Bangkok News & Gossip
There is no opening piece this week. The opener I have been working on needs more work and I’d prefer to work on it a little more rather than publish something I’m not happy with. This week’s column still has plenty of news and gossip from around the traps. I hope you enjoy this week’s edition.
Last week’s photo was taken in Sam’s 2000, on Soi Cowboy. Obviously this week’s photo is somewhere a bit more upmarket. Note, this photo was not taken recently, but rather was taken at a special event. The location of this mystery photo is somewhere in downtown Bangkok.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Does Thailand have too many vloggers?
Since the pandemic broke out, I’ve had to get my Thailand fix through YouTube. It was interesting at first but now the vlogs seem the same, but with different hosts. You have the traveling couples for whom Thailand is just a stop. Then there are the digital nomads who hope to make money through vlogging. There are would-be barflies who are probably bored of hitting bars day after day, night after night, and just wanna vent about something or do something different. Quite a few vloggers end up interviewing each other in videos. Among the vlogs I’ve watched, Thai-rish Times, Retired Working For You and Bangkok Pat have had me watch more than a few. Yet it gets really repetitive when people visiting or living in the Land of Smiles make videos about the same spots, same walks and same stuff. I remember one successful vlogger (not based in Thailand) who advised aspiring vloggers to forget about South-East Asia, especially Thailand, as the region has gotten way too saturated for that (and I hardly think the Thai government will offer a vlogging visa). I guess that hasn’t stopped people from pouring into Thailand and thinking they can support themselves via vlogging. I suspect the great resignation has something to do with that, as many people in jobs they don’t care for want a bit of adventure in their lives. Still, it’s nice having a lot of information on a country I hope to visit soon again.
That “Pricey airfares” reader’s email sounds like a letter written in the 1970s.
“I contacted 2 of the main travel agents in the UK and was left holding on the phone for ages.”
“Economy starts around £800.”
“Amongst the airlines I tried were…”
A 2-minute Google search reveals the lowest airfare in economy between LHR and BKK at the end of June is 480 GBP return on Gulf Air. No need to hold the phone for ages or try specific airlines one by one. Was it an e-mail or did it arrive by post?
I read your contributor’s email about airfares from London to Bangkok. Having been flying LHR – BKK – LHR regularly for the past 16 years, I have gained a lot of experience in getting the cheapest fares. I always use the flight comparison site Skyscanner to start with. This can give you all flights, either for specific dates or charts for whole months. The prices given by your email writer are far in excess of what is quoted on Skyscanner for the period mentioned in the email. I looked up Auckland to Bangkok return and see that there are no direct flights and the flight time is about the same as from UK to Thailand, but the fares are quite a bit higher. It’s always best to compare to get a feel, then try and get the same or better with the airline itself. Just be aware of the ‘hold baggage not included’ ploy.
The nastiest bar.
You said, “Crazy House might not be as nasty as, say, Windmill Club in Pattaya.” Nowhere is as nasty as Windmill! We were in there about 2 weeks ago. Horrendous place, never again! Some older bloke was thumbing (yes, thumbing!) some girl on stage. When he was finished he casually used a wet wipe to clean said digit. It was truly disgusting.
Thumbs up for the mutes.
You recently mentioned deaf-mute freelancers. I have been with two such ladies. The first time, I had stopped at an outdoor sidewalk food place late one night. It was a block over from Khao San Road, just up the street from the Vieng Tai Hotel. I had no thoughts of looking for some companionship, but this cute lady, deaf-mute as I was to learn, was eating alone at the next table. We smiled cordially at each other, then she dropped her keys on my table and gave me that come-on look and grin. I took her up on it. We went to her room a couple blocks away. And she was fantastic. The other lady was a deaf-mute hooker in Thermae. I took her to a short-time place. And she was fantastic. Based on my experience, I highly recommend deaf-mute hookers.
This Week’s News & Views
Soi Cowboy is fast on the road to recovery and just about felt like normal this past Friday. The Indian nut man was stopping to greet anyone who made eye contact and offer a sample of his goodies. The flower man was selling his single red roses. Female tourists were exploring the soi with Oasis their favourite spot to stop and watch the world go by. Of course, there are a few things to factor in – it was Friday, the busiest night of the week. Friday last week was closed. And many people got paid on Friday. But whichever way you choose to look at it, Cowboy is picking up.
At 9 PM, Dollhouse was already well in to the ‘50s on bin numbers – which means the bar had had more than 50 customers (some groups would count as a single customer) – which is a good start to the night. And still in Dollhouse, a number of the girls were doing all they could to lower their laundry bill, if you get what I mean.
Tilac Bar was also doing decent trade and at just before 9 PM all seats were taken which is very much how it used to be in the good old days.
Suzie Wong was also doing well. As far as girl numbers go, Suzie Wong has around 35 on the books but just how many turn up on any given night varies. It’s the same old story – more show up for work on Fridays and Saturdays.
Long Gun is a good choice for non-drinkers who object to paying the same for a bottle of water as the guy sitting next to you pays for Jack + Coke. A bottle of water will set you back just 50 baht in Long Gun.
Soi Cowboy’s newest bar East End has been described as having a vibe not all that different to the long defunct FLB Bar on Walking Street, meaning it’s more laid-back than many other bars. One interesting policy in East End is that they keep your bar tab behind the bar and not in a tumbler at the table. Not sure about the rationale behind this which makes it an outlier in the industry.
Oasis is doing well and observations are that it is doing consistently well. Oasis was built just before Covid came along so it hasn’t had enough time to build a following. This is one venue which I think has huge potential – the format and its location mid-soi make it a winner. It’s my pick to become one of the hottest spots on Soi Cowboy going forward.
Something was happening at Shark bar this week. Lights were on and there was a cleaning crew going about their work. Whether it’s just a tidy up to keep the rodents at bay or the bar is preparing to reopen is not known.
Things are picking up at Patpong. Like the other bar areas, Friday is the best night of the week while weeknights on Patpong can be quiet, especially earlier in the week. That said, pretty much everyone seems to agree that things bottomed out a while ago and trade is on the up.
More bars have re-joined the fray on Patpong soi 1 with Radio City and Thigh Bar both open again.
The photo below shows the overflow from an event in Patpong soi 2 this past week as Bangkok’s oldest bar attracted the crowds.
In Nana Plaza, the new bar from the people behind Spanky’s in the space previously occupied by Rainbow 1 will open in early June. The name and other details of the new bar are being kept hush-hush for now, but rival Nana Plaza bar owners who have seen inside have walked away gobsmacked. To a one, other owners report that “Spanky’s II” is the best-looking bar in the Plaza. One said it was eight times better looking than his own bar. Next week’s column will offer everyone an exclusive sneak peek inside the new chrome pole palace as well as announce exactly when it will open.
The June 1st reopening of Butterflies looks like it is going to be bigger and bigger by the day. The lights and music were turned on a couple nights this week – with the bar empty and closed – in order to “burn in” the systems and check what Nana Plaza’s infamous rats had chewed through in the past year while the bar was closed. You can’t just flip the switch on 280 lights and speakers on opening night and expect it all to work perfectly.
Despite the problems other bars have had attracting good-looking talent, that’s not going to be a problem at Butterflies. The owner has promised punters will be pleasantly surprised at the number – and looks – of the ladies on stage from day 1. As if you needed any more reasons to attend, all local beers and house pours will be buy 1 / get 1 free, all night long.
Whiskey & Go Go continues to attract rave reviews and new customers thanks to its large presence on social media and in the Thailand gogo Facebook groups. Whiskey & Go Go, on the middle level of the Plaza is attracting new, attractive dancers weekly, with three new ladies starting this week. Remember, all the ladies whose photos have run in this column over the past couple of months are from the Whiskey & Go Go crew. Every Friday Whiskey holds its White Party with 99-baht bottles of Tiger beer.
After a to-be-expected slow start, Mandarin, also on the middle floor of Nana Plaza – on the opposite side from Whiskey – is finding its feet. Not only has the number of women on stage and at the door increased, but so has the overall quality as well. Mandarin has always been known for slim, pretty ladies, which endeared it to Japanese punters, and it looks like that reputation is becoming deserved again.
Speaking of the Japanese, one of the things that struck me from a photo sent by a friend this week is the number of signs in Nana Plaza featuring Japanese script. A sign of the times?
A reader knew that last week’s mystery photo was a bar on Soi Cowboy, but he didn’t know which bar – so he went to Google Street View for help. What he discovered was that Google Street View is still showing images of soi Cowboy taken way back in 2011 – so some bars look rather different online to how they do today. If you’re feeling nostalgic, it’s an opportunity for a quick walk down memory lane. Take a look before Google updates it.
Fans of the nightlife who have a religious bent might consider praying to the man upstairs to look over the bar industry. With monkeypox in the news and said to be spread sexually, if cases happen to be linked to a naughty bar in Thailand, history tells us that the authorities would shut things down for a while. Any disease spread sexually in Thailand comes with a terrible stigma. After the last 2 years, it would be a hammer blow for the industry if monkeypox arrives in Thailand and a case was linked to a farang bar.
The Lak Si skytrain station is open. This is not something I’d ordinarily mention but it’s worth noting because it’s next to the new Immigration office at IT Square. Now things do get confusing when it comes to which Immigration office you can use – it all depends on where you reside and what your current visa is – but if you are eligible to use that particular Immigration office then taking the skytrain might make things easy. I think – but I may be wrong here – that the Immigration office at Lak Si can be used by those on a visa exempt entry.
Ko Samui doesn’t get much coverage in this column. I have only visited twice, first in 1998 and again in 2005. I thought the beaches were nice enough, but Samui just didn’t hit the spot for me and I never felt a compelling reason to go back. A friend was down on Samui recently and sent a bunch of photos of Reggae Pub, for a long time the hottest spot on the island. Reggae Pub first opened way back in 1988, but the pandemic killed it and it has been abandoned. Currently it is overgrown with weeds and is in a state of decay. Will Reggae Pub reopen when tourism picks up on the island? Who knows.
I try not to spend time on social media and while most of the Thailand forums don’t appeal, I do from time to time have a nosey at the AseanNow forum – the rebranded ThaiVisa. This week I stumbled on to a thread about friendships in Thailand where a lot of the responses struck me as bizarre. Most respondents seemed to be of the idea that in Thailand they don’t want friends. In fact many appear to actively avoid having anything to do with anyone, period. While I get it that one might not move to Thailand with no expectation of making friends, I was surprised that so many on this particular forum say they prefer not to have friends. As humans we’re social creatures and there is a lot to be said for having good friends with whom you share a genuine friendship. I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that happiness is measured by your social connections, but I do think that it is part of it and as such, good relationships and genuine friendships enrich your life. Without genuine friends, what sort of life does one lead? While there are a fair few foreigners who end up in far-flung rural Thailand where it might not be easy to meet like-minded people, in the big cities there are so many foreigners these days that it shouldn’t be hard to come across other foreigners with whom you have things in common. Being against the idea of making friends might not necessarily be a Thailand expat thing, but it does seem to be a ThaiVisa / AseanNow thing.
Thailand-Related News Articles
A cat goes missing, and returns home three days later with a funny note on her neck and an outstanding debt.
It looked like mandatory mask-wearing will come to an end in mid-June – about bloody time!
Which was followed by the worst news of the week as the Public Health Ministry backpedalled on the idea of ending the mask-wearing mandate next month.
A vocal critic of the Thai monarchy is granted refugee status despite Immigration New Zealand finding some of his claims not credible.
Walking Street in Pattaya is getting a much needed repaving.
Long-term visa fees have been halved.
Security at a Pattaya gogo bar send a customer to hospital the right way.
It was announced earlier this week that the mandate that masks be worn outside would be dropped next month. And then later in the week comments were made suggesting there had been a change of heart. Soi Cowboy is picking up and looking almost like it should in low-season. Some Nana Plaza bars noted that business had just come back a bit, compared with the previous month. Patpong has been terrible for months but this week reports were that it has picked up. There were all sorts of mixed signals out of Bangkok this week. Things are moving in the right direction. I guess it’s a case of a couple of steps forward and then one back. It’s not going to be all smooth sailing but for sure, these days the positive news far outweighs the negative. That sounds like a win to me.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org