Stickman's Weekly Column November 26th, 2023

Stickman Weekly, November 26, 2023

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the start of Sukhumvit soi 7 from the other side of Sukhumvit Road. This week’s photo shows a somewhat popular location in downtown Bangkok but the perspective of the photo might make it somewhat challenging.

 

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

Eagle-eyed Customs.

He Clinic Bangkok

The wife and I had an allowance of 80 kg between us with Singapore Airlines so we used it to the max! I purchased 12 x bottles of New Zealand’s finest Pinot Gris to bring up to Thailand for a long stay. They never scan luggage so we will be ok. But with a different flight arrival time of 11:00 AM (not late afternoon as per the other airline I usually use), the X-ray scanner was being operated. They were trying to stop every passenger passing by with luggage. The wife and I got stopped and every bag of ours was scanned. They found our 12 x bottles of wine (8.4 litres in total). They confiscated 8 bottles and we made a donation to the Thailand government end of year party. As a note, on entering Thailand a passenger is only allowed maximum of 1 litre of alcoholic beverage per person!

Desperate times, desperate measures.

With all this talk about high prices for bargirls, I thought it a good time to share my experience. During the Covid lockdown, when tourism was pretty much closed, I was walking home after shopping at the Soi 5 branch of Foodland when 2 girls approached me. They offered to go home with me, to which I replied jokingly “Sure, 500 baht.” The girls said “OK”. But then I said, “No, 500 baht for the both of you.” I nearly dropped my bag when both girls said OK. I kid you not. True story. Now, I am quite happy with my Thai girlfriend, so I didn’t take their offer. But a week later I gave the same offer on soi 11 while walking home and again another girl agreed. So, it just goes to show you that if there are people willing to pay, the prices will keep going up. For Thailand locals, those Covid days were great.

CBD Bangkok

Thais in Sweden.

It’s interesting to read about Thais in New Zealand. Over the last 5 – 10 years, there has been a small influx of professional Thais here in Sweden. Some universities have exchange programs with schools in Bangkok. The labour market for professional positions is more international these days with open borders. In the Swedish countryside, there are quite a few Thai wives who were imported between 1995 and 2015. (On a few occasions I had Thai patients in rural areas and they appeared to me to be miserable. In Thai restaurants in Stockholm, massage workers are often seen. Second-generation Thais can be found in these jobs and they speak perfect Swedish and some may have only visited Thailand a couple of times. They inherit and are proud of their Thai culture. There are fewer massage venues than there were here in the past. There has been a crackdown and the Sweden currency is weak. 10 – 15 years ago one could meet girls who arrived on a 3-month tourist visa and didn’t speak any Swedish or English.

More Readers’ Emails

How to get photos in bars.

About 30 years ago I discovered that the best way to get photos in the bars isn’t to take them at all. Instead, just hand the camera (or phone these days) to one of the friendly girls you just bought a drink for and she’ll happily take photos and nobody will stop her, or at least they won’t in most bars. Nana bars might be an exception. I’m guessing that it’s much more lenient in Cowboy and Patpong.

Airport congestion.

wonderland clinic

It’s Monday, 11:00 AM, and I am trying to go home. It’s absolutely farcical in Departures here at Suwannabhumi Airport. I have been waiting in the queue for more than 2 hours to get through. Of course, people who didn’t come early enough are pushing. Queue rage is developing and I have seen a lady go head-first down the escalator.

ThaiVisa.

The ThaiVisa for has been down this week because of an Ddos attack. When I check the look at the forum, there are some guys with 55.000+ posts and most of what they write is negative. Why do you live in this beautiful country when you appear to hate it so much? Maybe I am being rhetorical? We know why. They can’t go back because they are losers back home. I wonder what they are doing right now. Sitting in the Tesco Lotus food court, checking out the “hot” women. Or are they sitting angry at the Beach Road in Pattaya and complaining to each other how stupid Thai people are? Or are they living in Isaan despite not speaking a word of Thai. Perhaps they have found another negative farang who also likes to drink Hongtong and they are complaining to one another that Thai people can’t drive etc. I really wonder who these users on ThaiVisa area. Perhaps you should interview a negative Thaivisa commenter one time?

