Stickman Weekly, August 20, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken of the entrance of what was Livingstone’s, the once popular restaurant / bar / boutique hotel on Sukhumvit soi 33 that has since remained vacant, been neglected and fallen in to decay. Another photo of the property appears in the news section.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Visa rules and keeping the crooks out.
On the money in the bank requirements, if visa brokers can fraud up bank account info for 800,000 baht, they can do it for 1.2 million baht. Frankly, I’d like to see the Thai cops asking for proof of visa / residency. Yeah, a lot of folks would bitch but IF, a mighty big IF, the cops were bribe-proof then catching anyone here illegally would mean a trip to the hoosegow, thrown into immigration detention and eventual deportation and blacklisting which I assume would include a 10-print in the system that would catch anyone sliding back in on a new passport / new name. They did do a strike force down Sukhumvit years ago targeting Africans. I seem to recall they nabbed about 150 and after “going back to hotels / apartments” to check people’s visa, the cops claimed all but a handful were good to go. I don’t know about that…
Tits an affront to American morality.
While Thai visa rules are bureaucratic and cumbersome, I heard a story about the USA that I didn’t think was possibly true. One of my friends is a very attractive, young, Caucasian woman (yes, they exist). She was recently turned down for a US visa. It seems that there’s an AI system that scans passport photos and compares them to a database of faces. She was turned down because of a threat to ‘moral turpitude’. That was down to the fact that she once worked on OnlyFans. She had a profile with some topless shots – nothing that would be considered explicit. But that was enough to get a 10-year ban from USA. I thought that couldn’t be true, but Google has a bunch of stories. Since she’s never been arrested let alone convicted of a crime, she’s more than shocked and disappointed.
Red flag in the Immigration system.
Regarding passports and being stopped at Passport Control, I remember a story on the internet from a few years ago. It may have been on the now closed Lonely Planet Thorn Tree. A young British woman complained that every time she arrived in Thailand, the computer threw up a red flag. Apparently, she was a frequent visitor to Bangkok as her father was posted there. She had once lost her passport in Bangkok and had it replaced there. These events created a permanent red flag at Thai Immigration.
I understand the reasoning behind making health insurance compulsory. Thailand is not a rich country and can’t afford to pay the hospital bills of uninsured tourists and retirees. However, there comes an age (usually 70) when insurance companies stop insuring people. My Dad is 80 and fortunately he’s still in great health. But he can’t get accepted by any insurance company.
More Readers Emails
Recently there were two days of bar closures due to Buddhist holidays. On those 2 nights, the entire line-up of ladies form the Thermae was in front of the Thermae cafe on the street. Bangkok has never seen such an exquisite and well-dressed line-up of streetwalkers. But, of course, they only had eyes for the Japanese / Korean passers-by.
Indians spotted doing the rounds in a bar.
Indians have been mentioned in your column a few times in relation to the bar industry. I have not seen any Indians denied entry, but I have seen staff less than friendly to people from the sub-continent. On the other side, I have seen a group of 5 or 6 Indian men enter a gogo bar where two sat down and ordered drinks while the rest went straight to the restroom. The men came out of the restroom and didn’t order drinks. After some discussion with staff they all left. In a different gogo bar, a group of five men came in, two holding beers (purchased at the outside section of the bar (?), never sat down and just walked around the stage, talking to and grabbing girls on stage (without tipping them). They walked around the stage then stood by the entrance. They did this five times before they left after a discussion with the staff. I do not think either side of this situation is making things any better.
Billboard, Butterflies and Angelwitch.
I understand that Butterflies seems to be more popular than Billboard <Both bars do extremely well, but Billboard does even better than Butterflies – Stick>, but I much prefer Billboard. While both show sports, the arrangement is much better at Billboard. I like to go there to have a drink, watch sports, and enjoy the atmosphere. I understand that I am probably not the target of their business model, but the staff have always been fantastic to me. Watching sports there is also how I got to meet one of the owners. A waitress told me that I am not the only one that goes there to watch sports. For me, it is not the line-up on stage that draws me to a bar. The staff (non-dancing) and atmosphere are key. In Billboard and Butterflies I have never seen staff on their cellphones. I go in and the staff who recognize me make an effort to greet me. I am not bothered for drinks and the staff smile, and sometimes make small talk. It is relaxing and really nice. Angelwitch seems to be moving in the right direction and getting back to the music and atmosphere from years back. I went in to check it out a couple of weeks ago and as I was leaving, I spoke with the new manager. He recommended another gogo that was having a special event that night. That is good customer relations and due to that exchange I will make an effort to grab a beer or two at Angelwitch the next time I make the rounds.
Face trumps money.
Face is arguably the most important thing in life to a Thai, even more so than money. Make a person lose face and it could and sometimes does get you killed. But it’s not only a Thai thing, more Asian. My first experience of it, although I didn’t at the time recognise it for what it was, came in Hong Kong when I went to an Aussie bar / restaurant and ordered chicken wings. I waited and waited, and eventually called a member of staff over. He went in search of the waitress – who had hidden in the kitchen as they’d run out and she would lose face by telling me. Of course, she lost even more face by acting like a five-year-old, but they never think of that.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
Is the soi 7 Biergarten about to make a comeback of sorts? The former operator of the Biergarten wants another shot in the business. Apparently, he is keen to rent a small space that will be built in the space between what was the Biergarten and the adjacent Center Point 7 (AKA the soi 7 beer bar complex). Or he might rent part of what was the Biergarten which is going to be divided up in to smaller spaces with multiple leases offered. What this new venue, if it even happens, will be called (the mini Biergarten?) is unknown.
Another weed shop has opened on Soi Cowboy. Kanna Pure is located towards the Asoke end of the soi, and next door to Déjà Vu. In last week’s column, I wrote that Walking Street in Pattaya had almost as many weed shops as gogo bars. Could things go that way on Soi Cowboy? No, there is little chance of that happening.
Word is that from the start of next month, bars in Soi Nana which are, shall we say, with the program, will be able to stay open until 3 AM.
The biggest gogo bar party of the year – the Billboard 8th Anniversary – is just 3 weeks away and is shaping up as another epic night. Posters and promotions began rolling out this week for the September 9 extravaganza which undoubtedly will be standing room-only again. More than 100 sexy Thai ladies will be on hand for the second Billboard Babe of the Year pageant, where the winner will take home 25,000 baht. The first 100 guests receive a free gift and there will be a free buffet. The centre section of Billboard will be roped off with a limited number of VIP seats available to those pre-booking a two-bottle VIP package. More details will be released as the date gets closer, but you can keep up with the plans on the Billboard’s Facebook page and its website.
Before Covid, Billboard’s sister bar, Butterflies, had really emerged as one of the best gogo bars in Thailand in its own right. It’s two large stages and over-sized Jacuzzi had 140 ladies bouncing around, plus a selection of hot hostesses. While Billboard has had 100 ladies on weekends for months now, Butterflies has taken longer to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. But, on Friday night, there were 115 women in the house at Butterflies and the bar was said to be hopping.
It was confirmed that Whiskey & Gogo in Nana Plaza was sold just as last week’s column went to press. The buyers are a couple of Spaniards who reportedly speak very little English. That should make for an interesting challenge running a gogo bar. An English-speaking manager will be brought in. While Whiskey was still open on Friday night, it’s expected to close for at least a month for renovations and a name change.
Upstairs from Whiskey, above former sister bar Tycoon A Gogo, Lace Lounge is taking shape….slowly. The bar, which will be located in the space that once was the Erotica Karaoke Bar – yes, Nana actually had karaoke for a (very) short time about a decade ago – has been in planning and under minor construction for months. Work is supposed to begin in earnest very soon with an October deadline set for completion. Lace, a small venue, will not be a conventional gogo bar but more a dark, cosy lounge where customers can take ladies from Tycoon (and other bars) and relax with only one or two girls dancing on a small stage.
This past week three readers sent emails with very positive comments about Long Gun in Soi Cowboy. Contrast these emails with my visit to Long Gun when I was in town several weeks back. Long Gun was not great when I was there, far from it! It just goes to show how fast bars can change and how different people can have a very different impression of the same bar. Of course, there are nights when a bar is “off”, when perhaps the A team didn’t show up to work and are recovering from the night before.
Sad news at Geisha in Nana Plaza this week as staff and dancers mourned the sudden loss of the bar’s #1 mamasan. She was, let’s say, a well-rounded lady. Heart failure with contributions from other health problems was said to be the cause of death.
From the gogo bar boss files this week, the question has to be asked: who’d want to be a bar boss? As one of my favourite bar bosses said to me with his usual candour, customers complain a lot these days. He feels like the bar either gets customers who come in, spend a lot of money and say nothing, while others come in, spend little and then just want to complain – with little in-between. What makes it worse is the stupid shit (his words, not mine) that some customers complain about, such as one fellow this week who bought 6 Tequilas for a girl and then complained that she was drunk. You couldn’t make this stuff up!
Another thing the same bar boss mentioned this week is customers attempting to do a runner after enjoying their drinks, and trying to get away without paying. This has happened in his bar 4 times this month so far. You do read a few reports in the Pattaya press about this sort of thing happening down there – and it seldom ends well – but in fairness I’ve heard few reports of this happening in Bangkok over the years. A reminder to anyone thinking about doing a runner, you are stealing money from the waitress who served you as in most bars, she is responsible for the bill being paid. If it is not paid, the bill is deducted from her wages. You wouldn’t steal money from a waitress, would you?!
The renovations at Spankys are all done and the new shower has been installed and is now in operation. Spanky’s has had a bunch of new girls arrive over the past two weeks so do drop by if you’re in the plaza.
Proving that truth really can be stranger than fiction, a Thai lady described as fat is doing the freelancer thing on Soi Nana – and she is doing great business. She puts on a hijab (Muslim head-wear) and poses as a Muslim when in fact she is Buddhist. She is being taken by guys all the time. What is unclear, however, is whether they are Muslim or perhaps non-Muslims keen for a taste.
Can’t find your favourite sweety in Soi Nana beer bar Stumble Inn? Wander a bit further down the soi to Bunnies and you might just find her there. A bunch of girls left Stumble Inn to work in Bunnies.
How much does fun play into a gogo girl’s decision to work in a particular bar? Don’t go thinking that gogo dancers are all mercenary, and only motivated by money. Plenty of women have left what is arguably the best gogo bar in Bangkok, Billboard, to work in other gogo bars despite Billboard being busy every night. This past week five gal pals at a middle-floor Nana bar packed up and moved to Spanky’s. Asked why, one said Spanky’s was more fun. And, she noted, the other bar has been very slow lately.
Some of you pointed out that I had mis-spelt “hilarious” in last week’s column as hillaryous. Spelling it that way was quite deliberate and was included in a paragraph about a bunch of Soi Nana beer bars where staff had yet to be paid for the previous month. It can be confirmed that staff in that chain of bars were paid the next day. The girls were rightfully complaining about being paid late with families upcountry waiting for their monthly stipend and some ladies facing late-payment penalties on their monthly rent.
Charley Brown’s Mexicana restaurant is doing a pop-up at Smalls in Suan Plu, tonight at 7:00 PM. I’ve never made it to Smalls myself, but have heard very good things. Tonight would be a good time to visit. If only I wasn’t 10,000 km away, I’d stop by.
That food court in back-soi part of Sukhumvit soi 6 where Zippbike has its warehouse is being transformed into an Aussie-themed pub called The Lost Aussie. It is hoped that it will open in time for the Rugby World Cup so Aussies will have a venue to cheer their team on.
The rumour mill went in to overdrive last week about a popular Pattaya bar boss who was said to have been paid a visit by Immigration due to visa and work permit irregularities. I like the fellow concerned and dropped him an email to check that he was ok. My email was the first he had heard of being arrested. Not true, he told me, all was well and life was good. Bitchiness and jealousy which sees some tipping off the authorities over someone’s work permit and visa status is one of the really sad things about the bar biz in Pattaya.
A bar boss tells me that when it comes to the sexiest ladies on Walking Street, you need a bit of game these days. Whatever happened to the days when getting to know the most attractive ladies on Walking Street required nothing more than a full wallet?
Over the past couple of weeks the mainstream media has reported that a couple of Russians have fallen to their death from condos, joining the so-called Pattaya Flying Club (although with that said, neither was actually in Pattaya). The flying club had been quiet for years. What’s going on with Russians leaping (or falling / being pushed?) to their death?
Last week’s mystery photo showed the entrance to what was once Livingstone’s, the property on Sukhumvit soi 33 which used to have a boutique hotel, restaurant, hostess bar and pool on the premises. Livingstone’s was once very much on the naughty boys’ map, both as a place to stay and a place to party. Livingstone’s closed 10 years ago and was taken over by a Frenchman. For a short time it was known as Ocean but it didn’t last very long at all. The large plot has been unoccupied for the best part of a decade and has fallen in to a state of disrepair. We can reminisce about the days when soi 33 had many vibrant hostess bars but as the years pass by, that is rather a long time ago. Even before the global economic crisis hit in 2008, soi 33’s glory days were behind it. The hostess bars concept had largely fallen out of favour and the most popular bar for some years, The Office, was more of a sports bar than a hostess bar. Why has the space that was Livingstone’s remained vacant for so long when the rent used to be a very reasonable 350,000 baht / month? OK, so that is going back 10+ years but it is a very, very large plot which offers all sorts of possibilities. With land values and rents having soared over the past decade, one imagines it would go for more like a million baht / month these days. Why have there been no takers?
Thais are getting bigger. The days when you would hardly see a fat Thai are long gone. For those who like someone on the skinnier side, get yourself along to B52 where you’ll find many slim lovelies as per the photo below. You might just find what you’re looking for. Not my style, but it might be yours.
What is the back story to the bust of the Absolute Angels escort website this week? Just why this website was targeted, no-one is quite sure. Absolute Angels had been one of the bigger, more successful escort websites, and had been operating for almost a decade. But why target this website, and only this website? From the amount of assets and money seized (well in excess of a million US dollars) it sounds like the owners were very good at what they did. There are many escort websites operating in Thailand, to say nothing of all the Thai ladies who promote personal services in the Thai language to a Thai audience. The article infers that ever since members of the Outlaws gang were arrested some weeks back, the Thai police have been looking at other farang criminals operating businesses in Thailand. But that still doesn’t answer the question as to why this particular website was targeted. There have been comments that some of the ladies working on the website may have ripped off customers who then made a police complaint, bringing the website to the police’s attention who then decided to take a closer look. A statement was made by the authorities about how such sites harm Thailand’s reputation abroad which is complete and utter nonsense.
Many of us have taken photos of the tangled power and phone cables that are a feature of so many roads in Thailand. If you have yet to get that iconic souvenir photo, be quick. The MEA (Metropolitan Electricity Authority) is busy tidying things up and these crazy tangled wires won’t be around forever. Sukhumvit sois 3 and 4 have had all the ugly cables hidden underground. On other sois, the tangled spiderwebs of hundreds of cables have been tidied up into a small number of cables. Currently they are cleaning up sois 13, 15 and 19.
And it’s not just wiring that is being tidied up. It looks like a general cleaning up of lower Sukhumvit is a priority with soi 11 recently stripped of vendors – not just food vendors but weed vans too.
Grisbi on Sukhumvit soi 24 is a popular eatery run by a Frenchman. The restaurant has a promotion with unlimited drinks every Wednesday. The price is 990++ baht which gets you 2 hours of local bottled beers, selected wines and cocktails. A good deal for those who drink a lot, fast.
I made mention in a recent column about how the prices for the Elite Card are about to be hiked. The card allows you to come and go from Thailand as you please without having to apply for a visa. Think of it as a 5-, 10- or 20-year visa (there are different Elite Card packages) that you pay a pretty penny for. While some have told me that the hiking of fees (rumoured to be 50% or more) is an own goal by the Thai government and will result in fewer people signing up for the Elite Card, I strongly disagree. Price hikes will make little or, more likely, no difference to those who buy the Elite Card. For the most part, those with an Elite Card are either reasonably well off, or crooks with plenty of money. A hike in the price of the Elite Card will have very little effect on either of these groups. The number of Elite Cards which have been sold in recent years has soared. It is particularly popular with Chinese and Russians.
A funny photo taken in the Patpong area was tweeted from a Japanese account that made me chuckle. Like puppies waiting to be fed, a gaggle of girls from a Soi Thaniya karaoke bar surround an Asian man at an ATM where, one presumes, he had to go and withdraw cash to pay one of the crazy high bills the soi is known for. Similar photos of old white guys accompanied to ATMs by scantily-clad Soi 6 girls in Pattaya have circulated for years, so it’s nice to see Japanese guys get the same treatment!
Some Americans tell me that Internet speeds in Thailand are terrible compared to back home whereas Thais I know who go to America tell me the very opposite – that Internet connections in America are often terrible, compared to what they have in Thailand. My experience is that Internet speeds in Thailand are great, be it fibre connections, or mobile connections.
A reader sent the photo below that he took of what he described as “these jet engine looking things” at a skytrain station. He is not sure what they are. My initial thoughts were perhaps the housing for a long lens for surveillance cameras although that is very unlikely. Do you know what they are?
Thailand-Related News Articles
If you’re interested in nightlife on the Thailand / Malaysia border, check this video out.
A Russian falls to her death from the 7th floor of a condo in Sattahip.
A German man sets fire to his house after his Thai wife disappears.
In Bali, the authorities confiscate and destroy dozens of sex toys taken from horny travellers.
The American husband and Thai wife owners of a long-running Thailand-based escort site were busted this week.
In a land of beautiful women, even the road sweepers are attractive in Thailand.
I mentioned Internet connections earlier in the column, and highlighted how Americans in Thailand and Thais in America have quite different ideas about how good the internet connections are in each country. I mentioned this because we lost our internet connection at home this week and it caused me to reflect on how totally dependent we are not just on having a net connection, but having a really good, fast connection. The router popped its clogs and for a couple of days we were reliant on setting up a hot spot from a mobile phone. 5G has yet to be rolled out in this part of the country and I am not sure we will get it this year, or even next. In fact here in New Zealand, 5G is only found in a few areas in a few major cities and that’s it. Ultra-fast fibre is everywhere and is fantastic, but mobile Internet is limited to 4G in most of the country. Compare that to Thailand where 5G has been rolled out in most urban centres. Internet connections in Thailand used to be really ropey but that’s the distant past and these days, internet connectivity in most of Thailand is fantastic. I know a lot of people complain about all manner of things in Thailand but the country really has made massive strides over the past couple of decades. In some areas where it used to lag hopelessly behind, Thailand has surged ahead. Internet connectivity is one such area.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : email@example.com