Stickman Weekly, October 9, 2022
Last week’s photo was taken from MBK, looking east back over Siam Square, facing the new Siamscape building which was just to the right of centre. The National Stadium skytrain station would be just off to the left of the photo. This week’s column is – you guessed it – somewhere in downtown Bangkok. In fact, it is probably no more than 1 km from Soi Nana….so where is it, clever reader?
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Mask wearing still a nationwide thing.
You are wrong to say that the continued mask-wearing by Thais is very much a Bangkok thing. Okay, it might be in relation to Pattaya, but where I live in Nakhon Nowhere most still wear one, my wife even when alone in the car. Almost everyone even wears one when on a motorcycle, though in 99% of the cases their helmet appears to have fallen off. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if some after they’ve died are carried to the temple to be incinerated still wearing their mask. Someone on a forum likened it to the Chinese burning paper money with the deceased.
Masks are a Thailand-wide thing.
Contrary to what you’re being told, masks are not a Bangkok thing. They are a Thailand thing. I spent the first week of September in Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, and Mukdahan. The entire week, I was the only person I saw anywhere NOT wearing a mask. Mask usage is 100% among Thais, everywhere, all the time. Everyone had a mask on. People alone in their cars were wearing masks. People riding motorbikes down deserted rural roads were wearing masks. They come off to eat and drink. That’s it.
Phuket Airport arrivals report.
I came back to Phuket late last month for the second time this year. In October on my first trip, I arranged to be picked up from airport by the hotel where I was staying as I was coming in via an international flight kind of late-ish. The price for the pickup was 800 baht, using the airport taxi service for which they arranged. However, a couple of weeks ago I came in from Bangkok. It was early in the day so I tried the usual trick of going to arrivals and catching a cab that had just dropped passengers off and would otherwise have to return empty. When I tried to hail an empty taxi there, they all refused to take me. Then one of the airport uniformed security guys told me in no uncertain terms to go back downstairs and arrange transportation through the “official” taxi desk and pay the fixed 800 baht rate. Now 800 baht is a pretty stiff fare but I guess there are many palms to grease so it’s about par for the course. And they are all in on it. From top to bottom. By all accounts it must be a big money earner. Given that the distance between Phuket Airport and Patong is about the same as between Swampy and Asoke, a metered airport taxi in Bangkok costs around 250 baht + toll +tip, so it’s less than half the Phuket equivalent. On another note, last night in Bangla I was quoted 1,500 baht to barfine a pole dancer. Didn’t bother to ask how much for the demimonde.
More Emails From Stick’s Inbox
A win (?) or __________ <you fill in the blank>.
After many years of being ripped off in Thai bars (either by accident or deliberate) with inflated drinks bills, I recently had a win. Early one afternoon I went to a Sukhumvit Road sports bar (name withheld). They kindly switched the footy game I wanted to watch to the large TV screen and I ordered my Bier Lao and settled in. With their billing system, each time you order a beer you get a whole new bill with each beer listed (vertically). Human input, computer printout. Also the ‘time’ you received your first beer, and the ‘time’ you “check-bin”. It’s a system I’m comfortable with. I watched 2 NRL games. They’re 80 minutes each with 10 minutes for half-time plus all the stoppages. I was probably in the bar for 4 hours. I guess it probably takes me 20 minutes to drink the first bottle and then after a few, they subsequently go down quicker. The Bier Lao were 160 baht per bottle…and at the end, my total bill came to 800 baht. According to them I had 5 bottles, and each time they returned with a new beer it was accompanied by a new bill. In the space of 4 hours I must have had 10 – 12 beers. They’re only small bottles! Human error with a computerised system? Definitely. After paying the bill I visited the hong-nam before I left and while standing at the urinal I did the maths and realised their error, and thought “naah”. My footy team may have lost, but I’d had a win. I walked up Sukhumvit Road with a smile on my face. <While I understand how someone who feels they had suffered from rip-offs in the past may feel good about a situation like this, please consider that this is Thailand and things don’t always work the same way as they do in Australia. If you really did have 10 or 12 drinks and the waitress or cashier somehow made an error, typically in bars in Thailand the member of staff who is deemed to have made an error has to cover the bar’s loss out of their own pocket. And no, they don’t have to cover the 50 odd baht wholesale cost of the beer, but the retail price, in this case 160 baht per bottle. So, if the bill was 7 beers short @ 160 baht each, that is 1,120 baht that will be docked from the “offending” staff member’s pay, quite possibly money they can ill afford to lose. I’d hardly call this a “win” – Stick>
The perfect scam.
