Stickman Weekly, 24 July, 2022
There’s no opener this week, but what you do get is lots of news, gossip and photos of ladies you can meet right now if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Bangkok.
Last week’s photo was taken in MBK, on the 3rd floor to be precise. Well done to the many clever readers who got it right. This week’s photo is rather more challenging. It is in central Bangkok and is not that far from Sukhumvit Road. Care to take a guess?
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Remembering Corner Bar.
I read with great sadness of the closing of the old Corner Bar. Like the chap in your letter from last week “Corner bar memories”, I was also a regular there. January 2020 was my last visit. The place was scruffy and had no pretense to modernity but it had loads character and dozens of characters. The band was, in my opinion, the best in the area and did a great job of making nights memorable and sweetening the sometimes hefty bar bills I ran up holding court with my ever-growing gang of tormentors at the pool table. Sometimes on a real late stint I would be invited to stay and eat with the staff at a late midnight feast / early breakfast type affair that included beers bought by the girls. Bit like a refund! I always felt sorry for them as I could sleep the day away to recover yet they were back on the treadmill with a glued-on smile night after night. I hope the mamasans get a job with the new bar as I value their input into a well-run bar. The girls may come and go but good mamasans make the bar.
27 hours of hell.
I hate traveling to Thailand. It is approximately 27 hours to Bangkok from the Lone Star state. Economy seats get smaller each year as I get older. My legs cramp up and after a while the plane starts to smell from all the bodies on board. That’s why I’m sending wifey as my personal ambassador this year whilst I stay put. The only way to deal with it is suck it up and tell yourself, “I’m going to be miserable for 27 hours”, then do it. I’m going to travel to Thailand again next year.
Pre-Covid times are coming, but not quite yet.
I share your concerns with travel right now. You just never know when governments are going to step in and instantaneously impose insane restrictions, which have no difference in the final workings of a microscopic organism! If anything, it only delays the inevitable. I am tipping the stupidity will only begin to wind back toward the end of the year, where one can feel confident in international travel. The older I get, the more I just have no patience for attempting long distance transit. With the current control freaks we have in power, it seems like they look for any reason they can to ensure they are as invasive as possible. Sorry to sound negative, but I need to call it as it is. I do have enough pragmatism about me to think the return to pre-Covid times is coming, just not right now.
A good time to travel.
Bar openings are getting ahead of both demand and supply. Back when the “trick” of becoming a restaurant and opening a lounge-a-go-go was a novelty, local punters were eager to get back out to the bar scene. Bar opening options were more limited so more girls flocked to fewer bars, as did punters. Sois LK Metro and Buakhao were closing at midnight and a large number of punters would try and catch the 12:00 AM + (until police shut the place down) closing times on Walking Street. Now that the re-opening honeymoon is over, most places can stay open till the last punter leaves. There are 2(?) or 3(?) or 4(?) times as many bars staying open till late and the girls may have only doubled at best. The “logistics” for Soi LK Metro are not working in its favour. Most Indian tourists stay near Pattaya 2nd Road, one street over from Walking Street. Honestly, at 10 PM at night, Walking Street looks like Diwali without the coloured powder.
Where weed is smoked.
Regarding cannabis being legal in Thailand, I didn’t realize that a person could smoke it in a bar. In California – and I believe in all states where cannabis is legal – the law is that people can legally smoke it in their residence or in an establishment where it can be smoked. It cannot be legally smoked in public or in a restaurant, bar, etc. If a person can smoke cannabis in a bar in Thailand, then will smoking cigarettes in a bar be legal again? How about cigars? I believe that you’re correct that bars will lose more customers than they will gain if people smoke cannabis in bars. <Remember, what is legal in Thailand and what actually happens are often two very different things! – Stick>
Reacting to weed.
