Stickman's Weekly Column April 16th, 2023

Stickman Weekly, April 16, 2023




Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the new Las Vegas A Gogo Club in Soi LK Metro, Pattaya. About a dozen of you got it right – well done. We’re back in Bangkok with this week’s photo.



Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.



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

The Roaring 20s repeated?

He Clinic Bangkok

Here in Amsterdam, the tourist season has really taken off. This weekend it’s the Easter holiday and the city is absolutely packed, with silly hotel prices being paid. Most likely it will stay busy all the way through until at least November. I see very high occupancy rates and accompanying prices for the months to come despite high inflation, expensive airline tickets and the war in Ukraine (all of which are usually reasons for a tourism slowdown, in normal times). I wouldn’t be surprised if Thailand has a very good 2023 too, although I know the normally quieter months are coming and the high season has passed for another year. World War 1 and the 1918 – 1920 pandemic were followed by the Roaring Twenties. Will history repeat itself?

Getting around Bangkok.

I was recently in Bangkok and can recommend the Bolt app if you want to get around Bangkok by taxi or motorbike taxi. It’s very cheap and easy. For example, soi 55 Sukhumvit Speakers Box to the intersection of soi 22 Sukhumvit Road cost just 40 baht by motorcycle taxi at around 11:00 PM. I have a hard time imagining anyone beating that price. I took a taxi a couple of times too and it was very good. No fuss about the taxi meter being on or not as they run on a fixed price.

CBD bangkok

Patpong report.

I was in Patpong Soi 2 tonight. Much of the soi is still in darkness. Crystal Palace, Pink Panther and Bada Bing were open. I had a drink in Bada Bing which had a good atmosphere and 8 girls on stage. On Patpong soi 2, Pink Panther is party central. On Patpong Soi 1, King’s Castle 1 was jammed and I could not get a seat. King’s Castle 2 is almost as busy as King’s 1. The girls there are very nice, and hungry. There are some places in Patpong that are rocking, and packed with punters.

The economy and working girls’ looks.

I think the overall attractiveness of working girls has gone down. But that’s probably (hopefully) down to economic factors. As the country’s (world’s) prosperity increases, poverty levels fall and fewer girls feel the need to go into prostitution. Consequently, the pickings are fewer for bar bosses and they employ anyone that applies. There’s an unofficial economic measure – when the economy is doing badly, the servers at Starbucks are more attractive. There are fewer opportunities available so attractive people take jobs they wouldn’t in other circumstances.

wonderland clinic

Vietnamese working girls.

You mentioned Vietnamese prostitutes around lower Sukhumvit. They are my new neighbors. My section of my condo building is normally rather quiet, but this month several Vietnamese girls appeared, and are staying in a condo in my building. It is a small room, 1 bedroom so I imagine they are all sleeping on the floor. There is also a nice man staying with them. He looks more like a Thai. I met him in the elevator. Everyday around 7:30 – 9:00 PM the girls, all dressed up, walk out. I see some are not in the business, aged around 40+ and don’t care to dress up. They just stay in the room. Others I have seen go out in the afternoon all dolled up. Perhaps to meet an afternoon customer? Others I have seen come back to the room in the morning. I met one in the hallway and we exchanged a pleasant “hello”. Business appears to be good.


Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.


More Readers’ Emails.

Expats’ love affair with the bars is not forever.

A rare Friday night outing in both Nana and Cowboy finally rang the bell on my bar scene days. Honestly, I was bored. By 10 PM I was ready to go home. Nana and Cowboy are as busy and as vibrant as I’ve ever seen them. No, the drinks prices are not beyond me, and the ladies are as good and as bad as they’ve ever been, to my eyes. Many of the venues have been spruced up and it’s likely the investment will pay off. But I have changed. Over the years, my usual routine was a quick mid-week “turn about the garden” in any of the main bar areas after work. These have become much less frequent and are now down to once every other month, if that. I rarely went out to the bars during peak weekend hours, and as a result I think I was able to observe the individual characteristics and changing fortunes of venues better than most. The ladies had time to talk and I knew lots of them quite well – I was their buffed, well-dressed, and polite “lady drink and a chat” before moving on to the next venue. For a long time I was “James Bon” until my receding hairline caught up. My era was one of gradual, steady decline as the ladies’ fortunes changed and bar owners squeezed the last juice out of an age-old business model. Some owners tried new things, such as coyotes, while others tried the same things but did them better. Bars became a commodity. Punters today forget that the end of the Bangkok bar scene was routinely discussed many years before Covid came along. I’ll get dragged back from time to time – usually when a visitor is in town. But none of my regular pals go anymore, and we’re all way past the Friday / Saturday all-night binges that once marked my annual visits to Bangkok as a tourist. Bangkok has changed and I have changed, even if the famous bar scene has survived yet another calamity. Same same.

