Stickman's Weekly Column September 23rd, 2001

The Abortion Clinic


I walked up the steps, not knowing what to expect and as I reached reception before her, 50 or more sets of eyes turned in my direction, a little surprised to see a farang in such a place. Perhaps it was just my paranoia, but it felt like none of them had ever seen a farang before because they didn't take their eyes off me, not even for a moment. She asked for information at reception while the 50 odd sets of eyes continued to stare at this unusual looking farang who had accompanied the damsel in distress to the torture chamber. Looking around the premises, it was a little different to what I had expected, though exactly what I was expecting, I'm not entirely sure.

We had walked up the stairs into an abortion clinic, Stickman leading a young lady who was more than a little bit pregnant, someone who wanted to get rid of the unborn child. I had received a call out of the blue from an old friend who explained to me her problem. After she told me that she had called a lot of other people who couldn't help or simply didn't want to help her, I realised that this was another bargirl in distress who wanted to take refuge or seek assistance at Stickman's half way house for troubled bar girls. Whether or not I was truly her last line of help, I don't know, but walking away from a girl in distress, bar girl or otherwise, is not something that I find easy to do.

For people who come to Thailand largely for the purpose of having sex with the country's working girls, I have always maintained that people should be aware of these three issues:

– Only partake with working girls who are of legal age, in Thailand that is 18 up.
– Only partake with girls who are working in the industry of their own volition, and are not being forced to work in the industry.
– ALWAYS wear a condom. There are girls out there working NOW who know that they are HIV+, and on top of this, there are also girls working who have become pregnant with former customers. And surely I don't need to write a list of all of the STDs floating around? No condom = no brain.

Is this too much to ask? I really don't think so. On the condom issue, remember that these girls really have an extremely modest education and while they do know how one gets pregnant, many simply do not have the forethought of how they will care for, support and provide for a child. The fatalistic mentality of Thais from less privileged backgrounds means that they are very much a risk to themselves and as the more educated, experienced and worldly person in the situation, it is up to us, to lead the way and ensure that we use condoms, always.

Without wanting to sound like a cynic, I find it hilarious that Thailand gets continuously praised for its drop in the increase in the number of new AIDS cases. Here on the ground, amongst it all and away from the doctored figures and corruption that ensure that Thailand gets more funding for HIV and AIDS related issues, it still seems that the majority of girls in the farang oriented sector of the industry will AND DO frequently have sex without condoms.

A reader agrees with me about life in Thailand being good for now and the notion that people, and even situations, change.

I agree with you about one of your comments stating that for now your happy in Thailand. THAT'S the biggest problem, today's paradise might be tomorrow's nightmare! As you know governments change and ideas change. MAYBE the best idea is to be flexible and move on whenever it endears you to. For example I used to work as a meteorologist for the Canadian Govt., short vacations and they told me when to take them. Then I decided to work in real estate in Mexico. NOW I decide when to take holidays. YOU are in power to decide what you want to do in a "free society". I am not safe either but at least I CAN CHOOSE. Some people have that choice, greater power to them.
A US marine sent me the following and all I can say is, good luck!
There are some people that do not think that America has the stomach for a war anymore. I disagree strongly. As a matter of fact, most of the Westerners (Brits) I met on my recent trip to Thailand were keenly interested in what I thought of the President, many of them specifically stating that most of the world thought that he would be quick to 'engage' unlike his predecessor. What in the hell has this got to do with Thailand, and its nightlife? Isn't it obvious? Thailand is on the way to the war! Might be a sudden influx of Jarheads and sailors in the near future-ships can only pull into to Pattaya or Phuket (well known factoid) and the prices on everything from cheap T-shirts to long time is gonna go through the roof there. GI is gonna have money to burn on that last little bit of fun he might ever see. Hopefully I'll get a few good pics of all the fireworks while I'm at it…
Problems in Thailand like the following reader reports are sadly too common.
As I made my way up Sukhumvit approaching the infamous Thermae, I heard a raised voice shouting obscenities coming from a young man with an unmistakably British accent. He was confronting a rather petite Thai girl of similar age with a beer bottle, apparently threatening to strike her with it. It soon became clear that the two had previously been involved and that this was some sort of lovers' quarrel. The extreme rage and violent manner in which the young man addressed the girl was frightening to her no doubt as well as several onlookers. Fortunately his friends helped him regain a little self control and the girl managed to walk away unscathed. What seemed to upset her the most was the young man accusing her of being a prostitute which may very well be true but was sufficient enough for her to lose face in front of the crowd that had gathered. Where are the police when they are needed most?

