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).
As a writer who has written novels on Thailand, I can honestly say that one could not ask for more colorful material than offered by the Kingdom of Siam. The countryside, the bar scene, the wackiness of the people, the different modes of thought, etc., etc. The problem is not in finding material, the problem is in interpreting it for people who have never been to Thailand. It is much easier to write a novel for people who are familiar with a country than for those who aren't. I do not have to explain things to local expats living in Thailand but I have to make sure that those readers who have never been here understand and can relate to what I am writing about. But too many explanations slow the plot and make for boring reading, especially to the expats. So when attempting to describe an exotic country like Thailand (exotic compared with a Western society) a writer has to strike a balance.
For example, I have actually gotten letters from people abroad asking something like: "You say in your book that the man 'barfined number 69 from the Magic Fingers Go Go Bar.' What does that mean?"
What does that mean?! Don't they teach these things to people in school over there? Whatever happened to the educational system of America? I'll tell you what it means: it means if you don't know what it means you should get your ass over here to Thailand and enjoy yourself finding out what the f**k it means. Nuff said?
Patpong Photo from The Girls of Thailand book (1980)
Speaking of exotic countries, not long ago, there was an article in the paper about a Zimbabwean woman who was electrocuted while having sex in an electricity substation. The paper said the woman was "believed to be a prostitute" although believed by whom it doesn't say. The man was only burned on the hands.
Incredibly the article closed with: "A security guard was electrocuted three years ago while having sex with a prostitute inside an electricity substation at a shopping centre in Chitungwiza, 25 kilometres southeast of Harare."
Well, I know this isn't about Thailand but sometimes while having my cereal with bananas I read something like this and have to make sure I don't choke on my bananas. I mean, in my opinion, what Zimbabwe has here is some kind of Jack the Ripper on the loose. Jolt the Ripper, let's call him. Or Jack the Jolter. Somebody is obviously lurking inside Zimbabwean substations (try to say those two words together five times fast; can't, can yah?) and zapping people who want to have sex there. It would seem that electricity substations are the love hotels of Zimbabwe and this guy is out to get anyone having a good time. Believe me, we haven't heard the last of Jolt the Ripper.
I just had to photograph this happy dude. I mean, he had his bottle, his nipple, his friends, a recent haircut, some cool makeup, some fried rice, and man, what a happy camper he was. Ain't Thai kids great?
The waitresses in some of the soi Cowboy bars such as Dollhouse have gotten incredibly good at catching ping pong balls thrown by patrons (punters) before they reach the dancers. Tennis pros could learn from their speed and form. Ping pong ball catching: A unique way to exercise, lose weight and make money at the same time.
True story: Many of us have stories of taking Thai women to a Western country and, because of their young Thai looks, having Western people mistakenly assume they are children. Hal, a friend of mine, took his lovely Jiap to America for the first time. Jiap is a 30-year-old Thai woman very bright and working for a company dealing in stocks here in Bangkok. She looks younger than her age not unlike many Thai women but I have seen many 30-year-old Thai women who look even younger. In any case, they were staying in a hotel in Washington, D.C., and were looking over the menu, deciding whether to have the breakfast brunch or order from the menu.
The waitress came up to their table and said to Hal (in all seriousness) "Is she under twelve? Because if she is, children under twelve get the buffet brunch for free." Amazing!
That beats my own story of being with a 30-year-old Korean woman in a comedy club in New York City and, as she had no ID, they wouldn't serve her a drink. Believe it or not, at the age of 40, still in Manhattan, she was wearing sunglasses and a T-shirt and jeans and went into a small store to buy cigarettes and the woman behind the counter wanted to see her I.D. She didn't have any again, so they wouldn't sell her cigarettes. Amazing! It's getting to the point in America where if you aren't obese, if you have some kind of identifiable feminine figure, they think you must be a kid.
It isn't often that I can come up with a genuine exclusive but this time I have. We've been fooled. Snookered. Hoodwinked. Didn't you ever wonder how Stickman gets his material for his column. Always seems to be where the Thais are without any problem, right? Even investigating bargirls, right? Well, guess what? I have learned that Stickman is in fact a Thai! The guy who goes around pretending to be stickman, the English teacher, a Kiwi, is in reality a Thai who wears a Kiwi mask, the same kind of mask Tom Cruise wore in Mission Impossible II. A few days ago Stickman had his Kiwi bloke mask off and he was high on several bottles of Singha beer and I managed to snap his picture. All this time he's been fooling us. But no longer. So here he is, the real Stickman. Without the Kiwi mask. Just remember you discovered it here on the one the only truly Investigative Website! Just click here: Stickman
Nana Plaza is certainly doing OK, at least some of the bars. Erotica is one of my favorites but don't forget the bar above Erotica. I mean directly overlooking the downstairs Erotica bar. It is owned by a different owner than Erotica so you have to pay your Erotica drinks first then go upstairs to sit watching oodles of young ladies dancing wildly on the glass floor. It is similar to Baccara on soi Cowboy but there are more girls and (this seems impossible, I know) they seem to be even faster, crazier dancers than the dancers upstairs at Baccara!
