Last week’s photo was taken of the 7 Eleven branch at Wish Signature Midtown Siam Condo, on Petchaburi Road. A few of you pointed out that there was actually a sign over the awning that gave the location of the photo away. I was going to Photoshop it out once I was informed of that but in the end I left it. Only about a dozen or so of you who identified the location of the photo so it seemed not to matter. This week’s photo is for those who know the bar scene well. If you’re not a bargoer, forget it – no chance you’ll get it right!
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Done with Pattaya.
I’m in Pattaya for a month and making all the rounds; gogo bars, beer bars, Soi 6, etc. I was in Tantra Saturday night around 9 PM and was quoted 2,500 for the barfine. I just laughed and said, no thanks. She said it was Saturday night and early which is why the barfine was so high. There was hardly anyone in the place and several girls working. I’ll never come back to a place with these prices. It’s crap like this that is really turning me off to the gogo bars in Pattaya. And when you do barfine a girl, the mamasan is pointing to her watch, letting you know you’re on the clock. I’m done with the gogos and Walking Street.
A few weeks in Pattaya.
I’ve been in Pattaya for the last 3½ weeks. Pattaya is definitely coming back to life, but is still far from pre-Covid levels. I can confirm what Bangkok Photographer said about it. There are plenty of Indians (but is anybody actually happy with them?) and lots of Thais. Especially in the weekends, when the Bangkok Thais are coming over, you could stay in the Beach Road area and think everything was back to 2019 levels. If you’re not a fan of the nightlife that is, and stick to daytime and early evening activities. However, look a bit further and you’ll see that Pattaya still has a long way to go. Venture out to 3rd Road for example and you’ll see that many places, including hotels, are still closed and many restaurants and shops have simply disappeared. Even in the Beach Road area you’ll see this, but it’s less common. You see what you see often in touristic places when business is down. The hotels in prime locations, normally the most popular and most expensive ones, lower their prices because business is slow. Hotels in less popular locations have to follow, but if hotels in top locations are seriously going down you come to the point where hotels in lesser locations can’t follow anymore because then the hotel is no longer profitable.
Facemask Central, TIT.
Bangkok can be described as Facemask Central. I know you hate that facemask nonsense, just like me, but especially in Bangkok the Thais are very fond of masks. Sometimes I wonder if they have grown on to their faces. In Pattaya there aren’t too many people wearing facemasks anymore. Normally, it’s just the Thais wearing them inside busy places. You notice it though at the weekend when Bangkok Thais visit Pattaya and then you see facemasks everywhere. You even see them jogging on Beach Road with those things on! I had a walk in the new Benjakiti Park yesterday and even in a large park like that almost all Thais keep their facemasks on. It’s just the tourists who don’t wear them. I wouldn’t be surprised if many years from now, when Covid is but a vague memory, facemasks will still be standard equipment for a Bangkok Thai. It would be interesting to know what got them this far. Fear pumped into them by the authorities? A form of mass hysteria? Thailand certainly isn’t amongst those countries being hit hardest, and looking at for example the traffic / road behaviour you can’t say they’re too concerned about safety, so what’s behind this disproportional fear of Covid? I’ve asked Thai friends many times how there are thousands of deaths on the roads every year and nobody gives a shit, but the same amount of Covid casualties in 2½ years of Covid and everyone panics! So far, no-one could give me a decent answer. Maybe another case of This Is Thailand?
Today’s visitors to Bangkok.
The Don Meuang Airport international terminal experience this week was surreal. It is full of Indians. There are flights going to other places in Asia, but it just seemed like everyone was Indian. Which is weird because 3 years ago I remember the same terminal being totally full of Chinese, lined up 50+ meters for the shopping tax rebates.
How big is the wave?
When everyone finally got the green light, the mongers were the first to arrive full of pent up demand, and that was like a wave that built up steam and crashed against the rocks before it even crested. The remainder of the wave slowly rolled over the rocks through March and April. In May and June, the water started to slowly retract and July has left the rocks exposed again. I venture to say that in August and September the wave won’t make the rocks, and the shore before the rocks will be exposed.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
The fallout from the deadly fire at the Mountain B nightclub in Chonburi 10 days ago continued to hit Bangkok this week as police shut down much of the nightlife early, as if fire (like Covid before it) only comes out after midnight. Soi Cowboy was closed at midnight several nights this past week, with Nana following at around 12:45 AM. The early closings makes no sense to anyone except the men in tight suits, and they’re not explaining their irrational reasoning. But as the Thai owner of a Bangkok gogo bar put it this week, the operating hours may not be the same but “money for police still same”.
The most common thing I hear in reports from readers about the nightlife in Bangkok is that Soi Nana is attracting Indian visitors in such large numbers that Soi Nana is increasingly being referred to as Soi Delhi or the like. Is this a short-term trend or is this the future for the soi, and perhaps the wider nightlife industry? This is a tricky one to comment on. My stance on India, Indian people and Indian food is well-known – I’ve always been fascinated by the country, had a fantastic time visiting the country and hope to visit again soon. I find Indians engaging and I just love Indian food. I also know that my thoughts aren’t necessarily shared by some. While I think most readers are generally open-minded to the idea of people from all over the world visiting what were once the farang bar areas, there is concern that if one nationality dominates the industry so much it could see operators accommodate the new customers while becoming less appealing to others. Interesting times.
Another one of the infamous Arab’s bars has reopened on Soi Cowboy with Spice Girls the latest of his bars to re-join the fray.
Always dreamed of playing doctors and nurses? Well, now you can do just that! Next week, Demonia, on Sukhumvit soi 33, will host what it is calling a Medical Party. Every customer will be offered a free syringe shot of a special cocktail made for the occasion. The fun and games take place this coming Saturday, August 20th.
The new Soi 8 location of Buddy’s Bar & Grill continues to progress. While no opening date has been predicted, it’s anticipated the doors will reopen by the end of the month. Follow the progress on the Buddy’s website at BuddyBarBangkok.com.
Likewise, a few kilometres down Sukhumvit Road, The NEW Old English Pub is coming to life. Floor tiles and seat benches arrived and are waiting to be installed. The brick interior walls are going up and workers are going seven days a week on the new bar. The Old English 2.0 version – 25 paces from Exit 3 of the Thong Lor BTS station – should be open any day. Get updates on their official Line feed at https://lin.ee/BMiLI2E.
The start of a limited 2-for-1 Happy Hour, Monday through Wednesday from 8 – 10 PM at Billboard on the top floor of Nana Plaza, went over well, with the bar busy early. It also provided a boost later in the evening for Butterflies, as those concerned about price moved across the way as the 2-for-1 drinks continue all night those same nights.
Word from the Thermae from a friend who is a long-time visitor to the underground bar, “Average age up. Average quality down.”
It has been a quiet week at the reopened beer bar complex on Sukhumvit 7. Currently, 11 bars are open with 2 more due to open in the next few days. The area still looks like a building site with materials (steelwork, roller shutters etc.) stacked up. The interior area is fairly dark and in need of more bars opening meaning more light and a brighter, more welcoming area. The builders normally work until 5 or 6 PM. At times it has been a bit of a comedy show. Without warning, the construction crew laid a concrete base and later in the day the staff of 2 bars came to open, only to find wet concrete around their bars meaning that they could not get into them! Not all of the problems at soi 7 have been resolved. At least one of the old bars is still in dispute with the landowner over money although it’s not clear if this is to do with compensation, trying to recoup costs or perhaps about the return of a (substantial) deposit. Surprising, there aren’t a lot of happy hours at this time. The complex is open until 2:00 AM.
Popular performer Lee Shamrock would like to remind readers that he continues to perform at Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub on Sukhumvit soi 22 on Thursday and Friday nights, and at Suzie Wong on Soi Cowboy on Saturday nights. The show kicks off at 8:00 PM.
Word from Sin City is that while parts of town look desolate, soi 6 is coming back to life with around three-quarters of the bars along naughty boy lane estimated to be open. Of course, just how busy anywhere is these days is very much about perception.
A couple of kilometres south, at Pattaya’s Dollhouse it’s just 50 baht draft for Tiger beer, every night of the week, all night long. What a shame the Bangkok Dollhouse doesn’t have similar pricing.
In the same soi as Dollhouse – soi 15 off Walking Street – Beavers, which is part of the same group as Dollhouse, has reopened.
Living Dolls has added a bus-load of new girls, making it a must-visit if you find yourself on Walking Street. The street has been repaved down to Living Dolls, making the walk from the start of Walking Street to the bar easy. It’s also easy on the wallet, with daily drink specials, often two different specials each day. You can follow the all-new version of what some are calling Walking Street’s longest-running go-go on:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LivingDollsPattaya/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LivingDollsGoGo
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/livingdollsagogo/
For fetishists in Pattaya, The Castle, on 3rd Road, will host a Nyotaimori Sushi dinner. This has been successful at The Castle’s sister venue in Bangkok, Demonia, where they have several reservations every week – so they want to try it in Pattaya. Hopefully it will be well-received. The price is 700 baht for the sushi dinner once you are inside the venue.
