Stickman Readers' Submissions August 19th, 2005

More About Jayson

If there is one complaint that I have of Jayson’s submissions, it’s that they should have been written a decade or so ago. Had they been, and had Stickman readers taken on board what Jayson had written, then there might have been a lot less
lost souls wandering around Bangkok’s streets looking for Miss Right.

On the other hand, Stick’s website would have been less entertaining. After all, ‘I met a stunner and she took me for a million bucks’ is far more titillating than ‘I met a nice girl and we settled down with two

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Still, give Jayson his due. He hits the spot with a clean bulls eye, and we are fortunate to have a Thai guy who can write well and think intelligently, explaining in one simple submission, what would take one hundred submissions from us
non-Thai Thai-watchers to figure out.

Now, there was a certain amount of criticism from some farangs who felt hurt by the accusation that their Isaan partners ‘aren’t like that’. Well, good luck to those guys. They have found someone who breaks the mould,
but it sure doesn’t negate the description that Jayson provides of Thais thinking us farangs to be nothing more than Isaan whore-mongers

Jayson tells us what Thais think of us and we should be big enough to take it on the chin.

As much as I enjoyed reading Jayson, and I sure hope he continues to educate us via Stickman, I am interested as much by what he didn’t say, as what he did say.

So farangs are whore-mongers and Isaan women are gold diggers, and Thai society as a whole considers the whole show to be a despicable pantomime. What I would like to know is how did this situation come about and who is to blame for it?

I live in Bangkapi, out in the north-eastern suburbs of Bangkok, and you’d be hard pressed to find a drunken, half-dressed Farang clutching onto the arm of skinny, dark-skinned Isaan girl, one third of his age – something not
uncommon in lower Sukhumvit. But if I take a ride into town from my home, I pass perhaps a thousand establishments where certain ‘activities’ take place. And these places begin almost as soon as I turn out of the moobaan and on to the main road.

There are massage parlours, karaoke bars, pubs, private clubs, oilys, barber shops, coffee shops, restaurants, gogo bars, cabaret clubs, pool halls, peep-in hotels, and brothels, all of which will have ladies available for the right price.
And what is common to all these places is that they all cater to the discerning Thai gentleman. Farang readers of Stick will not be turned away should they happen upon such an establishment, but farangs are not the targeted market for these enterprises.
It is the local clientele being catered for.

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It is not just on the main drag into town, either. We can dip down into even the smallest Soi at random and you can be sure to find some activity that by legal definition can be described as illegal.

However much, or more perhaps appropriately, however little, cash our Thai gentleman has about his person, there is somewhere to cater for his needs.

And who is this gentleman? Well, in fact as the vast range and variety of nightspots indicate, our man is every man. He could be an office worker, out with his buddies, a car mechanic, a successful tycoon. There’s no stereotypical
man, when the sun comes down they’re all out on the prowl; baht, not dollars in his back pocket.

Now let me introduce you to an intriguing phenomena, which I’ve only ever seen in such an acute form in Thailand. The pay-day weekend. If you’re a smart resident you’ll stay at home on the weekend that follows the monthly
payday. This is because Bangkok goes on a spending frenzy; shops are full, roads are jammed, parking is impossible. And the nightspots are crowded with Somchai and his mates making whoopee before they hand over their cash to the wife.

This monthly sales blitz is a fact. In my work, we plot daily sales forclients, and the charts spike off the top of the page at the end of every month. Seven hundred percent sales increases on electronic goods.

Just by way of digression, here’s an insider’s tip. The best time to hit the nightlife is the week before payday. Locals have all spent their cash and will be at home. Playtime girls will be worrying about how to finance the
coming rent, and you can negotiate some good bargains, both in the bar and at the surrounding souvenir stalls.

So back to my main point. Which is, it is not only the farangs who are whore-mongering out on lower Sukhumvit., but a good-sized proportion of the local male population are up to naughty tricks, across the length and breadth of the metropolis,
constrained perhaps, only by how much ready cash he has to play with.

And this comes back to Jayson’s original point about the bad reputation of farangs in Thailand. It is impossible for any Thai, man or woman, to not be aware of the naughty nightlife in the city. The glaring neon signs, the pictures,
the hello girls are all in your face. It’s impossible to avoid it. You as a Farang may not be able to read the signs, but the Thai obviously can.

The big difference is that Somchai is much more discreet than the average westerner about his behaviour. The Thai man takes his fun behind closed doors, he doesn’t walk down Sukhumvit arm-in-arm with a hooker. He doesn’t throw
up on the sidewalk.

But he will take his kicks in private rooms and get his licks at peep-in hotels. And when the business is done, its done. You won’t find Somchai taking his one-night stand to the nearest gold shop. He doesn’t bar-fine a playtime
girl for a three day fling in Phuket, because he knows that there’s plenty to choose from down south next time he and his buddies jet down for a golfing weekend.

So it’s Mr. Farang who gets labeled a whore-monger because he’s parading his new-found friend on the street and in public. He’s taking her shopping in Emporium and Mrs. Somchai doesn’t like it because, number one,
it puts the Isaan girl on a temporary financial par with her, and secondly because it’s a reminder of what her husband is up to during his long absences.

It’s a huge loss of face for Mrs. Somchai. She’s having to wait for a table in Central Chidlom because here’s a chubby, balding, hairy-armed German entertaining a dark-skinned farmer’s daughter from Surin. Mrs.
Somchai does not like to be kept waiting in line for anything. And worse, she may have to sit at the adjacent table to an Isaan girl. All the while Mr. Somchai will be at the other end of town doing his no-hands thing in a place where nobody will
ever recognise him.

Hardly surprising then, harking back to Jayson’s post, that “good” Thai girls are not going to openly consort with Farang guys. If they do, they’ll be labeled as just another bar-girl. They’ll pick up a
bad reputation.

Here’s a personal example. I spent six month’s working at a client’s manufacturing facility. There were over four thousand women assembly workers. Paradise right? The truth is, a girl might smile and chat a few words
with me only if she was on her own, not very likely in such a large factory. But when they were with their mates, it was as if I didn’t exist. No eye contact, no smile, no nothing until I instigated communication. Then it was the usual
Thai charm, smiles, politeness. Honestly, these young girls, mainly up-country girls, were afraid of getting a bad reputation by just being seen to be alone with a Farang. In that case, you might suppose I am an unsavoury character in some way,
perhaps the wrong deodorant? But the elder married women, with no reputations to lose, had no problem with making friends with a Farang. Never underestimate the importance of face.

Since I wasn’t playing the field (I’m happily married, thanks) with these girls, I can’t tell you how easy or otherwise it is to date a regular girl, but my impression is that it’s possible but takes a lot of time
and effort to persuade the object or your affections that you are a regular guy and not just looking for free sex. And if you do succeed, you’ll run into all those assumptions made by others about your relationship.

I do disagree with Jayson’s comments on ugliness of the Isaan girls. OK, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Thai men generally prefer the lighter skinned girls. Each to his own taste. The nightspots for locals will have lighter-skinned
girls, especially at the top end of the market, but not exclusively so. There are plenty of Isaan girls working in places catering for Mr. Somchai.

Finally, I don’t believe Thai people look down on Isaan people. Not for the colour of their skin, nor for where they come from. Our office is made up of people from all the corners of the country. Fair people from Chiang Mai, and from
the deep south where some people are as dark as sub-Saharan Africans. But I’ve never, ever heard anybody put down because of their roots. In fact, most people see themselves as belonging to their home provinces, and Bangkok as the place
where they make their money, with the hope of one day returning to their home town.

On balance, Jayson deserves his star submission because he’s telling it how it is from a Thai perspective, something we need more of on Stickman’s site.

Stickman's thoughts:

Jayson's original piece sure got people talking.

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