Archive for Pattaya

Jimmy Smithers Released…in his trousers

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2014 by สะพานลอย

First, sincere apologies for not getting news out of Jimmy Smithers sooner than this. Lek was just now lounging about Saphan Loy Central with a perpetual frown, like she wanted me to get up and entertain her. I told her to run along and catch a picture show. Lately she has been jealous of Tuy. Why this is happening is quite unclear. After all, Lek has some unique qualities about her which afford her the proper place as the primary wife: she is able to drink me under the table for starters, she could probably kick my ass up and down the soi without breaking a sweat, and her Kegel muscles are so strong that she must have spent her entire adult life inserting things into her vagina for sport.

Words of wisdom to those fortunate enough to secure the affections of two Thai women simultaneously: create few conditions whereby they have an opportunity to pull each other’s hair out, and keep your cutlery under lock and key.

That said. Oh, yes. Smithers.

Turns out, he had exaggerated his purported “run in” with the Thai military. He had been drinking for several days, that much is clear from the witness statements and surveillance video. But his problems with Thai officialdom resulted in actuality from his failure to pay a much older “woman who searches for food” for her evening of “services” which included, at one very low point, the insertion of her foot into his rectum for sensory erotic purposes. When Smithers frightened her with his incoherence, his inability to achieve an erection, and his unwillingness to remit her fee, she called the Thai gendarmes, and one of them, with an embarrassed almost apologetic smile, told him to pay her what he owed her: 1,000 baht.

Regardless of his reluctant fiduciary compliance, he was unable to walk down the single flight of stairs to the soi, and therefore needed medical assistance, which was happily provided by the lovely nursing staff at a provincial Thai hospital despite the fact that one of them had to give him a sponge bath, his first hygienic experience in perhaps several weeks if discounting his bizarre fortnightly “bathing” ritual in the Gulf of Thailand.

Enter Saphan Loy, Lek, and Tuy. Mainly, we forked over the emergency funding to get him back on his feet again and hopefully to an internationally qualified physician and attendant psychiatrist, the names of which were provided by the exasperated staff at his embassy. Lek and Tuy also made a phone call to the province where he was temporarily domiciled in his grim little hospital room to have two fat ripe Durians and a bottle of whiskey (obviously against hospital policy) delivered directly to his bedside table over the timid protestations of the head nurse.

Smithers argued that he had no hand grenades at time of admission.

Smithers argued that he had no hand grenades at time of admission.

At any rate, faithful readers, my apologies. I have allowed that fat prick Jimmy to interfere with my whole plan for the last time. Now that the world is ending, or at least as illustrated by the last gasps of the dying nightlife of Thailand which, now mortally wounded, kicks its legs erratically the way an animal might after being struck by a moving vehicle, we should focus on what remains fun in the Kingdom, for those who will still remain here after the 30-day sex tourist visas wallpapered in their passports result in a sudden, military-like departure from the Kingdom, paid for in full by them or their perturbed families.

In even better news, our old companion Mobi has opened a bar on some dubious lake on the outskirts of Pattaya at what is perhaps the worst time imaginable: during a military occupation of the country’s economy, a plummeting baht, and a badly damaged tourist sector. Not surprisingly, he has recently become depressed again. And while I am not plugging his bar for sympathy reasons, Lek and Tuy (and I) strongly recommend you pay him a visit on the dark side of the lake. Mobi is keeping the fires burning, putting up the good fight, and all that, and for that we should be grateful.

Bring me my breakfast. Make sure it is ice cold please.

I am certain she will serve my English breakfast as I take it: ice cold and in the bottle.

Now, while we just admitted we were not doing this out of the pure goodness of our darkened and twisted hearts, it is our hope that we may be recompensed in kind when the three of us take a jaunt out into the countryside and require refreshing libation, tasteful music, actual conversation in properly enunciated English, a variety of food offerings, and additional female companionship (should Lek and Tuy humour an old man like me, of course.)

Is everyone wearing a seat belt?

Is everyone wearing a seat belt?

It is my hope that at the very least, the drive out there had better involve a nice long Thai back massage (more than ten minutes, or I will take away those damned cell phones, ladies!) while I thread the Saphan Loy Dream Machine through the inexplicable traffic patterns (or complete lack thereof) that suddenly confront us, the ancient Heil lorries loaded with chemicals, cement, sewerage, and God knows what else, bearing down on wobbly motorbikes, bullock carts, and sundry rattletraps that defy basic principals of mechanical engineering, as we struggle with the wisdom of such an undertaking in the first place.

And we won’t invite Jimmy Smithers. That is a promise.


The View from Above

Saphan Loy’s Year End Roundup and Shameful Holiday Greetings!

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2013 by สะพานลอย
Time to stuff some stockings.

Time to stuff some stockings.

Christmastime in the red light districts of Bangkok is a special time. The booze flows freely, the ladyboys prance about in a state of magical, yaa baa-induced wonder like sugarplum fairies, and the Stickman takes a moment to reflect on all of the beautiful Thai courtesans whom he assiduously refused to have sex with in 2013. The “naughty webmaster” for “naughty boys” will likely be rewarded for his efforts with big black lumps of coal in a torn fishnet stocking hanging glumly from his limp mosquito net.

Even my special assistant, Lek, is unusually festive as she busies herself around the Saphan Loy executive suite picking up empty beer bottles and scrubbing the stains out of the faux leather divan where, in between long periods of writing and drinking, I have expended considerable fluids in sating the out-of-control, simian-like libido of a brown-skinned idolater. By the way, she despised part one of the Saphan Loy’s Thai Ladies for Dummies™ guide, mainly because she, like all Thais, does not like to have our “dirty laundry” aired in a public forum. Nonetheless, for her insolence, she will be amply rewarded in the new year.

