Stickman's Weekly Column May 26th, 2024

Stickman Weekly, May 26, 2024



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken on the bridge connecting O-NES Tower to the Nana BTS station. It was not Q House Sukhumvit, as some of you thought. That’s the building right next door. This week’s photo is a few kilometres away from last week’s location – but precisely where?



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

You cannot step in to the same river twice.

mens clinic bangkok

Our views on Thailand seem to be same same but different. I will almost certainly visit Thailand at least once a year for as long as I’m able to and for as long as I have a good time. But I have no intention of ever living there again. Even if money and visas were no problem, I wouldn’t live in Thailand full-time again. These days, I prefer the Philippines to Thailand whereas 20 years ago I preferred Thailand to the Philippines. I guess 20 years ago you preferred Thailand to New Zealand and now the reverse is true. I’m sure you remember your Greek philosophy classes from school and Heraclitus’s quote, “You cannot step twice into the same river”, meaning every time you step into the river you have changed and the river also has changed. The change may be so slight it is unnoticeable, but it has changed nonetheless. I have changed and so has Bangkok – and probably neither of us for the better!

It’s a buyer’s market.

From brakes-on to bag-grab I cleared Suvarnabhumi in 35 minutes on Monday. Normally it’s 50 – 60 minutes. Landmark seems underpopulated. Soi 8 establishments seem mildly patronised. Many bars are empty. The stalwarts (Billboard, Spanky’s, Crazy House) are doing good, but not brilliant. Spanky’s in particular seems to have a big drop-off after midnight. Perhaps the best indicator of low season is the amount of solicitation. On Monday night, it became intolerable in Crazy House with no let up between, “What your name, where you from?” In other bars it was much the same, despite me projecting my best only here for the beer aura. Getting flagged down by massage parlour workers and propositioned by street walkers also. It’s fair to say it’s a buyer’s market.

Flocks of farang.

There are more farang than ever in my observation. And more “low information” farang. People who post questions like: “I’ve never been to Thailand but I want to move there, is 1000 euros/month enough?” ZERO thought given to local considerations like visa status etc. Years ago it wasn’t common. It seems that YouTube channels paint a picture of life in Thailand and somehow it’s accepted as reality. Dissatisfied with life in FarangLand? Just change the channel! And of course plenty of these farang get bent on alk and yaaba which are hardly calming substances. Seems a common thread…


The beautiful murals of Nana Plaza.


More Readers’ Emails

Life in Thailand, a reality check.

I think we all are well aware of the amount of violence in Thailand. We read of it every day, from domestic level to someone being attacked, for example, honking at someone on the road. And it touched my home in an oblique way on Sunday, when a couple from my father-in-law’s village came by on the way to seek help from my policeman brother-in-law after their son was badly beaten up by their next door neighbour. His ‘crime’ had been to allow smoke from burning rubbish in his garden to blow into the neighbour’s garden. There is simply zero tolerance by so many here, and the only way these Neanderthals know how to react is with violence. More and more, I see Thais as not nice people. There is something very rotten in their society. As demonstrated in a report just this morning about a gang of thugs attacking a Brit in Phuket. Possibly, quite probably, the Brit bad-mouthed them, but there are far too many of these rabid dog style attacks over almost nothing. When you have to watch how you behave over even the most trivial thing, and to never argue with a local as absolutely anything can lead to an attack or even murder, you have to mark Thailand down as one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside of a war zone. Just my thoughts. Others may disagree.

wonderland clinic

An awkward marriage.

ASEANNow merging with Thaiger is going to be an awkward marriage. ASEANNow readers are the older generations and Thaiger readers are the youngsters. I’m not sure how they’re going to manage that. Their readerships have opposing views on many subjects. Last week, Thaiger published something that referred to rising sea levels – and suddenly the comments section was inundated with angry climate change deniers.

Confusing Thai.

You are not alone in having a Thai partner who only uses the singular, as in Wale and not Wales. My wife, who has a degree to teach English, does exactly the same. I’ve corrected her for over 30 years but still she persists. They simply cannot separate singular and plural. Is there even such a differential in Thai, Stick? <In the Thai language, nouns don’t have singular or plural forms. Instead, Thai uses “quantifiers”. Whereas in English you would say “3 glasses”, in Thai the words would translate as “glass 3 items” Stick> Many also seem unable to differentiate between he and she – and I don’t mean only those of confused sex. They will often mix up the two when talking.

Helping the locals understand.

I also find myself mispronouncing English words the way Thais do in conversation – the same when I talk to Korean and Chinese people. In fact, it’s so pronounced that my mate recently accused me of being condescending when talking to a girl in Pattaya. I don’t mean it in that way, it just seems to me to be more comfortable as surely it is easier for them to understand!