Useful pre-paid SIM hack.

I’ve got a useful life hack for your readers. You know how prepaid SIM cards need topping up all the time to keep them alive? It can be a real pain and once they’re off it’s a total balls ache. With the AIS prepaid SIM, if you do separate transactions of 50 baht say 12 transaction, that keeps the number valid for 12 months. That means zero hassle. It’s so simple but I bet no-one realises this. The guy in the AIS shop just told me and did it.

 

Soi Cowboy, this past Friday night, and the crowds were out and about.

 

This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Everyone’s telling me that without a shadow of a doubt, high season is here. Multiple people tell me that downtown Bangkok is heaving with visitors with a distinct change in the profile of visitors. Where even just a few weeks ago it felt like the majority of visitors were Asians, now there is a very Europeans flavour.

A friend wandered in to Nana Plaza on Thursday night and his first thoughts were that it was crowded. He made his way to Spanky’s and it was packed. He had to check his watch – 1:30 AM and punters were everywhere. Dave The Rave used to always tell me that peak hour in the gogos was 10:30 PM until midnight. So when gogo bars are still packed at 1:30 AM, you know business is booming.

And in yet another sign that Bangkok’s tourism industry is bursting at the seams, the Mothership, AKA Nana Hotel, is full.

Speaking of the Nana Hotel, industry observers are curious to see which direction Nana Nightclub will go. The venue is finding its feet and, for the time being at least, is not open late. This reduces its appeal somewhat. In Bangkok, the notion is that discos are places to go late at night when everywhere else has closed. While Nana Nightclub should do well with Nana Plaza directly across the road – and get some of the spill-over of customers – the problem is that with the current 2:00 AM closing time, Nana Nightclub is competing against Nana Plaza – and we know who will win that battle. If Nana Nightclub can somehow wrangle a deal to open later, it should thrive. If it doesn’t……well, I’ll let you guess the rest. This week, an Indian fellow was outside on the soi, touting for business for Nana Nightclub.

After more than a year on the market, Erotica in Nana Plaza has finally been sold. The new owner is a 33-year-old Japanese man who becomes the newest member of Nana Plaza’s youth wave, the 3rd new bar owner under aged 40 to buy into the Plaza this year. And like the young Spaniards who bought Whiskey (now Essence) and Rainbow 69, Erotica’s new boss is new to Thailand gogo bars. That said, he owns a couple of hostess bars in Japan.

 

Erotica in Nana Plaza has been sold.

 

The new owner said Erotica will change name to “Party Party” next year, bringing an end to a long-running Nana brand. Staff, however, noted the Erotica name has felt like it meant “bad luck” for the past 6 years so they hope a fresh name and look will turn around business that has been terrible since before Covid-19. Along with a name change, a total renovation will take place, probably in February or March. For now, everything remains as it was so you can still find your favourite mamasans, managers and dancers in place at Erotica.

On soi 8, the rumours were true and the queen of the soi has taken over another space on the main drag, a massage shop. Most things she touches on soi 8 turn in to gold and empty seats become a rarity. Normally I am not in favour of one operator dominating an area but this lady is on top of her game so expect soi 8 to get even better.

Tomorrow (Monday) is Loy Krathong, the traditional festival which honours the water goddess, and has become Thailand’s version of Valentine’s Day. Loy Krathong is celebrated on a full moon, so Shark Club on Soi Cowboy and Red Dragon in Nana Plaza will host a double Loy Krathong Full Moon Party, combining sexy versions of traditional Thai dress with their monthly neon-bikini Full Moon Party. Both bars are promising “exciting shows” and doing lucky draws for customers all night. No drink specials at Red Dragon, but Shark has all drinks just 95 baht until 9:30 PM and 95-baht draft beer all night.

 

Loy Krathong parties in Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy.

 

I’ve been giving Patpong shit for a long time but fair play to Pink Panther at the Suriwong Road end of Patpong soi 2 which continues to impress even grumpy, hard-to-please expats with many young, slim, attractive dancers. Pink Panther is known for its Muay Thai boxing show, which sees all dancing stopped at 10:20 PM for 40 minutes, tables moved and a boxing ring constructed and then torn down again in the middle of the bar, each night. Mainstream tourists who somehow find themselves in the bar love it, but expats find it an annoying disruption – it’s not what they came to see. This week, Pink Panther’s French manager said that he’s proposed to the Thai owner that the boxing show be brought forward an hour earlier with dancing only from 10 PM. That sounds like a fair compromise, even if I personally think the boxing should be done away with altogether. Scheduling the faux boxing show earlier would give tourists their taste of Thai culture, and expats could have the bar from 10 PM.

It is with a curious mixture of excitement and dread that Patpong bar owners and staff are looking forward to December 15 – when bars in Bangkok’s oldest (and slowest) red-light area will be allowed to stay open until 4:00 AM. Owners who have suffered from Covid and the implosion of the group that had resurrected Patpong Soi 2, are rubbing their hands together in the belief that the longer hours will give them a unique advantage over busier Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy. At this stage, it does not look like Sukhumvit Road bar areas will be allowed to stay open until 4 AM.

Dancers, service staff and mamasans don’t share their bosses’ enthusiasm. Patpong already stays open until 3:00 AM – typically an hour later than both Cowboy and Nana although times can vary a bit – and no-one wants to work yet another hour. This has the potential to cause staffing issues and, let’s be frank, some customers in the bars after 3 AM can be more trouble than they’re worth.

 

Boxing at Pink Panther, Patpong.

 

One Patpong gogo bar will no longer be a gogo bar come December 15. The French owner of Radio City, who also operates Bada Bing, has decided to turn Radio City back into a nightclub, giving late-night revelers a place to dance and drink that doesn’t involve bargirls, lady drinks and barfines. Construction hasn’t started, but it won’t be a big job, with the boss saying it should only take a few days.

Pattaya may be pumping but I only have one news item from Sin City this week. Fetish bar The Castle on Third Road has extended its unlimited drinks promotion to include Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, 1,500 baht gets you unlimited drinks for the evening – and note that this includes the entry fee. Drinks prices in fetish bars like The Castle and Demonia run a lot more than in your more standard naughty bars so this is a decent deal.

After an angel with huge, lighted wings won the 25,000-baht Butterflies Babe of the Year pageant last year, the Butterflies babes went all in on lights this year with amazing, fantastic, over-the-top costumes. But, in the end, a popular girl with no costume won the crown and the cash. #18 walked away with the prize with #407, who had the biggest, most-elaborate costume, taking first runner-up and #5, with a handmade foam and lights wings, third. It was a described as an incredible event by bar owners and managers from other Nana bars as well as Cowboy and Patpong there. They were blown away at what an amazing event it was. If you were in Bangkok last night and missed it, shame on you. I gave you a heads up last week it would be worth going out of your way for! More about the Butterflies 7th Anniversary Party in next week’s column.

 

The top 3 Butterflies Babes of the Year, at the Butterflies Anniversary Party, held in Nana Plaza last night.

 

Angeles City in the Philippines used to be hugely popular with naughty boys, particularly Americans and, to a lesser extent, Aussies. 10+ years ago, groups of friends in Pattaya would venture to Angeles City in large groups and come back with stories of what a fabulous place it was, how the nightlife was better than Pattaya (which they thought, in turn, was better than Bangkok) and how if it wasn’t for the fact that most had settled in Pattaya, they would relocate. Many times they tried to convince me to go with them and perhaps I should have, but the truth is that I was in a relationship and the appeal of the bright lights had somewhat dimmed for me. Over the years, each and every person in that group completely lost interest in Angeles City – as did many who were once regular visitors to the Philippines’ very own Sin City. Word was unanimous – Angeles had changed. There were many reasons for the change but some made the claim that Angeles City was ruined by one group of people. Koreans. Some claim that since Koreans started visiting Angeles City in large numbers, they would throw silly money around and pushed up prices. But more than that, the way middle-aged Koreans like to drink and party was not always compatible with the laid-back older Western crowd. There were stories of Koreans mistreating women. Crackdowns became a regular thing. Many ladies left Angeles altogether and bars which once had hundreds of girls lost most of them. Sin City turned into something more like a ghost town. These days Angeles City is said to a shadow of itself and nothing like it used to be. Most say it’s simply not worth visiting and the Angeles City many used to love is gone forever. Are there parallels with Thailand? Not really. That said, one should not forget that many of the better bars in Pattaya and to a lesser extent a few in Bangkok, get a lot of Korean visitors today. Will they mistreat women in Thailand like some are said to have done in the Philippines? I’ve always had the perception that Philippine ladies were rather docile, which is not something you can say about Thai women. I can’t imagine any Korean men knocking a Thai woman around would go down well. There will be trouble if they try that shit in Thailand.

 

Soi Nana’s newest venue, Nana Nightclub, has yet to get into a groove.

 

Fans of Bangkok nightlife who want a special memento should act quickly to secure a copy of the special edition of Christopher G. Moore’s cult classic, A Killing Smile Special Edition. After a long absence, the special edition is available on Chris’s website. A Killing Smile was, from memory, the first piece of Asia fiction I read, the first book by Chris I read – and I was hooked. The special edition is bound in leather and housed in an elegant box. It features a piece of salvaged Naugahyde from the remnants of the booths in the Old Thermae, adorning the inside cover.

Speaking of great books, Stephen Leather has put together a boxed set of four of his novels set in Thailand – The Solitary Man, The Tunnel Rats, Still Standing and Bangkok Bob And The Missing Mormon. The set is available as an eBook on Amazon for just £1.99 this weekend. That’s a great deal when you consider that the four books combined totals for more than 400,000 words! I’ve read all four – I’m a big fan of Stephen Leather’s work – and all of these titles are good reads. The Solitary Man is particularly good.

I think most of us find roaming around downtown Bangkok at night to be safe generally, but for those of you who drape gold around your neck, consider keeping your bling at home when you head out at night. In years gone by, pesky freelancing ladyboys in the soi 3/1, 5 and 7 area were known to grope passers-by, feign interest in them while attempting to pick their pocket and lift your valuables. That section of Sukhumvit is much busier than it was back in the day and the ladyboys have moved further down Sukhumvit, with some lingering in the shadows around the start of soi 29. This past week, one fellow learned a lesson that gold attracts trouble. He was hugged by a ladyboy who scampered off before he realised his 80,000 baht gold chain was gone. Draping yourself in gold and venturing to Sukhumvit at night isn’t a great idea.

So what really happened with the ASEAN Now (formerly Thai Visa) forum outage? The forum’s management did a brilliant job of annoying its users this past week when the forum went down. Despite sending most users twice a day, every day, updates from the site, they didn’t have the courtesy to send even one email to let users know what was going on. For one week the forum was offline, with no information posted about what had happened, or when regular service would resume. A friend who emailed the forum received the following response.

Thank you for contacting Support. Currently our hosting service is investigating a DDos attack on their network. We are assured that service will resume later today but we have no ETA on completion. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by this issue which is beyond our control.

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At the same time, a conflicting message was posted to their social media:

Dear users, we are in the process of migrating ASEAN NOW to a new more powerful cloud server with bigger capacity, as we are growing and need more power. We will be back online after maintenance move by end of this week. Sorry for the inconvenience !

.
ASEAN Now was back online on Thursday, but not without its issues. It was running like a crippled, geriatric soi dog with the new server appearing to be considerably slower than the old. I’m no fan of the way that forum is run, and especially the way it is moderated, even if it is without a doubt the most successful forum of its type in Thailand – and quite possibly the biggest expat forum in all of Asia. One does wonder, however, how much more successful it could have been if it had been well-managed.

There’s a new option in Bangkok for those hooked on nicotine but who have – or are trying to – quit smoking. As cigarette use continues to fall and vaping technically remains illegal in Thailand, Swedish-style snus and nicotine pouches have become increasingly popular, especially among Thais. Previously, the only way to get snus in Bangkok and the so-called nicopods delivered was through the ZippBike online store. This week, however, a new entrant entered the market. Snus Source is located in the growing B District @ Backyard Bangkok in Phra Khanong. For those who prefer to buy this poison online, try Shop.SnusSource.com.

From reading this column you might get the opinion that I am at times overly critical. You must be seriously unhappy in person, one reader emailed recently! Tell that to my girlfriend and she will tell you otherwise. It is important to be honest in this column and I refuse to indulge in the flowery nonsense that others commenting on expat life in Thailand might indulge in. My girlfriend feels that my online persona is rather different to how I am in person. I tend to be cheerful and friendly in person, something my other half tells me may be fine in New Zealand but in Thailand it can be a problem. How so? She believes that a friendly manner and being free with compliments can be taken the other way by the fairer sex. She cringes when I am complimentary to Thai females, insisting that many (well-educated Thais aside) will interpret it as flirting or showing interest in them. She pleaded with me for years to not be so nice to everyday Thai women I came across. She knew I wasn’t flirting but she thought some Thai women wouldn’t see it that way. She would often tell me that she was concerned at the possible reaction of Thai women who genuinely take things the wrong way. She specifically said that I should mention this in the column as a pointer for readers when dealing with Thai women, generally. Things can be misinterpreted very easily. I tried to get the point across to her that that is something many foreign men like about Thailand – you can be friendly and complimentary to ladies without getting an unnecessarily harsh or rude reaction.

Thailand-Related News Articles

Fear is said to be putting off some Chinese from visiting Thailand (and Japan).

A Brit tries to stop girls fighting in a Pattaya gogo bar and is knocked out for his trouble.

A Dane spends two months in the Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre after finding himself embroiled in a contentious case.

An Italian crook facing historic charges in his homeland is arrested after being found hiding out in Pattaya (where else?!).

Thailand is desperately trying to attract more Chinese tourists to visit the country.

Could Thailand soon legalise same-sex marriage?

Closing Comments

In last week’s column I wrote about a couple of gogo bars accused of padding bills. I did not name the bars but I did give some whopping clues. In the last sentence of that paragraph I wrote, “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.” Did you read between the lines? The clues were “a professional class of women whose occupation is to entertain men” which should give you the name of the first bar and “given to unusual sexual behaviour” which hinted strongly at the name of the second. Show me how clever you are and tell me which bars I was referring to by email – and I’ll tell you if you’re right or not. It’s not that hard to figure out! Remember, one was a Sukhumvit gogo bar and the other a Patpong gogo bar. Both bars are relatively new. I have been including clues like this in the column regularly for over 20 years and this is not something new. In a column from 2005 was the following paragraph:

I can also confirm that the rumour doing the rounds about underage girls in Soi Cowboy is, sadly, 100% true. One of the so called better Cowboy bars has at least one 17 year old employed….and she has been working there for two years. Do the maths! And she just recently brought her 15 year old sister down from the village. Worst of all, it is plainly obvious that this girl is 15 years old. She looks 15 years old. Stomach turning. So Horrible Even By Asian Standards.

The clue is in the final sentence. Note how each word is capitalised? Put the capitalised words together and you get the name of the bar. Like I say, I include clues to a lot of stuff in this column, particularly when for various reasons I cannot spell things out. Who said there was no depth to Stickman, eh?!

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

 

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com

 

nana plaza