In last week’s column I asked why one might never meet the Thai wife of their expat friends and colleagues. Many of you said the reason many expats don’t introduce their wife is because it is believed the couple met in a naughty bar. I doubt that is the reason in most cases. Very few foreigners who marry Thai women these days get hitched to an ex-hooker.
There was a time when the easiest ladies to meet in Thailand were those working in naughty bars. Chrome pole bars weren’t just the place for a night of fun, they were where many long-term relationships began. So many foreign men – many genuinely successful – met their future wife in a bar.
In late ‘90s Bangkok, my best guess would be that perhaps a third of foreigners in a serious relationship with a Thai woman were involved with a lady they met in a bar. That’s my best guess. It might have been higher – but if it was, I don’t think it would be that much higher.
It was a different world back then. There was no such thing as online dating. The resident expat population was much smaller than it is today. More than anything, there were venues for Thais. And there were venues for foreigners. There weren’t many places where both foreigners and Thais went. Naughty bars aside, many ladies simply didn’t know where or how to go about meeting a foreign man.
Thailand was much poorer back then. Many Thai women had few prospects and the chance to settle down with a guy who could provide them a comfortable life was too good to turn down.
That was the past though, and now everything has changed. Today, Thailand is much more prosperous and cosmopolitan. There is a large expat populace and there are many venues enjoyed by Thais and foreigners alike. There is the Internet and online dating. The vast majority of Farang / Thai couples dating today did not meet in a naughty bar.
OK, so Pattaya would likely have a higher percentage of couples who first met in a bar, but Pattaya might be unique in this respect.
Of those I know who settled down with a lady they first met in a bar, the relationships started decades ago. And in many cases the relationship has endured.
These days, ladies in the bars are not interested in settling down with a customer. They have far more options these days.
Ladies enter the bar industry to make money. Covid messed things up the past couple of years but prior to Covid, many ladies working in the farang sector were making big money. Why would they want to settle down with a foreign man when they’re making 150K – 200K baht / month, as the best earners were?
Let’s not forget that many Thai ladies working in the farang sector have a Thai boyfriend in the shadows. He might even be her husband.
There is a stigma in some circles that bargirl / customer relationships are the norm. They’re not. Such relationships are a throwback to the past.
The bar scene is to be enjoyed, but there is so much more to Bangkok these days. And there are so many other places to go wife-hunting.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t hunt for a wife in the bars, rather that men and women alike have more options and more places to choose from.
This site column has long featured this disclaimer and it seems very fitting to refer to it now, “While this column features news, views, gossip and photos from expat bar areas, it should be noted that this is a very small part of Thailand, and insignificant to most Thais. Don’t take the preponderance of coverage of Bangkok’s expat bar areas to mean that that is all that this fantastic city has to offer; it is in fact just a very small part of the city.”
I stand by those words now more than ever before. The bars are a very small part of what makes Bangkok. Relatively few relationships between foreign men and Thai women start in the bars. All power to those who do meet there, but it’s not the norm.
Last week’s photo showed the Thonglor BTS station and its immediate surrounds. Too easy, yet once again so few of you got it right. Sometimes I wonder how easy I have to make the photo for more than a dozen or so of you to get it! Anyway, this week’s is a bit more challenging, despite the building being very distinctive. If you never venture far from Sukhumvit, there’s little chance of you getting this week’s right.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Little interest in anyone non-Thai.
When you don’t need to be together all the time.
There is so little for expats to do in Thailand that men gravitate towards the bars, which is something that probably doesn’t interest many Thai women. When we lived in Bangkok, my wife and I always went out for dinner at least once a week, usually to The Londoner in its old location, and we did do a theatre trip (the presentation was pathetic, but then I’m used to London theatre standards), and one or two culture shows on the river, but she wasn’t really interested in tagging along to meet my friends when we gathered in Soi Cowboy. When I asked my wife why women congregate together in one group and men in another at weddings etc (something you alluded to), she said the husbands and wives see enough of each other at home and don’t need to be together all the time.
The attention sponge.
My girlfriend is a total attention sponge. I’m guessing she would not be pleased with me leaving her behind as I went out to dinners or movies with my farang friends. We get along great and I’m always happy to bring her along. We’re not together every day though, so maybe that’s a factor? I also have my mornings as I wake up around 6 AM every day. When she’s up before 10 AM I wonder if something bad happened!
Relationships and happiness.
Many guys need a tight relationship for comfort. I have friends who have a partner way below the quality of themselves. Dinners with other couples are great for bonding and conversation, and it reinforces your normality. Sometimes it works great. In other cases it’s boring and suffocating. There is a better family structure. Marry young and do the kid-thing. Employ a good nanny. Focus on your career and spend lots of time with your friends – a wife could be one of them, but they aren’t always. Have an open marriage; give each other space. Travel. Be sexually promiscuous. I have close friends who stay in relationships which is very hard to understand. They shrink, and life is too short for that.
