Bangkok Pat, In The Spotlight
YouTubing is all the rage these days as video-makers replace bloggers and online personalities are born. But try as I may, I struggle to get in to most Bangkok YouTubers’ work. That was until Bangkok Pat came along. Bangkok Pat’s videos are informative, engaging and authentic. There’s none of the childish antics nor the clickbait that mars the work of so many YouTubers. And Pat doesn’t take 2 minutes to say what could be said in 15 seconds, my big YouTube peeve. While I have enjoyed his videos, I don’t know a whole lot about Bangkok Pat. Is he farang, or is he Thai? Is his YouTube channel business or pleasure? This week I put those questions to him and more.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I understand you grew up in the UK, but relocated to Bangkok at some point. Other than that I really don’t know much about you and how you came to be a Bangkok YouTuber – so fill us in!
I grew up in a multicultural part of London and started to search out my roots at a late age, took a few trips then one day packed my vinyl records and landed in 2002. I started to get a bit of DJ work due to being a novelty foreign DJ which was quite rare back then. I played at many places from then until 2008, a few clubs, weddings and posh hotel parties. I wasn’t one of the ‘superstar’ DJs but I always had work.
Also, I had started to make friends and met teachers who said it was easy to find work. I’d unintentionally dabbled a bit in London (long story) so knew the basics, and it was easy to find work. I taught in car showrooms, a polyphosphate factory, a gold dealership, hotels, language schools, corporate work. I returned to the UK and spent time in London & Cornwall from 2009 to 2015, still visited, but the years I didn’t visit, 2010 and 2014 were bad times for Bangkok. I returned in 2015 but was back and forward every couple of months to the UK then at the end of 2018 I just stayed on. Did a bit more teaching work, also had plans to start walking trips but the pandemic arrived so I bought a camera and thought I’d do a video on the local area which was Lat Phrao at the time. It was shared by a couple of well-known websites and did better than expected so I did another and tried to make them totally different to what was already on YouTube. I’ve always been a fan of history since I was a kid so why not combine them?
Being a dual British / Thai citizen makes you almost unique amongst those producing material for the expat market. Traditionally, luk-kreung tend to be part of Thai society whereas I get the impression you’re more involved in expat society. Would that be a fair comment?
I lost my mother to cancer aged 11 so we weren’t raised with any Thai influences after that, and apart from friends of the family there wasn’t any Thai spoken. First time I arrived here I was seen as a farang and there was nothing Thai about me at all. I’ve only really identified with my Thai side later in life. There were luk-kreung circles but to be honest most I met were from totally different backgrounds to myself and / or went to posh international schools so I couldn’t identify with any of it. That was a time when it was a novelty to be half, but there were also negatives too. In some cases I was treated as just a foreigner but as soon as I mentioned I was half it was like, wow. I didn’t get that, I didn’t know all the top superstars were half. There is still a sector of society that think luk-kreungs have bargirls as mothers.
Is your YouTube channel something you do for fun, or is it your living? How big a part of your life is your YouTube channel and all the work involved with it?
It became a full-time thing 6 months ago. It’s a 7-day a week job, and walking trips as well as other video work I’ve got through the channel. It’s exhausting and sometimes you’re not in the mood to shoot dialogue parts. I don’t do the selfie vlog stuff, I always find it impossible to walk and talk. The guys that can do that, I take my hat off to them. Another reason was that doing my first video I had a skin problem near my eye so didn’t want the camera so close, so I used the tripod and just stuck with it.
Can you give us an idea of what is involved in putting a video together, right from where the ideas come from to carrying out the research, the filming and finally, the editing. What is, typically, the total time spent on one production. I ask this because some of your videos look like a lot of time and effort went in to putting them together! Also, does anyone assist you or is Bangkok Pat like Stickman was for so long, a one-man band?
