Stickman's Weekly Column April 23rd, 2023

Stickman Weekly, April 23, 2023



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of at the T-junction at the top of Sukhumvit soi 11, near the Holiday Express Inn. This week’s should be easy as it’s similar to one of the mystery photos we ran last year.



Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.



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

Survival of the fittest.

He Clinic Bangkok

Closing bars and restaurants. I guess it’s survival of the fittest and the most adaptable. If your business is old and stale, you won’t attract new customers and your old customers will move on. Hopefully, that leads to new, exciting places to go. It’s a tightrope. Remember Woodstock and Check Inn 99? Both of them were great places. But once they changed locations, they didn’t bring their customer base with them.

Remembering Marine Disco.

Sad to hear about the Biergarten. Not as sad to hear about Marine Disco. Marine was good in the early 90s and died not long after. It had its moments during later peak seasons but any September, it was dismal. I remember when Lambada played over and over and there was some inefficient assembly line to get a beer. You ordered, the guy next to him gave you your beer, you shuffled again where a guy gave your ticket and money to a cashier and then she gave you your change. I remember thinking how my local back home had four registers with 4 bartenders that would breeze through orders and there were two bar backs that picked up any slack. Finally Marine did the noble thing to increase the speed. They built another identical bar across the dance floor with the same lame system. Later years the place was always dead and on fair nights the real action was by the door waiting to get snatched out by people leaving.

CBD bangkok

Remembering the Biergarten.

Sad to hear the soi 7 Biergarten will close, although it’s no big surprise considering how things have been going. I fully agree that with some care, attention and a revamp, it could still be a winner. It lost its vibe. Between 2005 and 2014 I hadn’t didn’t visit Bangkok. I always went straight to Pattaya from the airport. When I was in the Biergarten in 2005 it still looked like the Biergarten I had known since 1989. Yes, there was a bit less greenery, they had sanitised it a bit and increased the number of seats, but it remained a genuine beer garden. When I visited in 2015, after some hefty renovations, I hardly recognised the place. The Biergarten had become a beer factory. I didn’t visit again. Sad, I have lots of great memories of that place.

Remembering the Pig And Whistle.

It’s a great pity that the Pig and Whistle in Pattaya appears to have closed for good. I always made it a port of call whenever I was in town, and even stayed there. I really enjoyed their breakfast too, and would sometimes go there to start the day even though I had a free buffet where I was staying at the Dusit. I once interviewed the owner, who told me that when it opened it was the first building on the soi!

wonderland clinic

Nail the formula and you don’t need to change.

Talk of bars not moving with the times and closing down, in my mind the best bar in Nana Plaza is the only original bar. It’s a bar which plays music from over the past 60 years, is often full, is dimly lit and grubby but has fantastic staff that have been there for the 25 years I’ve been frequenting Bangkok. That bar is Sexy Night. Very friendly, no rip-offs, great music, some pretty girls and some ugly ones – and no ladyboys! A great place to start an evening and I often find after leaving to explore other bars I end up returning to Sexy Night to finish the evening.


Another dining option in the Nana area.


More Readers’ Emails

A delightful new spot.

Not back to the future but forward to the past. I just returned from a short trip to Bangkok and visited the usual haunts. I noticed this delightful, new open-air Thai restaurant (see photo below) on Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 and 7.  This restaurant took me back to the old days of Sukhumvit Road when there were lots of these rustic restaurants and bars before the concrete and glass hotels and condos took over. Let’s hope this trend continues!

When the volcano blows.

Your mention of Thais feeling restrained by their culture which restricts their willingness to express their true feelings is, I’m sure, a contributory factor to the sudden hot-tempered outbursts which are often reported and which frequently result in death or serious injury. And anyone who spends any extended time in the country would be aware of the vicious beatings that can occur, kicking someone in the head when they are already down and helpless. I think a large part of the reason for such extreme behaviour is that they can take only so much of ‘holding it in’ before they explode like a volcano when their tolerance limit is reached. A lack of education doesn’t help either, as they feel they have no other way of expressing themselves. As Popeye used to say before reaching for his can of spinach and wreaking havoc, ‘That’s all I can takes, I can’t takes no more’. Michael Douglas made a movie with a similar theme.

Circumventing the SIM card rules.

Your comment about how easy it is to circumvent the rules about buying a SIM card shows how utterly pointless the rules are. Thailand excels at one-step thinking, never thinking through a plan properly, and this is simply another example. In my case, I simply got my wife to buy mine.

Sky-high airfares.

A lot has been spoken about with regards to international airfares. I took a look at Thai Airway’s website and looked at the same period that I’ve been away. Price quoted is £1,100. When I booked last year it was £850. I know prices went up soon after I booked last year. Thai’s business class cheapest price flying from London to Bangkok is a whopping £4,200!


