Stickman's Weekly Column June 11th, 2023

Stickman Weekly 11 June, 2023





Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the Okura Building at the top of Wittayu (AKA Wireless) Road where it meets Ploenchit Road. This week’s photo was taken, as per usual, in downtown Bangkok. This is the sort of photo I like to include most in this section – a location well-known to readers with the photo taken from a slightly unusual perspective. Show me how well you know Bangkok and tell me where it is!



Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


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

Knowing when it’s time to grow up.

He Clinic Bangkok

Boredom turns men into alcoholics. How you live on a 3-week holiday is not scalable for life. Loneliness makes men pay to keep around a woman who hates them. Drinking away your hangovers cannot be what you wake up for. You have to have purpose. And if you work on yourself a bit, you can find a genuinely decent partner in Thailand. She may be older than the women you have to pay to keep around, but sex with a younger woman is no foundation for a relationship, or happiness. And we feel how people look at us. I’ve exclusively dated middle-class ladies, normally within 5 – 10 years my age. We looked right together. Thais treated us as such. All the subtle cues showed they viewed me as a respectable man. We can lie to ourselves like teenagers and say, “I don’t care what others think!,” but these things matter. We do care how others view us. Thais sure as hell care! The society revolves around it. So many middle-aged expats view sex like adolescents. Actually not growing up has so much to do with so many tragic tales. We all get it. Lots about getting older sucks. But if you deny it, you end up missing what is good about getting older.

The evolution of Pattaya.

You have confirmed what I have seen with my own eyes in Pattaya. The city has been changing (and will continue changing) and moving in the direction of a mainstream holiday destination. The days it was a large naughty boys’ playground are long behind us. Actually, this has been going on for about 20 years. First slowly, but nowadays faster and faster. About 20 years ago or so, I heard about plans to move the naughty nightlife away from the main tourist drags like Beach Road and Second Road in the direction of places like Soi Buakhao. That was no false promise! As one readers said, Soi Buakhao has changed from a dirt road some 30 years ago into a bustling street with a variety of nightlife. We haven’t seen the last of all the relocating, as you have seen the changes are also very visible on Second Road in North Pattaya.

CBD bangkok


I have some observations. First, on the holiday for Queen’s Birthday, no alcohol could be sold. But all the cannabis shops were open. That didn’t feel right to me. Secondly, your observations about Nana Plaza having a higher standard of lady is correct. But Soi Cowboy now has a great range of venues. Totally nude bars, ping-pong shows, a pub with good food & sports to watch, ladyboy bars and there are now 5 bars with bands, some of which are very good. I love the range of things to do in that little street.

Insane air-fares.

This week I bought a Premium Economy flex return ticket AMS – BKK on Austrian Airlines flying in December and paid 1,380 euros, including a seat reservation fee of 120 euros which in the past was free. Now, 5 days later, the price is 2,390 euros! Insane for a premium economy ticket! Who wants to pay that? Why are we seeing these insane prices? Is this exorbitant profiteering by airlines? It appears so. Who can stop this?

wonderland clinic

Lower airfares coming?

There may be some good airfare news in the near future as prices tend to go up and down dependent on seat capacity and obviously the increased availability due to a larger capacity. Recently I have seen a number of articles regarding airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates bringing Airbus A380s back in to service. <I wish this was true. I flew back to New Zealand from Bangkok this week via Hong Kong. The flight from HKG – AKL was only 1/3 full and pretty much everyone in economy class had 3 seats to themselves (The plane was a Dreamliner with a 3 – 3 – 3 seat configuration. A flight attendant joked to me that we had it better than those in business class (who paid around 3 times as much). Yet despite the flight being only 1/3 full, the fare was still 80% higher than I paid pre-CovidStick>

November is recommended.

In past columns, people, yourself included, suggested their favourite time of year to visit Thailand. For me, November is right up there. It’s near the end of the rainy season, with brief, refreshing rain most afternoons. The weather is hot but not May hot, and there are far fewer people around. The bonus of November is that it’s shoulder season, so flights aren’t astronomically high, unlike Christmas / New Year which is when I’m going back this year. A return flight from Calgary will be $2,500 – $2,800 depending on routing. On the bright side, there is now a seasonal direct flight with Air Canada from Vancouver to Bangkok. The Calgary – Vancouver flight is only an hour.

Bangkok has developed nicely.

