Stickman's Weekly Column August 5th, 2001

Internet Based Introduction Services

As you leave Farangland to start a new life in Thailand, single Western males get ribbed by their friends that the reason for heading to exotic Siam is to find a wife. Thai women have a reputation the world over for making good wives. Unfortunately, a lot of fellows looking for love, and looking for a suitable lifelong companion end up in the gogo bars. The brighter fellows realise quickly that these girls don't usually make the best companions, and the slower fellows need to be well and truly burnt before they finally realise.
Considering one of these girls for marriage is not one of the brighter things that one can do.

And at the other end of the spectrum, others try and date regular girls from work or who they have met round about. After three months, they have not yet had a peck on the cheeks, let alone anything else. One suddenly starts to wonder about the whole idea of meeting a Thai lady for a relationship as all of the Thai girls seem to be from one extreme or the other.

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In an effort to find a new partner, many turn to an introduction service and such introduction services are starting to boom, especially on the Internet. Type "Thai lady marriage" or a similar string of words into any search engine and you will likely come up with many sites offering such services.

These sites generally operate in a fairly similar manner. There will usually be some information about the service, prices and the meat in the sandwich, photographs of the girls along with a bio – some general information about them. If you would like to contact the girls, you have to send money to the firm and they will then respond with that lady's contact details, usually an address, but sometimes an email address or possibly even a telephone number.

But how reliable are these sites? Are they genuine businesses aiming to meet or exceed their customer's expectations or are they just another Internet based sex rip off outfit? In an effort to find out more about these services, I have been scouring such sites, looking at how they operate and hunting out people who have used the services of such firms.

One aspect that is similar with each service is that the firm seems to offer a somewhat homogenous group of girls. One site has approximately 2/3 of its girls listing themselves as residents of Udon Thani, one of the poorest provinces in Thailand! Udon Thani is one of the main sources for girls in the farang oriented sex industry as the girls come from a very poor background and many have an extremely modest education. No doubt someone wandered around Udon with a digital camera, photographing a lot of the girls and talking up the chances of marriage to a foreigner and all of the perceived benefits of such a marriage. But is this the type of girl that people using this type of service want to meet? Most likely not. Udon Thani, Sakon Nakon, Nakon Rachasima – they're all double Dutch to the average foreigner. This indicates that the proprietor has not made a diligent effort to lure a variety of different types of ladies to try the service. Remember, for the girls, listing is FREE.

On another site, about half of the girls are listed as traditional massage girls or karaoke singers… Hmmm, does this not mean that they are on the very fringe of prostitution and it is quite possible that they have a dabble with a customer from time to time? Isn't part of the reason for using such a service to avoid this type of girl?

But best of all are the sites that use girls who are already married, are CURRENTLY working in gogo bars or in one case, a service listed a girl who is dead! There are sites listing girls who are married, girls who already have a boyfriend and finally, there is one site, a Bangkok based site with perhaps the ugliest bunch of Thai girls that I have ever laid my eyes on. Anyone viewing that site first up would abandon any thought of marrying a Thai lady.

It is important to remember that these sites are run to make money. Most people that I have spoken with about these sites have "lost" money i.e. they have sent money away for the girl's addresses which they have then received but after sending off letters, they seldom ever get a reply from the girl and in a lot of cases, the letter is returned to them as undeliverable. Its unlikely that anyone has ever lost a significant amount of money, usually $50 here, $40 here, $80 there. But this all adds up and the person running the service will be doing very nicely out of this.

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There is something funny going on when some of the sites have pictures of the same girls that were listed more than two years ago, some of them drop dead gorgeous. You just know that some of the better looking girls must have received literally hundreds of letters and if they were genuinely interested in pursuing a relationship, they would have met Mr Right a long time ago. With all of this in mind, be very careful when using these services. Too many of them seem to be run with the sole purpose of making money and no regard for the service provided.

Have you ever used one of the internet based introduction services? Who did you use and how did they rate? And has anyone actually met someone special through such a service? Of the first hand reports that I have heard, not one person has yet had a positive word to say about these services. It would be nice to find one to recommend. Just one. Does such a service exist? There is no doubt that there would be a HUGE market for a professionally run and affordable introduction service. Maybe it is time for me to go into business…

Blue skies will soon become a distant memory as the
rains get closer and closer to the capital.

The rains are about to hit the capital with the two big clues arriving this week. There has been an increase in the average day time temperature and at night we are getting a little lightning – no thunder, no rain, just those flashes of lightning in the sky, letting us know that the monsoon will very shortly be with us. Pull out your best umbrella and your Wellingtons and get ready for the fun trip home from work in the rain.