Admittedly they were both more than a little inebriated at the time of this incident which regrettably proves two things: early closing times have absolutely no effect on the potential level of crime and violence. The group of young men mentioned above simply gathered outside a 7-11 store where they managed to buy alcohol and consume it on the street long after all surrounding establishments were closed.

As you will gather from the next episode I witnessed, the problem in fact appears to be a rather unsavoury breed of tourist that is entering the Kingdom with little regard or respect for Thailand or its people.

As I sat waiting for my meal in Foodland a few nights back, a group of what can only be described as football hooligans barged in. Two of them were accompanied by young girls that were ready to die of embarrassment whenever these lads opened their mouths. They demanded beer despite the posting of notices stating that beer could not be served after midnight by request of the police. Their behaviour was most offensive to the service staff and other customers, but with the patience and diligence that only the Thais can maintain, they were fed.

Many Thai working girls as well as ordinary Thai citizens must have a rather poor opinion of foreigners if they judge us by these type of occurrences.

However, if there is only one positive aspect to all of this, it has given me a renewed respect for working girls who must suffer these dregs of society. Any amount of compensation does not make up for the mistreatment of these girls, who in the majority, are most loving and caring if treated in the same way.

When the sky looks like this, you know the rain is
about to hit, so get into a taxi – or run as fast as you can!

The rains have finally come and I'm happy at last! No, I haven't lost my mind. Bangkok in the rainy season without the rain just doesn't feel like Bangkok at all and up until this week, I was starting to wonder if we had somehow missed the monsoon. But, I know that when the day comes when I get stuck in the rain, like most of us do at least once every rainy season, then I won't be quite so happy about it all.

Nana to Cowboy in a taxi. 60 baht? Hmmm, that sounds a little on the steep side! Thermae to Patpong 100 baht? Hey, this is getting silly and hell, he even turned on the meter! Be careful because some taxis do have rigged meters. It doesn't happen often but my guess is that around a couple of per cent of the taxis have dicky meters and if you take taxis often enough – more often than not you're taking the same old routes, you quickly realise that something is up. Point it out to the driver in Thai and he will most likely be petrified that you are going to tell the cops and he may even let you out for free.

The crackdown on pirate software continues and a number of stores in Mahboonkrong have closed down. Walking through for the first time in ages, a lot of stores that used to sell pirated software have changed their line of products and many now do mobile telephones. One vendor told me that most of the factories that used to manufacture the CDs have ben closed down.

From last week's column, the "where is this pic" picture was taken on Sukumvit Soi 7, just opposite the Versace tailor's store. The question about the key and the person who could not get a key for a key meant that he wanted a key to key (Thai word for take a shit) so no key meant he could not get into the toilet and thus could not take a crap!

It seems that all of the English language schools in town are advertising inside the skytrain. It's amusing seeing ads for three different language schools all virtually right next to each other. On the subject of the skytrain, did you know that the single journey sky train tickets are recycled? Yep, they do not just throw them out but use them many times, something a little unusual in a country which isn't exactly known for recycling or awareness of the environment.

In the course of helping a girl in distress this week, I made a stack on inquiries about pregnant girls, parenthood, parenting and so forth and one piece of information for anyone who thinks that they may have fathered a child is that the place to go to get a paternity test done is one of the following two university hospitals, Ramathibodi Hospital or Siriraj Hospital. I hope that you never have to go to either of them for that purpose. And just in case you are wondering, no, the unborn child was most certainly NOT mine!

