There’s much I look forward to before I get on the plane to Bangkok. I’m a creature of habit and I tend to do many of the same things each trip. I stay in the same hotel. I exercise every morning at Benjakit Park. I always visit May Kaidee out near Khao San Road and that area, along with Chinatown and Little India are places I visit every trip. I like to take one red bus trip and I do my best to get on the Saen Saeb Canal boat and the Chao Praya River Express too. Many of us enjoy all of that stuff, right? There’s another thing I have done every trip for the past 3 years that other visitors don’t do.
On every visit to Bangkok over the last 3 years I have been lucky enough to shoot the sexy ladies in Billboard, the best bar in Bangkok.
I don’t get excited like I used to when shooting in the bars, but Billboard is different. The owners are organised and shooting the girls is much easier than it is in other bars. As luck would have it, the bar has lighting which makes it less challenging to shoot inside. And who can complain when a column chronicling the nightlife presents a collection of photos from the best bar?
But as Covid-19 rages out of control all around the world, none of us outside the country will be visiting Thailand as a tourist any time soon. As keen as I am to get back to Bangkok this year I just don’t see it happening. The cycle will be broken, and I won’t get to shoot in Billboard this year.
But it’s not all bad news. The best Western glamour photographer in all of Thailand was in Billboard last week and took some magnificent shots. I have been given permission to publish shots from that photo shoot.
What follows is a selection of photos of the ladies currently working at Billboard. I don’t know any of their names, ages, details or anything. I’ve never met even one of them – but you can. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok at this time you can make the rest of us jealous by stopping by and meeting them for real.
Last week’s photo was taken on Sukhumvit Road near Ploenchit Centre and Sukhumvit soi 2. Krung Thai Bank is in the background. The photo was taken not much more than a hundred metres from Soi Nana, yet only five of you got it right. One reader said it was Rung from Buriram and another said it was Lek from Babylon This week’s splendid view was taken on one of the only (if not the only) streets in Bangkok named after a foreigner.
Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.
The past is the past.
Sad take of that guy’s email, “The cat got the cream”. Sad that this guy has to make a point that the girl that did good was a hooker once. So what?! I am sure he has pulled plenty of girls who have a long history of customers. How much sex one had in one’s past, be it more or less, is an unnecessary conflict point in some western relationships.
Tips for quarantine.
To comment about a farang spouse flying to Thailand, my brother and his Thai wife along with their two kids finished alternative state quarantine this past Wednesday. They flew in from Los Angeles and there was no problem with him being on the same flight as his Thai wife and their Thai / American children. They had two hotel rooms with an internal door between them, and stayed about 400 meters north of Nana. His comment for others going through quarantine is try to get a microwave since most of the food from the hotel was at best only warm when it was delivered to their room. On the flight from Los Angeles, he saw only one other farang on the plane. It cost him about 170,000 baht for the AQS for two rooms and four people.
Changing behaviour because of constant police hassles.
The police are still targeting foreigners here in Bangkok. It has gotten to the point now that when I am in Bangkok, if I am staying at a hotel along the BTS Sukhumvit line and I head out after midnight in a taxi, I have the driver drop me off at Phrom Phong BTS station. From there I walk either one stop to Asoke or two stops to Nana so I don’t have to deal with the crap and inconvenience of the cops taking me out of the taxi and searching me.
Barfine rates need to come down.
You asked if more money would be spent in gogo bars and whether more barfines would be paid if barfine rates were to be lowered. My answer to that question is YES, ABSOLUTELY! Gogo bar owners need to understand that they are competing with the freelancer scene. Freelancers are just as attractive as gogo dancers. Often, it’s the very same girls! At a disco you don’t have to pay a barfine, there are no lady drinks and the lady’s rate is often lower than in gogo bars. It makes the cost of time with a freelancer considerably lower than with a gogo girl. That’s one reason why the discos are full while the gogo bars are nearly empty, at least that’s how it is here in Pattaya. If barfines were reduced from 1,000 baht (some places even charge 1,500 baht before midnight) to, let’s say, 500 baht, the difference between meeting a lady in a disco and a gogo bar wouldn’t be so bad. Today, nearly all of my friends go to discos but not often to gogo bars for this very reason. Gogo bar owners might like to lower barfines, at least on weekdays, to give us a reason to visit their bars.
Saturday night on Sukhumvit.
I had a wander along Cowboy around 10 PM last night. Very quiet and many places still with the lights out. Heavy rain earlier in the evening didn’t help. There were way more ladies than punters! Overall, sad to see not much life in the soi although the music bars by the soi 21 entrance seemed busier. Tilac open but only serving drinks outside. I went to the plaza which was a bit better in terms of footfall and felt a bit livelier. Decided on the new Random bar. Good line up of ladies. 11 PM and only my friend and I in the bar! So plenty of choice. Didn’t stay long but here’s a nice touch. The lady who served drinks and dealt with my checkbin came back and delivered change for 1K. Whether it was the lighting or a few too many Sangsom + sodas, I handed her what I thought was a 100 baht note as a tip. She laughed and handed it back as it was a 500 baht note. I thanked her for her honesty and gave her 200 baht. Seconds later she came back with an umbrella as it was raining again. Obviously it had been left by a customer but a nice thing to do. I’d certainly go back to the bar.
20 customers at Patpong.
At 10:30 PM on Monday night, I took a tour of Patpong soi 1 and 2. I stuck my head in pretty well every gogo bar that was open, which was most. All had either just a few customers or none at all. I wouldn’t refer to the energy as being dead or mai sanuk. Rather the opposite! There were lots of women around. It’s like every place had “ladies night”. Of course, it’s not good for the staff and business owners. I would guess that I was one of about 20 customers at the gogo bars in the whole Patpong area.
Postcard from Samui.
I am in Samui at the moment and it’s dead. 90% of the shops are closed. It’s funny to see how an island targeting tourists is selling the same stuff you can buy at MBK. Samui is a nice place but it is stuck in the ‘90s.
Readers in both Bangkok and Pattaya tell me that gogo dancers are freely giving their phone number / Line contact details to customers in the bar. There have long been rules against this as it circumvents the barfine system and the bar misses out on revenue. Some bars impose harsh punishments on girls who do this, but with business so lousy and the girls desperate to make money, they are ignoring the rules. I guess they figure they have nothing to lose?
The Strip in Patpong soi 2 has reopened. The Japanese fellow who ran it for almost a year is out of the picture and ownership of The Strip has reverted back to the group which runs Bar Bar and Black Pagoda.
Times are tough and discounting is becoming more widespread across full-service massage houses. Dozo on Sukhumvit soi 33, which is popular with Japanese expats, is offering a 30% discount. That brings the price of 40 minutes of fun down to 1,260 baht. Hera’s, also on soi 33, has a sign outside saying 20% off.
Mamasans at some of the full-service massage houses on Sukhumvit soi 24/1 are offering a discount to punters who look like that is what is needed to seal the deal. The standard rate is around 2,000 baht up but customers showing interest are finding prices tumble if they look like they might step outside and in to the shop next door. One hopes that the discounting doesn’t mean the ladies earnings tumble. I hate to sound cynical but it would not surprise me if a 500 baht discount offered to a customer was taken entirely out of the lady’s share. I really am cynical, aren’t I?!
How much do the ladies make in the massage houses in the likes of Sukhumvit sois 24/1 and soi 33 when the full fee is paid in advance to the house? It varies, but typically they get between 50% and 75% of the fee paid.
Bar Bar (Patpong), Demonia (Sukhumvit soi 33) and The Castle (3rd Road, Pattaya) are all fetish houses. A fetish event will take place at the three fetish houses over three different days. This will be a little different to your typical bar event and will feature wine tasting and other promos. Entry is 950 baht and includes 3 glasses of wine. Is fetish for you? As they say, “Never try, never know!”
The word on Art Box is that its last day in its present location at Chuwit Park is Monday of next week, August 31st. It will move to a new location beside the Petchaburi MRT station.
In Pattaya, many bars have for sale signs up outside; others have signs saying the space is available for lease. New signs are said to be going up every week.
But it’s not all bad news in Pattaya and some bars are doing ok. One bar boss has been thinking outside of the square. Imagine going to 4 gogo bars, choosing the best girls from each bar and putting them all in to one bar. That is exactly what long-time bar operator Big Andy has done. Dollhouse is jammed with girls where it’s not just the Dollhouse crew, but also the girls from XXX Lounge, Beavers and Club Electric Blue, all in the one bar! Trade on Walking Street has been described as woeful but Dollhouse is said to be bouncing. If I was out and about in Pattaya after dark, Dollhouse would be my first port of call.
Reports of police hassles on Sukhumvit Road east of the Asoke intersection continue. One fellow who was stopped by police published a very clear photo of the policeman who stopped him for no reason, and then told him to go back to his country! More details here : WritingByMatt. The police are looking for expats with drugs or Japanese with electronic cigarettes so they can hit them with a hefty fine.
Over the years I have had emails from more some readers who have called these police stops and hassles “fake news”. They pass through the area frequently and have never been stopped – which may well be true – but it doesn’t mean that this is not happening. MANY people have been stopped and there are so many stories online and in dedicated Facebook groups about this phenomenon. I know, it’s hardly newsworthy as it happens all the time but I still think it’s worth mentioning.
A new takeaway-style fish and ship shop opened on Sukhumvit soi 33/1 this week. Busters can be found right next door to Danish Bake on the part of soi 33/1 that goes down from the original Villa supermarket branch. One piece of fish and chips will set you back between 330 and 440 baht, depending on the type of fish you choose. I know it’s downtown Bangkok – which has become pricey in recent years – but for just one piece of fish and chips in what was described to me as modest surroundings sounds kind of pricey. Nonetheless, I wish Buster’s every success.
What do you make the name of the dim sum restaurant in the JW Marriott hotel? It’s called Man Ho!
And speaking of the JW Marriott, the price for the buffet has come down. 650 baht might not seem cheap per se, but it’s a bargain for a buffet lunch in a top 5-star hotel. A friend who was passing by said it was bedlam at the buffet at the Marriott this week. It’s yet more evidence that in these troubled times customers respond to sharp pricing.
I hear that the restaurant discount site HungryHub.com is gaining in popularity. If you like Eatigo, you may want to check out HungryHub too.
I notice a special deal on Hungry Hub this week for unlimited Kuroge Wagyu at just 4,500 per person if booked through HungryHub. Presumably it costs more if you went directly to the restaurant and didn’t avail yourself of the HungryHub discount price. 4,500 baht for beef…..bargain!
The other half and I had a conversation about one of my pet peeves in Thailand – reasoning with, or should that be attempting to reason with, a Thai person. The other half simply reiterated what I already know – it doesn’t often work and as such I shouldn’t try. She was quite pointed in saying not to push a point with a Thai person too hard. “They mightn’t have a brain but they probably have a gun.”
One of the things I have come to miss about Bangkok is being around young people with all of their energy and enthusiasm for life. Add to that the fact that many young Thais are just plain cheerful. As nice as New Zealand may be, at times the part of the country I call home feels like God’s waiting room. It’s popular with retirees and with no university in this city, the brightest youngsters disappear in their late teens and may never return, at least not permanently. These past few months with our ability to travel internationally taken away from us I have come to realise that being around young people is something I really like about Bangkok, and something I miss.
If you fancy a staycation, there are hotel bargains galore in Thailand at the moment, particularly in Bangkok but elsewhere too. They may not be that widely promoted so you might have to search to find them. It’s worth calling hotels direct and having a chat with the reservations department to see what specials they have. If you like the idea of a couple of relaxing days away in a flash hotel enjoying good food and a bit of a change of scenery at prices that are lower than they have been in a very long time, now is the time to do it.
This Week’s News-Feed / Thailand-Related News Articles
Quote of the week comes from a reader, “I’m not a “Cheap Charlie, I’m a Broke Bobby.”
Reader’s story of the week – actually, the only submission this week, is “Lost ATM Card“.
One of Bangkok’s oldest restaurants will close this month.
Covid-19 is causing a rethink for the tourism industry in Bangkok.
A mad man swinging an axe in a village in the northeast is shot dead by police.
Sky News UK takes a look at Thailand’s killer roads.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org