Stickman's Weekly Column April 2nd, 2023

Beauties Of Yesterday

Are the bar ladies of today as attractive as bar ladies of years gone by? If your feedback is anything to go by, many readers think not. I took a quick look through the archives and have rounded up photos of a few ladies from the past to compare with the ladies featured in the column these days.

 

 

From the Playskool archives.

All of these photos have featured on the site and can be found in the archives. To be clear, this is not a selection of my personal favourites, rather it is a sample of photos that I think is representative of ladies I photographed between 2016 and 2018.

 

 

 

From the Billboard archives.

I considered going back and tweaking / editing these photos with fresh eyes and new, improved version of Photoshop on a computer with a much better monitor than when I edited them the first time around, but that at the end of the day it’s not about the quality of the images, it’s about the general attractiveness of the ladies.

 

 

 

From the Billboard archives.

There are 4 Billboard ladies featured. If I had wanted to skew things, I would have included photos of ladies from the various photo shoots at Billboard over the years. But that wouldn’t be fair as oftentimes it feels like Billboard has exclusive access to a factory that produces the most attractive gogo dancers.

 

 

 

From the Billboard archives.

As far as the technical details go, these photos were taken with a Canon 5D2 or a Canon 5D3 – old camera bodies at the time and very old camera bodies today (which still both serve me perfectly well). The lens was a Canon 24 – 70 mm and I used a single on-board camera flash. All photos were edited in Adobe Photoshop.

butterflies bangkok

The photos of ladies featured in this column in recent months by the professional photographer are taken with a Sony camera body and lens. There really is very little difference between camera brands. The big difference is that the pro uses studio lights. His work with the lighting is superb and produces outstanding results.

There are 15 photos, the first 10 from gogo bars and the last 5 of ladies who worked as escorts. I included a handful of escorts because I used to photograph escorts often and they frequently featured in the column.

 

 

 

From The Strip archives.

Notice anything in the first 4 photos? Not a tattoo to be seen. That was pure chance. Turn back the clock 20 years and there were far fewer tattoos. Turn it back 30 and I gather there were hardly any at all.

 

 

 

From the G Spot Pattaya archives.

2 of the 3 ladies here have large tattoos on their thigh, something that would appear to be much more common these days.

mandarin

 

 

 

From the Club Electric Blue Pattaya archives.

Writing this column back in the day got me access to bars and the chance to photograph ladies. I enjoyed it immensely. As the years rolled by, more girls became less willing to be photographed and even amongst the ladies who were willing to pose for the camera, some bar owners became very controlling about the ladies they wanted photographed, the style of photos, what they wore etc. As someone who is really a street photographer taking shots inside bars, it didn’t really work for me and I started to lose interest. I’ve never been one for posed or studio-style photography and much prefer taking candids. A well-taken candid can tell a story.

 

 

 

From the Dollhouse Pattaya archives.

I can’t see a tattoo anywhere. She’s got to have a big one all over her back, right? Let’s check behind.

 

 

 

From the Dollhouse Pattaya archives.

A quick shot of her back….mmm, can’t see one there either!

 

 

 

From the Billboard archives.

No, she didn’t have sunburn! That red hue is a combination of lights in the bar and me failing to correct the skin tone.

Getting back to my comments on tattoos, reader feedback suggests that many of you feel much the same about tattoos as I do. I cannot remember anyone saying they find a lady hot / desirable / sexy because of her tattoos. Of course, these ladies have their reasons for getting tattoos. Their body, their choice.

 

 

 

From the Bangkok Escort archives.

The next few photographs feature escorts. To my eyes, they are more feminine and classier.

 

 

 

From the Bangkok Escort archives.

Has the braces fad peaked? Last time I was in Thailand they were all the rage, especially amongst working girls. Given that in many cases they were apparently cosmetic – and given that customers aren’t keen on them – I never got my head around it.

 

 

 

From the Bangkok Escort archives.

There’s a lot to be said for a lady in lingerie.

 

 

 

From the Bangkok Escort archives.

And the classic jeans matched with a sexy top works similarly well. If a lady is genuinely sexy, she doesn’t have to dress up fancy to look great.

 

 

 

From the Bangkok Escort archives.

In years gone by I’d describe plenty of ladies as “tempting”. Today (or at least when I last visited), not so much. There will always be the odd lady who makes you look twice but I found that happening less and less. But perhaps that’s just me and I just grew out of it. The ladies I see who are working these days just don’t appeal – and that is despite the photos of them being tremendous captures.

What do you make of these ladies from the past compared to the ladies of today?

Of these ladies do you have a favourite? Mine would be this lady right here.

To be clear, all of the ladies featured in the 15 photos above were photographed when they were working between 2016 and 2018. All of the ladies featured in photos further down the column were photographed in the past week.

 

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of Velvet on Sukhumvit soi 8. Just one particularly clever reader got it right. Even those of you who cheat by using Google reverse image searches were stumped. Just goes to show that you don’t know Bangkok as well as you thought, eh?! This week’s is, as per usual, in the farang zone.

 

 

Meet her at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.

 

 

Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week

The bar industry and the old guys.

I was thinking about customers new and old in the gogo bars. Perhaps a 50s and older gogo bar that caters to a crowd that doesn’t want to be hassled is in order? No what is your name, where you come from. Signage in a large font like those blindman’s playing cards that spells out barfines, ladies asking prices etc. Girls that have already been to the rodeo and are just as chilled being around chilled out customers and not on the hustle. I think that’s why many so older guys just move on to massage parlours and Rolodexes. <Try Sexy Night in Nana Plaza which many old guys find very much to their likingStick>

Explaining why some say it’s busy and others say it’s not.

I see mixed reviews about how busy Pattaya is now. While the peak of the naughty boys season is past us, it still remains busy with lots of mainstream tourists around. It might explain why some people say that it’s busy, and others (bar owners, from what I understand) say it’s not that busy. Both groups are right. These days the naughty boys are a minority in Pattaya, and the people who are around right now are mainly mainstream tourists. I have always stayed in North Pattaya, because it’s quieter than South Pattaya and you’re not right in the middle of all the madness. But it certainly can still be lively. On my daily strolls, I pass many restaurants, bars (although significantly fewer than before), massage parlours, shops, food courts, shopping malls, supermarkets, soi 6, the beach etc., and I can compare with the same part of town in previous years. Again, it is very busy – and busier than I have seen it in years. For late March, I have never seen it this busy before. In the past, if I went for a late-night stroll around 11 – 12 PM, this part of town was pretty quiet, except fort the bar areas. Now, at this time, I see full massage shops, food courts with very decent customer numbers, queues at the 7 Eleven, rather full songtaews etc. The bars that are left here (like the Atlantic Bar) appear to have fewer customers than when I was here in February.

More fun and games with the bill.

At 8:30 PM on Sunday I entered Red Dragon. The mamasan asked if I want to call a girl down off stage. I say no because I know their rule that taking a girl off stage mid-dance means you have to buy her two drinks. Mamasan leaves. Meanwhile there’s a girl behind me doing a decent job rubbing my shoulders. The song and that dance shift ends, a girl from the stage walks by, I offer her a drink and offer the shoulder-rubbing girl behind me a drink too. They sit next to me. It turns out the girl rubbing my shoulders from behind was overweight….they always are! You’d think I’d know not to fall for that by now. Anyway, the bill comes and it shows…..three drinks. Three girls’ names. I ask for an explanation. They explain that the third drink I bought was for the mamasan. Mamasan never asked me for a drink. I never offered her a drink. I don’t think the drink was even delivered to the table, as I don’t recall seeing a third drink or seeing the mamasan again. I object to paying for the mamasan’s drink, and they shrug their shoulders and take it off the bill very quickly, like it’s par for the course. Now, I realize this is an unremarkable story, but I also know you get a lot of reports from a lot of people and tend to notice trends. I’ve been to Red Dragon twice, and both times got a surprise with the bill (first the two lady drink minimum when calling a girl off stage, and this time the mamasan drink padding). As much as I like the line-up and ambiance at Red Dragon, I’m not so inclined to keep going there if this keeps up.

 

Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.

 

More Readers’ Emails

They’re back in force.