I see more and more weed for sale on the streets, everywhere. I am not a fan at all so I am hoping for selfish reasons it gets banned. If bars are gonna sell it and places stink of it, most of the people I know will stop going out.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
It’s a bit over 4 months since the soi 7 beer bar complex was closed after police raided a bar with underage ladies. There was much talk about the complex reopening but as the months passed by the feeling was the short-lived soi 7 bar complex would become the latest bar area to be consigned to Bangkok bar history. Most of us thought it was done. We were wrong. Soi 7 is back! All of the appropriate paperwork has been filed and bars that were in a position to reopen i.e. they had the electricity connected and had staff ready, were able to reopen this past Thursday. Things won’t be quite the same. The area has undergone various changes to become legal and some bar owners threw in the towel, either giving up or relocating elsewhere. About 10 bars have opened so far. Some bars that have yet to relocate are open but will probably close again when building work starts on their new space. Where previously there were 4 foreigner-run bars in the plaza, now there are just 2. Nearly all bar spaces have been reserved so once all the building work is complete, they are confident it will be lively again. It could be a couple of months before all the work is done and it does not look like a building site but the good news is that the soi 7 bar area is back.
Yet again, the big story this week was not bars or Covid-19 or tourism, but rain. Lots of it. On Wednesday, a near-record 168 mm of rain fell in Bangkok, starting at 7:30 PM and going all night. By 9:30, already 100 mm had fallen, totally inundating the city. Water on Sukhumvit Road, perhaps the most modern street in a city of many less-than-modern roads, had water up to the bumpers of taxis. If you could get a taxi, or a motorbike, and the Grab and Bolt apps were useless, a normal 60-baht ride cost 200 baht at least. Some people who had gone out earlier and got caught in the flood tweeted they would have been happy to pay 500 baht to get home. Needless to say, bar areas were a wasteland. Some bars had few ladies show up before the rains came and they were stuck there all night. It was, of course, the same for those customers who had ventured out early and found themselves stuck.
It’s said to have better tried and failed then to never have tried at all. So it was with Whiskey & Go Go’s “Buy 1, Get 1 Free Lady Drinks” promotion. Perhaps it’s no great surprise that the ladies were unhappy getting two lady drinks, but only being paid for one. And customers didn’t really seem to care about it, as it turned out. So Whiskey is going with what it know works: Buy 1 Get 1 Free CUSTOMER drinks every night of the week. Yes, that includes Fridays and Saturdays! That makes Whiskey & Go Go officially Nana Plaza’s cheapest place to drink. Standard drinks and Leo / Chang / Singha / San Miguel Light only.
Blondie livened up the scene at Nana Plaza on Friday night by hiring a professional pole dancer and installing a very tall pole on the patio outside their ground-floor Nana Plaza bar. Blondie is adding new girls every 10 days now and, on Saturdays, brings in a live saxophonist and outside DJ to pump up the party mood. You can check out Blondie’s ladies and parties on its Facebook page.
At Soi Cowboy, work continues at Déjà Vu although whether it’s a revamp or a whole new bar is not known. Typically the signs are the first thing to come down when a bar changes hands and changes name and / or format and as the Déjà Vu signage remains, the feeling it that this is most likely a revamp.
Still on Soi Cowboy, Tilac has done away with its happy hour. Tilac had had a happy hour for as long as I can remember – and it used to be very popular. It is no longer. Today, standard drinks in Tilac run 150 baht and a lady drink will set you back 200 baht. At least one Cowboy regular thinks Tilac has the best selection of dancers on the soi at this time. They are all agency girls and whether they are barfineable or not, I don’t know. (And if they are, expect to pay a pretty penny.)
Directly opposite Corner Bar, Country Road still appears to be the busiest bar on the soi and with Oasis also doing well, one wonders whether any new bars which spring up would be best trying something more mainstream than the gogo bar format.
Renovations on Corner Bar on Soi Cowboy are coming along. There are windows at the Asoke end of the bar which will provide a view out on to the busy road and across to Terminal 21 – and of course it will also provide a view in to the bar for those walking past outside.
Could 10-day contracts become more of a thing in some Bangkok gogo bars? Generally, it is the preference of bars to hire girls as employees of the bar who work night after night, week after week, month after month and maybe even year after year. Bars could once pick and choose who to hire and there was a time when less attractive ladies may have to approach a few different bars before they found a place to work. Today the power is with the girls – it’s been that way for some time now – and they are much more choosy about not just where they work, but under what conditions. Some bars get girls from agencies which contract the girls out to them on a 10-day contract. These ladies work in one particular bar for ten days straight, receive a handsome day-rate and a commission for lady drinks on top. Being barfined may or may not be part of the deal. Bars with ladies on 10-day contracts can have a rather different vibe to bars where the ladies are employed in the bars, especially if it is not clear to punters who can and cannot be barfined. 10-day contracts have been a thing for some time in Pattaya. Bangkok has long had agency girls but I am not sure many bars actually had the girls on 10-day contracts per se. Interesting times if this becomes more established.
Away from the chrome poles, Buddy’s Bar & Grill’s Soi 22 location will hold its monthly BBQ feast on July 29. 300 baht gets you get barbecue pork ribs, chicken, hot dogs, Texas-style chili, spicy Italian sausage four side dishes. A great deal. Learn more and see maps to all the Bangkok Buddy locations at BuddyBarBangkok.com.
Once one of the most popular hotels for naughty bars in Bangkok – and perhaps second only to the Mothership (Nana Hotel) – Dynasty Inn has been closed since Covid came along. A large for sale / lease sign is afront the closed premises. But this contradicts an email the hotel sent out just two weeks ago which said, “Dynasty Inn Bangkok is still closed and expected to reopen around first quarter next year“. So just what is happening at Dynasty Inn? Your guess is as good as mine! With regard to other hotels on Soi Nana popular with naughty boys, the Woraburi is also currently closed and The Dawin is undergoing a makeover.
One good place to ride out the Bangkok rains is The Old English Pub in Thonglor. It’s popular patio is mostly covered with a roof, so you can enjoy 45-baht pints of Leo every day from 2 – 5 PM (6 PM on weekends) and watch the river waters flow down Soi Thonglor. On Wednesday, the water was not only up over the sidewalk in front of The Old English, but submerged the first step into the patio as well.
If Bangkok is basically back to normal, Pattaya has a long way to go to get back to what it was, even if it’s up for debate whether “what it was” should be a goal. Sin City felt quiet on Friday night. The traffic was jammed up along Beach Road at 8 PM as you’d expect. Wine Connection, at Royal Garden Plaza, had no-one inside and only 4 tables on its big outdoor patio occupied. Walking Street started very slowly but did seem busier than two months ago. There were even two Asian tour groups spotted.
Something worth noting about Pattaya – and where it differs markedly from Bangkok – is that masks just aren’t a thing there. In Bangkok you really still can’t go out without wearing a mask – at least if you want to go inside anywhere. In rebellious Pattaya, no mask is no barrier to entering shopping malls or 7 Eleven branches or restaurants, or bars, obviously. Pattaya has always been something of an outlier and this freedom from the mask nonsense is a refreshing change from the capital where seemingly everyone still dutifully complies with the mask-wearing BS.
Foreign tourism in Pattaya right now is represented by two groups: Indians – who were hunting in packs on Beach Road for streetwalkers and trouble (a 9th Indian since April on Friday reported having a fat gold necklace stolen by a ladyboy) – and Koreans. The Japanese may still feel reluctant to travel to Thailand, but South Korean men were out in huge numbers on Friday night, making Walking Street feel a little like pre-Covid Angeles City.
One bar where things are back to normal is Pin-Up, hands down the best bar in Pattaya again. The expansion talked about in this column in May is now complete and, on Friday, 120+ women were in the house. Pin-Up, which used to be three shophouses wide and one deep, is now an odd 1.5 shophouses wide and two deep. Unfortunately, if you sit at either end of the bar, you won’t see half the women on stage. The bar needs to rotate its entertainers better so they get seen by everyone.
Pin-Up was mobbed on Friday night due to a birthday party for a manager that included a big BBQ out front, a buffet and lots of people in the VIP section in the back. Pin-Up is absolutely the Billboard of Pattaya and if somehow it was transplanted to the capital, would give Bangkok’s top gogo bar a run for its money.
Signs are popping up all over Bangkok as every man and his dog jumps on the cannabis bandwagon with entrepreneurial Thais seizing the opportunity to get in early, establish their brand and make their fortune selling cannabis. In the wake of Covid, there are blocks of closed businesses and empty shophouses all over town – and ganja sellers have taken advantage of these vacancies and low rents to get set up. Sukhumvit Road is littered with ganja stalls and you can even find them in the better neighbourhoods like Thonglor. Some sellers have come up with novel names for their shop and their offerings. One of my favourites is “Seedlom” on Silom Road. If you haven’t tuned in for a while and are puzzled, the sale of cannabis was decriminalised in Thailand recently.
But just because you can buy cannabis in Thailand doesn’t mean you can bring it with you from home. Apparently, it is not ok to bring cannabis in to the country. So if you’re in Canada, California or any place where cannabis can be legally purchased, don’t think that because it’s available for sale in Thailand that you can take it with you to Thailand. Apparently, you cannot. My understanding is that it is still illegal to bring cannabis in to the country and if caught doing so you could face charges.
I’ve received mixed info about Hua Hin. Last week a friend was in town and said it was very quiet. This week a Hua Hin local tells the nightlife area has relocated from the central part of town in and around Soi Bintabaht, out to Soi 94. The new complex is called Wonderland and has many small beer bars. Said local described it as “heaving”. An even newer complex along the road has opened up, just a 5-minute walk away. Fancy yourself as the next bar baron? A bar at this new bar complex in Hua Hin can go for around 350K baht. For this, you get the small bar with a dozen seats.
It’s good to hear that Thai Airways is finally rolling out credit notes to those who booked trips pre-pandemic for flights which were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic. But it’s kind of ironic that in many cases Thai Airways has issued a credit note to a person in a part of the world where the airline no longer flies!
I always enjoyed my trips to Phnom Penh, but reports from a good friend who is a long-time resident of the city paints a picture of a place that doesn’t sound nearly as charming or as enticing as I remember it. In fact, he went as far as suggesting that I warn readers that Cambodia has become a place for opportunists. It has always been that way to some extent but with tourism booming for many years and money flowing in to the country, there was something of a hiatus. Since Covid and with minimal inbound international tourism, things have got in his words, “Really bad“. Place an item of value on a table while you’re enjoying a drink at and it might just be grabbed by an opportunist who legs it and disappears in to the night in the blink of an eye. And it’s not just foreigners who are the target. Local lasses in the bar areas are falling victim as their phone is lifted and it’s the same MO, the perp grabs the item and legs it at high speed.
Thailand-Related News Article Links
With tourists gone, what is happening with Lopburi’s famous monkeys?
British Airways has delayed its return to Bangkok further and won’t resume flying to Thailand until 2023 at the earliest.
A Nigerian, the first person with monkeypox in Thailand, is on the run in Phuket.
I could have easily filled this column with photos of signs of cannabis for sale across Bangkok, shops / stalls / booths / vans selling cannabis and all things cannabis-related. Thank you for all the photos and the first-hand observations. It’s amazing how fast vendors have sprung up – but then the Thais always were entrepreneurial so perhaps it shouldn’t be a great surprise. While cannabis is not something of any interest to me, I will give it a little coverage as there is interest from some readers and, for the time being at least, it’s newsworthy. Don’t take my coverage of it to be any sort of endorsement of it, however. Whether you wish to indulge in weed in Thailand is, as the Thais say, up to you.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at: Stickmanbangkok@gmail.com