Stickman's Weekly Column July 9th, 2023

Stickman Weekly, 9 July, 2023



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of Buddy’s Grill on Sukhumvit Road, very close to the mouth of soi 8. Just six of you got it right. The photo was taken from the skywalk from the Nana skytrain station which heads towards to the Hyatt hotel. This week’s photo was taken not far from an area of Bangkok popular with visitors – but not the Sukhumvit area.



Meet them at Heaven Above, Soi Boomerang, Pattaya.



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

First impressions back in Pattaya.

He Clinic Bangkok

Arriving back in Pattaya, first impressions are that it is a lot quieter compared to when I left in early April. It isn’t dead, but the difference is very noticeable. I had a look in Soi Buakhao / Soi LK Metro and the bars were certainly less busy. Also, when strolling around, passing the numerous massage shops, I hear the word massaaaaaaaaaage many times per stroll, and I am being grabbed by the arm again sometimes. On previous visits during the extended high season (October – April) I could pass without any problems because all of the staff were busy inside taking care of customers. Nowadays many of them are milling around outside again. The Chinese still haven’t returned in full force. It looks like it takes a bit longer to organise the group tours. Pattaya at present looks like a typical pre-Covid low season. This is hardly strange, but considering how busy it was until recently, I thought the low season would be better than pre-Covid. I haven’t been around town that much yet, but this are my first impressions.

Disappointing Patpong.

I was in Bangkok all through COVID and used to walk down a deserted Patpong regularly in 2020 when there was nothing to do. It was so sad seeing it all boarded up. I thought it started coming back a bit, very slowly at the end of last year, but never had a drink there. I decided to have a drink in Patpong last weekend. Oh dear, oh dear! I went to Vinai’s Beer Bar, where I’ve been drinking for the last 15+ years and know all the girls there. Gone were the smiles of greeting and all I got was a nod of recognition. No gossip about former workers getting married, having kids etc. After a few drinks for me and one for a lady I’ve known for decades, I get a weird vibe I was being ripped off, so I checked the bins. And, yep, it was absolutely padded to high heaven! Everyone had had at least 2 lady drinks on my bill without me knowing. I tried the, “There must be a mistake, you’ve known me for 20 years lark” but all I got was shouting and screaming about how I buy lady drinks for everyone. A rough, half-homeless Thai bloke was called over and I just put 2,000 baht down and walked off to much screaming. Walking past another bar on my way out of the soi, I saw another bloke getting in to the same argument. I also noticed the Thai bloke was still following me. The whole vibe was awful, utterly miserable and I can’t see why anyone would go there now. I used to sit in that bar until 5 AM at the weekend and know most of their families, but all that’s gone.

CBD bangkok


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


More Readers’ Emails

Little Britain.

Anyone familiar with the UK comedy series Little Britain will appreciate how funny it is to hear the guy announcing the skytrain mask announcements. His voice is identical to one of the characters.

Aiming a vehicle, as opposed to driving it.

I’ve been driving in Thailand since September 1997 throughout both the Kingdom and also in Laos. I’ve seen the amount of vehicles on the roads increase exponentially. I’ve seen the road systems grow throughout the country with 4- to 6-lane divided major national highways and scenic paved rural roads in great condition winding through the countryside. I have seen the great expansion of cars which started in the mid-00’s primarily on a rising middle-class and most importantly, easy credit. Hand-in-hand with the increase in cars is, of course, the increase in drivers to include many older Thais (50+) who finally had the financial wherewithal along with available used vehicles to purchase a pickup truck or small car. These older Thais transitioning from life-long driving of motorcycles into 4-wheeled vehicles was / is difficult for them. 30 – 40 years of bad motorcycle driving habits do not make for a good truck or car driver. In viewing the level of driving skill or ineptitude, I developed a theory that each country’s driving populations mature over time. In my earlier years in Thailand with less cars on the roads, drivers were probably more skilled. As the driving population soared, you had a profusion of new drivers of all ages. When comparing the driving population of Thailand to western countries with over a century of driving, I’d say you need to give the Thais more time to mature overall into driving defensively and safely. Yes, I think overall in the last few years the driving has gotten better. In 10 – 15 years it will be better still. I just think that it is a cultural driving thing.  Figure NZ or Australia or US or UK. Generations of drivers with teenagers having the excited expectation of getting that ticket to freedom in a driving license. That really hasn’t been there for Thailand up until the last few years. Cars and trucks were beyond the means of most country folk and poorer classes until easy credit hit in the late 00’s. You might remember the government and banks had limits on who could get a credit card or get credit based on income. That’s gone now. Any Somchai with a bit of money, an ok job or land / house to add as surety can buy a car or truck now. My 60-year old nephew bought his first pickup, an Isuzu extended cab, less than 5 or 6 years ago. He had to go to driving school, then take the written test and driving test from Land Transport. He failed the written test (only 25 of 50 passed) but got “assistance” from the tester for 500 baht that guaranteed the pass. He drives terribly but in his favor, at least he drives slowly. He has zero “learned” good driving habits for a 4-wheeled vehicle. I look at a lot of the drivers up in Udon as aiming a vehicle rather than driving it.

wonderland clinic



3 more weeks until it’s bye-bye, Biergarten.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Some months back I wrote that the soi 7 Biergarten would close before long. But it’s still open, Stick, some of you have emailed me recently. What’s going on? The original reports were accurate and the Biergarten closes at the end of this month, so you have about 3 weeks to experience the classic old venue before it closes once and for all. There is some conjecture as to whether it will close on the last day of the month or on the 29th, which is a Saturday.

Nana Plaza bar Angelwitch might have killed two birds with one stone with the appointment of Joe Delaney as manager this past Wednesday. Not only does the bar now have a farang manager, it also has an opportunity to improve the music playlist with Joe being a drummer in a local band.

Down in Patpong where the Silom Road end of soi 2 is still largely in darkness, rumours persist that it won’t be long before my old favourite gogo bar, The Strip, reopens. Needless to say, that would be good news. This rumour has been bouncing about for a while now so let’s hope that there is some truth in it.

Speaking of The Strip, a number of girls from The Strip as well as two former Strip mamasans and one PR girl (the ladies who stand outside and try to pull you inside) are working at King’s Castle II on Patpong soi 1. King’s II is said to currently have a very nice bunch of dancers who look especially sexy in their extra small Daisy Duke-style shorts, over-the-knee black boots and small mid-rift-showing shirt tops. It’s nice when a bar makes a genuine effort to stand out from other bars and that’s what King’s Castle II has done with the girls outfit. A good friend said he had planned to stop by for just one drink but ended up having a few and buying several lady drinks because it was so good.


Meet her at Tanoshii, Patpong soi 2.


As the caption to the photo above says, you can meet her at Tanoshii. What is Tanoshii? It’s a small, new hostess bar on Patpong soi 2, near Pink Panther. Drinks are 170 for local beers and lady drinks are priced at 220, which is the same as the King’s Group bars as well as Bada Bing. Tanoshii is aimed at Japanese guys but it has attracted a few white guys too. It’s a small bar, the girls are fun, and it is said to get lively. Looks like there is some life left in Patpong after all.

Just because a bar does extremely well and is frequently described as the best or one of the best in the business does not mean it doesn’t suffer from staff attrition. Yes, there are ladies who have actually left the likes of Billboard and Butterflies and Spanky’s to work in other bars. Don’t be surprised as these ladies can be very transitory and they chase the money. Even in the very best bars there are ladies who don’t do all that well despite the bar booming. There are a few bars where the competition between the girls for lady drinks and customers is so fierce despite the bar booming that some ladies don’t do nearly as well as they feel they could and they leave for smaller bars. With so much competition in a bar like Billboard, a lady who is attractive but perhaps not a superstar might find herself queen bee in another bar.

Renovations are taking place at popular Nana Plaza gogo and show bar Spankys but the bar remains open every night as per usual. Pretty much everything is being made off-site and installed during the day-time with the bar open every night as per normal.


Meet her at Spanky’s, Nana Plaza (and if you do, let me know what she looks like from the front!).


A new bar and eatery opened on Sukhumvit soi 11 last weekend. It’s on the ground floor of the Prime Building. From the way it was described to me it sounds not dis-similar from Oskar. Initial impressions are very positive. I believe the person behind ABUNdance Modern Fusion is the lady with a number of very popular venues on Soi 8 like Monsoon and Invite. That bodes well.

As gogo bars look at moving prices up to around the 200 baht mark for both customer drinks and lady drinks (of course, some bars are there already), one wonders what sort of pricing power (the ability to increase prices without losing customers) the bars have at this time given that economies all around the world are looking somewhat shaky. My feeling is that while no-one wants to pay higher prices, most will live with it.

With low-season hitting its nadir, Angelwitch in Nana Plaza has introduced an early-week happy hour with prices not seen in a decade. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from opening through until 10 PM, all local beers are priced at an extremely reasonable just 75 baht. There is none of this 2 drinks for the price of 1, buy a lady drink or any other caveat, it’s a simple promotion with 75 baht beers. You can’t complain at that!


Happy hour at Angelwitch.


Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about the theory that customers aren’t barfining girls at the same clip they used to. Barfine prices are too high, the ladies are asking too much, “cancel culture” has made tourists too PC, and girls no longer do long-time, etc. But is it really true? A conversation in a popular Nana Plaza gogo bar this past week indicates some of the negative commentary might be overblown. On an average night, the bar has 60 dancers and hostesses on duty, some nights less, some nights more. The mamasan says the bar averages 30 barfines a night with most girls going short-time. This bar gives the ladies two hours for a short-time tryst after which they are expected to get back on the pole. What is perhaps a little surprising is that about a third of the barfines are for long-time. This bar defines long-time as at least four hours, although the mamasan said many girls go for five or six hours. So, yes, it seems not many are having breakfast the next morning with their customer. Five or six hours – perhaps we could introduce a new definition of “medium-time”?

There is still an open debate over who actually owns Geisha in Nana Plaza. Some say Tee and others, including Tee, deny it! But whoever the principal owner is, they’re making improvements to the bar’s exterior. Two weeks ago, the long, mostly empty concrete wall on the top floor of Nana Plaza was covered with Japanese shoji doors, those partition doors and windows made of latticework wooden frames and covered with translucent white paper. Behind the paper are silhouettes of women, presumably geishas. This week, Geisha added a huge, UFO-shaped LED screen where the old Geisha sign used to hang.


Just who is behind Geisha in Nana Plaza?


A taskforce of police and drug-interdiction officials – flanked by a phalanx of press – made a publicity-stunt “raid” of two Soi Cowboy gogo bars Wednesday, finding virtually nothing untoward, but generating plenty of headlines. Rainbow and Spice Girls were supposedly selected randomly for the 11:30 PM inspections. About 20 Thonglor police and Narcotics Control Board officials detained 123 people, including 29 foreign tourists, and subjected them all to urine-based drug tests. Two bar workers, one in each bar, tested positive for ya-ba (methamphetamine) use and were sent to rehabilitation programs. Bar checks like these, complete with the obligatory group photos, are more common in Nana Plaza. This sort of thing happens very rarely on Soi Cowboy. Dave the Rave has the full details, including the revelation that officials were looking for prostitution, but couldn’t find any!

The lady below is waiting for you at Octopus, the fetish bar on Patpong soi 2 previously known as Bar Bar. From what I understand, the venue is largely the same as Bar Bar although there are now more shows. Boss Som has the girls fired up and most of the girls are new to the crew. Of the 12 or so ladies currently working at Octopus (fetish bars don’t have the same sorts of numbers of girls as gogo bars as it’s very much a niche thing that most girls aren’t into / don’t get), only a few girls used to work there when it was Bar Bar. The rest of the crew are new.


Meet her at Octopus, Patpong.


One disappointing trend in recent months is the number of emails from readers about bill padding and other sneaky ways a small number of bars – or to be more precise, an even smaller number of errant staff – try to cheat punters from their money. There really are some sharks out there and what some bars do is just crazy. Soi Cowboy is where most of these reports come from, and I get the odd report from Patpong.

I have long called the bar industry the naughty nightlife which is perhaps being a little cute. It’s prostitution / vice / the world’s oldest profession – refer to it how you wish. Let’s not forget that this is an industry not without issues. Generally, scams in the bars are perpetrated by one or two girls who may be working together. In a scam pointed out to me by a regular reader this week, the waitress takes advantage of an inattentive customer who has run up a large bill by adding (sometimes many) lady drinks to his bill. In many bars, when a customer buys a lady drink, the lady gets the drink and a chit – which she redeems at the end of the night for the commission on that drink (usually 80 – 100 baht per drink). However, in these cases when a guy is scammed, the waitress orders a lady drink for a particular bargirl – but that bargirl does not know about it – and the waitress keeps the chit for herself and redeems it, pocketing the commission. Often the waitress and the cashier are in cahoots with one another. The waitress adds extra lady drinks to bills over the course of the night and collects lots of lady drink chits from the cashier. These chits are redeemed for cash and presumably split between the waitress and the cashier. The bargirls whose names the lady drinks have been ordered in do not know it has happened and are an innocent party. If a customer has run up a large bill in to the many thousands of baht which includes many lady drinks, he will probably never know. The sad thing is that the most recent reports – yes, there have been more than one – of this happening occurred in a foreign-owned, foreign-managed gogo bar. The bar will not be named and shamed other than to say it’s in neither Nana or Patpong.


Meet them at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


One friend who is out and about a lot said that this week Bangkok feels like it is mired in the low of low season with even big-name bars feeling the pinch. Tuesday night marked a low-water point for Billboard which, after 9:30 PM was half-full or less, depending on who you asked. That, however, was better than other Nana bars at around the same time. Mandarin had three people in the place as happy hour ended at 9:30 PM. Other gogo bars in the plaza had none. And don’t think Soi Cowboy is any better. Managers and mamasans up and down the Neon Alley have been moaning loudly about virtually every night except Friday and Saturday being slow. Sunday apparently is the real “graveyard”, with business so bad some bars are considering reverting to their Covid-era business strategy of closing Sunday or Monday nights. When dancers and air-conditioning cost more than the revenue coming in, why stay open? If you like bars full of ladies with few customers – who doesn’t? – then now would be a great time to head out and enjoy the bars!

The slowdown in business has come even before the rains become a serious annoyance. That will change before long!

For wine connoisseurs, Buddy’s Bar & Grill’s Silom branch has introduced a new wine menu and on July 15 will host an exclusive wine tasting from 4 – 8 PM. There will be a buy 1-get 1 deal on Italian wines at just 1,250 baht a bottle, plus free cold cuts, cheese boards and other snacks. More details will be posted this week on Buddy’s website and Facebook page.


A good deal on wine.


Down in Pattaya, foreign-owned and run Heaven Above was originally on Soi Diamond where it operated for 16 years. Today, it is located on Soi Boomerang (which runs off Soi Buakhao) where it has been for almost 3 years which I guess makes Heaven above 19 years old and one of the grander old ladies of the bar industry. The venue is open daily from 4:30 PM until approx. 2:30 AM. PR girls arrive around 5 PM while dancers and showgirls arrive at 6:30 PM. The format has changed from the early days and today Heaven Above is a gentleman’s club with ladies dancing. The venue features a circular dance floor in the centre and large marble tables where girls can also dance. The bar claims to have one of the most comprehensive drinks lists and premium cocktail menus in town. If one of your favourite cocktails is not on their standard list then just ask and they will make it for you. All beers are a very reasonable 95 baht and lady drinks will set you back 160 baht. There is a VIP area and they can cater for parties. Later at night the tempo becomes more lively. Upstairs guest rooms are priced at 400 baht. And best of all, everything is overseen by ace manager Captain Hornbag!


Meet her at Heaven Above, Soi Boomerang, Pattaya.


A couple of weeks ago, the folks behind the closed-indefinitely Champagne Club reopened Rise next door. The idea was Rise would help soften the blow of losing Champagne as the club undergoes renovation. This week, Rise closed again. The group clearly is struggling with the low season crowds.

In Pattaya, it didn’t take long for the Thai owners of the spot where The Warehouse nightclub on Soi Buakhao was to repurpose their property after pushing out the farangs with extortionate rent hikes. This week the Matador bar group opened another open-air music bar there.

Speaking of reopenings, a Pattaya bad-boy landmark thought to have succumbed forever during Covid is said to be making a comeback. The Penthouse Hotel, whose rooms featured such amenities as gogo poles, swings and hot tubs, is undergoing a massive renovation with hopes of opening in time for high season. One female guest at a pool party there a few years back refused to get in the water, fearing she’d probably get pregnant by just swimming in it. A revamped and refurbished Penthouse Hotel will be a great addition to Pattaya’s hotel stocks. At the height of its popularity, Penthouse was a super popular, unique property – and one of those places where every eager fan of the nightlife industry should stay at least once!


The Penthouse Hotel in Soi Pattayaland is making a comeback!


There was an article in the Thai press this week about this week’s latest crackdown on foreign labour and on occupations which are restricted and can only be filled by Thai nationals. One wonders how El Gauchio Steakhouse in soi 19 manages with so many foreign service staff. I’ve no doubt it’s all legal and above board – but this is one business which stands out due to the sheer number of foreign staff. El Gauchio always reminded me of flying on Emirates Airlines where there are so many different nationalities on the staff.

It’s hard to know how things are going with the world economy and what the effect will be on Thailand and the bar industry. I was in Thailand in both 2000 and 2008 when there were economic hiccups. In 2000 when the dotcom bubble burst and the NASDAQ tumbled, there was serious stress in some expat circles, particularly amongst those guys who retired (too) early. As far as tourists went, I don’t remember a huge amount of change. 2008 was a different story. 2008 was a turning point for the bar industry. The most noticeable effect was fewer guys making multiple trips per year – and these tended to be the guys who were very keen on the bars and spent up large. There was also the loss of many who were working in the oil industry or in “security” in the Middle East who lost their jobs and stopped visiting Thailand altogether. These guys used to visit frequently and their absence was noticeable. I distinctly remember ladies who had multiple guys sending them money each month see all of those suitors dry up completely in a very short space of time. Here’s hoping that any economic downturn does not have a similar effect this year (and next?). The other side of this, of course, is that for those who do visit you have hungrier girls!


One of the bargains of living in Thailand.


Before I moved to Thailand, I used to be proud of my car, took very good care of it and really enjoyed washing it and detailing it myself. Sure, it took a good few hours but it was something I genuinely enjoyed. I still enjoy driving but these days cleaning the car feels very much like a chore. One of the things I miss from Thailand is the ridiculously low cost of getting your car washed. Back in the day when I drove in Bangkok it cost 100 – 120 baht, although you could get it done for as little as 80 baht if you hunted around. These days figure more around 150 – 180 baht for a decent clean, although I bet you can find cheaper. For that you get a team cleaning the outside, vacuuming the interior, blackening the tyres – a good clean in less than half an hour for not much more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It’s one of the many bargains of living in Thailand.

In last week’s column I commented on a conversation I had while out for dinner with a bunch of Thai women in Bangkok and their thoughts on foreign men in general. In response to some of the things they mentioned that put them off Western men, a friend asked me to put this question to readers: What qualities do you look for in a respectable Thai woman, and what, if anything, are deal-breakers? To answer this question for myself (despite being out of the dating game since 2010), a tattoo would be a deal-breaker. Also, any woman I was to date would have to be financially independent. To me, that says she has had success in work or business which bodes well for other aspects of her life. If she was not financially independent, that would be a deal-breaker for me. What about you? Let me know your thoughts and I’ll run the best responses next week.


The Apple Store becoming the new Starbucks?


Is the official Apple Store in Central World the new Starbucks? The photo above shows the Apple store last Sunday. It looks like everyone just wants to hang out. The Genius Bar was full, so that indicates more than a few people were unhappy to be there, especially after they got the bill!

Down in Pattaya, a firm favourite for clubbers for 16 years now, Club Insomnia is still drawing in crowds of tourists, expats, and regulars even as new competition rises and falls around it. Insomnia’s marketing team put out a new video this week that gives the feel of being there. “Club Insomnia is one of the true landmark clubs of Pattaya; it’s synonymous with the names Pattaya and Walking Street. 16 years in the game, it’s no fluke. Insomnia laid the groundwork for all the up and coming clubs on the strip,” says the team at ECE Pattaya that made this Insomnia video.

A new bar complex along Jomtien Second Road – in front of the Chonburi Area Revenue Office 3 – will be ready for occupancy soon. A Southern Coffee shop has already opened.


More bars coming to Jomtien.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

Quote of the week, “Bangkok has never been known for its fragrance.”

Reader’s story of the week comes from Bangkok Barry, Thai Driving Makes Life A Lottery.

Thailand expects to receive around 25 million visitors this year.

Low rainfall has seen taps run dry on Ko Samui.

A young Brit suffers terrible injuries after falling off his hotel balcony.

A New Zealander has the ignominy to mess with drugs and them complain about his so-called ‘nightmare’ stay in various Thai police stations and the Immigration Detention Centre.

Thailand again is attracting a top-flight roster of foreign concert tours, even if the prices are eye-watering.

What can be learned after the first year of cannabis being decriminalised in Thailand?


Meet her at King’s Castle II, Patpong soi 1.


Closing Comments

Why do the same old venues keep getting mentioned in this column week after week? Be they bars or restaurants, if you were to go back over columns published over the past 18 months, you would find a small number of venues get mentioned frequently and receive very good exposure, while plenty of (equally good and in many cases better) venues don’t get a single message. The best source of news from the bar industry is bar owners, bar managers and those who are paid to market bars. The bar bosses who are regularly in touch ensure their venues get great exposure. I’d love to include more news from other venues and have long encouraged bar owners and bar managers to let me know what is going on. Amazingly, some don’t even bother replying to emails I send asking them what’s happening and hence they don’t get any coverage. The funny thing is that these are the guys who then at some later point complain because they never got mentioned! There is an open invitation to bar owners to let me know what is going on in your bar. And similarly, to all readers, if your favourite venue is not getting any exposure and you’d like to see it mentioned, tell the boss to get in touch. To be clear, I’m not talking about paid advertising and we are not looking to hook you as an advertiser. We simply would like to provide free exposure to any bars who would like to get word out about what is going on. Get in touch!


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

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