If it’s a totally new area I’ve never been to, first I’ll visit and try and get orientated with the place, see what the area’s most well-known for, what the landmarks are, look into any history online in both Thai and English, search for old photos & video, take a walk down as many sois as I can, look for anything out of the ordinary, make a note of any stuff to research, then assess how much of that area I’ll be covering for the video. A 20-minute video could take me 6 visits to get done, each time spending 3 – 4 hours there. Also, certain history or info has to be accurate so working out the dialogue parts and memorising them can take a few takes to get right. Then there could be factors like noisy traffic and background noise. Sometimes I’ll get a whole dialogue spot on but during the last sentence a noisy bike will go past and ruin it. I’m also a one-man operation so I have to set up shots in awkward locations along busy roads. Then there’s the editing. It’s a long process! I’ll usually edit that day’s footage late into the night. The expat orientated topics are a lot quicker to make, those videos can be shot over 1 – 3 days.
For those of us technology geeks in to photography and video, what sort of equipment and software do you use to create and then edit the videos?
Quite basic really. Rode SmartLav mic, Zoom H1N Audio recorder, Sony A5100 Camera. Editing software is a simple app called Movavi. It’s one of the few that allow you to see the audio in waves for accurate editing. I prefer the colour tone that the Sony camera has, less rich, more natural. That’s my opinion anyway. Everyone has their own preferences.
I think one difference between writing a column as I do and a YouTuber producing videos is that in the case of the latter, their online personality is a bigger part of it. At the height of this column’s popularity, I was a teacher, a husband, a columnist and a few other things – but many simply saw me as Stickman, chronicler of Bangkok’s expat nightlife whereas I saw Stickman as just one part of my life. It took me a long time to get some people to see me as Paul, and not Stick. In your case, the impression I get is that the guy in front of the camera is the real Pat – and I think that’s a big part of why I like what you do. You come across as real, and not someone playing the fool, trying to generate interest in what may otherwise be a vapid offering. Any thoughts?
I believe you should have an interest and connection to whatever content you’re doing. That way it’s definitely more enjoyable and you can give 100%. I go to new locations often, so it’s like a fresh start every time I explore and shoot a video.
I’m not against YouTube and vlogging per se – and I do have a few favourite channels I subscribe to – but they’re unrelated to Thailand. Can you tell me a bit about the YouTube community in expat Thailand?
I have become friends with a few Youtubers since my channel began. It’s definitely not dog eat dog as some may think. We do different kinds of content and have a small LINE group to share ideas, info and tips…..or gossip. Doing any kind of content and putting yourself on offer to the public takes courage and I like to think there’s a good rapport between YouTubers, but I’d be lying if I said there’s no competition amongst those who put out the same content as each other. On the first day of Songkran 2021 there were already 20 videos uploaded within 24 hours about how quiet it was in Khao San Road because of Covid. Most were the same shots and walking routes with similar dialogue.
Where do you see the whole YouTube vlogging thing going? YouTube and TikTok vlogging has trounced blogging in the under 40 market and it’s threatening to do so in older demographics. The future looks bright. Would you agree?
The world has been at home watching YouTube over the last 2 years or so, and maybe that’s why a few channels did very well. Now there are channels popping up quite often with various formulas and themes following the general rulebook about how to get successful. There are many vloggers with great clickbait thumbnails and provocative titles, and inevitably some may fall by the wayside. Some get frustrated and storm off to the Philippines where the English-speaking population is huge, and find success.
The Expat Alcoholism In Thailand Is Common video has been viewed more than 166,000 times which is impressive. I find that when I touch on issues like expat drinking and alcoholism, expats’ unsafe sexual practices and expats recklessly retiring early when their finances are lousy seldom elicit positive feedback. I’d like to think my heart is in the right place but the feedback when I touch on these topics isn’t always positive and some seem to feel that I am a party-pooper. What sort of feedback did you get to the alcoholism video? And how do you find videos in which you touch on less positive aspects of life in Bangkok are received, generally?
I deliberately shot it in a way that was non-judgmental and open, but straight to the point. I feel it is something very relevant and I have known people who got swallowed up by it, not a pretty sight. I have even lost friends. I have experienced the downsides of it myself and I think many have felt the same but wouldn’t think it could happen to them or ever dare to admit it. I think the video made a lot of people feel they weren’t the only ones.