The legend Shrimp.
I too would have loved to get to the Patpong Museum to meet the guy behind all of the Shrimp calendars. I bought many over the years. I right clicked and saved a lot of his work in the early years of owning a computer. A lot of great work which highlighted a different culture from today. Ladies with no tats, no braces, no hair dye. I remember when sales came to a halt after an article in a British newspaper highlighted the sex industry in Thailand. There was a big backlash.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
On Friday, Thailand celebrated “Post-Pandemic Day” when July 1 saw most coronavirus-control restrictions lifted. That meant the end of the hated Thailand Pass tourist-entry registration system, the requirement for US$10,000 in health insurance and all quarantine requirements. Also ended – although it took effect a week early – was the mask mandate, with masks now voluntary – except where they’re not. If you take a bus, train or plane, shop in a mall or enter a government building, make sure you have a mask handy.
The other restriction officially lifted this past Friday was the enforced early closing times that bars and nightlife venues have been under since April, 2020. Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy et al were open until at least 2:00 AM Friday night.
The end of restrictions and the increase in foreign tourists has made weekends and holidays something to celebrate business-wise for Bangkok’s bars. But owners report that early week remains difficult. Billboard and Butterflies, for example, have no plans to drop their Monday – Wednesday 2-for-1 drinks special, even though both bars are packed to the gills on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Other bars are jumping on the early-week promotion bandwagon, too.
Erotica, on the ground floor of Nana Plaza where Playskool used to be, this week launches its Monday / Tuesday deal, with Leo, Chang and Tiger bottles only 100 baht, as well as any Sangsom drinks. The deal runs all night. It is available at the outside bar only (and not the gogo bar proper inside).
Teased here for a couple weeks, Whiskey & Go Go – on the middle floor of Nana Plaza – has launched its own buy-one-get-one free deal. It’s available from Sunday through to Wednesday every week. The deal applies to Chang, Singha, Leo, Tiger and San Miguel Light, or any house pour. Whiskey & Go Go was said to be stuffed with attractive ladies Friday night. It should be noted that the Whiskey & Go Go photos in this column show ladies actually working there now, something which isn’t always the case across the social media of some other bars.
Speaking of attractive ladies, Blondie, from the creators of Spanky’s, doubled dancers numbers this past Friday as a new mamasan brought her gaggle of girls to the ground-floor Nana Plaza bar located where Rainbow 1 used to be. With the girls in their sexy new outfits, Blondie should be on your Nana Plaza to-visit list.
Away from the chrome pole bars, this coming Friday The Old English Pub will host an event beer lovers won’t want to miss: The O’Hara’s Bangkok Launch Party. Together with O’Hara’s exclusive Bangkok distributor, ZippBike, The Old English will have all six O’Hara’s beers on hand, including the popular Black Stout Nitro and Red Ale Nitro, at discounted prices of 199 – 225 baht for large 440 ml and 500 ml cans. There will be free food and live music. The fun will run from 5 PM until closing. The Old English Pub is located in the Topps mall on Soi Thonglor AKA Sukhumvit Soi 55. All the O’Hara’s beers are available for delivery from ZippBike.
U.S. Independence Day – or Traitors Day for the English – is tomorrow (Monday) and American sports pub The Game has been celebrating all weekend with 4th of July Weekend specials that extend through until tomorrow. Hot dogs are just 50 baht and pints of Budweiser 100 baht. And on Monday night, Lee Shamrock will perform. A fun way to spend a Monday night.
Following on from last week’s column where I mentioned a new Buddy’s Bar on Sukhumvit Road just around the corner from the start of soi 8, it can be confirmed that it will be the group’s 5th location. Buddy currently has locations on Sukhumvit – in sois 20, 22, 89 as well as a branch on Silom Road. Their website is buddybarbangkok.com
What was Deja Vu prior to the pandemic on Soi Cowboy, a double-shophouse-sized gogo bar which never got a lot of coverage in this column, was boarded up this past week. It looks like renovations or perhaps an entire rebuild is underway. Who is behind it? Is The Arab renovating or has he let the lease go?
Nana Plaza is getting very close to having every single bar open. Soi Cowboy still has some way to go with a good few dark spaces. And in Patpong, well, some bars have been stripped, remain empty and don’t feel like they will open any time soon.
The Peep by Dundee on Soi Cowboy is now open. Totally daft name, in my opinion. It has an odd railing at the outdoor area that has been described as not really fitting in with the rest of the soi.