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Post-Songkran slowdown? What post-Songkran slowdown? Saying farewell to Songkran used to coincide with the start of the slow season. Not this year in Bangkok, it seems. Emails from friends and regular readers this past week were all in agreement – the bars were rocking. That said, the one and only report I heard from Pattaya was not so positive.

The jungle drums have been beating with persistent rumours about the old-style, open-air beer bars on Sukhumvit soi 11, opposite the Ambassador Hotel. The rumour mill has been full of mixed messages with some saying the bars would be gone later this year, others saying they will still be around next year. The landlord wants everyone out and if he gets his way, the open-air bars and restaurants opposite the Ambassador, will be gone by next week. April 30th is D Day. At least one bar is fighting the eviction but whether they will manage to stall things, who knows? It’s the same old story – ramshackle bars operating on prime downtown real estate will never have a long life.

While no-one wants to see bars close down and some people lose their livelihood, the permanent closure of the bars on soi 11 can only be a good thing for Centre Point – the beer bar complex on soi 7. I’d expect some of the soi 11 beer bar crowd to drift over to soi 7.

There is still no word on when – or, as many are now asking, if – the bunch of closed bars in Patpong soi 2 will ever reopen. The feeling is that the longer they remain closed, the less likely it is that they will welcome punters back. So what happens if these bars don’t reopen? It’s complicated because there are lease agreements in place and some spaces may be sub-leased. One imagines that after a period of time without the rent paid, the landlord will take back the space. But then again, perhaps some bars had paid the rent many months ahead (which is, a little surprisingly, not all that unusual). While one doesn’t want to get ahead of themselves, closure now looks to be the most likely scenario with even die-hard Patpong insiders finally admitting how grim it is. If Black Pagoda, The Strip, Bar Bar and XXX Lounge don’t reopen, will there be demand for those spaces? These bars could, theoretically, reopen as bars (almost certainly they would be rebranded with new names). Or perhaps they would reopen as something else altogether. Eateries, convenience stores, retail stores etc are all possibilities. With all that said, while that immediate area did well when these bars were open, the Silom Road end of Patpong 2 has quite possibly the lowest footfall in the wider Patpong area. Would there be demand for the space? Could it be that they remain vacant for a period? Time will tell.

It is a month since those 4 Patpong bars closed and there was a definite change in outlook this week from Patpong insiders who have become rather gloomy. That was because the secret finally leaked this week that the head honcho of the group behind 4 bars was, as many of us suspected, behind bars. As best as can be ascertained, he is behind bars because his name was on some of the paperwork for the bar in Phuket where the underage nonsense was organised from. As I have said before, count me amongst those who simply don’t believe that this fellow would involve himself in this unseemly business. He has found out the hard way that if your name is on the paperwork then you are in the gun.


If this trend continues, could Sukhumvit soi 22 become known as Soi India at some point?


A reader tells me that Sukhumvit soi 22 is gaining popularity with Indian visitors. There is already a “Soi Arab”. Could soi 22 end up with the nickname, “Soi India?” Of course, it should not be confused with “Little India” as some call the Pahurat district of Bangkok which is adjacent to Chinatown, and a hub of various businesses run by and catering to Bangkok’s Indian community.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when Indian men were not welcome in Bangkok (or Pattaya) gogo bars. At the entrance to many gogo bars, Indians would be told that the bar was a members-only club and they could not enter. In other cases, they were asked to pay an entry fee. Anything to get them to go away without being overtly rude. But the pandemic and the resulting changes in Thailand’s tourism base and travel patterns vaulted Indians to the top of the list among international visitors to Thailand in 2022.

With the tourism industry going gangbusters and visitors flocking to the bars, gogo operators continue to roll out the red mat for Indian visitors. Even those bars which had been hellbent on refusing entry to our Indian friends are now welcoming them. Some venues have really embraced men from the subcontinent. I reported last year about a group of Indian men who entered a small Pattaya Walking Street bar only to be greeted like a squadron of returning heroes. This week a friend visiting long-running Soi Cowboy bar Long Gun witnessed something he’s never seen in decades of hanging out in gogo bars: The bar was playing Indian dance music. The song was unknown to the dancers on stage and the Caucasian customers, but a group of six Indian men watching the show loved it. Two got up and danced in their seats, clapping and hooting all the while. Changing times. Soi Cowboy is just a short walk from soi 22 so maybe it will soon become a hangout for all the Indian visitors staying nearby?


Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.


