Stickman's Weekly Column May 6th, 2001

Stickman Weekly 6/5/2001



The longer you stay in Thailand, the better your Thai language skills become – or at least they should. Sure, there are some folks floating about who shave been here donkey's years and speak and understand bugger all, but generally speaking, the longer you stay in country, the better your Thai gets.

It's always nice to use your Thai when conversing with the locals for a variety of reasons: often your Thai will be better than their English. It signals to the Thai that you are a local and not an uninformed tourist which usually enables you to get the real price when buying goods and you often get an instant, albeit small, amount of respect for making the effort to use the local lingo.

But the ability to speak Thai can become frustrating when the Thai person and you disagree on something. A Thai spitting out the words "greng jai" and looking at you as if you are in some way sinister or evil, is no fun at all. Thais have their way of looking at things and often hide behind the many nuances and principles of Thai culture that are also an integral part of the Thai language.

For this reason alone, I often prefer to speak in English when communicating with Thais. By talking in Thai, you are immediately giving them a huge advantage that they will often exploit by hiding behind those Thai terms that few foreigners really understand.

Has the rainy season come early? No, of course it hasn't! All these folks saying it has are a little confused… Sure, it may have been wet this week but it is still hot with some days reaching 35 or 36. No doubt the current spell of bad weather will drift away and the heat will come back with the real rainy season not arriving for at least another two months, maybe three or more. What we are experiencing now is not the monsoon, just a case of wet weather.

Is Christopher G. Moore, famous Bangkok author, now running the world's most well known and popular English teaching website, or is Dave Sperling, founder of Dave's ESL Cafe, writing best selling novels in Bangkok? I still haven't figured it out, but if you check out these pictures, I'm sure you'll agree that there is something funny going on…maybe they are long lost brothers?

Dave Sperling, founder of Dave' ESL Cafe
Christopher G Moore, Bangkok author

Note: Picture of Dave Sperling was sourced from Dave's ESL CAFE
Pictures of Christopher Moore were taken from two of his books.

A friend who was in town a couple of weeks ago had a bit of fun with a few ladies, but had the misfortune to take an unwanted souvenir home. What makes this worse is that with every lady he was with, he used a condom – and there were no problems with condoms breaking, or anything like that. What this all proves is that even with a condom, things can be caught! The only risky behaviour that he indulged in was receiving bareback (unprotected) blowjobs. The following is his communication with me, unedited.

Had the blood test results today NOT GOOD.

You guessed it, test positive , I have Reiters Syndrome !!, not good at all, word from the Doc is don't expect to go back to work for at least 3 more weeks! I'm told it can take 1-6 months for the worst symptoms to die down, but it appears you cant get it out of your system completely so the symptoms can re occur any time!

Trust me, you don't want these symptoms (and I have them all right now at the same time!!) – diarrhoea, urinary tract infection !!!, arthritis, severe eye infection, vomiting !
What fun eh.

Well unfortunately as you probably read there isn't any specific med for this, so it's basically just a case of grin and bear it apart from taking the usual drugs for the various symptoms i.e., pain killers etc. On the plus side the symptoms will die down but it just takes a bloody long time by the sound of it. The big problem I have is that I don’t know how bad it can flare up again , it varies from person to person, so who the hell knows eh.

Well all the above said it might actually be bugger all of a problem in the end but won't really know until I recover for a while I suppose. I have another blood test in 3 weeks just to check on the situation and that's about it. I’ll say 1 thing I would give anything these days to take a comfortable piss !! I suppose it just goes to show you never know what nasties are out there, and to my surprise you can catch more things than you realise even if you have a rubber!

This is certainly making me think twice about the kind of things I will do in the future, I now have a permanent souvenir!

The Nanapong dance contest was held last Sunday and it was another success. Given that it was a Sunday night, the turn out was great with Pink Panther filled with happy punters. 13 girls competed for a total of 16,000 baht in prizes. But the big question is, WHERE did they get the prize money from because even though an alm (make people feel like they are making merit by giving money – shrewd idea!) was passed around at half time for donations to contribute towards the prize money, there was nowhere near that in there, and some people shirked making a donation. Given that on top of the cost of the prize money, bar fines were paid for the girls to get away from their bars and attend, meaning a total outlay of around 20,000+ baht, I really think some one is out of pocket…but then again maybe Pink Panther Bar paid to have the contest held in their premises? With all of these punters that the competition brought in, the bar could have paid up to 10,000 baht, maybe even more than that, and still made a nice profit for the night.

The final round of the competition was between three of the girls from Long Gun bar in Soi Cowboy, who really were in a class of their own. Unlike the last competition, these girls got right into it and while they started off covered up, in the final rounds their bra and knickers were quickly discarded. Good to see that the judges were not corrupt and didn't feel obliged to put a Pink Panther girl in the final, even if only for political reasons.

The next Nanapong dance competition will be held on May 18 in Rififi Bar on Patpong 2 and while they all have all been a success so far, I would question the wisdom of having them so frequently. Every three months or so would increase people's anticipation and besides, there's a huge amount of work that goes into organising them and every month will keep the organisers busy. One of the organisers has been seen walking around Bangkok in a trance like state, stressed out from all of the problems of organising such an event. I just hope that the judges tell the girls that any girl looking at herself in the mirror will be disqualified…nothing is worse than that.

I'm still compiling the fried rice index numbers received during the week and will include them in next week's column.

The discussion rages on about which gogo bar has the best looking girls in Bangkok. Locals usually end up in a debate revolving around King's Castle 1 and 2 in Patpong and Rainbow 2 in Nana. Cowboy die hards will pump for Long Gun but while it may have the best dancers, few would nominate it as having the best looking girls. It's a moot point and agreement is seldom reached. A more measurable statistic is the bar with the highest number of dancers. Again, one can never be certain, but on Friday night, Rainbow 1 in NEP started the evening with 98 dancing girls and by 11:40 PM, 46 of them had already gone out. Six girls never came in for work that day because they were either off on a long term bar fine, spending precious time with their Thai boyfriend / husband or tending to the sick buffalo upcountry. Currently, Rainbow 1 has 104 dancing girls on the book. I wonder what other bars are in the "100 club"?

The Chao Phya river has the nicest scenery in Bangkok and a trip up the river on the Chao Phya Express Boat is well worth while. For tourists its a great way to see some sights and for locals, its a relaxing way to wile away a few hours. If you take the boat right to Nontaburi Pier, the last stop going north, you are only a 5 minute walk from Bang Kwang prison, where five people – a couple of them foreigners – were recently executed on drugs charges. I would love to take a photo of the prison to put online but there are big signs everywhere saying no photo or video – in both English and Thai. The outside of the prison is worth a look even though you can't see that much. I wonder where Warren Fellows is these days?

Lots of interesting sites up and down the river such as temples,
Navy facilities, power stations, Singha Beer factory plus more.

Over in the Philippines, I see that Mr. Estrada is locked up behind bars and the way its looking, he'll be behind bars for quite some time. Now while the case has yet to go to trial, it appears that Estrada was a naughty boy, and the good folks of the Philippines don't like naughty boys – but they do like to punish them. Hmmm, what about Thailand? Well, I guess that all of the politicians are honest because I don't see any of them in prison. But this is most strange given the many articles in the Bangkok Post this week about chronic corruption at the highest level. Is the Bangkok Post telling us that Thailand tolerates corruption. Is it that people in high places are protected and have free reign to do what they want? If Khun Taksin, who is currently before the corruption commission was found guilty, would he suffer a similar indignity to Estrada over in the Philippines? No way! Some politicians are saying that even if he is found guilty, he should be let off! What sort of message does this send to the rest of the country?

Just when I thought that every bar thought that the farang's idea of a feast was the pig on a spit, Rock Hard A Go Go in Clinton Plaza come to the rescue! I found myself in there by chance on Thursday night and they had the most awesome spread of various meats, a number of dipping sauces, a variety of breads and get this, New Zealand cheese – yep, the real thing – along with the obligatory Thai food. Now Rock Hard obviously has a grasp of what us farangs like to eat. Even better was that this was NOT a birthday special but this feast, "Big Bills Deli", is repeated the first Thursday of every month. I'll be there for sure next time – this was the best spread I've ever had in a bar.

Bar girls have it hard. They have to work all but two days of the month and there are a variety of penalties imposed upon them if they take extra days off, if they don't get barfined enough times or if the number of lady drinks bought for them does not reach their quota. But spare a thought for poor #27 in White House A Go go in Clinton. She has two days off a month but the bar compelled her to work those two days because she was the only girl in that bar who does the "fluorescent paint show". But the management at White House A Go Go don't consider this unfair because they paid her the princely sum of 60 baht bonus for each of those two days that she came in to do the show. Wow, they're generous!

Midnite Bar in Soi Cowboy is offering a reasonable contract to prospective show girls. Midnite Bar pays 12,000 baht per month and the girl neither has a minimum number of bar fines to meet nor a quota of lady drinks. All that she has to do is star in the shows – pretty good for a girl who is happy to get up on stage but does not want to go with customers. Having said that, while the shows are fun to watch, some of what goes on in them cannot be fun for a girl that is not bi-sexual.

Commission only salesman are pounding the pavements in an effort to drum up some sales for Chicken Treat, KFC's aggressive competitor. Well dressed in a stylish shirt and tie, though often sweating like a pig in the hot summer sun, handsome young Thais are wandering around various neighbourhoods in Bangkok introducing themselves and offering you a page of special coupons. Actually, the deal is not that good being 42 vouchers for the cost of 399 baht. The problem is that almost all of the vouchers are just for free pieces of chicken and with an expiry date at the end of the year combined with the fact that we are in May already, it means that they expect you to buy chicken at least once a week, every week for the rest of the year to use up all of the coupons. Hmmm, not my idea of a good deal, though their chicken sure is better than the muck KFC has the cheek to serve up. While you might see these sales people walking around, odds are they will not approach you – all of the coupons are in Thai only and I got the distinct impression that the ability to speak English was not a pre-requisite for the salesman to get the job.

I notice hotmail was playing up a little earlier in the week. The odd person emailed me saying that they had emailed me and the email "bounced" back to them. If this happens, try again a few hours / 1 day later.

The eagerly awaited video game, Gran Turismo 3 for the Playstation 2 was released in Japan at the weekend and very quickly, black market imports were available in Mahboonkrong. Even though it was priced at 5400 baht (about $US 120 !), it sold out in no time. 5400 baht for a video game? Damn!

The new bar in Nana Plaza under construction on the top floor is starting to take shape and it looks like it will be a gogo bar with tiered seating, not dis-similar from that seen in Voodoo bar. When I stuck my head in there at lunch time the other day, a farang was marshalling all the Thai troops and my efforts to take some shots inside were stifled. There is also some work being done in Farang Connection as can be seen below.

Workmen working on what was Farang Connection – about time
as it was well in need of a lick of paint.

You get all sorts in the Thai nightlife scene and I like what one local expat once said to me when we were shooting the breeze in the Thermae, "this place is the world's biggest freak show and I love it"! From time to time, you get groups of deaf girls in the Thermae and it is interesting watching the way they communicate amongst themselves. But much more interesting, is the way that customers interact with them. I've yet to see a guy effectively use sign language with them and communication difficulties usually results in communication being made by hand written notes, the deaf girls having stacks of paper and pens at hand. Yep, these girls can read and write English. The other day I had a look over one deaf girl's shoulder at what the guys had been writing to them and I saw a series of numbers – 100 (!), 200, 300. It seems that a lot of guys are trying to get these deaf girls as cheaply as possible. Tacky gentlemen, very tacky.

Apparently threesomes in Thailand are over-rated because the girls start talking to themselves in Thai and if you can speak Thai, they'll use Laos or Kmen or some other dialect that you can't understand. But, I have it on good authority that with the deaf girls, this doesn't happen…and that the experience is very good.

For those English teachers out there who find it hard to make ends meet at month's end, you no longer need worry where your next meal is coming from. Simply venture into the Tops supermarket on the ground floor of Central Chidlom where they always have stacks of promotions and lots of free food to try. And for the alcoholic English teachers, you can often get a shot of any new Thai liquor that may have just come out – or that they are currently promoting.

Fanta Sapparot or in English, Pineapple flavoured Fanta has just been released in the Kingdom. It's not really to my taste, but you might like it.

How can a multi million dollar transit system, designed by the masters of precision engineering, the Germans, have a problem after only 18 months of service? This past Tuesday afternoon, the multi-million dollar sky train experienced a hiccup or two. On the Sukumvit line, a train pulled out of Siam station, heading up towards MoChit. As it reached the bend above the Patumwan intersection where it turns right to head up towards Phyathai Road, the whole train started violently shaking and vibrating, much the same way a space shuttle does in Hollywood movies as it re-enters earth's atmosphere. Customers started grabbing the nearest hand rail, others started shrieking and from the smell, at least a couple of people must have wet themselves. Was the sky train about to derail and plummet to the ground killing hundreds? The whole train, still moving along the track continued to violently shake for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds before it reached the part of the track where it straightens out and headed towards the Rachatewi station where the train stopped. No announcement was made and the train just sat there for about 60 seconds. The doors didn't open on one could get on and no one could get off. As a bonus, those hideously loud beeps never went off. The train pulled out of the station and customers looked around in puzzlement, some quite concerned. The 30 second journey to the next station was made with folks now totally confused as to what was going on, some still shaken at the violent vibrations that had swept through it only two minutes before. Arriving at Phyathai station, most folks got off, confidence lost in what is the pride of Bangkok's transport system. Skedaddling to get off the platform as if they thought it was going to blow up, again just like in the movies, one passenger was seen to walk up to the driver's compartment. The site that greeted him shocked him, but didn't surprise him, for after all, this is Amazing Thailand. There at the wheels, he saw the driver slumped over the controls, asleep!

The sight of a Thai businessman beautifully adorned in the finest business attire, yet matched with a pair of 39 baht flip flops is a sight you see all over the city. Every time I see this fashion faux pax, I squirm. I like the fact that this makes me squirm because I know that I have not yet gone native. And going native is my biggest fear…

Another huge, condemned building,
right next to World Trade Centre

What is the story with all of the semi completed buildings and abandoned construction sites all over the city? Sites like the huge building (pictured here) next to the World Trade Centre, the mammoth building at the Asoke intersection and the many abandoned developments in the Rama 3 area really do not contribute to the aesthetics of the city. How long will some of these vacant lots stay this way? Obviously a lot of people have been burned financially and many of these projects will never be finished. And some of the projects are condemned, for whatever reason they cannot be completed. But adding insult to injury, I bet there are a lot of developments where the cost of bringing the building down would be greater than the land value, especially those in less than desirable areas. So, what happens next? Do these buildings just sit there until they eventually crumble down and crush whoever happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? Hey, don't laugh!

Speaking of dodgy construction, why is that the balconies in apartment buildings have such low railings? It's enough to give anyone a case of vertigo! But worst of all are those buildings that have recreation areas on the top floor of their building, such as well known Sukumvit apartment building House By The Pond, where is no railing at all! Go up there on a wet and windy day, get caught in a gust and you'll be wishing that you were born as a bird with a set of perfectly good wings.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick