Stickman's Weekly Column July 7th, 2024

Stickman Weekly, July 7, 2024

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken out by the Grand Palace. Just a few of you got it right. This week we’re back on Sukhumvit and very much in the zone for Stickman readers. Long time readers might remember that this location has been featured once before, from a slightly different angle. This week’s photo was kindly provided by a reader.

 

 

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

With the right attitude, anything is possible.

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There are legit reasons for the no picture rules in gogo bars. And trying to do a runner when it’s time to pay is just plain stupidity. If you have social skills and are a repeat customer, you can get away with almost anything in a bar. I have had the best sex of my life in bars, in Bangkok and Pattaya. I have had threesomes, but the best fxxx of my life was in Toy Bar. It was low season, early evening, and I was relaxing on a bar stool with a beer. Two late 20s girls approached me, typical Isaan look with long, black hair – we all know the look. They wore silk Kimonos and had nothing on underneath. One girl unzipped my pants and without saying a word, fxxxed me on the bar stool. The other kissed her friend and then started kissing me. When I climaxed I began to cry. Read the room, show respect, be generous. <For any readers who may wonder if by chance this is a tall tale, Toy Bar was for a long time a bar where *anything* was possible. For all I know, it might still be!Stick>

Credit card scams.

My credit card was skimmed during my last trip to Thailand. The bank called me and asked if I had made a $2 purchase in South America. I live in Europe, no, it wasn’t me. That’s how the first transaction is normally done. It’s hard to determine when the credit card details were stolen. I had paid for my hotel stays through a third party affiliate, and they experienced problems on a couple of occasions in the past. I also used the card in what is arguably Pattaya’s best hotel and in a 4-star hotel in Bangkok – not in any dodgy shop, bar or massage venue. No damage for me, but a new credit card had to be sent to my home address in Europe. It was all a big hassle.

Is that our TV in your suitcase, sir?

On hotels asking for a deposit, my regular hotel in Bangkok takes 1,000 cash upon check-in. What really pisses me off about Thai hotels though is the way they make you wait at the desk while checking out while they check the room for damage or to check you haven’t stolen the TV. I find that insulting. They might claim, if you ask, it is to check you haven’t left something behind, but a trainee at a 4-star hotel in Pattaya who hadn’t yet learned to lie let slip the real reason for holding up your departure.

Refuse to pre-pay!

Regarding prepaying a lady of the night, 4 years ago I was asked to pay not only the barfine but also the money for the girl upfront. It was in Crazy House, where I have been a regular since the very start, in 2013. All the mamasans know me, even if I don’t like them much! I told one mamasan politely and calmly that the deal was off, and asked if she would tell the girl (who was already getting changed) that it was not going to happen. She didn’t hesitate to say that I was a good man and there was no need to pay upfront. Just last year the same thing happened in Billboard, with exactly the same outcome. Mind you, they know me quite well in there too. Since then it hasn’t happened again. To your readers, don’t accept this. It is always “up to you”!

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A Red Dragon beauty, photographed in front of the beautiful Nana Plaza murals.

More Readers’ Emails

NIMBYism on Soi 8.

Those of us that live on the dead end Sukhumvit sois 10, 12, etc. are no doubt grateful of the 8-storey building limit. It was explained to me by a hotel manager on Soi 10 that the 8-storey limit has to do with the evacuation limitations on those dead-end streets in case of fire or some disaster. Being a Soi 8 resident, I’m glad the rumors of a bar complex going up in the old school grounds across from Det 8 are false. I stay down towards the quiet end of the soi and appreciate the peacefulness yet close proximity to Sukhumvit Road and everything it brings. A beer bar complex in that area, even though I do like to partake, would’ve been a bit close.

You can’t go home again.

Next year will be 10 years away from Thailand, having previously lived there 30 years. From time to time, I think about visiting to see for myself how much it has changed. But do you know what keeps me from taking the plunge? Your column! No kidding. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love your column. But your reports of nightlife shenanigans convince me every week that I should leave well enough alone. 250 baht for a lady drink? I prefer to keep my fond memories of the days when no-one asked you for a lady drink, and when you offered to buy one, not only was it cheaper than your own drink, but the lady was genuinely grateful to you for buying it. I would peg the beginning of what I consider the decline in the nightlife to around the time you stopped hearing “Hotel California” in pretty much any bar you stepped into. Those were the days. That was the Golden Age. Barfines were cheap, and the girls’ rates were a standard 300 baht for short-time and 500 baht long-time. I can see myself sitting in a bar now and boring my bar stool companions to death with stories of the good old days. No, I think it’s true that you can’t go home again.

Chinese hugging chrome poles?

In my favorite bar just off Walking Street, where you get more than a “Where you from?” conversation when you buy a lady drink, there was a young woman who was taller and larger than your typical bargirl. I asked her where she was from and she said China. I asked her again because I thought I didn’t hear correctly and she confirmed that yes, she was from China. She didn’t really talk much other than to say she was from China. I finished my self-imposed ration of one beer and left after she went to dance. I’m guessing she probably doesn’t have a work permit to work in a gogo bar but I wonder if this could be a trend in the future. I think it would be great to see some of those Chinese lovelies on stage in the future.

Don’t let the fish off the hook.

I think guys should approach Thai, Chinese or whatever girls, but with the utmost discretion, be gentlemanly, and not be embarrassing or pushy. I had a friend who would just write on a napkin or a business card and say something nice like you’re really attractive but I am in a hurry, here is my number if you want to call. More often than not he got a call. If you’re just mongering perhaps not, but if you are looking for a nice relationship, you don’t want to let the fish off the hook. Another friend up in Udon would call real estate companies and hook up with the reps who showed him property.

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Sexy Night, Nana Plaza. This week, the owner indicated that now is the beginning of the end.

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This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Sad news this week with the owner of Sexy Night in Nana Plaza indicating that now is the beginning of the end. Many Stickman readers’ favourite bar is small, poky and only has a small number of dancers – but it holds a special place in many readers’ hearts with the same sort of following that Safari once had at Patpong. While she hasn’t called it quits yet, the Thai woman who has owned Nana Plaza’s oldest gogo bar for the best part of 40 years has let it be known this week that the beloved bar has just 3 years left to run. She told friends in the plaza that she renewed the lease last month for the last time. Sexy Night has operated in the same space since Nana Plaza was home to retail stores and is, for many, their favourite bar not just in the plaza, but in all of Thailand. The good news is that she plans to be there for another 3 years so there’s still plenty of time for you to enjoy Sexy Night.

Only 3 weeks after opening Nana Plaza’s fifth dedicated ladyboy bar, Bunny Balcony on Thursday underwent a gender change, putting ladies on stage. Why? No one is saying, but two days prior to the female flip, one Nana Plaza girly-bar owner, alarmed at the rising number of bars with transgender women, made his feelings known. Two nights later, ladyboys went off the Balcony. Figuratively, of course.

About the same time mid-week, a brawl broke out inside the Nana Hotel between a couple of Chinese men who unknowingly took two transgender women out of one of the 4 Nana bars that mix natural-born and transgender women, and then discovered the truth. The incident was caught on video, but the police weren’t called. Mixing women and ladyboys is never a good formula for this very reason. I’ve reported recently on a few Soi Cowboy bars where there is a mix of mainly ladies and the odd ladyboy. And it’s happening in the plaza too with Rainbow 1, Rainbow 3, Random 2, and Erotica all having ladyboys.

One last ladyboy note: Construction of a new ladyboy bar in the spot that was the short-time hotel next to Butterflies on the top-floor is underway with the bar expected to open in “a couple months”, according to its owner.

Only nine months after buying what was Rainbow 69, the two young French owners have put their renamed Nana Plaza gogo bar Private 69 up for sale. The pair are said to have paid 7 million baht for the 86-square-metre bar in the back corner of the middle floor but are advertising it for an awfully optimistic 15 million. Bonne chance, messieurs! By way of comparison, the slightly larger Whiskey & Go-Go has sold twice in the past year (renamed first to Essence and later to Kino) for 8 million baht or less. That said, a prospective Chinese buyer did visit the plaza this past week to check it out.

