Thailand Nightlife Roundup

A few months ago, I decided to close the dean-barrett-thailand.com site and open this one.  That one had lots of broadband (and when it got popular and I went over my allotment it cost me money), this one will have some broadband, but more text.  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 (effective 1 Feb. 2005) and the first to answer the question 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.

Do you remember when you were still knee-high to a grasshopper and you lost a tooth? Your mama would tell you to put it under your pillow and when you woke in the morning you would find that the tooth had been taken by the tooth fairy and that very same fairy was kind enough to leave a quarter or shilling or whatever (but certainly that was before the Euro). I don’t know about you but I always wondered what tooth fairies looked like. I’m happy to say thanks to diligent research on my part and thanks to a party at the Renoir Club on Sukhumvit soi 33 I have found out at last; and they look just as I had imagined. I no lie you, GI. Click here to see for yourself.

I confess I have never enjoyed a trip to Panthip Plaza. It is a crowded area to get into and the building itself is crowded, the aisles narrow. You really have to like computers and I mean like them a lot to enjoy a trip there. I’m happy to say that if your computer needs fixing, there is an alternative. There is a group of Thai guys on Sukhumvit soi 13 who fix computers and fix them for very honest prices indeed. I thought I had a serious problem with my hard drive but they said it just needed cleaning and I was charged very little.

The company is called Blesssky. Yep, three "s"s.  The address is 32/1 Sukhmvit 13, North-Klongtoey, Wattana. Soi 13 is a one-way street, so to get to them you have to turn onto soi 15 off of Sukhumvit and make the left eventually onto the sub soi, and just as you start to turn left onto soi 13, there is their basement shop on your right beneath an Italian restaurant. Tel: 662 651 2610. Thanks to Nick, the former manager of the Long Gun, for putting me on to them.

Last year I was invited to a party at the new up-market Japanese restaurant of the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Sukhumvit.  I didn't go but I heard it was a big success.  I suspect the folks at that hotel may now wish they had not named their new restaurant "Tsunami."  I feel kind of sorry for the management of the hotel who by now must have had more than a few anxious discussions about this very subject.  When I was in publishing, we used to say that publishing lurches from crisis to crisis.  I know just enough about the hotel business to know that the hotel business also seems to lurch from crisis to crisis.  I guess the relevant question is: Whoever came up with the name Tsunami for the restaurant - where will he or she be working next week?

“There is a perverse streak in all of us, an urgency to experience the unusual.”  - John D. MacDonald, The Long Lavender Look

Well, you heard it here first: Rodney, he who was on the Wagon and was being hand-fed by his maid, has passed away. Rodney of Green Parrot Bar on a subsoi of Sukhumvit Soi 33 (a tiny soi boasting three bars - Green Parrot, Big Boys and Lookie Lookie) had stopped drinking his usual whiskeys and his feet had some kind of strange disease. In the beginning, his maid wasn’t crazy about Rodney but when he fell ill she did everything she could, including hand-feeding him. Alas, despite three injections Rodney passed away recently.

The Rodney I am referring to is of course the parrot named Rodney, not the owner from Oklahoma, also named Rodney. (Not certain which was named after which.) Anyway, Rodney the owner tells me Rodney the Parrot will be greatly missed by all and wishes to thank all those who inquired. They held a wake for Rodney and some regulars who couldn’t find a Mylar blow-up of a parrot brought in a tweetie bird which now hangs above the bar. Drop in, have a beer, express your condolences. Rodney assures me that after a “decent interval” there will be a new green parrot. Sure wish I had a maid to hand-feed me.

When Henry Miller met June Mansfield Smith he described her as “a veritable honeycomb of dissimulations.” God, what a great description of some of the go go dancers I’ve known in Thailand over the years.

Not long ago, some farang daddies of teenage girls who study at international schools sounded off on Stickman’s column about what they would do if they spotted any of their daughters’ teachers in a go go bar. Basically, they would try to have the teacher fired. In my opinion, these pathetic puritans should simply join the ranks of the Taliban and be done with it. Do they really think there is a farang teacher in Thailand who has not ventured into a go go bar?

One guy said he would turn the guy in. So what are these holier-than-thou daddies doing spending their time in these bars, anyway? Maybe teachers should refuse to teach students of any daddies who have been inside a go go bar. I wonder how fast that would empty the schools. And, by the way, daddies, is it not just possible that your precious ones know a lot more about life (not to mention sex) than you give them credit for? And is it not possible that you are guilty of what is known as “projecting”? That is, projecting your inner desires onto others? Perish the thought.

"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." - Tolstoy

Speaking of Stickman, his column is great and I try never to miss it. He also – bless his Kiwi soul – supports writers. But I do hear it said that he seems to look down a bit on the bar scene and has said he regrets the time he spent in it, etc., etc. Well, let’s not forget something very, very important. Stickman’s lovely wife not only reads the column but also writes for it. Now ask yourself this question: If you were married and yet still had a hankering to frequent go go bars and you knew your wife was reading your column would you be dumb enough to say so in your column? So while we cannot look into his soul, give Stick a bit of credit: his mama didn’t raise no fool.

Stick also had a good summary of how Peder and Guido are changing another sub soi off of Sukhumvit soi 33. What was the African restaurant Timbevati BBQ Steakhouse is now the Ton Thong (“golden tree”) restaurant and in the back is a bar, a swimming pool and the makings of a boutique hotel. The thing you should know is that, according to Peder (Norwegian, I believe, hence, the spelling of his name) they can stay open later than the bars and after the bars close many of the lovely ladies now head for the Ton Thong.

There are other areas around town that attract the demimondaine after bars close. For example, the upstairs of Old Dutch Corner at Soi Cowboy is now an in place for ladies of the night and also the bar of the Penny Black, um, casual stay hotel right on Soi Cowboy near Rawhide. Speaking of The Penny Black, this hotel is 400 baht for a casual stay and has really great rooms. A much better deal than the hotel around the corner on Soi Asoke. But if you’re happy there, no sweat, different strokes for different folks.

“And who’s to say how many passions and how many warring thoughts can cohabit in a man?” - The Immoralist, Andre Gide

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Yep, Woodstock, your favorite restaurant at Nana Plaza has been sold.  To the Rainbow Group or to the Crown Group or to the Tooth Fairy, depending on whom you believe.  It may in fact be transformed into yet another go go bar.  More on this next column.

The Australian scholar, Marc Askew, he who loves to employ his fluent Thai chatting up Thai bargirls, has a lovely name for Thailand. He calls it “The Land of the Long Vowels.” Example? Ask a Thai to say Merry Christmas (“Christmaaaaas”). You’ll have time to go to the loo and back before they finish.

Oh, yes, Marc gave me another gem. Thai bargirls have a phrase for when two of their regulars, giving or sending them money, come to the bar at the same time. They call it lot fai chon gan (“train wreck”). Marc knows of one girl who, failing to see any way left of successfully manipulating around two of her regulars meeting, left Bangkok altogether for several days. Yep. Bargirls flee the scene as well as bus drivers.

Speaking of fleeing the scene, did you notice that in the Bangkok subway crash, the driver did NOT flee the scene.  Of course, this may have been because he was trapped inside his compartment.  But still - this may be a Thailand first.  By the way, the subway is now open again for business.  If you dare....

Have you seen the Bully’s Pub ad for a bar manager? It says: “Boozers, loosers and overstays need not apply.” I think “looser” may be spelled wrong but the real problem with the ad is that it shows blatant discrimination against boozers and overstays which might apply to a majority of us farangs in Thailand. Just for that I’m not going to apply.

This word just in:  The number of ladies being barfined in Hollywood Strip and Hollywood Carousel have risen "dramatically."  A study undertaken by Whore House Charlie proved that as the number of barfines rise, the Thai stock market declines.  So watch out, investors.

Last weekend Nana Plaza kept its doors open until around 1:30 a.m.  Police are also not coming into NEP so often to close all the bars at 1 a.m. sharp.  Closing time has been creeping up to 1:30.  Pundits ask: is this a sign that the powers-that-be are lightening up a bit?

The police are also not carrying out the intense inspections as they were.  Tables are no longer being set up by the police for publicly drug-testing the bargirls of NEP.  Another encouraging sign is that there has not been any kind of large police presence at NEP in months.

Only negative news from NEP is that Ricky, the host of Angelwitch, has moved to Soi Diamond in Pattaya.  Ricky was very popular with quite a following.  Still, Angelwitch has one of the best shows in a bar in town.

I knew a cool American woman once who had been stationed in the Northeast in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. We got to talking about how people sometimes confuse Nakorn Phanom with Nakorn Pathom. She made the very interesting point that there was no future for a Western woman in a relationship with a Western man who knew the difference between the two. Good point.

Just a few months ago when I was passing through Manhattan a lovely Korean woman in her 40’s asked me a tough question. She asked, “Outside of your family, when was the last time you had any sustained conversation with a woman over thirty?” Hmmm. Well, um, hmmm. What can I say? There don’t seem to be any women over thirty in the area of Bangkok I’m living in. And not long ago at a reading I had with the very talented Stephen Leather someone asked how many scenes in our novels have women talking to each other. Hmmm. You mean women actually talk to one another? Why wasn’t I informed?

“If sex was knowledge, and I believed it was, I was on the verge of knowing everything.” – My Other Life, Paul Theroux

Peter and Al – owners of Suzie Wong bar, Playskool bar and Sheeba’s bar – now own the Old Dutch Corner on the corner of soi 23 and Soi Cowboy. Changes are gradually being made to this restaurant, the most noticeable is the new sliding side door on the Soi Cowboy side which, I notice, inebriated patrons keeping trying to pull open. Some tables have been rearranged and the bar will be moved to the side of the room where the books are, or, rather, were.

Alas, there will be no more out-of-town papers available but the Post and Nation will still be there for customers. But, alas again, if there is no International Herald Tribune where can we read “Doonesbury” now? Meanwhile, what had been a nice German restaurant across the street (with excellent food) is to become service apartments owned, so it is said, by the Indian fellow who holds the lease on Nana Plaza and lots of other places.

Many thanks to those who wrote in saying how much you enjoy the new site. The following, however, is a bit suspect:

A really great site! It is really informative and I know it will do well. Congratulations!

Well, thanks, mom, but as you’re now 86 years old and two of the four Florida hurricanes damaged your house, don’t you have better things to do than shill for your son on his website?

Reports keep coming in about bargirls from Bangkok going to Pattaya and then returning to Bangkok because they can’t make nearly as much money at the seaside resort. Not only are salaries lower but the punters often suggest 500 baht for you-know-what which, as we all know, is far below anything a professional lady with any dignity would accept.

Mucho apologies to anyone who tried to listen to A Bargirl's Revenge over the past week.  I had linked to my C-Drive so of course it played perfectly on my computer but, as some of you kindly pointed out, you couldn't hear it nor could anyone else.  I believe I have now fixed the problem so if you have four minutes to spare and would like to hear a very funny story on Windows Media Player, just click into A Bargirl's Revenge on the welcome page.

Shark Attack in Pattaya!  Ah, thank the gods, it's an attack of the good kind.  It's also supposed to be only for the in-crowd but, hey, that's us, isn't it?  Just do this: 

Go to Pattaya and find Walking Street. Be there sometime between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Find Soi Diamond and look for the neon sign that reads "Shark Club." It's upstairs. Now, here's the insider's scoop. As you cross the bridge that leads into the "Shark Club," stop at the entrance and turn right and walk about 20 feet to the next door that is sort of hidden in the corner. It also has a neon sign over it that reads "Shark." Through this door you will find a medium-sized room that has an interesting collection of beautiful, young Thai girls giving lap dances and table dances.

Well, I can imagine you are probably thinking, "Lap dances and table dances are new?" Well, sports fans, you haven't seen this club yet either. Have you?  This one has something special. Maybe it's the fun and exciting atmosphere.  Maybe it's the smiling and laughing young beauties on top of the mirrored tables.  Maybe it's the lighting or the music.  Maybe it's the air conditioning that seems to keep the place free of smoke.

But what makes this interesting is that the girls wear garter belts and the 'falangs' put 20 Baht notes in them. So, go for it. Be a big spender. They will even get change or 'small money' for you. Ask the staff. It's amazing what 20 Baht will get you.  All the girls watch to see who is giving out tips and then form a parade to that person - one at a time.  They get up on the tables with the mirrors on top. So if you're the lethargic type or a bit hungover you don't even have to look up.  Mirrors with great clarity, I might add.

OK, let’s get started on our very first fortnightly contest. If you’re the first to get the answer right, you end up with 500 baht worth of food or drinks or combination up to that amount at the Bourbon Street Café, Washington Square, soi 22. Same same at the Londoner Pub, soi 33. Plus I’ll send you one of my novels. (Or, if you hate my writing, will send you a written statement that I will never send you one of my novels.)  How you spend your 500-baht worth in these places is up to you, but if you have never had the Georgia pecan pie at Bourbon Street, do not miss it! Click here for today's question.

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I gave a talk recently at Larry’s Dive along with some other writers. I read a couple of pieces from the “Memoirs of an Oversexed Farang” section of Murder at the Horny Toad Bar. When it came time to sign a few books an Australian woman came up to me and said she would buy Murder at the Horny Toad Bar if I would sign it the way she wanted. I said, sure, whatever. And so she dictated it and I signed it: “For Jim on his 40th birthday. But if you end up like me, your wife will kill you.” DB

I quite liked her sense of humor, actually. The way I see it anyone who buys one of my books is a hero and I’ll sign whatever they like. Besides, somebody has to be Brand X; somebody has to provide society with a negative example. Why not me?

“All human emotions are degrading except lust.” - Anonymous

Is it just my alcoholic intake or are the young women selling Tiger Beer in restaurants very, very attractive? The one in Larry’s Dive is a doll, cute as a button, and the one at the Londoner Pub is sultry and beautiful. And the ones in other places as well. Yep, since I saw them, I am very interested in the animal kingdom and especially in the way tigers move.

The Robin Hood Pub on the corner of Sukhumvit and soi 33/1 has very good food. Their chicken, sweet corn and fettuccini salad is delicious. Unfortunately, unlike the Londoner, the bartenders are all men and, again, unlike the Londoner, no gorgeous woman greets people at the door. What were the owners thinking of when they made those dubious decisions, I wonder. Owners of pubs and bars should realize there still exist dinosaur-type, emotionally immature men like myself who care about the beauty of women far more than what game is on the big screen. Too many bars with good-looking women send out e-mails only about what games are coming up. And I hope Bob at the Office Bar is getting this message. Lovely ladies welcoming people at pub doors is something I hope will catch on. Here is Mam at the Londoner, soi 33.

And speaking of sports, Evander Holyfield, four-time heavyweight boxing champ, flew to India and Sri Lanka, to pitch in personally in cleaning up the aftermath of the tsunami. Well done. But the article mentioned that, before the tsunami, he had not known Sri Lanka existed. I sometimes wonder about the American educational system.

But, whatever it is, it is better than the Thai schooling system. I have been kidding a waitress about my being Dracula and really pouring on the bullshit. She said she’s not sure if Dracula really exists. I said, well you believe in Santa Claus, right? She said she’s also not sure if he exists. Hmmm. Then she asked me if I really am Dracula how come I don’t look like Dracula. I of course explained that she has only seen me in the daytime and that if she would come to my apartment at nighttime she would see a great transformation take place. She hasn’t yet. But I promise you this: If she is foolish enough to go to my apartment at night, she’ll wish to God she only had Dracula to deal with.

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The first rant on the rant section of this website was titled, Angry People, about those folks who seem unable to bear the sight of an older farang man walking with a young Thai woman and how just possibly those who object should get a life and mind their own business. Responses were interesting, to say the least. Here’s one from Johnny Highwater in Chiang Mai:

I took my friend and sometime lover Nan to the Mardi Gras celebration in Chiang Mai. I had been on the road a lot and hadn’t seen her in a while and we were having a really good time. She was trying on a shawl at one of the booths and we were laughing when I noticed this falang woman staring at us. She made some comment to me which was pretty much swallowed up by the noise around us so I just smiled. She got closer and said something to Nan and we moved on. I saw the woman watching us as we moved away.

Later we were hanging around my place and Nan went over to the mirror and was looking at her face from all angles, she finally turned to me and asked, with knotted brow, if I thought she look like a falang. That was funny because Nan is from Issan and looks Khmer. I laughed and said not at all, why would she think that? She said the lady at the street fair had come over to her and said she should be ashamed that I was her father.

Number one, she couldn’t figure out why the woman thought I was her father; then she was confused as to why she should be ashamed if I were.

I explained to her that what the woman had most probably said was that she should be ashamed to be with a man who was old enough to be her father. Boy, talk about pissed off, Nan couldn’t understand how anyone could be so rude and mean.

I wish I had known what was going on because there were a few things I would have liked to say to that woman. First of all, Nan is not old enough to be my daughter thank you; my daughter would be in her late thirties. After that, why should Nan be ashamed of anything; it is her country and her life. I don’t care what that woman has to say to me, I understand her ignorance and mean spirit, it is one thing I don’t miss about home; but to come over here and spit it in the face of a perfectly wonderful person like Nan is bull shit. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but that doesn’t mean you have to put it on other people.

You thought nightlife in Bangkok was all about watching pretty girls in skimpy bikinis shuffle about and look bored up on overcrowded stages, didn’t you? But, believe it or not, hansum man, there is now a film festival, poetry readings at the Goethe Institute (which attract quite a crowd), clubs with lots of jazz, heavy metal, more new pubs opening all the time, and all kinds of things happening. And, shiver me timbers, there is now a Bangkok Book Group, made up of a group of expats who need a break from the rigors of Bangkok nightlife and crave a bit of the other kind of stimulation – mental, that is.

The group reads both fiction and non-fiction and is currently looking for a few more members. Membership is open to both females and males 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. They are also planning to attend films together as well, especially good caliber films shown at theaters like House Rama 2 theater at RCA and other choice locations. If you are interested contact their group leader Tommie at: tjrd12@excite.com. I’ll leave this information up permanently on the English-language Bookstores section of this website.

Oh, yes, Washington Square. Rumors are flying faster than an angry bargirl's knives that all is lost and the sky is falling. Well, not to worry. The Thai landlord (who in turn pays the Indian owners at Nana Land Company) is holding 30-year leases signed about 27 and a half years ago. True. So that means at least another two-and-a-half years to go for those unique bars and restaurants with their lovely (and often lively) lady hosts.

Furthermore, those in the know who have been there and done that say even if the leases were over and not to be renewed there would be a three-year period during which all would go to court. Whatever the case, I have encountered no bar owner at Washington Square who is worried about it – so don’t you be. As the screenwriter William Goldman said about what makes a film a success, “Nobody knows nothing.” Same same Thailand.

Private Dancer, the on-line cult classic chronicling the relationship between a travel writer and a Bangkok bargirl, is finally available in print.  The author, Steven Leather, will be holding a book signing in Hollywood Strip, on the third floor of Nana Plaza, on Friday, February 4th between 7.30 PM and 9.30 PM.  It will be a chance to meet the author and buy a signed first edition copy of the book.  Management assures one and all that the food is free and all regular beers and spirits are only 95 baht from 7:30 to 9:30.  Wonder why they forgot to mention they have good looking women there as well? I would say no one has got inside the head of a manipulative bargirl as well as Steve has in Private Dancer since Jack Reynolds's A Woman of Bangkok appeared in the 1950's.  

Did you see the issue of Pattaya Mail wherein a Russian guy beat up a Thai doorman of a go go bar because he misunderstood the doorman’s intentions? He thought the doorman was calling people to attack him (so he says).

This happened on Walking Street at the Highway Star go go bar (never heard of it). The doorman may or may not make it. These doormen seldom are alone; where were his friends when this was going on?

And the recent article about the Taiwanese hooker who urged a 20-year-old customer to go to the hospital to check for testicular cancer?  She was right.  He was operated on and is now fine.  I don't know what if anything the guy will do for the chick but I would buy her just about anything she wanted.  Although come to think of it I do that now for Asian women and they haven't warned me about anything.

Lots of murders in various Thai towns we know nothing about as they don’t make the English-language press; except in a few places like Pattaya. If Pattaya is the norm for homicides, no wonder the experts say The Land of Smiles has more homicides per capita than any country in the world.

Don't forget Chinese New Year begins on 9 February.  Year of the Rooster (or Cock if you prefer).  The lunar New Year is celebrated by Koreans and others in Asia who are somewhat disturbed that it is called Chinese New Year.  It should be referred to as the Lunar New Year.  Anyway, it must always fall between January 20 and February 20.  This is because the Aquarius, uh, I mean the moon, duh, OK, so maybe I forgot exactly why but just trust me on this, will you?

Psssst!  Hey, mister, you likee Russian women want see more?  Clickee on picture and it will magically enlarge for you.  Show in Pattaya at the Las Vegas Club on Walking Street is OK but, truth to tell, I like petite women and only the one in the center turns me on.  Go about 8:30.  The show seems continuous.  Unless you like being chained up and having your willy exposed to one and all, do not go up on stage.

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.

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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