Stickman Weekly 17 September, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken from the pedestrian walkway above the Patumwan intersection (MBK / Siam Square) looking north up Phyathai Road towards the Hua Chang Bridge. Just 5 of you got it right. I thought it wasn’t that difficult but then perhaps that is because I lived a stone’s throw from that bridge for many years and am familiar with the area. Maybe this week’s will be easier?
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Billboard anniversary party money scramble.
I was at the Billboard party. The tray of 20 baht notes was the tip money. I think your friend misunderstood what happened. Each time a stack is thrown in the air, the owners fan out the 20s and then show the girls there are 3 or 4 1,000 baht notes added to the pile. That’s when they girls go crazy… They’re grabbing at the 20s. But if they’re lucky they’ll find the 1,000s. It was an unbelievable night. So many girls, all dressed up beautifully. The atmosphere was ridiculous.
Thoughts from a night out in Patpong.
I went to 3 Patpong bars last night – King’s 2, Kings Castle and Pink Panther. I would describe them as modestly busy. The customers were mostly Asian with only a smattering of farangs. The main difference between Patpong and Nana / Cowboy is that girls far outnumber customers and the ladies of Patpong try a lot harder for customers’ attention. The girls I liaised with were somewhat softer and sweeter than their counterparts in Nana. Girls in some Sukhumvit bars can be quite hard-nosed and mercenary whereas I get the impression that girls in Patpong still offer the “girlfriend experience”. Just my impressions from a brief excursion last night.
The recent so-called demise of Patpong is a blessing in disguise. It is now off the radar for the usual suspect crowd from Nana and Cowboy and has a feel of the early ’90s again. Please keep talking it down. A mention of the new highly infectious hybrid Ebola / Covid strain that is infesting the bars there would be great, please!
Where the 24-hour gogo bars are.
One of the biggest differences between Angeles City and anywhere in Thailand is that Angeles City is 24/7. If you only want to drink beer and sleep with bargirls, you are better off in Angeles City than anywhere in Thailand, or possibly anywhere in the world. It is just after 10:30 AM and I have come out for breakfast. I have walked past SEVEN gogo bars that are already open. And I mean proper gogo bars, not beer bars. And not only have they been open long enough for people to go in to them, they have been open long enough for people to be leaving them with a lady for, what, in Thailand, would be called, a daylight walk of shame. Of course the walk of shame doesn’t exist in Angeles City as everyone is here for one thing. It seems that the Koreans are more likely to barfine early rather than Westerners. I actually saw a Korean leaving with his barfined lady at 7 AM, but whether that was an early barfine or a late barfine, I have no idea! The bar he came out of was Angel Witch, a famous bar, named, I believe, after an old Nana Plaza bar. Angel Witch is open 24/7 every day of the year. I bet some Bangkok gogo bar owners wish they could do that! <A few years back some Bangkok gogo bars tried opening up in the afternoon and there simply wasn’t the demand with very few customers so they reverted back to opening after dark – Stick>
More Readers’ Emails
Not everyone likes sport being shown in bars.
If a bar had live sport, I would rather avoid it. Many years ago, I had the misfortune of going to a disco during a football event. I wondered about the low number of customers, and then I saw a screen showing the match.
No YouTube plans.
If it works, don’t fix it! Don’t take any notice of YouTube. Stickman has worked all these years without much change. I hope you carry on in the New Year.
Blogging still effective.
I wholeheartedly concur with you about keeping the column to a blog format. YouTube has certain strengths, but so does “print”, and blogs are by no means dead. They are far superior for conveying information and sharing photographs than a video could ever be. Plus they have the advantage of offering the reader the ability to read and absorb at their own pace – a lot of people can quickly skim through the written word, something impossible to do with video.
More pay in advance requests.
I spent 5 days in Bangkok, staying at Majestic Suites for 3, and Miami Hotel for 2. I had a wonderful time, except for one instance. 3 nights hanging out at Nana, I visited all the usual suspects, barfined and took a lady back to my hotel, S.O.P, all good. A mate was hell-bent on going to Patpong. Why? I don’t know. Anyway long story short, I saw a lovely lady in King’s Castle 2. Barfine? Mamasan comes over. Yes, darling, 1,000 for barfine, 3,000 baht short time, but you must pay it all now before leaving the bar. Mamasan, are you ting-tong? What planet do you live on where you think I’m going to pay in advance? They looked at me like I was crazy.
Drug dealers out of control on Sukhumvit.
From the soi 7 overpass to soi 11, it was Drug Dealer Alley tonight. Really bad. Why are they asking me what’s up? I just wanted to yell back, How many of you does it take to sell cocaine, ice and meth?! I kept my cool and walked the gauntlet.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
A new gogo bar opened last weekend on Soi Cowboy, but don’t go getting too excited. The notorious shady man of Soi Cowboy who I have long referred to as “The Arab” has opened his first new bar in a long time, Venus. Cowboy’s newest chrome pole venue features his signature flashy façade in half the space that once was Rawhide. Anyone with even a smidgen of knowledge about Spice Girls, Rio, Déjà Vu and Midnite knows that there are reasons I have put all of these bars on the don’t visit list for as long as I can remember. You can now add Venus to that list. The interior has been described as flash, but features only one or two women dancing at a time in what is par for The Arab’s bars. All the hot ladies are outside to entice punters inside. After leading the punter inside, taking his order and bringing his drink, she disappears back outside, never to be seen by him again. But it gets worse, much worse. Drinks prices are sky-high. There is not a single drink on the menu starting with the numeral “1”; Heineken, San Miguel Light and Asahi will set you back 260 baht a bottle. Lady drinks are 300 baht. The best thing about Venus is its frontage. There’s no need to venture inside.
In recent weeks I have commented about construction taking place at the space at the back of the Nana Hotel car park, below the pool. This is where Strikers used to be. This past week three of you very helpfully tipped me off about what it is going to be. The first fellow is someone I know and trust. He said that it will be a club from the guys behind Weed Hub who say they have invested in the space. The next email came from someone I have known for over 20 years who I would describe as very reliable. He has heard that it is going to be an Indian restaurant and bar. The third came from a long-time reader, someone I neither know nor have ever met but whose emails show he is on the ball. He says that he was told by staff at the Nana Hotel that it is going to be a disco and will open in December. Three different people, three different reports – or perhaps they’re all right. This demonstrates how tricky it can be for me trying to stay on top of what is going on when I am not on the ground in Bangkok.
One very clear trend that has emerged in recent months is requesting that the barfine and the lady’s fee is paid in the bar, before leaving the premises. Sometimes it is requested by the mamasan, and sometimes this request is made by the lady herself. This is happening more than ever before, admittedly across a small number of bars – but there have been reports of it happening in all three major bar areas. And you know it’s becoming more entrenched with reports that some ladies now outright refuse to leave the bar with the punter unless the entire fee is paid in advance. Anyone with experience in the bars will tell you that this is not a good idea. Case in point was an email in last week’s column where a reader barfined a lady and took her around the corner to a short-time hotel where they would discover there was a queue waiting for rooms to become available. There were several couples waiting, it was late and he abandoned the mission and went home alone. There have been a number of reports of requests for the entire fee being paid up front in some of the big Walking Street bars too. Whether this practice will take hold in more bars and become the norm, I don’t know. I would not be surprised if things slowly move in that direction.
Of course, one could ask the question why this is such a big deal when this is exactly what happens if you go to any of the big Thai-style bathhouses. You select your lady, you pay your money, you go to the room and the business is done. The big difference is that those places have clear standards that are explained to you and upheld i.e. 60 / 90 / 120 minutes in the room. Any problems and you can go back downstairs and explain what went wrong. That’s not the case with gogo ladies who are independent operators and what they do is separate from the bar – although some of the errant Thai bar owners may not seem to see it that way.
Down in Pattaya, Pulse on Soi LK Metro has reopened as Minx.
Captain Hornbag is proving to be very popular at Heaven Above in Soi Boomerang which some say stands out from other venues of this type. Heaven Above has been described as a non-pushy gentleman’s club.
It’s the rainy season and for the next several weeks, expect it to rain more days than not. Bar owners know this and some ask Buddha that rain doesn’t fall on a Friday or Saturday, the two busy nights of the week. Buddha didn’t listen last weekend and Saturday saw heavy rain kill trade in many bars. But not at Billboard. It was the much-hyped 8th Anniversary Party for what is generally regarded as Bangkok’s best gogo bar and punters flocked to the bar. Billboard was two-thirds full 15 minutes after its 8 PM opening and it was standing room only by 9:00 PM. There was no water in the Jacuzzi and no showing as this was the night of the 2023 Billboard Babe of the Year pageant with ladies done out in their choice of hot pink lingerie, bras, bikinis and bustiers. There were plenty of feathered headdresses, sequined make-up and pink fishnets as the ladies went all out to win the 40,000 baht in prize money up for grabs. The three-round contest began with a procession of all 100 Billboard Babes and the crowd voted on paper. But the next two rounds were decided by shouting …. screaming, really. A decibel meter on the wall showed everyone who got the loudest screams. For reference, the music in Billboard is never over 100 dB. Shouts for the winner – #89 Dream – hit 124 dB. She took home 25,000 baht and the crown. Runner-up was Ploy, #55, who also finished second last year. She won 10,000 baht. The second runner-up Ann, #224, won 5,000 baht.
The report earlier in the column about The Arab’s newest bar, Venus, should not be taken as a trend of where the industry is going. The Arab has always been an outlier with a lot of suspicion surrounding the man and his reasons for buying up the soi. My main man on Soi Cowboy refuses to go in to The Arab’s bars so I had no idea what the prices were for drinks in his bars these days. I would assume that 260 baht beers and 300 baht lady drinks are the standard prices across all of his bars as he always had uniform pricing in the past and I don’t imagine that has changed. It was several years ago when I recall The Arab was the first to breach the 200 baht psychological barrier for standard drinks. Even today, most Bangkok gogo bars are still below 200 baht – although many are knocking on the door. I would not be surprised if more bars increase prices come high season. But 260 baht customer drinks and 300 baht for a lady drink? That’s steep!
As Nana Plaza tenants transform their defunct on-site hotels into gogo bars, news has emerged that hotels might return to the plaza. A knowledgeable source close to both the plaza and Lumpini District police said on Friday that the hotel reopenings could happen “soon” but gave no more details why. That development, though, certainly has a few tenants pulling their hair out as, after being told in April that hotels were done in the plaza forever, they recently began renovating those spaces. In one case, the tenant actually sold the hotel to major tenant Tee, who is making it into a 3-storey gogo / pool / music bar. And, in the case of the very nicely done out hotel that was next to Butterflies, the space has been gutted, with all the walls separating rooms removed with plans to open it as a small gogo bar.
Not all is lost, though: While the lobby of the hotel above Tycoon will become Lace Lounge next month, the upper-floor rooms remain. The same with Tee’s spot, as renovation has only begun in earnest on the ground floor. Upper floors still have rooms.
21 years ago this week, Shark Club opened on Soi Cowboy, which, following the openings of Baccara, Suzie Wong and Dollhouse, transformed the once dark side-street into the Neon Alley we know today. And on Friday, September. 22, Shark will celebrate its 21st birthday with a big party and barbecue. Roast pork and free som tam will be available while all drinks will be 95 baht until 9:30 PM. Draft beer will be 95 baht all night. Happy hour starts at 5:00 on the patio. Yep, the patio is still there!
Bourbon Street celebrated its 37th anniversary this past week. It’s amazing to think that it’s still going after all of these years, especially when you consider how much competition there is these days with farang food eateries seemingly opening every week (actually, it’s probably more like every day). I never made it to Bourbon Street this past visit as I vowed to try new places and refrain from visiting too many of my old haunts. Friends tell me that Bourbon Street is as reliable as ever. That – along with the old Tuesday night Mexican buffet – was what I liked about Bourbon Street. Standards were maintained and it was utterly consistent.
The same cannot be said about quite a few eateries along Sukhumvit Road where consistency is not a strong point. Great one visit, terrible the next. That’s what a friend told me happened to him at Bully’s. We met there for dinner earlier this year and that night he declared the ribs to be the best he’d ever had. This week he sent an email to say that he had stopped by and the ribs were inedible. Fortunately, Bully’s took his complaint seriously and were quite happy to remove the item from the bill without any fuss, something that doesn’t always happen in restaurants in Thailand.
I always pay my bills on time. Actually, I do better than that. The moment a bill comes in, I pay it. I like to clear all my bills quickly and not have any pending. Unfortunately, I don’t get a discount for paying my bills as can be the case with some things in Thailand. Down in Phuket, you are offered a whopping 50% discount if you pay your bill on the spot. You even get priority processing and can pay in the comfort of a private, air-conditioned space. This 50% discount is offered by the friendly constabulary in central Patpong Beach, Phuket, in front of the Taipan Hotel. This is a popular spot for a police checkpoint where foreigners riding motorbikes are stopped with checks made that they are wearing a helmet and have an international driver’s licence. Foreigners driving a car are also stopped in the same place for a licence check. If you are willing to pay on the spot, you can do so in the privacy of the nearby police box where you will be given a 50% discount for prompt payment. Unfortunately no credit card machine has been installed so you’ll have to pay by cash. Word is that the officers are still waiting for a receipt book.
The impression Thais have of foreigners living in the country has gone through various phases over the years. When I first arrived in Bangkok, I think we – meaning white men (there were few white women about back then) were a bit of a novelty. They didn’t know quite what to make of us and they were confused by the fact that most of us had more money than the average Thai, yet we could be rather uncouth in our public behaviour. As more foreigners visited and relocated to the country, Thais had more exposure to us and I think we became to be more accepted, generally. Never one of them – even if we had lived there for decades and spoke the language fluently – but certainly accepted. It does seem that in recent times, foreigners have been featuring in the news for all the wrong reasons. Most recently, call centre scams have been big news in Thailand with many Thais caught out, some losing large sums of money. Fortunately, it isn’t white guys behind these scams but more often than not Chinese who are working with Thais. More and more, there are reports in the mainstream news of Chinese criminals living in Thailand who are up to all manner of no good. The net effect is that the focus has shifted away from white guys living in Thailand and on to Chinese.
Thailand-Related News Articles
Thaksin Shinawatra’s luxurious prison stay is being reported all around the world.
An Italian in Phuket is robbed by an MMA champion and his twin brother with millions of baht in valuables taken.
The question has to be asked: Is this the worst article ever published about Soi Cowboy? I think we can all guess who – or rather *what* – wrote this!
The rainy season is a funny time of year around the bar areas. For those brave enough to venture out in to the night, there can be rich pickings with fewer punters and hungry ladies. But some nights there may not be all that many ladies as they, just like the punters, might find it too difficult to get to work if rain is pelting down late afternoon / early evening making it just too difficult to get to work. September is usually the second wettest month of the year (after October) and this is a prime reason why it’s one of the quieter months for tourist numbers. And that is reflected in this week’s column which is shorter than usual. There has been less to report on. Try as I might, I had little luck digging up news or gossip from the bar industry this week. There weren’t even many interesting Thailand news stories in the mainstream media to link to this week. Fingers crossed there’s more to write about next week.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : email@example.com