Word that some of the discos that tend to attract just the locals have started asking any foreigners for proof of ID, usually asking for one's passport. Just why they would ask for this isn't entirely clear but it does seem to be some sort of discouragement for foreigners entering. What will they say when you tell them that their passport is elsewhere?

If you are looking for a place to learn Thai and improve your language skills, you could always go to TITS, Bangkok's most popular place for learning Thai. There are two serious issues with this particular school though and they are that it has yet to be certified by the Ministry of Education and that many of the teachers actually have a somewhat modest education. Further, this school concentrates on the Isaan dialect of Thai, with some Laos and Khmer teachers also available. Perhaps you know TITS by its full name? – Thermae Institute of Thai Studies.

Where is this pic?

Is this Bangkok's grottiest looking establishment?
But, just precisely whereabouts is it?

Feedback has come in from the Crown Group's big meeting at Nana Plaza last week, though there was no major announcement as had been wrongly anticipated. Mostly there was a pep talk where the mamasans encouraged the girls to always use condoms, and reminded them that even though there were fewer customers they still had to meet their 7 bar fines per month quota. Given what I said earlier in the column, this mention of greater condom use is very, very welcome and I just hope that the girls do heed these words of advice. Suggestions were given to the girls to be more forward in talking to the customers, and to entice a punter to barfine two girls to go home with them, instead of the more common one. Meanwhile, some girls within the Crown Group are disgusted that many new girls are coming in who are either pregnant or have babies and are not supporting them properly, instead using the money to go out drinking after work. Given what I have seen in recent times, amen.

Mike, formerly of Midnite Bar is due to open his bar very soon, after a few delays. But, while it was going to be called Topaz Club, the name has been changed but Mike isn't going to give away the name until it opens. Maybe he has a katoey bar planned and he doesn't want us to know? Mike's Mixed Member Club perhaps?

While it is only rumour and has not been substantiated, the new rumour is that the Dollhouse management have either taken out options on, or perhaps even entered into a contract to rent a THIRD outlet in Soi Cowboy. Sounds unusual but then, one should never be surprised in Thailand. I'd say the management at Long Gun have got reason to be worried because at long last, some real competition is going to hit Cowboy.

Reggae Pub in Sukumvit soi 26 have been bombarding me with emails, advertising their 55 baht Heinekens. I know nothing more about these guys except that they are a bit trigger happy on the email. Still, 55 baht is a fair price and is almost enough enticement for me to head on over and check the place out.

An interesting sounding art exhibition is currently on at the Bangkok Gallery in Sukumvit Soi 20. The artist's name is Vasan, and the guy is from all accounts a bit of a rebel, someone who is not shy to speak out about many aspects of Thai society that are usually sacrosanct. His last show was banned, he paints mostly nudes and prostitutes, and is not shy to highlight corruption in Thailand. This all contributes to making me think this could be one exhibition worth having a look at. And from all accounts, the nudes are nice!

Strong rumours coming in from the Pattaya area that bars that offer (specialise?) in sex on the premises are being raided. This seems to be affecting places like the bars in Soi Yoksad and the blowjob bars around about. What it does show is that the local boys in brown are not totally aloof and DO know what goes on in all of the different bars.

There are also unconfirmed reports that some of these bars have / had cameras AND webcams in the rooms so if you are really unlucky – some would argue lucky, you might see your hairy ass going up and down either on the net or perhaps in some of those dodgy video CDs that float around Panthip Plaza. Remember, there was one bar in Soi Cowboy that was notorious for this sort of thing just a few year ago, where the now late owner apparently had quite an elaborate setup with the customers bedroom Olympics recorded for his private viewing.

Rumours are floating around that the US embassy has asked the Thai government to shut down Wireless Road FOREVER, as a means to protect the embassy. This is a pretty bold statement since this is a major thoroughfare which is also home to many important businesses. But, apparently the US embassy did it in Yangoon and it would appear that they think it can be done here too. It won't happen.

