A Mixed Bag In Bangkok
I've been on holiday many times to Thailand over the last 10 ten years and always had a wonderful time there. However I have just spent 5 months in Bangkok on business and to be honest it was generally a disappointing experience. However there were
some good points also.
One opinion I formed was that many of the upper class Thais basically despise farangs and begrudge their presence in Thailand.
So how did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, the apartment I stayed in was quite an upmarket place predominantly occupied by Asians, particularly Japanese and Thais with some Koreans, and Chinese also. In the first two days I was struck by how ignorant the Thai residents were. They could not even look me in the eye, never mind say hello and even when you were coming right behind them they would just let a door close in your face. On one occasion as I was just about to exit the lift on the ground floor when two stupid Thai women pushed past me to enter the lift. Bad manners like this really pisses me off and my opinion now is that compared with our own ideas about good manners, Thais are socially inept. Anyway there was actually one particularly nice Thai couple in the apartment who I became good friends with and I brought the topic up with them at dinner one night. They explained to me that many of the Thais living there liked the fact that the building is almost all Asian occupied and don't really like to see farangs staying there. Forgive me for being paranoid but that sounds a little bit xenophobic to me. I wanted to know why they didn't seem to like farangs and the answer was that many were of the opinion that farangs are of low morality and were very indiscreet when bringing ladies of the night to the apartment. I could agree with this as I saw it happening but did not like being tarred with the same brush.
# For the record I use short time hotels when I'm being a naughty boy as I don't like people to know my business.#
I'll move onto some other issues that aggravated me-
1) Paying bills at the post office. For a while I started to believe I was invisible as ignorant people just came and stood in front of me in the queue. However this later became less irritating as this rude behaviour is not just reserved for farangs.
2) Read #1 but replace post office with 7-eleven
3) Taxi Drivers- Apparently trying to get a taxi from Siam Square to Mid Sukhumvit in the afternoon is the behaviour of an idiot. An even bigger idiot pays 250 baht but not me. I don't object to this too much as it is their prerogative but one driver really niggled me. He stopped and asked Bpai Nai? When I replied he nonchalantly ushered me away, waving his hand. I felt like pulling him out of the cab by his neck!!!
4) tuktuks- Hats off to the little urchin who wanted 300 baht no less to go from Suan Lum Night Bazaar to Sukhumvit 24. I just wanted to take a tuktuk as it's quite a fun experience once in a while but I'm not going to get robbed for it. I offered 200 even though this was maybe too much but obviously he knows there's enough mug tourists around that he didn't need my money.
5) tuktuk touts- one night when I was walking down Soi 11 one little dirtbird approached me with the usual massage flyer in hand. I declined and he produced another photo of a young girl, REALLY YOUNG! and I was so incensed I told him to fxxx off. First time I've ever openly lost my cool in LOS.
6) Skytrain platform guards- What is it about Thais and whistles?
7) Pizza Hut- My God!! Price up, portions down, service dismal!! Actually started to go to Pizza Hut at Tesco's near On Nut station as the Nana Branch was such bad service.
8) Aggressive ladyboys "AKA" Pickpocketing scum. Two bastards harassed me one night not far from the Landmark. I was on my guard but they still "got me". Luckily I only had about 500 baht left on me. I knew right away but realised that I was so pissed up that even a couple of ladyboys might be able to kick my ass. The shit thing was I had no money left at all and had to walk nearly all the way to Thonglor.
9) Know it all farangs who talk to you as if you're a "newbie"
Many of these things would probably not annoy me as a tourist but when they are encountered repeatedly it becomes frustrating.
However while I didn't have the best experience in Thailand it will certainly not stop me coming back for holidays. I still love the nightlife, both the naughty and not so naughty.
I believe I have sussed the naughty nightlife!! In the first month I paid a fair few barfines and paid the girls pretty well for one night. At the end of the night I would explain to the girls that I don't feel comfortable paying for sex (lie!!) but anytime they had a night off I would take them to dinner or a nightclub etc. This was a real winner and out of 7 only one did not "put out" at the end of the night. Ok it maybe works out as expensive bar fines and the rest but it's a much better night than crawling round bars. I didn't visit Nana Plaza, Patpong or Soi Cowboy at anytime in the last 3 months which was definitely a good thing.
