Stickman Weekly, April 30, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken on Ploenchit Road at the former TOT office with the Holiday Inn Hotel seen on the left. So where was this week’s photo taken?
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
An oldie but a goodie.
Sexy Night has been my favourite Bangkok bar ever since DC 10 went all ladyboy. Legendary bar with great music, ambiance and girls. I begin every evening there and usually finish up there at closing time too. It goes from empty to jam-packed in seconds. What’s interesting is that many of the girls are older, and some have a bit of weight on them. My buddies used to dread it when I insisted on taking them there. These days, when I arrive in town, the first thing they ask is, “When are we going to Sexy Night?” Amazing how a low-key, old-school bar still attracts such a following. I hope I die before my favourite bar does.
My first visit to Bangkok over 20 years ago began in the Biergarten. Coming from the USA, the Biergarten was a revelation. Staying at a small hotel on soi 3, we had no idea where we were. At the time there were a multitude of fellow travelers and a multitude of approachable ladies. The bartender recommended San Miguel Light, and this would become my go-to drink all over Thailand. Soon me and my buddies were surrounded by cute Thai ladies, and buying them drinks was really cheap. We all had hook-ups that evening, and the girls showed us around town. It was all so much fun. What a great way to start to get to know the Land of Smiles! I’m so sad to see the demise of the Biergarten.
Indians on Sukhumvit soi 22.
About Indians on Sukhumvit Soi 22, I stayed in the Marriott Marquis on Soi 22 at the beginning of 2022 when travel restrictions had just been lifted for Indians and I stayed there for a few days at a time over a few trips. I chose this hotel because of the fantastic deals offered at that time. Room rates have gone back up to pre-pandemic levels so I don’t stay there anymore. The Marquis is a great hotel for conventions or company retreats because of the large conference halls and facilities for Indian groups including Indian food buffets. A lot of Indian companies choose the Marquis for company conventions. If that hotel continues to target Indian companies, there will be plenty of Indians on that soi but will they mainly be the company traveller type, staying for a couple of days. I spoke to many guys in different groups and they were all there for a company retreat. Those who stayed on for a few days after the convention would move to Soi Arab, Soi Nana or head for Pattaya. I am not sure that Soi 22 will have many long-term Indians staying there. Most of us Indians still prefer Soi Nana and Soi Arab. They each have more of a ‘home feel’ than Soi 22. Just my 2 Rupees.
More Readers’ Emails
Are you in the wrong job?
Many people are complaining about inflated airfare prices. The other night, a friend of mine who is a 747 captain for a major German airline explained that various US airlines offer a sign-on bonus of $USD 100,000 or more for immediately available 747 captains. Atlas Air is leading the gang with $USD 200,000. Emirates is offering A380 captains with a training license an unbelievable 1 million USD for immediate availability! On top of that, there is a very generous salary, of course. Did we choose the wrong job? Looking at the shortage of planes everywhere, there seems to be no chance of lower fares any time soon.
Where are the decent tradesmen?
I have a pet hate in Thailand, and that’s the lack of good quality maintenance / repair men. As a business owner, I’m always in need of plumbers, air-con engineers, electricians, and other contractors. Despite 16 years of constant work requirements, I’ve yet to build up a contact list of reliable and efficient workers. Whenever I need someone, I message round everyone else in my industry and discover we’re all in the same boat. What’s worse is that farang companies quickly pick up the bad habits of not showing up on time, taking days off, making false promises and not completing work properly. I’d love to implement a blue checkmark for recommended tradespeople. I used to sign annual contracts for pest control, air-conditioning maintenance. But I don’t do it any longer… As soon as the ink is dry, previously good companies become slack – lousy time keeping, shoddy work, inflated prices. Now I pay per visit. It’s technically more expensive, but since they don’t have a year’s premium in the bank, they can’t cut corners (as much).
The military storm Pattaya.
The US military were out in Pattaya on shore leave last Monday. There were quite a few of them in Iron Club and every couple of minutes a group of them would go up on stage and dance. One even climbed one of the metal poles to the top of the ceiling. Even a group of female military personal jumped on stage at the other end to shake their large booties. One other guy, who seemed to be in a world of his own, just stayed on continuously swaying around while hanging onto the pole with his trousers half down until the angry door man told him to get off the stage. It was an interesting evening for people watching.
Slow season assessment.
My slow season assessment is that there is plenty of action and places worthy of your holiday dollars. Good times to be had in Nana, Cowboy, Patpong and points in between. Bangkok is always in constant change so what worked before might need a little tweaking. A roach will always find a crack
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
The bars at Centre Point – the name for the beer bar complex on Sukhumvit soi 7 which hasn’t caught on – won’t be going anywhere just yet. New 6-month leases are due to be signed any day. Amazingly, and sensibly, rents are said to drop by around 10%. This said, at least 3 bars have indicated that they will not be signing a new contract and there are 3 bars in the complex currently up for sale. The empty space that was Longshot, previously one of the larger bars in the complex which closed a couple of months back, remains vacant. That space is sufficiently big that it could be made into 3 separate bars. Any takers?
But it’s bad news two sois over with today the last day of operation for the cluster of beer bars on Sukhumvit soi 11, opposite the Ambassador Hotel. Last week saw fighting talk with some bars ready to pursue legal action and fight the landlord’s wish for them to vacate. In the end, the bar owners decided they are lovers and not fighters. So it’s game over. It’s a shame as feedback has been consistent – those bars have a good vibe. From tomorrow, staff from at least one of the bars can be found in one of the beer bars on soi 8.
One bar boss who shall remain nameless admitted to me this week that there has been a noticeable slowdown in bar trade on Soi Cowboy since Songkran. Before Songkran, the soi was buzzing and everyone was happy. Since Songkran, trade hasn’t been great during the week. Fridays and Saturdays are holding up well.
On a positive note, there has been no change in the hours Soi Cowboy bars can operate. Bars can stay open until 3:00 AM. Some bars sensibly close at 2:00 AM if there are few customers about. It’s just not worth dragging the night out for another hour when there’s only a few customers left and tired staff are ready to go home.
At Dollhouse, the new sign to replace the old iconic sign that kick-started the neon revolution on the soi 20+ years ago, is finally being made. The plan is to have an unveiling of the new sign in late May.
A couple of months back I reported that late at night the streets of downtown Bangkok were deserted and free of vendors which was most unlike Bangkok. The booze booths and other late-night, street-side beer stands with rickety chairs were nowhere to be seen as the police cracked down on them. Things have reverted back to how they were and night owls can perch street-side and enjoy cheap drinks and watch the world go by. Favourite spots are Soi Nana and soi 7, next to the temporary fencing at the large construction site.
The area around the Novotel on Soi Nana (about 150 metres or so down the soi) is particularly popular late at night with punters and girls and ladyboys all lingering. If transgenders are on your radar, plenty hang around that part of Soi Nana late in to the night.
The other area popular late at night for you ladyboy lovers is the stretch of Sukhumvit between Thermae and Robinson’s.
Speaking of the Thermae, a friend’s report this week was short and to the point, “3 white guys, a couple of Indians, a black dude and 100 Japanese. And 100 girls, easily.”
On the subject of many Japanese being about town, the current holiday in Japan wraps up around May 9th so there will likely be an exodus of Japanese visitors from Bangkok next week.
There has been no change to the situation in Patpong soi 2 where 4 bars remain closed. As more information comes to light – much of which, sadly, cannot be included here (as it’s personal about some of the people involved and the charges they face) – there simply doesn’t seem to be a pathway back for the bars to reopen. From an industry insider whose opinion I value, he says we should look to the past for clues as to what will happen. He states, quite rightly, that history shows bars closed for being caught with underage girls on the premises were often ordered closed for 2 months, after which they could reopen. It’s around 5 or 6 weeks since the Patpong bars closed so could we see them reopen come mid-May? My feeling is that it’s very unlikely. I say that because I think the days of 60-day closures for underage girls are over. This situation is taken more seriously these days and the authorities are more likely to order a bar closed permanently. And secondly, the head honcho of those venues is said to still be behind bars. Without him, I just don’t see a way ahead.
The girls who used to work in those bars have scattered far and wide. Many made it to bars in Nana Plaza. Some have already boomeranged back to Patpong. If you’re looking for your favourite lady, you might want to check out Pink Panther which has benefited from the closure of the 4 bars in Patpong soi 2 both in terms of girl numbers and an increase in trade which can likely be attributed to less direct competition on the soi.
The first round of voting for Thailand’s general election begins a week from today, on May 7. The government has long felt that Thais can’t handle alcohol the night before casting a ballot and booze sales are banned from 6 PM Saturday through until 6 PM Sunday. That means bars across the kingdom will close…..or will they? One major Bangkok bar owner, who has properties across a number of police districts, said he was told on Friday he could stay open….and sell alcohol! That seems too hard to believe, given news headlines on Thursday said the alcohol ban applied nationwide. Said bar owner said, “Let’s see what the police say on Saturday”. In any case, however, don’t expect any posts on social media announcing that bars are open and alcohol is being served. If you’re pining for a drink, visit 7 Eleven before 6 PM on Saturday or take a punt and wander around the bars and perhaps you’ll find somewhere open. The same no-alcohol rule also is expected to be in place the following weekend, May 13 and 14.
Regardless, Nana Plaza will be closed the night of Saturday, May 6, which throws a wrench into Red Dragon’s monthly Full Moon Party. The moon goes full on May 6 so the middle-floor Nana gogo bar will throw its May Full Mooner on Thursday, May 4. There will be 95-baht Bacardi rum drinks all night, happy hour with all drinks just 95 baht until 9:30 PM, special shows and free glow rings.
So, nightspots across town will be closed the next two Saturdays. What to do? Dave the Rave – who turns 60 today (happy birthday, Dave!) – put together a list of seven no-booze alternatives, written with the usual Dave the Rave charm.
As I said earlier, bar trade was mixed this week. Some nights were decent, others a bit quiet. One reason for slower trade is the unabating heat. On Tuesday, the temperature hit 37.2 C / 99 F in downtown Bangkok with a “feels like” heat-index temperature of 47.8 C / 118 F! Nights have been described as “insufferable”. There’s no cooling relief after dark and even at midnight Friday, it can still be around 30 C. The only break – and it was the case Tuesday – comes from the rain, which has fallen a few days this week. On Tuesday, after melting the thermometer at around 2 PM, a late afternoon thunderstorm took the temperatures down several degrees.
Down in Pattaya, there’s a lot of talk these days about how Soi LK Metro has taken over from Walking Street for traditional Pattaya visitors as well as being the preferred bar area for discerning Pattaya expats. But that does not necessarily mean that the loveliest ladies are to be found at Soi LK Metro. Some say that Walking Street is still the place in Pattaya for eye candy. One long-time Pattaya expat with no skin in the game was impressed with the gogos he visited recently on Walking Street and commented that ladies in the likes of Fahrenheit, XS and Pin-Up were, in his opinion, much easier on the eye than those ladies hugging poles on Soi LK Metro. On Soi LK Metro, Queens and Kink were described as decent enough – but he still felt the better Walking Street bars were better overall. Not everyone is sold on LK Metro.
A new Irish pub opens tomorrow. A little over a week ago the American operator signed a contract with the owners of Sheraton Four Points in Sukhumvit soi 15 for the space that was previously known as The Irish Pub Bangkok and before that, The Drunken Leprechaun. The renovated bar will be known as O’Leary’s Irish Pub Bangkok. It’s about a minute’s walk up soi 15 from the main Sukhumvit Road, on the right-hand side. They plan to open daily from 11 AM until 1 AM. There will be live music. Here’s wishing them a warm welcome.
Angeles City in the Philippines once had a magnetic pull for many, but it seems to have largely gone by the wayside. You seldom hear much about it these days and tales of Pattaya expats heading there in droves for a week away from the wife feel like distant memories. From what I understand, the bar scene in Angeles in no way resembles what it once was. And for those of you who do make it to the Philippines, word is that you shouldn’t even think about heading that way without a COVID certificate. No COVID certificate will see you get a COVID test at Manila Airport – and if you test positive, you’re a “guest” for 7 days.
I mentioned last week the new tapas-wine pairings special launched by Wine Depot on Sukhumvit Soi 22. You can see all the pairing choices here.
With Friday quiet in some areas, Buddy’s big month-end barbecue drew noticeably fewer buffet buffalos, although Buddy noted that those who did graze ate more pork ribs and ribeye roast than a larger group did the month before. Speaking of Buddy’s Bar & Grill, Friday is Cinco de Mayo and Buddy’s Sukhumvit Soi 89 location will host a Mexican buffet feast from 7 PM with tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, burritos, Mexican pizza, chili and more for a crazy-stupid price of just 220 baht. It won’t last long at that price, so get there early. Buddy’s mountainous frozen margaritas will be just 100 baht.
In last week’s column, I included some info about Cinco de Mayo promotions and mentioned that Cinco de Mayo was Mexican independence Day. A bunch of you told me that this was not right. Rather, Cinco de Mayo commemorates a small battle in which the Mexican inhabitants of Puebla defeated the French. My bad, I got it wrong. Thanks to those of you who pointed out this error.
Sunrise Tacos will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the special menu below on May 4th and 5th. That mango pie sounds good, especially considering that right now is the peak of the mango season. This special menu will be available on Grab food also.
A few years back I wrote a column with a few thoughts on the best time of year to visit Thailand. It was very subjective. I was asked recently when the best time to visit was – specifically when the temperature is pleasant, there are no frequent rains and the pollution isn’t an issue. That’s tough because I don’t think such a time exists! There is not one month of the year in Bangkok where you have pleasant temperatures and clean air and no rain. It’s either hot and / or wet and / or polluted – and if you’re really unlucky, it can be all 3 at the same time! That said, when it rains it clears the air for several hours and can drop the temperature a little. When it comes to the best time to visit, you have to decide what is most important to you. There will always be a compromise. December to February are the best months temperature wise and the time of year many people favour. It also happens to be the busiest time in terms of visitor numbers and pollution can be quite bad. I don’t think there’s a “bad time” to visit Bangkok – although I personally prefer to avoid April (due to the heat and Songkran) and October (the wettest month).
What is it with some expats claiming to have lived in the country for x / xx number of years, when in fact they haven’t? It seems to be the case particularly with folks who have been coming and going between Thailand and their home country to claim they have lived in Thailand for 10 or 15 or 20 or more years, when the reality is that they have either split their time between Thailand and their homeland, or they are regular visitors who may have had a long stint or two. They often make this claim when they get in to a discussion / argument with someone about something and use this to give weight to their opinion. It’s odd.
Thailand-Related News Article Links
Quote of the week comes from a reader, “Pattaya makes Vegas look like a church visit!”
Terrible pollution in Chiang Mai is hurting the tourism industry.
Will Thailand’s Democrat Party pledge to push for legalising sex toys turn the election in their favour?
An Aussie was found hanged in his cell at the Patong Police Station, Phuket.
Rachaburi police are investigating more than a dozen deaths as a Thai woman is first accused of poisoning a friend and subsequent investigation shows that she may be a serial killer.
Bangkok’s iconic Iron Fairies bar had its grand reopening in a new location in Phrom Phong this week.
Thailand is the world’s #1 exporter of (tiny) condoms.
Pattaya police continue playing party poopers with nightclub raids targeting tourists.
Getting the balance in this column between nightlife news and gossip and more general info for regular visitors and expats is tough. Some of you are only interested in the nightlife. Others prefer more general news and gossip from expat circles away from the nightlife. When I am in Bangkok, it’s relatively easy to write about the non-nightlife stuff as I see stuff with my own eyes. But when I am outside the country as I am most of the time these days, covering non-bar stuff is much more difficult. Bar industry news and gossip is easy, even when I am not there. That is why much of the content of the column these days is related to the bar industry. I’d like to include more non-nightlife news (while maintaining the same amount of nightlife news and gossip) but as I say, it’s a lot easier to do that when I am there on the ground.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org