The availability of cannabis / weed / ganja across Thailand is really snowballing. From farmers selling plants out of the back of their pickup trucks across back roads in rural Thailand to shacks in the Nana Hotel car park to stalls along the main Sukhumvit Road, Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy etc., it sounds like wherever you go you’re falling over marijuana for sale. While some operations look almost as shady as the African dudes who who used to whisper “ganja, ganja” from the shadows of late-night Sukhumvit, today there are many alternatives. You needn’t subject yourself to a dodgy dude where you don’t know what you’re getting. Juicy, a new nightlife spot on Sukhumvit soi 11, has a ganja dispensary in a similar style to a Hard Rock Cafe merchandise store. It’s amazing how fast they have set up the store which appears to be one of the most professional cannabis outlets. There are iPads set up in the store with menus of what is available, and you can order online if you prefer. You can find Juicy Buds just inside the entrance to the Juicy club on Sukhumvit Soi 11. The Facebook page for their new Phuket operation is Juicy Phuket and you can order from the comfort of your own home at: Juicy Buds online shop.
In normal times it’s around now when we’d be saying that the spike in trade from the northern hemisphere summer has passed and as we get later in to August things will be slow through until around the start of November. Of course, these are not normal times after Covid mucked everything up. Will things slow down for the next couple of months as traditionally they do in September and October? I suspect not. There is a great desire amongst many to get back to Thailand – but there is the ongoing problem of a lack of flights which in turn means much higher prices. Hopefully more flights will be scheduled as planes come out of storage. The demand is there.
From a long-time reader in Phuket comes an update from the island. Bangla remains the centre of the action but it’s nothing like it was with many venues still closed. The further one ventures from the Bangla epicentre, the more empty shophouses you see and the remnants of what were once bars, cafes, restaurants, massage shops etc. In some cases, shophouse interiors have been stripped, while in others the entire frontage is boarded up. Some sois and sub-sois have been razed of buildings as the construction of new buildings takes place. Some of these projects have stalled, the entire site fenced off. The Jung Ceylon Shopping Centre remains closed with ongoing renovations not complete yet. Across the road, the new Central is rumoured to reopen very soon i.e. within the next few days. Tiger Disco is yet to reopen, no surprise given other discos are said to be largely empty. Naughty boys needn’t fret, there are plenty of freelancers hanging out along Bangla. And if you don’t fancy grabbing a lady off the street, Illuzion is said to be where the action is. The venue has been promoting Indian DJs – which is where things are at on Phuket at this time.
The Chao Praya Express Boat is one of the true bargains of Bangkok. Cruise up and down the river and take in the sights. It’s a must-do in Bangkok. Just don’t go handing over a 10-baht coin and expect change like we did in the past. Fares have shot up and now start at 16 baht. Not too many masks in the photo above which was taken this week, are there? That’s encouraging.
On the subject of masks, word is that by and large, it is mainly Thais who wear a mask during the daytime. Foreigners? Some wear a mask, sometimes, seems to be the case. At night it’s a different story and it’s game on. Almost no-one is wearing masks in the party areas, be it Khao San Road, the Sukhumvit / Silom bar areas or the Thai bars.
The mainstream press reported this week that Thailand’s Tourism Authority is lobbying the government to increase the permission to stay period for those on a visa waiver from 30 days to 45 days. That would be a good start but why don’t they increase it to 90 days – as is the case in Malaysia? Many countries allow visitors from Western countries to stay for 90 days without the need to apply for a tourist visa in advance. 45 days would be nice but it’s not really much of a change, is it? 90 days on arrival could be a game-changer. I imagine some people definitely choose to stay for longer – and let’s not forget that many would not need to make a visa run which means they would have more money to spend in Thailand. And if Thailand is concerned about people using 90-day visa waivers to stay in Thailand long-term, just implement a policy whereby you can spend no more than 6 months in Thailand in a calendar year on this type of visa. Simple!
Thailand-Related News Articles
Once again, Thais are heading to South Korea with the idea of working when they shouldn’t be.
A model is fined for topless DJing in Khon Kaen province.
Bangkok’s weed trucks are getting lots of exposure in the mainstream media.
More mainstream media around the world are reporting on the availability of weed in Thailand.
From the Nation, outrage is levelled against a foreigner seen catching parrotfish in Thailand.
I see that Covid numbers are tracking down in many countries including Thailand. With a bit of luck, it fades away to the point we largely forget about it, even if it never disappears completely. It’s frustrating not having got back to Thailand yet, but with a bit of luck by the time I do get back the mask requirements will be largely done away with.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org