Readers' Submissions

Very Bad Things

  • Written by Anonymous
  • January 31st, 2006
  • 9 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

by Amararete

This is my first submission. I have read almost everything on Stickman's site, as well as a few others, and I entirely appreciate what free discussion offers. I have learned a great deal, picked up a few connections, tracked down a few opportunities that have paid off nicely, and generally learned a good deal about LOS and SEA from all of it.

My submission is provoked by an intuition that the margin of safety for Farangs is eroding rapidly in LOS, and nobody is squarely stating it, though many are quietly thinking it.

I am an American, 40, and I have travelled extensively for trade and hobby. I will not comment on what I do, but I am in a position to know what I am talking about. My own luck has been very good, and I have had only a few close calls with crime in many years abroad. I have witnessed a fair number of bad things, and I have learned of a great many others from official reports and depositions, from the cautionary tales of fellow travelers, and from the submissions on sites like this one. I do not keep statistics, as a rule, but the events of 2005 in Thailand got my attention, and I did a bit of digging. The sheer number

of attacks and druggings on tourists in LOS is up – significantly. And the nature in which they are being carried out has manifestly changed – a bit. They are occurring with increasing frequency in business venues that cater to regular tourists, not just sex tourists. Some rather upscale establishments have been recently visited by this. It deserves the attention of tourists, and business owners alike.

LOS has always been a place where crimes can happen amidst a crowded street, with onlookers agape, and no one helping at all. They just watch. That is nothing new, but muggings, beatings, and stabbings in crowded surroundings have been very infrequent. Violent street crimes have increased in Bangkok by 25% in 2005 over the 2004 totals. There are not separate statistics for Farangs, but the number of posted events on Thai Visa, Lonely Planet, Over21, WSG, and Stick, sorted out and compared to the Nation, show double the number in any previous year. They mirror some of the unofficial embassy reports fairly accurately.

I became appalled when I learned from a Chonburi detective that the number of Farang fatalities in Pattaya was FOUR times any previous year he could recall, since 1996. His account was that most of these deaths were heart failures with no known cause. Over sixty Farangs were picked up dead from the street. Half had lost their lives to gravity. 24 more to heart failure cause unknown. Most were taken from hotel rooms. I asked about autopsy pathologies, and about crime-scene investigations. Most were not processed as crime scenes. Autopsies are rarely ordered. No one is looking at it for a pattern. He admitted that there may be a pattern there worth looking into. I encouraged him to do so.

As afar as I can discern, Bangkok is not producing as many Farang fatalities, and the numbers are more scattered across causes of death, to include traffic, street crime, and medically defined causes already under care or diagnosis.

The druggings have increased. Fear and disgust with this and other trends (barfines and ST LT norms have outpaced the rest of the market) have driven the punters away from the meccas in record numbers. Bar owners are completing the death of their businesses by adjusting prices up, and appealing to Jap customers, while suppressing the info on bargirl crimes rather than sleuthing the problem and exposing and expelling the perpetrators. That is certainly why I stopped going to NEP in late 2004, after Kringle got doped and robbed there. Now the problem has arisen on Soi 4, on Washington Square, and in Soi 33. The druggings in Pattaya are far more prevalent. And I suspect that too many are fatal.

What is driving this? It is known that YaBaa and Ice are on the rise, and the bargirls are the ATMs for the rest of the crowd they adhere to (and which adheres to them). Schemes to get money are becoming more common. This has been echoed in the words of five different ex-bargirls I have had open friendships with for years. They all see the problem in similar ways. There is a loss of optimism that has gone around and made it into the kind of things the older girls are telling to the newbies. It has brought a disillusionment into the bargirl experience. Their outlook towards Farangs has fundamentally shifted a bit. They see few chances of getting a long-term relationship out of it. There are fewer customers, there are prevailing attitudes among many Farangs that the girls are themselves picking up on, and there is a marked decrease in the number of girls who carry a string of paying admirers from overseas. Overall, they are losing respect for Farangs, and so is the rest of the under-culture they hang out in.