Fancy a job in the bar business? Reckon you might be the next Dave The Rave or Larry and can make a name for yourself as a bar manager? If this sounds like you, Big Andy is looking for a manager for his popular Dollhouse, just off Walking Street. The term “bar manager” can be something of a misnomer and Andy has indicated this will be a meet & greet role. The ideal candidate lives in Pattaya and has a following. Interested parties should drop Andy an email at : Dzobkk@yahoo.com
A reader had an interesting choice of words in an email this week. “A bargirl might choose to go with you.” Such phraseology intimates that a bargirl might also choose not to go with a customer. Are some bargirls choosy? It got me thinking. How often do bargirls turn down customers? Low-ball / insulting offers aside, how often do bargirls steadfastly refuse to go with someone? If a potential customer offers a lady her standard rate of, say, 3,000 baht short-time, how many ladies would actually say no? Of course, there will be nights when a lady has made arrangements to meet someone already and might be waiting for said fellow to come to the bar. That would be a situation where I would expect some (but not all!) would say no. Despite much talk amongst the ladies about how they won’t go with a certain type of customer (and there is a particular nationality often mentioned), my feeling is that few ladies actually turn customers down. For some time now, the bargirl’s personal business model is all about one thing: turnover. Pre-Covid, many ladies in popular bars would do 2 or 3 short-time customers per night, which at 2.5K or 3K per pop, could contribute to monthly earnings in excess of 200,000 baht. These days the ladies know that the most money is made by doing multiple short-times. I hear that there is an increasing number of ladies who have never done long-time. One thing to consider with ladies who try to refuse a customer is how the mamasan might react. In some bars mamasans earn a commission on the total number of barfines – and they will exert pressure on a lady to go with a customer, even if she doesn’t want to.
In last week’s column I predicted that Oasis could become the most popular bar in Soi Cowboy. Its format with drinks and a varied food menu, fantastic mid-soi position, open frontage, mezzanine floor and views over the soi appeals to everyone. I have another idea for a business on Soi Cowboy that could boom – and currently there are available spaces along the soi. How about an Indian restaurant on Soi Cowboy?! All of these fine Indian gentlemen visiting Thailand (some reports have put Indians at over 50% of the customers in some bar areas) need somewhere to fill their belly. What could be better than enjoying murgh lababdar while perched at the railings, watching the comings and goings along Soi Cowboy? Brilliant!
With everything going on in the world, you’d think Russians (and Ukrainians) would be amongst the last nationalities you’d come across in any real numbers in your travels. Think again. Word from a couple of readers is that there are plenty of Commies on Ko Samui at this time.
While you’re no longer required to wear masks outside in Thailand, that does not mean there has been a reduction in mask use in downtown Bangkok. Regular readers tell me they have not observed any change since rules were relaxed and most Thais continue to wear a mask. Thais have embraced mask wearing and don’t seem concerned about them at all. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise – the average Thai will do whatever is necessary to comply and doesn’t like to stand out from the crowd. No-one wants to be the only sod in the soi not wearing a mask.
Some wisdom from the other half this week who was commenting on Thais and their propensity to explode when put under enough pressure. “A Thai who makes a show of being hot-hearted is less of a worry than a Thai who is genuinely hot-hearted but acts cool-hearted.” This came up when we were talking about the propensity of Thais to get angry, and possibly even explode, when things don’t go their way or perhaps when negative things are said about them or something / someone dear to them. The other half feels that in Thailand, the folks you really need to worry about are those who have always appeared so jai-yen (laid-back, relaxed) but who have done a great job of hiding the fact that they are actually jai-ron (hot-tempered).
Across the border, a foreigner videoing the comings and goings around the late-night traps in conservative Phnom Penh has not gone un-noticed by locals and expats alike. The Cambodian capital might have its share of red-light venues but it isn’t in your face like it can be in touristy parts of Thailand. As such, some Phnom Penh locals aren’t impressed by this fellow’s antics. Said fellow claims he has been in Cambodia for 17 years……but nobody knows him. He is pushing things that perhaps he shouldn’t push. Not wise.
Thailand-Related News Article Links
Bloomberg thinks Thailand’s tourism industry faces a tough rebuild.
A Phuket visa agent does a runner, leaving a hundred foreigners with passport and visa headaches.
Half of all visitors to Phuket are Indian.
The banking apps of 3 major Thai banks all crashed on pay day.
Travellers departing Thailand are told to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before their flight departs.
Here’s a list of everything you need to travel to Thailand at this time.
Thais love fads and are quick to be part of the latest craze. Marijuana / ganja / cannabis is all the rage in Thailand at the moment. There is little news or comment on cannabis in the column as it’s something I know little about. But word is that Thais are embracing this wave of ganjamania that is sweeping the Kingdom. I wonder how it is going to play out. Is this a fad? What effect will it have on the tourism industry? Will Khao San Road pad Thai vendors be replaced by legal ganja dealers? Is the current ganja craze in Thailand a fad that will fade in time, or will its popularity with the mainstream endure?
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org