The web seems to be full of scamsters. I first stumbled upon the Thai Girlfriend website a couple of months ago. The site sells photographs of Thai bar girls that were taken late last year. It must be said that the fellow who took the shots has taken some truly beautiful photographs of Thai girls but the price he is charging for access to the site is a ripoff – $20 a month to download shots that appear to have been taken with a digital camera? Come on! The funny thing about this guy is that he claims to know about Thailand but in the small amount of information that he has included on the site, he has not only made several fundamental errors showing a glaring lack of knowledge about the girls, but he also failed to mention that he came to Thailand with a group on a sex tour! Yep, from sex tour member to sexpert in no time! He should call himself Ferrari as I'm sure he could do the 0 – 60 mph dash in less than 5 seconds! Finally, one of the girls that he claims to have permission from to publish on the web refutes that claim…naughty boy!

With the economic slump continuing to linger, luxury items are not selling in the numbers that they used to. The owner of seven Mercedes Benz dealerships is looking at changing his dealerships into a new chain of language schools! He received the licence to start the school from the Minister of Education last week and I'm assured that the new chain is imminent. They are talking serious money, paying teachers 800 – 1500 baht an hour though I'll believe that when I see it. The rumour also has it that a Frenchman is behind it all and has 30,000,000 baht to invest (throw away?). I can just see it now – "Buy a Mercedes Benz 500 SEL and get 30 hours free English language training thrown in free"!

A few weeks back, a disgruntled reader wrote in describing his experiences with a cable modem in Thailand. Another reader has written in, outlining his experiences with local high speed internet:

Went with UBT because they were allied with Loxinfo who was the only ISP who offered 256/128 (Upload/ Download) speed. Promotion from UBT was 5,500 Baht for the internal Logix Atlanta Modem, with a 2,600 Baht discount for a total of 3,103 Baht equipment cost. 9,600 Baht for 12 months service with a bonus of 6 additional months free. Loxinfo 10,165 Baht for 350 hours with 50 hours bonus. So my final cost were:

UBT Equipment purchase 3,103 Baht
UBT 18 month service 9,600 Baht
Loxinfo 400 hours 10,165 Baht

But when the 400 hours runs out I will end up paying almost 45 Baht per hour to Loxinfo and when the 18 Months service runs out I will be paying UBT 800 Baht a month for the Service which allows me 70 hours and the each additional hour is going to be
20 Baht per hour.

Your other reader probably had to pay for a new phone line because you MUST be a customer of CAT (Communication Authority of Thailand) and not a customer of TOT (Telephone Organization of Thailand).

In a nut shell is it worth it. Yes and No. Since I got in on the promotion I didn't get hit as hard as your other reader for either UBT or Loxinfo. But the real rub is that yes I do get the advertised speeds and I do have an always on connection
so I don't get hit with the 3 Baht per call charge that dial up costs but this is still Thailand and most of my bandwidth is wasted because of the limited lines out of Thailand to the internet backbone.

Would I do it again today? NO. Without the promotion price it just isn't worth it. And if you investigate the cable modem that is suddenly being pushed be aware that they charge you by the amount of megabytes that you download, which means that you
will never know what your bill is going to be, because you still will have the Thailand bottle neck. Plus you have no choice of modems since it must be a external USB modem and of course you will also have to subscribe to UBC cable or you
will get killed with installation costs.

All of the financial con artists caught in the sting operation last week have suffered a very nasty fate. Charged and convicted with working without a work permit, they were fined a relatively small amount of money and as is the case with crimes where a foreigner is found guilty, they were all deported. But to make matters worse, they are all now blacklisted in Thailand, essentially banned from ever entering the country again. Whether this punishment is commensurate with the crime is a moot point, but there are several issues that arise out of this. It is quite possible that some of these people had lived here for years, and had Thai wives and children. Suddenly, they are booted out of the country and told that they are never allowed to return again. THAT HAS GOT TO HURT!

This ruling hammers home to farangs the importance of being a good boy (or girl) whilst in the Kingdom. I really wonder if this ruling in such a high profile case has been a shot across the bows of the farangs living in Thailand, with the message being to the effect of "don't fxxk with Thailand or we'll kick you out". This ruling makes you know just how vulnerable you are as a farang in Thailand. While many people who get blacklisted no doubt deserve it, one bit of bad luck and you could be on the next plane out, with an unwanted stamp in your passport, and with no real recourse available to you.

Proving that they are just as stupid as they are dishonest, I hear that many of the folks selling these dodgy shares are STILL working, still doing exactly the same thing – though many claim that what they are doing is different. Are they mad? Continue at it and what happened to the others might seem meagre compared to what the authorities will do with you. Rumours abound that some of the folks are working in small "cells", using mobile phones and operating from various residential addresses around town. New premises have been searched for and several firms plan for their staff to re-commence duties from Monday. Many folks have had this past week off, and still received pay.