Your mention of scamming in Thailand reminded me of what might be the perfect trick, as you might never know it’s happened. My wife’s wedding ring needed to be expanded, and we took it to a gold shop in a shopping mall. A few days later we got it back and all was well. Until we were in a place with UV lighting and noticed that some of the stones were of a different colour. We got it checked and some of the diamonds had been replaced with glass. How would you normally even discover that, let alone be able prove it? More common scams are for treatment you don’t need. Soon after I came to live in Thailand I needed to visit a dentist and he told me I needed 3 teeth extracted. I thought not, refused and 26 years later those teeth are fine. Same as when I was told I needed root canal surgery. I thought not and have had no problem since.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
Dollhouse Darkside is a new gentleman’s club from the operator of Dollhouse on Walking Street. The darkside is the “other” side of Sukhumvit Road from the beach, well away from the tourist hot spots centred around the beach and Walking Street. The darkside is home to a lot of long-term Pattaya expats, some of whom like nothing more than a bit of afternoon delight. Many have their favourite getaway place but sooner or later, their other half figures out where it is….usually somewhere along soi 6. Dollhouse Darkside provides a private setting away not just from the hordes of tourists, but away from prying girlfriends and wives. There is a discreet electric gate and customers can park behind a 3-metre wall and leave their motorbike / vehicle out of sight. Once inside, everything you want to relax can be found. Big Andy tells me there will be at least 15 cute ladies on the premises to show you around the house. The new Dollhouse Darkside is due to open any day.
Up the road in Bangkok, if you’re looking for a relaxed place to shoot pool, Hustlers Pool & Sports Bar in the basement of the Times Square Building is doing well and the boss says they are almost back to how things were pre-Covid. There is a happy hour from midday until 7 PM with all local bottled beer just 99 baht.
Next to Hustlers in the basement of the Times Square Building, what used to be a Thai restaurant is now Mr Tee’s which opened a month or so ago. It’s a small bar with a pool table and live music some days. If the name Tee sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same Tee who runs a few bars in Nana Plaza including Twister – which some rate as having a line-up that is right up there with Billboard. Tee’s hasn’t gained traction yet. There used to be a huge COCA restaurant on the other side of Hustler’s. That space is being transformed into a nightclub. Rumour has it that it will be called Hareem. Could that mean an Indian-themed club? Word is that a Brit is behind it so an Indian-themed venue doesn’t sound so likely. It is believed that Hareem will be open before the end of the year.
For a moment, there were thoughts that Tropical Storm Noru had marked the end of a terrible rainy season. The sky had cleared for a few days…..but, no, it wasn’t to be. Monday saw the rain start around 1:00 PM and not stop until after 8:00. The storm clouds were so thick, black and low that a look south from a friend’s Khlong Toey condo hid the Chao Phraya River and Thonburi from view. More rain followed Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, starting mid-afternoon and not stopping until well after dark, crippling traffic in Bangkok and leaving some bars devoid of girls and customers. Everyone is thoroughly sick and tired of it.
Ever dreamed of buying a gogo bar? While the old saying goes that every bar is for sale at the right price, one of Bangkok’s oldest gogo bars with a name that evokes fond memories is up for grabs. Once upon a time, the double-shophouse bar in a prime location might have gone for silly money. Today, the Thai owners are looking to offload it for 10 million baht. Serious inquires can be emailed to Info@DigitalAGoGo.com. Only those with a full name and contact details – no anonymous questions – will be responded to.
The beer buckets are back at Angelwitch. Now you can save 45% when you buy 5 beers in a bucket on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday. Mix and match from Asahi, Chang, Heineken, Leo, San Miguel Light and Tiger. At the regular price of 180 baht a bottle, the normal price for 5 beers would be 900 baht. The early week special has buckets at just 500 baht.
Sister bars Whiskey & Gogo and Tycoon A Gogo & Lounge are offering Tiger beer in bottles for 99 baht all night every day, one of the best drink deals in Nana Plaza, especially when you consider that this deal is available at the weekend too.
Speaking of Whiskey, the Nana Plaza middle-floor bar has launched a series of cosplay nights, with a different theme every night, including air hostess, French maid, schoolgirl, bikini model and more. Sunday nights are “Freestyle”, so what the girls show up in is anyone’s guess!