What can you tell me about the popularity of the different types of videos you produce. I enjoyed the Oriental Hotel video you published more than 6 months ago – but it only has a modest 10,000 views or so whereas videos set around the bar areas appear much more popular.
You can’t please everyone! But the Oriental Hotel was a story worth telling. It was originally suggested by Thaiger and I shot a short video for them first. A couple of weeks later I re-shot parts for a longer version and posted it on the channel because the whole timeline and details have a bit of all eras in history, right back from the days of the French navy gunboats coming up the river, the modernisation of Bangkok and creation of Charoen Krung Road to it being occupied by the Japanese during WW2, the writers in residence, Jim Thompson’s brief tenure as part owner to the expansion of the 1960s all the way to Kurt Wachtveitl and Khun Ankana Kalantananda who worked for the hotel for a combined 103 years! That’s the only video I’ve shot about a place where I didn’t set foot on the premises, it’s not the kind of place where you can hang around the lobby or take afternoon tea and get your camera out! I do wonder if they’ve ever watched it.
View numbers will be lower on the more obscure parts of Bangkok of course, but surprisingly the areas I’ve assumed would be of no interest did better than expected, places like Minburi, Bangrak, Talat Phlu, Bang Khen, Rangsit, Don Mueang, and Tao Poon don’t exactly set the pulses racing but if there’s something out of the ordinary, some history and a few stories, and even ghost stories, there’s a video in it for me. The same goes for Nana, Washington Square, Soi Cowboy and Patpong. I got a few smart comments for doing those but they are as much a part of Bangkok as Ekkamai, Phloen Chit and Phra Khanong. I set out to create a niche that I felt nobody was covering on YouTube.
The two biggest complaints I get about my column are “There is too much nightlife content” and “There is too much non-nightlife content”. In other words, I can’t win! In terms of general feedback, what content / themes do you feel your viewers enjoy most? You cover many parts of Bangkok and while you touch on the bar areas and that side of expat life, it’s hardly the focus. Would that be a fair comment?
The backbone of my channel is the explorations and historic stuff, the then and now shots faded together, the odd bits of history, the unchartered territory and the stories as well as the local cats and a few dry jokes that mostly Brits would understand. When I took this on full-time I had to expand and increase the content. The area guides take longer to make and before I gave up my job I was doing a video every 10 – 14 days. To make YouTube work I had to do videos every 3 – 5 days so I touched on other subjects I thought expats, long-term visitors and tourists alike could relate to and try and just be straight down the line. I think people appreciate the honesty. I don’t try and push my views or tell people what they should be doing, I can suggest and advise but I’m definitely not one of those ‘influencer’ types that you get.
What has been the most enjoyable video for you to put together so far?
I would have to say Khlong San was the first fun video. There was something around every corner, or the Khlong San Saep all the way past Minburi, and of course Minburi itself was great because I wanted to show a place that will soon be a transport hub with two new MRT lines opening in the next 3 years, with condos and malls planned and I also discovered a whole project from the 1990s still abandoned and overgrown! I regret missing the snooker cue factory though.
I understand you’re working on a short film with the granddaddy of Bangkok expat writers, Christopher G. Moore. From the trailer, it looks like a bit of a departure from your usual videos. What can you tell us about it?
He got in touch after one of his associates saw my Nana video. He liked the locations and shots I did in the obscure parts of my videos, the kinds of places where Vincent Calvino (the private eye character in the film and subject of 17 books by Christopher G. Moore) would be looking for clues or missing persons. So originally we were gonna do a narrated documentary but as we worked together over the first few weeks and I volunteered to play the role of Calvino in the visualations, we both became more inspired and he ended up writing this whole new Calvino story. For the budget and resources we had we are both very happy with the finished piece. Initially it will be shown this Friday at Patpong Museum on 27th May and at The Friese-Greene Club, Sukhumvit Soi 22, on Saturday 11th June.
You’ve been at this for, what, a couple of years? You’re getting nicely established and in my mind you’re the one guy doing expat videos whose work I look at. What are your plans going forward?
