Welcome to my website. Unlike the universe, this website 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).
Not sure why but I decided to visit Chatuchak Market the other day and of course it was hot and crowded. Maybe I just wanted to see if I could do it without getting heat stroke. Anyway, it was fun, but of course the air-conditioned restaurants were full so that left the non-airconditioned restaurants. However, there are shuttles which take you around for free if you can find a seat. And there is an information office. If you can find it. But when you enter you will be offered a free map of the Market so take it. Here are a few pictures from the Market including a book stall (no great English book stall here, alas), Thai-style candy making, and a girl playing for her supper, or, rather, for her education costs.
There are a number of novelists in Bangkok or who kind of commute between Bangkok and elsewhere. They write novels on Bangkok and elsewhere. No local Bangkok novelist really likes to be known as a "local" Bangkok writer and I can understand that because it suggests somehow a second-rate writer. The truth is the distinction makes no sense because it is not possible to categorize most of those writing novels set in Bangkok. For example, Stephen Leather is known here for his well written Private Dancer but is known in England for his very successful series of thrillers. I am known here for writing on Thailand but some of my best writing is on China in books that are not sold in Thailand such as Hangman's Point, Mistress of the East and Don Quixote in China: The Search for Peach Blossom Spring. (Don Quixote in China is sold in a few stores in Bangkok and all are available at Amazon.com. Hangman's Point is a hardcover novel set in Hong Kong in 1857 and Mistress of the East is an erotic novel set in 1862 China.) And in New York I was active as a playwright, librettist and lyricist. So call me a Bangkok writer, China writer or New York writer, as you like.
What I cannot understand, however, is the attitude of those novelists who are deathly worried that their books might somehow be seen as part of the "pulp fiction" novels which deal with the bar scene. Writers should not be judged by where they set their novels, be it in a bar or a bank or a brothel, but rather by what they have to say and how well they use the material. I have mentioned before that one of America's greatest plays is set entirely in a bar: Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh is set entirely in a saloon. And William T. Vollman's novel, Whores for Gloria, is extremely well written and was well received by reviewers, yet it is set among whores and pimps in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. (Example: "Abandon hope all ye who enter her."). In 1937 an upper-class Thai woman novelist, K. Surangkhanang, published Ying Khon Chua (The Prostitute), shocking Thai society. If in 1937 a Thai woman could handle the subject and write an interesting novel, what is the problem with some of today's writers who are desperate to distance themselves from such subjects?
But for some reason, there are writers in town who look down their noses on writers who include bar scenes in their novels. They remind me of Victorian Age ladies lifting up their crinolines and petticoats to cross a muddy road. Andrew Hicks, for example, in letters to the editor and on his book jacket tells us that his book is "not just another rehash of the Bangkok bar scene, this is a serious book." Andrew is a nice fellow but I don't understand his constant need to separate himself from writing that can be both about bars and still have something to say. And Jake Needham recently proclaimed that "I don't write about bar girls, foreigners watching life through the bottom of a beer bottle, or the army of the lost and misbegotten that takes over lower Sukhumvit after sunset." Both of these writers know how to write, and I would never suggest that every novel need be about the bar scene, but if writing a novel in a place like Thailand, why pretend the colorful nightlife scene here doesn't exist? In their day, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and John Carol Daly were seen first as merely pulp fiction writers, writing for Black Mask magazine, and only later seen as really fine writers with something to say. I'll read any novel that's any good and if some of it is set in the Bangkok bar scene, that's fine with me. And if people want to refer to me as a Bangkok writer, what the hell, let em. Muddy roads can sometimes be interesting - if when gathering material a writer doesn't mind getting a little dirty. As for me, I'm just a soldier in that army of the lost and misbegotten.
Some time back I mentioned the Suda Restaurant in the lane near the Asoke interchange and just a minute walk from the Black Swan pub. It is a nice open air restaurant with good Thai food quite cheap. A large Chang beer and a dish of pad Thai gai cost 120 baht. There are a number of foreigners, mainly Europeans, eating there as well as Thais. But don't let that put you off; this is not a restaurant for tourists. It's just that the restaurant is mentioned in some European guidebooks, Scandinavian, I think. The Black Swan is a quiet pub and always good for a beer or two. Their food is also good. When I was there last time every man in the pub was watching cars racing around a racetrack on TV screens so I flirted with the two waitresses I knew from when they worked at the Old Dutch Cafe. After which, of course, Soi Cowboy being just across the road, I headed there to see what trouble I could get into.
Soi Cowboy: Long Gun bar on a Sunday night. Oh, yeah, things are rocking! They do damn good business for a Sunday night, don't they? The girls (most of them) are sexy and shapely and the shows keep moving and the dancers are not overburdened with too much apparel. Well done. Unfortunately, a few of the girls still accept the kind offer of a drink, then when it comes, offer a toast, take a sip, excuse themselves as they need to go to the hongnam, and then disappear into the darkness, never to be seen again.
From time to time various bars run afoul of the law or at least of those selectively enforcing it but it takes some real lulus to screw up their own deal. And, sure enough, once again Pretty Lady is closed because of a partnership dispute involving a male farang owner and female Thai owner (this time an ashtray was thrown). Who wins? The other bars at Nana Plaza because they get the dancers from Pretty Lady to add to their own complement of dancers. Blow up the picture at right and you'll see the Pretty Lady sign dark and gloomy.
A few nights ago, Rawhide bar at Soi Cowboy was lively and many of the girls were not overly burdened with apparel of any kind. Rawhide and Long Gun have the same owner and she has been gradually bringing Rawhide up to par with Long Gun. It isn't there yet but there are some good looking lasses and the three showgirls who do the sexy dancing are quite good. Rawhide may be the most underrated bar on Cowboy.
I was in Angelwitch the night Germany beat Argentina and it was a Friday night as well. It was not packed but was doing good business. Then I went over to Playskool a go go about 10 o'clock and up on stage were very good looking women indeed. And yet there were fewer than a dozen customers. The girl I bought a drink for reminded me of the World Cup, you know, that time of year when otherwise intelligent men get their gonads in an uproar over whether or not hideously overpaid half-men half-children with the IQ's of dying breadfruit trees can or cannot kick balls into nets. Business did pick up later, maybe after the game was over, who knows; but it dawned on me that during such times as the World Cup bars with beautiful women have very few customers which means very little competition for you and me, so I say bring on the net-kickers all year round!
Another thing I like about Playskool a go go is that the girls generally do not come over to say hellohowyouwhereyoufrom and cadge a drink. If after several minutes you haven't done anything in the way of requesting company the mama-san gestures toward the stage and asks if you see one you fancy. Talk about living in a candy store.
A Big Mango girl with pretty legs and pretty green and white shoes deep in concentration.
My friend Leigh has a great technique in getting some of the prettiest girls out of bars, be they dancers or serving girls. I swore never to tell so of course I'll tell. He goes to the bars that are not popular because in these bars there are always one or two entertainment providers who are really pretty. They might have just come there recently from upcountry because their friend is there or their sister is there or whatever. But before they move to a really popular bar and get spoiled by all the big-money offers, Leigh makes his move. A really good technique, Leigh, providing it is kept a secret and I promise never to tell.
Nana Plaza: I bought a dancer in Playskool a go go a few drinks the other night and the following night I had to have a tooth pulled. I'm not saying there was a cause and effect relationship between the two but one has to wonder. Anyway, she was pretty but not the most stunning but when she got up to dance, wow. She had a bruise on her leg as she had just hurt herself that night dancing. You would not believe how many of these dancers have bruises from hitting the stage while dancing, etc. A former manager of two Soi Cowboy bars told me he twice had to take dancers to the hospital. It seems dancing is a dangerous profession. Not as dangerous as trying to cross Sukhumvit Road, perhaps, but still dangerous.
Well, as June closed Nana and Patpong were back to a one o'clock closing. This even though most bar owners firmly believed they had an arrangement with the police for a two o'clock closing. By the time you read this God only knows what hours nightlife areas in the Land of Smiles will be closing. Wouldn't it make sense for the bar owners of Nana Plaza to join together and deal with the police as a united group? Or would it be easier to bring about peace in the Middle East before these owners give up their petty quarrels and start helping one another?
The above sketch was found inside the ruins of an ancient civilization of the lost continent of Atlantis. It is believed to cause immediate impotence in any man who looks at it. Too bad if you looked.
You'd like to see a Swiss ad campaign pushing condoms, wouldn't you? Especially if it involves two naked women fencing to make the "point." Of course you would. Just click here.
I finally got around to visiting the Bangkok Hilton which as you know is on the Thonburi side of the river. I took the Skytrain to the last stop, Saphan Taksin, and went to the left to the pier where the hotels have boats. It gets a bit complicated because not all these hotels have a lot of love between them and so you have to ask at one hotel how to get to the next by boat. But I got to the Hilton and went up to the bar on the 32nd floor and two things happened: My camera conked out just after the above shot so I couldn't get the shot of the river I wanted ("Change your battery pack" it said, well thanks, but I didn't happen to have another one with me.) The second thing was I was told everything was closed in the hotel because it was the official grand opening. Great. But their boat did take me to the Peninsula, also on the Thonburi side, for a beer and a view. But the Peninsula has no upstairs bar with a view, only a function room, which I think is a big mistake. Anyway, then off to the public pier near the Oriental (they don't go to the Oriental pier itself, but close enough). Had a fine meal outside by the river. I wanted to have the buffet as I'd had it in the past but the price is now 1800 baht without service, etc., and not being on an expense account, I declined. The buffet had few takers but the regular outside coffee shot had a lot. Here's hoping they get the message and lower the buffet price, but I suppose not. The Bamboo Bar of the Oriental was nice and the hatrack near the door with a couple of adventurer-type hats added a nice touch. And if you prefer classical music to jazz, the quartet played as usual in the lobby. Anyway, traipsing along the river is fun, so if you haven't done it for awhile, you should.
Beetles, worms, crickets, etc: Food for thought?
Below are some pictures of dancers and patrons at the Bossy Club on Soi Thonglor. I have been there twice in four months and have been the only farang there on each occasion. They have go go dancers in jeans and tops and later a band and, still later, after midnight, on Tuesdays and Saturdays a "sexy show." This show consists of one girl in a bikini coming out on a couch and one or two patrons sitting on the couch while she removes their trousers and makes seductive moves. When she takes her top off she is wearing pasties. It is a tease show which it probably has to be because of the police. Four months ago I didn't have my camera but at that time everybody took pictures of the show. This time I had my camera, but no one took any photos of the show, it wasn't allowed. There must have been some kind of crackdown recently so, alas, I can't show you the sexy girl in the show. But here are two of the go go dancers and some of the patrons celebrating a birthday. Both girls were quite pretty but could use a ladyboy's expertise when applying their makeup. The club is under the overpass and can be reached by a nocturnal walk along the klong Saep Saem at midnight which is how I got there. Walking by a dark Bangkok canal at night looks spooky but is not really a problem. The only real danger is stepping on a soi dog in the darkness or on a snake which has come out to enjoy the night air.
This just in: A PLAN TO SAVE BANKRUPT AIRLINES
Replace all female flight attendants with some good-looking strippers! What the hell? The attendants have gotten old and haggard-looking. They don’t even serve food anymore, so what’s the loss? The strippers would double, triple, perhaps quadruple the alcohol consumption and get a “party atmosphere” going in the cabin. And, of course, every heterosexual businessman in this country would start flying again, hoping to see a naked woman.
Muslims would be afraid to get on the planes for fear of seeing naked women. Hijackings would come to a screeching halt and the airline industry would see record revenues. Why the hell didn’t Bush think of this? Why do I have to do everything myself?
OK, now we have the latest in news from the Londoner Pub regarding the latest door goddess in the Beefeater outfit. Nang has finished adjusting her outfit and is now greeting all comers to the Londoner Pub. Nang has a boyfriend in his 20's I think (All boyfriends in their 20's should be taken out and trampled by enraged elephants). So rather than waste my time trying to compete on that level I told her I would be willing to be her slave. But the word tdat (slave) in Thai sounds very similar to tdat (tray), so she thinks I said I want to be her tray and doesn't understand. So I gave that up. Alas....
For those of you who enjoy sick humor (and why would you be reading this column if you didn't?), TShirtHell now has new shirts in. You'll love the shirt with Barry Bonds holding a needle for his steroids instead of a baseball bat, and this one - "Thousands of my potential children died on your daughter's face last night" - is sure to be a crowd pleaser with evangelicals.
The Thai government is now talking about allowing Muslims in the three southern provinces to be ruled by Sharia law, i.e., laws carried out as fanatical male Muslims interpret the Koran. In other words, anti-democratic and especially against women. To allow them to have Sharia law places that law above Thai laws and basically means they would be independent. Let's hope the government gets real and changes its mind.
This photograph is, if I may say so myself, a classic. It not only shows a lovely lady inside a Sukhumvit soi 33 bar, it also shows a customer hiding his face from the camera. It seems he is desperately anxious to make certain no one sees him. Hmmm. Now I wonder why?
OK, let's do the math and settle this once and for all. When I was in Florida, I paid US$3 for a gallon of gas. One gallon has 3.7854 litres. Thais are now paying 30 baht per litre of gasoline. That comes to 113.56 baht for 3.7854 litres. 113.54 baht is US$2.98. So the Thais have to pay for gasoline exactly what we pay in the States but yet transportation is still much cheaper here, especially by taxi. A good deal for us living in Thailand using taxis and motorcycle taxis, no?
Three of the new dancers at Angelwitch
In pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name.
For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen.
Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also call Amoxicillin and Advil is also
Rumor Control Headquarters has just released this: "The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and, of course, Ibepokin."
From a local Thai paper: "On the morning of June 22, 2006, the people of Thailand woke up to shocking headlines in the tabloid newspapers. A well-known Phra Khru abbot from the province of Phatthalung had been caught on film engaging in illicit sexual acts. In several of the more than 60 photographs, his partner appeared to be a young girl, probably under age, while the abbot himself is in his late 60s or early 70s. Even more horrifying was the image of the monk having sexual intercourse with a dog." Any comment would be superfluous.
I am an American in Japan and I come to Thailand often. Do you know about this horrible new law just passed in the US called IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act)? It seems the US feminazis have declared war on all American single males. Please check out and read these links. Ray M.
This is one of those laws passed it is claimed to end violence against women but in fact it seems to have been passed by feminazis and their flunky congressmen so that men seeking women through marriage brokers will be equated with sex fiends and part of human trafficking. It could be interpreted as a well meaning step to protect women or it could be interpreted as a way for Western women to plug the loophole so that men cannot marry women from abroad so easily. In any case, here are a few of the many links Ray suggested. If interested, you can make up your own mind.
Customers outside a Chiang Mai bookstore riot when they learn that Skytrain to Murder has been sold out.
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?
Maps of all the provinces of Thailand
Links You Might Not Enjoy
T-Shirt Hell: for lovers of very black humor only.
Politically incorrect rants and raves from Uncle Fred.
Girlfriends looking for Taliban boyfriends.
Taliban Singles Dating Page
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.
Answer to last week's contest: Merchant Court Hotel on Rachadapiset Road, Bangkok. Many, many sent in wrong answers but many also got One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn correct. Why? Because they googled it. I had googled it and not found anything on the first two pages of Google so decided as it was one of many translations it was safe to assume Google didn't have it. Wrong. But thanks to the many who warned me that it was easy to google it. From now on I will be more careful. All I can say to those of you who attempt to google contest answers is: Google this.
New contest is for 3,000 baht first prize in food and drink vouchers. You must be the first with the answer and you must live in Bangkok or be about to arrive. Second prize is a 500-hundred baht voucher at Dasa Books on Sukhumvit Road. This is one of the most famous temples in Southeast Asia. Name it.
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!" And, remember: nothing says goodbye like a bullet.
Dean Barrett can be flamed at: email@example.com
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