Billboard’s VIP Club is off to a great start despite the fact a goof was made last week in the column and the wrong link included, an error that wasn’t corrected until the early hours of Monday morning. If you missed it, Billboard has taken another step up the upscale ladder and introduced VIP bottle service with customers able to book a table or order bottles of fine spirits, wine and Champagne via a Line channel. There’s also a concierge described as very sexy to cater to the VIP customers. The correct link for the Line page is https://lin.ee/ZKZFw2G while you can peruse the bottle and drink menus at https://billboardbangkok.com/menu/. The seating chart is below.
Throughout Nana Plaza’s history, the Rainbow bars – with all their changing numbers and names – have had clear customer profiles. The dearly departed Rainbow 1 and the new-ownership Rainbow 2 long have been magnets for the Japanese while Rainbow 4 – the original one – could perhaps be termed “the farang Rainbow”. Rainbow 4 became Twister and then became the current Rainbow 5, but the profile has remained constant. This year, however, Rainbow 5 hasn’t been hitting the high notes with a line-up that simply doesn’t compare to the “new” Rainbow 4 (the old Rainbow 5). That’s no longer the case. The past two weekends have featured a line-up that has been described as much improved. The bar features what some like to call “spinners” – a term I am not fond of – which refers to rail-thin girls with almost no chest. If that’s your cup of tea, you can fill your pot at Rainbow 5.
Nana Plaza’s owners are not deaf to the cries of protest and complaint by some of their tenants / bar operators over the smoking of weed in the complex. The owners clarified this week that weed smoking in public / common areas of Nana Plaza is not allowed. However, if individual bars are OK with people standing in their rented area – outside the doors of a bar within the rental boundary – then that’s up to them. Some don’t want clouds of pot smoke outside the front door, but other owners are fine with people leaving the table to go outside, smoke a joint, and then go back inside.
Buddy’s Bar & Grill will celebrate the opening of its new Soi 8 location this coming Friday, October 14, with a food-fueled party. Free burgers, hot dogs and bar snacks will be on offer from 7:00 – 11:00 PM with the usual low prices on Buddy’s drinks. The new bar is located on Sukhumvit Road, just a few doors from the Soi 8 intersection. You can check the Buddy’s Soi 8 Facebook page or their website for more info and a full events schedule.
The Grand Reopening Party at The Old English Pub was such a massive success that the operators expanded it to 2 nights. Now that it’s over, the pub located at exit 3 of the Thong Lo BTS station has introduced steak and sausage sharing platters. T-Bone, Rib-Eye and Fillet steaks, with chips or mash and gravy, are available pre-sliced and ready for sharing. Or you can order a variety plate of five grilled sausages: Cumberland, Lincolnshire, Chorizo, Italian and Smoked, with the same sides. The sharing platters are available every day.
After the minor outcry from Patpong fans indignant at the area being described as quiet, how were things in Bangkok’s oldest bar area this week? A friend happened to be in Patpong on Friday – what should be the busiest night of the week – and his report summed up the area in one word. “Quiet!” He reported that all of the street level bars on Patpong soi 2 were either empty or had but a few customers. Bada Bing had few punters in the house. It was the same on Patpong Soi 1. He noticed that Soi 1 had a new addition he’d not seen in the area before….a weed truck! Despite report after report of the area appearing very quiet, we wish Patpong well.
Weed trucks and shops selling weed sound like they’re everywhere in downtown Bangkok. Amongst the many new weed joints to open this week is The Herb Club. It can be found just beyond the end of Sukhumvit soi 16 – a soi I lived for many years – which morphs in to Soi Paisingto. This colourful neighbourhood has modern condo buildings sitting alongside slum communities. So just which of these groups is The Herb Club marketing their product towards? Given that the new weed outlet opened directly opposite the entrance to the Monterey Place condo building, I guess Westerners and moneyed Thais are the target market.
Perhaps the person happiest with the prevalence of grass-smoking in Nana Plaza is the owner of Nana Burger, which can be found out front of Nana Plaza late at night. The man running the mobile junk food cart says his business has more than doubled since cannabis was decriminalised in early June.
Perhaps this is the right spot to include this week’s quote of the week. From a reader, “Every empty shop I walked past and wondered what could make money there is now a weed shop or looks like it’s being turned in to one.”
The next cannabis store due to open on prime Sukhumvit Road is Kush House, which will be located at the Holiday Inn on the corner of Sukhumvit 22. It will have a bit of a hippie theme and include an art gallery for artists from Thailand and elsewhere. Kush House is being described as not just a cannabis store, and will focus on the new, vibrant and some would say radical Bangkok, featuring an art gallery where young, up-and-coming artists can display their work, where a community of like-minded souls can gather. The website is KushHouseThailand.com. It is due to open this coming week.
As more people make it back to Thailand, businesses that provided services to visitors and expats alike are getting back to regular service. Bangkok Buddy, the long-running visa run service that was formed out of the ashes of Jack Golf, is doing visa runs again. This is the one and only visa run service I recommend. More info at their website: Bangkok Buddy.
Here in New Zealand, most people pay for stuff – be it goods or services – with a card. The use of cash is much less common and feels like it is being phased out. What we call PayWave in these parts is far and away the most popular way to pay. There is a small number of businesses which no longer accept cash – mainly smaller food outlets – and their number seems to be growing, albeit slowly. Over time, it looks like more vendors will refuse to accept cash. What’s happening with the use of cash and cards in Thailand? I hear of vendors moving in a similar direction, preferring to be paid by electronic payment system like that linked to the popular Line app. In the bar industry cash is still king, of course. Some bars accept credit cards but those that do may charge a supplementary fee which can be up to 5% – which seems rather cheeky! It’s hard to see a lot of vendors going card / app payment only in Thailand given how many business operate outside of the tax system or perhaps only declare a relatively small amount of their income. Will the day come when working girls only accept payment for services by Line?!
Fetish bar The Castle on Pattaya’s Third Road is slowly getting back to how things were pre-Covid. They will throw a party this coming Friday, October 14, which is a holiday weekend. It will be called “The Unmissable Party Night”. 1,500 baht entrance fee gets you free-flow drinks all night. It will also double as a ladies party night with free entrance and 2 drinks free for all female visitors.
This is not exactly Thailand news but is related to Thailand nonetheless. My old friend, former Bangkok bar manager and the one I always think of as “Mr. Nana”, Dave The Rave and I remain in regular contact. This week Dave sent an update of his life in England. Dave made it out to watch the local women’s football team and seeing a bunch of ladies running around, Dave did what Dave does best and took lots of photographs. I was amazed at the photos of the ladies – some were hot! They weren’t dollied up in bikinis like the ladies featured in this column but some were every bit as attractive. That said, if top-level women’s sport in the UK is anything like top-level women’s sport in this part of the world, many of the ladies probably like to bat close to home, if you get my drift.
Online dating in Thailand was amazing back in the day with many middle-class Thai women using it as a way to find out what foreign guys are like. One of the great things about online dating in Thailand in the early 2000s was that it was entirely hooker free. Over time the money girls discovered online dating and they would stand out with user names like “IWant1500Baht” or “2000BahtGetsAllNight”. Chatting with a friend in Thailand this week, he reckons that online dating in Thailand is nothing like it used to be and has been ruined by all the working girls. It is great, however, if you’re looking for someone to come to your room for a planned liaison for cash and cannot be bothered going out to hunt for someone in the bars. It all sounds like a bit of a jungle these days….but then I guess the decent women who make it on to these platforms and face offers for paid sex from men feel much the same!
Thailand-Related News Article Links
Bangkokians report a snake encounter in the city on average every 15 minutes.
Phuket Airport officials pull a tourist from a van and insist he uses an airport taxi!
Only in Thailand, a bank seizes the wrong house!
Rain, rain and more rain has been the story in Bangkok in recent months.
Thailand’s new ganja laws are compared with much more conservative Australia.
Australian TV asked the question, is Thailand the new weed capital of the world?
Entry fees for foreigners (only) at Thailand’s national parks are about to double.
It’s a bit over 9 months since I resumed writing this column. I had no idea how it would go, having been out of the saddle for so long. Things seem to be trucking along well. It took a while but I can say that I now feel like I’m back in the groove. As for the site, there are a few changes being made to the layout, nothing major. If by chance things have looked a little wonky any time over the past couple of weeks, it’s because the technical department was tinkering around under the hood. As for my ongoing involvement, I committed for a year so I’m here until at least the end of the year. Hopefully I will be around in the new year too….but obviously that’s a discussion that has to take place nearer the time. As always, thanks for tuning in and thanks for all of your encouragement and support.
You Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org