Pattaya Plod antics.

It must have come as a huge surprise to all those foreigners out for a good time in Pattaya to have men in uniform demanding to see the passport that no right-minded person carries with them on a night out, in order to prove they have a right to be in the country. They have no idea of the damage to the image of the country that Thais are so sensitive about that is done by such heavy-handed tactics. Even the need to carry a photocopy, which some police will accept and some will not, isn’t needed in any other country I know of.


Songkran started early on Sukhumvit soi 11.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

The first Songkran celebration in 4 years started early in the bar areas. Expats and visitors alike were given a quick reminder of just how disruptive Songkran can be. At the cluster of ramshackle beers bars on Sukhumvit soi 11, staff took great pleasure lining the narrow soi late in to the night and hurling water at anyone who passed by. Some folks heading for bars and eateries further up the soi did a U-turn and headed elsewhere. The 3 days of water madness is over for another year, Pattaya aside.

If bars near the start of a soi or the entrance to a bar complex were partaking in the water fights, the whole soi / bar complex suffered. Despite this, most bars were open. Some venues made an effort to protect the premises with clear plastic hung like a curtain to protect the premises and punters. One wonders how effective it was.

On Soi Cowboy, Suzie Wong, Shark, Baccara and Dollhouse all opened during the afternoons, as early as 11 AM, with happy hour prices all day and plenty of the bar’s gogo girls to play water with. The crowds were big by late afternoon, with girls dancing on tables and even an enterprising farang walking Neon Alley selling canned beer he had picked up from a nearby 7-Eleven for 75 baht. The entrepreneurial fellow had even had a sign made up! It was mayhem in Silom despite the authorities saying there would be no water games this year in that area with things spilling over into Patpong. At the last minute, Nana Plaza management relented and allowing water-throwing inside the Plaza. Lollipop jumped on it immediately, opening early and leading the Nana celebrations.

Traditionally, Songkran water wars are supposed to stop at 6 PM. But there has been nothing traditional about this year’s celebrations. Khao San Road went until midnight the first night. And videos from both April 13 and 14 showed that Soi 4 outside Nana was a sea of humanity well into the night, shutting down traffic on the soi. Other than Lollipop, Stumble Inn and the other beer bars at the top of the soi, many Soi Nana bars missed out on Songkran, as most people remained outside on the street, either out of desire or simply because they were too wet to park themselves inside an air-conditioned bar. The inside gogo bars like Billboard, Butterflies, Mandarin and Red Dragon put up posters inviting people to party there, but, as expected, business inside the gogos was down while there was madness out on the main soi.


Protective plastic curtains were erected at Stumble Inn.


In recent months I have included a number of comments about the soi 7 Biergarten and how it has failed to gain traction and how, in my opinion, it is doomed because Generation Sex Tourist is dying off and not being replaced by younger generations. It was no surprise, therefore, to hear this week that the soi 7 Biergarten is to close. Plans are in place to convert the Biergarten in to a bazaar-style market with 120 units. It sounds like the target market is the Middle Eastern crowd which is spreading out further from sois 3, 3/1 and 5. Trade in the Biergarten has been lousy for a very long time and this should really come as no surprise. I am not aware of the exact date but June has been mentioned as the end. In many ways it’s a shame. The Biergarten is a legacy brand that with a bit of effort and investment could be turned into a thriving freelancer venue once again. It would need a full renovation, and some proper attention. Sadly, it looks like it is too late.

And down in Pattaya, word is that the legendary Marine Disco has closed, likely for good. Photos of Disco Ma-leen, as the girls used to call it, show the escalator heading upstairs to the bar at Marine Plaza blocked off with reports claiming the bar is done. If true, the closure is sad news for long-time Pattaya visitors, many of whom have fond memories of the place. Marine Disco is said to be the oldest venue of its type in Pattaya with urban myth dating its start (in a different location) during the Vietnam War when American marines came to Pattaya for R&R. True or not, what is true is that Marine Disco operated for more than three decades but, in recent years, failed to keep up with newer, flashier clubs like Republic, Myst and Insomnia. Dave the Rave has more about Marine Disco’s apparent closure.


RIP Marine Disco. It was the place to go when I first visited Pattaya in 1998.


Still in Pattaya, two more old favourites won’t be making a comeback. Soi 7 has been depressed for much of the last decade, but since Pattaya has been on the comeback trail, the soi has been getting its mojo back. Despite sois 7 and 8 re-establishing themselves back on the naughty boys’ map, two once-popular British pubs which each had a strong following – particularly at breakfast time – Rosie O’Grady’s and the Big and Whistle have not reopened. The respective spaces are available for rent with signs placed prominently out front.