I also had a good strike rate with farang girls in Bangkok particularly Scandinavians. The strategy was simple. Go to Khao Sarn Road meet some girls, splash the cash offer to take them to a good nightclub (as they're all on tight budgets) and bob's your uncle. I'd like to point out that I'm 34 and not the worst looking fellow in the world so this strategy may not work for all.
One good thing about the trip was that I started to get to grips with the Thai food and miraculously only had one dicky tummy in 5 months. My favourite place had to be Vientiane Kitchen on Soi 36. Maybe not 100% authentic Thai and Laos food but every meal there was absolutely faultless and the ambience and setting was great. Enjoyed Suda Restaurant on Soi 14 also.
My favourite bar just to relax had to be Hilary Bar on Soi 4 where I played a heck of a lot of pool. All the staff in there were great and I felt like an appreciated customer. And I would like to say a word for one of the bar girls in there who stopped me getting ripped off (only 40 baht)- BY ANOTHER BARGIRL. One night I was playing pool with a Canadian guy who was in the company of one of the bargirls. After a few games he suggested playing for a beer and I agreed. Anyway when it came my turn to buy a beer for him one lady I knew well came over to me and said check your bill for that drink when it comes. Sure enough when the bill came it was down as a lady drink which was the work of the lady in his company. Because I had been a good customer and not shy to buy the occasional lady drink this girl did not want to see me cheated. That was a nice moment. The guilty party actually had the cheek to call me a cheap Charlie for complaining over 40 baht but to decent people there's a principle at stake.
# One other issue of note#
As I said earlier the Thais don't look favourably on farangs bringing hookers back to the apartment. At the same time they must laugh when they see the poor quality of women these guys go for. Considering the fact that the farangs living here are at worst reasonably wealthy, it is hard to believe they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel even in the hooker market. The Thai guys may be hypocrites when it comes to immoral behaviour but at least they have high standards in women. Having been in a few Thai style clubs I can say that the women in Nana and Cowboy etc, barring a few, are very average in comparison. Soi 33 on the other hand compares much more favourably.
Thankfully the last two weeks of my stay were free from work and I was able to be a tourist again. I went on many excursions with my favourite "lady friend" and took trips to Pattaya and Phuket. I have to say that Pattaya, even though it is low season was really dead. However I'm not sure that this is down to drastically low visitor numbers but perhaps attributable to an over saturation of bars, with customers spread out and no-where seeming to be busy. Even Happy and Peppermint were not doing much although it was worth going at happy hour for 45 baht drinks!
Some bars near Soi 8 were selling beer at happy hour prices all day!! I had six beers in one bar late on and was amazed when my bill was 270 baht! (I gave them 400 baht because the girls looked terribly bored.) It looks like it's going to be pretty desperate in Pattaya until Christmas.
I called for a drink at one of my favourite outdoor bars in Soi Diamond, the Carousel bar. The place has taken a complete downturn under the new owner. Between the two revolving bars and the "lounge style" bar there was only a total of about 17 girls and that was not because many had been barfined. And worse yet, there was not one attractive girl among them, NOT ONE! I remember 5 or six years ago when women were squashed inside the bars serving drink and many others sitting on the stools outside and plenty were attractive. Now I may not be businessman of the year but unless I'm mistaken many guys come to Pattaya for pretty ladies and fun and by cutting back on ladies working there the fun aspect is also diminished and the girls working just look unbelievably bored. This place needs a real kick up the ass. It's sad to see an old favourite hit the skids.
I'm now back home and for the first time ever I'm glad to be back. However I'm also quite downhearted as I had been planning to re-locate to Bangkok next year but I can't see this happening now. I still love the place, as there is so much to do and so many great places to see but I just don't think that I want to stay somewhere that I don't feel 100% welcome and where the system is very much against us (in my opinion anyway). I've picked on many things that annoyed me but I'm sure I could probably find at least as many faults in other major cities. One good thing for me in Bangkok (although there have been many bad
incidents lately involving farangs) is that barring the "pickpocketing ladyboy incident" I do feel incredibly safe in Bangkok unlike my home town where the likelihood of a beating when walking home on Saturday night is high!
I'll certainly be back for holidays but it's just a shame that the dream of living their has evaporated. Maybe I just need to build up my tolerance level!
Like I've said many, many times, Thailand is a great place for a holiday, but if you live here, you battle a lot – and on a daily basis.