Glad to hear that you have had a positive experience in Bangkok. I came to Thailand for the first time in the mid-90s. I must admit that Bangkok has developed in a good way. It has become a very positive and convenient metropolis to visit. I remember the tollway, the new international airport, and the MRT & BTS lines were all under construction at that time. The end results of these projects have absolutely been worthwhile. Sure, some nice things and places from the past are gone but that’s life. But one thing I surely miss and wanted to stay is: Scala cinema. Its closure broke my heart.



Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

The Patpong soi 2 fetish house previously known as Bar Bar finally reopened this past week. It has been renamed and rebranded as Octopus. The new boss, Som, says she received permission from local police to reopen, supposedly on the basis that the previous management is no longer involved. Octopus is open from 7 PM to 2 AM. The amusing Mr. Lucky who acts as the venue’s welcome man is back at the front door with his stick and familiar refrain, “Never try, never know!”

PDT Bar, one of the open-air bars that was a fixture on Sukhumvit soi 11, is relocating to Sukhumvit soi 13 and hopes to reopen this coming week on the ground floor of the Trendy Building. If everything goes to plan, the soft opening will be later this week.

On Soi Cowboy, Dollhouse has reinstalled a gogo pole on the balcony outside the bar proper. The ladies enjoy rocking it, and it creates attention which draws more customers inside the bar. Given how effective it is, it’s surprising more bars don’t have a pole outside.

Speaking of Dollhouse, the new sign is still a couple of weeks away. Work is proceeding on constructions, albeit slowly. I had hoped to photograph it before I returned to New Zealand but alas, it wasn’t ready in time.

While the photo below would have made a good mystery photo, I am sure many of you would have correctly guessed that it is Soi Cowboy. But what is that curvy, white line running from one side to the other? The world’s longest, thinnest snake? It is an electric cord running from one side of Soi Cowboy to the other, from a weed stand to a power point. I don’t want to sound like the safety police but one does wonder how many people haven’t seen it, dragged it along and then tripped.


Where is this?


I raved about Rainbow Cowboy in a recent column. On a subsequent visit, Friday before last, it was just as busy and every bit as good as when I first visited. In fact it was so busy that there was not one free seat. Apparently, trade at Baccara has taken quite a hit with some who used to frequent Baccara now choosing Rainbow instead.

Speaking of Rainbow Cowboy, it has a window in the hong-nam, just like Tilac. It’s probably been there a long time but as I hadn’t been inside the bar that took that space for more years than I care to remember (it was previously an Arab bar), I don’t recall the window. It’s fun being able to check out the ladies while you’re taking a piss.

One clear observation after almost a month in town is that there is much less barfining taking place these days. In all of the bar areas I visited, many customers were sitting alone, enjoying a drink, the music and the view. The distinct impression I got is that many guys go out to the bars today without any intention of paying a barfine. As one very successful foreign bar boss said to me, the old patterns have been turned on their head and he doesn’t know where the industry is going. If the trend of fewer customers paying barfines continues, he says that some bars will have to make up for that lost income through other means. What could that mean….?


Recognise either of these clowns? These two are filming inside gogo bars and posting the clips online.


It’s nice to stop by the gogo bars, whether you’re out and about in the neon jungle night after night or it’s just a once a year thing. It’s nice to know that the bar industry is thriving in Thailand and the bars are there whenever we feel like dropping by. Strip clubs exist the world over but the special mix you find in the bars in Thailand of laid-back attitudes, many sexy girls in each bar and low prices is not something typically found elsewhere. So when someone comes along and behaves in a way that could mess things up and cause major problems for the bars we so enjoy visiting, it’s something we need to talk about. Gogo bars are strictly no photo / no video places and there are very good reasons for this. Primarily, it is for the protection of everyone inside, from staff to customers. The two clowns pictured above have been using fancy gadgets to record video inside gogo bars and post the clips they have recorded online. This can potentially cause embarrassment – or worse – for the bar owners, bar staff and even for bar customers. Video taken inside gogo bars could, in some cases, cause bars to be closed. No-one wants to see that happen. So, if you see either of these American clowns in any bars or merely around the bar areas, mention to security that they are travelling around Thailand, making secret recordings inside bars and posting them online. They may not look like wizards but they have some fancy gadgetry they conceal very effectively that even the most eagle-eyed security would struggle to spot.

Making secret recordings inside gogo bars is nothing new, and with the ease with which anyone can upload clips to the likes of YouTube and TikTok, bars are becoming more vigilant in hunting down those making said recordings. Some 20-odd years ago, the Bangkok Post ran a story where a tourist complained to police after he was allegedly assaulted for secretly recording inside one of the ground floor Nana Plaza bars (Pretty Girl, or Voodoo perhaps). He ended getting bashed by the bar’s security and I seem to recall his camera might have been smashed. Bar security is much more professional these days and while you won’t get bashed, expect to be banned from individual bars and even entire bar areas for life.

If you really want to take photos of pretty ladies, ask a lady if she is willing to be photographed in your hotel room or condo. And if you do get naughty photos of her, keep them to yourself. Posting them online is not just seriously uncool, it is also an offence under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act – even if you paid her for the privilege and she was ok with it at the time.


It was all happening at Shark Bar this week.


Earlier this week a mamasan meltdown at Shark led to wild rumours that, shortly after an entire new regime was brought in, the bar had been sold to Tee and the Rainbow Group. Rumours like that spread like wildfire and late Monday, phones blew up across the city with the “scandal” that proved to be totally false. Shark has not been sold but it has gotten worlds better, literally overnight.

I was in Shark on Friday June 2 and the line-up of ladies was terrible. What I didn’t know was that Shark’s owner – who also runs Mandarin & Red Dragon in Nana Plaza, and various bars in Pattaya – had just staged a “coup” of their own bar, displacing long-time mamasans and managers, some of whom have been there for the better part of 20 years. Shark reopened in September and the old staff was given an inordinate length of leash to bring the place back to its pre-Covid greatness. But, after nearly 9 months of failing miserably to do so, ownership’s patience finally ran out. New papasans were brought in, who, over the weekend, brought in 30 new, young, pretty girls from an agency. The DJs and Thai manager were replaced and a farang manager was brought in to oversee the operation. It did not go over well!

On Monday – which happened to be payday – the old battle-axe threw a fit and stormed out, telling all and sundry on Soi Cowboy that Shark had been sold to Rainbow and all the girls fired. She was now available for work, which she found at the tiny, third-tier gogo bar that used to be Dundee.

A new crew has transformed Shark and even a Cowboy veteran who popped in after midnight on Wednesday was wowed. A Nana bar manager who came in over the weekend said he couldn’t believe his eyes.

So where did Shark get all the pretty girls? As it turns out, one Nana bar owner said this week, pretty girls have not been hard to find since Patpong imploded. There are lots of younger, attractive girls about. Geisha has a bunch of them. Lollipop has picked up quite a few. Shark obviously got 30. And Billboard has even brought in some fresh ones. To quote the bar owner, “The 3 gogo bars in Patpong shutting down has been good for everyone.” Good for everyone except their owner, of course, who remains in Phuket Remand Prison.


Meet her at Geisha, Nana Plaza.


Patpong fanboys will try to tell you that Bangkok’s oldest nightlife area is doing just great without XXX Lounge, Black Pagoda and The Strip. Other bars – Pink Panther, King’s 1 and Bada Bing – are so full of girls and customers, seats cannot be found by 9 PM blah blah blah. It’s BS. The truth is you only need to look at all the former Patpong ladies working throughout Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy to know that’s a load of nonsense. Girls follow the money. And the money isn’t in Patpong any longer.

Exhibit A in that case is Whiskey & GoGo, which reportedly has taken on 90% of the former crew from Patpong’s XXX. So if you’re a fan of the old XXX, take a look inside the middle-floor Nana Plaza gogo bar.

While Monday was great for Nana, the same could not be said of Cowboy, which was as dead as a tomb early evening. One punter noted that at around 9 PM, even Country Road was empty. “And if Country Road is dead, you know Cowboy is dead.” Another Cowboy bar manager said, however, that things got busy later in the evening. This is becoming a pattern on Soi Cowboy. Early evenings are quiet, but, come 11:00-ish, things pick up. Having said that, on Thursday night Dollhouse pulled the plug just after 1:30 AM. There were not enough customers to warrant closing at 2:00 AM.

Busy and not busy often are in the eye of the beholder though, a truism made clear by the moaning of a Billboard service girl on Thursday night. “Oh, it’s so slow. It’s low, low season!” she said. Looking around the bar about 10 PM, the customer she was speaking to didn’t agree. Sure, there were middle tables open at 10 on a Thursday, but he told her the bar was still busy. “NO!” she insisted. “Low, low season!” “Honey,” the customer told the waitress, “you need to visit other bars. You’re busy. Trust me. Go downstairs and the bars there are EMPTY!


Long-running Pattaya gogo bar Champagne Club has closed again.


Down in Pattaya, on Soi LK Metro, long-running gogo bar Champagne has closed. Management say they will renovate and reopen later in the year.

Champagne’s owners also said they would shortly reopen Rise, which has been closed since the pandemic.

Further along Soi LK Metro, LK Angels opened this week and is the soi’s newest gogo bar. It’s a single shophouse, 2-storey bar which sounds unusual, and more like a hanky panky bar than a regular gogo bar. Bars with a second-level invariably have fun and games taking place upstairs. If you stop by LK Angels and venture upstairs, let us know what it’s like.

Play Girlz on Soi Buakhao is getting some positive press and some say it is one of the better gogo bars in the Soi LK Metro / Buakhao area. The line-up of dancers features a number of large-breasted ladies so if that is your thing, you might like to check it out. Leather lingerie is a nice touch, something few bars seem to go for. The bar is doing decent trade and the two young Aussies behind it must be very happy. Former Thai porn star Nong Natt appears at Play Girlz from time to time and next Saturday, June 17th, the former porn star will be back for another performance. You can find out more about Play Girlz at their website.

How many gentleman’s clubs are there in Pattaya? I am reliably told the number is around 50. The person who told me this believes there is precisely 51 – or at least that was the number when he told me – it’s a number that changes frequently as new venues open and old venues close every week. A reminder to all readers which is probably unnecessary, the term gentleman’s club in Pattaya is something of a misnomer and a better description would be a brothel with full service available on the premises. Pattaya gentleman’s clubs are often busiest during the day-time and early evening and are popular “sneak-away” spots for married expats craving a bit of variety. As a side note, gentleman’s clubs are not really a thing in Bangkok – at least not in the style you find in Pattaya.


Hooters on Pattaya’s Beach Road is being dismantled.


Still in Pattaya, Hooters Bar on Beach Road closed last week and demolition is underway. Management hopes to find a new location with cheaper rent. Did you know that the Pattaya branch of Hooters was the largest Hooters in the world?

Dollhouse, on soi 15 off Walking Street, has been taken over by the owner of Windmill, a move that will excite some and repulse others.

And in Windmill 2 on Soi Diamond, take a deep breath before you buy a lady drink. From a long-time reader who stopped by this week, lady drinks in the bar of filth run 220 – 260 baht. Compare that with a typical customer’s drink like a bottle of Heineken which runs 180 baht – which is pricey for Pattaya. With pricing like this, perhaps Windmill is trying to compete with the likes of Pin Up and XS? Haha!

Another new gogo bar opened on Walking Street, Club 79. It is set up in the spot of the former Abbie’s beer bar. It’s long and narrow but was said (figuratively) to have “hundreds” of girls.

The new and popular Warehouse disco on Soi Buakhao – the club that finally rounded out the area’s menu of entertainment options – said it was shutting down, the victim of a greedy Thai landlord. Now seeing a cash cow where there once had been a low-rent ladyboy bar, the owner jacked up the rent to astronomical levels. Warehouse has been gutted and will return as a Thai music bar.


Another venue closes in Pattaya.


You don’t hear much about HIV these days, be it in the press, the Thailand forums / social media or in general expat company. Those who pay any attention to health matters seem more concerned about whether to eat keto or whether their vegetables are organic than worrying about HIV. But HIV is still very much out there in the bar areas, even if seemingly no-one ever talks about it. In Rainbow Cowboy, I came across a lady I used to know some 15 odd years ago. She used to be a dancer in a small bar myself and a friend frequented in Cowboy back around 2007, 2008 and 2009. This lady told us about another of the ladies we used to know at the time. She has since contracted HIV+, left the bar industry and gone back to her province. Said lady went wild for a period and protection was the last thing on her mind. She initially worked at one of the smaller Cowboy bars but later moved to Rainbow 4 when it was one of the most popular bars in Nana. She hit the big time and made a lot of money, some of which she spent on “bar hosts”, the term used to describe handsome Thai men who work in bars and entertain Thai ladies. She swears she never did drugs so it sounds like she contracted HIV sexually. Take this as a reminder that HIV is still out there – as are many other nasties.

Away from the bars, I noticed a few middle-aged, middle-class Thai women who had let their hair turn grey – and chosen not to dye it black. It’s not uncommon in rural areas in the provinces to see women let their hair go grey, but in Bangkok, the vast majority of middle-aged (and older), middle-class Thai females refuse to let their hair go grey, no matter how many years they have on the clock. A couple of middle-aged, middle-class Thai women I noticed out and about who had let their hair go grey were very attractive, so much so that I had to stop myself from staring at them. Would they have looked so alluring had they dyed their hair? Perhaps – but certainly having a head full of grey hair caught my attention – and it most certainly did not hurt their appearance at all.


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza


Shopping in Thailand used to be all about cheap, mass-produced stuff. Not any more. Wealthy Thais are sophisticated consumers – and as the country gets richer, you see evidence of this everywhere. In supermarkets, the range of imported food products available is much greater than it was even just a few years ago, from imported meat and seafood to exotic fruits from all corners of the world which is often air-freighted to Thailand. I saw Thais happily paying 55 baht for a large gold kiwifruit and 180 baht for a large persimmon. Thais crave quality produce. Imported food items may be pricey but the Thais love them and consume them like crazy.

Speaking of imported food, if you enjoy good red meat, you might want to consider joining Big Greg’s Facebook group, Bangkok Beef. Greg Lange, better known as the man behind Sunrise Tacos and Margarita Storm, as well as a host of other successful Bangkok businesses, started this group to sell quality imported beef at heavily discounted prices. This venture started as a hobby and a service for friends during Covid. As time went on, it expanded to friends of friends and eventually members of the group. Currently, they are working on a website where you will find photos of the beef along with descriptions. However, until the website is ready, you need to join the Facebook group and place your order there. Once the meat is weighed, you will receive a price quote and can proceed with payment. You can pick up the order yourself at Sukhumvit Soi 10, or a Grab or SCG Delivery can be arranged for anywhere in Thailand. There are some real bargains so if you’re a beef fan, join the group.


Meet her at Mandarin, Nana Plaza


Speaking of food, why do Thais still get suckered by market vendors who always say that the fruit or vegetable you’re looking at is sweet and aroi?! I was with my girlfriend and her sister on my last full day in Thailand, wandering the local market and they came across a vendor selling a particular variety of durian. I reminded them of what they had previously told me: “Of all of the foods you buy in Thailand, durian is the one item where you really should stick to the vendors you know and trust.” Durian is expensive and even a few small pods can run 500+ baht. If it’s good, it’s worth the money. If it’s not, you may as well throw it away and the money is wasted. Good durian is truly a delicacy. Did the girls listen to me? No! Was the durian as aroi as the market vendor has said? No! What followed was 30 minutes of two sulking girls back home after they had keenly tucked in to durian only to discover it was anything but delicious! There is something more here that I have never really got my head around: Thais really do believe one another, even when they know that some people in certain positions (such as market vendors) will tell you anything to make a sale.

Have you ever checked your weight before and after a trip to Thailand? If you have, did your weight go up or down? At home, I pretty much cook all my food from scratch and my diet at home is very, very good. Over the course of a month in Thailand, my weight increased by a bit over 2 kg – which isn’t a bad thing because if anything, I could do with putting on a few kg. In retrospect, what I should have done was get a blood draw on my first day in Thailand and again on my final day. I’d put money on it that my lipids, triglycerides and blood sugar all would have shot up over the course of a month where I ate all manner of things that I never eat at home. We also enjoyed a few buffets – something we never do at home. It’s no big deal and I am sure my blood levels will fall back to where they were prior to travelling in a couple of weeks. I do think it would be interesting to see just how much things change.

Steve Leather’s fantastic novel “Private Dancer” is widely regarded as the best fictional work set in Thailand’s bar industry. It’s one of those books that anyone who enjoys this column really should read. Perhaps the most unusual review of Private Dancer appeared on YouTube this week. Check it out for a laugh.


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

There is talk that booze bans on Buddhist holidays might become a thing of the past.

Real life imitates fiction on Thailand’s paradise islands.

A Thai girlfriend stabs her foreign boyfriend in the leg in front of shocked tourists in Pattaya.

DTR reports on the latest from Shark in Soi Cowboy, which I visited Friday last week and thought was terrible.

Thai Airways expects to be in the clear and hopes to re-list earlier than expected.

An Irishman falls to his death from his condo in Bangkok.

Dave the Rave has an update of the happenings in Pattaya this week.

DTR also looked at the situation with undercover video in Nana Plaza.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


Closing Comment

There is no opener this week. A combination of travelling, jet-lag and getting things sorted back in New Zealand after returning home from a month away means this is one of those weeks where the column is run with no opening piece. I have a bunch of openers planned for the coming weeks including thoughts on where the bar industry is at, thoughts on the way many foreigners in Thailand seem to let themselves go and also a few thoughts on the cost of living as an expat in Bangkok. I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition, half of which was written in Thailand and the other half in New Zealand.


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza