Thailand Nightlife Roundup

Beware the Ides of March.  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 will be 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. The prizes will build up in case anyone doesn't win it immediately so the bonanza for the eventual winner could get quite interesting.

Several people got last week's answer correct: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Please note that due to a health emergency in the family, I'm in Florida at the moment which means the three sections of this website which change every 15 or 30 days will be temporarily on hold: Thailand Nightlife Roundup, Argaiv's Travels and the Rants. Hope to be back in the Land of Smiles soon.  Chok dee!
 

I was in the Rainbow Bar at Nana recently, you know, the one in the corner with acres and acres of impossibly cute, sexy young things dancing on stage. Anyway, the sweet, young thing for whom I bought a drink told me her nickname and at first I thought she said “Lars.” She didn’t look Scandinavian to me and, sure enough, her nickname was “Lar” not “Lars,” and it was from “dollar.” Now there’s a nickname that gets right to the point. But I wonder if, as the Euro gets stronger and stronger, we’ll soon meet girls nicknamed “Ro.”

Did you see that story in the paper the other day about the phone sex scam in England in which British girls in England were posing as Filipinas in the Philippines? Guys thought they were calling long-distance to Manila when in fact they were talking to women in central England whose use of northern English phrases like “Cheers me duck” finally gave them away.

But considering the price of phone sex and a long-distance phone call, in the age of cheap air fares, why don’t guys simply get on a plane and fly there. I never have understood phone sex, anyway. Sure, we all have our lonely periods in life, but with phone sex you don’t know what the woman looks like or even if for sure it is in fact a woman you’re talking to. To me, phone sex is a sign of how bad men really have it in Western countries.

Warning

Poisonous Rat Bait is Being Laid in this Vicinity

That’s a sign I saw during my last visit to Hong Kong. But I can’t help wondering who could possibly be so hard up that they would want to get laid with “poisonous rat bait” and why the government of Hong Kong would be so proud of that fact as to post signs all over the place.

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During my recent visa run to Vientiane I did what some other foreigners do for dinner: have a beer and a bowl of noodles beside the Mekong and watch the sun go down over neighboring Thailand. For some reason it made me think of the Vietnam War years. And as I reflected on that turbulent period, I remembered General Abrams, the head of the American military in Vietnam, saying at some point: “The enemy has us surrounded. The poor bastards.”

Hmmm. Interesting military strategy, to say the least. And then there was the Thai general with his troops in Laos or Cambodia, I forget which. A foreign newsman asked him about his military strategy and he said it was simple: “When the enemy attacks we retreat; when they retreat, we attack.” Brilliant strategy, all right, if you’re rooting for the other side.

Speaking of the Vietnam War years, I would say the generations of men living in Asia today are divided by those who know what REMF and LBFM mean, and those who don’t. If you’re under 30 you probably don’t. If you’re over 70 you probably did once but forgot. And if you’re married to a Western women you’ll deny that you ever did.

Which reminds me of something you should never forget: “The world is made up of two kinds of people - those who believe the world is made up of two kinds of people and those who don’t.”

When I was at backpacker age or not much beyond I was in a remote part of Luang Prabang and I remember some young American guy I was talking with at some point looked me over and said “You’re a flyer, aren’t you?” I asked him what he meant and he said I look like I flew into Luang Prabang rather than took a train or bus. Aw, shucks, even at backpacker age I didn’t look like a backpacker. Ok, I confess, I’m a flyer. Not that I haven’t ridden on rickety Asian busses, in over-the-hill Asian trains, on dicey boat rides, etc., but for journeys from places like Vientiane to Luang Prabang in the early 70’s, I preferred to fly. But then maybe that’s why I’m still around.

Every time I ask a pub owner or restaurant owner why he doesn’t dress his (sometimes very good looking) female employees in uniforms which would enhance their charms I always get the same answer: He looks over his shoulder to ensure no one is listening, then lowers his voice and sighs: “Dean, I can’t; I’ve got a Thai wife.”

A couple of years ago, Sukhumvit soi 31 was just about all residential. Now it has the six-story, modern, Nanmeebooks store (almost all Thai-language books), a couple of pizza places with lines of customers waiting, another Italian restaurant, massage parlors, a chocolate café, a spa, a Korean bar-B-que, Japanese hostess clubs, and coffee cafes. And now the large Sawasdee Koreana Korean Restaurant on the corner soi 31 and the so-called "green route" has been sold and something new is emerging: a Japanese Club, a big one. And, sure enough, a banner with the words “Blue Orchid Club” in English, Japanese and Chinese has been put up. The "Orchid" massage is just a dildo's throw away and within sight as well.  Anyway, two more large areas along the soi have been razed and condominiums will be going up. The sois they are a-changin’.