Yes, gentle readers, it’s that time of year again. Time to take stock of what has been an utterly sordid and shameful year in the red-light districts of Bangkok, and for the bloggers who have attempted to type a word or two about their equally unsavoury experiences. 2013 also marked the dramatic disappearance of some from the game, as well the dogged persistence of the few who remain, banging the tired gong of their own misguided takes on why Cambodia and the Philippines are starting to look better and better.

The Departed is defunct. is defunct.

The biggest departure of 2013 was the abandonment of the now defunct Not with a bang, but a whimper. The bloated sex professor most likely abandoned his blog in part because of a new and punitive teaching schedule which has kept him from a dubious hobby that once saw him board a Boeing 757 bound for sex paradise every summer, just as soon as the last of his retarded undergraduate students left his office after complaining about their depressed grades and threatening to have their mothers call him directly. Mercifully, he has even stopped authoring the ridiculous comments in which Professor Ng shares everything from references to pedophilia, racial remarks on the US presidency, and homophobic slurs aimed at Thailand’s transgendered community.

The second departure this past year has been the disappearance of Bangkok Buddy, a gentle soul who only sought out “happy memories” among the cheapest brothels, free buffets, and dive bars of Bangkok. In return, his cadre of Chinese friends, who bizarrely call themselves “The Bay Area Boyz”, turned on him and drove him off the Internet. The story behind his disappearance is complicated, and we have written about the sordid details previously. The lesson in the Bangkok Buddy (and his “Bay Area Boyfriends”) story is that you should carefully evaluate your “friends” in Thailand. Are they mentally ill? Is this mental instability the result of too many drugs, or a strange Syphillitic condition brought on by overexposure to tropical venereal diseases? You must choose wisely.

The "Bay Area Boyz" of Bangkok celebrating Christmas.

The “Bay Area Boyz” of Bangkok celebrating Christmas. Photo courtesy of Chris Madeira.

Still Plugging Along: The Museum Sites

The Stickman of Bangkok continues his efforts at creating the seamless infomercial for all things commercial sex in Southeast Asia, including his oft-featured ladyboy escort sites which he plugs repeatedly. Knowing how much of a prude the Stick is, we wonder if 2014 will be the year he allows one to plug him as well. Now that would be worth a read.

While 2013 saw very little variation in his advertisement blog, he nonetheless did add a widely criticized “Girl of the Week” section, in which he features the homeliest of Thailand’s bar girls who offer a stark reminder that it is better to depart well before the cock crows if one is to preserve the hazy alcoholic image of your bar-fined assignation from the night before.

One of the main weaknesses of this feature is that it throws unflattering light on the girls in question and by extension on the entire bar culture in Bangkok. Without beer goggles, the plain Janes, or plain “Leks” of the chrome pole seem wan and distant and somewhat malnourished. They appear almost as lifeless and uninteresting as a horrid Chris Coles painting. We at Saphan Loy have decided that the Stickman is no longer as relevant as he was, say, in 2002. Therefore, he joins the ranks of Saphan Loy’s “Museum Sites.” These are sites that have not changed their general appearance (think primary colours, slapdash HTML, and banner ads), content, or their format since their ill-advised conceptions. They shrink from technical innovation and change, and are stuck in time, like a Polaroid picture of a bar-girl staining the sheets of some short-time hotel in Pattaya.

Bangkok Eyes: Midnight Hour

Our friend Will Morledge over at Bangkok Eyes is still at it. Although Saphan Loy has teased him in the past, we have to admit that his site has become more interesting as he has started to publish more historical information and archival photographs. Have a look at his December column for some visually satisfying images from the former Mississippi Queen bar in Patpong. In the ever-changing field of Bangkok red-light blogs and websites, Morledge’s persistent longevity is really quite admirable and worth a look every month.

Joy from the Missippi Queen Bar, circa 1970s. See

Joy from the Mississippi Queen Bar, circa 1970s. See

Red-Light Bloggers Still Pounding Away

Mobi d’Ark. Our friend Mobi is also, bless his soul, still having a seat in front of his keyboard and sharing his thoughts and impressions of the world of a Pattaya expat. He is also making available his literary efforts online, and should you be interested in Thailand-based fiction, have a look at his offerings. Mobi, who has endured various hardships this past year, remains a stalwart of the Thai blogging scene. We hope he keeps at it.

Finally, for those of you who miss the Big Mango Bar blog, rest assured that you can still get your fix over at Mango Unchained, a continuation of sorts of the old blog, only a bit more subdued and with a great improvement in the quality of the writing. Graham, who moderates the blog, does an excellent job selecting stories and keeping things moving along.

The premise behind the blog is that these are stories that feature things to do away from the neon glare of the bars themselves, and focus more on expat life in the company of your special Thai lady friends. These are often interesting vignettes into the strange habits and ways of the Thai lady, and how they behave outside of captivity. However, you will still find a story or two about an amusing pub crawl. Well worth a look in 2014.

The Year Ahead

Speaking of special Thai lady friends, look for more of Saphan Loy’s words of wisdom on the treatment of our executive assistant, Lek. As ever, we will task her with various degrading assignments throughout Bangkok, ferreting out information for use in this column. She is quite the สายลับ and she knows the backstreets of our mean city like the back of her graceful, elongated hands.

