Stickman's Weekly Column September 13th, 2020

The Beauties Of Butterflies, 2020 Collection



Three weeks ago I ran a collection of photos of the ladies of Billboard, taken by the top Western glamour photographer in Thailand.

Feedback to that collection of photos was good but more than a few readers commented on the ladies’ tattoos – and in this respect the feedback wasn’t always positive. While it is a given that ladies working in the industry are more likely to have a tattoo or two than ladies outside the industry, a good few readers commented that heavily tattooed ladies is the norm these days. I don’t believe that to be the case.

This week I include a similar collection of photographs taken by the same photographer of the current lineup of beauties in Billboard’s sister bar, Butterflies.

These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago so this is essentially the current lineup of ladies in Butterflies. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok at this time and would like to get to know any of these ladies better, now is your chance. Butterflies is on the top floor of Nana Plaza, opposite Billboard.

 

 

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Billboard Bangkok
 

Mystery Photo

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Last week’s photo was taken at the food court in the basement of Siam Paragon. Many of you thought that it was Terminal 21. This week’s mystery photo was kindly provided by “MH”. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t know it – I didn’t know where it was until said reader told me. It is not some obscure out of the way location, and I imagine most readers have walked past, and no doubt a few of you have used the facilities.


Nana Plaza
 

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

Getting used to being masked.

I’ve been in Thailand since mid-March and have been wearing a mask the whole time. Initially I found them very uncomfortable and distracting, especially when wearing glasses. Now? Not a problem. Still a nuisance, sure, but not a bother. Normally I don’t forget putting one on for example when leaving the car at the supermarket, although yesterday I did just that and was reminded in a friendly manner by the temperature measuring man at the entrance of Central. I had to run back to the car and get one. Most Thais wear masks, but not all. I’ve learned to wear one when riding my bike. I do 35 km / day, 5 days / week and am happy to wear one – it keeps the black soot, road dust and pulverised dog shit out of my system, to a degree anyway which is definitely a plus.

Mask fatigue.

The wearing of masks has revealed a wide culture gap between East and West. To Asians, wearing a mask has long been considered normal, partly because of the appalling pollution in China and partly out of politeness. Westerners have never had to wear them and find the idea uncomfortable and obtrusive. But mask fatigue has set in, at least in my part of Thailand, far away from Bangkok. My wife recently went to a gathering at a temple, and in photos of 100 people or more there was zero social distancing and I saw only three people wearing a mask. How long the big-name supermarkets and similar will continue doing their temperature checks depends on when the government decides to loosen its control on the population. Meanwhile, the girl who checks me as I enter Tesco no longer even bothers to read it. However, I’ve watched a two-hour video shot in Bangkok and almost all Thais were masked up and only the few foreigners I spotted were mask-free.

Mask wearing is the new woke.

On face masks, I don’t think it’s a subjugation thing, but I understand why some might. To me it’s more about social responsibility and respect to others. As a guest in the country I have no problem with that. I live away from the business and tourist spots of Bangkok, but 80% of people are masked up today. Covid might be low in Thailand but with little testing seemingly going on outside quarantine centers and prisons until a case is found, it’s best to control it that way and masks are one such control. I cannot see it changing until a cure is found.

Dental ethics.

You are lucky that you have not needed a dentist, especially during your time in Thailand. My first brush (no pun intended) with Thai corruption came not long after I moved to the country. I needed to see a dentist and he told me I needed to have three teeth removed. I doubted that and left. 25 years later I still have those teeth. He was just after the money.

Diagnosis as a pacifier.

Many patients are given a diagnosis as a pacifier rather than a point of information.  With no objective evidence to back it up, a physician will hand out a name and a pill, knowing full well that is all it takes to satisfy most patients that they are being properly treated. The condition named is meaningless and the pharmaceutical is worthless at best, yet everyone is happy. As Voltaire said, “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient, while nature cures the disease.”

Medical profession concerns.

My dad worked as an x-ray tech early in his career and because he saw plenty of screwups by doctors and nurses, he was always very circumspect regarding hospitals and the medical profession. His rule was if you don’t absolutely need medical care, avoid hospitals as much as possible. If you can have a procedure done under local anesthesia do that rather than general anesthesia.

Dear taxi, tuktuk, and motorcycle taxi drivers.

The visa amnesty will expire on 26 September, and accordingly, Thailand will be nearly devoid of tourists from then until a Covid-19 vaccine is widely administered. Any foreigners you see walking about between the end of the amnesty and the reopening of the country are not tourists, and are probably not interested in your services, so please don’t proposition any of them, or honk your horn or flash your headlights at them. If they want a ride, they’ll indicate it.