The bus from Ekamai seems indicative of current tourist numbers with my guestimate at Asians 80%, Thais 10%, Westerners 10%. At Terminal 21 at lunch-time today, I haven’t heard as many Chinese voices in the last 3 years. That’s Terminal 21 Pattaya. The younger mainland Chinese and others from around South-East Asia are very much travelling independently. I think you’ll see more and more of that. I think it’s the future for this age group.

Readers too clever for Stickman to fool.

You asked if readers would be able to tell when you are back in Bangkok. I can remember around 6 or 7 years when you visited Bangkok without saying anything in the column. But I knew you were back! How? I was in Bangkok at that time too, and had taken a long walk around the soi 22 area. I had previously spent time there in my budget days in the early 1990s. I had stayed in a dump called the 27 Hotel, in a sub-soi off soi 22. I wanted to have a look and see if the old dump was still there, or if it had collapsed out of sheer misery. And guess what, it was still there! It was like an island of the old, between all the new buildings. Anyway, I walked around the whole soi 22 area for a long time, looking for places I remember from the past. A few days later you published a column, and what did I see? Detailed pictures of the soi 22 area! Someone obviously had walked around the area recently, taking lots of pictures. Now I don’t know that many people who like walking around in Bangkok, and who take decent photos. I also knew you like to walk around, and that you were an enthusiastic photographer. It just had to be you, but you were supposed to be in New Zealand, right? Well, then you had returned I thought, it just had to be. A week later you revealed you were back.

Was it, or wasn’t it?

Here’s a Bangkok anecdote for you. Around 2006, my wife and I were enjoying an evening in the old Country Road bar on the corner of Sukhumvit soi 19. The Thai band with the lead guitarist with long hair almost to the floor was a regular feature. About half-way through the evening I went to the gents, as one does when the beer is flowing. There was a queue. When my turn came there was a very impatient character behind me, obviously in urgent need and tapping me on the shoulder to get a move on. I relented and went to wash my hands. As I was drying my hands, he came over to apologise for his hurry to pee. I was shocked to see it was Robin Williams. Or was it? He invited me to his table in repentance for his rudeness. My wife and I joined him and a Thai lady. He was very generous, and perhaps to avoid prying questions about himself, he asked me about why I was in Thailand, what I was doing (teaching English) etc. I was pretty convinced he was the real McCoy. His face, his grin, his animated humour. Then unexpectedly he dived into the band and started playing the bongos with great delight. We thanked him for his kindness and left the bar. Was it really Robin Williams? I like to think so.

 

Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.

 

This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Following the raid on Velvet bar in Phuket which subsequently resulted in the closure of 4 bars in Patpong soi 2, these bars have yet to reopen. The mood remains gloomy as more details about the investigation have come to light. Numerous people have been arrested including people who worked in the Phuket bar, nominees used to register the company and foreigners alleged to have had sex with the ladies aged under 18. A graphic produced by the police lists dozens of people as “wanted”. Will Black Pagoda, The Strip, Bar Bar and XXX Lounge (previously known as Club Electric Blue) reopen? We hope so, but optimism is waning.

It should be noted that there is no connection whatsoever between Velvet in Phuket which was raided, and Velvet in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit soi 8. Velvet in Phuket was raided and shut down. Completely different types of venues that just happen to share the same name.

I mentioned last week that bars in Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy were quiet during the week. In what was too late to make last Sunday’s column, Saturday night was a different story. Cowboy was booming, and it got particularly busy after 11 PM. It reinforces the idea that Cowboy and Nana have returned to the quiet weekday – busy weekend cycle. Fridays and Saturdays are very busy. The rest of the week not so much.

Songkran is just 11 days away and everyone at Nana Plaza is asking, “What are we doing to celebrate Songkran this year?” In pre-Covid times – before Nana Plaza got its roof – there used to be a huge water party out front and inside the plaza on the official Songkran dates April 13 – 15. It was bedlam during the day, with ground-floor beer bars opening in the afternoon. Back then the plaza was open to the elements, and the sun would dry everything out before gogo bars opened after dark. With the roof, the inside of the Plaza could still be wet at midnight…..so it’s unlikely water fights inside the plaza will be allowed. That’s not to say they won’t happen, however. Thais are never ones to follow the rules, especially at Songkran.