So, as long as you are sober or sane enough to type a URL into your browser, or remember to make Saphan Loy your main source of information on all things Thai red-light blogs, we will endeavour to type up this column for your edification. Lek and I wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and New Year, and may all of your red-light district experiences be sordid and disgraceful! Who knows? Perhaps we will meet somewhere on Patpong and I will happily autograph your Thai bargirl’s small, boy-like breasts (with No. 2 pencil eraser nipples) with my felt-tip pen. For a nominal fee, of course.

With that, we leave you with Saphan Loy’s Girl of the New Year! Enjoy!

Saphan Loy’s Girl of the New Year:

The Lovely Kim XXX or Manga

Kim XXX, or Manga, Thai German Porn Star
Kim XXX, or Manga, Thai-German Porn Star

Name: Kim XXX, or Manga

Official Website 

Age: 26

Nationality: German

Languages: German and Thai

Special Skills: Engaging in depraved group sex scenes with German men,

consuming the semen of multiple donors, Thai cooking, reading “ka-toon”

Kim XXX, or Manga, is an amazing actress, and a real Thai sweetheart. She is a Thai sex machine who speaks German. What more could one ask for? Her performance range is unlike anything you will likely see in your alcoholically foreshortened lifetimes. She is petite, hard-bodied, and pumped up with enough silicone to firestop a skyscraper. Her twisted German overlords feature her on a site called German Goo Girls (I’ll leave it to you to do your own research), where they make her the degraded object of their Teutonic perversions. Happy New Year, Manga!

The View from Above

Big Top Bangkok: Stickman’s Circus of Teaching Clowns

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Pausing from the arduous task of transcribing notes from my meetings with “Mike”, and the secret history of the red light districts of Southeast Asia, we turn this week to an obscure corner of the Stickman website, which is probably overlooked every Sunday in favour of the latest salacious news and pointers from the red light districts. The series of articles, introduced last summer, is called “Teacher Tim.”

It is important to remember (or at least easy to forget) that the Stickman site even has a secondary objective: to help foreign English teachers who have questions and concerns about teaching in the kingdom. After a closer inspection of the Teacher Tim column on the site, and thanks to the clown-like magic of Google, it becomes evident that the thinly veiled advertorials for TEFL International are written by a circus clown. Quite literally. Tim Torkildson, aka Dusty the Clown. See here for his blog.

Tim Torkildson, TEFL International Spokesman in Thailand and Circus Clown

One of the aspects of living in Thailand and being an integral part of the “naughty nightlife” is that one gets used to an odd assortment of characters who were simply never properly socialized in their own countries, or are addicted to whatever vices found most appealing and readily available in a developing world country. What is particularly unnerving about the selection of a former circus clown as a nominal ringleader of ESL teachers in Bangkok and who, in turn, contributes articles for Bangkok’s most popular red light and adult entertainment website, is that the whole project is simply too creepy to fathom. To enumerate here the variety of reasons why clowns are inherently creepy is to indulge in a psychological exercise largely based on the primal fears and appropriate repulsion of children, and the difficult to articulate anxieties of parents everywhere.  But to use a circus clown as a shill for the ESL teaching profession is a bizarre stunt even for the sordid cast of characters who regularly inhabit the red light districts of Thailand, and the blogs and websites that feature them.

Posting as “Torkythai” on YouTube, here are the commercial pitches (unmitigated by a quirky little weekly column) for the TEFL International program. In this pitch, Tim promises to potential TEFL participants that all the “beautiful women will kiss all the handsome men”, and vice versa.  And if that isn’t incentive enough to take a TEFL International course, Tim the Clown promises “candy and cake and cookies” and “lemonade” to potential teachers who select the Thai-based programs. Here, he also throws in a balloon animal. If that wasn’t enough to entice the prospective student, Tim the Clown takes a creampie in the face. Hard to resist. Unless, of course, you are an actual adult.

Although all of the Torkythai posts are painful to watch and are extremely cringe-worthy, they all tend to engender in the viewer a profound sympathy for unwitting Thai students who have to endure poorly paid ESL teachers recruited in this fashion. In this endorsement from the series of videos, Tim the Clown bizarrely simulates the drinking of “poison” if the viewer does not immediately fork over (in US dollars) from upwards of $1,390 for a TEFL International course in Thailand.

Further review of TEFL International on the Internet reveals that many of its former students actually consider it a kind of “scam” and that its programs in China were, at one point, raided by the police. While Saphan Loy cannot support this claim with any evidence or testimony directly, and reviews on the Internet are notoriously suspect, the fact that the word “scam” appears in a Google pull-down menu to facilitate the search term is, in itself, a kind of supporting evidence by design of the search engine. Try the terms “TEFL International” and “Scam”, and more stories appear about the company.   

TEFL International is a business predicated upon the assumption that anyone can obtain the qualifications necessary to teach English as a Second Language (ESL, or sometimes rendered English as a Foreign Language EFL) in a few weeks. That there are prestigious universities that dedicate the resources necessary to confer master’s and doctoral degrees in the subject (as applied linguistics, or as second language pedagogy) in the United States and Great Britain seems to Saphan Loy to suggest that receiving the equivalent expertise in a few week’s time is extraordinarily dubious. That said, what can be surmised from the TEFL clown’s tactics is that they are disturbed reminders that mixing teaching and frequenting red light districts (like the Stickman does, and like Big Baby Kenny, also a teacher, does too), can cause some interesting dilemmas for the teachers responsible for the content of the brothel websites. See TEFL Clown Tim choke his own chicken here.

Anyway, what’s an honest red light writer (and non-teacher) to do? Send in the Clowns. Naturally.

