Only In Thailand – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
By Ross UK
I was in a taxi going north on hwy 2 just north of Saraburi, a small van was doing a U-turn to get on our side of the highway. And as it turned in front of us, the rear wheel came off, not just the tire, the whole wheel came off and the metal dug a groove in the road. Fortunately it managed to get to the left side of the road as we passed.
I was in a Japanese restaurant with my GF near Sukhumvit. It came time for the bill and I asked for a receipt so I could claim it on expenses. Then the waitress explains to my GF that it would cost 7% extra (presumably a VAT scam). Now, I have worked in 21 countries and Thailand is the only one that has ever charged me for a receipt. I am embarrassed to say that I got a little indignant and raised my voice a little, but then I gave in and paid the 7% and left with the voice of a girl saying, "Come back again Sir". Not likely.
My GF got invited to a friend's party (I was not invited), her friend's farang boyfriend had just arrived and I think it was his birthday. Anyway I phoned a few times on the mobile to see when she was coming back, and then I went to the party to see what was going on. Only to find my GF drunk as a skunk, (she does not normally drink) she needed carrying back to my hotel and someone who described herself as a 'sister' to my GF assisted me. We got her to my room and her 'sister' left, and my GF promptly worshipped the toilet. The next day I checked out of the hotel and was asked if I had used the minibar, no (we normally stock up at the local Family Mart). They checked and said I had used a bottle of Red Label (500 Baht), well I do not drink whisky and my GF certainly doesn't. After arguing with the receptionist and implying that housekeeping was lying, I paid up and left. Later I spoke to my GF on the mobile and she said, her 'sister' had stolen the whisky. This not only embarrassed the receptionist and me, it cost me 500 Baht and I never got the money back from her 'sister'.
I was in a big Bangkok supermarket and I noticed a farang shopping with his Thai wife and in the basket were about two bottles of Chimay, a Belgian beer that I rather liked from about 15 years ago. So I hunted around to find where it was, I found it OK, and it cost 170 Baht a bottle. My liking for Chimay rather quickly vanished; I am used to buying beer Chang for 24 Baht a can. Maybe I have been in Thailand too long.
One thing that puzzled me in Thailand was the high cost of orange juice. One hotel, which included breakfast in the price, proudly advertised their fresh orange juice at breakfast. I fell for it and got charged 100 Baht++ (and it wasn't even cold). Even in a provincial hotel it was 70 Baht. And those tiny packets of OJ at Family Mart are over 12 Baht.
The not so good.
I was talking to a BG friend of mine and she had just started in the business. I asked her how much her clients had paid her. She told told me, she said to them "up to you", one had given her 2,500 Baht and the other had given her 3,500 Baht. When I first met my GF she told me 2,000 Baht but she paid the 300 Baht bar-fine (I did not realise there was a bar-fine until I found STICKMAN). My GF never explained the system to me. She told me about some Farang who only gave her 1,000 Baht and she said to me "what could I do" and one who paid her nothing, "what for" he told her (I would like to strangle that bastard). She later joined me for about 4 weeks in the provinces and never asked me for penny, well OK, I gave her a bit of pocket money and I paid her rent. I think she got into trouble with the bar owner. I gave her 20,000 when I left Thailand. And yes, I sent her money every month, about 15,000. She is now going through hairdressing school and guess who is paying? Yes in my innocence I broke every Stickman rule there was. It was only after my 7-week visit to Thailand that I found Stickman.
I had to get a medical in order to get a work visa. So a Thai colleague took me to the hospital. A nurse saw me pretty quick. She took my blood pressure and instead of the mercury going up and down slowly it went up and down faster than a whores draws, and she pronounced 130 over 90 (+-15 I should think). Then she weighed me, without a comment on my 127 kg. Then I saw the doctor, who looked into my eyes, felt my neck, listened to my breathing (front and back), then I had to lie down and he felt my stomach. Then he said, "OK" and off we went to collect the certificate that said I was well enough to work in Thailand. And it cost a whopping 50 Baht.
Business must be pretty bad at the moment (April 2003); I found a bar selling beer Chang all evening for only 45 Baht (Queen's Park Plaza, soi 22).
I have just come back to Farangland after two months in Thailand. The internet rates for hotels are now very good, I usually stay in the three star Regency Park hotel on soi 22. The internet rate for two is $26 including breakfast and taxes. I usually do not advertise but I have used www.hoteltravel.com many times and found them to be good.
If you are staying in Thailand for any length of time it is worth getting a second-hand mobile for calls within Thailand. I got one for 2,000 Baht from one of the big Plazas, plus 650 Baht for the sim card which included 300 Baht of calls. Calls cost 3 Baht a minute and text messaging 2 Baht. Using your Farang phone is far too expensive.
I bought a Parn Exclusive CD for about 149 Baht while I was in Thailand; it is an excellent album even if your Thai is non-existent.
There are not many places in the world where you can get a mixed plate of sashimi for 300 Baht ($7) or Korean Bulgogi for 240 Baht ($6 including all the side dishes). Both of these are on soi 22.
Thailand is also the place to buy your handy drives, these are basically a memory stick that you insert into your USB port, a 256 MB drive will cost about 3,000 Baht from Pantip Plaza, this is fraction of the farang (UK) price.
The funniest thing that I have seen in Thailand was when two very large farangs with big bellies were frequenting a bar at Queen's Park Plaza. Now these guys were only in Bangkok four nights and they were spending money like water. Now if you visit the bars you might have seen a rather innocuous bell in each of the bars. Well if you ring it, it means a drink for everyone including the girls and you pay. Now the mamasan, who is the bar owner, got quite friendly with the guys. Then one night one of the guys got hold of the mamasan, who is quite well rounded and was grabbing her hand to get her to ring the bell, which would have cost her about 2,000 Baht. The sight of the small fat mamasan trying to escape from the large fat farang, together with her squeals of No! No! Let me go! Was one of the funniest things I have seen for a long time, and I was crying with laughter. She did actually offer a compromise and to go halves, but unfortunately the farang did not take her up on the offer, thinking about it she would still have made a small profit.
I was in the German bar on soi 20 with my boss (a feisty Irish woman) and a colleague and my girlfriend. We had dinner and some drinks and some more drinks and there were a few Germans there we got talking and we all ended up dancing until 3 in the morning this included all the Thai staff who were dancing with us (we all had a great time).
A nice collection of anecdotes!