Some of the dancers who were dancing in Erotica now work upstairs above Erotica. No doubt there is no love lost between the two bar owners whoever they may be but their competition is your gain. 'Nuff said?
Reminder: Don't forget for those of you who love good books as well as beautiful women, there are several groups that get together for reading and discussion. Dasa Book Group is one and another is the Bangkok Book Group. The Bangkok Book Group reads both fiction and non-fiction and is currently looking for a few more members of any nationality with the only requirement being that you are a full time Bangkok resident willing to commit to reading a book a month. The BBG meets the second Wednesday of each month, for dinner and discussion, at a restaurant of the book selector’s choosing. They also have an email list for discussion. If you are interested contact their group leader Tommie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I've said before that you won't see much mention in this column on prices of drinks in bars and pubs because I prefer to go where there are lovely women and if a beer costs 95 baht in a bar with so so women and 120 baht in a bar with beautiful women, I will go for the latter any time. But there are some really good deals. The New Club Electric Blue in Pattaya's Walking Street has Heineken draft beer for 45 baht all night long not to mention an upstairs with very, very scantily clad ladies. The Londoner in Bangkok has 2 for 1 drinks all night every Wednesday until they close. The Dollhouse on Soi Cowboy has a list of drinks for something like 30 baht during happy hour. And the list goes on. Believe me, as someone who lived in Manhattan for 14 years, I appreciate these prices. Over there drinks are twice as much and bars are ten times more boring. So be happy you're in Thailand and stop complaining just because your wife took off with somebody after cleaning out your bank account. The same thing would have happened in the West, where you came from, but there you wouldn't even have been able to afford to cry in your beer. Here you can.
OK, my friend Paul, after several beers at the Londoner, has come up with this brilliant idea.
Paul: "Islamic extremist terrorists think that if they successfully carry out a suicide bombing, they will get 72 virgins in heaven, right?"
Paul: "Well, as I understand it, the going rate for a virgin in Bangkok is about 30,000 baht. So 72 x 30,000 = 2,160,000 baht or about $52,000, right?"
Paul: "Compared with the costs of investigating, pursuing and incarcerating terrorists, this seems like a small figure to pay. I think that one could launch a charity campaign to raise the money to pay for the virgins for the terrorists, hand in hand with a publicity campaign aimed at the terrorists. Something like: "Don't wait 'til you're dead!"
Me: Um. well-"
Paul: "I see sponsorship opportunities from Virgin Air - for obvious reasons. The girls would be happy to receive the money, the terrorists would be kept busy and happy, and the world can sleep peacefully at night. What do you think?"
Me: "Um. I think you've had enough beer for one night."
I met this lovely lady working at a major beer bar in Pattaya who said her name was C. I said, you mean "See" as in Nong, song, sam, see? She said, no, as in A, B, C. Well, am I missing something here? what's the God-bless-ed difference??
A friend of mine told me that someone he knows got hit by a motorcycle. It seems the guy stepped out into the street and got struck "by a motorcycle going the wrong way." Which just shows how little my friend knows about Thailand. In Thailand, there is no "wrong way" for a motorcycle to be going.
A massage parlor girl told me her story the other day. Very matter-of-fact about it. She was from a poor Essarn family so they sent her down to Bangkok when she was young to be a maid. Then she was sent to school. Then she got a job in a factory which she said was OK but a year before I met her she moved to the massage parlor where she now worked. She said in two years she would go back to her village (when she was 25) and marry a Thai. And that was the way her life was. No complaints. You really have to admire these young Thai women who literally work their asses off to pay for their family's livelihood. My only question - which of course I did not ask: "Don't you think you will have a hard time finding a guy to marry in your village as they might be quite suspicious of what you've been doing in the Bright Lights, Big City?" Well, good luck to her. Oh, yeah. She did have silicone implants, so not all of her savings went to buy sticky rice and somtam.
