Stickman's Weekly Column March 17th, 2024

Someone’s Gonna Get Whacked!

For much of the 25+ years that I have been writing about Thailand online, there have been online rivalries. Rather than report on what is happening or create original content, some like to take pot shots at others who also write about the bar industry. That was bad enough, but things have got even worse. These days, some with an online presence believe the road to riches is to weaponise their website and / or social media and threaten businesses in the bar industry. Advertise with them or be the subject of their poison posts!

This has not gone unnoticed by bar owners who have become increasingly concerned about who they choose to do business with.

He Clinic Bangkok

There’s something seriously wrong when bar owners become so concerned about what is written about their business online that they arrange special meetings to discuss how to avoid conflict with marketers / social media influencers. But that is exactly what is happening in Bangkok today as some errant social media warriors extort bars with thinly veiled threats of unfavourable commentary if their marketing and promotion services aren’t retained.

I don’t believe this was ever the intention of these errant folks and I get the feeling they inadvertently stumbled upon it. Probably, they lost a contract or had a proposal turned down, were disappointed, perhaps even annoyed, and in a moment of unprofessional madness they wrote some nasty comments about that venue on their social media. And then, miraculously, that business came back to them to use their services! So they signed them up, and removed the offending post(s). Unwittingly, they discovered a strategy to use on bars that didn’t sign on the dotted line.

Today, many bars use marketing agencies, photographers and / or social media influencers. After a period of time, for whatever reason, the bar decides to stop advertising. It might be that they no longer have the budget for it. Or they’re not seeing the returns (which, admittedly, are very hard to measure). Or perhaps someone else has pitched to them and they want to try a different approach. Or any of a hundred perfectly plausible reasons why people stop using or change service provider.

CBD bangkok

The influencer’s audience doesn’t know what is going on behind the scenes and they believe whatever the influencer posts. A bar the influencer may have previously been paid to promote is now described as a waste of space! The bar owner – often with little or no knowledge of social media – sees what is playing out online and squirms. What can they do? Allow this crap to be written, or pay the influencer to write something positive?

Some influencers are behaving like bandits, and playing a very dangerous game. They get it in their mind that their online presence wields power. They use these terms that even someone like me with  years writing online doesn’t understand. Followers, impressions, reach, hashtag etc. They write shit to force bar owners’ hands or to get revenge because they lost a contract and income. The sad part is that I think they genuinely don’t realise that what they are doing is extortion.

The high season has been great, but the low season is just around the corner. Advertising, photography and social media are one method bars can use to raise their profile. While many are keen to promote their bar, there is a growing awareness of the nastiness of some social media warriors / influencers / photographers. And that makes bar owners apprehensive about who to use, or whether to even go down that path at all.

What the clowns involved in this extortion fail to see is that the bar industry has more than a few unsavoury figures who would think nothing of dealing with such a problem.

wonderland clinic

But there are some real crackpots operating online these days who have lost all sense of reality. How long will it be before they try this BS with the wrong person?

Many years ago, I almost had a problem with a notorious bar owner who, overcome with paranoia, thought I was trying to take advantage of him. I have previously written about it. I was called to a meeting on a high-floor in an office building under the pretence that this bar group wanted to advertise with me. The meeting started very badly. Accusations were made from the outset that I was trying to extort him. It floored me. I had no idea what he was on about, and I’d done nothing of the sort. I was sitting across a large desk from a furious bar boss, flanked by two of his henchmen and at one point I really thought I was going out the window. Fortunately, I was able to quickly allay his concerns, the tone of the meeting changed completely and all was well again in the world. If the social media clowns operating today tried this shit on with that guy (which is not possible because he’s no longer in the land of the living), it would have been like a scene from The Sopranos and someone really would have gone out the window.

If you only ever experience the bars through beer goggles, you might have missed its many hard edges. There are troubled girls, jittery security and more than a few business owners who will do whatever is necessary to protect their patch. They don’t tolerate fools. There are a few bar bosses who really are volatile.

You can get pissed in their bar, misbehave, do unmentionable things to the girls in dark corners and as long as you’re paying, it will all be ok. But if you write shit on your many social media channels about their business because you didn’t get a contract, lost a contract, or are jealous because a rival got the contract, you’re playing a very dangerous game.

You can generally say what you want about the bars owned by foreigners – so long as it’s true. They mightn’t like it, but they’re not going to come after you for writing something that is true (even though publicly they may deny it’s true).

Thai bar owners are a different story. They operate on a very different set of principles. Some believe in the law of the jungle.

There can be a nasty undertone with social media. Add in rivalries, mental health issues, giant-sized egos, envy, jealousy, arrogance, ignorance and the big one, financial pressures, and you have a recipe for trouble.

Some bars have been slighted online after they stopped using someone to promote their bar. Others have seen their bar’s name sullied because an influencer’s proposal was turned down. Some bars have been attacked simply because a rival does their promotional work.

Rival websites have been targeted with DOS (denial of service) attacks. Social media accounts have been targeted. It’s a snake pit.

What’s next? Tip-offs to Immigration? No-one in this space is legal. That would be mutual self-destruction for all involved, especially with the current anti-farang sentiment.

To be clear, none of this has anything to do with this site. This primarily concerns the social media space.

There have been rivalries over the years between websites and those chronicling the nightlife but what is happening today is genuinely nasty with malicious intent from what I strongly suspect are people who are mentally messed up. If this continues and things escalate, someone’s gonna get whacked.



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the railroad tracks which cross Ploenchit Road, next to the expressway and right near where the old Soi Zero bar area was. More than half of you who responded got this one wrong. This week’s is somewhat more challenging than last week’s.



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

What happened to Birdman?

I remember Pattaya in better times. I lived there from 2006 until 2010 when I moved to Hua Hin. I met Birdman at Starbucks, near Beach Road. Around the time I moved to Hua Hin, Birdman helped a Pattaya friend of mine who had a serious accident. I have pics of us at the hospital. He was a very helpful guy. What a character, him and the bird. So lo and behold, I am walking down the beach footpath in Honolulu where I have lived since 2014 and I see this guy with a big red bird sitting on a park bench. I passed him and then thought that can’t be Birdman from Pattaya, can it? So I went back and asked, “Are you Don, the Pattaya Birdman?” Yep, it sure was! He was living in a homeless shelter that allowed drinking and even pets for those trying to get sober. I remember that alcohol was a problem back in 2010. I saw him a couple more times in the park. He had a motorbike with a box for the bird attached. Hawaii gives the homeless some money each month to help, so he’s not destitute. I have not seen him since.

Pattaya after 12 years away.

My first trip to Pattaya was December 2008 / January 2009 which coincides with a number of your photos. In fact, if you squint enough, you can probably see me stumbling out of iBar on Walking Street with a delightful young lady! My go-to bar from 2008 – 2011 was Secrets. I was a regular on the Secrets forum and enjoyed the vibe that Larry created, both online and in-person. Great days! I was in the Airport Club most nights. I have such fond memories of the place when it first opened. As a 25-year-old, I had the pick of the girls and had the pleasure of knowing several of them ‘very well’. 2011 came around and things changed. I got involved in a relationship with a university girl and Pattaya was no longer an option. Gogo bars and beer bars were replaced with rooftop bars and high-end restaurants. The thought of a weekend in Sin City was a long way off. Come summer 2023, I ventured back to Pattaya. The place was exactly how I remembered it, but had changed immeasurably. I still enjoyed visiting, though I felt anonymous and even unwanted. The magical world that I had known 12 years previously had disappeared, replaced with a vast melting pot of cultures, nationalities and languages. Previously when I walked into TIM Bar or Secrets, I knew everyone and everyone knew me. That’s long gone. Now I feel like I’ve gate-crashed a party I wasn’t invited to.

Still better than Farangland.

I first visited Patts in 1990. I had just turned 34 and had recently split with my farang live-in girlfriend. I traveled to Sin City with a mate. It was all his idea! We already had some mates living there who owned bars. Things were certainly different back then. The sight of a farang woman, western families, Russians, Chinese or young shirtless blokes was as rare as rocking horse shit. I was one of the youngest lads around. There were a lot of older Germans. They seemed to have more money than us so they got the pick of the girls. The only bar areas were the strip AKA Walking Street, Soi 2, Beach Road (Best Friend & TQ) and a few bars scattered around Sois Pattayaland 1 & 2. And Soi Yamoto, of course. There was no Soi Buakhao, or LK Metro or Soi Diana or New Plaza. Pattaya is a shadow of its former self these days thanks to the internet and TAT’s desire to bring ‘respectable’ tourists to the LOS. I remember Glitterman and the bloke with the parrot. I have also met Sharky. You mentioned Classroom. The two managers there are good mates of mine. I saw them both last week. I saw my old local in one of the photos. The infamous Dogs Bollocks. Another place gone. I had a beer with the former owner the other week. It closed due to Covid. Yes, things have changed in Fun Town, and not for the better. Some things I see now irritate me. It’s still better than Farangland though!

Pattaya changed, and so did we.

With great interest I’ve been reading the Peak Pattaya article. My thoughts went back to my personal escapades in Pattaya, and that brought back many fond memories. I agree with many things you said. Yes, while Pattaya right now is more than ever a better place to live, the magic of old has gone. And yes, Pattaya compared to how it used to be feels bland nowadays, but I still enjoy it. Pattaya has changed, but so have I. I’m older, and your interests change. I still do the rounds about twice a week, and being a night person, those nights usually end deep, deep into the next day. But I just go to my regular haunts, the occasional visit to a new bar aside (usually to visit old friends that hang out / work there).

More Readers’ Emails

Taxi rides to Pattaya.

Taking a taxi (on the fly) to Pattaya from Suvarnabhumi has always been risky. Drunk drivers or drivers who speed at 140 km/h, dangerously zig-zagging between lanes. And then there are drivers who pretend they don’t know their way around Pattaya, or who are actually lost. <In fairness to Bangkok taxi drivers, they may not know Pattaya very well, if at all, as it is not where they are based so I wouldn’t be too hard on them if they don’t know their way aroundStick> There are drivers who try to make conversation constantly for the 130 km journey when you’re jet-lagged and in no mood for small talk. And then there was the guy who left me at a rest stop out in a rice paddy while he tried to find a loo! What made me switch to limousines was a guy who tried to scam me. We had agreed on a fixed price but having already left the airport I sensed something was wrong. He had a towel hanging over the meter and I realised the set up. I poked him on his shoulder and said “No meter”. He smiled, removed the towel and turned the meter off. It could have got ugly in Pattaya.

An alternative to airport taxis.

For your readers struggling with taxis not using the meter, I recommend using Grab (Asia’s Uber) or Bolt. I usually order when leaving Immigration and walk straight out the door (you don’t even have to go downstairs). They’re usually there within 5 minutes. They have your destination already, price is fixed, no communication or haggling needed, it’s cheaper than taxis (about ฿300 to Soi 4 unless it’s really busy), and best of all it’s tied to Google Maps so they’ll always take the route with the least traffic at the time. Many people do this now and if taxis keep up their no-meter nonsense they’ll all be out of business.

Ongoing airport taxi issues.

I used both Bangkok airports last week. The taxis downstairs at the ticket system in Suvarnabhumi are now demanding 500 baht to the city centre of Bangkok, so be warned! Demand the meter or get out. They all know better. I will now be using the Airport Link / BTS / MRT as much as possible to avoid the taxi scams that the ticket system was supposed to correct. It makes a bad first impression.

A comfortable option from the airport to your hotel.

When arriving at Swampy these days, myself and the family head straight to the AOT limousine desk and head into town with them. While I understand everyone has different budgets, for an extra $30 – 40 after a long flight, just get me to my hotel efficiently, safely and without drama. My days of dealing with dangerous vehicles, dangerous drivers and fumbling around with change for tolls are over. That scenario sounded downright dangerous and was totally believable. Situations like that can go sideways quickly as the Swiss gentleman in Phuket is finding out at the moment. I guess I’m getting old and boring now but excitement like that I can do without.

Crime, social media and punishment.

I feel a bit sorry for the Swiss guy in Phuket. He has been a complete ass and his wife has too, thinking they can do as they please because they have money. But the end result could be really hard on him and see his whole world collapse. Not that he should have kicked the doctor, but it is now torches and pitchforks. A story from Pattaya did not hit the media to anything like the same extent. A Thai man gave a female Chinese tourist a lift, took her to a remote place, raped her, stole all her money, tied her up and tried to set the bushes on fire, where he left her. I’m sure the Chinese lady will be more traumatised than the doctor and that man should be punished way harder. But that’s the power of social media, I guess.



This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

At the beginning of the news section of last week’s column I reported that the brakes had been pushed hard and bar trade had slowed markedly. This resulted in a few of you emailing to say that that was not what you were seeing. So I went back to those bar owners who had told me trade had slowed, for clarification. They insist that bar trade has slowed. One Nana Plaza bar owner commented that part of it can be explained by the mix of customers. There are fewer people in the bars, and those who are there are spending less. There are lots of Chinese around – and mainstream Chinese visitors who visit the bars to see what all the fuss is about often don’t drink alcohol. Many tend to nurse a glass of Coke. The other comment said bar owner made is that bars are noticeably quieter later in the night – which is further evidence that the mix of visitors has changed. Mainstream visitors don’t tend to hang around late in to the night. I really do think that we can say the “naughty boy high season” is over.

For those of you who wish to party late in to the night, the bars in Sukhumvit soi 7 have been given a slight extension on closing times from 2:00 AM to 2:30, or 3:00 AM. Bar owners in the soi are hopeful they may get permission to remain open until 4:00 AM.

In Nana Plaza, I keep hearing good things about Geisha. Everyone says the same thing – it’s consistently busy night after night and there are loads of pretty girls. Definitely worth adding to your list of bars to visit when you’re next in the plaza. Butterflies, Billboard and Spanky’s are all on the must-visit list.

Dennis, the manager of The Dollhouse on Cowboy, has had 69 birthdays and Thursday’s big day was, he gushed, the best ever. Dollhouse was packed until well after midnight. There were multiple cakes and a three-piece brass band supplementing the music. Dennis, to the disbelief of many who saw him at last year’s Halloween party, was stone-cold sober, swearing there would be no repeat of his infamous Halloween bender.


One of Dollhouse Dennis’s birthday cakes.


Today (Sunday) is St. Patrick’s Day and pubs across Bangkok are throwing the usual St. Paddy’s Day parties, specials and green beer, even those that aren’t Irish pubs. For the best experience, however, go Irish and that means Scruffy Murphy’s on Soi 23 which has live music, a special menu and drink specials.

While we’re talking about soi 23, “Walking down Soi 23 right now is like playing a game; one wrong step and you are out!” was tweeted by a woman trying to get to Soi Cowboy on Thursday. It’s hard to believe the BMA could screw up soi 23 any worse than it was, but the right side of the soi coming from Sukhumvit was impassable for large stretches mid-week, forcing pedestrians to walk almost in the middle of the soi due to the motorbikes parked all along the destroyed curb between Cowboy and Subway.

While bars in Thailand love to join the party, some Bangkok gogo bars are not going green for St. Paddy’s Day and are doing something different. Mandarin, Red Dragon and Shark all are throwing Mask Parties tonight. Girls will be dressed up in masquerade outfits and there will be special shows later in the evening. The Mask Party was done in one of the group’s sister bars in Pattaya in December and was quite the hit, so they are hopeful of a good night tonight.

Over in Patpong, Radio City may be the best looking gogo bar you’ve never heard of. Located on Patpong Soi 1, just opposite the alley that leads to sister bar Bada Bing, years ago Radio City was The Den, an attempt at an afternoon lounge. It was a beautifully designed bar with a giant aquarium above the bar and pool tables upstairs. But it didn’t click, was sold and renamed Radio City with a format that was more hostess club. Finally, it went full gogo and Bada Bing’s bosses look like they have done it right. The lounge and pool tables remain upstairs, but, downstairs, it’s a nicely done out bar with LED-lined walls, a DJ station with huge screens behind and in front of the decks, and a big centre stage where fetching ladies dance. French-owned Radio City is big on the customer experience, offers quality spirits as standard drinks and prices are said to be reasonable. The show gets underway at 8 PM and the party keeps on going until 3 AM.

A couple of times in recent columns I have mentioned that Climax will reopen in the middle of the year. For those who weren’t familiar with it, Climax was a popular late-night bar / nightclub / disco in the Ambassador Hotel that some felt was the closest thing to a modern day version of Nana Disco. So will Climax return as Climax, or will it be known as something else? Signage at the Ambassador Hotel says that Pulse Bangkok is coming soon. Is Pulse the new name for what was previously Climax?


Is Pulse the new Climax?


In recent weeks there have been many news articles from Thailand that have shown foreigners in a bad light. One such story broke earlier this week with video showing ladyboys in Phuket attacking a couple of foreign men with speculation that the fracas stemmed from a dispute over service fees. Let’s state the obvious here – if you say you’re going to pay x,000 baht and go on to pay less than the promised amount, drama will follow! It’s a sure-fire way to create a scene. And who wants to get in to a dispute with working girls – be they ladies or ladyboys? These people have nothing to lose and many will ramp things up to a level that will make you awfully uncomfortable.

And it would appear similar happened in the heart of Bangkok, although unlike the Phuket incident, this one wasn’t widely reported. On Sukhumvit soi 11, a Stickman reader came across a foreign man in a loud argument with a service provider. In this case it wasn’t a ladyboy but an African hooker. Half way along Sukhumvit Soi 11, our reader would witness the consequences of a clown who had tried to get away with paying this African beauty less than had been agreed. What a scene it must have been, a Western man and an African woman openly arguing in a public place about how much money she was being paid for sex. The Western man claimed they had agreed to 3,000 baht while the African beauty claimed it was 5,000. The impasse in negotiations resulted in the fellow (in the white t-shirt in the photo below) copping a nasty blow from the African beauty to the back of his head. Blood was streaming down his back from an open cut, turning the white t-shirt red. The fracas drew the attention of a cop who was trying to sort it all out, with what our correspondent said appeared to be a limited understanding of what either party was saying. In the current climate – where the antics of misbehaving foreigners in Thailand are under greater scrutiny than ever – I can’t imagine this ended well for either party.


An African hooker on Sukhumvit soi 11 rants at being short-paid and assaults her customer.


Down in Pattaya, a new gogo bar is coming to Walking Street this coming Thursday. That mightn’t sound like big news but Opium A Gogo is the latest venture from those behind XS and Pin Up – two of the very best gogo bars in Pattaya. That makes it a bar which likely will be very much worth stopping by.

While a promising new gogo bar is about to open, an old favourite turned the lights out for the very last time this week. Living Dolls A Gogo, also on Walking Street, is no longer. Word is that the space has been acquired by Indians which begs the question: Is another Indian disco coming to Walking Street? If you’re missing your favourite dancer from Living Dolls, try Sensations where many of the girls can now be found.

I continue to hear very good things about Sapphire. It’s a bar that seldom gets a mention in this column, but those who make it there have nothing but positive things to say.


Radio City, Patpong, is now a gogo bar.


Getting back to XS, how many mamasans do you think it takes to run what some say has become Walking Street’s #1 gogo bar? I guessed there were four mamas herding the cats. In fact, there currently are 11! One of them recently jumped over to XS from the Ivy A Gogo next door and brought 15 ladies with her, bringing XS’s total roster to a quite incredible 180 girls. Not all work at the same time, of course, but Fridays and Saturdays you’ll now find more than 150 hounding drinks and working the pole.

Across town on Soi Boomerang, it’s also a bit surprising how many ladies can be found working a Saturday night at the Heaven Above gentlemen’s club. Managed by Captain Hornbag, Heaven Above is not a big place, but there were 54 ladies working on Friday night. They’re not  the stunning lookers you find in XS, but attitudes are good, the girls are fun and they have a problem keeping all their clothing on.

As I said last week, trade isn’t what it was with the peak of high season behind us. Some say Pattaya has been booming but there are others who say that perhaps things aren’t quite as rosy as some claim. From an old friend in Pattaya who is well connected to the industry come these comments. “Here in Pattaya, while you hear people say businesses are booming that’s just not the case! There are more bars for sale of all kinds – beer bars, gentleman’s clubs as well as gogo bars than I have ever seen before. And most of them were for sale during the high season when bar owners should have been making money instead of trying to sell their business. Adult entertainment venues will never go away but they’ll never be what they once were.” Like I say, this is from someone connected to the bar industry in Pattaya who shall remain anonymous.

There is an endless dialogue about how the ladies in the bars today stack up with the ladies of yesteryear. For me, one of the big changes is the way many ladies these days like to control the conversation. They have a script they like to follow and if you take the conversation away from the script, they can get uncomfortable, lost even. They’ll try and steer things back on course but if they can’t manage it, some become petulant, may even start pouting before they leave you and make off for an easier target. In the old days, the ladies were much better listeners and would happily nod and smile and generally be happy with whatever direction the conversation took. These days, many ladies essentially have a script that they follow, like they are on autopilot. It’s all about maximising their income with lady drinks and maybe a quick barfine. Take the conversation off script and many really don’t like it. It might sound like a small thing but I feel it’s actually a really big difference with how things used to be. Of course, if you know the lady already or are throwing lots of drinks at her, the script becomes much less important.

A couple of weeks back I wrote a column opener about the announcement from the Thai Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, of a new visa system and a dramatic increase in visa fees. I said that I couldn’t imagine that these huge price increases would only be in New Zealand and I expected that there would be announcements of similar price increases from Thai embassies and consulates around the world. I got that part wrong. There has been nothing. What’s going on? The new fees are due to come in to effect this coming Tuesday, March 19. It would be as weird as hell if the new, high prices are only for New Zealand. As of today, the following announcement still appears on the website of the Thai Embassy in New Zealand: “THE ROYAL THAI EMBASSY WELLINGTON WILL LAUNCH A NEW ONLINE E-VISA SYSTEM FROM 19 MARCH 2024 ONWARDS.  ALL VISA APPLICATIONS, WHICH WE RECEIVE AFTER 15 MARCH 2024 WILL BE RETURNED TO THE APPLICANTS IN ORDER FOR THEM TO RE-APPLY THROUGH THE NEW ONLINE E-VISA SYSTEM.” I maintain that this system will roll out worldwide, but I checked out the websites for the Thai embassy in Canberra, Australia, and there is nothing there about a new system or new prices. Ditto with the Thai embassy in London where there’s not a peep. Keep an eye on the website of your local Thai embassy this week to see if there are any changes.

Last year, I included reports from readers that the Landmark Hotel – a favourite property amongst some Stickman readers – had a very high percentage of Arab customers. I can confirm that recent readers’ reports are that it’s very much back to a mixed crowd and Arabs are not the dominant customers like they were for a period last year.

Over the past few years I have heard various things about the Grand President in Sukhumvit soi 11, which has been a popular hotel for a few decades. Back in 2019 I heard that the hotel was to be torn down and a new 5-star hotel built on the site. In 2020 I heard it was going to close and perhaps for a time it did. The Aira Hotel is the name for what used to be Tower 2 at the Grand President. It has been renovated to a high level, rebranded and there has been a subsequent increase in prices. The latest rumour is that what remains of the Grand President will close at the beginning of May. So many rumours, so much uncertainty.

Thailand-Related News Articles

Reader’s story of the week comes from Mega, Around The Traps In Southeast Asia: Part 28.

Police raid what is being called a “plus-sized” sex party / an orgy for fatties in Bangkok.

Experts predict Thailand’s population will halve by 2084 as the country’s birth-rate rapidly declines.

Police in Bangkok arrest more of the Africans who had been sullying Sukhumvit with their poison.

One day earlier this week, Chiang Mai was the most polluted place on the planet.

Closing Comments

I am intrigued to see what happens this week with fees for Thai visas. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago and mentioned again briefly today, it looks like there are going to be dramatic visa price rises. That said, only the Thai Embassy in New Zealand has announced it. The new fees are supposed to come in to effect in New Zealand from Tuesday. I will be keeping an eye on the websites of various Thai embassies around the world this week to see if the new system goes live worldwide. If you happen to apply for a visa this week, do let me know how it goes. I am particularly interested in whether you have to use the new online system and the price you pay.

Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :





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