Soi Cowboy, this past Monday night. That doesn’t look so bad for a Monday (the quietest night) in May (the quietest month).


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Has the worm turned? Friends on the ground tell me that things picked up a little this week and it wasn’t as quiet as it has been. The photo above was taken by a friend on Soi Cowboy late on Monday night. Not great, but not terrible either. Steady would probably be the right word – and steady on a Monday night on the quietest month of the year is a win.

The girl who operates the Nana Burger stand doesn’t just produce tasty burgers at a very reasonable price, she’s also a great source for impartial info of what is happening at the top of Soi Nana. May is never a good month, she’s the first person to say – but this year business just crashed. She can’t wait for May to end. So while some say things are picking up from the low levels of the past few weeks, not everyone is in agreement.

A few readers this week mentioned some of the better hotels on Sukhumvit are very quiet. Readers commented on each of The Landmark, the JW Marriott and the Westin, all of which appear to have low occupancy rates.

Word from the bar areas is that there aren’t that many tourists about, and customers seem to be mostly expats, Indians and Koreans. One observation I keep hearing is that trade drops off earlier and from 1:00 AM or so, it can be quiet. They tell me that late nights have been consistent with fewer people about.

Rain in May is not unusual, but rain almost every night in a week in May most certainly is. It has rained most nights in Bangkok’s bar areas this week. Perhaps that’s why it’s been quieter late at night?


Visaka Bucha Day was this past Wednesday. The shutters were down on Stumble Inn and the other bars at the top of Soi Nana.


On Wednesday night, bars were in darkness and the streets were quiet. But the African drug dealers didn’t get the memo and on Sukhumvit Soi 11 in particular, men of colour selling illicit substances outnumbered tourists. As one friend who has been keeping a keen eye on these cretins reports, “This is the worst I have seen it!

Said friend concludes that the well-publicised busts of the African drug dealers a month or two back – which made not just the newspapers but the national TV news –  was but a dog and pony show. The zone is crawling with them. Soi 11 seems to be their new favourite spot, followed by Soi Nana. Some linger on the main Sukhumvit Road but it isn’t the hot spot it once was.

On Soi Nana, the African hookers are also out in force and were particularly conspicuous on Wednesday night. And on Thursday night, a reader noted that many of the African hookers had become more daring and were on the even-numbered soi side of Sukhumvit Road, between Soi Nana and Soi 8. Interestingly, the drug dealers are all on the other side (where the sois have odd numbers). One wonders if there is any relationship between the African drug dealers and the African hookers. Are they all run by the same Mr. Big? Who knows.


The zone is full of African drug dealers and African hookers.


What has happened to the line-up of ladies at Twister in Nana Plaza? It’s as if management is looking to change the name from Twister to Plus-Sized A Gogo. Maybe there’s a market for that these days?

If you prefer slim ladies, then head across the way to Red Dragon where multiple readers tell me the line-up is as good as any gogo bar in Bangkok. I’m not surprised, because when I was last in town I also thought Red Dragon was great. Red Dragon has a slightly younger crew and that typically means more energy and enthusiasm. This past Thursday night, Red Dragon held its monthly Full Moon Party – and the line-up was said to be “something else”. In reality, what probably happened is that virtually every girl on the payroll actually turned up to work on the same night. Put Red Dragon in Nana Plaza on your list of places to visit – and keep an eye on the column for their next Full Moon Party – they hold them every month.

You may recall some months back that numerous readers complained about double-priced lady drinks, pushy girls and a particularly pushy mamasan in Red Dragon. The Stickman Red Dragon complaints file has been empty since. Not one of you has said anything more about it – and there appears to have been a real turn-around. Word is that Red Dragon has a new mamasan, understood to be the sister of the head mamasan. She speaks English well, is not pushy and doesn’t pester punters for lady drinks. And perhaps most amazing of all, she is genuinely interested in comments and feedback about the bar which is very unThai!

Red Dragon, along with the juggernaut upstairs, Billboard, seem to be the two busiest bars in the plaza at this time.


Party time at Angelwitch, Nana Plaza.


From Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler – both on the sound system and in the bar in person – to giant snakes to Penthouse pets, Angelwitch has seen it all in its 24 years in Nana Plaza. This coming Thursday the show bar will celebrate and all are welcome. There will be barbecued pork, potato salad and baked beans, free to all with purchase of a drink. There also will be a selection of Thai sides, drink specials and prizes to be given out all night. (Now I really hate to interject and be a party-pooper but seriously, is this the best party food selection a bar can come up with? Catering in Thailand is cheap. Why not give punters a decent reason to stop by? If I was organising things, I’d approach somewhere like Margarita Storm or Buddy’s Bar & Grill and get in some appealing farang food. Seriously, who wants to eat frigging som tam or glass noodles at a bar party? Ok, rant over!) With current and former staff and owners plus legions of long-time fans expected to drop by, it should be a good night and a great chance to meet up with old friends.

At midnight on Wednesday, many bars came to life. Wednesday was a public holiday and bars were not allowed to open. But just after midnight, the lights came on as a small number of nightspots grabbed the opportunity to make some money. At the top of Soi Nana, it was quiet, but beyond the entrance to the plaza, the owners of Kick Off and Bunny would have been rubbing their hands together as punters wandering around empty streets filled up the few venues which had turned the lights and music on.

It’s hard to say how much progress is being made in the empty space on Soi Cowboy that was once Lighthouse as it’s all covered up.


Is any progress being made at what was Lighthouse, Soi Cowboy?


At the top of Sukhumvit soi 11 is Lusty Lady bar, a bar with a following amongst some younger expats. It features ladies who really can dance, while some say it has a much better vibe than the more in-your-face gogo bars. The girls get choreography lessons from professional dance instructors. It is said that by day, some of the ladies can be found in a white blouse and a tight black skirt i.e. this night-time lark is very much a sideline. Can they be barfined? Word is that yes, while they’re all barfineable, they’re not necessarily encouraged to go which means they may be a little choosy – so if you’re feeling frisky you should take your A game with you. It’s an odd bar with shades of the artist bars in Soi 33 in the ’90s and early ’00s which really did have some university students moonlighting after dark.

When it comes to money, bargirls run the full spectrum. Some live super frugally and save every penny. It’s not uncommon for girls to share a small apartment, splitting a 6,000 baht / month, 30-square-metre room amongst a few of them. There are many examples of the lengths these girls will go to save money. One of the more extreme examples can be seen in the Centerpoint Beer Bar Complex where girls have been known to piggyback a friend when they use the toilets (for which there is a charge to use) – so they pay for one person instead of two. Some ladies send a few thousand baht to their family upcountry, others send tens of thousands of baht every month. What happens to this money is anyone’s guess. Sometimes it goes in to property, the family farm and / or a vehicle. Not infrequently it is used to pay off loans. In more than a few cases, it goes in to throwing parties and large donations to the local temple where face is gained. Some ladies spend whatever they make as soon as it lands in their hand, taking the next night off and spending it on a bar host (Thai euphemism for male escorts). And then there is a group – my guess, a small minority – who actually save the money they make. Some really do save millions. Sadly, so many of these ladies exit the industry with nothing to show for it but a lot of wear & tear, a dodgy liver and are mentally damaged.

The signage at Spice Girls in Soi Cowboy has been tarted up. As a friend said, it may be a fancy sign but it’s really just putting lipstick on the pig.


Plenty of girls to welcome punters into Spice Girls, Soi Cowboy, on Monday night.


I note the odd nightspot is going cashless. I am not aware of this happening in any of the foreign bar areas, but it is happening in the Thai areas. Could this soon happen in the foreign bar areas? I wouldn’t have thought so, given there are certain advantages being an all cash business. I really am surprised by the rapid uptake of paying by electronic means in Thailand and especially how some businesses are cashless. Here in NZ, I almost entirely pay by card – and I am happy to do that here. But when I am in Thailand, I use cash exclusively. I prefer not to use my New Zealand cards in Thailand at all. Why? It’s a trust issue. What about you?

The bridge at the end of Sukhumvit soi 10 remains closed.

Bangkok lost another good guy this week when Marcel AKA Khun Sanuk, the public face of the forum, passed away. Marcel’s Sanuk In Thailand was, as best as I recall, the very first Thailand nightlife website run by an expat actually living in Thailand. That site would transform in to the forum, and later became Marcel passed away this week following complications from a severe stroke he suffered several months back. Despite only being in his mid 50s, Marcel had lived in Bangkok for almost 3 decades. He may have been known for operating websites with a nightlife theme, but he really only dipped his toes in to that saucy world for a short time. He had been married to a lovely Thai woman for well over 20 years who he adored. Marcel was a thoroughly decent person, and one of the genuinely good guys. Rest in peace, Marcel.


You don’t think of May as being that wet, but it’s been wet most nights this week.


Does Bangkok have an equivalent to Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions? You don’t know Chungking Mansions? It’s a 17-floor complex on Nathan Road in Hong Kong, a real potpourri full of immigrants from all over the world, particularly the Indian sub-continent and West Africa. It’s full of guesthouses and other low-end accommodation options, cheap eateries and retail outlets. I spent a few nights there in the late ‘90s which was a bit of an adventure. I gather it’s not all that different these days. Does Bangkok have anything similar? Once upon a time you might have pointed at the Malaysia Hotel. Similar in some ways – very dodgy clientele – but the premises are nothing like it. What about in the Khao San Road area? I can’t say that I’m aware of anywhere that would come close. Pratunam? There might be a building or two but that’s a mysterious area I don’t know that well despite living a short walk away for many years. How about The Trendy Building in Sukhumvit soi 13? That building has long struck me as dodgy. From the expats who live there to some of the dodgy characters who hang around outside with no obvious purpose, is the Trendy the closest thing to Chungking Mansions? Plenty of online scammers have been based in that building in the past (and maybe there are still some there today?). And while there are some official visa offices in the building, some dodgy visa agents have operated out of there. And there are often men of colour lingering out front, offering illicit substances to strangers. The Trendy might not compare with Chungking Mansions, but it has always struck me as a place with no shortage of crooks.

When you see Indians out and about in the bar areas, why does it seem like they are always in a group? Compare that with Caucasians who are much more likely to fly solo. What is it about Indian men being so keen to go out in groups, sometimes very large groups?


Indians in Bangkok seem to prefer to do things in groups.


Down in Pattaya, the Las Vegas Beer Bar Complex may have opened months later than planned, but it has hit the road running. Several weeks since they finally opened the doors, Pattaya’s newest beer bar complex is said to be busy most nights and feedback has been very positive. I haven’t visited yet but it looks like a great place to start the night before crossing Soi Diana over to Soi LK Metro where you can really turn up the volume.

Ride a baht bus on Second Road from Central Road to the Dolphin Roundabout and the scenery will punish your nostalgic memories of Pattaya. Huge tracts of land along this stretch are now levelled and fenced off with new Chinese-backed construction projects springing up. The Montien (later Imperial) Hotel is gone. The land around the Tropicana Hotel is cordoned off. The Sabai Resort is now a car park for Chinese tour buses. And the Dragon Complex next to Soi 6 is a night market catering to Chinese tourists looking to take photos with snakes and buy durian. The Tourism Authority of Thailand said this month it hoped Thailand would attract 80 million tourists in 2027, many of them from China. Goodness only knows what Pattaya will look like then!

Who is behind the new Bernard Trunk column at the Pattaya Mail? It’s good to see a new column in Sin City – and the writer does a very nice job of imitating Bernard Trink’s style – but how about coming up with an original name rather than riding on Bernard’s coat tails?

The issue of people in New Zealand (as opposed to New Zealanders, as a nationality) paying 5 – 7 times more for a visa for Thailand than the rest of the world is being talked about locally, and the Thais are getting pressure to explain. A member of Parliament has sent a please explain request to the Thai ambassador and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in touch with their Thai counterparts seeking to understand why New Zealand has been singled out for dramatically higher visa pricing than the rest of the world. Some Kiwis – mainly retirees who spend winter in Thailand – have been in contact with the embassy about it but comments online say they have yet to receive a reply. The Thai Embassy in Wellington previously had an excellent record for promptly replying to all emails. To be clear, it’s not actually New Zealanders per se who are stung by this, it’s anyone who applies for a Thai visa from New Zealand. So if you were, say, an American or a Brit living in Kiwiland and you apply for a visa for Thailand from New Zealand, these prices apply to you too.

Khao San Road or Khao San Toad?! When I was typing on my phone this week, I had typed Khao & San and the predictive text came up with “toad” as the next word. Khao San toad? Is that what they call the people who hang out there? Khao San toads? Gotta love predictive text!

Thailand-Related News Articles

In Phuket, a Brit was stabbed in front of his wife while trying to break up a fight after a gang attacked a tourist.

A Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore diverts to Bangkok after severe turbulence, a passenger dies on board and many suffer serious injuries.

Thai PBS comments that Thailand’s education system remains stuck in the past.

In Udon Thani, a Brit apologises for punching a petrol station attendant when he was drunk.

In Phuket, a Swedish expat who had overstayed his visa by 2½ years threatens to kill his landlord.

Thai officials swarm an Aussie injured on the Singapore Airlines flight to prevent him speaking with the media.

Dave the Rave looks back at his 10 years as manager of Angelwitch.


Suvarnabhumi Airport from the heavens.


Closing Comments

I visited my parents a few days ago and, jokingly, Dad asked me how many more of my friends in Bangkok had died since I last visited (10 days earlier) when I told them that two people I knew had died in two weeks. Two more have died, I said. They thought I was joking but, sadly, I wasn’t. Khun Sanuk is the 4th person I knew in Bangkok who has died in Thailand this month. My best guess is that since I left Thailand to return to New Zealand, more than 20 people I once knew in Bangkok have passed away. What makes it worse is that many departed way too soon. Most were in their late 40s or early 50s. In New Zealand, over the past 10 years, I think only 3 people I know have died, 2 in their 80s and one in his early 90s. It does make one wonder about the life expectancy of expats living in Thailand, and how it compares with life expectancy in one’s homeland.

Your Bangkok commentator,



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nana plaza