Keep going as I am, this is something I have my heart in 100%. I have always planned a Pattaya history video much like ‘Five Decades of Nana’ and I am also working on an exploration of the old R&R haunts of the US military during the 1960s & 70s. That will be interesting. I will also be doing a couple of videos aimed at the female expat population. I have an ongoing list of videos including (in no particular order). A good few expats will like the Boxing scene of the 1990s video I’m writing / planning, Jim Thompson’s unusual life story, Wongwian Yai, Pak Nam and Udom Suk are areas long overdue that have been requested several times, the whole Kanchanaburi/Death Railway story, Secrets of the Skytrain and its history, Bang Na, Samrong, I’m also working closely with Bangkok Community Cats and I also sponsor a small cat shelter in Talat Noi. There’s only 7 days in a week sadly!
Bangkok Pat’s YouTube Channel and some of his more popular videos:
Last week’s photo was taken of a store down the small lane by The Tavern in Sukhumvit soi 4, referred to by some as Soi Scott, in reference to the much-loved but sadly deceased founder of The Tavern, Scott. The outlet, CK Trading, is a small bar / convenience store where you can buy beer all day long. This week’s mystery photo is in a bar area featured all the time in this column….not hard at all, I reckon!
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
I’m looking to travel from London to Bangkok for a 2-week break, departing late June and returning mid-July. I have trawled the internet for flights in Economy, Premium Economy, and Business class. I contacted 2 of the main travel agents in the UK and was left holding on the phone for ages due to heavy demand. Prices in all classes of travel have doubled since before the pandemic. Economy starts around £800. Premium Economy seems not to exist and neither agent could find rates for this. Business is over £4,000. The agents have told me it is due to demand and the airlines trying to recoup some of their losses from Covid. Amongst the airlines I tried were Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Austrian, Finnair, Thai and Singapore. The agents could not find anything for British Airways, or EVA Air. I was not offered Cathay, QANTAS, or any other national carriers as it seems the agents just wanted to get a deal done ASAP. In the end I booked Swissair London City to Zurich, Zurich to Bangkok and return at £1,900 with a mixture of Economy, Premium Economy and Business class legs. It seems like airfares are increasing daily. I’d be interested in hearing others’ travel costs from UK to Bangkok and whether or not the aircraft are full.
Fine-tuning the tourism industry.
I’m not sure I’d worry too much about a mask-wearing law. Since when are laws enforced in Thailand? Thais aren’t wearing them where I live except to enter a shop / supermarket. Last night my wife was at a family gathering where not one of the 15 people there was wearing a mask. And I watch Bangkok videos almost daily and far, far fewer people are wearing masks now than before.
Isaan mask report.
Having to wear a mask outside in Bangkok would be a deal breaker for me too. That is if 1) I had to wear it all the time and if 2) I had to wear a cheap, paper, uncomfortable, medical-style mask. I always have masks with me but often I wear it under my chin when walking down the street but as I walk into a 7 Eleven or approach the ticket booth at the BTS I pull it up over my nose. It’s important to wear a comfortable, breathable mask. The only mask that I use and would recommend is the “Pitta Mask”. I recommend it to most everyone who will listen. So please pass this on to your readers. The Pitta Mask is reasonably comfortable and is not affected by sweat. It is washable and reusable and will last a long time. It comes in a variety of colours in both men’s and women’s styles. A pack of 3 masks costs 250 baht. It’s the #1 mask in Japan. They’re “trendy” which has to be a good thing. I usually carry 2 or 3 masks with me and trade them off throughout the day, similar to the way people would carry handkerchiefs, before using tissue paper was an option. At the end of the day I throw them in with the laundry. They are sold at Villa Market and online. They may or may not to be effective against air pollution, viruses and dust, however, they are comfortable, water-resistant and very breathable. And don’t forget they’re trendy!
Deaf, dumb and sickly slim.
This Week’s News & Views
With the green light for the legal reopening of bars from June 1st, bikinis will be back in bars across Bangkok’s 3 gogo bar areas. Goodbye cocktail dresses, hello birthday suits! That said, there’s no question that some girls really do look better covered up.
