Stickman Readers' Submissions April 17th, 2008

Is The Baht Too High?

Is the baht too high? Well if we go by the McDonald / Burger King comparison then the baht is too high, and by a considerable amount. A double cheese burger at Burger King in Bangkok now costs 99 baht or $3.15 US as compared to $1.00 US or 31.39 baht
in the United States. Does this mean that the US $ should really be 99 baht, well probably not but 31.39 baht, I think is way too low. Thailand or at least Bangkok is no longer a bargain place for tourists to go. I had fish & chips and a small
Tiger draft on Saturday March 29 at an Irish pub in Bangkok, and the bill was 440 baht, $14 US, and the fish and chips was not very good.

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Well, I am from Toronto, Canada where generally pub food and beverages have always been expensive so I thought I would get on the internet and find out how much the same meal would cost me there in a comparative venue. The answer 393 baht. You have to
remember this is in Canada where the taxes on beer are considerably higher than in Thailand and where the minimum wage for a waitress is over 245 baht an hour. That's right, an hour not a day. Does Bangkok sound expensive now? If one goes
by that example then the baht should be at about 35.65 to the US $. Just for fun I checked out what a double cheeseburger at a more expensive restaurant in the US would cost and the price seemed to be about $2.80 US or 87.89 baht, comparing that
to the Burger King Price in Bangkok that would mean the baht should be at 35.35 to the US dollar. So is Bangkok just too expensive or is the baht too high? Well if Thailand wants to continue to attract tourists they had better either lower prices
or get the baht lower.

There will always be the tourists who first started coming to Thailand a long time ago and remember what the prices were like then and what the people were like and what the partying was like and thus they will keep coming back. But for first
timers I would suggest there are many better places to go than Thailand. For those who are interested in girls, in 1997 a short time in Patpong was 500 baht to 1,000 baht or $20 – $40 US at the exchange rate of the time (25 baht to $1). Last night
at Patpong a girl said she would go short-time for 2,000 baht or over $63 US and I have heard that price from other sources also. I am married now and living with a very nice Thai lady in Isaan where the prices are not even close to Bangkok, but
neither is the way of living. Anyway if I was interested in going with women I would find a different place than Thailand.

I am not a rich man. I took early retirement to live in Thailand, and thus live on a much reduced pension. I do not like to spend money needlessly, but I do like value for money and do not mind paying a little more if the value is there.

I have always been a great proponent of the skytrain and it is the only way to travel during rush hour, but there sure is no value for money. One day I was with my wife and we had to go from Pratunam Market to Rama 4 and Silom Road. Normally I would have
walked to the skytrain, about a 15 minute walk and taken it. This would entail one train change and a charge of about 20 baht; well my wife (like most Thais) does not like to walk so we took a cab. The trip took just longer than the walk to the
skytrain would have taken and the charge was 45 baht, just 5 baht more than the skytrain and a lot more comfortable. Now that's value for money. Even if it was just me, I think I would have paid the extra 25 baht, just for the comfort factor
alone. The skytrain is just too busy now. I have traveled it at every time of the day and it has been standing room only almost every time. It is great if traveling a long distance, especially in traffic times, but for a short distance and especially
if traveling with someone else take a cab, they are one of the few things left in Bangkok that is still value for money, as a matter of fact they are downright cheap. I think I am paying the same amount today, maybe even a little less than I did
22 years ago and that is in Thai baht so in US dollars I'm paying a lot less.

Speaking of value for money I have to give a thumbs up for Bus Stop on Soi Nana, a very pleasant restaurant and has good food for a fair price and the last time I was in there, there were half a dozen girls who were better looking than any
girls I have seen on Soi Cowboy or Patpong. Grant you my bar hopping on those two streets has been limited and I have not made it to Nana Plaza as yet. Soi Cowboy gives you value for money during happy hour but after that to my mind it is a rip-off.
Thigh Bar in Patpong has a 60 baht happy hour that goes to 11PM, value for money and after that beers are only 80 baht as they are at Safari all night long. For my money Safari, when it is a good night is the most fun bar in all of Bangkok and
they seem to follow the new no smoking laws, which makes it even better. Saturday night (March 29) was one of those fun nights the bar was hopping the drinks were flowing the girls were into having a good time and the music was great, then BANG
at one ten the music was turned off and the lights turned on. The old regime is back and heaven forbid if anybody has any fun in Thailand. Come on guys this is Patpong Road, where is the closet residential area, that the music is keeping the people
up and where are the young Thai Teenagers that are supposed to be corrupted? A quick update I was in Safari Saturday April 05 and the bar was open to after two AM, but the dancing stopped at about 1:20, but the music stayed on, however one reason
if not the main reason I have been going to Safari for 20 years, is because they always play great music, but Saturday the music was terrible, with a large amount of hip-hop, if this continues they will lose one customer (me) and I imagine many

One final note I made a quick trip to Koh Samui for the first time in three years, well 22 years ago I first went to Samui and it was heaven on earth. To me it is now hell on earth and I don't recommend for anyone to go there. There
must be better places, and it is definitely not value for money anymore. However if you just have to check it out and you have your little darling with you, then I would suggest you stay at Infoo Palace at the Raja Ferry Beach. It is a nice quiet
family run resort and this time of year you can stay at Villa Steffi for around 1,500-2,000 baht a night, it is a lovely bungalow with a large porch and I am sure any place else for similar accommodation the price would be twice as much. On a
closing note I would just like to say that my trip to Bangkok and Samui has just reinforced to me that I made the right decision when I decided to live in Isaan.

Stickman's thoughts:

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Bangkok has got expensive in some areas and it is not the bargain it used to be. That said, food prices have shot up the world over and food price increases are hardly exclusive to Thailand.

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