in Thai at me directly. Anyway, long story short, I got up the next morning to go for a jog and grab some breakfast and when I came back the front desk staff told me that three young dudes had come around and showed them a blurry camera photo of me and asked where I was. My bravery disappeared and I packed quickly and shot off to the ferry. I’ve never returned to the island and most definitely won’t for the reason I’m about to highlight. A friend was there recently and we talked about the murders on the beach. He pulled up a picture of the “son of the influential person” who everyone reckons is involved and guess what? It was the same guy hassling the girls in the bar. Something is definitely rotten on that island.
Girl Of The Week
Miss Schoolgirl, dancer, Spanky’s, Nana Plaza
* Photos kindly provided by the Nana Plaza marketing department.
The plot of land on Sukhumvit Road beside the mouth of soi 12 and the Time Square building looks like a bomb landed on it. The remains of V8 Diner and the old Insanity (the new Insanity location opened in soi 11 last week) become less recognizable by the day as the buildings are demolished to make way for just what prime Sukhumvit needs more of, another high-rise office tower.
The owner of Bangkok Bunnies, the largest gogo bar in Nana Plaza and possibly the largest (in terms of size, but NOT in terms of girl numbers) farang gogo bar in all of Thailand, raised eyebrows this week by abolishing barfines. To clarify, dancers can still leave the bar with customers but there is zero requirement for the customer to pay a barfine. If the lady wishes to leave the bar with a customer, she is free to go. It’s as simple as that. The owner of Bangkok Bunnies is to be congratulated for introducing a policy which others might be forced to introduce to compete. When a large bar with a lot of girls says that the girls can go with customers without the need for a barfine to be paid, customers surely will think to themselves, “Why the hell should I pay a barfine elsewhere?” It’s going to be very interesting to see how this goes and what the effects of this new policy are.
As big as the news of Bangkok Bunnies abolishing barfines is, it’s still not the biggest story in Nana Plaza where everyone is talking about the raid on Butterflies last week when an underage girl was found on the premises. Butterflies was ordered closed and the Belgian manager was arrested, dragged off by the constabulary and charged. The plaza is awash with rumours but one thing is sure, the manager is very deep in the brown stuff. He is out on bail, but is said to be facing a raft of charges including employment irregularities and human trafficking. It is complicated because the underage
lady girl was supplied by an agency i.e. the underage lady was not an employee of the bar. When bars get staff from agencies the last thing they expect is that any of the ladies are not of legal age. Of course, the word agency is a misnomer and usually an “agency” is nothing more than an older Thai woman who runs a bunch of Thai women and makes them available to bars. Word is that the person behind the agency – in this case a male – has gone in to hiding. With Thailand being portrayed as a hub for human trafficking, there is real concern that the Belgian bar manager could be made an example of. It is not at all beyond the realm of possibility that he could end up doing serious jail time and be then banned from ever returning to Thailand. In the not too distant past, situations like this were usually followed by negotiations in the high 6 figures. But word is that won’t happen this time around. There are so many sub-plots here and accusations flying left, right and centre. Some say it was a setup and some have asked why it happened when the Thai manager was away on holiday. Seriously, who’d want to be a naughty bar manager / owner in Thailand in the current climate?! It does make one wonder if the decision by Bangkok Bunnies to abolish barfines was due to what happened in Butterflies.
Last month the owners and managers of venues in various entertainment areas in Bangkok were told they had to close at midnight – and not a minute later. The cops were serious. Nightspots on Khao San Road, Silom and Thonglor were all told they had to close at midnight sharp or else. The effect was immediate – business plummeted and, naturally, business owners started screaming like a bargirl on her visit to a short-time hotel. These crackdowns never last and since last weekend it has been business as usual in those areas again as nightspots stay open until 2 or even 3 AM.
But if you think Bangkok is bad, take a look at what is happening up north. Chiang Mai has never really been known as a party town, nor a destination for naughty boys, and over the past couple of years most bars and nightspots have been forced to close around midnight or 12:30 AM. That’s kind of early when you consider that Chiang Mai is generally considered Thailand’s 2nd city.
Back in Bangkok, following on from the success of the American Independence Day party at Stumble Inn this past week, the British-run Soi Nana beer bar is offering the same deal on USA selected items on what they are calling Western Wednesdays. From 8:00 PM, get 20% off selected American-themed food and drink items. There will be a Wild West theme with girls in cowgirl hats. Bangkok Funcard members can use their card to obtain an extra discount meaning 30% off. Bangkok Funcards are available at Stumble Inn for 200 baht and are valid for life.
As per the email from a reader that was published and the many that were not, African hookers and drug dealers are all over the Nana area. On Soi Nana itself you have African hookers and African drug dealers. The favourite spot for African drug dealers is at the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 13. Business owners in the area have recorded them in action and provided copies of the videos to the local police station who seem disinterested or who perhaps see the dealing on drugs on their patch as a minor crime. (At the same time they are extremely tough on anyone who litters and will fine you 2,000 baht for that heinous offence.) The thing about these Africans – both the hookers and the drug dealers – is that they are nothing new. From time to time there is a high-profile roundup. The cops are forced to do something about them when influential Thais complain. The African contingent usually disappears for a while but just like cockroaches, it’s not long before they return. Some have mooted that they pay their way out, go down to Pattaya for a while and when things cool down they return to Bangkok. Certainly some of the drug dealers who operate openly at the start of Sukhumvit soi 13 have been peddling drugs there for years.
Bangkok’s oldest Mexican eatery, Charley Brown’s, relocated to Sukhumvit soi 19 recently and it’s business as usual with the same manager and same service staff. A new happy hour menu has been introduced – details below.
The raids on bars in Pattaya continue with the authorities said to be following up on tip-offs which begs the question, who’s the grass? This week two big name bars were raided – Babydolls just off Walking Street and Showgirls in Soi LK Metro. Each has been ordered closed for 30 days and each will reopen on August 2nd. Just what the reasons for the closures are I am not sure, but the rumour mill has it that out of date licences might be the reason. I also understand that a sign with barfine rates on the wall on one of the bars has been removed. In last week’s column I mentioned that many of the bars in Pattaya targeted were those which provided short-time rooms – but to the best of my knowledge neither of the bars busted this week have such rooms on the premises. A hats off to Babydolls which is keeping all of its 50+ staff on full salary over the closure period.
Speaking of closed bars, Mandarin on Walking Street is also closed, albeit only temporarily. It is undergoing renovations.
Still in Pattaya, Skyfall is proving popular amongst those who like Sapphire with the girls at Skyfall sporting a similar look with suspenders. That said, with lady drinks at 200 baht, Skyfall is not going to be popular with Pattaya locals, some of whom baulk at the idea of 200 baht lady drinks when they can get 3 happy hour drinks elsewhere for less.
D Club A Gogo, on the corner of Walking Street and Soi Diamond, picked up many of the girls who left the now closed Living Dolls 1. The current lineup is said to be full of cuteys and some are hands on if you buy them a lady drink. Unlike so many bars today, the ladies in D Club actually hang around and don’t leave 90 seconds after you bought them a drink.
I note that some who had gained a reputation for saying rather a lot online about what it’s like to live the life in Pattaya have gone quiet. What’s that all about?!
For Aussies in Thailand, your embassy in the iconic building on Sathorn Road will close on July 27th, and a brand spanking new building will reopen to replace it on Monday, July 31st, about a mile up the road on Wireless Road, in the shadows of the glorious New Zealand embassy which sits high in the sky and looks down on the Yanks, the Brits and everyone else Please note that it is the embassy of Australia which is moving and NOT the Australia visa centre which is different. The visa centre is in the shabby Trendy Building in Sukhumvit soi 13, a couple of hundred metres up the soi past the Nigerian drug dealers.
While the reports of long lines at Immigration when flying in to Don Meuang are enough to make you want to avoid it, one positive is that the taxi queue is a lot better than it used to be, and the wait for a cab is typically only a few minutes. While no-one wants to queue after a long flight, I guess it’s preferable to do it inside the terminal waiting to be processed at Immigration than outside in the tropical heat waiting for a cab.
Just as I suspected, this year’s American Independence Day fair which was held last week had a poor turnout. Those who made it along said that it may have had the worst attendance in a very long time. Around 1,100 people visited, of which about 500 had free tickets because they were vendors, volunteers or sponsors. To put this in perspective, 5 years ago well over 2,500 attended. And in another gauge of how its popularity has dived, the chilli cook-off 5 years ago saw 19 companies compete. This year? Just 5! It’s yet more evidence of the changing face of Bangkok expats and the fact – yes, it is a fact – that families and middle-class Americans make up a much smaller percentage of expats than they once did.
Quote of the week is taken from a reader’s submission, “Any man who would praise the virtues of Thai prostitutes while simultaneously being so spiteful to virtually every other woman is no man at all.”
The Bangkok Post highlights some of the buildings with observation decks in Bangkok.
The Daily Mail looks at the situation of the Belgian woman found dead on Ko Tao recently.
Police in Pattaya are looking in to a biker gang who rev their engines loud and disturb locals.
More British newspapers are latching on to the don’t visit Ko Tao message.
A woman’s body is dug up on a Ko Samui beach in front of crowds of shocked onlookers.
A Brit talks of how he fled Ko Tao / Death Island after local gangsters threatened to hang him.
The Samui Times stands up to bullying by the Thailand authorities and the age-old Thai way of suing those who speak the truth.
Sunbelt Legal Advisors is here to answer all of your legal questions related to Thailand. If you have a question for Sunbelt, email it to me and I will forward it to Sunbelt and run their response in the next weekly column.
Question 1: I own a condo in Thailand, and would like to rent it out on a short-term basis when I am away using sites such as AirBnB. I have heard conflicting reports on the legality of doing this, and it seems to be a bit of a grey area. Could you please shed some light on the legality of renting out one’s condo for a few days at a time.
Sunbelt Legal responds: The Thai government requires buildings that rent out rooms on a nightly basis to have a hotel license. Thai law also requires that if you rent out your property you must inform the Revenue Department of the income rental you receive.
I wasn’t sure how the opening piece for last week’s column would be received and when I plopped myself down in front of my computer on Monday morning I expected a small number of emails. Generally, the fewer emails I receive on Monday morning, the less well-received the column has been. I was surprised by the largest response I have had to a column this year, far eclipsing the column on hidden video in Bangkok bars which generated a lot of talk. Even now, almost a week later, I am still not entirely sure why the column was so well-received and my best guess is that it resonated with a lot of people. Discontentment and disillusionment seem widespread amongst foreigners who have a history with Thailand, be they expats or regular visitors. I can only guess that last week’s opening piece resonated with many. As always, your thoughts are welcome, irrespective of whether you like the column, dislike it, agree with something I said, disagree, or whatever!
Your Bangkok commentator,