Stickman's Weekly Column July 23rd, 2023

Stickman Weekly, 23 July, 2023




Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the bus stop on Rama 1 Road, between Siam Paragon and Central World, and directly opposite the Royal Thai Police Headquarters. Amazingly, only two of you got it right. Was it really that difficult? I thought the photo from the previous week was much more difficult but a bunch of you got that photo right. After last week, I have included an easier photo this week. It’s a spot that has received a lot of attention in this column over the years. Thanks to John Mango for this shot.





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

Masks are still a thing.

He Clinic Bangkok

I often wonder if the Thais continue to be comfortable wearing masks on the skytrain as a way of shutting off from the everyday strains of life. Currently, with the election debacle and the ever-increasing cost of living, I’m sure many don’t feel like smiling. I’m not one for wearing a mask on the skytrain but I’ve taken to wearing one outside in some parts of Bangkok due to the air quality.

Tipping, Thai-style.

On tipping, my wife has the same policy as your group. In New York I’ve been followed out of a restaurant and abused for ‘not tipping enough’. What I should have done is return, ask to speak to the owner and ask why he doesn’t pay a living wage and why customers are expected to subsidise him. In London they often automatically add up to 20% for service, as if that was an ‘extra’. Is there any other business where people expect a tip for doing their job? Apart from the Thai police force that is.

CBD bangkok

Urine test demands and tourists.

Do those in uniform have any thought at all what their antics – bullying – does to Thailand’s image, when the boys in brown decide to harass tourists by, as you wrote last week, closing down bars in Soi Cowboy early for no other reason than that they can? And, particularly in Pattaya, conducting raids on clubs and bars and demanding proof from foreigners having a quiet drink there that they have the right to be in the country, let alone demand urine tests? Has anyone experienced such intimidating action anywhere else? I’ve never heard of it happening. It would be interesting to hear from your readers of any similar experience elsewhere.

How foreign gangs can operate in Thailand.

In answer to your girlfriend’s question about foreign gangs in Thailand, tell her that foreign criminal gangs are able to operate in Thailand due to the lack of law enforcement – until they step over the line and do something that can’t be ignored. The lack of an effective police force, along with corrupt officials, is what attracts them to Thailand. Thailand needs to clean up its own act instead of simply condemning foreigners. Would these same gangs operate in, say, Singapore?

wonderland clinic





More Readers’ Emails

Coconut Bar report.

By far the biggest group at the Coconut Bar at the southern part of Beach Road are Indians. I often see lengthy negotiations taking place. As you know, the Coconut Bar is not the place where you’ll find the pick of the crop. It’s no surprise whatsoever that in the vast majority of reports about snatched jewellery, the victim was an Indian, and the scene of the crime was Beach Road and its surroundings. You know the old saying: “If you want to pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.”

No condom, no nooky, no barfine refund.

I realize your column is about Bangkok, but I’d like to relate a bad experience I had in Walking Street two weeks ago. I barfined a girl from a gogo bar on Walking Street. I asked a dancer in the bar and she said no condom was ok. I get her back to my room, and she takes a very short shower. When we’re together in bed she starts talking about condoms. She says all her customers use condoms. I don’t like condoms, and that’s why I told her in the bar that I didn’t want to use a condom. I told her I didn’t want to use a condom, and she kept saying she had to use a condom. So after a while, I said, ok, let’s go back to the bar, and I’ll get my barfine back. I was staying on soi 6, so I took a baht bus all the way back to Walking Street. She took a motorcycle taxi so she actually beat me there. She was already in a bikini dancing when I got there. In the bar I talk to the two women running it. I told them how she agreed to no condom, and then changed her mind, and I wanted my barfine back. They said they could not give me the barfine back. They don’t know what happened once I left the bar, so they can’t give the barfine back. Nothing happened. If they ask the girl, they would find that out, but nothing happened. So I stay there for a while, and both of them said I can get my barfine back. Then a security guard comes over, and he told me I had to leave the bar. So I went outside where the Tourist Police were very close by. Two were American Tourist Police, but they don’t have any real authority. I told them what happened. One went and talked to two Thai police who were in charge. They came back, and said unfortunately the Thai police officers told them that there’s nothing they could do about getting my barfine back. So basically I got screwed and lost B2,000. Forget about getting your barfine back if you have a problem. You had better solve it with the girl in the room, because you’re not going to get your barfine back. And the police will not help you get your barfine back. <The barfine is paid to the bar to compensate the bar for the loss of an employee for a few hours / the rest of the night. Of course, it is disappointing when you tell a lady up front what you’re looking for, she agrees to it, the terms of the deal are set and then she fails to fulfil her end of the bargain. I get that 100%. The other side of this is that your desire to do the dirty with a sex worker without a condom is highly questionable. Presumably you have done this before with other ladies who were agreeable but that does not make it right. HIV, Hepatitis, numerous STDs, the list of nasties that can be contracted is long. While HIV can be controlled well with modern medicine and new protocols, many STDs now require strong / multiple antibiotics which wipe out not just the infection but also your microbiome and if you’re unlucky, what may follow is digestion / gastrointestinal issues that are very hard to treat. Sorry to be blunt, but refusing to use a condom with sex workers is reckless. I don’t have any sympathy for the 2,000 baht barfine you lost Stick>.





This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

So there was some truth in the rumours that The Strip in Patpong soi 2 would be reopening. On Monday of this past week, the front door to the bar was open for the first time in months and inside some Thai guys could be seen cleaning up the place. A Thai lady present said that The Strip will re-open under the watchful eyes of Mamasan Anna. Exactly who is behind Mamasan Anna i.e. who is bankrolling the reopening of the bar is unknown. Anna and many of the girls from The Strip who relocated to King’s Castle II will return to The Strip and it is also hoped that some of the old Black Pagoda girls will join them. It is anticipated that The Strip will reopen on or around August 3rd with a new name, Kinky Girls. I understand that the change of name was forced and the bar can never be called The Strip again.

The coming week might not be a great one for Bangkok bar owners as the country celebrates yet more holidays that will take many people out of the city for what could end up being a 6-day break. HM the King’s birthday is on Friday July 28, followed by Asalaha Bucha on Tuesday August 1st and Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent) on Wednesday,  August 2nd. Many people will take the Monday off, so if you leave Bangkok on Thursday you’ll get 6 days off. Alcohol sales, of course, are banned on the Buddha days so bars will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

There is an expectation this coming weekend that the bars might not be all that busy. Bar owners are already feeling the effects of a building rainy season. The heavens opened around 4PM on Thursday and poured down for an hour before tapering off to a steady drizzle that lasted until 10 PM. On Soi Cowboy, that left bars like Suzie Wong devoid of customers and girls well after the 7 PM opening. And it was worse on Friday as those who went out early got stuck where they were as heavy rain began around 10:30 PM and didn’t stop until after 1 AM. While some people say that the rainy season starts at the beginning of June (when the hot season ends), I think Buddhist Lent is a better marker  for when the rainy season really begins. Khao Phansa is the start of the 3-month “rains retreat” for monks. Expect the wet nights to become more frequent.


This past Thursday, a rainy night on Soi Cowboy.


Don’t go thinking that the increasing prevalence of lady drink scamming is mainly perpetrated by young, pretty ladies who may be more brazen than their older, more laid-back sisters. I received reports this week that some of the 40+-year-old ladies working at AfterSkool in Soi Cowboy have got in on the act. There are now so many reports coming in about drink-padding (no doubt these most recent reports have been prompted by the coverage I have been giving the issue) that I suspect times really are tough for some ladies, and they’re resorting to this nonsense to supplement their earnings.

A couple of emails this weekend asked about some big-name gogo bars and whether they were run by the Outlaws gang. The answer to this question is a resounding no! What I will say is that there were prominent figures in the Outlaws gang, long since deceased, who previously owned and operated some gogo bars. These bars changed hands many years ago and the gang involvement is in the distant past. (The last two links in the Thailand-Related News Articles section further down the column are to articles published this week showing that the Thai police are cracking down on these gangs.)

Tycoon aGoGo & Lounge goes into full nightclub mode on Tuesday as the middle-floor Nana Plaza bar kicks off its Techno Tuesday series of foreign guest DJ performances. British DJ AZ:1 will debut the party nights from 8 PM with a mix of House, Afro / Tribal / Latin, Deep, Progressive and Melodic tunes. DJ AZ:1 has performed in England, Vietnam, Singapore and around Thailand, including popular Bangkok clubs Rex, One Two Two, Spectrum, Oskar, Iron Balls and Vanilla Sky. Tycoon is upgrading for the occasion with new lighting.


A guest DJ will feature at Tycoon aGogo.


No disrespect to any DJs but if I ever saw signs outside a gogo saying that a guest DJ was appearing, I’d avoid it those nights. Call me a party-pooper, but I have never understood why gogo bars feel the need to invite guest DJs to play, especially when their playlists feature music with genres I honestly have no idea about. Tribal? Afro? Deep, Progressive and Melodic? Maybe I am just ignorant, but I honestly have no idea what that music sounds like! What is wrong with the classic gogo bar playlist of dance music or as is popular in a good number of bars, classic rock? Save the DJs for the discos and the nightclubs, I reckon, and stick to good, old-fashioned gogo bar music!

After the holiday, Red Dragon in Nana Plaza and Shark on Soi Cowboy will host their monthly Full Moon Party on Thursday August 3rd. All drinks will be 95 baht until 9:30 PM in both bars with rum drinks 95 baht all night in Red Dragon. On Soi Cowboy, draft beer is 95 baht all night at Shark. Special shows, tropical costumes, glow bands and good spirits are promised in both bars.


Full Moon party time again.


Good news from Pattaya where after a few weeks of reports that Sin City felt slow, the word is that there has been a noticeable uptick in visitor numbers this past week. There has been a visible increase in both Westerners and also Russians. Pattaya was actually described as lively this week although not everywhere in town is busy. While there are many more white faces about than there had been, Asians and Indians remain the biggest demographics – and that is likely to be the norm going forward, I imagine.

It should be noted that while the predictions are that this coming weekend could be a bit quieter than usual in the bars in Bangkok, that does not apply to Pattaya. Holiday weekends see many Bangkok expats head down to Pattaya for a few days away and many will take the chance to stop by their favourite Sin City bars.

There is more good news, provisionally, for nightlife venues across the Eastern Seaboard. This week the mainstream media reported that the Thai Cabinet has approved a proposal to allow nightlife venues in the Eastern Economic Corridor (which includes Pattaya) to open 24 hours a day. This is not law yet but it is hoped that it will be soon. To be clear, it won’t apply to all venues – different districts may impose local restrictions which could restrict hours of business, but no doubt there will be bars and nightspots in some areas which will be legally allowed to stay open right through the night.

We know that Marine Disco has been closed for a while, but the boxing ring below it has now been closed too. This icon of Walking Street had the same owner as the famous disco. The whole compound has been boarded up, and a sign says, “Renovations by Marine.” What will the Marine Group create next?

What is usually a very pleasant walk from one end of Beach Road to the other has been described as a bit of a cross-country hike with all the work currently being done. Why is it taking so long? It is hardly the biggest project nor one that is technically difficult.



The final week of July brings two feed-your-face events at Buddy’s Bar & Grill. On July 27 – National Chili Dog Day – all Buddy’s locations will give away FREE chili dogs from 11:30 – 2:30 PM. One per person, of course, and the offer is only good for dine-in. While no purchase is necessary, Buddy’s homemade Texas chili will require a cool drink! The next night, at Buddy’s on Sukhumvit Soi 22, the grill will be hot and packed with meat for the monthly barbecue. As usual, it’s all-you-can-eat pork ribs, hot dogs, Italian sausage, roast chicken and rib-eye roast, plus sides of potato salad, garlic bread, corn on the cob, Texas chili and more, all for just 380 baht. Grub’s on at 7:30 PM Friday.

Across the border in Cambodia, general elections take place today. There shouldn’t be much change from the current status quo, and that has had an impact on Phnom Penh based lasses’ desire to race to the provinces to vote. Alcohol bans have been in place from midnight last night until midnight tonight (Sunday). Unlike when elections take place in Thailand, there haven’t been any closure orders although many businesses have had visits from the police with various instructions depending on their respective location. Some businesses will close, while others will stay open but keep a low profile. If past elections are any indication, things will be quiet tonight, but finding a beer shouldn’t be too difficult. Many banks are closed on Monday, but things should be back to normal and business as usual by Tuesday.



I really think that Bangkok today is a better destination for first-time visitors than ever before. While old-timers lament the loss of favourite old places, increasing prices and fewer smiles, at the same time it’s hard to deny that the modern, more developed Bangkok is much easier to get around, there is more to see and do, more places to eat / stay / party, is more cosmopolitan, the city is much cleaner and in so many ways, Bangkok is more tourist-friendly. Today, you have a great mix between the charm and history of the traditional places of old as well as the benefits of the modern world. This last trip I really felt that Bangkok has come of age.

With that said, one of the things I really don’t miss about Bangkok is all of the drama in expat circles. Here in New Zealand, we met a Thai woman new to Napier this week and one of the first things she said to us was, “What’s with all the drama with the Thai people here?” It made me wonder, irrespective of location, do expat lifestyles and drama go hand in hand?

There was a time when motorbike taxi riders had a poor reputation. Much-maligned, many bear the scars of a hard life eeking out a living on the streets of Bangkok. Not that long ago, expat know-it-alls would say if you wanted someone roughed up – or worse – you should head to your nearest “win” (as they are known in Thai) motorcycle queue. While there are no doubt some roughians amongst them, most are just everyday guys trying to make a living. On a positive note, in recent years, motorcycle taxi riders appear to be doing much better for themselves. I remember between the time I first left Bangkok (2015) and returning for the first time several months later and noticing how many motorbike taxi guys had a fancy smartphone, in many cases an iPhone (at a time when they were still quite pricey, even for a second-hand model). Today, many motorbike taxi riders embrace technology. You can book a motorcycle taxi using one of the apps like Grab. Many motorcycle taxi riders accept contactless payment. The photo below shows one innovative rider who has his personal QR code built in to his vest making payment super easy. The Thais really do love embracing new technology, especially when it makes getting paid easy. Good on them!


Motorbike taxi riders in Bangkok are embracing new technology.


Living in condos in Bangkok for many years, I can’t count the number of times items sent to me in the postal system went missing. Perhaps it is not such a big deal these days with communications and bills often sent electronically, but there are still times when you need to receive mail the old-fashioned way. Mail for residents in condo buildings is delivered to the building by the post office and then the condo staff sort it in to the (in some cases) hundreds of mailboxes. Multiple times I received mail in my mailbox for other people and I bet some mail intended for me ended up in other boxes – some of which weren’t checked for months as condos were vacant. Very annoying. Anyway, with online shopping so popular these days, my girlfriend was telling me that some of the big condo buildings can literally receive hundreds of parcels each day which the condo staff then have to organise. A lot of the time, parcels are too large to put in to a mailbox. In some condo buildings there isn’t a secure system for delivery of so many large items and they are left in a public area for residents to retrieve themselves. And with some of the Thai online shopping platforms recording the price / value of an item on the box, there is temptation for some unscrupulous folks to take an article that does not belong to them. It sounds like a recipe for problems. How often do parcels go missing? According to my other half who has an interest in some online businesses, parcels go missing in condo buildings often and it is becoming a headache for all involved (seller / buyer / postal system / courier company / condo staff). Have readers living in large condos have had any experience of larger items going missing?



Thailand-Related News Articles

2023 Phuket visitor numbers now exceed Phuket visitor numbers pre-Covid.

More and more Indians are visiting Thailand as Chinese numbers have failed to return to anything like pre-Covid levels.

Does Thailand really have the will to tackle the ongoing problem of reckless driving and a massive annual road toll?

If you like photography, check out this very special Thai-themed camera.

An angry foreign passenger forgets his bag and forces a plane to return to the terminal at Chiang Mai.

The Thai police really are cracking down on foreign gangs in Thailand, targeting the Outlaws in Pattaya.

More on the Thai police cracking down on the Outlaws gang.



Closing Comments

A lighter column this week with less news from around the bars than there has been in recent weeks. And with a bunch of holidays over the next couple of weeks, don’t be surprised if the next couple of week’s columns also feature less bar industry news and gossip. With less news meaning slightly shorter columns, I guess that means it’s time for me to start writing opening pieces again.


Your Bangkok commentator,


Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza