HAPPY NEW YEAR – SAWATDEE PEE MAI
Whenever a new year commences it is usual practice to celebrate with merriment and joy. This New Year’s Eve saw some very spectacular countdowns across the globe with impressive celebrations across America, Europe and parts of Asia. With the ability to utilize modern technology, the firework and lighting displays were visually spectacular in the wealthy countries. But, as one of my American friends reminded me he would much sooner be in Thailand than freezing his family jewels off, whilst watching an expensive and elaborate fireworks display in near arctic conditions. This reminded me of how lucky I am in many ways to remain the Prisoner In Paradise, which if you have not worked out yet describes my life here in Thailand. This time of year is usually cold but certain parts of America are suffering a bitterly freezing winter. Snowstorms in cities like Denver have been so severe that the airport was forced to cancel many flights. Over the Christmas holidays in London, blinding fog also prevented a lot of flights from leaving. In fact, Brother Steve just made the very last flight out of Heathrow in London and then Heathrow Airport was closed for the day. So, Steve made the trip and just when Thai women thought they were safe… You lucky bugger Steve!
And so, we begin 2007 and wonder what will unfold throughout this year. Will there be more peace and less suffering? Most of us will hope and pray for a more peaceful world with less conflict. This message of hope is conveyed to our Armed Forces who are relentlessly endeavoring to prevent war, while they put their lives on the line in hostile terrain. I just want to let them all know that we wish all of our servicemen and women a safe passage home in 2007. I sincerely hope that we will see a more peaceful year overall across the globe.
In what was the saddest and most subdued New Year’s Eve in Bangkok’s history, multiple bomb blasts rocked the City Of Angels. Thais around me were visibly shocked and saddened on what is traditionally such a big celebration. In what is normally the Land Of Sanuk turned suddenly and sadly into the Land Of Shock. Concern and confusion showed on the faces of the natives, who are normally such relaxed and fun-loving people. Evil had reared its ugly head and some of my usually composed Thai friends were stunned into silence. Those responsible for the bombings have not been caught yet and so far nobody has claimed responsibility. Amid a variety of rumors and conspiracy theories there has been reflex finger pointing, but alas nothing concrete to apprehend those who committed these evil and cowardly acts. Security advisers say the targets and style of attacks lead them to believe it was caused by an internal political problem. An attack by Islamic terrorists has not been ruled out but it is deemed a much less likely cause.
The bombs used in these multiple attacks were small, unsophisticated devices that weighed less than one kilo. The size of the explosive devices and the timing seems strange because most of the bombs went off very early in the evening at around 6:00pm. For those waiting for the memorable New Year’s Eve countdown at the Central World Plaza it all ended in disappointment, as that was one of the targets. Shortly after an explosion at the Central World Plaza a disappointed but sympathetic crowd was dispersed by order of the authorities. If shock and disruption was intended then the recent blasts achieved that to some degree.
Perhaps as sad as these recent bombings are, they will give the Bangkok authorities a much needed wake up call. Let us hope these were just isolated attacks and the Thai authorities apprehend those responsible.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
On a brighter note the main nightlife areas in Bangkok defiantly remained opened until the early hours of the morning, despite the bomb blasts and depleted crowds. Across Bangkok’s naughty nightspots some bars chose to close due to a lack of customers as well as a sense of uncertainty. Even the Rainbow bars in Nana Plaza did not stay open much after 3:00am with Rainbow 1 deciding to close themselves at 2:00am. Rainbow 2 and Rainbow 4 followed suit at just after 3:00am and by this time most of Nana Plaza was closed. The Big Mango on floor 2 were hosting a good ole bash and were still open past 4:00am. The last bar to close in Nana Plaza on New Year’s Eve was Angelwitch, where they still kept the party going until 6:00am. Matt, the owner of Angelwitch is certainly no ordinary guy, and he was determined even in the face of adversity that the show must go on.
NANA PLAZA – NEON JUNGLE NEWS
On this occasion the rumor that originated from some bargirls in Nana Plaza turned out to be true, because Pretty Lady has indeed opened its doors again. Pretty Lady is located on floor one next to Voodoo on the left side as you enter Nana Plaza. However, this time I feel the damage of two previous closures has taken its toll heavily upon the Pretty Lady. This last closure has resulted in Pretty Lady being closed for almost seven months. I know of establishments that have turned around bar closures, but I do not know of anybody achieving a quick recovery after they have been closed for over six months. Pretty Lady tentatively re-opened its doors on December 30 and it remains to be seen if Pretty Lady can effectively recover from this. I seriously believe they face an almighty battle but for the sake of the future let us hope that Pretty Lady can redeem themselves.
The two closures occurred due to an internal legal battle between the owners. Due to this dispute which has been a mighty costly one, not surprisingly only a few dancers went back to work again. I dare say that most of the staff have lost confidence following not only a second closure but such a lengthy one. The new ownership will have a huge mountain to climb in restoring Pretty Lady’s business. Furthermore, it is rumored that the battle for ownership has still not yet been fully resolved. So far very few dancers have showed up for work.
The Landmark Hotel Bakery (located near the BTS Nana) has a very attractive meal deal that runs from 7:00pm until 9:00pm every evening. They produce fresh, quality pies, pastries, breads, sandwiches and cakes. During this meal deal they run a 2-4-1 (50% off in simple English) on all of their bakery produce. I have taken a liking to their pastries and in particular the chicken pies. Seeing as I get two for 95 baht I think this is a great bargain. And, as the old UK television advert goes, “They are tasty, tasty.they’re very, very tasty”. I could not help but notice that a couple of the Landmark Bakery assistants are very tasty too. So, if you see an overweight farang waiting at the counter please forgive him for ogling the bakery tarts. It is just the Prisoner In Paradise in a fantasy world again.
Metro Bar is a modern, stylish bar, which is different from the other drinking bars on Soi Nana. They have three Brunswick Metro pool tables – the same ones they use in all the international competitions. Metro Bar have the advantage of being part of the Ball In Hand group that provides the very best in pool equipment and playing venues. The staff are attractive and friendly, plus they provide good customer service. Metro have a wide selection of beers, both domestic and imported. Also on offer are an extensive range of cocktails and shooters. The music selection is very eclectic, ranging from blues and jazz, through to rock, pop and hip-hop, all the way to the latest dance music. Metro is located in Raja Hotel car park (near Hillary Bar). It is just far enough off the road to avoid the tourists, but close enough for in-the-know ex-pats to use as their local. This is the place for cool pool. Check it out!
PATTAYA – PLEASURE PLAYGROUND
The ripple effect of the Bangkok bombings on New Year’s Eve took their toll on Pattaya too as the Pattaya police ordered most establishments to close early. Some disappointed bar owners had to reluctantly close as early as between 2:00am and 3:00am this New Year’s Eve. The very popular bars still did a brisk trade despite people claiming that Pattaya is anywhere from 20% to 30% down on last year. The problem with Pattaya is the sheer volume of bars in one city. It has been reported recently that there are now just over seventy go-go/table-top bars in Pattaya with the vast majority in the Walking Street area. In addition more and more bars and nightspots are being built as we speak.
In Pleasure Playground I believe that it is a case of where you go that counts. Every time I step into bars like Peppermint, Happy, and Beach Club, to name but three they are always doing a good trade. At show time Living Dolls Showcase and Angelwitch are doing a brisk trade this time of year, but for less popular bars this will not be the case. The top bars were still doing good business on a nightly basis but following the Bangkok bombings I dare say Pattaya will also feel the fallout.
With Pattaya being a holiday destination January will now become a crunch month with the new visa laws coming into action. Furthermore, travel warnings to Thailand have already been issued by several countries and these are additional problems that Pattaya must now face. But, it is not all doom and gloom in Pleasure Playground as it sometimes gets steamy in Secrets Nightspot. Despite its location on Soi 14, Secrets is a popular venue to visit and has become a last pit stop for late night revelers. Lucifer’s on Walking Street is another popular venue, which continues to draw crowds of party people out into the early hours.
EDEN CLUB UPDATE
There is certainly some bad luck being suffered by Pattaya nightspot owners with both owners of Eden Club suffering heart attacks. Sadly one partner has died but fortunately Marc has survived after surgery. Eden Club is currently closed but will open this Saturday on January 6 when Eden Club will be happy to greet you.
One of the Angelwitch dancers came back to the bar the other night after stopping work for a while. I asked her where she had been. So, not surprisingly she says, “I go home”. Then I replied, “Yes, but who’s home?”