The View from Above

Leaked: The Secret History of Operation Hollow Men (Part 1)

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Here is a story that has waited patiently for many years to be told. Nearly one year after Saphan Loy was launched, complete with the breaking of a champagne bottle over an antiquated hard drive, we are honoured to present an exclusive feature story that has been years in the making. With the sad passing of one of Saphan Loy’s dearest drinking companions and confidants over at the Madrid Bar in Patpong (we’ll call him “Mike”), and the modest Buddhist ceremony at a small temple in Kanchanaburi that marked his entry into the next world, we can “safely” begin to tell it here for the first time without fear of compromising “Mike’s” identity, his extensive network of contacts, or his activities prior to passing away.

Like any complex narrative, the story itself unfolded over many nights at the Madrid and in the strictest of confidence. There was, however, a tacit understanding that by hook or by crook, Mike wanted the story to be known for whatever personal reasons. Occasionally told in a drunken haze or two, with a moll or two straddling his lap, and at other times retold soberly over cups of coffee at out-of-the way cafes during the monsoon rains, Mike animated the story for Saphan Loy with the conviction that its complexity would be unraveled before esophageal cancer got the better of him. It is in his memory and honour that the story of Operation Hollow Men is hereby recounted.

In 1964, Mike, an intelligent young American graduate student, a bit idealistic but studious and quite obviously smart, and well on his way to earning  a PhD in applied statistics, was approached to join a company of CIA officers and US military servicemen in developing an extension of the program called the Psychological Operations Group, or OP 39, for the dissemination of “black psychological operations (or psy-ops)” within the Southeast Asian theatre during the lead-up to the Vietnam War. These operations fell under the umbrella of the semi-mythical Studies and Observations Group (SOG), a covert effort that coincided with increases in military presence in Indochina. He explained,

When they approached me about the job, I was really just a kid. I told my father about it, and he was all gung-ho, but that was just his generation talking. So I took the job. It beat the prospect of teaching at a university. It allowed me to travel. Because I didn’t have too many contacts anyway, no girlfriend at home, it wasn’t too difficult to explain away my sudden disappearance. My folks just told everyone that I was doing missionary work, or something like that, which seemed believable enough, I guess. My parents were both active in the local Presbyterian church, although certainly not zealots or anything. And by ‘active’, I mean they brought a pie or cake to the Sunday morning bake sales and made significant donations at Christmas time.

Mike, who was fully supportive of US efforts at the time from a political standpoint (having come from a conservative and relatively wealthy family in New England), agreed to offer his services and was therefore sent to an intensive language training program maintained by the US government in Montana, where he breezed through his coursework in Thai, Laotian, Hmong, Lahu, Khmer, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese. His facility with difficult and obscure Asian languages attracted the attention of the top brass at the CIA, and, although Mike never confirmed it, it seems his work on OP 39 became more complicated: although he wore the uniform of a serviceman, his checks would come from Langley for the rest of his natural life.

In Montana, they actually imported all of these Asian teachers. It was kind of funny to see them out in God’s country and dealing with the harsh winters. But the agency provided them with meals, lodging, healthcare, you name it. They even had their own cuisine whipped up in the mess hall so they wouldn’t get too homesick. The smallest town was like 45 minutes away and we were out on this ranch in beautiful country surroundings. The trout fishing and the fresh air were incredible. The place had its own electrical generating system and telecommunications capabilities, water filtration system, the works. There was nothing else to do out there other than study languages. Because I was pretty good at Hmong, I thought I’d end up in Laos up in the hills. But no dice. 

Mike seemed to enjoy his senescence in Thailand, like the scores of government pensioners and retirees who find themselves in Pattaya, Chiang Mai, or even Bangkok today. He maintained a modest home on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, and, while he had a Thai wife several years ago who since returned to her native village to take care of an ailing mother, Mike had a series of “girlfriends” (all of whom he called “Lek”) who would tend to him, cook his meals, do his laundry, take care of the house, chase away monitor lizards, pick the mangoes. Typical arrangement found anywhere throughout the Kingdom. “All on the US taxpayer’s dime,” he would sometimes say, chuckling to himself.

When Mike and I would meet at the Madrid, it had at some point become an almost daily ritual. He would order his steak and eggs and nurse a glass of house red wine, and Saphan Loy would order a beer (or two) and simply listen. He rarely allowed me to take notes, so we would have to rush home (traffic permitting) and hit the keyboard quickly in an effort to ensure that all the details were freshly preserved. Admittedly, there were parts of Mike’s story that were difficult to believe, the details really straining the limitations of what I had always assumed was an objectively verifiable “reality”. And I told him so. After all, Saphan Loy enjoyed watching documentaries about the Vietnam War, and none of this stuff was ever included in those grainy newsreels and highly polished productions that appear with frequency on public television stations.

One of the realities of the American effort in Indochina was the logistical complexity that the war really represented. Diplomatically, militarily, culturally, the place was a literal jungle of confusion, conflicting ideologies, divergent loyalties, and geopolitical maneuvering. For the boys who showed up bravely to do their part, the war required an astonishing level of preparation. Even the guys Mike worked with were a bit overwhelmed by the tasks they were assigned. But there was something in the work that Mike really relished. He never shied away from a challenge. And he always spoke glowingly of the guys he worked with at different phases of the operation.

The thing you have to remember about the operation was how the guys came together from different parts of the agency with different skill sets. Our psychiatric team was second-to-none. They were essentially building better mouse-traps. They knew where to put the cheese, and how to ensure that their guys kept coming back for more. It isn’t too hard to manipulate behaviour, but if you want to repeat your success rates, you have to take certain measures, tweak the results ever-so-slightly, measure again, then change it up a bit.

Operation Hollow Men was a spin-off of Operation Humidor (another OP 39 project). Mike reported that the paper trail between the two operations was so thoroughly eradicated that, over time, few people in Operation Humidor even knew of the existence of the Hollow Men team. In essence, Mike’s project had become semi-autonomous. Sure, Langley had a direct say in some of its activities. But for the most part, the Hollow Men team was like an independent cell operating under such deep cover that, according to Mike, at one point he no longer knew what part of the story was true himself. Nor did he care. Living as he did in a world of fiction really suited him. 

Operation Hollow Men was comprised of a team of several men and a few women who specialized in a wide variety of operative tasks. While Operation Humidor worked on spreading misinformation deep inside Northern Vietnamese territory and creating fictional insurrections, Operation Hollow Men had an entirely different set of instructions. The team included clinical psychiatrists, behavioural experts, urban planners, linguists and biochemists. The head of the Hollow Men team was a guy they all called “St. Elmo.”

Based in Bangkok, St. Elmo was the “go to” guy with the Thai government and the local Chinese business establishment. Fluent in Thai, Hainanese and the Teochew dialects of Chinese, St Elmo was charged with the first stages of Operation Hollow Men. The idea was fairly simple. The behavioural scientists and clinical psychiatrists were tasked with a two-pronged objective: first, to alleviate battlefield stress by designing “R&R” experiences in friendly countries (Thailand, Japan and the Philippines) in urban environments that would not have a long-term impact on the American and allied soldiers either morally or chemically; and secondly to recreate similar conditions for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars and VC operatives at remote locations deep in North Vietnam, with some coordinates placed even in Laos and Cambodia.

St. Elmo is quite a character. He is a cartographer by training. Maps were his bag, before GPS systems and the NGA and all that. He could negotiate with the Chinese Thai community directly. He was shrewd. And of course his budget was limitless. So when he made proposals, they were rarely turned down. Before the US became directly involved in the local markets, these small-time guys were selling cigarettes and cans of Budweiser individually, or taking wagers on the cock fights. Anyway, St. Elmo loved the whole thing. From start to finish. From setting up the first bars once the tactical team decided on placement and design, to hand-selecting the colour of the women’s bikinis and now notorious number tags, he was the guy. The Lahu women would sometimes call him the “Papa Roach”, but why that is, I have no idea.

Throughout the conflict, the NVA and the Viet Cong treated battlefield stress with a potent sedative manufactured in China that tranquilized the soldiers in a “clean” way. Taken with rice whiskey, the medications soothed weary soldiers and allowed them to sleep restfully without any detrimental residual effects. The medication also eased sexual cravings. According to Mike, one of the ideas that they originally floated was a covert attempt to interdict the pharmaceutical supply lines from China that the NVA troops had regular access to. Interrupting this supply with adulterated pills would be a sure-fire way to reduce effectiveness among NVA troops and the VC. While efforts were made during intense aerial bombardments along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to pinpoint the supply lines from the Chinese pharmaceuticals factory directly, penetrating the chemical and pharmaceutical distribution network was (and remains to this day in the region) extremely difficult, labor-intensive, and expensive.

Meanwhile the NVA intelligence collection capabilities were unsurpassed and growing more entrenched by the day. Having infiltrated the highest reaches of South Vietnam’s political and civil structures, the NVA intelligence apparatus made use of a wide range of strategies that challenged St. Elmo’s planning capacities. SOG was left in the intractable position of having to emulate the NVA intelligence-gathering tactics themselves rather than dedicate the necessary resources to effect projects “from scratch”. One of the signature ways that North Vietnam collected intelligence in Saigon was to simply open a go-go bar, massage parlour, nightclub, or a brothel that appealed to American servicemen, off-duty intelligence analysts, and even foreign embassy staff, then make use of dancers, masseuses and other comely bar girls to entice and seduce them. These linguists, hand-selected females who were often trained in Maoist China, used a “broken” English to signify a lack of understanding and to disguise their true identities. The reality was far more complex. Often intoxicated, the off-duty US and allied government personnel in Saigon would talk to each other and share sensitive information under the mistaken assumption that the substance of their conversations was not completely understood by these highly skilled intelligence operatives.

An Image from Saigon in 1972. The Kiwi Club.

By duplicating the North Vietnamese intelligence collection methodology, Operation Hollow Men began to take shape in Bangkok. The team mobilized small entertainment troupes that would set up shop in proximity to NVA and VC troop installations that dotted the Southeast Asian theatre of war. By using simple karaoke machines, basic stereo systems (either cleverly disguised as Chinese manufacture, or “repurposed” war materiel), and a modified rice whiskey that stimulated the libido (as well as the desire to “talk”), Operation Hollow Men was able to beat the Vietnamese at their own game and to achieve a modicum of success for the intelligence community.

While the mobile entertainment units were deployed in the field in Northern Vietnam and elsewhere, St. Elmo was busy negotiating with the Thai Chinese community to set up a “safe haven” for US troops on R&R in Bangkok proper. He scouted desirable locations in what was then mostly rural coconut plantations along the khlongs that spidered out from the city center. Sure, the military had its concessionaires outside of the airfields like U-Tapao, but these were rather simple affairs staffed mostly with young women who wanted to marry a farang. The Hollow Men team’s plans had envisioned an entire district in Bangkok, and later multiple districts, designed by urban planners and behavioural specialists, in which to establish entertainment venues that would ultimately serve several functions. Insofar as the Thais would allow such districting within the city was a different matter entirely. Nonetheless, St. Elmo was instrumental in selecting the Patpong district as well as Soi Cowboy as special economic zones for the purposes of Operation Hollow Men. When the Thai government objected to additional sites and insisted on the reconfiguration of New Petchaburi Road, a small fishing village on the Eastern seaboard was selected as a viable alternative.