This is going to get debated by everyone, for all sorts of reasons. Guys living in LOS will be better qualified than me to put this stuff to rights. I only visit 12-16 weeks a year. I only know a few insiders in Thai law enforcement, and maybe a hundred in government, maybe 40 in the sex trade. While I have the advantage of detailed intelligence reports, I am sure several of the regulars here will feel they have better info, and more power to them. You are quite welcome to tear this thing to pieces.

What I find is there is a loss of respect for and a loss of VALUE in Farangs as a species to the tourist-dependent community. It is affecting everything from prices to death tolls. It is due partly to a change in perception that we do not offer good prospects for long-term gain, so we are more expendable.

The farang needs to be more careful now. He needs to stop going alone. He needs to toss any drink he took his eyes off of. He needs to photograph his dates. He should politely decline company that invites itself to his table. He should not flaunt wealth. If he wants to cut loose into the sanuk at a disco or get hammered at a bar, he will come out safer if he never comes back to a drink he leaves and refuses to leave the place without his buddy. He should know in advance what he will do in an instant if he feels himself slipping into a drug's influence. It is not safe out there (like it ever was before). You could do with a plan A and a plan B if you have the intellectual resources to think things through a bit beforehand.

I always photograph my date (in clothes!). I have photographed her ID card on occasion. I get her cell number. I call her phone before we leave the place of meeting, from my cell (from a payphone, or someone else's cell? dun mai?) to see if the number is bogus. This has had a negative effect on only a couple of girls. They usually think it is cute. My incoming call is in her call log. Hers in my outgoing. Good piece of evidence for the police later, should I have to prove my encounter with her.

I got hijacked in January 2002 by a taxi – the sucker was driving me on to a dark side-street, after I told him in Thai to stop right here, I want the police, I pay right now, baht 500. He was still going. I slap his head, he speeds up and hunches forward. Bad outcome for him. Oleo-Capsicum 10%. We promptly wrecked, and I took his picture, his taxi number, and called the police. I am decently connected in Bangkok, so there was no doubt about the outcome with the police, but the guy was trying to get a hold of me until they showed up. If he had been armed with a gun, I would have been screwed. But all he had was a machete, and he had no skill with it, so he had to give it up to me. Scary night. Where would my body have been found if I had sat there like a scared twit until he stopped?

The police have cameras up on many sois along Sukhumvit. They are investigating the pattern of activity of certain people on a few of these sois, and already have made arrests of several people for assault and for trafficking. I imagine if you can offer a cell number and a photo from a bad encounter, you will see something come of it. If you have only a story, no witnesses and no positive ID, you will probably see nothing done about it.

GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine, and Scopalamine have no immediate antidotes. Naloxone, a narcotic inhibitor, the only direct antagonist to some date-rape drugs, is administered by injection, and comes with several serious possible side effects. If you are doped, you need a hospital in a hurry. Write your suspicions down before you pass out. You will not know until too late if the dose was way too much, or if it will kill you because your BAC is elevated. Activated charcoal will not do much unless you are already holding a fresh 50gm in your gut when the poison goes in, and even then, it does not absorb acids (GHB, Scop)

worth a SXXT. You should have a medical profile card in your wallet (in Thai and English if you reside in LOS) that will give your basic disposition to a trauma physician. Write your guess about drugging on the back of that and tuck it in your watchband if you are passing in and out of consciousness. If you go fuzzy with a date in the room, throw her out immediately – no words just do it, and call the front desk ASAP. Just tell them medical emergency in room number. If it is less sure than that, be more tactful than that. We don't get to ask dead Farangs how paranoid they felt last night. You just have to set where the line is, and if things cross that line, act to preserve yourself. Simple and effective. You would be thought a freak if you were shrieking and ranting as you took care of business, but anything calmly and politely done, no matter how forcefully, is generally treated with respect.

I wish all of you luck, and I hope that some of you open your eyes and see things as they are getting to be. Darwin's law will sort us out.

Stickman's thoughts:

Yes, the environment has changed markedly recently and we have to be a lot more careful than in the past.