Stickman Weekly, November 12, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken of the Christmas Tree outside Times Square. Not difficult, I thought – but I was wrong with just 4 of you getting it right. Many of you thought it was the Christmas tree outside Terminal 21. What about this week’s snap?
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week
When you open your wallet, all the ladies are interested.
Shifting demographics in the bars is most definitely true, but at least in Bangkok it doesn’t lessen the chance that a Caucasian can arrange a night’s bliss. In places like Billboard, I see no preference among the women. Anybody who seems willing to open his wallet will attract the attention of the women. Also, from my own observations, Westerners are as likely to spring for drinks and barfines as any East Asian. Lots of the latter are ‘just looking’. I suspect the weak yen and the fairly moribund economies of Japan, South Korea and China are making Asian punters more cautious with their spending. The Asian preference might be more prevalent in the major Walking Street gogo bars, but I have visited there recently and was approached by many women at both Pin-up and XS, and I’m most definitely white. I suspect my springing for a few drinks for service staff draws attention, so the dancers give it a shot. They even suggested barfining, though I decline. While I would like to think it’s my youthful good looks and charm, I know full well it’s the appearance or assumption of an easily opened wallet.
Nana Plaza security hassles.
Friendly Africans abound.
Having been in Bangkok for a few weeks it’s obvious the African dudes are not here on holiday. I counted 35 of them from Soi 5 to Soi 15 Friday night, all loitering for some reason. I have walked along this same strip most nights and always see the same situation. A demographer would say 25 – 35-year old Africans all in one small location is pretty unique. Obviously up to no good and best avoided.
More Readers Emails
What do you mean you paid all the bills?
I like to shop for new clothes when I travel to Thailand and on a recent trip I ended up in a tailor’s shop in MBK getting measured for some inexpensive custom shirts. While being measured, I struck up a conversation with a couple friendly guys from the USA, like me. They were on the first day of a 3-week Thailand trip they had been planning for years. One was recently out of a relationship and peppering me with questions about where to have fun in Bangkok. He mentioned his friend was married and not looking for such entertainment, having told his wife he wasn’t going to any of “those places”. While I was describing my favorite locations, the married guy was having issues paying with his bank cards. Two ATM cards were declined. “Did you file a travel notice with your banks?” I asked. “Yes” was his reply. He logs into his bank apps and his face goes blank. “Shit! I have no money!” His account balances were zero. Now he starts a frantic video chat with his wife back home, and eventually blurts out, “What do you mean you paid ALL THE BILLS? Hello? Hello?” I turn to his friend and say, “He came here without his wife and said he was going to be a good boy? I don’t think she believed him. She sucked all the money out from their banks before any ladies here could suck any money out of him!” I am not sure how their trip ended up. He did mention he also carried an American Express card. Let this be a lesson to those of you who are planning a boys’ trip to Thailand: Bring some cash! BTW most currency exchange outlets here only take pristine new US 100 dollar bills with the blue and chrome stripe.
Soi 19 history lesson.
