Stickman Weekly, October 29, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken outside Pink Panther on Patpong soi 2. Surprisingly, not that many of you got it right. I wonder if that means that Patpong has fallen off the map for Stickman readers? This week’s photo is a building that has recently been refitted and rebranded. It’s not in what you’d call the heart of the city, but then neither is it way out in the suburbs. Show me how clever you are and tell me where it is!
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
Low season blues.
I’m in Bangkok now. It’s low season, and rainy season, right? I haven’t been out to the bars so my comments are general in nature. There appear to be fewer people around but that’s what I’d expect at this time of the year. However, many of the Thais I speak to blame the war (Palestine / Israel). The general feeling is people have cancelled their trips because of it. I find that strange as it has “only” been going for 3 weeks and I wouldn’t think people would react so fast. I’m staying in a high-class hotel this time – I usually go 4-star but I’m treating myself on this trip. In and around the hotel I see a lot of Middle Eastern folk – many couples with the female in a headscarf – I’m guessing as many as 30 – 40% of the people I see. Again, I’d find it strange that Europeans, Americans etc. would cancel flights but folk from the Middle East would not. I guess what I’m saying is the Thais appear to be having trouble accepting that numbers are down just because it’s low season.
Early evening demographics on Soi Nana.
I’m spending time on Sukhumvit Soi 4. My first impression is the bars are “steady” rather than crowded. It’s a bit of a shock seeing a cannabis shop beside the Nana Hotel exit. The bars down the soi beyond Hooters are very quiet with more ladies than customers plus some freelancers on the street. I don’t remember seeing any Western males who looked to be aged under 40. I should add that this is far from an entirely male westerners enclave these days. There was a lot more foot traffic coming into Soi Nana as I was leaving at 10 PM. Mostly Indians. I cannot believe the number of Western women here with their husbands / partners. Indian ladies as well!
Smoking in the bars.
In the US, cities periodically decide it’s time to enact no-smoking laws. In every case, the bar and restaurant owners scream bloody murder, saying that this will kill their business. And, in just about every case (strip clubs being the notable exception), six months later, after they’ve had a little experience with the new rules, it is not possible to find even one bar or restaurant owner who would go back to allowing smoking in their establishment. For every individual smoker who stopped coming in, there are typically ten (10) new regular customers who could not stand the second-hand smoke. One of the side-effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns for me personally was learning just how bad second-hand smoke really was for me. I have asthma and chronic bronchitis (COPD). I knew smoke was bad for me. I had no idea how bad until I saw the dramatic reduction in medication consumption that directly followed getting out of the smoke.
More Readers Emails
The pleasures of Phnom Penh.
The riverfront in Phnom Penh is something that Bangkok sorely lacks, isn’t it? Considering what a feature the river in Bangkok is, it’s amazing that it is almost impossible to walk beside it. As for Phnom Penh, I once found a bar along the riverfront there with free beer! Only from 6:00 – 6.30 PM, but have you ever found that anywhere else? It worked. It got me in, and after quenching my thirst I returned there later in the evening and spent a couple of hours or more chatting with the very attractive owner.
Happy to be a loner.
Interesting observation you make about reclusive expats. I fear I am one though my life is full. It’s just that expats are not a part of my life. I am retired and have been living in central Bangkok for 6 years. I’m secure financially so no need to fall for slick-talking crypto or investment nobodies. My friends are basically ladies I date or have known for so many years they feel like family, gym rat buddies and former classmates from Thai language school whom in my estimation have a lot more going for them insomuch they made the effort to learn the language. I don’t have any friends that I’ve met in a bar and I have no interest in meeting tourists or sex mongers. They are not difficult to avoid as they are easily spotted. Living in Thailand, Bangkok specifically, changes you. Perhaps you are right that the Internet provides the illusion of inter-connectedness without having to actually know anyone. But given all of the weirdos Bangkok attracts, I’m happy with that and living out my dream life without them.
Been burned, lessons learned.
About Farangs and having friends in Thailand, we have learnt the hard way. Other Farangs either want to put you down, get one over you, borrow money from you or simply talk behind your back. We now stick to ourselves – my wife and I have spent almost 24/7 together for 15 years. That’s good enough for us. No thanks to the idea of getting to know and trying to maintain friendships with other Farangs residing in Thailand. I get much social interaction with Thais in my daily morning and evening walks through our village. They always stop and talk, smile, throw me a ball and make a positive effort to reach out and say, ‘Hello’.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
A new gogo bar is coming to Patpong soi 2. Scheduled to open in November, it’s in the space opposite Foodland that was previously Glamour. The name of the new bar is….Virgin! A lady who used to work in Bada Bing will run it in partnership and with backing of a Thai man who is said to own a number of gogo bars in Nana Plaza. That sounds like it could be Tee which is interesting as he previously said he had abandoned plans to expand in to Patpong. Of course, it might not be him. The lady who will run Virgin also runs an agency and has access to a large number of girls. Filling the soon-to-open Virgin with dancers shouldn’t be a problem. It’s encouraging for Bangkok’s oldest bar area that someone believes in the resilience of the area and is willing to open up a new bar in a soi that has been – let’s be kind here – struggling.
Nana Plaza was super busy on Friday night as expats headed out for what would be the only full night out this weekend. With Sunday being a Buddhist holiday, bars have to close early on Saturday night – no later than midnight – and are closed all day on Sunday. Many bars in the plaza were standing room only on Friday night and there was even a queue waiting to enter Spanky’s.
This coming Tuesday is Halloween and there are parties planned in a number of gogo bars in both Nana and Cowboy.
On Nana Plaza’s middle floor, Angelwitch will, as always, be ground zero for Halloween. Tuesday will be the finale of a week-long celebration that has seen the bar filled with sexy / scary shows and 75-baht local beers until 10 PM.
Red Dragon continues its fun with the Haunted Full Moon 1st Anniversary Party. There will be lucky draws, 95-baht drink deals and Halloween-themed “Thriller” and “Black Magic Woman” shows.
Tycoon A Gogo in Nana Plaza has drink deals for customers and a costume contest for the ladies with cash prizes for the best three.
While not organising anything formal, Spanky’s, Billboard and Butterflies are all decked out for Halloween and ladies will be dressed up in their Elvira best.
Down on Soi Cowboy, Shark has special shows and lucky draws on Halloween night.
Another bar on Soi Cowboy celebrating Halloween is Dollhouse. Customers get a free drink with the first one they buy. Fireball shots are 100 baht and ladies will compete for cash prizes in a costume contest.
While we’re talking about the vibe at Nana Plaza, reader feedback has been consistent with many of you telling me how the Plaza – and most of Soi Nana for that matter – feels different from Patpong and Soi Cowboy. Nana Plaza and its immediate surrounds are very much on the map of our friends from India. Some nights it is said that there are as many Indians on Soi Nana as there are white men. Our Indian friends don’t seem to be all that interested in Patpong or Soi Cowboy. Is there any reason for this? Nana is the biggest bar area (thinking about the whole area) and the plaza has the best gogo bars. It also has far more ladyboys on the street and ladyboy bars than all the other bar areas put together. Indians are known to be keen on ladyboys so could that be part of it? This isn’t anything new. Before the pandemic, some had started referring to Soi Nana as Soi Delhi.
Fetish bar Demonia in Sukhumvit soi 33, and The Castle on Pattaya’s Third road, would like to let fans of Halloween know that the atmosphere in these two venues is similar to Halloween every night of the year – sexy, scary and exciting!
Do you prefer to use the front door or the back door? Popular Pattaya gogo bar Sapphire is promoting an all-new rear entrance. No, don’t go getting any funny ideas – what they mean is that you can now slip in the rear from Soi Diamond, or take the front door on soi 15.
The word “Turtle” on the sign at the Super Rich Exchange booth at the Asoke skytrain station is appropriate. The queue to change money in that location always seems to be static, and moves at a turtle’s pace. For the umpteenth time, if you’re in the general area and wish to exchange currency, go to Vasu on the corner of Sukhumvit soi 7/1 where you can sit and wait in air-conditioned comfort. Any difference in rates between Super Rich and Vasu is negligible.
Popular gastro pub No Idea has relocated to Sukhumvit soi 18. It had previously been a fixture (and was arguably the best and busiest venue) on Sukhumvit soi 22. The specific location is a bit over 100 metres in to soi 18 on the left-hand side, just before Park Plaza. No Idea was known for fantastic food at reasonable prices and for the particularly friendly and popular manager, Dave. No Idea features an extensive wine list and probably has the best selection of New Zealand wines in all of Thailand. I always thought it would be a great spot for a first date – comfortable and classy without being pretentious.
Speaking of soi 22, that general area has changed a lot over the past decade. If you hung around the soi 22 / Washington Square in years gone by and had been away from Thailand for a while, you could be mistaken for thinking that you had returned to a completely different place. Washington Square is long gone as is the Queen’s Park Beer Bar Complex. As per the previous paragraph, No Idea has gone as have plenty of the massage shops that lined the soi.
And a short walk away, soi 33 has also changed hugely. Today it is mainly a soi for Japanese and other Asian gentlemen and is not the magnet it once was for Western expats. That said, nearby soi 33/1 has a number of pubs popular with expats and is very much a soi for Westerners.
It’s late October in Bangkok…what does that mean?! Christmas! Christmas trees are popping up all over the city. Expect Jingle Bells or other Christmas jingles in your favourite shopping centre very soon!
On the topic of Christmas in Thailand, some venues have started promoting their Christmas Day specials already. I expect we’ll see the same theme this year as we have in previous years where Christmas and New Year specials come with very big price tags. Getting in early this year is a British pub in Pattaya I won’t name which is doing a Sunday carvery for 399 baht. That’s not a bad price, eh? That’s around the price you’d pay for a typical Sunday carvery in such a venue in Pattaya. Oh, hell, I made a typo! It’s not 399 baht – it’s actually 3,999 baht. That price includes unlimited cocktails and free-flow Champagne, right? No! It’s in a 5-star hotel, right? No! 3,999 baht for a Christmas spread in a Pattaya pub. Not including drinks. Sure, prices have gone up in recent years and for all I know they might be putting on a spread fit for a king, but 3,999 baht in a Pattaya British pub for a spread that doesn’t include alcohol? That strikes me as being awfully pricey. Am I missing something?
By way of comparison, a British pub in downtown Bangkok where the Sunday roast gets good reviews is Scruffy Murphy’s on Sukhumvit soi 23, just around the corner from Soi Cowboy. A Sunday roast at Scruffy Murphy’s runs 410 baht – 460 depending on the meat option you choose, chicken being the cheapest and lamb the most expensive.
Orchard Towers in Singapore – AKA the 4 four floors of whores – closed for good at the end of July. It did not have quite the same following as the likes of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy and was not the sort of place you’d fly half-way around the world for – but for naughty boys living in, or who found themselves in Singapore, it was the go to place for a beer and a bonk. Most of the women on the game in Orchard Towers were from outside of Singapore and thousands of Thai women had cycled through over the years.
I received the following email from a regular reader this past Thursday night which should serve as a warning to readers to be aware of their surroundings, especially in this location late at night. One imagines it is much less likely to be an issue during daylight hours but after dark, especially late at night when you’ve had a few drinks, it could be an issue. To be clear, this is the first time I have heard of this happening so don’t go worrying yourself that it’s a widespread issue when it’s not. But given that Soi Nana features a lot in this column, it’s worth including this as a heads-up:
There’s a 7 Eleven at the intersection of Soi 4 and the Soi 6 road that leads to Soi 8. I got some cash out of that machine, immediately a hand reached in under my right arm and grabbed my money. Luckily I am reasonably sober and manged to grab the wrist of a fairly scrawny Thai looking guy with one hand, scream an obscenity at him and grab my money with my left hand. He ran off. I kept my cash. First time this this ever happened to me in 10 years here, but I am very careful with ATMs. This guy was nowhere near me until the notes popped out. So people need to be very aware.
Why is it that a lot of Thai eateries put a small lettuce leaf or two on a plate where in some instances it seems very out of place? I still shake my head when you order a classic cooked English breakfast and you’ve got your eggs and sausages and bacon and if you’re really lucky, baked beans – and then they go and put a lettuce leaf or two on the plate and perhaps a tiny slice of raw tomato. What’s that about? Now I have nothing against eating vegetables – on the contrary, I eat a lot of vegetables and enjoy vegetables and salads – but it looks daft putting a piece of lettuce on a plate with a cooked breakfast. The other curiosity is the placing of orchids or other flowers on a plate of food in a standard eatery. In higher end restaurants, I get it. But in mid-range places? It looks cute the first couple of times but after that it seems kind of contrived. Am I missing something here?
When you’re home in Farangland, what comes to mind when you think of Thailand, particularly when you’re really missing the place? Checking in at the Nana Hotel? The smell of fresh durian? The bright lights of Bangkok after dark? Your favourite dancer hugging the pole at Dollhouse? Lately when I have been thinking of Thailand, the first thing that comes to mind is seafood, specifically the seafood market at Naklua, just up the road from Pattaya. I never tire of visiting and we stopped by a couple of times earlier in the year. Sure, there are many seafood restaurants in Pattaya, Jomtien and up and down the coast, but why venture further afield when you have the Naklua Seafood Market so close by. I have encouraged many people to visit but most never make it there, including many people I know who have lived in Pattaya for years. Not only is it is a great place to buy seafood to take home and cook, there are vendors there who will cook the fresh seafood for you and you can enjoy it in their dining area. That’s what many Thais do – wander around the market, buy fresh seafood from their favourite vendors, take it to one of the kitchens which cooks it up for a small fee and you can enjoy it right there. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy fresh seafood.
Thailand-Related News Articles
Reader’s submission of the week comes from Mega, Around the Traps in Southeast Asia: Part 26.
A white guy riding his motorbike around Bangkok like an idiot is giving foreigners in the capital a bad name.
15 years after his original arrest, a New Zealander finds out the hard way that Thailand does not forget when you abscond from bail.
54 Thais are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
Thai Airways is experiencing high demand from passengers in Europe and Australia, but not from China.
Phuket tourism operators are calling on the government to extend closing time from 2 AM to 4 AM.
The end of the rainy season marks the start of the polluted season.
Lufthansa has resumed flying an A380 on its Bangkok – Munich route.
The rainy season in Bangkok and Pattaya must be coming to an end. I used to love the few weeks following the end of the rainy season. It was a relief to say goodbye to the rains for another year and moods would lift. The end of the rainy season through until late February is when you get the best weather, and coincides with the tourism high season. Good times and people tend to be in good spirits. It’s a time of year I wish I was there while at the same time, it also happens to be the best time of year to be in this part of the world…..which softens the blow of not being there, I guess.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org