 

The Full Moon Party comes to Bangkok.

 

Red Dragon’s Full Moon Party returns for a second month on Wednesday, April 5. Last month’s Full Moon Party was a fun affair, with girls in “neon tie-die” costumes and lots of free glow-bands handed out to customers. And just like last month, there will be special shows. As this month’s party falls on a Wednesday, all Jack Daniel’s drinks will be a bargain 95 baht all night and all drinks are priced at just 95 baht until 9:30 PM. Get there early – the doors open at 7:30 PM.

There are not that many gogo bars that can say they were around in the last millennium, but Lollipop in Nana Plaza is one of them. This coming Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8, the ground-floor gogo bar will celebrate its 23rd anniversary with a party over a couple of nights. Lollipop first opened its doors in late 1999. It changed names for a while with some clown coming up with the ridiculous name Suckers. That lasted for a couple years and was said to be due to a police “misunderstanding”. The name may have changed but the ownership didn’t. The “new” Lollipop came back a few years ago and the bar has retained that name ever since. Stop by one of Nana’s longest-running bars next weekend and celebrate.

 

Party time at Lollipop.

 

Most readers of this column consider Soi Cowboy to be a gogo bar area, but there is much more to it these days. At a few Soi Cowboy venues, the food menu is almost as popular as the drinks menu. Bangkok’s second most popular gogo bar area now has 4 venues with live music (Country Road, Five Star, Penny Black and Kozy Kazy). With gogo bars, venues serving food, live music venues and let’s not forget marijuana stores, Soi Cowboy is following in Patpong’s footsteps, moving away from being a pure gogo bar area to more of an entertainment area with a much wider appeal. As I have said for a number of years, 3 gogo bar areas in Bangkok is probably one too many – there simply aren’t enough naughty boys to sustain all the bars in 3 bar areas these days. And with the number of genuine naughty boys in decline, the question has to be asked: are there enough naughty boys to sustain even 2 gogo bar areas? The way things are going you’d have to say that – high season aside – there quite possibly isn’t. Will we soon reach the point when Soi Cowboy is considered to be an entertainment area as opposed to a gogo bar area. This leaves Nana Plaza as Bangkok’s last remaining genuine pure gogo bar area. I don’t think Covid is the reason for this change and it’s simply the way the world is going. Generation Sex Tourist is dying off and is not being replaced by a younger generation of naughty boys.

Is the fluorescent paint show being performed in any bars these days? It’s the one gogo bar show I never bore of. Ladies painted in exotic designs swaying slowly to slow music can be genuinely sexy. I ‘d love to see this show when I am back in town (or maybe I am back now and I haven’t said so.). Are any bars still doing this show or did it die with Covid?

 

My favourite gogo bar show.

 

Despite everyone saying how quiet it is these days, soi 7’s best-known bar, the Biergarten, remains in business. There is no sign that the doors will close any time soon. The Biergarten only ever appealed to the sex tourist crowd – and as per the comments a little earlier, this group of visitors are declining in number. Some venues which only appeal to sex tourists are discovering there isn’t much of a market left. Mainstream visitors are keen to stop by and check out some Bangkok gogo bars – it’s a must-see for many first-time visitors – but I don’t ever remember seeing outsiders at the Biergarten. Mainstream visitors are drawn to the bright lights of the famous bar areas and are at ease with the sleaze, but the Biergarten really only appeals to naughty boys and increasingly even they have turned their back on it.

What about the Thermae? It’s another spot that has never been on the mainstream visitor’s map. Will it to go by the wayside? One suspects not. For many years the Thermae has been dominated by Asian naughty boys and it doesn’t show any sign of changing.

Sukhumvit soi 11 is rocking with more restaurants, more bars, more cafes, more street vendors and even more beer bars opening. But with regard to the latter, how long can that bunch of rickety old beer bars on the soi last? It’s the same old situation beer bars have long faced on Sukhumvit – the entire area is prime real estate and those basic, open-air beer bars are but a very temporary placeholder, a way for the land owner to generate a little income while long-term plans for the land are finalised. If you enjoy those beer bars, make the most of them while you can because they won’t last. The beer bars on Soi Nana, especially those out front of Nana Plaza, are safe. They won’t be going anywhere.