I stayed at the old Honey Hotel from 1983 until its sad demise. The sub-soi with Charlie Brown’s is a shortcut I’ve been using for years simply because it was an “easier” walk than straight down soi 19 to the main drag. There have been many different establishments in that sub-soi over the years. On the corner what is now a beauty spa (?) used to be a Food Mart with a handy ATM out front. It somewhat amazes me that Soi 19 (including the subs-oi) isn’t a thriving mecca similar to Soi 11. Soi 19 was always one extension of the shortcut (Soi Zigzag past PB & Penthouse ) from Soi 3 for those who wanted to avoid getting onto Sukhumvit Road at the lower end and suffering the traffic crawl east-bound. Since the opening of Terminal 21, the soi was more or less grid-locked for half the day. Cars turning into Terminal 21 as well as the traffic from soi zigzag, all the traffic back-logged because of not being able to do a left turn on to Sukhumvit (red light at Asoke). In a constantly changing Bangkok, a lot of the premises along Soi 19 remained unchanged until Covid. Since Robinson was built in ’90s. the soi’s traffic slowly increased. Back in the day there were a few bars along the soi. Where the hotel fountain is on the corner used to be the Cock’n Bull Cocktail Lounge upstairs. Further up was the Joy Barber Shop where you got more than a haircut. Heading towards the Honey Hotel was the Eye Q Bar which had a good breakfast as did the aforementioned China Inn. The eastern side of the soi has remained unchanged. They semi-covered a klong along there that used to stink. The church is still there. There was a Country Road pub at the bottom end for a short while. El Gaucho replaced it. I’m just amazed this soi has its “brakes on” and is resisting speedy development. The Honey’s ruins remained for several years because developers and the city couldn’t agree on new project specs. They compromised and work is underway. There is a large Indian presence in the soi, hence a reluctance in selling. I have seen the same faces there for years. I hope the new spa you mentioned has a prosperous life and brings new life to that sub-soi. There isn’t much passing foot or car traffic so they will have to rely on word of mouth (pardon the pun) or online advertising.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
At the top of Soi Nana, Nana Nightclub, in the car park of the Nana Hotel, opened on Thursday night. The venue which cost 13 million baht to convert from Strikers Sports Bar to a nightclub was moderately busy on opening night and reflected the cosmopolitan nature of Soi Nana today with a diverse bunch of customers. Amongst the Thai ladies and Western men were many smartly-dressed Indian guys enjoying themselves. The music was described as “club” with a few Indian club tunes played too. The centre of the venue features a slightly raised dance floor, around 150 mm or so in height, which has been described as a potential hazard for anyone wandering around after a few drinks. There is no entry charge and drinks prices are said to be very reasonable for a nightclub with beers around 170 baht and mixed drinks just a little more. Several sexy coyote dancers were doing their thing on the centre stage. One industry insider noted that the coyote dancers used to dance at Mixx and also made the comment that Nana Nightclub could capture the Mixx crowd in no time. The location of Nana Nightclub is ideal for those who wander out of the plaza, but still keen to continue the party late in to the night. There is no need to battle with taxi drivers who refuse to turn on the meter or who only want to take you to a venue which pays them a commission. It’s still very early days but the initial feedback about Nana Nightclub is that it looks very promising indeed.
The soi 7 beer bar complex, AKA Centerpoint 7, is expanding with more bars opening each week in the adjacent space that was previously the Biergarten. There is a feeling that more bars, more girls and more choices for punters should help Centerpoint 7 fulfil its potential.
It’s getting busier and while it’s still not quite high season, visitor numbers are on the up. But the rainy season refuses to bid farewell to Bangkok and there was very heavy rainfall earlier in the week. The end of the rainy season must be any day now.
Much-maligned Patpong had a good Friday night. On Patpong soi 2, new bar Virgin along with old bars Kinky Girls (previously The Strip) and Pink Panther packed in the punters while King’s 1 on Patpong soi 1 was also said to be doing very well. More than one person I know was out in Patpong on Friday night and they were all singing from the same sheet in saying that the attitudes of ladies in Patpong bars are better than what you currently find in similar bars on Sukhumvit. It makes one wonder if some of the ladies of Sukhumvit have been spoiled?
Virgin only opened last week but Patpong’s newest bar is already getting rave reviews. It usually takes a few weeks for a bar to find its groove but Virgin seems to have hit its straps from the outset. It’s a long time since I can recall a bar bursting on the scene as Virgin has.
Gogo bar owners are frantically trying to complete renovations before the high season crowds arrive. Shark Club on Soi Cowboy is late to the overhaul party and is about a week away from reopening its second floor. You didn’t know Shark had a second floor? It was only utilised for a short period many years ago. New speakers, tables and benches are being installed and the plan is that upstairs will be more relaxed and chilled than downstairs.
Over at Angelwitch, there’s now an Amsterdam-style glass window in the outside of the bar. Dancing in the window hasn’t started yet.
Still in Nana, Lace Lounge – upstairs from Tycoon – is now looking at a soft opening around December 1 with a grand opening party later, perhaps even after New Year’s.
