Stickman's Weekly Column July 7th, 2019

Giving Up The Booze, Almost



I’ve all but given up alcohol. Drinking just doesn’t do it for me anymore. It wasn’t a conscious decision to largely stop drinking, it just sort of happened and I guess now I am acknowledging it.

This week I was tidying up some stuff and came across some bottles of wine I bought 10+ years ago. That was a time when my wine palette was developing. I bought some good stuff to sit on and let it age. Now is probably the ideal time to drink it, but it just doesn’t grab my fancy.

Going off alcohol wasn’t a conscious decision. Looking back, I think it just happened gradually, over time. In Bangkok, some friends commented that it seemed like I didn’t want to meet up with them. I did want to meet, but I admit that I was finicky about where we would meet – and that was because I just didn’t want to drink. But some take the idea of meeting for a chat over an afternoon coffee the same way as if you suggested meeting at Casanova.

I never was what you’d call a “drinker”. I have always enjoyed a good night out – and alcohol is often a part of a good night out. But these days I just don’t enjoy myself much when drinking. 2 drinks – 3 max – and I tend to make my excuses and leave. I can’t put my finger on why, but the whole drinking thing just isn’t for me any more.

I guess it was around late 2013 / early 2014 that I started turning down offers to meet friends for a drink, “But I’d be happy to grab a coffee or meet for dinner.” For most that was fine. For some it wasn’t. Preferring not to drink saw some friendships die a slow death. If alcohol wasn’t part of it, they weren’t keen to meet up. Some friends were more like drinking buddies – and when the drinking is over, so is the friendship. No sweat, I’m fine with that.

The irony is that there are two famous wineries within walking distance of home. But I just don’t drink much at all these days.

I almost never drink at home – but I will have a tipple when we have guests. Drinking alone at home? I think just once in the last couple of years. A couple of years back I remember I had 3 beers one night. Woohoo, that’s a big night for me! I’d been working on the other half’s visa application and it was mildly stressful and I felt like needed a drink. Those 3 beers must have helped because the visa was granted without so much as a single question or request for further documents.

I don’t have any issues with alcohol. No addiction issues. I don’t go silly when I drink and seldom drink to excess. The last time I had too many was about 5 years ago. And it’s not a decision based on healthy living – the benefits of hardly drinking at all are merely a bonus. I think I’ve just lost the taste for alcohol.

I think the last time I had a drink was a couple of German wheat beers at G’s in Silom soi 4. A German beer goes down well with a hearty German meal. And the last time I had a drink here in Kiwiland? Back in January, if I am not mistaken, when we had a couple of Thai houseguests who wanted to drink some wine. It was fun to sit outside, and knock off a few bottles of wine with them. When out with friends I haven’t seen in a while, I still enjoy a drink. But that’s about the only time I drink these days.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of not drinking is that I sleep well. In my 20s and 30s, I’d sleep sound after a few drinks. Not now. Alcohol is invariably followed by a restless night’s sleep. That’s a good reason not to drink but again, it wasn’t the reason that I tend to refrain these days.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not campaigning against alcohol and am not saying anyone shouldn’t drink. If you enjoy a drink, then drink! If you enjoy a few drinks every night, good for you – fill your boots and enjoy yourself!

So what has this got to do with Thailand? When you don’t feel like drinking, some doors in Bangkok close and you may find yourself on the outer in some social settings. You’re less likely to be invited out and your social circles can change.

Bar owners are perplexed when they offer me a drink and I ask for water. I’m sure some think there’s something wrong with me but are too polite to say.

I still have the occasional drink, but pretty much only when in the company of old friends.

I’ll have a drink when I am next in Bangkok but until then, my small collection of wine will continue to gather dust.

 


Billboard Bangkok

 

 

Mystery Photo

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Last week’s photo was taken while sitting at Sam’s 2000, a favourite spot of mine to start the evening on Soi Cowboy. I was surprised so few people got it right – it’s a great spot to people watch. With this week’s photo, I am looking for more than just the name of the waterway – what is the actual location?


Nana Plaza

 

Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.

Postcard from Sukhumvit.

Your comment on freelancers on Soi Nana is spot on. The number of ladies in the Nana Hotel car park and on the street is the most I’ve seen in years. In contrast, the bars are dead and Nana Plaza really doesn’t seem like it has much in the way of foot traffic. Sukhumvit generally feels very quiet with not many western tourists around. However, Sukhumvit soi 11 feels downright busy and Havana Social and Hemingway’s (the food is still excellent) were buzzingly busy last night despite a major rainstorm going through. There is definitely a transition going on and fewer naughty boys appear to be visiting Bangkok.

Pesky cops.

Bangkok and Thailand has lost its appeal to me. Partly because the baht is so strong, and mostly because staying at my mother-in-law’s house in Bangkok Noi surrounded by non-drinkers in a suburb with nowhere to go grab a cold one does my head in. This stopping foreigners by the cops has got to be publicised and every stop should be photographed with all images displayed on Facebook or YouTube. What would be handy is something similar to what I had in Japan, a legal card written in Japanese and laminated, informing the cops of my rights if they stopped me. A lot of my foreign mates had one. None of us got in any trouble but we were stopped for bicycle registration checks at times, and sometimes for no reason. I remember getting off the train at my school stop and being told to show my alien card as a crime had been committed by a foreigner. I told the copper I am sure the guy who did it was very tall, and he agreed sending me on my way. I’m 5 foot 7. I never had to produce the “I have rights card” but it was nice to have it. Surely some legal-minded expat could produce some in Thai to get distributed to show the police if required.

How to stop police harassment.

With regards to the Thai police targeting male foreigners, the only way to cure the problem is media coverage outside Thailand – and the authorities in these countries subsequently declare the situation to be unacceptable. Don’t treat our citizens this way! Likewise, business scams operated from Thailand seldom target Chinese from mainland China. At least not anymore. There was a bust in Pattaya earlier this year. This after Beijing declared how unhappy they were over the situation, and pointed out how Chinese tourist arrivals have soared, and how Thailand will benefit from Belt and Road Investments in Cambodia and other forms of economic cooperation. Is a smooth ride with China these days more important than good contacts with USA, Australia and Europe? Police harassment of Westerners and Japanese will continue until there is a tangible cost for Thailand.

Police stops at the Rama 4 and Rachada intersection.

I have never been stopped while walking in Bangkok but I have been pulled over while in a taxi a couple of times, both in the same place, 6 months apart, at the corner of Rama 4 and Rachada roads on the way back to Sukhumvit late at night from Patpong. The first time I was asked to get out and one of the police asked the driver if I was drunk. As I understood what the cop was saying I answered in Thai, that I wasn’t drunk. I think he was a little surprised that I understood. I was polite, they were polite, there was a half-hearted search of my pockets and I was on my way. The second time the same again although I spoke no Thai with them. I was alone both times. Then last November at more of an official checkpoint near the Asoke junction, one policeman shone his torch into the cab and then indicated to another further along to pull me over. I was with a girl at the time. Maybe I had had a few too many beers that night and as the door was opened I said a cheery “Sawadii Kap” to the policeman which appeared to be something he wasn’t expecting. He just said “Oh”, closed the door and sent us on our way.

No dickheads policy.

I agree about the competitiveness among expats here. This is still the case even among more successful long-time expats, many of who are older, have sound businesses, or have achieved a veneer of so-called respectability in the various business networking organisations. I got to know a lot of them in my first 3 years here as a resident. I found discussions quickly turned into arguments, driven by an inexplicable and petty competitiveness. The most paltry thing would set them off, like getting a particular soi wrong or recalling a bar from the past and mixing up its name. They take offence at anything. Some of them literally lose their minds in the space of a few seconds. Some of the attitude, I suspect, is a hangover from the old days when Bangkok, and especially the p4p scene, was more of a “little secret” than the mainstream attraction it is now. When losers suffering from low self-esteem landed here in the 1980s and 1990s, it was easy to feel like a god. They jealously guarded it against invaders. An “I know more than thou” competitive attitude developed which especially spilled over during the mid-late 2000s when many bloggers were targeted, probably out of jealously they had gained an upper hand. In the last 2 years I have implemented my own “no dickheads” policy (borrowed from the All Blacks’ famous team selection policy) and I’m much happier for it. I have a small circle of friends, and I prefer to stick to them.

Bach in the toilet.

I have to hand it to Chaeng Watthana Immigration for playing Bach piano music in the toilets. The music is a sliver of tranquility and beauty in a corner of an otherwise distressing, hideous structure.


Spankys Nana Plaza Bangkok

 

Big Andy of Club Electric Blue fame has acquired popular Pattaya gogo bar, Babydolls. No changes will be made whatsoever during July and it will remain business as usual. On August 1st it will close for a remodel and there will be an opening party on August 10th when the bar reopens under its new name, Beavers Pattaya Adult Playground.

The next Nanapong dance contest will be held in Dollhouse, Pattaya, on September 21st. As best as can be remembered, it will be the 20th anniversary of when Big Andy and Darel opened the very first Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza.

Windmill A Gogo, a long time favourite with Pattaya retirees and known for hands on action, was raided by the police this week after a farang informant discovered girls in the bar not of legal age. The bar did reopen the next night but that does not necessarily mean that it won’t be ordered closed for a while. Closure orders following such indiscretions are not issued immediately.

Still in Pattaya, the new Scooters, which was previously Secrets, has closed for another refurb – it sounds like a big one this time as the bar will be closed for almost 2 months – and will reopen on September 1st. The hotel upstairs remains open.

From present day Pattaya to the Pattaya of the past, who remembers Cheers Bar in Soi Pattayaland 2 and the two characters, Stan and Colin? The bar has long gone but a reader asks what happened to Stan and Colin. Many a relaxing evening was spent in Cheers Bar watching the cast of Pattaya walk past, back when Soi Pattayaland 2 was one of Sin City’s hot spots. Cheers Bar didn’t have any hostesses and was a nice relaxed ‘off night’ venue. Stan was American and Colin was a proud Welshman. Any info of Stan or Colin would be welcomed, especially an email address if anyone has one.

Up the road in Bangkok, every Saturday from 3 PM – 8 PM, Lollipop in Nana Plaza is running an all you can drink special for just 499 baht. Two beers are on offer and they will swap each week. A great deal for drinkers and if it’s anything like the old all-you-can-drink deals in Cathouse, it will be popular.

Another Bangkok gogo bar is doing the double lady drink thing – the lady drinks just one drink but the customer is charged for two. Maybe the girls in there really do think they are high-end traditional Japanese hostesses?

Bar owners which have this double lady drink policy might want to reconsider it if my email inbox is anything to go by. If you’re going to charge punters 320 / 340 / 360 baht for a lady drink, be open and tell the customer from the outset. I get it that the bars want to look after the girls and that bars need to run at a profit – but you’ve got to keep your customers happy too! Successful business manage to keep all of the owners & investors / staff / customers happy.

 

nana-hotel-bangkok-repairs

The Nana Hotel us undergoing repairs to its exterior. Photo supplied by a reader.

 

Many of the rooms in the Nana Hotel have been renovated, and now it is the turn of the exterior of the famous hotel where repairs are taking place on the facade. Hopefully this means the hotel has a future and with a bit of luck, it won’t be demolished like so much of the old Bangkok which is disappearing fast.

A heads up for those travelling to Thailand next week to party, Tuesday July 16th and Wednesday July 17th are Buddhist holidays. That means alcohol probably won’t be available.

What is this BS badge of honour some expats come up with claiming I have lived in Thailand for xx number of years when in fact they have not and the number is an exaggeration? One of the funniest things I hear people say is that they have lived in Thailand for, let’s say, 20 years, when in fact they haven’t. This is particularly prevalent amongst offshore workers who likely spend not much more than a third of their time in Thailand – and most of their time at work abroad. Then you have those who have lived in Thailand on and off for 20 years but perhaps had a few years in a neighbouring country and a few years back home and, again, the total time spent in Thailand is more like 7 / 8 / 9 years than the 20 they claim. They may have lived in Thailand 20 years ago and they may live in Thailand now – but that doesn’t mean they have lived in Thailand for 20 years. It’s a bit like those who say they can speak Thai but can’t say much beyond giving directions to a cab driver or negotiating a short-time rate!

For those of you in Bangkok on the ground and who are out and about playing, has there been any relaxation by the girls with their asking rates? It’s quiet, the girls are getting less trade and making less money. Have asking rates fallen? Are the girls more willing to negotiate? I know, I know, we joke that in Thailand when business is bad, prices go up – but the other side of this is that people have to eat – as do those family members who the girls support, and at the end of the day 1,000 or 1,500 baht might be 500 – 1,000 baht less than they would like – but it still buys plenty of food in Thailand…

 

bangkok-banana-split

 

When I first moved to Thailand, conversation about anything to do with life between the sheets was avoided. In the space of a generation that has all changed. Sexual innuendo is quite common in Thailand these days and it’s hardly unusual to overhear Thai women talking about topics you never heard them talk about previously. On that note, the banana and ice-cream dish photographed above was served to a female friend in Bangkok this week and is a sign of the times. No way would it have been presented like this in the past.

Following on from the opening piece in last week’s column where a reader was stopped by Thai police and searched, in such a situation should you speak English with the officers or if you can, speak Thai? I understand the respective arguments for and against but I genuinely don’t know which is best. On the one hand, speaking Thai shows that you are probably a local and may not be a pushover. That might cause the officers to be a little more careful with you. At the same time, speaking English, playing dumb and pretending you don’t know what they want may be an effective strategy. These days, I genuinely don’t know which is best. Personally, I prefer to speak Thai but that’s generally my policy with most Thais. Unless they speak really good English, communication is easier in Thai. What do you think?

Stick Media, the owner of this website and several other popular online brands, is looking for a full-time advertising salesperson. The requirements are as follows: You need a proven track record. You must be personable, presentable and polite, and a native English speaker (Thai is a plus but not essential). The role is to generate new business, liaise with current and new advertisers, oversee invoicing and payments. The package is a basic salary with commission. OTE 100K baht per month. This position comes with a visa, a work permit and health insurance. Please send your resume with an introduction about yourself to: [email protected]

 

300x300-discount-promo

 

Reader’s story of the week comes from Anonymous, “Goodbye Thailand, Hello USA“.

Quote of the week comes from Chang Paarp, “It seems that the use by date for bar workers has blown out from mid 30’s to will wear a dress and has a pulse.”

The South China Morning Post looks inside Thailand’s social media sales industry.

Compulsory insurance for visitors to Thailand was talked about again this week.

From October, Bangkok’s main airport expects to welcome 200,000+ travellers per day.

A German who helped his wife sell BBQ chicken on the side of the road in Isaan and was featured on social media turns out to be a wanted man back in his native Germany.

Thailand – Land Of False Smiles is a damning article about the state of the tourism industry in Thailand.

An on the run German who opened a bar with his Thai girlfriend in Chaiyaphum province has been arrested on an international arrest warrant.

 

mt-taranaki

The green pastures of my corner of Farangland are nice, but I do miss Bangkok!

Some expats may be leaving Thailand for the green pastures of their homeland but just because someone doesn’t want to live in Bangkok doesn’t mean they don’t miss the place. I know from time to time I might rant about what’s going on in Bangkok and I’ve probably gone a bit overboard about how bad this low season has been. I think I need to get things back in to balance. I have been planning my next jaunt to Bangkok and I can’t help but get excited. As I make notes on friends to catch up with, where to eat (and even where to drink!), the anticipation of the fun that awaits is as strong as ever. Even after all these years, visiting Bangkok still excites me. The city still has a hold over me, and I guess it probably always will. And I know many of you feel the same way. So don’t despair if at times I rant a little bit too much or dwell on the negative – I still can’t go more than a few months without visiting Bangkok.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]