Last night in Rainbow 1 bar at approximately 9:50 PM, one of the mamasans interrupted the music and said that any of the girls that were under 18 had better leave the bar right away. She then came back on about 5 minutes later and named two girls telling them to leave IMMEDIATELY. Were the police on their way to NEP to do some sort of spot check and the Rainbow 1 management had been tipped off?

Looking east, over Lumpini Park towards some of the
apartment and office buildings on or near Rajadamri Road.

Confirmed from an ex-cashier who worked in a bar over the hill from Pattaya, and who disliked the practice, when you order 2 drinks, you get 3 bills. The name of the bar
is the same as a big northern city, and is located on the same soi as the post office in Jomtien.

Wandering around Bangkok, there are more than a few farangs who don't seem to have any obvious source of income, sort of hangers on who just drift around, hunting for an opportunity to make a bit of money here or there. One classic example is the guy who is often seen at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the overhead walkway connecting Siam Square with Mahboonkrong. The high number of hours that he is there giving out small flyers advertising some scam or other makes me think that that is his only source of income. Given that it can't pay much, this guy really must be desperate. But he is not the only one. There are many drifters around.

While it is all very well to advertise that you are selling Australian meat pies, any pie aficionado will tell you heating them up in the microwave will not produce the best results, in fact it may damned near ruin your farang food treat. So, the big question is: where in Bangkok can one get a decent meat pie on the premises, with real meat and decent pastry (not that Asian style sweet pastry) – and a pie that is reheated in a conventional oven, NOT a microwave!

Not only does Midnite Bar have a new manager, it also has a new owner. I bet the owner got a far better price than he would have 9 months ago and we know that the turn around of this bar was due to one man, Mike. Now poor old Mike got booted out by the ungrateful former owner not long before it got sold. The new management do not seem to have changed anything except that the DJ seems to have greater freedom to play more Thai music.

Why is it that at Panthip Plaza, a Pentium 3 1.0 GHz chip costs 9,450 baht whereas a Pentium 4 1.4 GHz chip, a faster and superior chip, costs just 8,900 baht? Hmmm, am I missing something? When I asked the price, the fellow said yes, the prices were right and it was not a mistake…confusion reigns. The price differential was the same at several other shops, suggesting that it was not an error at all but intended this way. Why?

The shop house style beer bar just a couple of doors along from Big Dog's beer at the entrance to Nana Plaza has closed down and Nana Minimart is being built in its place. Someone obviously thinks that there is more money in a Minimart there than a beer bar – and they'd probably be right. For a Minimart in this area, expect the items for sale around the counter to be predominantly condoms and lube.

For those folks considering early retirement in Thailand and who have been planning to derive income from their US based stock portfolio, hopes have been shattered by the 14% drop in the Dow Jones this week. And for the poor fellows who are already here, living the life and financing it all by selling a few stocks very week, it must be pure hell.

Apologies for the server related problems that have prevented this site from being accessed over the last few days. These problems have occurred sporadically over the last few days and they are totally out of my hands. I believe the problems are related to one of these new viruses going around.

Sitting next to a girl in the bar, you realise that there is something a little different about her, something different from the majority of the girls. After going through the usual pleasantries of "what you name", "how old you" etc, you finally get to the "where you flom"? To your surprise, she responds that she is a Bangkok girl. So, how can you tell a Bangkok girl from an Isaan girl?

1. Her feet don't resemble a dinosaur's paws and claws.
2. Her hands aren't as rough as sandpaper.
3. One prick is in her som tum is enough.
4. She says ka at the end of every sentence.
5. <edited because there are too many politically correct people out there who take great offence to a mild piece of humour>.
6. Her nose doesn't look like she copped a blow from Mike Tyson.
7. Se actually speaks Thai, and not a Laos dialect.
8. She sleeps at night and not during the day.
9. Her skin isn't much darker than yours.
10. She won't tell you a dead buffalo story!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks for contributions to this week's column go to Whosyourdaddy,
Pattaya Joe, Fatbastard, Fughi, ItsmeDave, and former Midnite Mike.