One thing is concerning owners, however. Girls have gotten very used to dancing or mingling in cocktail dresses and some are loathe to return to wearing bikinis or less. On Friday night, several women in big-name bars in Nana said they have no intention of stripping down when the rules change on June 1st. They would rather leave the bar where they are earning good money and go to a bar where they don’t have to disrobe. Let’s see how it all plays out.
The Nana Plaza bar that once was Rainbow 1 – Nana’s first ever gogo bar – will at some point be Spanky’s II, or whatever they call it. It’s not open yet, but the round LED sign above the door is working and soliciting for dancers.
With bars closed last night due to archaic laws that say that voters must be sober, a reasonable assumption was that the night before, Friday, would be busy. But that was not the case at all. On a fine Friday evening, Nana and Cowboy were each slower than the new Friday normal – and no-one knows why. Some left Bangkok, heading to Phuket or Chiang Mai for the weekend where there aren’t any elections. Maybe others were confused about which nights bars were open and which they would be closed and just stayed home.
There is tremendous anticipation now for June 1st, with the reopening of Butterflies in Nana Plaza anticipated now to be an absolutely huge event. Topless, nude, bikinis, late hours – basically, the works – are all expected even though officially, the closing time remains midnight. Don’t expect any bar areas to close at that hour, however! With the big Jacuzzi expected to be full of girls on opening night, is there anywhere you’d rather be?
Demonia in Sukhumvit soi 33 will host an evening dedicated to bondage, this coming Friday, May 27th. For some time, Demonia has received inquiries about fetish, bondage and particularly about Shibari techniques. In response, their experienced ladies will demonstrate and teach anyone who has an interest in the different forms of bondage. This is free of charge for customers in the bar.
The Soi Cowboy photo essay posted a few weeks ago was a little depressing. Have things turned a corner yet on Soi Cowboy? Word is that things have picked up since then with trade said to be better mid-week. An increase in girl numbers has helped with many bars now sporting more than a dozen girls. That might not sound like many but, large bars aside, it’s not actually untypical in single-shophouse Soi Cowboy bars at this time of year. Don’t forget that May tends to be the quietest month of the year.
Dino, the popular American who manages Dollhouse, is due back from the States in a couple of weeks. The racy upstairs bar area will revert back to how it was pre-Covid when Dino returns and the music playlist will change too. It looks like they are counting on Dino to get things back on track.
A reader reports that Soi Cowboy’s newest bar East End feels more like a hostess bar than a gogo bar. There is some dancing but it’s low-key. The girls have been described as neither the A team nor the B team, but something in-between. Make of that what you will.
Long Gun is rocking with 3 sets of dancers and is well on the way to operating as it has the past few decades. One set of the dancers stands out from the other two. There are many familiar faces so if you were previously a regular, don’t be surprised to hear your name called out.
Tilac had a good low-season crowd inside the bar early evening one night this past week with all the prime seats taken. No bikinis yet and for now it looks like a lot of the dancers (all?) are contract dancers. That means they’re easy on the eye but barfines might not be part of the picture.
Punters at Hillary 11 noticed this new temporary sign put up this week, no doubt done so for the benefit of the cops. There genuinely might be no under 20s on staff, but as for the rest……?!
Crazy House has been a favourite bar for many bargoers since it opened. But there are some of us who just don’t care for it. Why do some love it and others just about hate it? For me, the problem is that some of the antics are just nasty. Mamasans inviting punters to feel ladies up in the bar in front of everyone? No, thanks, I’d rather not see that. Crazy House might not be as nasty as, say, Windmill Club in Pattaya, but that’s beside the point. Another strike against the bar is the 2 lady drink nonsense. Order a lady drink and two come by default – with a bill of 360 baht. This business model of hitting the punter up for all you can now with no thought of tomorrow is another turn-off.
Police in uniform are an obvious obstruction to fun in a bar zone, but what’s even a bigger buzzkill? Off-duty police sitting next to you. Last week, two 30ish cops pulled into that very same bar, Crazy House, and were escorted through the bar to the prime seating area where, after a few minutes of surveying the topless antics, one ordered 10 Tequila lady-drink shots. Dancing, of course, is not supposed to be allowed in gogo bars and, likewise, nudity is never allowed. But these police officers didn’t seem to mind in the least, especially after a particularly buxom lass began bouncing in one cop’s lap, downing a shot every couple of minutes. The other cop, who had been quietly watching the goings on, got into the act by ordering 10 shots of his own, which drew more girls. Customers sitting nearby suddenly became much less hansum with girls drawn to Tequila and Thai-language conversation like bees to honey. The coppers noticed the foreign eyes upon them and took their flock to some out-of-the-way seating.
A friend mentioned a scam taking place in one of Bangkok’s better neighbourhoods. Said friend lives in the affluent Thonglor area. Three times in the past 10 days he has been approached by a man who appears to be from the Indian subcontinent who shows my friend what he claims are wounds, all bandaged up. In each case the fellow claims that he doesn’t have enough money to see a doctor and seek treatment and asks whether my friend would be willing to help him out. Said friend was first approached about 6 weeks ago – and has been approached another three times more recently, once by the same guy who tried to hit him up about 6 weeks ago. All 3 of the guys who have approached him are described as middle-aged guys from India / the Indian sub-continent. Have any other readers come across this?
I love these long sticks that look like a large pitchfork with the middle prong missing that the Thai police sometimes use when arresting crazy people. Called mai ngam, they are a long stick with a crescent shaped prong on the end which they use to trap the person they’re after. The stick is sufficiently long to keep the crazy person beyond arm’s reach – and the police safe. It really is humorous watching video of arrests when the Thai police use them. I guess pepper spray and tasers are not standard police issue equipment in Thailand.
A vending machine selling ATK tests was spotted at the Ekamai BTS station. Do they have vending machines selling masks too? Ugh!
The other half hasn’t been as well as she’d like recently and it took time to work out what was going on. She prefers to eat Thai food and she likes it kem (salty). She enjoys Thai food in Thailand without any problems but when she eats similar dishes here she sometimes gets a reaction. When we are in the heat of Thailand she tends to sweat a bit, whereas here in New Zealand you’re unlikely to sweat much at all unless you’re exercising. And, of course, when you sweat, you lose sodium. So some of the excess sodium from that salty food she consumes in Thailand was being sweated whereas here in New Zealand it isn’t. Adjusting the diet to include a little less fish sauce and those other terribly unhealthy Thai flavouring sauces as well as filling the cupboard and fridge with coconut water – which is high in potassium and helps to balance things out – seems to have worked.
In the week before last’s column, I reported that branches of the Took Lae Dee diner have a new menu which conspicuously was missing many favourites. I have since learned that you can still ask for the old menu and they will happily make those dishes not on the new menu.
Thailand likes to be known as the Land Of Smiles but just how does this work with this nonsensical policy of mandatory mask-wearing where you absolutely cannot see anyone smile?
Thailand-Related News Links
A Brit slams a dumbbell in to the head of another Brit at a gym in charming Pattaya.
Girls can dance in bikinis with no worries about hassles from the police following the announcement that bar rules will loosen from June 1st.
What’s happening at Krabi’s famous Maya Bay?
Thai teens ever so keen for the latest gadgets are opening the door to scammers.
An elderly German resident of Phuket with Alzheimer’s has been missing for days.
The rainy season started last week in Bangkok. It’s a time of year I used to rather enjoy back when I was really into the bar scene. The rainy season was the low season and the quiet time of year, which meant fewer customers in the bar – and more attention from the ladies. And nowhere was that the case more than in Soi Cowboy, back when it was very much still the domain of expats. Being one of just a few customers inside a bar with lots of sexy ladies while the rain hammered down outside felt almost like being snug in bed as a child as the rain pelted hard against the window. A torrential downpour on Tuesday night left parts of downtown Bangkok, including Sukhumvit soi 23 – the east end of Soi Cowboy – flooded and punters stranded inside bars. No matter how long one waited, there was no avoiding getting soaked. Given it’s still relatively quiet compared to pre-Covid, it must have felt like the good old days. Expect more nights like this over the next few months. Don’t let the rains put you off. It’s a fun time to be in town, especially in the bars.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : email@example.com