Soi Cowboy, and really all of Thailand’s red-light areas, operate in a netherworld that oftentimes makes little sense. Take this example: Soi Cowboy now has permission from the local cop shop to stay open until 3 AM, (which is illegal as written in the law, but the police are the law in these areas). Yet, despite that, all the bars on Soi Cowboy switch off all their beautiful neon at 1 AM, with only smaller lights at the door or under the awnings remaining illuminated. Why should that be necessary if they have permission to stay open? Do they think they’re fooling anyone? Of course, it’s all about appearances, and maintaining face. You can operate in ways that are technically illegal and the local constabulary will look the other way but whatever you do, don’t flaunt the fact you are doing it!

Still on Soi Cowboy, a familiar face – or should I say scowl – is back at Crazy House. Mamasan Pa was one of the original employees when Crazy House opened in 2014, Pa was cast into the wilderness with no girls in her wake 6 months ago and landed at Whiskey & Go Go in Nana Plaza. She turned out to be, however, the best thing to happen to Whiskey and brought discipline and harmony to what had been a chaotic operation. Pa is not everyone’s cup of tea. She’s grouchy and strict and takes no shit from any wannabe drama queen. Pa left Crazy House due to some conflict over a wild girl who did something the mamasan got blamed for. But now owners and mama have made nice and she’s back.

That, unfortunately, leaves Whiskey & Go Go without anyone to recruit or manage the girls. A Thai male manager has been put in charge and was responsible for pushing Pa out, her strong personality being a threat to his manhood. Whiskey had few girls to start with, but even more have left now. And in the case of Tycoon, it didn’t help when the hotel upstairs was told it could never reopen. Whiskey & Go Go is up for sale. The minority partner who had been managing the two bars now spends most of his time in Phuket and the management on the ground is new to both the bar industry and Thailand itself.

While some speculate that neither Whiskey nor Tycoon will be around when the next high season rolls around, there’s another scenario: Tee could buy them. Already the biggest tenant in Nana Plaza, anyone looking to sell a bar now defaults to offering it to Tee first. In fact, Tee actually was the owner of the spot Tycoon took over, running it as Taxi Bar. Would he take it back?


Meet them at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


I’ve commented from time to time over the years about the miserable salaries that many foreign gogo bar managers earn. Many earn less than big-name bar mamasans, some of whom can earn a base salary in excess of 50,000 baht / month and increase that figure markedly when commissions and tips are included. Are most bar managers – as distinct from bar owners – broke? I got thinking about this recently when a reader asked me about a well-known bar manager who doesn’t have a brass razoo to his name. The life of a bar manager might appeal to some, but the harsh reality is that many bar managers live month to month. I’ve known many bar managers over the years and more than a few have found themselves in to middle age with nothing squirreled away. And then they do the only thing they can do, disappear back to where they came from. Thailand did not do this to them (as some would have you believe), rather they were in all likelihood never good with money long before they ever stepped foot in Thailand and simply failed to plan for the future.

I thought the reader’s email saying Sexy Night is, in his opinion, the best bar in Nana Plaza made a decent argument. I know many old-timers would agree. What sort of future does Sexy Night have when we consider that in recent weeks various old bars are going by the wayside. Fans of Sexy Night needn’t worry themselves that it’s going to fade away. For starters, it’s in a great location in the most popular bar area. And unlike some of the other bars which have closed or are about to close, Sexy Night is an intimate-sized venue which only needs a dozen customers to have a vibe. A bar the size of Billboard or Butterflies in the Sexy Night style wouldn’t work – there’d probably a dozen or so customers which would mean zero atmosphere. But Sexy Night works well and the formula needs no tweaking. It’s perfect just the way it is.


Tasty, inexpensive BBQ @ Buddy’s.


Songkran is done and bar owners are looking ahead to May. It’s another month which will see plenty of interruptions to bar trade. May 5 is Cinco de Mayo which commemorates a small battle in which the Mexican inhabitants of Puebla defeated the French. For restaurant and pub owners, even in Thailand, it’s a big deal. The 4th & 5th also are holidays (Coronation Day), so that’s another long weekend. Sunday the 7th is the start of early voting for the general election, so bars will be closed from 6 PM on May 6th until after the polls close on May 7th. The same thing happens the following week, with no alcohol on the evening of Saturday May 13th and all day on the 14th.

I’ll have some Cinco de Mayo promotions next week, but one of those running a Mexican fiesta will be Buddy’s Bar & Grill at its Soi 89 location. Buddy’s Soi 22, however, will be the place to be this coming Friday, April 28th, for their monthly barbecue. The buffet offers BBQ ribs and chicken, rib-eye roast (my favourite), hot dogs, chili, potato salad, hash browns, garlic bread, spicy Italian sausage, corn on the cob and more, all for a ridiculously reasonable 350 baht. The feast starts at 7 PM.

Speaking of Sukhumvit soi 22, Wine Depot, opposite the Marriott, will launch its Thursday Wine Pairings special. Select from a gourmet menu of tapas or oysters and the bistro’s staff can suggest the perfect pairing, whether it be a strong Cabernet, sweet white or spicy rosé. See Wine Depot’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter this week for more details.


Gorgeous-looking bruschetta at Wine Depot.


No news from Pattaya this week which is no surprise given that it has been Songkran and the madness lasts a whole week in Sin City. But I did receive an email from my old pal, ace bar manager Captain Hornbag who has been charged with recruiting someone to work at his Pattaya bar. The next few paragraphs are Captain Hornbag’s words. Anyone wishing to apply should drop the Captain an email:

We are excited to invite you to join our team at Dynamite Entertainment, one of the most exciting bars in Pattaya. As a valued member of our team, you will be representing our brand and ensuring that our customers have an unforgettable experience.

To succeed in this role, it’s essential that you are able to “play the game” and not let the game play you. You must maintain a professional demeanor at all times, while also bringing your own energy and vibe to the atmosphere. You will be responsible for managing our social media accounts and using them to promote our club and engage with our customers.

As our ideal candidate, you should have a passion for the nightlife scene and a talent for creating an exciting and welcoming atmosphere. You will be responsible for taking care of our customers and introducing them to everything that our club has to offer.

We offer a competitive salary based on your experience and time spent in Thailand. Plus, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience the legendary nightlife and culture of Pattaya.

This is a unique opportunity to join our thriving team at Dynamite Entertainment and be a part of the unforgettable gogo bar scene in Pattaya. If you are a professional and passionate candidate who can bring your own energy and represent our brand, we would love to have you join us for this adventure!


Meet her at Dynamite Entertainment, Pattaya.


Sometimes I wonder if the world really is turning to shit. Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t, but it sure is changing fast. This week I was asked by a waitress in my favourite Indian restaurant what it’s like to be in an inter-racial relationship. It took me a moment to figure out what she meant as I was on my own. It turns out she was asking about me and my (obviously non-Kiwi) other half. Before I had a chance to respond, I was praised for being in such a relationship and not going with the default option, a white girl. It really wasn’t that many years ago when a white guy with an Asian girl generated sniggers and mocking comments. Now, it seems, some consider anyone in an inter-racial relationship to be praiseworthy. Welcome to ultra politically correct New Zealand. As a final thought, if my other half happened to be transgendered, would they award me a gold medal?

This year’s hot season has been as hot as many expats can remember. Insufferably hot, one friend told me. The hot topic in some expat circles the past couple of weeks has been ugly power bills and social media has been awash with people reporting record high bills.

I’m not keen on shopping and avoid shopping and especially shopping centres at all costs. When I go shopping I always have a plan – go to shop A (and maybe shop B and shop C if I have a long shopping list), get what I need and then get the hell out of there! I don’t care for spending time in shopping malls and feel it is time that would be better spent elsewhere, as in anywhere else! At the same time, there’s no denying that Bangkok is full of world-class shopping malls and they are awfully popular with locals and visitors alike. But I do wonder whether Bangkok will, at some point, become saturated with shopping malls as online shopping gets ever more popular. Will more and more shopping malls continue to be built in Bangkok? Of course, going to a mall is much more than just shopping for Thais who can spend half a day or more eating, shopping, seeing a movie, visiting a beauty salon, meeting friends, eating again etc. I have no idea how things will change – or even if they will change, such is the Thais’ love of shopping malls – but I can’t imagine the massive growth in online shopping won’t have at least some effect on shopping malls in Thailand.


Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

A secluded party spot on Koh Phangnan has become a legendary destination for backpackers seeking a unique experience.

A panda bear on loan to Thailand from China dies at Chiang Mai Zoo.

There’s concern in Thailand that zero dollar tours might make a comeback.

A general’s son shoots dead his famous girlfriend in a luxury condo in the Asoke area of Bangkok.

Russians are changing the face of travel in various destinations across Asia, including Thailand.

A 26-year-old Brit is facing serious charges after setting his Chiang Mai hotel room alight.

Panthip Plaza, the once legendary IT mall, is being turned in to a food wholesale centre.

The introduction of Thailand’s proposed 300-baht tourist entry fee has been delayed yet again.


Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.


Closing Comments

There was less going on this week meaning less to write about and this week’s edition is back to what I feel is about the ideal length at a bit over 4,000 words. With more people reading the column on a mobile phone or tablet, the column doesn’t generate as much feedback as it once did. I am always interested in your thoughts on what appears in the column as well as your thoughts on life in Bangkok and Thailand in general.


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza