Stickman's Weekly Column May 27th, 2001

Stickman Weekly 27/5/2001

The following email was received in response to last week's column about the girls forced into prostitution and chained up in the house in Lard Prao.

Just a comment asked in your last weekly letter if slavery happens in the farang orientated scene, and unfortunately it does.

In Pattaya it has been there for as long as I can remember and the police don't do anything.

But the current issue of the Pattaya Mail reports of a few new girls who ran away and went to the police.

The infamous bars are located next to each other in Soi Pattayaland 1 and it is the same owner which operates both <edited> and <edited>.

The girls are not allowed to leave the premises at any time except for a few minutes to buy food. However, rumours tell that to take a girl out long time will be about 4.000 baht, so the owner is sure nobody ever does. To buy a girl completely free will
be between 50.000 and 100.000 baht depending of how much "down payment of debts" the girl has done.

In the floors over the bars are rooms and showers for services and in the upper floor the girls are padlocked in every night. What will happen in case of fire?

Outside the upper floor is covered with barbed wire and bars. (Next time you are in Pattaya, have a beer across the street and you will see that the building is like a prison. But keep in mind that the country & western bar at the other side also
is owned by the same guy.).

A few years ago, before I knew about the horror, I went upstairs with a girl and she told me she did not know how big her "debt" was or how long she had to service to gain her freedom back . "Only Papasan knows", she said. She was
marked for life.

It would be miracle if your site can contribute to close down these bars.

So why have I edited this letter and removed the names of the bars? Isn't this just the type of letter that should be printed, so as to warn the readers where NOT to visit and where not to spend money which contributes to indentured girls in the FARANG SCENE.

There are several issues here. First, while I have no reason to disbelieve what goes on at the locations mentioned, I do not wish to accuse a bar of such heinous crimes without first seeing it with my own eyes.

But this is only a small part of the issue. How did these girls end up in the bar? They were sold by their parents! Were they tricked into thinking that they would be working in a restaurant
or some other legitimate business? Possibly. The stark reality is that the parents accepted money up front to sell the services of their children into a job unseen. It is indeed very likely that the parents had at least some idea of what could
happen but the money apparently convinced them to accept the deal, nonetheless.

To notify the police or arrange some sort of farang-in-numbers-virtual-prison-breakout just wouldn't work. In the short term, the girls would be free. But in what is most likely a gang or possibly even mafia operation, the heavies would hit the road, destination the girl's village. Andy when the heavies arrive all hell would break loose as the family would suffer their wrath. The underlying problem that causes prostitution and the flourishing commercial sex industry in Thailand is poverty. Until this problem is solved, such horrible situations as this will continue to occur.

If you're in Bangkok, there is a fairly decent computer show being held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre this weekend. Whereas Panthip Plaza is crowded, often hot and many of the sales people know little about the equipment they are selling, the computer show is nicely air-conditioned, not too crowded and staffed by lots of pretty Thai girls who actually seem to have some idea about computer gear they're promoting. Worth a look, even if computers don't interest you…

Embarrassed models promoting some new products at the
Epson stand but distracted by some pervert with a camera. Me!

Walking into Nana Plaza earlier in the week, I saw a site for sore eyes and no, it wasn't one of the area's many naughty girls. Signs are springing up with some bars advertising the price of beers in their establishment in an effort to separate themselves from the bars that put up prices recently. The sign outside Woodstock Bar said, "Why pay 110 baht for a beer? Woodstock, all beer only 80 baht". A bit of price competition has got to be a good thing.

Emptying out my wallet, I was pleased to find two vouchers for free drinks at Midnite Bar. Apart from one being yellow and the other blue, they appeared to be identical. And then it caught my eye that there was a minor difference. The yellow voucher said "all beers and spirits 80 baht" and the blue voucher said "all beers and spirits 90 baht". Ah ha! So Midnite Bar put up the prices of their drinks about the same time as the Nana bars, but as the price increase was much smaller, it went by unnoticed. Having said this, Midnite Bar is still well worth a visit.

An email from down Pattaya way, and thus unconfirmed, reports that beer prices have made an upwards move with gogo bars now charging up to 110 baht for a beer – used to be below 100 baht. These price increases do not surprise me as reality sets in that 2001 will be remembered as the last year that one could get a beer in a gogo bar for under 100 baht. I also have it on good authority that at least one of the Clinton Plaza gogo bars is thinking of putting up their prices in December, the start of the high season.

Starting a new job the other week, it was inevitable that I would be introduced to the big Thai boss before too long. And when this moment came, sooner than I had anticipated, I found myself in the company of another new recruit who seemingly likes to try and impress. As the big boss introduced herself, my colleague stood up and then bowed and waied her with the deepest, most respectful wai that he could muster. I remained seated, flashed her the dazzling Stick smile that's usually reserved for the somewhat younger ladies and extended my hand to shake hers. I spotted what I'm sure was a poorly concealed look of contempt as the boss realised that I was not going to wai her. Using English instead of the local lingo seemed to make her think that I was new to Thailand – and that the next time I meet her I'll be down on my hands and knees waiing! Sorry Thailand. I respect your culture and will do my best to fit in and not to offend. But waiing while bending my frame over so that my head dips below the level of my Thai boss's head, to indicate her higher status and my acknowledgement of that is not something that sits well with me at all. And I doubt it ever will. While the wai is used to greet and farewell, it is also an intrinsic part of establishing one's status in Thai society but as far as I'm concerned, we're all equal. Therefore, I don't wai.

Which bar in the farang scene in Bangkok has the most expensive bar fine? That is bar fine only – not an all inclusive fee that includes bar fine and the cost of the lady's company? While many would point to soi 33, I believe that the AVA Bar in Sukumvit Soi 11 is the holder of this dubious title. The bar has a weird bar fine system whereby the price of the bar fine depends on the time. Bar fine rates at AVA Bar are as follows:

Time Bar fine
before 9:00 PM 2000 baht
9:00 PM – midnight 2500 baht
midnight – 2:00 AM 1200 baht

Following on from last week, we have another story about a wannabe Mike Tyson farang losing his temper and suffering nasty consequences. The farang and his Thai girlfriend were wandering around in Chinatown looking for a restaurant when they were approached by a policeman who requested to see the farang's passport. To this the farang replied that he didn't have it on him and that it was back at the hotel. The policeman said that they would have to go to the hotel so that he could see the passport and the farang replied using expletives to the effect that he would not be going back there. The policeman said they had to go and see it and after further verbal abuse, the hot-headed farang decided to throw a punch at the policeman. IDIOT! This ended up with the farang in handcuffs and of he went to the police station where I bet he got his come uppance. Anyway, the long and the short of all of this is that the farang was employed in Thailand, within the oil industry no less and was obviously on a very nice salary. He has been fired from his job and is now sitting back in his native Scotland, most contrite and forlorn. I know we're just coming out of the hot season but any farang that is hot tempered enough to throw a punch at the boys in brown is asking for big trouble. I bet he'd never do this in his own country. It seems that the British Embassy do not want to know his claims of police brutality, despite his Thai girlfriend going in to see them every day.

Keeping one's cool in Thailand is vital to one's continued success here, and even one's survival. But there are occasions when getting a little angry – as opposed to losing one's temper – can be useful. Never lose your temper when dealing with ANYONE IN AUTHORITY or when making a complaint – even if you have a genuine grievance. But some folks seem to take the idea of forever being polite and never getting even a little bit angry too far and believe that not losing their temper means that they should back off to the point that all and sundry walk all over them. Judicious use of "getting a little angry" can let pests know that they are not welcome and / or what they are doing is unacceptable. But whatever you do, don't try and be a Mike Tyson.

Rainbow 2000 disco, 100 or so meters down the road from Nana Hotel on soi 4, re-opened under the guise of Paradise Disco. In what has struck me as a most unusual business decision, the bar seems to be the same old Rainbow Disco re-opened with little change. As a reminder, this freelancer bar in a disco setting opened about 18 months ago and lasted less than a year. There was a period when it was busy, usually after the Nana Disco crowd were kicked out at around 3:00 in the morning and went looking for a new venue to move on to, usually Rainbow 2000. However, competition from Nana Disco and Thermae proved too much and the original Rainbow 2000 closed. With the current uncertainty regarding closing time, Paradise Disco cannot aim to be an after 2:00 AM venue and is now forced to compete against the gogos of Nana as much as the other freelancer joints. This makes it hard to see it making any impact at all. Will Paradise Disco still be in business at Xmas? With beers at 110 baht, spirits at 120 and 80 baht for a coke, they are pricing themselves at the same level as the dearest gogo bars in Nana but still sufficiently cheaper than Nana Disco to attract some folks.

Sukumvit Soi 4, where new bars seem to be popping up all
the time. But how long will Paradise Disco last?

In the latest in the long line of "Stickman's Thoughts For Budding Farang Entrepreneurs" comes the idea of being a soapy man! No, nothing to do with a soapy massage I'm afraid. Thais are scrupulous about their personal hygiene and cleanliness and are forever bathing or showering. They are liberal in their use of soap. This leads me to think that selling some sort of imported, but still reasonably priced soap could be a business that would provide more than enough to keep your apartment stocked up with plenty of Heineken. Imagine importing and marketing a soap from somewhere clean and green like New Zealand or Scandinavia with fancy packaging and some corny phrase like "as pure as New Zealand" or "as soft as a Scandinavian Sheila". With the average Thai consumer's love of flash packaging and a catchy logo, you could well be in business. And don't forget to send me some commission for using my idea!

One idea that some have tried and failed is the proof reading business. Many English teachers, so often frustrated at the futility and bureaucracy that they face on a daily business, have tried but seldom get anywhere. Several barriers face them, not least that the Thai companies fail to see the benefits in having all of their communication, brochures and signs proof read and corrected. Other issues such as the loss of face that would fall upon the person or people deemed to check documents that currently go out hamper this business idea. While this business idea is not really recommended, I still believe it is doable, but be prepared to get knocked back a zillion times before you get a good, worthwhile client. And then once they are your client, try and get then to pay on time!

In a world exclusive, I can confirm that the Burmese Army has leaked out documents to Stickman HQ for their planned invasion of Thailand. The Burmese have devised a shrewd strategic plan to break the very backbone of Thai culture and society. With an unexpected covert strike, all cartoon factories, photo sticker booths and mobile phone accessory stores will be destroyed, thus smashing the morale of the Thai people and allowing the Burmese to march an easy path through to Bangkok from where they will control their new empire.

Who was responsible for using super slippery tiles on the BTS walkways connecting the BTS station with Mahboonkrong and the Siam Square? When wet, walking on these tiles feels more like skating on ice and even a new pair of shoes with grippy soles don't help. Watch out for the shiny tiles when they're wet.

Watch out for the shiny grey coloured tiles on any of the BTS
station walkways when its wet because they're super slippery.

While there are laws in place for the extension of visas that state that different types of visas can be extended for a stipulated period of time, the application of the law really comes down to the particular immigration officer and this means that basically, anything is possible. Currently, the popular way to get your visa extended further is to get a letter written for you by your embassy requesting an extension and 99 times out of 100, immigration will grant it. Many embassies actually have form letters for this! The letter itself may cost more than 1000 baht but that is a lot cheaper and easier than exiting and re-entering the country. The British Embassy has a list of form letters and if you ever need a letter, they just give you a folder of form letters and let you choose which one you need. There is no need to give a reason as to why you want that letter or any requirement to prove that what they are about to write is even true.

Notwithstanding that they suffered huge financial losses running the last dance contest, those effervescent lads over at Nanapong are doing it again and Dance Contest #5 has been announced. It will be held at the Hard Rock Gogo Bar in Clinton Plaza on June 23 and I for one am already looking forward to it. The very future of these excellent events is hanging in the balance due to the heavy financial losses suffered in three of the four events held so far. (Maybe they should be reading my entrepreneurial tips each week.) Do the Nanapong boys a favour and when they pass around the alm for donations at half time, give generously. Also, if they have any of their sexy Nanapong paraphernalia for sale, it is well worth digging deep to buy some.

From this week's Thai news, a most concerned announcer reported that of all of the university students who commenced tertiary study this year, 70% are female and just 30% male – though walking through most universities, it feels that the split is even greater. The announcer was most concerned that once educated, many of these young Thai ladies would not be able to find a suitably educated Thai man to marry. How sad! In the quest to marry an educated man, I wonder what options that leaves them?

And if you are one of the folks mourning the huge reduction in the number of Thai girls wandering around the various shopping malls in the city, shame on you. There are far less girls wandering around the likes of MBK and Siam Square because they have all gone back to school. Yes, you were gawking at young school girls, you pervert!