While we’re talking about Pattaya, Sin City’s bar industry yoyos between expansion and contraction, seemingly by the week. Among the developments this month are that the once-popular but long-shuttered Airport Club is officially dead. It has been replaced by another Russian mobsters dancers club, Monro OK. At the same time, it was reported that Crazy Russian Girls had been dark all month, although one Soi Diamond bar owner said Saturday it was open again. A similar “is it or isn’t” situation also exists with High Times, the hybrid marijuana shop / ladyboy gogo bar I mentioned a few weeks back. Twitter reports showed it was dark and dead, but, again, a Saturday report said it was open.

Get ready for the influx of Chinese visitors to Pattaya. 3 of the 5 large floating restaurants at Bali Hai Pier have gone from being in complete darkness at night to the lights being turned back on. The diners aren’t back, but reports are that preparations are being made to welcome back the Chinese.


Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.


One of standing jokes in the bar industry is the old adage “You should have seen it 10 minutes ago!” It’s the rote response of bar owners when someone points out how quiet their bar is. Ten minutes ago, they maintain, the place was packed, You just missed it. But, on April 8, the old leg-puller actually was true at Mandarin. A friend was inside the middle floor Nana Plaza gogo before 9:30 PM for the 95-baht happy hour and, despite it being a Saturday night, the bar was empty. Staff were moaning about how quiet it was. The friend enjoyed a few cheap drinks and paid his bill around 9:50. When he stood up to go, Mandarin was full. Things really can change that quickly.

As a side note, the happy hours at both Mandarin and Red Dragon are the best drinks deal in Nana Plaza – and they run every night of the week. At Mandarin, all drinks (with the usual exclusions) are 95 baht from 7:30 – 9:30 PM. Downstairs at sister bar Red Dragon, the same deal is on, plus a rotating nightly drink special that sees vodka, rum, gin, Jack and other spirits at just 95 baht, all night long. Check out Red Dragon’s social media for what’s on special what night.


Cheap drinks in Nana Plaza!


One of the readers’ emails in last week’s column asked what the situation was in Thailand with regards to smoking cannabis in a smoke-room in a dispensary. I said I’d include info in the next week so here goes: Officially, there is no recreational use of cannabis. Smoking anywhere in public is illegal. Therefore, officially, you can only smoke on private property. The most professional dispensaries prohibit smoking on the premises. Smaller dispensaries may have a place where you can relax and indulge, often next door or upstairs. All dispensaries sell pre-rolled and will roll for you, if desired. Most bars do not allow smoking on the premises so bargoers keen to partake tend to walk outside, find a quiet bit of pavement and puff up. Interestingly, there is one bar which has gained a reputation as a safe haven for weed lovers but given the news item mentioned a little earlier, you’d better be quick. Where am I talking about? The soi 7 Biergarten, of course! Readers have told me they smell weed in all manner of public places – on the street, outside bars and inside some restaurants and bars although with that said, I have not received any such emails for a few weeks. Whether the situation has changed or whether the smell of weed is as ubiquitous as the smell of durian and the myriad smells that bombard you in downtown Bangkok, I really don’t know. As one reader said, if you’re smoking weed on the premises in a bar or restaurant, be very discrete as most customers aren’t impressed and some aren’t shy to voice their disapproval.

So you’ve wandered out of Nana Plaza around 2:00 AM and, walking to get a taxi, you spot a foursome of long-legged, shapely figures ahead of you. You didn’t find a date in the Plaza, so this could be your last chance of the night to find a companion. Attractive they might be, but take your beer goggles off and have a closer look. These women (and others) looking this good walking on lower Sukhumvit this late are often of the transgender, not naturally born, variety.


They look great from behind, don’t they? How adventurous are you?!


One of the things I like about a group of Thais we know and sometimes socialise with is that they are comfortable around me and – unlike so many Thais – are willing to say what they really think, on all manner of issues. Politics, Thai culture, inter-racial relationships, money – they’re really quite frank. It’s so refreshing. In Thailand, so many Thais feel constrained by the culture and forced to conform and tow the party line. Get them out of Thailand, build a rapport and once they are genuinely comfortable around you they will say what they really think – and at times it can be a real eye-opener. This week the conversation drifted on to a local Thai woman (not part of the immediate group) who is from time to time beaten by her (Thai) husband. The ladies were in agreement – this was, in their opinion, the most effective way for the husband to deal with his wife’s never-ending dramas. Not one of the group thought the guy was in the wrong. In fact, they thought it was probably the only way to deal with her. The conversation drifted to another Thai woman who is part of the group but was not present that night. She too is known for being a bit of a drama queen. The advice of this group of ladies was the same – her Kiwi partner needs to give her a good clout and that should prompt her to change her ways. Let me be clear: I am not endorsing this behaviour at all and nor have I ever laid a finger on a lady. I simply think it’s interesting when Thais say what they really think. And to be clear, these are all middle-class, educated Thais with decent jobs. None are from a bar background.