 

Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.

 

The days of taking the girl of your dreams out of a Nana Plaza gogo bar to a hotel room only a few steps away are done, forever. I noted previously that short-time hotels in the Plaza have been closed since Covid and were unlikely to reopen this year. It was made official this week – hotels within the plaza are to be gutted and short-time rooms forever closed inside the complex. Nana’s general manager met with the manager of the Stumble Inn group, which operated the Balcony Bar and the short-time hotel above it once known as Hollywood Inn to discuss the removal of beds, showers and all hotel-like amenities. Presumably the owners of Billboard and Tycoon, which control the other two short-time hotels in the Plaza, have been similarly notified.

Billboard’s boss had sunk considerable money into the hotel next to Butterflies which was beautifully done out with marble-tiled walls, new beds and quality showers. Tycoon’s investors bought the bar not just for the gogo bar itself, but the anticipated revenue from the steadily busy short-time hotel upstairs. The one upside is that Balcony Bar can reopen.

The other two significant angles I’ve discussed before. Bar owners want hotels within Nana Plaza because, currently, if a girl leaves the front gates to go up the road to a hotel, she often doesn’t return to the bar that night. And many guys are reluctant to walk the 300-metre walk of shame to a shabby hotel down the soi.

The bottom line is that the potential cost and damage of having short-time rooms on the Plaza’s premises far outweighs the benefits. While Nana Plaza security is the strictest of any red-light district in the country, with no girls aged under 20 allowed to work in the Plaza and all staff carded each day to ensure that no underage teens get in, it is still possible that some could sneak through. If just one underage girl were caught on her back in a short-time room, the entire Plaza could lose its prized entertainment license.

Undoubtedly, what happened recently in Patpong influenced this week’s decision to shutter the short-time hotels. And while the Lumpini police chief is an easy target for criticism, he was simply following the law. Thai law forbids bars from having short-time rooms in the same building. That’s why some bars get creative to get around the law. Take the old Devils Den in Pattaya, which was basically a copy of Eden Club. You entered Devil’s Den and all the girls were in the bar which comprised one shophouse (which was under one lease and one company name). When you selected a lady (or two, as was encouraged), you and her walked out the front door of one shophouse and entered a different shophouse right next door which had rooms with beds. The adjacent shophouse was under a different lease in the name of a different company name. This circumvented the law which forbids bars having rooms on the premises. One only need look at the brothel-bars on Pattaya’s Soi 6, which get raided periodically for having rooms upstairs, to see the danger.

Bar owners will have to adjust their pay systems to incentivise girls to return to the bar after they have done the business. Customers will have to adjust to a system where they’ll have to venture down seedy soi 4 to a sleazy hotel for their short-time tryst. For the past year, a wave of young guys making their first trip to Thailand and Nana Plaza have managed just fine with no short-time rooms available in the Plaza. In time, it will just be us old codgers who remember the days when there were short-time hotels on the premises.

 

Las Vegas A Gogo Club opens tomorrow.

 

Down in Pattaya, the stylish Las Vegas A Gogo Club mentioned here last week will open tomorrow, Monday, April 3, with a 7 Nights In Vegas theme week. The much-ballyhooed Soi LK Metro bar in the building that was formerly Kilkenny Bar, and opposite Billabong, has been the talk of Pattaya with its impressive frontage. Despite its name, the bar has no connection to the former American-owned Las Vegas bars on Soi Post Office. The new Vegas bar is owned by a Brit called David, a relatively new bar boss also behind Mayfairs Live Music Bar on Soi Buakhao. When fully staffed, Las Vegas hopes to have 50 – 60 ladies working. Read more and see a video about Las Vegas on the new, revamped Dave the Rave website.