Knowing a couple of people that work at such places, I asked one of the guys for a little more information about how these firms operate on a day to day basis. There are apparently a lot of firms around town, more than has been reported in the press and there may be up to 5000 people in Bangkok doing this type of work! These firms pay in $US on a weekly basis – yep, you get your payment in real greenbacks. Staff are paid every Friday and the money is brought over from Hong Kong with one of these secure briefcases handcuffed to his arm and flanked by an armed bodyguard! As some firms have in excess of 200 staff working there, these briefcases contain a VERY serious amount of money, US dollars no less! Different firms pay different amounts and for those at the bottom end, minimum earnings range from between $US 200 and $US 300 per week base. Commission is obviously on top of this and this is where the opportunity to make serious money arises. Some of the salespeople are pulling in several thousand $US per month. But what really astounded me is that some of the managers are on phenomenal packages, in some cases $US 25,000 PER MONTH – and all paid in cash! These same managers are laughing at how they throw their money around wildly but simply cannot spend it all – hell, spending more than 10 – 20% would be a task and a half. The general consensus amongst those in the industry is that by the end of the year, none of these firms will exist but many of the folks admit that presently this represents the best opportunity to make some decent money fast in this part of the world. Once they have a decent amount put aside, many plan to kick back for a while, and take it easy. And that is why the continue to work.

Contingency plans are in place at some of the firms so that if the police come visiting, their entry will be impeded, thus allowing the traders to vacate the premises and live to scam another day. Security guards are posted outside the building and it is their sole job to spot policeman coming. Then on each floor, there are security guards on duty, and double sets of locked doors which do not allow anyone from outside to see what is going on inside. So, if the police arrive, everyone can go up or down a couple of floors and just wait until the cops have been and gone before either going back to their floor or escaping from the building. Someone has put a serious amount of effort into planning the whole operation. It'll be interesting to see if more busts are forthcoming…

A reader sends in this, outlining what they are like on the phone:

They were bullying me to be an investor (would be-investor:). They have been very informative about their investment offer like: his name was Paul (American accent). web site: stock symbol:cifcf share price: 1 USD soon to be 3 to 4.50 USD – that's 400% return.

Since I have had investing knowledge, it was fun to listen to them, once I refused accepting their offer (which done by voice recording confirmation from second party), they were not pissed off, but very cold minded, starting over again about how they
make you three months rich, very professional way.

AIDS is very real, though the debate rages about how it can be caught. Whatever the truth, catching AIDS would be a horrible way to go. But if you are going to die in Thailand, it so often seems that you are more likely to be run down by a rogue vehicle than die of AIDS. The Asoke intersection has been a mess for sometime and will likely remain so, but at least they have installed a walkway which makes crossing this mess of an intersection a little easier. The likelihood of getting run down here has dropped, albeit slightly.

The stroll from Cowboy to the Thermae is always a little
precarious but a new walkway at the Asoke intersection will help.

Remember in last week's column the mention about all of the Arabs floating around? A reader provides the reasons why.

1st reason: as the holy month of Ramadan nears (this year on 16 November) less Muslims dare to travel to Thailand, so they rush for sanuk because Ramadan means no eating, drinking, no fxxxing, and no more Thailand. 2nd reason: Russian and East European
girls who have invaded the Middle East in recent years will not tolerate the Summer heat in Arab countries and therefore go back to their countries.

While the Thermae may be closing early at around or just a little after 2:00 AM, the coffee shop in the Grace Hotel continues on, seemingly exempt from the crackdown on closing times. You don't get too many farangs in there but it is still well worth a nosy. And what's more, as the clientele is almost exclusively Arab, a farang in there will be a bit of a novelty.

Paranoia is raging in Bangkok as there have been problems accessing some websites with Thailand nightlife content. Four of the most popular websites with such content could not be accessed on Thursday when using popular local ISP, Loxinfo. This has led quite a few of us to wonder if such sites may be the target of a crackdown. Although it seems to have been a false alarm and due to some sort of routing problems at the ISP, it provided a very necessary wake up call for those who run Thai nightlife websites.

The buying power of a 1000 baht note is significant, though many tourists throw them around like they are pocket change. If you want to cut down on your spending, try and think of the 1000 baht as being equivalent to the highest denomination note back in your home country. Would you just throw $100 around loosely at home?

There is all sorts of commotion going on in the various nightlife areas. On Thursday and Friday, all of the bars in Soi Cowboy were given short notice and told by the Police to close at 1:00 AM, even the previously untouchable Long Gun had to close down. In Clinton Plaza, a team of officers entered at least one bar and requested that all of the girls there give a urine sample that would be tested to see if the girl had been using drugs. CM2 disco in the basement of the Novotel Hotel in Siam Square required all customers to present ID before entering, meaning an ID card for the Thais and a passport for foreigners. At Nana Plaza, many of the bars were closed early on Friday night, between 1:00 AM and 1:45 AM. There is something really weird going on – is a crackdown on prostitution, or at least the sectors of prostitution that are visible (i.e. the farang oriented scene) about to take place? There has been a lot in the press this week about a crackdown on girls selling themselves over the internet too. Ominous signs…

And to add further fuel to the fire that a crackdown on prostitution or prostitution related things may come, Dean Barrett's recently released book, "Thailand: Land of Beautiful Women", does not appear to be on the shelves of certain local bookstores. Did someone get upset at it? Don't know what would upset anyone about it as it is very tastefully done. Anyway, Dean advises that the book is still available from Monet or Dali bars on soi 33, New Square One pub at Washington Square and Playskool a go go at Nana Plaza.

Does Rock Hard A Go Go in Clinton Plaza have the best sound system in the capital? One things for sure, "We Will Rock You" by Queen sounds great in there. Also at Rock Hard A Go Go, I met with the owner during the week who assured me that contrary to what I reported last week about girls working while having STDs, Rock Hard will not allow any of its staff to work if they have an STD – and those girls diagnosed with an STD must get it cleared up before returning to work. Also, he advises that despite pressure to put up drink prices, the price for beers and spirits remains at a very reasonable 90 baht.

Strolling through Soi Cowboy during the day, a vendor
walks past the water truck making its daily delivery to all of the bars.

An interesting situation and an even more interesting resolution to a problem at The Dollhouse this week. Entering the Dollhouse, I observed a farang making a complaint about a customer who had bought a lady drink for a girl and within minutes of receiving it, she went away and sat with another customer. The customer complained about this and he was told that he did not have to pay for that lady drink! I'm not sure that this is the right decision. Why did the girl leave? Maybe the guy started pawing her? Maybe he made some lewd remarks? Maybe he stunk like a Lumpini streetwalker's pussy? Perhaps the girl had been at fault, who knows. While a girl should really sit with a guy who buys her a drink – or not accept the drink, it was the speed with which the bar accepted the customer's version of events that surprised. Maybe it's just that The Dollhouse is very customer focused?

With the better bars at Clinton Plaza, The Dollhouse and Rock Hard being stuck well of the main Sukumvit Road, I notice management at The Dollhouse has taken to sending girls out on to the road to distribute these flash full colour A5 sized leaflets advertising the bar.

Gogo bar websites – useful or useless? Do the bar's websites serve any real purpose and most importantly, do they influence you in any way to visit their bar? Bars are funny places and
it really is hard to describe them adequately on a website. If you see a really attractive girl on the website of a particular gogo bar, would you go out of your way to go there? I'm interested – let me know.

I can't help thinking that Nana Plaza is more and more becoming a sex shopping centre, a place to go if you have an itch to scratch – and with no other reason to go there. If you're meeting with friends for a drink, Cowboy, Clinton and EVEN Patpong represent a better prospect. In the space of six months, I've gone from going to Nana Plaza about three times a week to just once – and even then I'm reluctant to enter a Nana gogo bar. And no, it's not just me. Many expats seem to be giving Nana a wide berth as it is just not as much fun as the other areas. At Nana, the girls remain pretty, but in many of the bars the attitude is dreadful. Based on present attitudes, if all you want is sex, then Nana Plaza is just fine. If you want a nice relaxing time, go to Cowboy. If you want a mix of attractive girls and good atmosphere, try Clinton and for a bit of everything, try Patpong. OK, so some of the bars in Nana like Rainbow 1 and PlaySchool are still great, but many of the others are little more than high pressure sex for sale joints.

Is Stickman becoming jaded, or is Nana now
little more than a sex shopping centre?

From last week's column, the photo was taken from the Prom Pong BTS station looking down at 24 Inn.

The Nanapong dance contest #6 was held at The Dollhouse on the night of the 5th and once again, the Nanapong boys organised a great show. I had had serious reservations about their choice of venue, thinking that The Dollhouse would not be big enough to accommodate all of the keen punters but in the end that was not the case at all. The Dollhouse proved to be an excellent venue and while it was very busy, one could still move around ok. No doubt the Sunday night rain and the fact that the next day was a work day kept many away. It all started off sedately with the first set of girls seeming downright bored while up on stage but when Mike's Midnite Maidens hit the stage, things began to hot up and from then on, it became another case of anything goes as the girls went from dancing in a bikini to nude dancing to dancing with props and then to dancing together. All in all, another great show proving that the Nanapong dance contests are without a doubt, the best show in town. In the end, first and second places went to girls from The Dollhouse Pattaya. So, in the Bangkok vs. Pattaya bar girl debate, the Pattaya girls take the lead. When will the next dance contest be?

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza