Stickman Weekly, September 10, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken inside the Biergarten after the wrecking ball had been through. A sorry sight, many of you commented. This week’s shot is somewhere in downtown Bangkok. I know it looks a bit obscure but it’s not actually that hard – or so I think!
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
The Soi Cowboy patio fiasco.
Surely with the supposed plan to make changes in Soi Cowboy, it depends on who actually owns the space where the patios are now. Or it would in most countries. Those patios were introduced to give smokers a place to sit after smoking inside was banned. If the bars have taken over what is public space, as so many businesses in Bangkok do, blocking the right of way, then the bar owners haven’t got a leg to stand on. If that area is legal frontage to the business, then compensation would be payable. In most countries.
Barfine paid, didn’t get laid.
Biergarten penultimate night.
I visited the Biergarten on the night before their final night. I just took it all in and enjoyed the atmosphere one last time. I talked to one of the ladies who has been there for 10+ years. She didn’t know what she was going to do next. I felt bad for her. She thought her best chance would be to go next door to the beer complex. Honestly, she wouldn’t fare too well there, as the girls there are considerably younger. Let’s hope the Biergarten lives on in some other form in the future!
Where the old boys are.
I have discovered where all the old punters went. They are in Phnom Penh, having a great time. Mostly in their 60s and 70s. All nationalities. No gogo bars, just beer bars with a pool table, and lots of friendly ladies. Some dance bars with live music.
More Readers’ Emails
Feeling like you’ve won the lottery.
Having seen the new rates for Thailand Elite visas, I feel like I won the lottery last year. I originally got the 5-year Elite Visa back in 2016 when it was priced at 500K baht. Due to Covid, all Elite Card holders got an extra 6 months for free. Fast-forward to last year, I wrote Thailand Elite to prepare for a new 20-year visa which was priced at 1 million baht. They said wouldn’t you rather upgrade your current 5-year to 20 years and pay the difference of 500K baht, thus getting another 15 years? Oh, yes I would! So I got 15 years for 500K baht which expires in 2037!
A diet of bread and McDonald’s.
As for your food poisoning experience, it happened to me in 1989, my second trip. I was very, very sick. I spent two days in hospital and then stayed away from Thailand for 3 years. After that, I ate a lot of bread in my hotel room and ate in McDonald’s for the next 30 visits. In the bars, I only wanted bottles and brought my own clean glass, which caused them to remember me 30 years later in many bars. Not really fun but I didn’t get sick anymore.
Thai police struggle with African English.
The African gentlemen who spend money to fly thousands of miles from their homes to Thailand to spend their holidays standing on the street are still out in force. I remember in previous columns you have stated (correctly) that they are drug dealers. You posed the question “Why, as drug dealing is a serious offence, don’t the police, who are often found a few feet away, do something about it?” You then said “I think we can all guess the answer to that one.” To be honest, as with your mystery photos, the answer eluded me….until tonight. It must be because the Thai police don’t speak English that they don’t understand when one of the aforementioned African gentlemen asks passers-by if they want to buy any drugs. Either they don’t speak English or the Africans’ accent is so strong they don’t understand what is being said. I assume that’s what you meant when you said we can guess why the police don’t do anything about it.
Everyone leaving at the same time.
I don’t know if you’re publishing the column during the Rugby World Cup or taking a break <Unfortunately, I was not picked to play in the All Blacks so I will write the column each week as per usual – Stick>. You probably don’t need to publish a column next Sunday as no-one is in Bangkok. I know this for a fact as they all left with me yesterday (Sunday). I’m only half-joking! As you know, at Bangkok Airport you check in and deposit your bags and collect your boarding pass or, if you’re like me and only have hand luggage, you check in at the machines in the terminal and collect your boarding pass. Either way, you move up the escalator to security to go through the X-ray machines that check you and your hand luggage. After you pass through security, you go along a corridor, down another escalator, into the area where you join the queue to be stamped out by Immigration. The queue to have your passport stamped for departure began at the bottom of the escalator just after you had checked in. There must have been – and I’m not exaggerating – thousands in the queue. Bearing in mind it is always much faster to leave a country than to arrive, I can say that I have never seen an airport busier for departures.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
Last week I reported that the Museum Of Patpong was toast. The innards had been stripped with the efficiency of a pride of lions devouring every last morsel from their prey. But word is that the Museum of Patpong refuses to die. One person involved with the company behind the museum says that we have it wrong and it is not goodbye. According to him, the museum is merely moving. Moving to where, and when will it reopen? In the absence of answers to those questions, it sure feels like it’s game over. But he insists it will reopen. We cling to hope that there is truth to this.
There has been no more word this week on the widening of Soi Cowboy. What I have been trying to find out to understand the situation better is just who owns Soi Cowboy. Is it a public thoroughfare or is it private land? I had always been led to believe it was private – which would make sense given how it is blocked off at night. At the same time, there are police cameras installed along the soi which suggests it’s public. Finding out who owns the soi should be easy but in Thailand, it isn’t. Questions to a number of people about ownership this week all came back blank.
What I will say is that whatever does happen to Soi Cowboy, let’s hope it happens soon and any work is completed quickly. High season is not that far away and it would be a disaster for the soi if it is being worked on over the busy December to February period. The last thing anyone wants is for Soi Cowboy to end up like Pattaya’s Beach Road which seems to get ripped up every few years and is seemingly never finished.
Still on Soi Cowboy, the space that was Lighthouse remains empty – it’s been that way for around 3 years – with a large sign out front saying it’s still available for rent. Why has no-one taken this prime location? Is there no demand? Is the asking rent too high?
In the same area, just around the corner on Sukhumvit soi 23, what was for a long time Bradman’s is now a massage shop. After it closed for Covid, Bradman’s kitchen staff never came back and it couldn’t operate.
It should be noted that Weed Hub (previously East End) on Soi Cowboy is not operated by those who own Tilac as some have suggested. Weed Hub is in the space that was previously East End.
Last night saw the big anniversary party at Billboard. Punters flocked to the bar and before long it was packed. More than a few guys were throwing wads of 20 baht banknotes around which always gets the girls excited. And then things went mad when one fellow started throwing 1,000 baht notes. I wonder how many customers tried to grab one?! A reader who witnessed it estimates said fellow chucked about 30 x 1,000 baht banknotes.
There was also a big party on Sukhumvit soi 13 where PDT Bar had its official grand opening last night and despite clashing with the anniversary party of arguably the best bar in the business, PDT’s party was also very well attended.
Some things in the Bangkok bar scene don’t make sense. Quite a few bars have reached 200 baht for a standard drink – which I maintain is a perfectly reasonable price when you consider what you get for the money. At the same time, one of the best (many say the best) bar, Billboard, still has some beers on offer at just 145 baht.
While we’re talking about Billboard, American football will be shown on screens in the popular bar throughout the season, both college and pro football. Billboard has a gorgeous 98-inch Samsung TV which I understand is the largest screen Samsung makes and the largest single-panel TV currently available on the market. The image quality is absolutely superb. Will Billboard be screening Rugby World Cup matches? Probably not, given that many matches start very late at night, well after 2:00 AM Thai time. On this note, it would be interesting to know which is more popular in Bangkok amongst expats – rugby or American football. I’d imagine rugby, but who knows?
Speaking of watching sport in bars, another gogo bar which has a large screen and shows live sport is Pink Panther in Patpong soi 2. Pink Panther claims to have the largest screen of any sports bar in Bangkok. Pink Panther shows a variety of sports including the English Premier League, Formula 1, and rugby. And they tell me they are open to suggestions from customers for other live sports. Pink Panther’s screen is not a conventional television, nor is it from a popular brand. They use a modular display system, often referred to as ‘cubes’. These are typically used for large nightclub displays or high-end commercial venues. Each cube can be connected seamlessly, allowing for a larger and more customizable screen size. This is not simply a TV, but a series of interconnected display panels, all linked to a central box. They do not use a projector for this display. It’s good to see more gogo bars showing sport in the bars. In its heyday, as many punters in Tilac bar on a Saturday night would be glued to the huge screens watching the Premier League as would have their eyeballs on the dancers.
It still isn’t known what is going up in the empty building at the back of the Nana Hotel where Strikers used to be. What we do know is that it will feature an escalator to take people up and down which suggests that someone is serious about making a go of that space. One of the big complaints when that space was Strikers came from some of the old boys who were unimpressed by the steep steps you had to climb to enter the venue.
As the second email in the Emails To Stick section noted, I can confirm that a few readers have mentioned that some bars – or to be more precise, some mamasans in some bars – try to get customers to pay for everything before they leave bar. Crazy House in Soi Cowboy is perhaps the best known bar for this nonsense. Crazy House mamasans love to negotiate a deal so they can clip the ticket with 500 or even 1,000 baht ending up in their own pocket. This does happen elsewhere and some mamasans in the Rainbow bars have long been known for this nonsense. For obvious reasons, only pay for your drinks and the barfine in the bar. Anything else should be paid for later.
Last week I touched on premium drinks in Bangkok gogo bars. I have been informed that Patpong bars Badabing, Pink Panther (and Glamour, when it was open) have all had success in selling premium drinks. While champagne is not most people’s preferred drop in a gogo bar, I am told that there are two nationalities which are generally willing to spring for better drinks – the French and the Japanese. Regarding premium drinks, Pink Panther currently has a selection of champagne from a small producer in France, priced at 3,500 baht per bottle, and the bar is in talks with another producer to broaden their offerings.
In last week’s column I mentioned Gulliver’s in Sukhumvit soi 5 and asked how it has managed to stay in business for so long when it never seems to be busy at all (and to be clear, I think it’s a great place and a well-run business). I have since learned that Gulliver’s – the business AND the land – has been on the market for a couple of months. The asking price is 1.2 billion baht. Note, that’s billion with a big “B”! What’s that in real money? About 35 million US dollars. Yeah, you read that right – 35 million greenbacks! To put that in perspective, that is more than was paid for Nana Plaza (although that sale dates back a bit over a decade.) Gulliver’s sits on a large plot of land with a road frontage of 58 metres, and it’s 43 metres deep. I know downtown land is awfully pricey these days but this asking price is mind-blowing. If you’re interested in acquiring Gulliver’s in your investment portfolio, more details can be found here.
Crazy cheap food and free margaritas? One wonders how Buddy’s Bar & Grill stays in business giving away so much, so cheap. This coming Friday, September 15th, sees another all-you-can-feast BBQ buffet at Buddy’s Soi 8 location. In addition to the 350-baht buffet of chicken, ribs, rib-eye roast, sausage and all the sides, you can sip on FREE margaritas all night. The party starts at 7:30 PM.
Many of you have mentioned the friendly African men on Sukhumvit who are openly greeting those passing by, hoping to engage them in conversation and convince them to buy drugs. A number of readers have said that they have never seen this many drug dealers openly selling drugs along the busiest part of Sukhumvit Road.
This may be a Bangkok-centric column, but I also like to include bits and pieces from Pattaya. From time to time I might also include a little information from tourist hot-spots in Thailand as well as the odd report from around the region. A friend is currently in Angeles City and had the following to say: It’s the rainy season and it has been raining a lot in Angeles – but that doesn’t stop people going out as much as it would in Bangkok as there is nothing else to do here! Popping my head into a few bars, they were all quiet. The two biggest bars on Angeles City’s Walking Street are Club Atlantis and Dollhouse. Both are closed on Mondays and apparently it has been that way for several months.
For Aussies and Kiwis keen to get back to Thailand, there is an inexpensive option….so long as you don’t mind making a few stops on the way. A Kiwi reader flew from Bangkok to Auckland on Air Asia one-way for about 12,000 baht. That’s a few legs: BKK – KL – SYD – AKL. Air Asia packs them in and each leg was full. Personally, I couldn’t face all those stops and I’ll bite the bullet and pay full price, but for those who don’t mind a longer journey, Air Asia is an option.
Are you a keen consumer of cannabis? Would your dream job be working in a cannabis store? If so, see the ad below. Most likely they won’t take on a foreigner but you never know.
Shortly after last week’s column was published, news broke that a young American Tik Tok celebrity / English teacher in Bangkok had been arrested and charged with having sex with young Thais, some of who were his students and not of legal age. One young lady he had sex with contracted chlamydia and gonorrhoea from him. After the news broke, online sleuths started digging up this fellow’s past. Social media posts were found and his name appeared frequently on pages where Thai women post about the bad experiences they’ve had with foreign guys. In one case, having been outed as a schmuck online, this young American got nasty and claimed that he was buddies with high-ranking cops at the Thonglor Police station and he’d come after anyone who had said anything less than complimentary about him. It would turn out that the guy has a long history of taking young ladies back to his condo, secretly recording them and posting about it online. Other videos showed him making fun of Thais in general. With a Tik Tok following in excess of 1.3 million, will his social media earnings be enough to finance a decent lawyer?
I love the photo below which was taken by a good friend on Soi Nana this week. To me, this capture beautifully represents Soi Nana today (the soi proper, and not inside the plaza). The girls are chunkier than they used to be. Foot traffic is dominated by non-whites with many Middle Easterners about. And there’s the stereotypical bald guy in the bar which really is the icing on the cake in a typical Soi Nana street scene!
Thailand-Related News Articles
A Brit is beaten to the ground and left with bleeding on the brain after he catcalled someone’s girlfriend in Pattaya.
An American Tik Tok celebrity / English teacher is arrested for having sex with a minor he infected with STDs while working at a private Christian school in Bangkok.
Some Thais on Phuket claim Russians fleeing the war in Ukraine are stealing Thai jobs.
Dave The Rave provided a detailed update on the bar scene in Phnom Penh.
The renovation of Whiskey & Gogo and the Rainbow 69 sale are featured on Dave The Rave.
Two new bars are expected to open in Nana Plaza before high season.
The Khlong Lod lower-class Thai nightlife area is highlighted in this YouTube video.
Some of you have asked why I don’t start a YouTube channel or even move Stickman over to YouTube entirely. It has been pointed out that YouTube is the platform these days and that the text and photos format of this column is dated. That may be the case, but creating videos and YouTube is not for me. I work on this column over the course of the week and sometimes I receive bits and pieces at the last minute that need to be included. That doesn’t lend itself to video which takes much longer to produce and edit. I may be able to write a column chronicling Bangkok’s expat underbelly and nightlife while living abroad, but producing video content from my base in provincial New Zealand just wouldn’t work. The format of this column appeals more to those middle-aged and older. I’m well aware that it doesn’t appeal so much to the younger crowd who prefer YouTube and the ability to like / comment. I’ll continue to write this column in this format and am committed until the end of this year. Will Stickman continue in 2024? Let’s see how I feel then and what the owners of the site have to say.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org