Stickman Weekly, December 24, 2023
Last week’s photo was taken outside the entrance to the Nana Hotel. I was mighty surprised that not that many of you got it right and, worse still, some of you got it wrong! There cannot be a hotel more popular in all of Thailand with naughty boys. Who would have thought a Stickman reader could possibly get that location wrong?! I wonder if any Stickman readers were inadvertently captured in that photo? This week’s photo is in a part of Bangkok known well by the increasing number of expats who live in the area, but it’s not a downtown location. That said, it’s not way out in the distant suburbs either. I guess a decent clue would be to say it’s an area some expats once considered the end of the line, so to speak, when in reality it’s less than 20 minutes from downtown.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Readers’ Emails From The Past Week
The Sukhumvit freak show.
Sukhumvit at night, especially the stretch between sois 5 and 17, is still one big freak show, with lots and lots of ladyboys, dodgy African dope dealers, and Thai working girls now seemingly a minority. I had dinner late one night in Margarita Storm (around 1 AM), and had a window seat overlooking the corner of soi 13. There were 5 Africans hanging around there the whole time, chatting with one other and playing with their phones. It didn’t look like they were too busy. But during a stroll after dinner along Sukhumvit and also into soi 11, I counted a few dozen (!) Africans hanging around. You start wondering how they all make a living. They all need a roof over their head, food, clothes etc. and that has to be paid for somehow. We know what the do for a living, so there must be a solid market for their merchandise.
A trip to 7 Eleven.
While returning to my hotel late at night, I decided to buy some items at 7 Eleven. I was opposite soi 7, and there’s a 7 Eleven a few buildings from the corner of that soi. So I cross the bridge, and immediately after I descend on the soi 7 side I am approached by an African asking me, “Hey bro, what’s up? You need some stuff? I can get you anything.” I couldn’t resist. “Yes, actually I do! Can you get me 2 large bottles of classic Lipton Ice Tea (no gas), a bottle of milk (preferably Dutch Mill, but Chokchai will do too) and a bag of Lays original crisps, please”. The guy looked very confused, and for a few seconds went quiet. Then he says “Sorry”, and walks away. Can you believe this?! They say they’ll get you anything and yet they can’t come up with even the simplest of items. The bastard! Had to walk all the 12 steps to the 7 Eleven to get what I wanted.
Thailand safe, but it pays to be careful.
In response to your Bangkok Dangerous comments last week following a couple of violent incidents in the Nana area, these days it isn’t only Bangkok that is dangerous, and most of the danger comes from Thais. There are countless reports in the Thai-centric media about people being killed for the most trivial things – someone killed his neighbour for turning off the wi-fi he was allowing him to piggyback on, another killed his son for slamming a door, another chased and killed a man for hooting before overtaking. Thais have a very, very short fuse – I’d say that’s because they often have to hold in their frustrations in life to adhere to the Thai tradition of not making a fuss – and then they explode like a volcano when it all gets too much. Fortunately for us though, the violence is usually Thai on Thai. But just be careful out there. The world seems to be much more dangerous now, and Thailand is no exception.
The economics of 4 AM closing.
Regarding 4 AM closing, I went to the Today Bar on Soi 8 entryway off the main Sukhumvit Road last night and was told by one of the bar hostesses that they are now open until 4 AM. Sure enough, when I walked by around 2:15 AM, the bar was still open and pretty busy. This particular gal told me that – as you have noted in the past – they do not get paid extra for these additional two hours of work. As it is, she starts at 5 PM so that’s now 11 hours of work, plus her home is a ½-hour motorcycle trip away. One other aspect I noticed is that I counted 8 cocktail waitresses and close to a dozen buy-me-drinks girls working there last night. Not sure how the business plan works for that as there were not even half a dozen customers.
More Readers’ Emails
Beer availability in Bangkok.
Regarding complaints about the limited selection of beers in the Bangkok bars, IMHO the selection is still better than bars in the Philippines where all they have available are various versions of San Miguel. I’m assuming that the complaints are targeted mostly at gogo bars but I have been pleasantly surprised to find an increasing number of craft beer pubs around the city in the past 5 years or so. Not only do they have tasty beers on tap but some have imported bottled beers for sale. It’s a little expensive but worth it.
The looming tax law.
Interesting about taxation of funds transferred from abroad into Thailand. From www.legal500.com, “A person is living in Thailand for more than 180 days a year but receives income outside of Thailand since the last 10 years and transfers this money into Thailand. Starting from 01. January 2024, this income will be subject to tax regardless of when it was earned.” I am not moving back to Thailand anytime soon, but I am in touch with people with disposable income from Europe to Australia of the same mind. Maybe this is about weeding out the less affluent foreigners. Those with money often have it because they are good with money. It might be that this not only makes it harder for your average pensioner, but also makes those better off hesitate to keep much needed currency flowing in to Thailand. And the latter will, after all, have those gold-cards – issued in lands with favourable terms – to pay for their daily bread and salt. Good luck to those who must do battle with Thai bureaucrats over exemptions to the new tax debacle. Doing battle with Thai officialdom is a bit like fighting a big lump of jelly with a small straw. The jelly changes, recovers and reconstitutes. The straw gets wet and rots.
I just got back to Holland. Departures out of Bangkok was very busy. The last 300 metres or so to the Departures hall took about 10 minutes because there was a traffic jam. I’ve never experienced that before. That was around 11.00 AM. And this was not because the peak of the high season had arrived, it was because of people leaving the country. I noticed at the airport that despite the fact that there were lots and lots of Asians around, there were very few face masks to be seen. Maybe 10% of people were wearing one. And that in a crowded place like Suvarnabhumi.
It’s that time of year again!
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
Initial reports about 4 AM closing had us believe it would be limited to Bangkok’s 3 designated entertainment zones, Rachadapisek, RCA and Silom / Patpong. However, last Friday, the day that 4 AM closing was introduced, it became clear there were 146 locations in Bangkok which can open until late, including the likes of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza. Things haven’t exactly been transparent with reports that “a special licence” might be needed in some areas to stay open until 4 AM with said licence coming with significant ongoing monthly fees. Whether Nana and Cowboy bars choose to open late on an ongoing basis remains to be seen.
Bangkok’s nightlife industry may be busy – as are bars in Phuket and much of Pattaya – but don’t take that to mean that the whole region is booming. Across the border in Phnom Penh, word is that Cambodia’s very own version of the Hunger Games is playing out with an expat friend based there saying his phone has been ringing constantly as ladies without cash hunt for customers. Fortunately, he is a charitable fellow and the ladies who call him are given a chance to make some money.
Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy won’t be filling the bar with snow this New Year’s Eve after all. The plan has been nixed by those with the power to do so. Despite the snow no go, I am sure it will still be a great night in Dollhouse.
Tonight (Sunday) kicks off the final party week of the year with Christmas, New Year’s and Full Moon all taking place over the next seven days. Red Dragon and Mandarin in Nana Plaza, along with sister bar Shark Club in Soi Cowboy, will celebrate Christmas for two nights (24th and 25th) with big parties featuring the Sexy Santas featured throughout this column as well as special shows. The Nana bars open at 8:00 PM now while Shark starts a little earlier at 7:30 PM.
The parties continue at Shark and Red Dragon on December 27th with the monthly Full Moon Party. Sexy shows are planned. Then, on New Year’s Eve, the Drag Queen Thailand performers will return to headline the bars’ Countdown parties.
There has been a date change to a party I wrote about in last week’s edition. Buddy’s Bar & Grill on Sukhumvit soi 89 is holding its Christmas party TONIGHT at 7:30 PM. It’s a huge feast of roast turkey, Christmas ham, pork roast, ribs, sausages, salmon and Scandinavian dishes, plus free Christmas cookies & eggnog for just 390 baht. That really is an amazing price when you consider that the likes of turkey and salmon are pricey in Thailand.
Those building new bars like to say builders were “working into the night” to get the job done, but it’s seldom the case. Nana Plaza has a ban on any major hammering and sawing after 6 PM, but quieter interior work can continue. And so it is at the new bar taking shape on the top floor where the short-time hotel used to be next to Tycoon. The photo above was taken after 11 PM and shows builders working late into the night.
Next door at Tycoon, work on Lace Lounge upstairs resumed after a meeting with the main and sub-contractors. The stage has now gone and it is hoped the new bar will open a few days in to the new year.
One Nana Plaza bar which I keep hearing good things about is Geisha. Many of you tell me it has lots of ladies very easy on the eye. And for those who especially enjoy bars that are hands on, you might like to stop by. The Japanese love it there and that’s as good a measure as any of whether a bar has attractive ladies. The Japanese have, in my humble opinion, very good taste in women.
Down the road in Soi Cowboy, Crazy House reupholstered all of its sofas earlier this year, replacing many of the seating cushions at the same time. The owners made clear this week they aren’t keen to do it again anytime soon. As of Tuesday this week, all of the sofas were covered in clear plastic. Why? Silly string. The bar is selling cans of the sticky, stringy mess – along with confetti-filled party poppers – for the year-end holidays. They obviously don’t want to ruin the furniture.
Further down Sukhumvit in soi 33, tonight – Christmas Eve – all customers who visit Demonia will receive a free glass of Champagne. The same offer is available tonight in Demonia’s sister venue, The Castle on Pattaya’s Third Road.
Sukhumvit’s African contingent were visited by the boys in brown on each of Monday and Wednesday evening this past week. A regular reader snapped some photos of police talking with Africans on Monday night while there were also reports of police in the area talking with Africans on Wednesday night. It was a mix of regular police and Immigration officers (which, in Thailand, is part of the police force).
On Wednesday night, readers report seeing police talking to Black men between Sukhumvit sois 3/1 and 5. Some were taken away. It is not clear if they were busted, or perhaps it was a passport / visa status check? Despite the police presence, last night Africans were out and about greeting passers-by, although it sounds like their numbers have reduced from what they were. It doesn’t sound like this was a big raid – and there was none of the usual dog and pony show with accompanying media.
Africans attempting to engage with white tourists is also a thing in Tokyo where in some areas there are Africans lingering, beckoning white foreigners passing by and asking them what they’re looking for.
It has been pointed out that I got something wrong in the recent Patpong article when I lamented the fact that Madrid had closed. Technically, I was wrong. Madrid relocated a couple of kilometres down Silom Road to a non-descript location under the expressway. I maintain that the Madrid we knew and loved is gone. Yes, Madrid reopened (frankly, I am loathe to use this word) in a new location but it’s hardly the same place. Madrid in Patpong soi 1 was Madrid. Away from its original location, it’s a new venue with an old name.
Down in Pattaya, what is happening at the once-famous naughty boys’ hotel, the Penthouse Hotel in Soi Pattayaland 2? I mentioned the property a few months ago and reported that work was being done on it. Has it opened yet? No. Construction is ongoing and the latest is that the hotel hopes to reopen in a couple of months’ time.
Still in Pattaya, the GentsClubs.com group of bars is bringing its series of parties to a conclusion on Christmas Day. Once the gifts are open and breakfast done, it’s time to head to Maggie Mays on Soi Chaiyapoon at 1 PM. There will be ladies dressed as sexy elves, mince pies on offer and a raffle for Christmas prizes.
The McDonald’s branch near the Pattaya South Road entrance of Walking Street remained closed and shuttered long after Thailand reopened and Pattaya came back to life. Many thought it was gone for good. So it was a surprise earlier this month to see it back in business. Trade is booming late at night.
I don’t want to sound like an officious health and safety officer who cautions about all the fun things in life, while at the same time I think it’s worth being aware of the potential dangers of Bangkok’s infamous pussy show. Few venues perform said shows these days. Patpong may be best known for the shows although whether anywhere performs them there these days, I really don’t know. Long Gun in Soi Cowboy is one bar which has persisted with them. There are a number of shows, each with a different item released from a lady’s nether regions, like bananas, ping-pong balls, live frogs, darts etc. The dart show is the one you need to be careful of (unless you happen to be a frog, and then the frog show is definitely the one to avoid). With the darts show, the performer sits on the stage, inserts a long rod down there and fires darts from it at balloons placed around the bar. The projectiles are made of paper wrapped around a needle and they fly through the air at speed. If her aim was off, a dart could ended up in your eye. In fairness, I have never heard of an accident taking place – which is amazing given that these shows have been performed for decades. The darts in the image below are the property of Long Gun. If you insist on seeing one of these grotty shows, look the other way or cover your face when the darts start flying.
This week I was playing around on the Singapore Airlines website comparing airfares for various destinations. I was surprised to find that I can fly from New Zealand to various places in Europe and back for less than I can fly from New Zealand to Bangkok and back. The various dates I tried were not high season in Thailand or Europe, yet the fares to Thailand were outrageous (while the fares to Europe were very reasonable). I guess it’s a demand and supply thing.
There is a lot of conjecture about the legalities of selling weed / marijuana / cannabis in Thailand and whether this industry will remain or whether the government will crack down on it. It is all conjecture and not something I will be commenting on, save to say that I think the genie is out of the bottle and any thoughts of putting it back in will see a lot of resistance.
How many gogo bars offer a view of the dance floor from the urinal? I can only think of two off the top of my head – Tilac and Rainbow, both in Soi Cowboy. Are there any others? I can’t think of any more in Bangkok but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some in Pattaya.
If you are keen to learn the Thai language to a decent level and get way beyond taxi Thai – which requires committing to full-time study for an extended period – you should consider Union Language School. “ULS” as it is often referred to by those who studied there is the oldest language school in Thailand and has been in business since 1952. I studied there for several months back in the day. The school is associated with a Christian organisation (don’t worry, religion is not pushed down your throat) and the teachers used to be quite strict. If you’re just looking to wile away a few hours a week and joke with your classmates about long-haired dictionaries and what you got up to the night before then it’s not a good choice. But if you are genuinely keen to take your Thai to a high level, ULS is a very good choice. I really liked the hours of study which were 8:00 AM to midday, Monday to Friday. After studying, you still have most of the day free. I mention this school because for whatever reason, it is seldom mentioned by Westerners looking for a Thai language school. Is there a reason for that? Probably because it’s a real language school with standards and not a visa mill as some language schools appear to be.
From the New Zealand files, in this part of the country there are a number of Cambodians. Thais outnumber Cambodians here but the Cambodian contingent is not insignificant. Rightly or wrongly, I always had the impression that Cambodians were a lazy bunch. I probably got that impression from Thais I dated over the years, most of whom had little to nothing positive to say about any of Thailand’s neighbours. And when I visited Cambodia, the local people, while generally very pleasant, were never in a hurry to do anything. Anyway, here in New Zealand I notice a big difference between Thais and Cambodians. When it comes to work, Thais seem to do what is required and not a lot more. The Cambodians here, on the other hand, appear to have an excellent work ethic and remind me more of the Vietnamese. They will work as many hours as they can and are willing to do what it takes to make customers happy. Whenever there is a festival at the local Buddhist temple, the Thais descend on the place while the Cambodians are all still at work!
A recently published book titled Sex Tourism in Thailand is described as an in-depth portrait of Thailand’s billion-dollar sex industry. The NYU Press website says Thailand is known internationally as a popular sex tourism destination. Yet, despite its size and reputation, remarkably little research has focused on the country’s sex industry over the past two decades. Based on original ethnographic data and other sources, Sex Tourism in Thailand is an expansive yet nuanced study of diverse sex markets and their moral economies. It is available in hardback and paperback from the NYU Press website.
I am a New Zealander and I speak the New Zealand version of English. That means that when I speak I sound like a Kiwi (although the odd Kiwi thinks I sound like an Aussie). It also means that I spell things like a Brit so colour has a “u” and it’s metre, not
meter. And while NZ English is much more like British English than American English, I might use some terms that are more common in American English than British English because NZ English is something of a mix. While I tend not to use slang, I might use some words that are only understood in this part of the world. One of the first pieces of advice I received when I started this column was to keep it breezy. A writer friend suggested the way to do that was to write as I speak – and not be concerned about everything being structured or necessarily grammatically correct. Writing as one speaks would keep it light and fitting with the content. I took that advice. From time to time, I may use words not commonly used outside of this part of the world. Kiwi English is similar to Aussie English and our two countries share some terms and vocabulary that may not be known by readers from other parts of the world. With that said, Google will help you with any word you’re not familiar with. It would seem, however, that my use of Kiwi English is an issue for a small number of readers. One fellow suggested I need to “retrain in English”. It’s a funny old world.
Thailand-Related News Articles
The Thai PM has instructed a ministry to arrange accident insurance coverage for international visitors over the New Year period.
Workers in Chonburi got a shock when they opened a shipment of cardboard from the US to find a pair of human legs.
In New Zealand, a Thai doctor is fined $48,000 after making defamatory comments online about former colleagues.
A Brit is missing after the dive boat he was on in Southern Thailand sank in rough seas.
It’s approaching 23 years since I started writing this column. I make no promises that there are another 23 years to come, but I will be here for at least another year. I am pleased to announce that the owners of this site and I agreed to terms this week and I will write this column for another year. It will be business as usual. There are no major changes planned. A huge thanks to all of you who stop by this site and read my weekly ramblings. It is your support and encouragement that keeps me producing this column week after week, month after month, year after year. Here’s wishing every one of you all the best for a very Merry Christmas! Or as the Thais say, Moerry Cristmutt!
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org