Welcome to my website. In case you're new, you might care to know that the purpose of this site is to offer rants, tirades, opinions and discussion about books on Thailand, give an overview of nightlife in Thailand and, yes, to provide a few news items which might not appear elsewhere. And to have some fun.
Bar, club and restaurant owners who would like to send material on their special events, birthday bashes, anniversary parties, etc., are welcome to do so but please remember men in Thailand are a bit jaded so if you’re just going to offer the usual free gourmet food and free full band entertainment and free beautiful and eager-to-please women, well, the lads have been there, done that. So do try to offer potential patrons something special. ;-)
There is a contest every two weeks when this column appears and the first to answer the question correctly or identify a photograph correctly will receive a free book written by myself and other prizes such as free food and drink from Larry's Dive, The Londoner, The Old Dutch and Bourbon Street Cafe. The prizes will build up in case anyone doesn't win it immediately so the bonanza for the eventual winner could get quite interesting.
I will also add information to a column as I receive it or report on nightlife as I encounter it so check back now and again as there may be much new even within a week or ten days. And please remember a part of all money received from the sale of my books goes to needy Thais (in the form of payment to go go dancers, waitresses and hostesses).
Sorry, kid, I'm off to Bangkok where I don't have to take any of your bullshit.
Great news. Peter, owner of the Old Dutch Corner Restaurant on Soi Cowboy, has now joined as a sponsor of this column's contest which means that every two weeks the winner now gets 2,000 baht worth of food and drink and one of my books. If no winner, then next time it will be 4,000 baht worth of food and drink and so on.
Friday nights, Gulliver's on Sukhumvit soi 5 is doing a rip-roaring business, standing room only, Thermae Coffee Shop is doing a rip-roaring business, Chang, Singha and Tiger beer still only 70 baht, relieving oneself at the urinal still only 5 baht, and plenty of available, young women standing around in clouds of cigarette smoke. Strange how some places do so well even during the (rapidly ending) low season when Nana Plaza is only oh-so-slowly picking up. Doesn't anybody like to watch go go dancing, anymore? Well, yes, actually, Pretty Lady at Nana Plaza was crowded with customers and deserved to be so. None of us had ever seen the place with so many good looking dancers before. And of course there is the added attraction of no-panties dancers and a mirrored countertop. Hillary 2 Bar on Sukhumvit soi 4 was rocking with the Fox Band and managed to land Carabao as well.
In case you missed it, about a week ago I added to the last column the information that, during punter hours, Soi Cowboy will definitely be closed off to traffic, trucks, cars, taxis, motorcycles, elephants and whatnot. Also, signs will go up (or have already) at all bars about fines for not having photo I.D.'s. They are serious about it because in the event of a police check, if you have no photo I.D., you will have trouble but the bar will get fined a lot of money. Some bars elsewhere in town got shut down recently for 30 days for this offense. So if you don't carry your passport, do carry a driver's license or some I.D. with photo.
2 a.m, last week: Soi Cowboy. A girl falls from the balcony of the Midnight Bar onto the roof below with the plastic, sheet metal, etc., and gets hung up there. Two of Suzie Wong bar's finest (guards/employees) encourage her to jump into their arms which she does safely. She is not really hurt and (possibly due to what testing might find inside her curvaceous body) refuses to go to the hospital. Just another night, or, rather, early morning on Soi Cowboy.
Last time I was at Nana Plaza (or at least the last time I can clearly remember) I ran into Stickman at the bottom of the stairs and then I ran into Baron Bonk in Angel Witch. Aren't you glad to know that we're all out there making sure nothing new and great is happening that you won't know about?
Science Fiction Writers of America slogan: "The future isn't what it used to be."
Mystery Writers of America slogan: "Crime doesn't pay - enough."