Yes, you read that right, Dave the Rave is back! Not back in Thailand, but back online. The self-proclaimed gogo guru, also known as “Mr. Nana”, who was a fixture in Nana Plaza for more than 20 years, and who briefly also worked in Patpong and Pattaya, left Thailand 3 years ago when governments all but told us that Covid would be the end of the world. These days Dave enjoys a quieter life in his native England. Dave has never lost his love for Thailand and, even while dealing with serious health issues, he maintained his social media accounts. Dave had largely abandoned his website, which he started way back in 2006 but it’s back with daily posts. There will always be a place for Dave the Rave in the Bangkok blogosphere and it’s great to have him back. I plan to run a feature on Dave and his revamped site next week.

 

Dave The Rave is back!

 

What’s happening in Pattaya where the bars with the most attractive ladies tend to be haunts for Asian men – and increasingly, Caucasian men are made to feel they’re not really that welcome. What’s that all about? This is nothing new in the wider bar industry, but it is new on Walking Street. When the original Rainbow bar in Nana Plaza – long-known as Rainbow 1 – had the best line-up in the plaza, it was dominated by Japanese who often outnumbered white guys. That said, white guys were always very welcome. Ditto Baccara in Soi Cowboy which has long had a strong following amongst the Japanese, as well as Singaporeans, Taiwanese and Koreans. Many young Thai women – and I’m talking all Thai women here, not just bargirls – have a love affair with all things Korean, be it Korean music, Korean fashion, Korean TV, Korean products, to include Korean men. But does the love affair with all things Korean explain why many ladies of the night might prefer these guys? I actually think the explanation is simpler. When it comes to nightlife, all things being equal, Asian men are more willing to spend more. It’s not about how much money they have, it’s about their willingness to spend up large in bars and throw money at these ladies. Don’t forget the first rule for these ladies: It’s all about the money! If you are willing to spend like an Asian man, you’ll be Mr. Hansum in a heartbeat.

 

Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.

 

Still in Pattaya, Rich and Panda are in a prime stretch of Walking Street, directly next to IvyGo and a few doors down from XS and Fahrenheit. XS, like Fahrenheit, is doing great trade, but for how long? XS and its sister bar, Pin-Up, continue to pile up the bad press and word-of-mouth due to poor customer experiences and high prices. When Pin-Up manager Stefan moved to XS last year, he repeatedly said he’d run the bar differently than Pin-Up and that he’d heard the complaints about the Thai male security thugs at that bar and wouldn’t let it happen at XS. But XS is now infected with the same bad juju as Pin-Up and it’s because management continues to have their men in black seat customers instead of employing polite hostesses. Did Stefan forget what he said?

Waving their laser pointers and literally putting their hands on customers and pushing, punters are told where to sit, where not to sit and then, once seated, may later be told to move! The chief thug at XS stands at the back, legs spread, arms crossed and barks at customers that inadvertently make the wrong turn to the toilets, “You can’t be here. Move!” Some have described the vibe at XS (and Pin-Up) as hostile. The staff are tense. That makes customers tense, and tense people are a buzzkill. People continue to stop by, but how many actually go back? “Security is going to kill both those bars eventually”, said the boss of one of Bangkok’s most-successful (and customer-friendly) bars.

The French owner of Pin-Up and XS is banned from some Walking Street bars. Who knows, he could be the nicest guy in the world but despised out of jealously over the astronomical sums both bars rake in every night. “He’s destroying the business model”, because of what he pays the girls and charges for barfines is the common refrain. While there are plenty of sour grapes in that whine, there’s also a bit of truth: More than a few level-heads question how long his business model can succeed.

 

It’s happy hour at Dynamite.

 

Pin-Up / XS girls work on 10-day contracts for which they are offered 2,000 baht a night. Daily payroll for the two bars has been estimated at well over 300,000 baht. And then there’s the expenses of electricity, liquor, rent and everything else. If your gravy train derails for even a couple days, you’re in trouble. Of course, the girls don’t actually make 2,000 baht a day; the cuts are brutal – cuts being reductions in salary. Girls are cut for every minute they are late to work, every minute they are late on stage, for having the wrong colour uniform for that day and for not meeting their 10-day quota of 60 lady drinks and 6 barfines. And that system works against customers two ways:

  • A really attractive girl can make so much money off the 200-baht lady drinks, she not only has no problem meeting quota, she has no incentive to barfine. These girls just pay the 2,000-baht and barfine themselves when they get tired and want to go home.
  • The less-successful girls who struggle to meet their drink quota and barfine quotas end up becoming drink hustlers, greeting customers with “Buy me drink?” before even saying hello. They press for the barfine after two or three drinks and then abandon the guy when he won’t pay the whopping 3,200-baht weekend barfine.