 

Girl Of The Week

Deer, Butterflies, Nana Plaza No.218

Deer is taller than average at 165 cm tall and weighs 51 kg

She loves to travel and take trips with friends.
She also enjoys a good ride….on her motorcycle.
In the future she would like to be a hair stylist

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Pattaya was a boom town last weekend as Bangkok Thais and expats from around Thailand flooded to Sin City for the holiday weekend. The good times weren’t to last. Come Monday night, Pattaya had reverted back to what it has become known as these past few months, a ghost town.

And things aren’t totally terrible in Bangkok, despite what some of the doom and gloom merchants may tell you. As one foreign friend in Bangkok who enjoys the bars said to me this week, “This is expat paradise”. He went on to say most ladies have lowered their rates and you will get a whole lot more for a whole lot less than you would have earlier in the year.

In last week’s column I wrote that Crazy Cats in Soi Cowboy was closed. This week I can confirm that it is open again.

How much will a lady drink set you back in Jungle Jim’s in Soi Cowboy? A very reasonable 100 baht. If Jungle Jim’s can offer lady drinks at that price, perhaps other bars can do better with their lady drink pricing? I’ve said it before and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will say it again: 200 baht for a lady drink is more than many are prepared to pay. As Dave The Rave used to always say to me, customers don’t like to see lady drinks priced higher than their own drinks. It has been observed that the ladies in Jungle Jim’s are willing to go the extra mile to, how shall we say, suck customers in.

I continue to hear good things about Suzie Wong with some saying it is the best bar in Soi Cowboy at this time. Obviously that’s very subjective but enough people have made positive comments about Suzie Wong that there must be something in it.

There’s anecdotal evidence that more expats are returning to Thailand from abroad. Reports from quarantine facilities say there are plenty of foreigners returning with some employers stumping up for the quarantine that all foreigners must go through. And in the bars, one bar manager tells me that a number of regulars who had been out of the country for months are back – and very happy to be back with much back-slapping amongst them.

I hear multiple rumours of a partnership between two of the better chrome pole bars in Pattaya – Sapphire Club in the Walking Street area and Lady Love on Soi LK Metro. Some say one has been acquired by the other; others talk of a partnership. Lady Love was always a fun spot and Sapphire has long had a great lineup so whatever the deal is, I’d expect good things.

Still in Pattaya, Windmill and Pandora are 2 bars known for action. It would seem that KINK in Soi LK Metro can be added to the list of bars with one reader saying that last weekend there was some proper filth going down. I always found that sort of thing rather unseemly but if that is what rocks your boat, you know where to find it.

Banners have gone up on Sukhumvit soi 11 stating that a 512-room hotel spread over two buildings will be built on that huge vacant space. Like so many sois off Sukhumvit, soi 11 is narrow and the traffic can be terrible at times. Another monstrosity is only going to make things worse.

And on the subject of Bangkok hotels, the Nana Hotel has reopened. Currently, about 100 guest rooms are available on the 7th, 9th and 11th floors only. The pool and restaurant are open. Only Superior rooms are available at this time – and at a special discount of 20% off the normal price. I really must stay at the Nana Hotel some time, even if just for a night or two.

While business was decent in Pattaya last weekend, largely attributed to Bangkok farang hitting town for the weekend, it wasn’t that way at Patpong. Saturday night last weekend at Patpong was described as deathly quiet. A reader sent the photo below of Patpong soi 1 and commented that he’d be surprised if there was a total of 20 customers in all of the open Patpong gogo bars combined.

 

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Patpong, Saturday night last weekend, DEAD!

 

For expats in Thailand, your friends in Thailand are generally people you met in Thailand. In most cases you don’t actually know them that well. It’s not like friends in your homeland who may have grown up in the same neighbourhood, or been mates at university or perhaps long-time work colleagues. It’s not unusual for expats to later learn stuff about their friends in Thailand that they never knew – and sometimes you find out that the person you thought you knew never really existed. A few weeks ago I heard the story of a Canadian of Indian ethnicity who had been knocking around Bangkok for 15 odd years. He was known by those in to clubbing and the F&B industry. Like so many foreigners in Thailand, he really talked himself up. It seemed like he was always doing a deal on a new bar or claiming to be the main shareholder in some new hot spot around town. The stories sounded tall, but there was some truth in what he said. He was an entrepreneur who kept busy and apparently he was hard-working. He opened Roots on Sukhumvit soi 26 a while back, did pool parties and arranged a series of successful events called Altitude at various rooftop venues. But it wasn’t to last and it all came crashing down last month when he made a real amateur mistake, riding his motorbike drunk. He was stopped by Thonglor’s finest, breathalysed, found to be over the limit and was duly arrested and taken to the police station. There, he would be found to have traces of drugs in his system. He could have paid a fine and that would have been the end of it but, amazingly, this entrepreneur couldn’t raise the money, said to be 25K baht. The coppers dug deeper. Where was his passport? He claimed to have mislaid it. A check of Immigration records showed that he had overstayed his visa by more than 7 years. With no money, that meant one thing – he was going to be sent home. Next stop was the notorious Immigration Detention Centre before he would be deported to…..Bangladesh! The Canadian nationality bit was pure fiction and all part of the elaborate profile he had created. His arrest sent a shockwave through parts of the F&B industry. From all accounts, said fellow was not a bad guy, rather he appeared to be someone who made some poor decisions. Characters like this cause you to think: Just how well do you really know your friends in Thailand?!


Spankys Nana Plaza Bangkok
 

Readers outside of Bangkok tell me that mask-wearing is much less a thing the further you get from Bangkok. Even in Pattaya, I am told that the wearing of masks is nothing like it was even a month or two back.

Is The Bangkok Post unique in the world of newspapers? Can you name any other newspaper anywhere in the world where the letters to the editor are often better written and more coherent than the news articles written by staff writers? It struck me when reading a few articles in the Post this week how confusing so many articles are. Compare that with the letters to the editor page which for the most part contains correspondence that is clear and concise.

Have you noticed how some foreign retirees in Thailand – and I mean those of retirement age here – behave like millennials? Many retirees in Thailand are addicted to Facebook and seemingly have to check in to social media every hour or two. They frequently post photos to social media of what they had to eat, and they love trying to show off sharing their life on social media. Ok, so this happens all around the world….but it’s usually younger people who live on social media, not those of retirement age.

 

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Soi Bangla, Patong Beach, Phuket, in better days.

 

The mooted Phuket solution where foreigners keen to visit Thailand could fly to Phuket where they would spend a 14-day quarantine at a fancy resort followed by another 7 days where they could roam around Phuket island seems to have been put on the back-burner. Delayed is the official word but in Thailand, delayed often means canned and never to be heard of again.

I note the cost of a dodgy visa may be higher than in the past. Whether this is related to Covid-19 and the fact that some foreigners are desperate to stay in Thailand, I don’t know. A few years ago you could get a one-year visa through an agency for between 20,000 and 30,000 baht. Exactly which visa you ended up with depended on your personal situation. If you were over 50 it would be a retirement visa. If you were aged under 50 then it would be either a relationship visa or an education visa. It was a legal visa obtained through the back door and under the table. In some cases the visa was issued to a person who couldn’t navigate the visa process themselves and needed assistance. In other cases, the person could meet the financial requirements but the idea of using an agent is looked at as a kind of VIP service. Today, I hear that some agencies have increased the rate for said visas to between 40,000 and 70,000 baht. There is still the odd agent who can get a one-year visa for less than 30,000 baht but for sure, prices are moving north.

I hear a few stories of Thailand-based expats rushing to get married before September 26th as a marriage visa may be their only means of staying on in Thailand. If you already had plans to get married and are just bringing the date forward a little then fair enough, I get it. But if you had not had any intention of getting married but are desperate to stay in Thailand, do ask yourself if it really is the best thing to do.

 

This Week’s News-Feed / Thailand-Related News Articles

Quote of the week,The older Chinese-Thai women get, the more they look like men.”

Reader’s story of the week comes from Larry Cameron, “No, Thailand Will Not Be There Again“.

Thailand says it will finalise plans for foreign visitors by the end of October.

A customer is threatened with being charged extra after eating too much meat and shrimps at a buffet.

An opinion piece on Pattaya One News suggests that Walking Street is finished.

 

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Bangkok is an interesting place to be when things are turned upside down.

I can’t make up my mind about whether now would be a good time to be in Bangkok or not. On the one hand it’s quiet which, for me at least, is appealing. Crowds can add atmosphere but in recent years too many popular areas in Bangkok have been, to be frank, just too busy. These are unusual times and it would be interesting to be there in Bangkok on the ground and see first-hand how things are. When I think back to the times I was in Bangkok when there was unusual stuff happening like the red shirt protests, either of the coup d’états or the 2011 floods, it was fun – and there was much to write about. At the same time, even some of my love Thailand brigade friends tell me that things aren’t a lot of fun in Bangkok at the moment, especially in many of the places popular with Westerners. (Thai venues are much the same as usual, they tell me.) Of course it’s all a moot point and as much as I would like to get back to Thailand, it won’t be happening any time soon.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]