Welcome to my website. Unlike the universe, this site has a purpose: 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 vouchers worth at least 3,000 baht in food and drink, i.e., 500 baht each, from Larry's Dive, The Londoner, The Old Dutch, Electric Blue, The Big Mango 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. Second prize is one of my books or else a 500-baht book gift voucher from Dasa Books.
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).
Been to Khao San Road lately? You should. It's interesting and the area around it is changing. For the better. I took an out-of-town friend there and as darkness fell and I got off the beaten track I got lost. The streets nearby were very attractive walking streets, there were shops and bookstalls, and it almost resembled areas of European cities. I'm not talking about Khao San Road itself but the area. We walked down one tiny alley, past a Muay Thai training gym, through some slum alleys and suddenly found ourselves inside a modern restaurant and then onto an interesting road. Give yourself time to ramble about.
It is true: we go to interesting places of the city we live in only when out-of-town guests have to be shown around. Otherwise, we pretty much stick to a pattern. Eat in this restaurant, drink at this pub, head for this bar, barfine this dancer. He admitted it was the same with him in L.A.; he seldom went to tourist areas unless he had to show someone around. In my case, I even made it to the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) on the river where I hadn't been for over 20 years. And to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Po) And to the Suan Lum Night Market. The Night Market has hundreds of stalls with interesting local products, a huge outdoor drinking and eating area and a few nice indoor/outdoor restaurants. So of course Rumor Control Headquarters claims it will all be torn down in six months. Let's wait and see but meanwhile visit the place, sit outside, listen to the band, watch the girls dance, and flirt with the many waitresses trying to sell you their brand of beer.
Wat Po is in my opinion more sanuk to visit than Wat Phra Kaew. It is more relaxed, has the famous massage school on its grounds, and costs foreigners 20 baht to get in, much less than Wat Po. And if you do visit this area, don't forget to visit the nearby Lak Muang, Pillar of the City, Spiritual Center of Bangkok, across from Sanam Luang. Many years ago, the Sunday Market was at Sanam Luang, before it moved to Chatuchat. Also many years ago, the Buddha amulet market was inside the grounds of Wat Mahathat near the river. Now the market is across the street and stretches down to the river. Always an interesting place. The nearby National Museum is also worth a visit but is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Thais are a fun-loving and friendly people but if you stay in Thailand long enough you will eventually run into an asshole or two. In Pattaya, when I was photographing bar signs and girls holding signs, some Thai guy working outside one of the small go go bars on Soi Diamond didn't want me to photograph the outside of the bar. Of course I have every right to point my camera where I want as long as I am in a public space. But there were plenty of other signs and one of the guys tried to be very friendly, warning me that the door might be open and a dancer might be standing there when I took the picture. Um, so what? The world will collapse?
Anyway, unlike his buddy, he was trying to be polite and I didn't really need the shot so I let it go. The fact that there were three of them and one of me and the fact that if a fight broke out there would very quickly have been 25 of them and one of me did not enter into my thoughts. Really. Right.
"He's OK when he's writing about fucking, but when he gets philosophical, I fall asleep." Charles Bukowski on Henry Miller
I hadn't been into the Dali Bar on Sukhumvit soi 33 for quite some time. It is sad to see how the crackdown has affected things. A few years ago, every Friday at 11, there would be a lovely, curvaceous dancer brought in to do a sexy strip and walk around the bar. Sometimes even two. Photography was no problem. Now there is just one lovely, curvaceous dancer and the bar doesn't want anyone to photograph her. I took one shot and the girl herself didn't seem to mind at all. One very sexy lady.
Speaking of Thai logic, my friend Paul was on a flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Air Asia and found what looked like a man’s wedding ring in the bathroom. He gave it to the steward to find the passenger. Paul heard no announcement about the ring and when they landed he asked the steward if he had found the passenger. So when the steward said no, Paul asked why they hadn’t made an announcement. His answer was that they weren’t sure if it had been left on that flight or on a previous one. What that implies, of course, is that no one checks the planes in between flights for weapons, explosives, or, apparently, to clean. Further comment would be, well, you know the rest.
The saga of the Hollywood bars at Nana continues with the manageress, Linda, being relieved of duty from Hollywood Strip by owner Peter. Some day these bars will once again get their act together. I should live so long. One bar that does have its act together is Sheba's Bar. Why? Because the other night the talented Thai artist got up on stage to paint the ladies as he always does. And, as always, he painted beautiful flowers and birds and other wonderful designs on their lovely skin. And guess what? Right on a dancer's back he painted a caricature of Taksin and beneath it in English: "Taksin, get out!" Yep, this is Thailand! And, hey, maybe Taksin was there that night because (thank whatever gods exist) Taksin has resigned! Wonderful!
Sometimes I get e-mails from people who tell me this column has not changed by the date it is supposed to change; asking when will the new one be up. In fact, they had bookmarked the column and were looking at a cache. If you bookmark the page, be sure to hit your refresh button several times quickly until the new column appears.
Buying DVD's from street vendors is a hit and miss proposition in Thailand. In Pattaya right now there is a Thai guy selling the Da Vinci Code DVD for 90 baht. The cover has the actresses, actors, pictures from the movie, etc. But when you get it home you will find that the disc itself is actually a documentary of some of the places covered in the movie (book). So, of course, caveat emptor.
Did you know that the Frenchman who owns the fetish clubs Demonia and Castle is at it again? Now they are said to have opened a new fetish club right on Patpong II near Foodland. I believe the place is called something like Bar Bar. Too bad as it's near Foodland they didn't call it Fetishland.
Bob, owner of the Office Bar on soi 33, is turning Mojo's into a restaurant which will on occasion have bands as well. The next door bar is becoming a pool hall which will have a soi entrance and will also be connected to the new restaurant. And did you know that in the four years the Office Bar has been going, it has produced 29 marriages? And of which 29 are still going. And the girls do return for reunions. Maybe I can make it number 30?
No, this is not the same picture of Kung in the Tenderloin on soi 33 that I ran before. In that picture she was only smiling. In this one she is laughing. Maybe I shouldn't have told her I am a wiraburut hongnorn (hero of the bedroom).
You know the word for pen in Thai is “pakkah” right? No doubt after Parker pen. But why not, for example, Schaeffer pen. Why not "schaffah"? I mean, is there an interesting tale to be told about pen salesmen scrambling around Thailand decades ago trying to make sure their pen's name becomes the name for pen in Thai? Some great rivalry like McDonald Douglas and Boeing used to be locked in? I guess we’ll never know. But fo shore Pakkah won.
A friend of mine was contemplating responding to an ad for land "very near Sukhumvit Road" which was being offered at a really attractive price. Then he suddenly remembered Sukhumvit Road runs all the way to Cambodia.
Archeologists were doing a dig in the former capital of Sukhothai and began finding relics which date back many hundreds of years. Among them they found this sign. It is difficult to decipher but if you click on it you will see the the bottom line appears to read: "plus 2 ugly ones." So don't blame American GIs for starting Thai nightlife, OK?
"Is a lively, contentious, reflective theater beyond our reach, our imaginations? Are the powers who reign over this theater of the bottom line aware that there are some really interesting -- even entertaining -- things to talk about on the stage and that they ought to be encouraged? Even if at times they require more than two or four people in the cast? A new 'Crucible' could not be produced on Broadway today, nor a 'Death of a Salesman,' either. Nor, for that matter, a 'streetcar.' Too many people. Is this situation satisfactory for what purports to be the main stage of the richest country in human history?" Arthur Miller - The New York Times
I admit I tend to visit places in Bangkok in which there are lovely young women but, whenever possible, I try to combine such visits to visits to places of cultural or historical interest as well. The other day, before a visit to the Chao Phraya Massage Parlor II on Sri Ayudhya Road, I stopped in at Suan Phakkhad, the private museum of the late Princess Chombhot of Negara. It is across the street and just down a way from the massage parlor. It is open every day from 9 to 4 whereas the massage parlor is open from noon to shortly before midnight. So why not stop in at the museum with its beautiful old Thai wooden buildings, cabinets, Ban Chiang pottery, etc., before or after a two hour fling in the massage parlor? Just to stay well rounded, so to speak.
I do love the luxury of modern massage parlors in Bangkok with their large tubs, huge beds, air-conditioning, etc., etc. But when I was stationed in Bangkok during the 1960's there was something special in going with a girl back to her place of abode which is now gone forever. There was a certain atmosphere in my army days in Bangkok because taking a lady to her house then almost always meant a rickety wooden structure beside a klong with a fan and spiders' webs and all kinds of exotic (to us) sights, sounds and goings-on. These days, alas, that kind of atmosphere is mostly gone. Younguns today will never lie beside a lovely lady in bed in the late afternoon or late evening listening to the rain drumming on the tin roof while a cheap plastic or metal fan slowly and erratically rotates from its stand in the corner causing the hanging pha ongs and phasins to billow slightly up and down, and to some extent blowing away the smell of somtam. All beneath the newspaper cutouts of Thai movie stars and beside a shelf full of lady's beauty products from the PX provided no doubt by those amorous and intrepid warriors who came before me. And, of course, the pungent wafts of anti-mosquito coils under or around the bed curling ever upward.
In the West, an area of brothels is of course known as a red light district. In Thailand, places of ill repute were known as Samnak Khom Keaw, House of the Green Lantern. In 1907 a law was passed that said such places needed to hang a green lantern outside their establishments (part of a government effort to control VD). Two of Thailand's temples were built with donations from the female owners or mama-sans of such houses, Wat Kanikaphol and Wat Kanmatuyaram. The Nation newspaper recently wrote about this but didn't mention that one of the temples also has the bust of the mamasan who donated the money. One of these days I'll grab my camera and head there. Wat Kanikaphol, by the way, translates as "money from prostitutes."
Speaking of prostitutes, a recent article on the brothels of Nevada mentioned that some women in the lower class places make US$100 for a short time and in places like the Bunny Ranch a woman mentioned that she had just made US$500 for 15 minutes with a customer. Those of you who know how much fun you can have in Bangkok's nightlife (and I mean fun - sanuk - not just sex) will probably do what I do when I read articles like that: Shake your head and wonder how it is that Western men in Western countries acquiesce in getting so little for their money. If I had $500 dollars (20,000 baht) to spend in one night what a blast I could have in Bangkok's nightlife areas.
Great quote from Dave the Rave at Angelwitch: "You know it's the low season when the dancers in Rainbow 1 are willing to talk even to the white boys." Right on, Dave. I do hope that place doesn't become a Japanese Only Bar.
Two lovely ladies at the Londoner Pub. I enjoy places that have a mix of Thai and farang singles and couples and groups. The atmosphere is always fun and it's always possible to hit on a beautiful lady sitting at the bar. Although just about the time I do, I learn that she is waiting for her boyfriend, who just happens to be coming in the door. Who just happens to be huge and not particularly happy that I am hitting on his girlfriend. So it goes... But isn't that long black hair lovely? Wouldn't it look spectacular fanned out across my white pillow case? A composition in black and white. Pure art, we're talking here.
Another foreigner's death has been labeled a "suicide." This time an unidentified "large Caucasian man was found hanged from a billboard structure in central Bangkok." He weighed in at 265 pounds and had a plastic bag over his head. A police colonel said that they suspected suicide "partly because Westerners usually kill themselves like this."
Right you are, Colonel. Many of my friends have taken their own lives by hanging themselves from a billboard in central Bangkok after placing a bag over their heads. It's the in-thing. Of course, decisions must be weighed carefully. For example, would you want to hang from a billboard with an advertisement for women's underwear? Or would you choose a political billboard? Or one advertising a rock group? And what about the bag over the head? Was it just plain or was it from some chic, hi-so store on Sukhumvit Thonglor specializing in fetish gear? Perhaps soon we will have a consultant for those farangs who "usually kill themselves like this" regarding exactly what message they are trying to send, which bag to choose and which billboard to hang from.
And, by the way, where is "Central Bangkok"? I didn't realize our town had a center. Unless they mean the fried cricket and bamboo worm carts just outside Nana Plaza?
One of the things that puzzles me is why men fall so hard for a Thai girl, then leave the country for several months, then return and expect them to have been completely faithful during that time. I know of several guys who tell basically the same story: "She really screwed me over, man!" Well, let's look at the facts: In Thailand, many women worry a great deal about their sell-by date. They know the closer to 30 they get the less chance they have of finding a decent husband. There are simply too many beautiful young women around as competition. So they only have a few years in which to cash in on what God gave them: Not education, not opportunity, not equality, but, rather, their undeniable charm and beauty. They are also young and frisky, and even for guys who send them money each month they don't want to stay home doing nothing. Remember the song: Young Girls Just Want to Have Fun! So, if they worked in a bar area, they are most likely bored at home and want to enjoy the excitement of that area when the guy is away. Their intention might be just to sit around and gossip with their friends. But farang men, i.e., punters, might notice her and approach her. And that quite naturally could lead to "your" girl getting barfined. I know of one guy who came back from abroad only to find that the house he had bought for his Thai girlfriend was no longer hers because she had given it to her parents who promptly sold it at a nice profit since they got it for free from the punter. Duh. Wake up call, guys! Know your woman and her character before you open your wallet, OK?
So before you start ranting and raving about how she stabbed you in the back, ask yourself if just maybe your own expectations were a bit unrealistic. My friend Stickman has Bargirl Investigations. Maybe one of these days I'll start Punter Investigations and dig inside the tangles and swirls of some Punter brains. I suspect when I probe into their assumptions about Thai Entertainment Providers, I might find that some of their neurons no longer are jumping the synapses. And, by the way, bargirls who are forced by their absentee Financial Provider to stay at home in Bangkok or in some remote town or village not only grow resentful, they tend to grow fat. They have little to do other than eat. So if you want a fat woman who resents you, just be sure to send her money each month and demand she stay away from Bangkok and from the far more exciting life she knew.
There are, of course, stories from the other side in which a man would be justified in complaining. Some girls ask for and get several tens of thousands of dollars to build a house for her parents in a remote country area where five thousand dollars would build a fine house. I know of one case where a guy bought a girl a car then had to buy her another one when she said her brother used it all the time. And he had to pay lots of money to the family because the girl wanted a big wedding but the family owed money and had to pay back loans first before they dared put on a big wedding, so guess who paid off their loans as well. One thing should be understood: These girls are not stupid and they do not respect men who throw money around so easily. If you're going to act like dumb and dumber around Thai women, I can only say welcome to the club. But don't bitch about it if you're hooked onto a golddigger. It was your decision to keep forking money over; even if your decision was made by your little brain, AKA Johnny among the Maids, it was still your decision.
My friend, Paul, trying to close a deal on an apartment he wanted to buy, inserted his bank card into an ATM machine here in Bangkok where he lives, requested 20,000 baht and the machine grabbed his card and wouldn't give it back. So he called England and finally got the right people who said that because he usually withdrew much less at a time, it looked suspicious, so it was held. He asked that they release it and they said it's already been destroyed but they could send him another card. When he started to give his address, they informed him they could not send a card outside England. So he said, look, I have one more card, can you check and make sure it will be OK if I use that one. They checked and assured him all was well and he could go ahead. He did. He inserted a second card. The machine grabbed it and wouldn't give it back.
It is getting really hot. So stay in air-conditioning, pop a couple of aspirin, and wear a hat when you go out. Take it from one who has had heat strokes in Thailand as both a civilian and a soldier.
Two blondes walked into a building...You would have thought one of them would have seen it. I think that's supposed to be a joke, right? I guess it's a time joke: laugh when you've got the time.
And, hey, somebody finally made a movie of the late John Fante's 1939 L.A. novel Ask the Dust! A book I've read twice and highly recommend. Robert Towne, director of Chinatown and Shampoo, has done it. He knew Fante, loved the book, and the film should be a winner. See it whenever you get the chance. Too bad Bukowski (whose high praise of Fante basically resurrected Fante from obscurity) didn't live to see it. (I've now seen the movie and while well worth seeing, it isn't as good as the book.)
Another friend, Les, was riding the Sky Train with a friend who was immediately smitten with a woman on the train. Les told his friend I'll bet she's a Soi 33 girl. Not only that I would guess Renoir Club. When she got off at Phrom Phom Sky Train Station the friend made a pass at her and started chatting. Les drifted off and let the two be alone. Not long afterward he heard from his friend in the Londoner Pub that indeed he was right, she was a Renoir girl. While she was going to the Renoir to say she wouldn't be in, he wanted to know if 2,000 baht was OK for all night. In your dreams, my friend.
Uh oh, the sun is about to pass from Aries to Taurus. You know what that means, right? You guessed it: Thai New Year April 13-15 during which time every Thai in the kingdom will be throwing water, spraying water, hosing water, dumping water, etc., on you. A once charming custom in which young Thais showed respect for their elders by pouring scented water over their hands has evolved into a several day free-for-all which some foreigners - such as those on Khao San Road - love; and some foreigners - such as those at Washington Square - hate. I know many farangs who leave Thailand during this period and this year I'll be one of them.
"She was tall and she had seen thirty, but she saw it with a face and body that were as fresh as a new daisy...I let my eyes follow the contours of her shoulders and down her body. Impertinent breasts that mocked my former hesitance, a flat stomach waiting for the touch to set off the fuse, thighs that wanted no part of shielding cloth." - Mickey Spillane, The Twisted Thing.
This from the TLCB forum (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Brotherhood):
I used to ride motorcycles in Thailand and learned early on to wear a helmet with visor on the open highways. Anyone who ever caught one of the flying grasshoppers or rice bugs on the nose or in the eye while moving at 100 kph or more can relate to that, I guess. Tough to swallow if you ride with your mouth wide open, too.
I am a white, heterosexual male writer, somewhat long-in-the-tooth, looking for a beautiful, succulent, curvaceous young Thai woman who has her own car and apartment and income, who hates superficial American-style babbling about "relationships" and who will treat me as if I am the best thing to come along since grasshoppers deep fried in hot pepper oil. You should be fluent in English and be able to discuss Theater of the Absurd, Brecht's Alienation Effect, Camus's philosophy, the music of Beethoven and Mozart, the writing of Fante and Bukowski and Burroughs and Hammett and Chandler and Chester Himes and R.H. van Gulik, and the poetry of Li Po and Tu Fu, but you should be smart enough never to actually discuss such stuff unless I ask you to. You should be great in bed and willing to wear lingerie and black leather and thong bikinis at home but dress conservatively when out shopping, blame yourself on those rare occasions when I don't get a hard-on, be willing to put toothpaste on my toothbrush, be allergic to ATM machines, never ask for money, never get jealous or suspicious, never look at other men, and, basically, offer me pain-free love. And, of course, you will place loyalty to me ahead of loyalty to your family. Please send your application to: email@example.com.
Links You Might Enjoy
A video of a five-minute walk down Soi Cowboy. Click here and then click "preview videos."
Like satire on Thailand? Try
Like to know what music is playing where in Bangkok each week? Try http://www.bangkokgigguide.com.
Like to know more in depth about what music is playing where in Bangkok each week? Try this great site:
Tired of shoveling snow? Check out Bangkok's sunshine.
Bangkok's weather report.
A great site for listening to Thai Morlan music and other folk music of Southeast Asia.
A bit of black leather never hurts. But she does.
Our Lady in Black
Like to learn a bit about retiring in Asia?
Links You Might Not Enjoy
T-Shirt Hell: for lovers of very black humor only.
Politically incorrect rants and raves from Uncle Fred.
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.
Last week's question was what mineral would you associate with the illuminating diary of a professional lady? The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady is the subtitle of the novel Gentleman Prefer Blondes written by Anita Loos in 1925. In the movie and musical versions the main song is "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Hence, the answer was "diamond." The winner got it right the first hour the column was up. I've got to try to make these contests more difficult.
This column's question is at what Bangkok establishment off Sukhumvit Road was this picture taken? The first to send the correct answer wins 3,000 baht in food and drink; the second wins a gift voucher from Dasa Books. The third wins zippity do dah.
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
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