Chuwit Park was the best-known green space along the busy strip of Sukhumvit Road popular with foreigners. Of course, the park no longer exists and construction is supposed to be underway for another high-rise office tower. Construction was suspended recently as City Hall – which approved the plans to build it – is reviewing an agreement between land owner Chuwit and City Hall. Will it go ahead? Who knows. Here’s how the space looks today.


How Chuwit Park looks today.


A few weeks back I touched on the issue of guys taking ladies out of the bar back to their homeland and marrying them. It’s not something I have heard much about over the past 5 or 6 years. I had intended to write more about that but recent columns got a bit long and the following comments ended up on the cutting room floor. This week I want to look at what happens when ladies of the night get to the West. Once upon a time, there were 3 countries the majority of ladies headed to: USA, Germany and England. In the case of ladies who make it to the States, what often happens is that she stays with him until that magic green card 10-year residence permit comes through – a process that can take 2 or 3 years – and then divorces him. The green card remains valid even if the marriage ends. Some of these women revert back to what they know as it’s an easy way to make a lot of money fast. Thai women who have split with their American husband after their green card was issued can be found working in strip clubs in the likes of Florida, Arizona and California. Was this their plan all along? Probably not – but most Thai women do have a plan B.

I have not observed this happening in my part of the world. We know a good number of Thai women here involved with Kiwi men and in most cases, the couple remain together after she receives a residency visa (which in New Zealand essentially means permission to stay in the country forever) and NZ citizenship / passport (which typically takes around 7 years). Over the past decade or so, I’d say that only a very small percentage of relationships between Thai women arriving in New Zealand and Kiwi guys involve ladies who once worked in a bar. My best guess is that in recent years, once-were-bargirls would not even make up 10% of the new relationships between Kiwi guys and Thai girls. For Thai women who have been in the country for 10+ years, the percentage of ladies who once worked as a bargirl is somewhat higher. Purely from my own observations in this part of the world, the odds of a Thai lady ditching a guy when she gets her residency visa and / or passport is higher if she once worked in the sex industry.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


Thailand is cracking down on those who bring food products in to the country. If you are found to have food in your luggage, you could face a hefty fine. This is something people in my part of the word are familiar with. Travellers to New Zealand (and Australia) face harsh fines for bringing in any food that is not declared. Forget a banana in your carry-on luggage and you’ll be slugged with a $400 fine. Bio-security rules are incredibly strict here. But going in the other direction it has never been a problem until now. We’ve often taken fresh fruit from New Zealand to Thailand for friends and family, from kiwis to avocados to persimmons to berries. But we won’t be doing that again given that Thailand has put laws in place with harsh penalties. I don’t imagine many people would take food products to Thailand but it’s something to keep in mind. Whether it’s all food products or just some, I don’t know. Like so many of these rules and regulations in Thailand, it’s as clear as mud.

Privacy is a big issue these days and many of us like to retain our anonymity. Long gone are the days when you could pick up a SIM card in Thailand, throw it in your mobile phone and get started, all without anyone in authority knowing who was using that SIM card. For several years now, the Thai authorities have required official ID when buying a SIM card which in the case of foreigners means providing your passport details. Some people are not comfortable with providing these details. If that is you, a few hundred baht to a friendly lady of the night will delight her if all she has to do is stroll to 7 Eleven, buy a SIM card for you and keep the change out of a crisp 1,000 baht note.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

How Chiang Mai became the world’s most polluted city.

Northern Thailand’s shocking air pollution is threatening to become a serious issue for the tourism industry.

The first unbridled Songkran since 2019 has seen people nationwide come out to party and partake in the revelry.

Apple is in talks with suppliers to manufacture MacBooks in Thailand.

A partygoer has been arrested in the outskirts of Bangkok for the obscene act of dancing topless.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


Closing Comments

This week’s column featured news of a number of once popular venues closing. No, the bar industry is not collapsing, far from it in fact. What we are seeing is that those venues which have not been able to keep up with the times are falling by the wayside. The days when any dingy old venue with a reasonable light and sound system would attract the masses are largely over. There is much more competition and customers expect much more. In Bangkok, the Biergarten appeals to a customer base that has shrunk massively in number. In Pattaya, Marine Disco has faced competition for years from more modern and innovative venues. As for the British pubs on Pattaya’s soi 7, I really don’t know why they have closed. Perhaps there’s a lot of competition, or perhaps being on soi 7 – which has struggled for several years – counted against them? It is always sad to see the back of bars we have fond memories of, but at the same time there is no shortage of new venues opening. Many of these old venues had been stale for a long time and many of the fond memories we have come from a very long time ago. New, exciting, innovative venues is what the industry needs.


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

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