Stickman's Weekly Column November 19th, 2023

Stickman Weekly, November 19, 2023

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the dog park at Benjakitti Park, the fantastic park just a 5-minute walk from the Asoke intersection. A handful of you got it right. This week’s photo is a spot I bet many Stickman readers have walked by dozens and dozens of times. Where is it?

 

Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week

Bangkok drinks are still great value.

mens clinic bangkok

I’m on the same page as you regarding prices / value in the bars. A pint of Guinness in a decent Dublin bar now costs about €6.50 (or 250 baht). And all you get to look at for that is the sport on TV. If 200 baht gets you a drink and some dancing dolly birds entertainment in Bangkok then that sounds like a deal to me!

Are the meek inheriting the earth?

I suspect you will get buckets of feedback on your talk of 30,000 baht for a 10-day tac / 3,500 baht barfine in some Walking Street gogo bars. I don’t personally know if that figure is really the case, but I think it may well be in Pin-up and XS, at least for the most sought after women (and may include a minimum lady drink quota before she can be barfined). My personal take on that, if it’s true, is good on them. I’m the sort who is happy for people when they make a good living, and if 3,000 baht a day means some 20-year-old Isaan single mother doesn’t have to bed an obese guy decades older than her to make ends meet, that’s probably a good thing. It’s Darwinian Socialism in the flesh, as she represents the “fittest” of her species, and her wannabe barfiner may not be the fittest. How many punters would want to have sex with a woman whose physical appearance mirrors the prototypical aging, fat expat punter? Precious few, I’d imagine, so turnabout – or not – is fair play. Price is increasingly a complaint among many punters, but the whining suggests the punter thinks he has some right to sex with lovely, but forever ‘desperate’, Thai women. It also suggests the punter believes it is patently unfair that Thailand has climbed the economic development ladder, while the punter’s own country has slipped. The world is not static. Fortunes rise and fall; conditions shift. Losers whine, winners rejoice. Maybe the meek are finally inheriting the Earth.

Capturing the Vegas vibe in Bangkok.

I saw a group of tourists in Billboard – two guys and two (attractive) girls. They were throwing 20 baht notes around. But then they climbed the steps to the carousel and gave hundreds to every girl that came past. Not just one rotation, but two or three. I estimate that was about 10,000, not including the stacks of 20s earlier. It’s really the only bar I ever see anyone tipping like it’s a Miami or Las Vegas Strip club.

What ladies of the night make of 4 AM closing.

I have a little friend who is in the business and I was asking her how she felt about the new 4 AM closing time coming next year and if she was happy having to work an additional two hours. I asked her whether or not the staff would get paid for those extra two hours. She didn’t know anything about it and she said she’s not working two hours extra for free, and neither are any of her colleagues. I wonder if this 4 AM closing time is going to get a little backlash from staff who may not be keen on working another two hours, particularly if salaries aren’t raised. And if they do raise salaries, you know where the additional cost is going to come from!

wonderland clinic

More Readers’ Emails

Beer choice, or lack of.

The limited choice of beers is one of my pet peeves about living in Thailand. Not so much where I am now in the countryside, but when in Bangkok. Everywhere you go it’s the same five or six beers. In the UK you can be sure that when you enter a pub there’ll be two or three beers you’ve not seen before, and go to the next pub and the one after that and it’ll be the same. Meanwhile, I’ve tried four of the Carabou beers so far – haven’t found the IPA yet – and none are anything special. Even the Weizen, supposedly brewed by a German, is no better than the Cheers version.

Thoughts on Angeles City.

I’m currently in the Philippines south of Manila. My Filipina girlfriend has a friend in Angeles so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Find out what all the fuss was about. It has obviously seen better days. Shabby is being polite and is my lasting impression. What a shit-hole! Oh some girls in bars and cheap drinks. But 80% have no customers. We walked up and down and tried a few places. I was glad we left the next day. Everyone seemed desperate from taxi drivers to beggars (some aggressive from hunger) to tricycle riders to bar owners. Uneven pavements and filth. Even the Walking Street lights were out. It’s like walking through a B-grade western or pulp fiction. And the government want it all gone. Most punters were nothing to write home about. Sad to see, really.

Thoughts from Pattaya.

I have just returned from 3 weeks in Pattaya. They are building another beer bar complex between the half of Made In Thailand soi, coming off Soi Buakhao and the beginning half of the new Myth Night complex. This one is directly in the middle. Crazy! I don’t know what these developers are thinking. Certain sections of Treetown were dead and Myth Night was often the same. My impression from Pattaya is that there are too many bars and not enough customers. Many of the bargirls, although nice, decent, friendly and accommodating are fairly average lookers, plain Janes, older and plump. In the mix are some hardened bar industry veterans.

This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

The new Nana Nightclub has piqued many readers’ interest and comparisons with the long-gone Nana Disco are inevitable. Open since Thursday of the previous week, management wants it known that things are being tweaked and very much subject to change. At present, Nana nightclub opens at 9 PM with free entry until 10 PM. 9 PM – 10 PM also happens to be happy hour. After 10 PM, there is an unusual 200 baht or 300 baht entry fee which includes one drink. The 200 baht fee gets you a basic drink and 300 baht gets you a wider choice of drinks to choose from. The operators say they have no specific intentions as to customer base although I would question that with reports that some music played is Indian – which I think it is reasonable to say only appeals to Indians. Speaking of music, Nana Nightclub boasts 14 different DJs on rotation so the music will vary night by night. They’re not content with the sound system and are looking to get someone in to tune it. It’s still very early days but the trend is for the venue to get busier later in the evening.

But perhaps the biggest question mark with Nana Nightclub concerns the ladies – and let’s be direct here – the ladies who work across the road in the beer bars and in the gogo bars in Nana Plaza. If these ladies head to Nana Nightclub late at night, they will be a big draw for many men. There is much conjecture about whether girls who dance in the plaza can enter Nana Nightclub without being fined by the bar they ordinarily work in. You may recall that some (many?) bars have (had?) a policy where any lady who meets a guy *after* the bar has closed is still required to pay a barfine to the bar. If, for example, a lady leaves the bar after it has closed at 2:00 AM and happens to meet a guy outside the plaza, should she end up going with him she has to pay a barfine to her bar. This is pure exploitation by the bar and total nonsense. I imagine it breaches employment law, and quite probably human trafficking laws too. Congratulations to any bar owners who have such a policy – you truly are the very definition of a pimp. Could this ridiculous policy have a major effect on whether ladies from Nana Plaza flock to Nana Nightclub late at night which would very much help to bring in more punters? Absolutely!

Speaking of popular freelancer venues, word is that Climax below the Ambassador Hotel will reopen soon. Run by the same lady who brings the magic to the Hillary bars, Climax had been a very popular nightclub / freelancer hang-out over the years. The operators of Climax might want to move quickly before Nana Nightclub takes a chunk of the same market. Climax had quite a following and its return would be welcomed by many.

Everyone has their own idea of when high season starts. Some say November 1st, others December 1st. Some point to the end of the rainy season. I used to always think of it as starting when hotels upped their rates. It’s a moot point but what is settled is that seemingly everyone says that business is picking up. Word from Cowboy and Nana this week was that visitor numbers are rising sharply. Halloween has traditionally been the marker for when things really start to turn around and with Halloween now a good couple of weeks behind us, expect visitor numbers to continue to rise and reach a crescendo around New Year.

Congratulations to Dennis, the manager of Dollhouse, who has clocked up a year in charge of the popular Soi Cowboy bar. Gogo bar managers have a high turnover and few who are new to the business last that long. Dennis is enjoying himself and looking forward to many years at the helm. They said he wouldn’t last but he has proved them wrong. Well done!

Speaking of Dollhouse, the bar is looking to return to its roots by filling the house with snow on New Year’s Eve, something it was well-known for in the past. It’s not set in stone but they’re hopeful it will happen. Things in Thailand are much more by the book these days and the bar is getting the correct paperwork on file, which is about the artificial snow being fire retardant, just in case someone asks.

Soi Nana sounds like it is becoming “Soi United Nations” with ladies of many nationalities offering themselves for sale. Soi Nana’s foreign contingent tend to linger a couple of hundred metres down the soi from the entrance to the plaza. In addition to Thais, there are Vietnamese, Laotians, Nigerians, Kenyans, Ugandans, Uzbekis, Russians, Tanzanians along with ladies from the Middle East – and probably other nationalities too. Punters are spoiled for choice.

The way the police enforce things varies from police district to police district and even from officer to officer. The Thonglor police did not appreciate some of the photos a friend of mine took on Soi Cowboy recently, and told the bar to take them down, insisting that any photos showing ladies out on the soi in bikini bottoms is unacceptable. This is one of those unusual anomalies where I can’t imagine that a specific law has been broken – but at the same time you have to accommodate requests like this from the police. In Thailand, you need to have the police on your side. I guess that the issue was that the very nice photos could, at a stretch, be viewed by some as the police not doing their job and allowing distasteful images to sully the good reputation of family-friendly Soi Cowboy.

This coming Saturday, November 25, Butterflies, on the top floor of Nana Plaza, will host its 7th Anniversary Party. The first 100 punters will receive a free drink tumbler. And there will be heaps of free pizza. The highlight of the event will be the Butterflies Babe of the Year pageant, with the winner set to receive a grand prize of 25,000 baht and the runners up another 15,000 baht. Expect it to be packed so get there early. Doors open at 8:00 PM but a few VIP tables are still available and can be booked via the LINE app.

Massage shops can be found up and down Sukhumvit and on more of its side alleys than not, but with so many choices, where should you stop by? It all depends on whether you’re looking for just a rub-down or bit more. If you’re looking for the latter, you might like to try French-owned Daisy Dream on soi 33. As with gogo bars, foreign owners of massage shops seem to go the extra mile to create a better experience. Located at the end of the third sub-soi on the right, Daisy Dream is growing in popularity. Beautifully done out from the lobby to the rooms, Daisy Dream recently opened four new VIP Jacuzzi suites on its renovated fourth floor. The best way to contact Daisy Dream is via the LINE app. You can find out more at their website.

What do you make of the likes of gogo bars and massage shops using LINE as their main point of contact? I guess I am old-fashioned but dealing with a business via LINE doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence.

 

If you didn’t see the “No Photos” sign at the entrance to Nana Plaza, security will remind you!

 

There are signs throughout Nana Plaza saying no photo. The signage is clear and there are enough of them that I think there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that they’re serious about this. So if you ignore these signs and pull out a camera and start taking photos, don’t be surprised to come to the attention of security. In the photo above, a reader tried to take snaps of ladies outside a popular bar. He was not set upon by security or anything like that, rather security shone a laser in to the lens of his camera. Security prevented the ladies from being snapped and the photographer ended up with a nice shot.

This past week I received two reports about massive bill-padding in Bangkok gogo bars. In each case, the final bill was several thousand baht more than it should have been. One of these reports was from someone I know who worked as a bar manager. While I am not going to name the bars, I will describe what happened and outline some measures you can take to reduce the chance of being ripped off yourself. These two cases – one of which happened in a Sukhumvit gogo bar and the other in a Patpong gogo bar – share many things in common. In each case, there were 3 or more guys drinking at the table. And in each case, they were in the bar for some time with everyone ordering a number of drinks. And in each case, lady drinks were purchased. That means that the total bill would likely be anything from a few to several thousand. On each occasion, the bill was 10,000 baht or more, several thousand baht more than it should be. How does the bar do it? Lady drinks are added to the bill for members of staff who were not at the table and never had a drink. Post Covid, lady drink commissions have jumped and in most Bangkok gogo bars they run 100 baht per drink. It is tempting for some unscrupulous members of staff to add lady drinks to a sizeable bill at a table with multiple customers. After a night of revelry, who can remember how many drinks they had? Not many can – but funnily enough, most can remember roughly how many lady drinks they offered to ladies. The easiest way to avoid this nonsense is to consider clearing your bill after every couple of drinks. It’s a minor hassle but it prevents a big argument and potentially a nasty stand-off at the end of the night. Perhaps more bars should adopt the system that the King’s Group bars in Patpong had for some time where customers had to sign the chit for every drink ordered. That system worked well in preventing exactly this very issue from happening. One really does expect more from a member of a professional class of women whose occupation is to entertain men as well as those given to unusual sexual behaviour.

In last week’s column was comment that there were more Indian discos on Walking Street than, how shall we put it, “non-Indian discos”. The count in last week’s column was 7 dedicated Indian discos. To be clear, these discos may be Indian-themed discos which cater to Indians – but everyone is welcome. However, that number is down to 6 with Cavalli now closed. There is a “for rent” sign outside.

Pattaya is said to be thronging with people and high season has well and truly arrived in Sin City. Word is that many places are busy including bars, restaurants, massage shops, beach chair vendors, shopping malls and supermarkets all with plenty of customers. And there is the full gamut of visitors – Westerners, Russians, Indians, East Asians all represented in significant numbers. Even away from the busy areas, in the likes of North Pattaya the seaside restaurants, bars and terraces have been described as busy every night.

A recent report from Pattaya City Hall stated that Pattaya visitor numbers are back to 80 – 90% of pre-Covid levels. They opined that it wasn’t 100% due to the Chinese not being back in full force. One regular reader who resides for part of the year in Sin City commented that if the Chinese do return in the numbers they previously visited, Pattaya could see its best high season ever. While there is the usual talk of doom and gloom and economic woes and increasing prices and high airfares, all indications are that – in Pattaya at least (and I suspect it will be very much the same in Bangkok) – this is going to be a bumper high season.

Asian expat crime fiction writer Jake Needham has a new title out this week that connects to Thailand. The seventh book in the Inspector Samuel Tay series is titled “Who The Hell Is Harry Black?” It begins on the beach in Hua Hin, and ends in Hong Kong.
For over thirty years, a man named Harry Black has lived quietly in a small town on the Gulf of Thailand. Then, while walking on the beach on his eighty-sixth birthday, a sniper firing from half a mile away shoots and kills him. Inspector Samuel Tay was once Singapore’s best-known homicide detective, but he’s no longer a cop. He was too much of a maverick for straight-and-narrow little Singapore and his bosses forced him into an early retirement. When a guy who once did Tay a big favor asks him to look into Harry Black’s murder, it’s his chance to get back in the game. Harry Black was just an old man who lived in complete obscurity for the last thirty years of his life. Could he possibly have known a secret so big that somebody murdered him to keep it hidden? But then here’s the problem. If he did, and if Sam Tay discovers the secret someone killed Harry Black to bury, why wouldn’t they kill Tay to silence him, too?
The title is available in both paperback and ebook editions exclusively at Amazon stores worldwide, and it’s also included in the Kindle Unlimited library for people who subscribe to that service. Amazon US. Amazon UK. Amazon Australia.

Please note that this book has no connection to Harris Black AKA Harry Black, a colourful Canadian who called Thailand home for more than a decade and was known internationally for a variety of scams. Harris left Thailand a few years back and is said to be doing his thing in Canada.

It’s Thanksgiving Day this coming Thursday and there will be Thanksgiving deals all over town with way too many venues to list. Expect many American-themed restaurants to have some promotion or another, be it a buffet or a set menu. In the past I have pointed people towards Bourbon Street or Margarita Storm for Thanksgiving but this year I am going to mention somewhere new. The Thanksgiving deal set at Birds Rotisserie in Sukhumvit soi 23, outlined in the graphic above, looks like a good deal and is very reasonably priced.

Who is behind the DOS attack on the ASEAN Now (previously known as Thai Visa) forum this week? Thailand’s largest expat forum has been inaccessible since early afternoon Thursday Thai time and as at the time of publishing this column, it has yet to come back online. In response to email, ASEAN Now explained that the outage is due to a DOS attack (denial of service). These sorts of attacks are typically the work of someone with an axe to grind – of which the forum seems to have plenty of potential candidates – or in the case of big businesses, may be a blackmail attempt.

Last Sunday a festival was held at the Thai temple just 15 km from home, combining Loy Krathong and a local celebration. Hundreds of people turned up, most of them Thais. I had no idea so many Thais lived in the area. I have been to a few events at the Thai temple in Auckland in the past and I remember writing some 20 odd years ago that it felt like half those present once worked in Pattaya. It was very much different this time. Among the couple of hundred or more Thai women present, not one came across as a former bar worker. In fact, there weren’t that many New Zealanders there and it seemed like most of the Thais had a Thai partner / Thai family. Most Thais in this part of the country work in horticulture or the service / hospitality industries whereas in bigger cities like Auckland you find Thais in all manner of jobs. Is the change in demographics of the Thai community a sign of the times or a difference in geography? My best guess is that it’s the former. I reckon if I was to drop by the Thai temple in Auckland these days it would be a similar make-up with far fewer ladies who obviously used to work at night.

The other half likes many things about New Zealand, but at the same time she has never been able to shake the idea that at some point she’d like to return to Thailand permanently. After all of these years in NZ, that feeling seems to be fading a bit. While it can’t be explained by any one thing, there are a couple of things that she keeps coming back to – the better weather in NZ and the clean air. She’s become so used to living in a country where the air quality is no threat to your general health that the idea of returning to the filthy air of Bangkok is an issue for her. Yes, there are places in Thailand where the air quality isn’t so bad (the south) and where for parts of the year the temperature isn’t so bad (the north and to a lesser extent, the northeast) but there is nowhere in Thailand where the weather and the air quality compares with here. Don’t get her started on food, however – like most Thais, she much prefers the food in Thailand!

Thailand-Related News Articles

The Thai government was considering bringing in Chinese police to help patrol tourism hotspots until there was a public backlash and they abandoned the daft idea.

Outbound foreign travellers will be able to pass through automatic channels at Suvarnabhumi Airport from next month.

Koh Kong in Cambodia used to be a popular spot for Thai expats to venture for nightlife, and this video shows what it’s like today.

Is a blockbuster Chinese movie discouraging some Chinese from visiting Thailand?

The New York Times took a look at the life of former massage parlour tycoon and later whistle-blower, Chuwit.

 

Early evening, Soi Cowboy.

 

Closing Comments

The world economy is on the brink, airfares are high, inflation is raging and prices are on the up, and Thailand is not what it was, they say. “Thailand is over!”, some of you have tried to tell me. To you smug know-it-alls who deride all things Thailand, everyone there on the ground tell me that things are booming. Visitor numbers are rising week on week and an empty seat may not be easy to find in some hot-spots. Thailand’s tourism industry is as compelling as ever and I imagine that for many businesses in the tourism industry, this high season will feel like it is raining money. If anything, the issue this high season is not likely to be too few people, but perhaps too many. I can’t wait to get back but alas, it won’t be until some time early next year. I envy those of you who get to enjoy Thailand this high season.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

 

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com

 

nana plaza