Speaking of Baccara, one of the girls who was dancing upstairs at Baccara is now working at the Titanium bar on soi 22 where the girls dress in Vietnamese aodais. From little school girl without underpants to a Vietnamese dress. I hope the poor thing doesn't get culture shock. And, hey, Baccara used to have girls dressed as nurses. Whatever happened to them? There are so many foreigners coming to Thailand for treatment, probably some local hospital grabbed the bargirls dressed as nurses to play real nurses. Amazing Thailand!
It does look like Trink has permanently suspended his on-line column. And, frankly, I am still pissed off at the Bangkok Post for the way they let him go. True, his columns were not what they once were, but he was the paper's most popular columnist. I believe in not breaking anybody's rice bowl, but if you must, give them some dignity when letting them go. In Trink's case, they wouldn't even let him mention in his Post column that he was being let go. And after all those years, the Post had no article about him at all. People would have been interested in reading about him at the end of his column career in the paper. I think the paper treated him shabbily. I also think not allowing him to say in his column that the column was going to be closed is a blatant form of censorship and I think the Bangkok Post editorial staff members should be ashamed of themselves. 'Nuff said?
A new novel on Thailand should be hitting the bookstores about now. Good Daughter follows the journeys of six characters: "two intelligent, imaginative Thai bargirls, a paranoid, well-paid American finance executive and his corrupting Australian drinking buddy, a young American university graduate and an Isaan villager whose reoccurring presence borders on the mythical."
I haven't read the book yet so I cannot say anything about the content but I like the part about the "imaginative Thai bargirls." In fact, I've never met a Thai bargirl who lacked imagination. And I met the author, Bjorn Turmann, at Nana Plaza so that is a hopeful sign also. But is this just going to be yet another tale set in Thailand loaded with sex scenes and lust and degradation and depravity and concupiscence devoid of any redeeming plot or theme value? God, I hope so. They're always the best kind.
A 76-year-old guy in Hong Kong was taking videos of girls in toilets, etc., the usual hobbies of guys that age, apparently, and got caught. In his defense, he said his 71-year-old wife nags him so much he found it too unpleasant to stay at home. Well, now she'll really have something to nag him about.
OK, so the other night I am in my apartment and decide to contact a go go dancer on Soi Cowboy whom I haven't heard from lately. Just to say hello. So at 5 in the evening I send her this (SMS) message: "Hello sexy. I hope you are doing well. Are you rich yet?"
Five hours later, just before 10 o'clock, I get a return SMS from her: "I think so, too."
Well, one of the reasons I love these women is because of their lack of Western logic and their wackiness but I just have to ask: She thinks WHAT too?? Does she mean she thinks she is doing well, or does she mean she thinks she is getting rich, or does she mean to say she hopes (thinks) I am doing well too? Or did she just send me a message meant for somebody else by mistake? And why did it take five hours for that four word reply? WHY?? WHAT?? She thinks WHAT, too?? AARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
The crackdown on what drugstores/pharmacies in Thailand can sell continues. You see, according to my friendly pharmacist located in a nightlife area, the rules and regulations were always on the books but not enforced. Now they are being enforced and it is likely to stay that way even if the personnel in the FDA changes. That's right, this is not a police crackdown, rather Thailand's very own Food and Drug Administration crackdown. It simply means that, for example, powerful sleeping pills are more difficult to get, so you should stock up on what you need when the drugstore has it in stock. Lots of over-the-counter medicine still available in Bangkok, of course, that you couldn't get over-the-counter in the West. Just note that there really has been a crackdown in this area which is likely to remain in force, possibly raising the price of what you need. Viagra, etc., is still available but it is more difficult for the stores to get the generic so should you be shopping for generic pills to aid in your tumescence be sure to place your order in early, thereby giving the pharmacist time to purchase it for you. (Note: a friend was recently in Cambodia and bought a generic for Viagra called Zeagra or something like that, 500 baht for 4 pills, and said it works just fine.)
Why help didn't get through during Hurricane Katrina. Maybe he knows how to use a cellphone?
A reader from Hong Kong informs me that he went to Banana Joe's in Wanchai about 11 p.m. and the place was swarming with Thai women. The ladies would like one thousand Hong Kong dollars for short time and two thousand for long time. US$1 = HK$7.79. So, I'll do the math for you: Short time: US$128.37. Long time: US$256.74. So unless you have a barrel of money, you may as well wait until you get back to Bangkok before indulging in the carnal pleasures of the phenomenal world. Also remember not to go into Wanchai bars because the cost of drinks for the Thais and Filipinas is quite high and the cost of taking them out is worse than New York.
But Wanchai does have lovely Thai women, Filipinas and mainland Chinese women all over the place and the best place to meet them is in the clubs or even at a computer cafe, etc. Wanchai also has some really good restaurants so if you are in Hong Kong you might consider staying in one of the hotels there such as the Wharney ("Hua Mei fan dyan").
Christopher G. Moore has another novel out and here is the publisher's blurb: "When Hollywood super star and action hero, Errol Flynn, died in 1959 at the age of 50 in a Vancouver penthouse with a bottle of booze and a 16-year-old bimbo by his side, most people, including the coroner, were quick to call it a heart attack brought on by the excesses that made Flynn notorious. Nearly a half-century later, and halfway around the world in Bangkok, new evidence has just surfaced which proves the actor was murdered by government operatives unhappy with Flynn's ties with Fidel Castro, at a time when US-Cuban relations were heading into the toilet.
The discovery is about to put everything on the line for ex-patriot American gambling king and TV personality, Joey Balfour, now the owner of a mysterious and exotic flower shop in downtown Bangkok. For Balfour, untangling himself from the mess will be the greatest gamble of his life, pitting his wits against a thief who ripped off a Vegas casino, a harlot out for revenge, right wing religious zealots with government entanglements out to destroy his life, a seedy Vegas security chief out for revenge, and a computer nerd who has accidentally uncovered the FBI memo ordering Errol Flynn's hit."
I love the part about the "harlot out for revenge" and the bottle of booze and the 16-year-old bimbo. But if she was sixteen in 1959 that would make her about 62. Surely she should be writing her memoirs about her life with Errol, no? From the sound of it Chris should have a winner with this one.
There are now a great many novels on Bangkok and many involve some aspect of bars or the sex scene. Some of the novels are very well written, some need lots of editing. But local writers whose books have go go dancers and bar scenes are, of course, easy targets for local puritans masquerading as commentators or reviewers. In the Hong Kong Post there was an article entitled Lust in Translation discussing Bangkok's "sexpat literature." Not a bad article in itself. But it quoted the head of a Women's Writer's Group in Bangkok as saying: "There are so many men that live in these darkened dens of prostitution night after night that it's not surprising some of them would like to qualify it as research."
"Darkened Dens of Prostitution." God, I like that, it has a nice Vampire/werewolf ring to it. A kind of opium den atmosphere in 1930's Shanghai. (And, yes, in the 1970's I was already taking Thai women to Hong Kong and explaining to the Chinese officials at the airport that they were my "research assistants.") This head of the Bangkok Women's Writer's Group dismisses the books as "prostitute fiction." I'm shocked! Truly shocked! Can she not see that the underlying themes in all these books invariably suggest that he who indulges in such darkened dens of prostitution will come to a bad end?
Finally, this head of the Bangkok Women's Writer's Group says: "I think it's a genre that revolves around the allure of Thai women's sexuality and the fantasies white men have about them."
Oh, pleeeaaaase! Not that old chestnut again. I think in the year 2005 both the writers of these books and the readers (many of whom have been to Thailand or actually live here) know fact from fantasy about Thai women's sexuality. This is not the 1950's wherein we believed every Suzie Wong had a heart of gold underneath. In the year 2005 we know a lot of these women have their hearts set on obtaining gold. We know they are conniving, calculating, sweet, innocent, experienced, confusing, sometimes frustrating as hell but, yep, we still find them fascinating. We still love them.
Of course it could be that women who don't sit around babbling about "relationships" all the time are a lot more attractive to "white men" than those who do. But I can't help wonder what these (presumably white) women write about in their own work. Eugene O'Neill, American's greatest playwright, set his entire play, The Iceman Cometh, in a saloon and it is arguably America's greatest play. In other words, it isn't where the novel is set, or who published it, or where the writer lives, or what the genre is, or how much sex is in it - It is quite simply: How good is the book? A shame that a lot of so-called reviewers can't understand that. In the words of Raymond Chandler: "It is always a matter of who writes the stuff, and what he has in him to write it with."
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 email@example.com.
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.
Be the first to answer the question: Where was this picture taken and win 5,500 baht in food and drink plus a Dean Barrett novel. Be the second to answer the question and you'll know why being second doesn't count for shit. Hint: this was not a scene photographed at an international school in Bangkok.
There were no winners of last column's contest. The correct answer was Dean Barrett 1980.(The picture is from The Girls of Thailand book, published 1980.) This column's contest winner will receive 5,500 baht worth of food and drink and three Dean Barrett books.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to the Welcome Page