Following on from the recent theme in this column of how the profile of visitors to the bar industry is changing, a long-time reader who lives in the Nana area and sends a lot of interesting anecdotes sent me a message at midnight on Thursday night this past week from outside one of my favourite bars, Spanky’s in Nana Plaza. A group of 10 females was wandering around the plaza and were keen to enter Spanky’s. Groups of foreign females visiting Nana Plaza these days is not that unusual, but a group of 10 is. But what really set this group apart is that every girl in the group wore a head-scarf. Yep, a group of 10 Arab ladies was roaming the plaza and about to enter one of the best gogo bars which just happens to be known for sexy shows. What a shame said reader didn’t grab a photo. A capture showing 10 females in Arab garb in Nana Plaza with the lights of Nana in the background and perhaps a sign saying sexy shows or words to that effect would be an award winner!
Speaking of foreign females in Soi Nana, Africa continues to be well-represented on the soi with many Black ladies around. Some have been described as slim and pretty whilst others are said to be huge. Irrespective of their size and looks, they are doing good trade. Big or small, pretty or otherwise, there is a steady stream of Black ladies being whisked away to hotel rooms.
Last week’s column highlighted Canary, a new venue in a sub-soi off Sukhumvit soi 19 which sounded like it might appeal to those who were looking for a more upmarket experience. Since the publishing of last week’s edition, Canary has hit a bump in the road. The police visited, closed the venue and the sexy signs outside have been taken down, leaving the establishment in darkness. Will it reopen? Who knows? Some well-heeled Thais live in the immediate area and I can’t imagine they were happy to have a brothel on their doorstep.
Down in Pattaya, a brand new beer bar complex is coming soon. The Las Vegas Beer Garden, a beer bar complex featuring 10 bars, will be located on Soi Diana, directly opposite Soi LK Metro. Bars in the complex will borrow the names of Las Vegas casinos. The information above was posted online and provides a snapshot of the asking prices for the bars along with the monthly rent. Unlike some beer bar areas where every bar competes to see who has the loudest music, The Las Vegas Beer Garden will have a centralised sound system meaning the same music will be played in all the bars. One odd feature of the lease agreement is that all tenants must stick to the same prices – meaning drinks will cost exactly the same in all of the separately owned bars in the complex. If the name sounds familiar, you’d be right – those behind the Las Vegas gogo bar in Soi LK Metro are behind the project. It is hoped that the Las Vegas Beer Garden will open in mid-January.
At the other end of the spectrum, some are saying that the most attractive agency girls command 30,000 baht for a 10-day contract in the best Walking Street gogo bars. That’s 3,000 baht (or around $US 85) in their pocket for a 5- or 6-hour shift – which is decent money in Thailand. It’s great to see the ladies earning good money while at the same time this is going to skew things even more (the girls will be ultra-aggressive to get lady drinks as the more they are paid, the higher their drink targets are). And when a bar is paying an agency big money for girls, they put up barfine rates to recover the money. In one unnamed Walking Street gogo bar, Friday barfines for a select few ladies is 3,500 baht and the girls have agreed that the short-time fee is 5,000 baht.
If you want to stay looking young and keep fit in Thailand, join Tony’s Gym in Pattaya! No, this is not an advert nor a paid mention for Tony’s. But if you look at the photos of Tony emblazoned across signage for his gyms in Pattaya, Tony looks just like he did 15, or even 20 years ago. What better testament for the benefits of working out at his gym? Tony wouldn’t be using the same photo of himself from 20 years ago, would he?!
Just as I wrote a little earlier that Soi Nana is becoming more diverse, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Indian discos / nightclubs on Walking Street now outnumber those which traditionally aimed at Westerners. With the reopening of Nashaa Club – which burned to the ground (suspiciously) during the pandemic, Walking Street now has seven Indian clubs: Tony’s by Nashaa, Jannaat, Raas, Cavalli, Rajah, and Leela. And two more are on the way: JC Jalwa, due to open imminently, and an unnamed project being built on the grave of the iconic Marine Disco.
The entire Marine Plaza complex – which once housed Peppermint and Jenny’s Star Bar, plus the boxing ring – is gone and fenced off. Only the sign remains. And a giant, multi-storey club is being built on the site. People are very tight-lipped in Pattaya about who is behind the development and what its final design will be, but supposedly it will feature a nightlife venue, retail and even hotel rooms.
The former Crazy House gogo bar in Pattaya – yes, there was one with no relation to the Soi Cowboy bar of the same name – that later became Pascha is now called One-Night Jack.
Another bizarrely named gogo bar on Walking Street is Okeanos. I had to look it up, but Okeanos is “the font of all the earth’s fresh-water: including rivers, wells, springs and rainclouds. In a cosmological sense, the river symbolizes the eternal flow of time.” Not sure how that translates to a gogo bar, although there was plenty of water (saline) and silicone present. The bar looks much larger from the outside but, inside, has only a small square stage with about six dancers at a time with barstools all around. There are two rows of bench seating and then almost as many “VIP” seats behind those. Okeanos is reportedly Korean-owned and their fellow countrymen is their target customer base. Okeanos has been described as worth a look.
How much money do you need to open a bar? Perhaps the more relevant question is, how much money do you need once it’s open? Sometimes people forget that. The owners of Minx on Soi LK Metro did. It closed late last month after only opening in September. Another Soi 6 bar I mentioned earlier this year, Route 69, has also folded after trying to be a gogo bar. It has been replaced by the Promises beer bar.
Word from some readers is that prices in many places in Pattaya have not moved much at all since before the pandemic, Many hotels and many restaurants – particularly lower mid-range – have prices at similar levels or only a little higher than they were 4 years ago. Can’t complain at that!
Back in Bangkok, The Mad Scientist continues to scribble his crazy equations and diagrams on public pavements, lampposts and walls around Bangkok. Recent sightings of him have been mainly on Sukhumvit soi 71. This week he was seen with a notebook, a compass and a protractor. He is said to have a lot of writings in his notebook so perhaps he plans things out before transferring his ideas to the pavement?
I took a look this week at Ajarn.com for what must be the first time in 10, maybe even 15 years. Ajarn.com is the site for foreigners teaching in Thailand. I ended up on a section of the site called The Great Escape where teachers who have left Thailand answer a series of questions about their time in the country. No longer teaching in Thailand and seemingly with nothing to lose, the frank answers to some questions provide some genuine insight in to what it’s really like teaching in Thailand. Some respondents had obviously become quite resentful about things and saw this as their chance perhaps not to vent, but certainly to set the record straight. If you’re thinking of teaching in Thailand, this is precisely the sort of stuff you’d want to know about. There was a time when teaching matters received some coverage on this site but those days are in the very distant past. If you want to know more about teaching in Thailand, Ajarn.com is the place.
Thailand-Related News Articles
Quote of the week comes from the other half, “Thailand has almost everything you need, but quality is not always easy to find.”
Chinese visitors have not returned to Thailand in anything like the same numbers they used to visit.
A large section of Sukhumvit Road near soi 64/1 collapsed under the weight of a truck.
4 Thai policemen who extorted money from a Taiwanese celebrity holidaying in Bangkok have been sentenced to 5 years in jail.
Russians in Phuket continues to be a hot topic in the press.
Here’s a more in-depth look at all of the Indian nightclubs on Walking Street.
Raving Dave talks up Insomnia’s 17th anniversary.
It was nice to receive so many positive reports from Bangkok this week about where things seem to be heading. The newly opened Nana Nightclub sounds very promising and the consensus from a number of punters is that Patpong is worth a second look. With visitor numbers rising, this is exactly the sort of news people want to read. What makes the viewpoint that Patpong may have turned the corner all the better is that is that two of these people who have said this to me have been outspoken about how bad Bangkok’s oldest bar area has been in recent years. Patpong has fallen a long way behind Nana and Cowboy, so it’s good to hear that things are looking up.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : email@example.com