It’s too bad about the Korean Restaurant closing because the girls working in the karaoke upstairs used to change clothes and the room could be seen from across the street. And then some pervert, peeping-tom type started looking at them through binoculars and they soon put up a curtain. Well, OK, my bad, but how did I know my binoculars were reflecting light?

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“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” - Bertrand Russell

OK, every writer loves to have a genuine scoop and here is mine. The bar owners on Soi Cowboy are so fed up with the restrictive closing times they’ve erected a monument to commemorate the brief but violent bar owners revolt on Patpong Road back in the 70’s. Soon it will be up in front of the Suzie Wong bar on Soi Cowboy. To see the monument, click here.

Nana Plaza after the one o’clock bar closing is still quite amazing to see. Young women and katoeys milling all over the place and even lined up and smiling expectantly, all hoping to be taken home. If there is such a thing as the Seven Nightlife Wonders of Asia, the Nana Plaza area after closing scene must be one of them.

A couple of travel tips in Asia. First, if you’re concerned about your waistline, be sure to bring your own packs of Sweet and Low or Equal. Most restaurants in places like Laos and Cambodia and Burma won’t have them nor are they offered on board small Asian airlines.

Also, if you are in an immigration line, do not get in a line in which there are several gentlemen from the subcontinent, specifically, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This is not a racist statement simply a practical one. For whatever reason, people from those countries traveling to places in East and Southeast Asia often have problems with their travel documents and they sometimes take a loooong time getting through. So check to see who is in front of you in line before jumping into it.

I was walking along the beach in Pattaya the other day, recovering from a hangover while stupidly heading for a sunstroke, and a fisherman called me over to look at the strange fish that had washed up near the beach. It was a rather amazing fish and although it swam away before we could catch it I did manage to get a quick shot of it. I wish we could have caught it; it would have made a nice trophy and I know some people wouldn’t have believed my story. But, as I say, I did get a quick picture of it. Just click here.

Why is it just about every country does something for writers except the United States? Some countries give writers money depending on how many of their titles are in libraries and this can amount to several thousand dollars a year. Some give tax breaks as in Ireland, I believe. Some pay writers based somehow on how many of their books are being photocopied. The USofA? Nada.

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Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks and he said because that’s where the money is. Whenever I travel in Asia, I always try to visit the universities. Why? Because that’s where the coeds are. So in Vientiane (way out on the outskirts, actually) I visited the DongDok University. I did speak with a few of the young ladies in the library but, well, Penn State it ain’t. Nor do the few buildings nearby with a few food dishes and a few computers resemble a Western college town. Anyway, I always say I am looking for the bookstore because you can meet chicks there. Alas, the university didn’t have one. Reminds me of the time I tried to sneak into the University of Beijing and, when challenged by the Dragon Lady at the gate, I said I was going to the Theatre Department. Bad mistake. They didn’t have a Theatre Department.

According to recently returned travelers, because of terrorism fears, tourism in Hat Yai is down about 60 to 80 per cent. Nevertheless, massage parlors, karaoke clubs, discos and other establishments with ladies of the night are still going fairly strong. There are the usual “singing cafes” and “singing restaurants” where the girl sings and you buy garlands for her and she sits with you. (Sounds like Burma’s nightlife.)

The best bookstore in Hat Yai is the Fortune store in the Lee Garden Hotel shopping complex, Lee Garden Plaza. And for those of you who can’t get enough spectacular transvestite cabaret performances in Bangkok and Pattaya, not to worry, they have them in Hat Yai.

Some of the entertainment establishments resemble the complexes on Bangkok’s Radjadaphisek Road. For example, near Lee Gardens Plaza is the Pink Lady which offers a hotel, music room, massage, karaoke, various types of clubs and a café. I am told by a very reliable source that if you drive to Ban Dan Nok, a town about an hour away on the Thai-Malay border, there are even go go dancing establishments.

Needless to say, in the Hat Yai area, entertainment for Chinese and Malays and farangs like us is often very different. Young Chinese and Malays might take a woman out to a disco while the older ones might take them out to dinner. And several men usually go together when they go out. In fact, friends have seen Malay men dancing with one another and not in gay clubs. Don’t expect to find any open-air beer bars where you can relax and bullshit with the ladies because that isn’t the scene down here. But cheer up if you’re headed that way: nightlife is definitely not in short supply in Hat Yai.

Writers without big names are seldom honored. So it was nice when, while living in Manhattan, I was invited to be a writer in residence for a couple of weeks at Penn State. I went there with my composer and we worked with the kids in the musical theater department. (Some of those so-called female kids were gorgeous, but I had to keep hands off.) I was treated like royalty: the Big Time writer from New York City now writer-in-residence. And then when I returned to Manhattan and poof! back to being a nobody. Shucks.

Same when I used to publish and edit Sawasdee inflight magazine for THAI International in the old days. I was considered important to Thais because it was a kind of national magazine and to hotels because I could give them publicity. It was great because to most journalists and foreign correspondents there is nothing lower than somebody who does hotel and inflight magazines. Not a real, hard news, journalist, don’t you know? But in Thailand, at least outside of the FCCT, I was somebody to respect. I had plenty of airline tickets and often got either free or discounted rooms in some of the best hotels. Then just over four years ago I returned to Thailand only as a novelist. No magazines under my belt. Guess how important hotels think I am now? (sob) Poof! Back to being a nobody. Shucks.

 

So, OK, Bush and Rummy didn’t find any Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq but many of us have found Weapons of Mass Copulation (WMC) in Thailand, so a .500 batting average ain’t bad.

Occasionally I get an SMS message from a go go dancer saying how she misses me and would really like to see me. I’m not completely stupid. I KNOW what she really misses is my money but yet when I get a message like that I usually wind up by going down to her bar to see her. Am I dumb? Oversexed? Or no different from anybody else? Sometimes I wonder.

Don’t forget for those smart enough to be living in Bangkok, should you need to know what live music events are on where, just go to www.bangkokgigguide.com. At the touch of a button you can search to find gigs by music type, venue, band name, day of the week, or any combination of the four. And it’s all free. What more do you want?

OK, in Thai, the word for pig is “moo.” But that is the sound a cow makes, isn’t it? So I don’t get it. Why is the word for pig “moo”?

Lately, every time I ask a Thai the Thai word for an English word he or she says “Same as English.” That happens when I ask about “picnic” and “romantic” and lots of other things. Then I asked a Thai friend if rai gan ahan was the right expression for “menu,” and he said, “Just say ‘menu,’ Dean.” So why learn Thai if all the words are the same as English?! Arrrgggghhhhhh!

Made it out to the Coliseum Brew Arena the other night. A huge and very strangely decorated place on Sukhumvit around soi 40. Inside, pretty girls escort you into a huge room. No wonder they call it an arena. On stage was a seven-piece band and a singer. A pitcher of Heineken was a bit over 200 baht. They have a food menu also.

Decorations range from Greek to Chinese to Thai to Egyptian to Indian to lots more. It is a tacky place but deserves a visit. Huge sculpted faces on one wall resembled the four presidents on Mount Rushmore. The four on the other wall are Thai prime ministers or at least politicians. I could figure out Taksin and Chavalit and Chern (sp) but not all four.

Lots of pretty girls coming in in twos or else with their boyfriends. A young crowd, mostly Thai, or young farang guy with Thai shoulder candy. I waited until a female singer came out before leaving. She had on a very short brown skirt and white ankle boots. Was she a good singer? Well, like I said, she had on a very short brown skirt and white ankle boots. The place must be packed and jumping on Friday and Saturday nights.

Item: “In 1873, when fewer than 15 percent of the college students were female, Harvard’s Edward Clarke explained scientifically how expanding a woman’s brain would make her uterus shrink.” Hmmm. Didn’t Bush go to Harvard? Anyway, how did Prof. Clarke come to that conclusion unless he dated women with small brains and women with large brains and compared the sizes of their uterus. The mind boggles. He would have been right at home on the faculty of some Thai colleges today.

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

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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 deanbarr@loxinfo.co.th.

Several people got last week's answer correct: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Please note that due to a health emergency in the family, I'm in Florida at the moment which means the three sections of this website which change every 15 or 30 days will be temporarily on hold: Thailand Nightlife Roundup, Argaiv's Travels and the Rants. Hope to be back in the Land of Smiles soon. Chok dee!

That's all for this fortnightly column.  Drop by again.  Meanwhile, as the girls used to tell me during the 1960's: "I no lie, you, GI, you number one!"

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