The entire situation is a no-win for customers and maybe a long-term loser for the bars themselves. I guess time will tell.

If you find yourself on Walking Street, try Fahrenheit. It has been described as being like a refreshing shower – warm, welcoming and fun. Staff are relaxed and customers have a good time. You can sit where you want without getting hassled. The layout of Fahrenheit puts the stage dancers close to the tables and the narrow walkways mean there is always a buzz of scantily-clad girls, funny service ladies and tipsy customers hamming it up. The close quarters have been said to feel like a cool Roppongi, Tokyo club. Close, intimate and vibrant. The comparison with XS next door is night and day. If you find yourself in Pattaya, do stop by Fahrenheit.

 

Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.

 

In a few columns last year I commented on the speed at which Thailand is rolling out electronic payment methods. QR codes are said to be all the rage these days, even in the bars. But you might want to think twice about paying that way in a bar, given recent events. Let’s consider the fall-out from the police raid and subsequent investigation at Velvet in Phuket where 6 (since revised to 10) underage girls were found to be operating from. The ongoing investigation has resulted in many arrests. Here’s where it gets interesting: More than 100 foreigners HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED as having had sex with these underage girls. How did investigators manage to identify so many people? The only thing I can think of is that they have secured credit card records and identified the customers through those. It’s a long shot but how else could they find so many customers’ identity? Even then, it’s tenuous. Who is to say that credit card holder was the person who availed themselves of the lady’s services?! Some of these suspects are said to have left Thailand; others have been arrested already and are being held on serious charges. Who knows if these guys had any idea the ladies were underage? There is a very real chance that they did not know. They might have genuinely believed that the ladies were of legal age (as many men do in bars, as distinct from meeting a lady in a freelancer joint or on the street). These men are facing charges which, if they’re found guilty of, could be life-changing, ruinous even. Plenty of bars cut corners and break the law. The odds of customers finding themselves unwittingly caught up in something bad are minimal, but they exist. With this in mind, I’d question why anyone would choose to pay their bill in any bar in Thailand with anything other than cash.

The pollution in the north of Thailand has been very bad over the past month or so, but absolutely HORRIFIC this past week. We’re talking pollution so bad that measurements are essentially off the scale. A measurement of PM2.5 below 50 is considered ok. The lower the number, the better. Bangkok can dip below 50 during the year but the number tends to sit between 50 and 100. That’s bad, but it’s not terrible. In February and March, the pollution levels are often in the 150 – 180 range which is awful. Some parts of the city can see pollution levels over 200. At those levels, visibility is poor and it’s obvious that the pollution is bad. One is best advised to run air purifiers in every room of their home and limit time outside. In northern Thailand this week, the numbers have reached the 800s and 900s! Video from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai this week shows shocking air pollution and extremely limited visibility. There’s much to like about Northern Thailand but now is not the time to be heading up that way.

 

Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.

 

Thailand-Related News Article Links

The Chinese are buying up large in Phuket.

Could it be the end for Flexx Club on Walking Street after being busted again?

A Korean and a Brit are arrested for robbing a weed shop in Pattaya.

The latest update from the raid on Velvet in Phuket triggered a cascade of raids and charges elsewhere.

Thailand’s awful pollution is making news around the world.

20 years after it was destroyed one night, the Sukhumvit Square legal battle shows no sign of ending.

 

Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.

 

Closing Comments

Ooops, I did it again. We smashed through 6,000 words again this week. It was not my intention to write such a long column but there was plenty of news and I didn’t want to cut out stuff and hold it for another week. With Songkran around the corner – a time when much less happens in the places I write about – the next couple of columns could well be much lighter.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

 

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com