It's almost that time of year again when the Renoir Club on Sukhumvit soi 33 has three nights of fun and frolic and sexy women getting tipsy. You may or may not recall that the Renoir was the first club on soi 33, opening way back in the year 1986. Owner and creator of the club, Alex, is still there. Over the years, thanks to meetings at the Renoir, there have been a slew of marriages and from all reports the vast majority are still successful. Alex should be given full credit for opening when he did because in 1986, most of soi 33 was in darkness and his friends thought he was nuts for opening a bar there; and that it would close in short order and he would lose his shirt. Well, the Renoir is still a success and still going today. Even Al Eberhardt still stops by.
Anyway, the dates to remember are Wednesday, October 12th, which is Reggae Night, Thursday, October 13th, which is Cowboy Night, and October 14th, which is Night of Nights. Lots of good food, barbecue, and lots of entertainment and lots of lovely ladies. The action begins each night at 5 p.m. All welcome. The last night, the 14th, will have a "sizzling, super sexy show" at 11:30 p.m.
Fetish Fashion in Hong Kong closed in August. That was the place in Western Central district near the escalator that goes up and down the hillside. As the place never actually employed the dominatrixes that worked there the owners got off years ago when brought to trial. Although it cost the farang (guailo) couple a lot to get off. That should have taught them not to get that kind of place written up in Time magazine and in the South China Morning Post, etc. Low profile and all that, you know? Now the rent went up too high (it is said) or if you believe other sources some party pooper in Beijing didn't like what was going on. Whatever, folks into kinky fun in Hong Kong will have to find new playgrounds.
In Bangkok, as we all know, certain floors of certain massage parlors have Russian women. I wonder how their special work permits describe them: "Morose, vodka-loving women specially trained for essential massage parlor work in Thailand."
Don, a long-time Squaronian (which, to the uninitiated, means he hangs about Washington Square), has several names and numbers of young go go dancers in his cell phone. That way he doesn't have to bestir himself by actually leaving the apartment in search of company for the evening. He calls his system "Dial-a-boom." Probably faster than a pizza delivery.
Rumors are flying all over soi 33 about which bars are being sold, which lost its lease, which are closing, etc. So far, these are just rumors. However, one source did specifically mention that a bar near the Novotel Lotus Hotel was sold; a second source said "not yet." As soon as I get more reliable information on any bar I'll pass it on but I have been saying for a long time that there are simply too many bars on soi 33 for all to stay in business. Those managers who are smart carve out their local niche and find loyal customers.
Beaver's table-top dancing club in Pattaya has its opening party on Saturday, the 8th of this month. Andy, of Electric Blue Pattaya and Patpong, is hoping for a winner and will most likely come up with one.
A friend of mine who has been around Thailand for years but speaks little Thai told me that he was in a taxi coming from Patpong Road and when he got to his destination he found that he had only two twenty-baht notes and a 500-baht note. The fare was 41 baht. So he gave him the two twenty-baht notes and the driver kept saying NO, NO, NO! My friend screamed back at him that he had been around a long time and that was all he was going to get etc., etc.
The next morning when he got dressed he checked his pockets and found one 20-baht note. The driver had been trying to tell him he had paid way to much. Five hundred and twenty baht, to be exact. Poetic justice, irony, and a taxi driver from Issan who had a real good night.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister is upset with reality shows in which people hug one another because TV programs, according to him, should be promoting moral values, blah, blah, blah. But remember the play, No Sex, Please, We're British? Well, this guy says, "no hugging please, we are Muslims." Fanatics can be funny even when they don't know it.
I didn't find anything on other Thailand websites that I could crib for my site this time. I wonder if it's possible to sue other websites for not having anything worth stealing?
I saw workers outside the Midnight Bar on soi Cowboy working away. Now they seem to be finished. It looks quite nice. I'll have to check back in there late at night and see how heavily clothed the ladies are these days. Also, the facade on the Mambo Club in Washington Square, Sukhumvit soi 22, is finished and looks real nice, fluted columns and all. This is the ladyboy showplace for tourists, especially busloads of wide-eyed Japanese tourists who pull up every night for the two shows. So if this floats your boat, now is the time to head there.
Outside a soi Cowboy bar, one of the small ones. I was passing by, stopped to chat, and was asked for a drink. I explained to the not-so-young lady that I had no cash on me at which point she said, "ATM is OK," opened her legs and made the motion of swiping my card between her legs. Could it be possible? Have Thai bargirls been genetically altered so that their pussies can take ATM cards thereby eliminating trips to ATM machines? The mind boggles. Further comment would be superfluous.
Oh boy, the Thai government is going to issue two-baht coins which, according to some, will appear similar to the existing one-baht coins. Just what people over 40 want: trying to distinguish between the two types of coins in dim light when attempting to pay off a taxi driver while inebriated and escorting a young lady home.
I recently spent some time in Pattaya and I noticed that if you go into the bars just before 8 p.m. there don't seem to be many attractive dancers there. But by 9 p.m. there are loads of them. This happened to me the other night in the Happy a Go Go bar. I still think this is my favorite bar in Pattaya yet it is seldom mentioned in the top ten on other websites. I was in there at 8 o'clock wondering what happened to the place, how it went downhill. But then I noticed some real stunners coming into the place and by just after 9 the stage was full of wonders and delights. So don't judge a bar scene until after nine.
And of course the Peppermint on Walking Street was so full I could only get a seat at the bar near the entrance which only had three topless lady bartenders working. Poor me. Of course, I had to check my camera at the door. My only fear was in forgetting to retrieve it when I left so I told the guy to be sure to remind me when I was leaving. But, amazing as it seems, I actually remembered it.
I stayed at the Penthouse Hotel on Soi Pattayaland 2. This is the strangest hotel I have ever been in and believe me I have been in some strange ones. It is also deliciously tacky; tacky in an irresistible way. It also has an in-house TV system in that you can watch the kittens dancing in the Cats Club on the TV and pick up the phone and order her up to the room. That is, in theory; in practice the faces on the TV weren't especially clear. But the very idea itself should turn feminazi faces blue.
This hotel also offers taxi service from Bangkok Airport to their hotel in Pattaya for 1500 baht plus tax, a limo at 2200 plus tax and - wait for it! - a limousine with champagne and two kittens girls from their Cats Club for 11,500 plus tax. So if you are rich or extremely horny when you land in Bangkok, or you want to impress a business client, call the owner of the Penthouse Hotel (Dudley) and he'll arrange it for you.
The Galaxy Cabaret is the place with Russian women and, as you can see when you enlarge the picture, there is often a Russian woman dancing in the window along Walking Street, attempting to lure you up to their establishment. I was in the place before it moved but haven't been in the new place. Probably wouldn't be my cup of tea or jug of vodka but, still, it is nice that Pattaya offers such variety.
Pam's Bar on Soi Cowboy has been there for 23 years! (Right next to Baccara.) Yet there is no go go dancing, the girls are not bad looking but certainly not stunners and they are a bit older than in the go go bars, there don't seem to be many customers at all, and almost none under 55. So how does the bar survive? One of the mysteries of Amazing Thailand. Anyway, Pam is a nice lady; stop by and say hello.
I keep getting spam e-mail some of which makes me feel sad for Western men dumb enough or unfortunate enough to live in Western societies. "Meet horny local girls." Well, actually, mate, I live 5 minutes and 11 seconds from Soi Cowboy, 43 seconds from Soi 33, 13 minutes from Nana Plaza, and 9 minutes from Washington Square. So unlike my poor brethren in the West, I suspect I will have no trouble at all meeting "horny local girls." So bug some poor bastard living in Detroit or Manchester, would you? These lovely kittens from the Penthouse Hotel in Pattaya are just two hours from Bangkok.
Has this every happened to you? You're sitting in a place like Rainbow 1 at Nana Plaza and almost overwhelmed by the youth and beauty dancing up on the stage and the curtain opens to the entrance and a couple of guys look in, and after a few seconds turn around and go out. I don't get it. What the f**k do these morons want!? Are they looking for, ladyboys or something? A bar full of beautiful, young, available women and they turn around and go out! Hell with them; more for me.
Two or three months ago, the driving range for golfers at the end of Sukhumvit, soi 18, was closed down. Right now, it is nice and quiet for the small guest houses, small massage places and small noodle stands on that end of the dead end soi. However, there will be a huge condo development going up there so the quiet won't last long.
I remember this driving range well, not because I play golf, but because on one of my walkabouts I discovered it and thought a nighttime scene in one of my novels might be set there. There was something sinister about the sound of golf balls being sent off into the night and I liked the mood of the place. I decided that, if I could, I would work the scene into the novel I was working on at the time: Skytrain to Murder.
Am I glad I was reading one of Christopher Moore's novels at the time because he had already written almost exactly the scene I was planning on writing. A Killing Smile, I think it was. His scene was only slightly different than the one I was planning, and had I written it into a novel it really would have looked as if I lifted the idea and setting and mood from Chris's novel. So of course I dropped the idea. Interesting that two writers independently realized that there was something special about a scene for a detective novel. So it is true sometimes: coincidences do happen.
Nice quiet place to have dinner inside or out? Try the Admiral's Pub and Restaurant, Sukhumvit soi 22. Swiss, American and Thai food. They have fish in a small pond and a system of punkahs to cool the air inside the restaurant. The pub is upstairs in the back. It's an especially good place for those who like Danish open-faced sandwiches. No Tuborg beer available when I was there, however. Their menu says they are in Jomtien and Hua Hin as well. God, there are so many great restaurants in Bangkok. You could spend a lifetime trying them all. What a town!
And just down the street is La Rueda, a Latin dance club. Care to learn the cha cha or samba? Just e-mail email@example.com or visit the place on soi 22.
It's amazing how our attitudes gradually change when we live in Thailand, isn't it? When we first came here and saw a family of six riding a motorcycle, no one wearing helmets, we thought Oh my God! Now we see a family of six riding a motorcycle, no one wearing helmets, and we think, Yeah, so?
And while on the subject of motorcycles, when I first came back to Thailand to live about five years ago, I was scared beyond belief while riding on the back of a motorcycle taxi. I thought they were going to get me killed (which they might some day). But, now, when I'm on one of these things and the driver stops at a red light while crossing Sukhumvit Road, I think, What's the matter with this guy? What the hell's he stopping for? We could have just made it in front of that bus and scattered those schoolgirls in the crosswalk and pulled around that truck and be on the other side now.
I'm always afraid of questions from women. Especially during question and answer sessions after I give a reading from a new book. Or at any time. They seem to get to the heart of the matter, as Graham Greene would say. Anyway, one novelist in New York City who has known me for decades, and knows me very well, bought me lunch. The lady is now in her late 40's. She asked if she could ask me a question. I said, hey, you're buying the lunch, why not? Then she said, "Outside of your immediate family, when did you last have an extended conversation with a woman over 40?"
Oops! Like I say, I worry about questions from women. The truthful answer would have been, "The last time I saw you." But we all know better than to tell a woman the truth, right? My second thought was that if it was OK to include the two sisters I know in one of the go go bars, their combined ages might make it into the 40's. But my finely honed instincts told me that wouldn't be the right answer either. So I said that my maid is over 40 and whenever the rainstorms in Bangkok knock off CNN I have an extended conversation with the maid. I say: Mai mee CNN, Khrab!" (There is no CNN). So there!
Here is yet another photograph taken about 1979 of a Patpong Road go go dancer from my out-of-print photobook, The Girls of Thailand. In those days, there was enough cloth on bikini bottoms to allow slogans. No longer, of course. To those of you who have asked about getting a copy of the book (published 1980) it is out of print but possibly you can find a copy with an on-line bookstore. I only have two copies left myself.
The Pattaya Mail and Pattaya Today newspapers are quite funny (sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally) in the way the Bangkok Post used to be before it became humorless and anti-Western and fearful of the government. Here are a few lines from Pattaya Today: “One woman, who said she was available to be picked up for horizontal leisure pursuits…”
One mentally disturbed demimondaine, was shouting and swearing at anyone who would listen, “or even if they didn’t.” At a police station she had a heated argument with herself then stuck a knife in her chest. There were many witnesses who said she was “a service girl who rarely, if ever, managed to hook a client as her behavior was off-putting.”