It was funny, because normally the US Army Corps of Engineers is assigned to setting up bases and field locations. But the agency saw that as a potential compromise. Too many people to trust, basically. So after the urban planners and behavioral specialists designed these miniature mouse-traps, we had to hand-select a group of guys from the Navy, telecom engineers who were a crazy bunch of guys. They basically would rig up anything, sound systems, radio beacons, whatever, then spend the night drinking. These guys didn’t care what we were doing. They basically set up the juke joints out in the jungles and in Bangkok too, and the agency would do the rest.

First, according to Mike, they needed to create a safe and effective way to deliver sedatives and related psychotropics that the US had designed (and that a large Swiss pharmaceuticals firm [NAME REDACTED] was producing on schedule per a lucrative US government contract.) Second, the US government wanted to ensure that its service members were not lured into similar projects established by the enemy in regions that were considered outside of the military’s purview thus harder to monitor, including remote jungle outposts or Potemkin-like villages nestled near the secret airfields. By staffing these sites with compliant and docile Lahu women under the authority of a Thai “mamasan”, the military ensured that the sensitive matter of “comfort women”, for which the Imperial Japanese had been well-known, was dispensed with out of hand. And thirdly, by creating a revenue stream for the Thai government and its intermediaries, the US was ensuring that its various interests in the Kingdom would be protected. In essence, by converting the US dollar to Thai baht (via private arrangements between servicemen and the Lahu women) in these specially designed military districts, Thailand’s treasury was receiving a generous cash “gratuity.” This cash exchange was entirely separate from the clubs that were directly controlled by the military and that issued its own currency in the form of redeemable “tokens”, usually smaller monetary amounts that could be traded for bottles of beer or cigarettes.

To be continued.

The View from Above

Dissecting a Frog Bar and Other Curiosities

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by สะพานลอย

One of the strengths of WordPress (shameless plug for the platform) is that it alerts the author to all sorts of interesting Internet metrics. For example, our profile on the hot ladyboy action that the Stickman wrote about over at the Frog Bar in Pattaya has become a search engine result for the terms “dissecting a frog.” Saphan Loy apologises in advance to frustrated biology students everywhere who were hoping to find an easy answer for their lab assignments concerning the anatomy of the Rana esculenta.

Another perplexing development in the red light blogosphere is the revival of a previously moribund URL. Thanks to the diligence of the folks over at BigDummyKenny (soon to be renamed) and also to evidence of incoming links from the old URL, a bit of a digital curiosity has emerged from the wreckage of the former Werewolf’s Lair. After he abandoned his efforts and wrote an occasional, awkward post for the Big Mango Blog, the Werewolf put up a bizarre children’s site mockup (see below regarding Saphan Loy’s views of the subject of children). The old ghost link has now been reanimated and is called “mundane Bangkok” complete with a sidebar of crosslinks. Why Saphan Loy was omitted from this list is a mystery (and we take offense at the oversight).

So what’s the new blog about? Absolutely nothing. The syntax is clearly not the fabled Werewolf. The style is not quite right for him, so our theory is that he handed over the keys to the URL to someone (an elderly sex tourist) he met in a bar and said, “Good luck.” If the Werewolf had wanted to reintroduce himself to the world, why not start with a new URL? The old one is just plain awkward anyway.

What is to be discerned from the content of the new site? First, the writer has not been in Thailand “for 40 years”.  Fair enough. That puts him squarely in the Vietnam War veteran demographic, presumably an American whose first experience of the country was on R&R, or serving at one of the airbases in the boondocks. He may have now retired to Thailand  (or at the very least visits often), which he finds “mundane.” Ho hum. In Saphan Loy’s estimation, his “non-agenda” constitutes an agenda, so the reader should be wary. The very first post (some bland and not very original observations about Songkran) features, of all the possible mundane topics at his disposal, a conversation with children.

A word of advice to anyone posting information about Thailand for public consumption, particularly on an old URL (called bargirlsrpeople2) that once trumpeted the benefits of multiple sex partners culled from the red light districts. Avoid the subject of children like the plague. They are to be seen and not heard, not only in Thailand, but all around the globe.

That said, we wish the second “boring Bangkok blogger” the best of luck and a happy Songkran. And if you truly feel that Bangkok is either “boring”  or “mundane”, perhaps you might consider a holiday somewhere you may find more to your liking. Like, say, Disneyland.

Artist's rendering of proposed Disneyland in Shanghai

The View from Above

The Big Baby Kenny Disaster: Oh, the humanity!

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2011 by สะพานลอย

The Precipice of Disaster

One of the more interesting aspects of blogging, and the ways in which it has altered the digital landscape, is they more or less require constant refreshment. A morbidly dying blog needs dramatic resuscitation in the event of its immenent collapse. It will shed readers fast if it is not constantly refreshed. That the more popular Thai nightlife blogs ignore the refreshment rate necessary to preserve and multiply readership is strange: Stickman refreshes his paid advertisement (weekly blog) every Sunday, William R. Morledge and Dean Barrett refresh once a month preferring the colours pink and purple, and assorted “old media” types are even less frequent. What is clear is that those who do update regularly (Big Dummy KennyMobithailand, Big Mango Bar blog, and Bangkok Buddy) typically see sustained growth in numbers because they are satisfying market demand. In fact, BDK’s site has surpassed BBK in numbers and has essentially shifted the playing field in its favor. BBK’s neglect has cost him readers and, in the long run, has turned his site into a virtual wall of graffiti: not unlike the walls of a shitter in a public men’s room. Perhaps this is the effect the professor is looking for? For a good time, call…

It has been clear for some time now that the BBK blog has been abandoned to all but a few lonely, schizophrenic and probably homeless men posting commentary from a public library somewhere. A high limit poker room? Hardly. More like an uncomfortable teacher’s lounge at a large, mediocre state university, where tense, resentful smiles are exchanged in lieu of pleasantries. 

In reviewing the blogs this week, sadly Mobithailand is also lamenting a precipitous drop in readership, including his own personal friends. It turns out that living a sober life in Pattaya is not all that inherently interesting. Poor Mobi  has resorted to posting pictures of his well-groomed pets. At any rate, Saphan Loy is still a loyal reader, even if his other readers would like him to go on a binge and drunkenly careen his car into a poorly-constructed bamboo beer bar at four in the morning.

Sukhumit Psycho is now peddling a guide to massage parlours in Bangkok (in addition to something he calls “premium content.” ) Saphan Loy did not realise that having one’s testicles rubbed with coconut oil is such an obstacle for some sex tourists, but apparently it is. We would like to get our hands on a review copy, obviously, but for moral reasons, we are unwilling to pay a single baht and thus subsidise such “market research.” If you have a copy you’d like to share for review, please contact us. But let’s wish him the best of luck…there are masseuses all throughout Thailand who are relying on a steady stream of eager and aroused customers who are unable to articulate in Thai (or their own language, or sign language, for that matter) that they would like the genital region included in the cost of the “traditional” oil massage. And that they are unwilling or unable to pay more than twenty dollars.

The View from Above

Saphan Loy’s Cocktail Party Etiquette

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Circulating, as Saphan Loy does from time to time, among the elites, defined here as urbane, sophisticated, and worldly, we occasionally find ourselves in an awkward position. To profess an interest in Thailand or even Asia for that matter is inviting the kind of curiosity that is not easily dispelled by an avowed affinity for the temples, the culture, the spicy food, the weather, the blah blah blah. It is fairly rare, therefore, that we mention it at all. Spying a young woman across the room, for example, and desiring to make her acquaintance, it is not possible to discreetly sidle up to her and ask, “Have you ever made use of a fucksaw before?” Or, “How much would you pay to bar fine a ladyboy?” Or, my personal favourite, “Have I told you about the time I needed an intravenous injection of antibiotics in Pattaya?”

Usually, such conversations would appall the various people that Saphan Loy, because of his prestigious and cosmopolitan connections, encounters on a daily basis. So, more often than not, we remain silent about our reading and writing diet. It makes for an easier evening. It is much simpler, say, to merely imagine a woman at the cocktail party making enthusiastic use of a fucksaw, or envisioning her husband on a barstool in Pattaya beguiled by a passable ladyboy.

This partly explains why for many men, the temptation is too great to simply abandon one’s country of origin in favor of a like-minded social milieu in which such frank discussions no longer are out-of-place, or out of line. Congregating in the bars and online fora that are dedicated to sex tourism in Asia, these colourful, sometimes dangerous characters reenact a kind of verbal horseplay that is redolent of adolescent lust and obsession which can also turn to hatred, envy and villainy. A casual perusal of the Thai nightlife fora will reveal the lengths men go to in order to display prowess and success. The colourful avatars, the ranking systems, the various levels of posting rights all attest to this.

Which brings us to the outward symptoms of the Thai fetish. This is a variant of the Asian fetish, obviously, with some critical differences. First, someone who suffers from a Thai fetish is also intimately addicted to certain and outdated concepts of third world sex relations. There is a clear typecast of sex tourist that emerges. They tend to look the same, dress the same, and speak the same language.

For example, Dean Barrett, one of the foremost apologists of Thai brothel and prostitute consumers, has two such locations to fetishize: China and Thailand. Further, he has written of his enjoyment of bondage and dubious kinky sex acts with Asian dominatrices, women whom he pays to crossdress and whip him into submission. It is clear that the simple fulfillment of the first fetish led, as a result of, say, boredom or having run out of more traditional choices, directly to the second one. Also implicit in the arrangement is the supposed reversal of power and role: the dominated woman (the Thai bargirl) becomes the dominant, exotic Mistress (after receiving adequate payment, though substantially less than one might receive for similar services in the West.)

You, handsum man, bad man jing jing. jai rai! You be dog my.” 

BDSM in Thailand is a curious thing. In a country that still has a systematised endemic form of slavery, the sex play that constitutes slavery is a fairly recent option on the Thai menu of sex services, no doubt expedited by Western desires. It represents the third world outsourcing of developed world fantasies. I wonder what the statistics would reveal about this subject in Thailand itself? Is this a viable form of sex play? Are there exclusively Thai dungeons in Bangkok? Are the whips, instruments and furniture evocative of the Marquis de Sade, or a simpler rice farmer beating his water buffalo with a bamboo switch? Insofar as it is part of the human sexual imagination, such slavery and discipline scenarios likely exist among the Thai middle and upper classes. Hard to say for sure, though. What is sure is that the overwhelming majority of Western writers and bloggers about Thailand’s red-light districts link directly to the fetish clubs in Bangkok (there are two well-known public locations, and at least one private club).  

Whatever the case, Saphan Loy will certainly bring the matter up at the next cocktail party. 

The View from Above

Stickman Plugs the Ladyboys

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by สะพานลอย

In the world of advertising, there is a certain category of product endorsement called, depending on where you live in the world, the advertorial or the “infomercial.” Here is a Wiki reference to a good example from the early 1960s for the sale of toupees. The way an advertorial works is that it is disguised as an informative article or a simulated television programme, often complete with a kind of talkshow “host” and an interviewee, but in reality it is a lengthy, thinly-veneered advertisement or endorsement of a particular kind of product. Anyone who has ever watched a television after 3:00 AM as a result of insomnia knows how ubiquitous these infomercials really are.

Stickman Bangkok employs this age-old advertising technique in nearly every one of his weekly updates. Nowadays, there is very little content on his site that is not an advertisement or product endorsement in some kind of disguise. This week’s entry is no different. Perhaps reflective of the economic realities of the red light districts of Thailand is a shift away from the employment of actual women of the demimonde to the employment of men who can pass as women in the bars and brothels throughout Southeast Asia. Some young Thai men, for example, must surely know that given certain feminine features or predilections, their potential to earn an income as a certain kind of woman increases significantly above, say, what a motorcycle taxi or tuk-tuk driver earns.

Stick’s story this week is one that serves as an extended commercial for the Ladyboy Escort Services that are advertised via a banner ad positioned directly under the main story. It is written in a coyly naive and somewhat misleading way. Sure, the Frog Bar features prominently, but because the narrator “refuses to pay a barfine”, the reader, whose interest may be aroused by a kathoey bar in Pattaya, is left with more questions than answers. How much is a typical bar fine at a kathoey bar in Pattaya? The correct “answer” for the reader who prefers ladyboys would of course involve the Ladyboy Escort Service that is prominently displayed, whereby, presumably, one pays the ladyboy directly for his services. So, the lesson is, no bar fine required.

Make no mistake: there is nothing inherently wrong with ladyboys or an advertisement for their services. What should be pointed out, however, is that the reader is being sold a product or service within the body of the story itself.   This is not really rocket science, but it is like selling hair replacements to an already bald audience.

And so the moral of the story? Avoid ladyboys? Naah. The moral of the story is to avoid bar fining a ladyboy by using an escort service (conveniently plugged directly beneath the story).

Still, Saphan Loy wonders what the real story behind the story could have been had it been even remotely more interesting. Hmmm… (rubbing chin and daydreaming):

Now, normally in Pattaya, I never pay bar fines. It’s just my policy. Always has been, always will. I am tighter than a two dollar watch. But there was something about this young woman, maybe it was the deeper voice, the protruding Adam’s apple, the hands of a basketball player, or the odd resemblance to a guy I knew in high school. Or maybe it was just the effects of the Singha beer. Hell, I guess I had lost count at five. Whatever it was, I decided that this time, I would pay a bar fine. It wasn’t really a money issue. I knew my advertising revenue from the ladyboy escort service and the bondage club was padding my bank account with depreciating baht every day. Sometimes I didn’t even check my balance. That’s how good I have it. Plus, I was, after all, in Pattaya….what the hell, right? When in Rome….

So, I eagerly paid the mamasan, who smiled knowingly, and I barely tried to conceal my desire for this strange man/woman hybrid. She was very direct with me, even while we innocently played Connect Four and had some quality “girl talk” in Thai. I generally like an “in-charge” kind of gal, so this increased my desire for him and I knew that I was in store for some pleasant memories. She kick-started her motorbike and I sat behind her like her farang bitch prize. We raced off into the tropical night and I grew dizzy with expectation. It was late, so I didn’t care about the other expats and sex tourists giggling at me as we made our way past the bars and clubs.

She took me to a part of Pattaya I had never been before. I was feeling especially protective of my camera. What if he/she took me to a remote spot and beat and robbed me? What if he/she put something in my drink and I was already under its effect? What would happen to my camera and my ATM card? These were thoughts I quickly put out of my head. I knew well enough about these kinds of things happening to less-experienced guys. I was looking forward to for once being one of the young women I always dreamed I could be. Just like the ones I try to capture in my loving photos, so beautiful. Suay mak mak. Anyway, we get to this sordid looking place somewhere on the outskirts of town. In his deep froggy voice, he commands, “Wait here.” I obey meekly for what seems like an hour. I hear what sounds like an argument coming from the little guest house. My heart is racing. Should have popped a Xanax, but too late for that. “Follow me,” she commands. Again, I do as I am told as we make our way to the front door of this little guesthouse of sorts.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m expecting too much, I think to myself apprehensively. Something a little more, well, romantic. Maybe my fantasy won’t live up to the reality of what is about to happen. Suddenly, she almost kicks open the door to this small dimly-lit room. Is she going to carry me across the threshold, like in an old movie? That certainly would be more romantic. I wouldn’t feel as cheap and nervous as I do now. Where is this headed? Does this mean that I am gay? Of course not, I persuade myself. Again, my reasoning seems compromised by the Singha, but I can hardly contain my excitement all the same. All of my years in the red light districts of Thailand have not adequately prepared me for whatever awaits in this little foul-smelling room on the outskirts of Pattaya. It’s not too late. I can always make a dash for it. So what’s a little เสียหน้า? Meanwhile, I hear the shower running from the bathroom. The small lizards dart about on the walls in the dull glow of the fluorescent lightbulb….

That was all in good fun. We of course know how the story really ended. Fairly anti-climactic, so to speak. And another moral of the story to remember: a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs before, well, you know the rest.

The View from Above


For similar vintage advertisements, see