Stickman's Weekly Column November 10th, 2019

Bargirl Relationships, A Two-Way Street



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

He fled his violent – some say crazy – wife, in genuine fear for his life. That she has stabbed him on at least two different occasions was bad enough, she has also hurled boiling water over him. Now he sleeps on a sofa at his place of work. From all accounts she is crazy. The psycho is a former working girl and he was her customer.

Foreign men living in Thailand are much less likely to get involved with a working girl these days. It’s not always been this way, and not that long ago many Farang / Thai relationships started in a bar.

Things changed and the average Thai woman became more interested in foreign men. And then Internet dating became mainstream and meeting local women who had never stepped foot in a bar became super easy.

These days in Thailand I don’t come across that many newly formed bargirl / former customer relationships.

Just how successful – or otherwise – customer / working girl relationships are long-term, I don’t know. Conventional wisdom has it that these relationships are troubled, dysfunctional and most don’t work out. Whether it’s all that different to relationships where they met elsewhere, or even relationships in the West, I just don’t know.

The developed world is becoming more liberal. Men wear makeup, women play rugby and no-one thinks anything of it. But how many men willingly admit that their wife used to be a hooker and they used to be her john? Few are brave enough to reveal the truth. And that’s where the problem lies with bargirl / customer relationships – it becomes a life-long secret.

Making generalisations about a lady’s character because she worked in a bar is a riot when the gentleman concerned is just as complicit. Is there any more or less shame in being a hooker or a john?

I don’t think the average working girl these days plans to meet a guy to marry, and neither does the average customer go wife-hunting in the bars. Often relationships are a time of life thing – he’s been lonely for a while and she just happens to come along at the right time.

It’s not easy for a working girl to give up her job and settle down with a customer given how much many make. The money made working is usually far greater than she can expect to get from a husband. It wasn’t always like this – and many ladies entered the industry for the purpose of finding a husband. Not these days.

Many working girls make A LOT of money these days and even Miss Average can easily pull in north of 100,000 baht a month. The lookers can earn twice that. Why would she give that up? Bangkok expats have long warned to beware ladies who see money as the ultimate aphrodisiac – but in 2019 that seems hopelessly out of date. She’ll make more money in the bar than out of it.

Some find their soulmate….and all power to those who do.

Thai women are becoming increasingly pragmatic, working girls included. Where once they believed that a bad relationship experience would mean they were destined to the life of a spinster, today they have many options. Does that mean they might not try that hard? It’s the same for him – if things don’t work out he could just as easily go straight back to Walking Street or Nana Plaza and resume the hunt for a new wife.

If there is one major criticism I have of bargirl / customer relationships it is that each party doesn’t treat their beloved as one should. All too often he sees her as a former hooker and she sees him as a former john. Mutual respect is so often missing.

I have no idea what the odds of success are in bargirl / customer relationships. I know some who seem to be working well, and I know others which have crashed and burned.

I can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone who had thrown burning water over me or stabbed me, just as I can’t imagine being in a relationship with a former bargirl. But then as a Thai woman once said to be, I can’t imagine being involved with a guy who had used the services of a prostitute. It’s a two-way street.


Billboard Bangkok
 

Mystery Photo

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Last week’s photo was taken of the lobby and reception in the Landmark Hotel. More than 50 readers got it right. How many will get this week’s photo?


Nana Plaza
 

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

The sad reality behind some Loy Krathong bar parties.

A few years ago I knew a lass in Bar 4 on Soi Nana who told me that whist she loved the Loy Krathong festival, she did not like it that the mamasan made the staff dress in traditional garb at their own expense. So if you see a lass bedecked out on the day and she has a face like a smacked arse, you may know at least one reason why.

Bar staff aren’t your friends.

With regards to bar scams, there is an easy solution. Do NOT buy lady drinks and do not set up a bin. Instead, pay for each drink as it is ordered. And here I’m going to be rather nasty and say that unlike “locals” back home, Thai bars do not place emphasis on customer loyalty and the longevity of their patrons. Quite simply, the staff are not your friends regardless of what you may think.

Why no new bar areas are coming.

Regarding the topic of new bar areas, I would venture to guess that we may possibly never see a new bar area open again in central Bangkok. As you mentioned, land has become far too expensive. If a new one were to open, it would have to be pretty far out from the centre of town. But conversely, if something is too far away from the centre, no one will visit. That, and there wouldn’t be the infrastructure of hotels and restaurants close by to support foreign customers anyway. So said new bar area would most likely flop. And this is just speaking from an economic perspective. Another question would be whether or not the authorities would allow one to open. Of course this could all change if there were to be a drastic deflation in real estate values in Bangkok, but in order for that to happen the gusher of money from China would need to be cut off.

The beginning of the end?

When I saw Oasis had opened up on Soi Cowboy, I started thinking that it was the beginning of the end. A place for white couples to come and gawk. It’s not like they are doing anything new with Country Road and the bar opposite it offering a place away from the gogo bars. And then there are all of the patios on the street that have some kind of sports going on. If Oasis offers cheap beer that could be a good thing.

Postcard from Hua Hin.

I have only been in Hua Hin for one night but it’s busy with many farang, including big groups of older farang. There are also quite a lot of younger farang in smaller groups. There’s a good vibe here and everywhere is 80 baht beers. Happy hour beers until 8:00 PM are 60 baht everywhere. Barfines are 400 baht and short-time is 1,000 baht. There are hardly any Chinese or Indians. Not that that bothers me, it’s just an observation. Sanook mak.

Patpong, a breath of fresh air.

During my recent trip to Bangkok – my first time back in almost 5 years – I had one brief night in Cowboy. I sat outside to avoid the obnoxious and loud music, only to inhale cigarette smoke the entire time. I never returned. Similar experience in Nana, checked out the “best” in Nana and couldn’t wait to leave. I never returned. Patpong was both a throwback and a breath of fresh air. There are a couple of outdoor bars with live music, and the Thai Beatles in Shenanigans were excellent. As a side note, while in my brief visit to Nana I saw one Indian couple come into the bar, and a bit later a group of 4 Indian guys. In both cases, they looked at the menu, discussed it with the waitress (the music was too loud for me to hear any of the conversation), and they were told (not asked) to leave. I did hear that bit because she almost shouted, “Pai! Pai!

Skytrain and underground train station name confusion.

The most annoying things I find with the BTS and MRT is the lack of maps showing both the MRT and the BTS over the top of each other. It’s easy to find a BTS map or a MRT map but both together, they’re like finding rocking horse shit. And to make things worse, what’s with the station names? Why on the MRT do they use Sukhumvit but on the BTS it is Asoke? It’s the same place! Maybe Sukhumvit on the MRT should be renamed Asoke underground? The same applies for the other stations where the BTS and MRT cross.

Fewer Westerners seen.

I would like to reiterate what that correspondent said about the lines at Don Meuang Immigration. I was at that airport on four occasions last month having flown in and out of Phnom Penh and at no point was the queue any longer than 5 minutes. While I would expect this to occur once as a freakish occurrence, 4 times leads me to suspect that tourism amongst westerners is on the decline and what I witnessed in Pattaya with empty bars reinforces this. Last October it was the complete opposite. There were loads of mainland Chinese passing though. Last October I was getting 25/26 baht to the Australian dollar and now I am getting 20/21. I understand that major currencies have fallen against the baht. It is hard to attribute currency as the sole causative factor responsible for the decline in tourism but having prices effectively rise over 20% may have led many to reconsider their travel plans. I fortuitously booked a ticket back to Bangkok for late December at a very reasonable price so it will be interesting to see if there will be an actual high season.


Demonia Bangkok
 

every-weekend-craic

 

I used to be the ultimate Cheap Charlie and one of my fond memories is back in Nana Plaza some 20 odd years ago when Ricky would waddle through Vixens (or was it Rock Hard?) carrying this huge platter of food…free food! There were cured meats and cheeses and other interesting savoury items. If I remember right, it was every Thursday night. You knew who the English teachers were as we all swooped on the free food the moment Ricky put the massive tray of food down. Those days are long gone but The Craic is getting in on the act. The Craic is a recently opened bar in a small side soi just a little bit up Sukhumvit soi 22. It’s free food on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 PM onwards – and best of all, it will vary week by week so there’s every reason to go back.

And speaking of Cheap Charlies, the bar of that name that was a fixture on Sukhumvit soi 11 moved further down Sukhumvit a couple of years back. I thought that would be the end of it but Cheap Charlies is thriving in its new location off Sukhumvit soi 50 where it has become something of an after-work hangout.

Various people on the ground in Bangkok told me that business picked up markedly this past week. One friend whose observations I value said at times Sukhumvit was jumping.

It was standing room only in Spanky’s in Nana Plaza on Friday night with the party in full swing. A few doors along at Sexy Night it was the same story with the old school bar packing them in despite the ageing eye candy being even older than the golden oldies the DJ pumps out.

Cowboy was rammed in what is something of a turnaround after some quiet weeks. One does have to ask the question, however, how bars such as Spice Girls stay in business with customer numbers in the single digits?

And from Pattaya a bar boss also said things picked up from last weekend and the last week or has been the best in months. * As a side note, I noticed a jump in website traffic this week and also more engagement from readers with more emails. This is not uncommon in the leadup to high season which, encouragingly, suggests Stickman readers around the world are not put off by the bad news out of Bangkok in recent times and are still visiting.

Playskool on the ground floor of Nana Plaza has been sold by the Belgian and is now in the hands of the Twister Group. Hopefully, recruiting is top of their to-do list as last week it had 1 dancer on stage, 1 service girl and 1 bartender for a grand total of just 3 people working in the bar.

Mandarin Table Dance – that is the downstairs Mandarin bar – will reopen this coming Thursday night, November 14th, following a refurb.

 

mandarin-gogo-bangkok

 

Lighthouse in Soi Cowboy is known for its daily 100 baht drink specials, but did you know that Mandarin in Nana Plaza has a similar deal? And if the poster below looks similar to Lighthouse’s, that’s because it’s the same owners.

RG Gordon, the previous boss of The Strip and the author of the e-book Five Crazy Years Managing A Bangkok Gogo Bar will celebrate his birthday party at The Strip this coming Friday, November 15th. All are welcome.

When I was in town a couple of months ago it seemed like the only topic on expats’ minds was visa issues and the TM30 debacle – where expats had to report to Immigration every time they stayed the night somewhere away from their main residence. People were being fined for failing to report and told they could have problems extending their visa. Some wondered if it could affect their ability to stay in Thailand. There was a huge uproar from expats, meetings were held at Chambers of Commerce and a meeting with senior Immigration officials and farangs took place at the Foreign Correspondents Club. The impression was Immigration had dug their heels in and wouldn’t budge. There has been no official comment on any possible changes nor any admission that maybe they pushed things too far nor acknowledgement that the backlash of expats threatening to leave Thailand (and in many cases actually doing so) was genuine. But behind the scenes there have been changes made by Immigration. First, the online TM30 registration is no longer delayed, and landlords receive their password almost immediately, and no longer have to wait up to several weeks. Second, there have been many reported cases where Immigration officers have ignored the (missing) TM30 report and processed visa extensions as normal, making it clear to the applicant that the TM30 is the landlord’s responsibility and the expat tenant will not be held responsible for records that don’t match. These were the 2 main sticking points for expats whose landlords refused to comply. This is what is happening in Bangkok. Hopefully it’s the same in other centres.

 

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There was yet another sign this week that the number of foreigners residing in Bangkok on tourist visas is in decline with a visa run company cancelling their daily run to the border at the very last minute after not enough people turned up to make it worth the company’s while. A friend sent me an indignant message this week after he had turned up for a scheduled visa run at 4:30 AM along with two others. There were just three people keen to go to the border and the visa run company baulked at the idea of taking so few as presumably it is not worth their while to do so. “Have not enough customer, visa run cansun!” and with that 3 visa runners had to urgently find alternative transport to the border. No names mentioned but this is a well-known Bangkok visa run company. For those who use visa run services, beware that the service may be cancelled at the last minute. In other words, keep a day or two up your sleeve just in case.

A remind that Butterflies will celebrate its 3rd birthday with a huge party Saturday after next. Mark November 23rd in your calendar when Butterflies will go all out. Butterflies has come a long way in a short space of time and many nights is actually busier than Billboard – which is widely regarded as the best gogo bar in Bangkok. There will be 100 fresh-baked pizzas and buy one, get one free specials on selected beers and spirits. There will be special sexy shows and free t-shirts while supplies last. Some bars have a crude definition of a party where all they do is put up balloons, a cheesy sign and the hottest girl is slipped a thousand baht and told to go in to the office and suck the boss off. Fun for the boss but not for anyone else. Butterflies and Billboard parties are the real deal where everyone has fun!