A British woman in Thailand had come here for cosmetic surgery on her face and rear and hips area, then went to – wait for it – a disco! - where – guess what? – You Got It – the stitches didn’t hold or, as the paper says, “a dire event occurred during the dancing, namely that the wound on her friend’s hip split open causing a considerable commotion and panic.”
A headline in one paper reads: “Man holds his own mother to ransom: Angry Relatives beat him up.” Nuff said?
Amazingly, I came across a publication that makes the two above newspapers seem totally sane by comparison. It is some kind of Thailand tourist handout called Bangkok Express. Most of the magazine is what you would expect from a “complimentary copy” tourist handout. But then there is the page called “DIET SECRET: The Great Knowledge of going on a diet.” In the writer’s praise for some diet book done in Thailand, among many gems it says, “I can figure out that food is the best solution to your body.” As opposed to what, I wonder?
And at the very end of the article, the summing up unfortunately doesn’t say what the writer thought it would say: “Those who read her book will certainly find the wonderful way to gain their weight.” Right on!
But wait for the best part of this publication. The horoscopes. Allow me to reprint just three. Be careful, because these are going to blow your mind.
“Aries – Keep this in mind while in search of a new spouse. Do not give up just because of your epithelial cavity. I have barely begun my harangue. Once this onslaught of words is complete I suggest you get yourself a lawyer. We are also getting a divorce. Everyone is leaving you just now when you most need them aren’t they? I see a tear welling up. Let me tell you something. That night I spent on the other side of town was for your own good.”
Um, say what?
“Virgo – This may only be advice but please remember that I am a spiritual seer. Ling squat culminating in a masterful split between pancake batter and a lathe. Follow directions at your own peril. Watch the clock go tick tock tick tock tick tock you ninny. I can see you with my guts. They are onto your guts. We both got guts.”
Um, right on. Finally, here is my favorite:
"Capricorn – Issues seem out of hand, but if you stay centered, all gets resolved. That meeting you got on the twelfth is a bogus attempt to bring you down by higher management. Do not respond to their threats. This month’s successful business connections could sustain you for years to come. That is, if you got any more years coming. This all depends on whether you can maintain your business sense while sustaining severe head injuries…”
Jesus, and I thought I sometimes write weird shit! Whoever wrote this must be high on something. Sure wish I had some.
OK, so once again I was minding my own business in the Londoner Pub, mentally undressing the waitresses and in comes an Englishman I've known for some time. He says, "Want to see the most beautiful girl in the world?" Why not, thinks I. So off we go to the Richmond Bar down the street. So while he cavorts with the most beautiful girl in the world, I strike up a conversation with a real cutie from Udorn. I learn a lot about her and eventually when I'm about to leave, she mentions she has a twin sister in the Lookie Lookie Bar down the street.
So I tell everyone I'm heading home, lying, of course, then head for the Lookie Lookie Bar and ask for the twin by name. When she appears, I pretend I know her well and then feign disappointment when she can't remember me despite all I know about her. I remind her of the great time we had together in Pattaya, etc., and how she thought I was "khang makh makh!" She's laughing the whole time but is obviously befuddled. Just when I have her half convinced that she must have forgotten me, I pay my bill, bid her a goodnight and leave. I figure that night when she gets home, she will have quite a story to tell her twin sister from the Richmond Bar. Who in turn of course would then clear up the mystery.
What's that? Don't I have better things to do than to play bizarre games with sexy young Thai women in bars? Nope.
Update: The twins caught up with me at the Richmond Club birthday party for the owner, Michael. But they both graciously forgave me my sins. Aren't they sweet? I wonder why they both don't work in the same bar, they could play games with unaware customers by changing roles and moving around and pretending there is only one of them.
How cheap is cheap? I was in the Corner Bar on Sukhumvit soi 11 having a beer watching the rain and watching the wannabe hi-so types passing by outside heading for the Q-Bar. Taffy, owner of Washington Square's New Square One bar is also the owner of the Corner Bar. When I mentioned to Mekhong Kurt that I finally got down to the Corner Bar, he said that some guys go in there, order water, and just play pool.
That reminded me that there are guys who try to get the free 3:00 Saturday lunch at the Texas Lone Star Saloon and just order water. No beer. And, of course, no drink for any lady. Poor is poor, but cheap is cheap. And this is just cheap. Don't forget free lunch every Saturday at 3 at the Lone Star.
Great line from the writer Salman Rushdie: "When you write, you write out of your best self. Everything else drops away."
Great line from the writer Paulo Coelho: "You cannot imagine how alone a writer is..."
On another part of this website I have been running chapters about a spaceship from another planet that lands in a ricefield in northeast Thailand, Argaiv's Travels. I wrote that the alien was a bit larger than humans but gradually shrinks to our size.
Now this just appeared in a local Thailand newspaper, the Nation: "VILLAGES SPOT 'ALIEN' IN RICE FIELD: Villagers in Mae-Chan district claimed to have had a close encounter on Thursday morning with a 70-centimeter-tall alien who stood in a rice field for over an hour and then flew away in a flash of light. Wisit Sitthisombat, Mae Chan district chief, said he was sure the villagers had not be lying because 10 people had given very similar accounts of the sighting."
Now, what are we to make of this? Am I some kind of a soothsayer who knows the future and somehow glimpsed what was going to happen? Life imitating art? Or simply some residents of Mae-Chan consuming a bit too much of their homemade rice-wine?
A go go dancer had the nerve to call me the other night about 6 in the evening to say she was feeling lazy and didn't want to dance that night, and she would come over to my apartment (where she's been before) if I would pay her barfine and the going rate. These girls are really getting arrogant. I mean, what's in it for me except a beautiful, succulent, curvaceous 21-year-old for the night? I was in fact watching a Woody Allen movie on a VCD and enjoying a pleasant evening at home. And she thinks I'm going to suddenly drop everything I was doing because she didn't feel like dancing and was willing to come to my apartment!! Which of course I did...
I traded Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan for a sexy Thai woman less than half my age. Whereas they were involved in neurotic relationships, my relationship with this dancer was much less neurotic and far more erotic. In fact, in the movie, Woody was involved in a relationship with a 17-year-old student. Mine was at least 21. But, why, God, why was I born such a sucker for a lovely Thai woman's face and curvaceous body? I am spending all my money lately on dentists and go go dancers but not necessarily in that order.
Contest for this column: No winner last column. The picture was taken on Sukhumvit Road, soi 31 facing the Blue Orchid Club. In order to win free food and drinks from the establishments below (As the Old Dutch Corner has just joined in with this column, this time the prize is a total of 3,500 baht plus a free Dean Barrett book), be the first to guess which of the following is most likely true. The Thai lady in black leather and violet shoes in the above picture was most likely photographed in the apartment of:
Jack the Ripper Baron Bonk
Chuwit Dean Barrett
Jimmy Hoffa Donald Rumsfeld
Dave the Rave Stephen Leather
and was most likely photographed in 1980, 1990, 2000 or 2005.
Do you have a product or service you would like to advertise on this website? You can, you know. In fact, you don’t have to have a product or service at all; you can just send me money. Or perhaps you would like me to plug a product or service that you are involved in? Sure, just send me cash. Be sure, however, to mark the outside envelope:
“Birthday money for Dean Barrett –
Absolutely No Bribe Enclosed”
Got feedback to this column? Got information on Thailand you would like to share? Happy as a dung beetle to be living in Paradise? Been ripped off? Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like satire on Thailand? Try http://www.farangaffairs.com.
Like to know what music is playing where in Bangkok each week? Try http://www.bangkokgigguide.com.
That's all for this fortnightly column. Drop by again. Explore the rest of the website. Meanwhile, as the girls used to tell me during the 1960's: "I no lie you, GI, you number one!"
Dean Barrett can be flamed at: email@example.com
Back to the Welcome Page