Private 69 hasn’t lit up the plaza since it changed hands last year. The tipping point – as it has been with several Nana Plaza bars now being shopped – was last month’s lease renewal. The second phase of the current 9-year (3+3+3) lease requires all bar owners to once again pay a sum of key money. Private 69’s rent, according to the for-sale ad, is 204,000 a month. That is actually pretty reasonable given that it’s in the busiest bar area. But don’t forget that on top of that you have to add in key money. With monthly expenses – electricity, water, salaries for nearly 50 dancers and staff, plus stock and maintenance – you have to be on your game to make a bar work. But for those who can make it work, bars can be a goldmine.

This coming Friday, July 12, will see a big birthday bash in both Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy for Charlie, the well-known papasan for the Mandarin-Red Dragon-Shark group. Charlie has worked in all three of Bangkok’s major bar areas, including Crazy House, Kazy Kozy, Black Pagoda, Billboard and, for the past two years, has been the talent co-ordinator for the three-bar group. The party will start in Nana and move to Shark on Soi Cowboy with shows and special guest appearances.

Charlie’s home before his current job, Patpong, saw a strange Friday, with big crowds at Bada Bing and Radio City until late and, during its usual busy time, almost no one inside Pink Panther. After midnight, when the Panther usually heats up, there were only one or two tables occupied. Where was everyone? Outside watching Spain beat Germany in Euro 2024! Pink Panther (inside) wasn’t the only empty spot: Dok Club had one table occupied after midnight. With business so poor night after night, it’s only a matter of time until it’s turned into a gogo bar.

 

Friday night at Pink Panther in Patpong and punters are in the outside area, glued to the TV!

 

When does the rainy season start? Some say after Songkran. Others say June. Traditionalists say that the rainy season begins with Buddhist Lent on July 20. Do note that the bars will be closed on July 20th and 21st for Buddhist holidays.

In last week’s column I asked the question if anyone had been a naughty boy in a bar with a no photo / no video / no smoking sign, and the bar had tried to fine you. Today, many bars have such signs but no-one responded that they had been asked to pay a fine which, frankly, is what I expected. These signs are supposed to be a deterrent and are very much for show.

There has finally been some development at the long abandoned Livingstone’s Lodge property on Sukhumvit soi 33. The overgrown shrubbery has been cut down and the area out front between the main house and the soi completely flattened. Having grown in to a mini jungle in recent years, this clean-up took place earlier this week. Word is that the site will be redeveloped into a building featuring condo units and mixed commercial use. So why is the old house still standing? Why hasn’t it been levelled? It’s a nice house, but it’s not that nice – and it’s not like it’s old enough to be historically significant. Apparently, approval to develop the site was dependent on the retention of the old building. One shouldn’t be surprised if there happened to be an accident one night.

 

What was Livingstone’s, Sukhumvit soi 33.

 

Speaking of soi 33, add it to the list of sois where there has been a change in the mix of folks who call it home. Today, soi 33 features many businesses that appeal to Japanese expats. But as for those residing on the soi, word from one expat who lives there is that Russians and Ukrainians are moving in to the neighbourhood. They appear to be digital nomads for the most part with a number resident in some of the lower end hotels in the general area. They are said to have a penchant for cannabis and for the most part are harmless.

Talk of Russians and Ukrainians is noteworthy. Nationals from these two countries are moving to Thailand in ever-increasing numbers but they’re generally not that visible in Bangkok, even in the Sukhumvit area. Pattaya and Phuket both have Russian enclaves so the obvious question to ask is how long until Bangkok has one? Will Sukhumvit soon have an area known as Little Russia?

You don’t have to stay out late in Bangkok to meet Black hookers. When I wrote in last week’s column that they seem to be out and about in numbers late at night, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find them earlier in the evening, or even during the day time. And with every report I receive about Black hookers, it seems like they are getting more and more brazen. Relax at any of the many balcony bars in Sukhumvit and all you need do is make eye contact when they’re walking by – and they won’t be shy to ask what you’re looking for!

 

Black hookers proposition a punter enjoying the view at the railings of a bar in downtown Bangkok.

 

Just a couple of newsbytes from Pattaya this week. Nicky’s – a long popular British pub that many Brit expats swear by for English breakfasts, roasts and the like – has moved location. It used to be on the main Soi Buakhao, but has moved down a sub-soi, opposite its original location. Admittedly, I haven’t eaten there for years but in the past the food was good and ridiculously cheap. And like I say, some Brit expats swear by it.

For a couple of years or so there has been much commentary about the change in profile of visitors to nightlife areas. This has been especially noticeable on Walking Street which was once primarily a nightlife area for middle-aged white guys. Today, Walking Street is more popular with Chinese, Indians and Middle Easterners with only a small percentage of visitors making up the “farang” profile. This has been evident in the changing profile of businesses along Walking street with many gogo bars closing while plenty of Indian discos have opened. The banner below confirms all that has been said. Not only has the profile of visitors changed markedly, it has hit some bars hard and they have reduced their hours of business accordingly.

For a long time, overstaying in Thailand wasn’t such a big deal. You could overstay for years and when you finally left, you’d simply pay a 20,000 baht fine at the airport – and you could return to Thailand any time, no problem. Things changed several years back and anyone found overstaying could face a ban on when they could return, with the length of the ban determined by how long you had overstayed. Despite this, there are reports in the press every week about foreigners picked up for overstaying. From time to time, the authorities report that there are tens of thousands (!!!) of foreigners in Thailand who have overstayed their visa. This week I came across an article about overstaying in Singapore. Foreigners who overstay their visa in Singapore by more than 90 days are subject to a MANDATORY caning of not less than 3 strokes. I wonder what would happen to the number of overstayers if Thailand upped the ante and introduced harsher punishments? Caning isn’t going to happen in Thailand but I am sure the powers that be can come up with some imaginative punishments. Of course, many of the overstayers come from less developed countries and have little desire or reason to go home. But for Westerners on long overstays, I scratch my head when I read news reports of someone who has overstayed for years. How did it come to that?

Following the news, it seems like more foreigners in Thailand get in to trouble these days. The number of foreigners living in the country – both visitors and expats – is many multiples greater than it was just a couple of decades ago so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that more foreigners inevitably means more people in trouble. But is there more to it than simply a numbers game? My best guess is that the average age of foreigners resident in Thailand is much lower today than it used to be. When I moved to Thailand, the average age of Western expats was probably close to 50. Today, I bet it’s much lower. Younger guys are more likely to succumb to cheap alcohol, easy women, readily available drugs – and sooner or later, shit happens. Once upon a time, most foreigners in Thailand had jobs. They had purpose. Early retirees? Legions of young guys with lots of money but no obvious source of income? You hardly ever came across anyone who fit that profile. These days, expat Bangkok is so much more diverse. There are more young guys. There are more people seemingly willing to take risks. And it’s not all young guys getting in to trouble, of course. There are plenty of old guys who have run out of options and really don’t want to go home. If nothing else, it’s never boring!

 

A shirtless foreigner walks past Stumble Inn, at the top of Soi Nana.

 

Thailand-Related News Articles

Quote of the week comes from Pattaya Gary, “I wondered if Bangkok meant stinky when I first got there.”

A Brit rants about inhumane conditions in a Thai jail. 

Integrity Legal asks whether filing a tax return will become a requirement when extending a long-term visa in Thailand.

4 foreigners are arrested on Phuket for long overstays.

The government is considering lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol at certain times of the day.

A Canadian pleads guilty to assassinating a fellow countryman in Phuket, 2022.

Could Nana Plaza one day be 50% ladyboys? Dave the Rave has some insights from bar owners about the changing demographics and economics of girly bars.

Also from Dave the Rave, more on Private 69 and the Nana Plaza lease renewal.

Closing Comments

This week’s column featured various comments about how things are changing in Thailand and how the mix of visitors – and the face of expats – is changing markedly. I notice it more every time I go back to Thailand. First, it was all of the Western females moving to Thailand. Then it was the sheer number of young expats, some of whom claimed they never wanted to step foot in their homeland again. Today, there are hordes moving to Thailand from China, India and all over Asia for that matter. These days, it’s just as likely that the person next to you in a bar or restaurant is from Kazhakhstan or India as they are from England or the United States. I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but what I do know is that there are all sorts of ramifications. I’d love to hear what you make of it.

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

 

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com

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