 

butterflies-party-bangkok-picture-frame

 

If you were to open a bar or restaurant in Thailand, consider having both an indoor and outdoor area – if the venue allows it. A general observation is that farangs often like sitting outside while Asians tend to sit inside.

For those who may be considering Angeles City – either for a few days away or perhaps as a more permanent location to base oneself – at Halloween it was bars that made an effort and put on a show or had free drinks / food for customers in costume which seemed to be the busiest. The show put on at XS Club got positive reviews. Many hotels in Angeles are offering a 20% discount for rooms booked directly with them and paid for by cash. I am told that getting discounts for cash is quite common in the Philippines i.e. more so than elsewhere. Word is that Angeles still has a lot of Koreans and growing numbers of Chinese but Westerners outnumber them…..for now.

If you’re wondering what goes on in a fetish house, Sukhumvit soi 33’s Demonia will offer free entry to a cocktail party from 5:30 PM until 8:30 PM on Friday, November 22nd. This is a good opportunity for those who are not really in to fetish to go and have a look and see what it’s all about without paying the usual entrance fee. Details below:

 

demonia-bangers

 

Restaurants and even many smaller eateries in Bangkok are increasingly aware of the importance of hooking up with food delivery companies and the likes of Grab, Uber and LineMan as more and more customers prefer to have food delivered. When we were in town, the other half was disappointed that her favourite guay teeow shop has closed. The owner couldn’t get her head around technology and didn’t offer delivery while her competitors did. Increasingly, her customers – mainly middle-class Thais / office ladies – prefer to order food online and have it delivered. Said business owner didn’t adapt and is out of business. Things in the hospitality business in Bangkok tell me the growth in food delivery is running at double figure percentages per month.

Online privacy is something to take seriously and be careful of not divulging too much about ourselves, especially in Thailand. The Mrs. showed me a thread in one of the Thai female Facebook groups of a lady who wrote an innocuous post on Facebook looking for work. One of the first replies was unnecessarily harsh and some people took exception to that person’s harsh words. It set off a chain of events that saw the person’s background dug up, some things she’d rather not make public discovered and later posted all over the group for others to see how truly sanctimonious she was. It was revealed that she had once worked as an escort for which she was scorned and humiliated. Her husband, a Westerner, was accused of being a former customer of hers and he was dragged in to it all. It was genuinely nasty – but it all came about because the lady scorned had written unnecessarily nasty things about someone else in the first place. I find this all fascinating, from both a technology point of view as well as cultural – observing how vicious Thais become when they feel slighted. I guess the message here is twofold. First, be very careful of what you post / reveal about yourself / do online. And second, don’t get nasty or bully people online in Thailand because the past can come back to haunt you. OK, so maybe this isn’t all that different to what happens in the West, but what I’d say about Thailand is that the threshold for feeling slighted is much lower and the propensity for seeking revenge is much higher.

 

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Reader’s story of the week comes from master submissions writer Kloth, “The Lady From Blue Fox“.

Quote of the week comes from an old friend, “I do miss the old days when the bars were packed with mostly fat lonely old men. Now they bring their wives.“

A Kenyan woman’s life will change forever after being found to be carrying 1.2 kg of cocaine at the airport.

An American who shot a Thai police officer at the court in Pattaya before escaping custody and fleeing later shoots himself.

Terrible smog returned to Bangkok this week.

A crazy farang passenger opened the door on a plane on the tarmac in Chiang Mai about to depart for Bangkok.

A German is tied up and robbed in his own home in Phuket.

A condo owner is furious with a messy American.

A British drug-dealer is arrested in Pattaya.

 

pattaya3

A charming Pattaya local shows off his ink.

 

I didn’t make it down to Pattaya when I was last in town. I had planned to stop by Sin City but in the end the idea of being down there when it was rainy season put me off. I’m grateful to friends and regular readers as well as the odd bar boss who sends news and gossip from Sin City. I’ll definitely make it down there next time. It’s been too long between visits and while I don’t miss Bangkok, I have to admit I wouldn’t say no to a visit to Pattaya. I know Pattaya is a shithole so I guess it’s a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]