What follows are two true stories.
I received an email from a fellow who believed that I knew a girl he was currently seeing and who he had a bit of a problem with. He requested that we meet so he could tell me about the problem, in hope that I would be able to help in some way.
We met up in Soi Cowboy and this poor fellow was literally shaking, beside himself with grief. He had spent several days with this girl and in his words, "the sex had been mind blowing". She wanted to have unprotected sex with him and he said that while he would like to, they should both get tested first. Off they trotted to Bumrungrad Hospital. The tests came back, her positive, him negative. A young guy on holiday in Thailand who had just landed a dream job with a huge future ahead of himself suddenly had nervous wait of a few months to find out if he had somehow caught the dreaded disease from this girl. But the story does not end there.
Just two days later I was reading my emails and there was one from someone who wanted me to look into a girl's background for him. He had spent a week with a girl in Bangkok and had fallen in love with her….love comes quickly to some… He wanted her background checked out as he was contemplating a future with her. As I read through the email, it contained all of the usual stuff. He included a jpeg file and clicking on the attachment I got the fright of my life when the picture that leapt on to my screen was a picture of him alongside his teeruk, the same girl that I had just found out was HIV+ two days earlier!
This girl is STILL working – and she is very popular!
Down in Pattaya cruising around the bars, myself and another locally based friend were chatting about the bar scene and the girls. An otherwise bright guy, he told me how he didn't use condoms and hadn't used them for years! We went from bar to bar and when we arrived in one particular gogo bar I told him how attractive I thought one of the girls in there was. "I was with her a couple of weeks ago he told me". Thinking little of it, we went around a few more bars and then called it a night.
The next night it was the same routine, cruising from bar to bar. We entered one particular bar and I bumped into a couple of other friends and all of us started chatting away. One of my friends in the bar we had just entered told me how sad he was because he had found out recently that a girl that he knew had tested as HIV+. He was really sad about it thinking what a waste it was. Then, he turned around and pointed across the at a girl and said, "that is her, the girl over there". To my shock and my other friend's absolute horror, it was the same girl we had seen in a different bar last night, the same girl he said he had been with a couple of weeks earlier…and we know his policy about condom usage.
It poses the biggest moral dilemma I have ever faced. Sitting in a bar, recognising girls who I know full well are HIV+. I look across and this ultra sexy girl is luring yet another customer into her lair. I know that within an hour, they'll be sweating it out back in his apartment or hotel room, him totally oblivious to her situation; no doubt horrified if he knew the truth. Therefore, I may well be watching someone who is about to change their HIV status, and that is not the easiest thing in the world. I also know that a good number of people do not use condoms as is amply demonstrated by the following comments from three locals I know, all of these quotes are from the last two weeks.
Person A: I must have slept with 700 or 800 Thai girls, more than 500 without a condom. I've only ever had STDs on seven different occasions, but I do have herpes. Note: What is perhaps more interesting about this fellow is that this number is in the last 7 years, a time when AIDS awareness and education has been high.
Person B: I stopped using condoms years ago. Real men don't use condoms. Its a well known fact that you can't get AIDS if you are crap in bed (referring to a specific girl who was apparently crap in bed).
Person C: I've slept with so many girls without condoms. I'm usually OK if I'm not drunk but if I've had a bit much to drink, anything can happen.
You've got to face the facts: There are some bar owners who know that there are HIV+ girls in their bars. There are girls working, fully aware that they are HIV+. There are doctors who will write anything on a health card for the right price. There are doctors who complete HIV tests in 30 seconds by asking questions and not even taking a blood test. Get the message?
Finally, to the guys who say that HIV can not be contracted from regular vaginal sex, I'll set you up with a girl who is from all accounts incredible in bed…she is HIV+, but that shouldn't bother you, should it? Will you venture without a condom? There seem to be very worrying cliques of guys who support each other in their refusal, or even reluctance to use condoms. AIDS is real and it is out there!
Lots of girls working the farang scene have it. So now you know. What you do about it is up to you. It's your life.
The where is this pic from last week was of course the new bridge crossing the Chao Praya River, just up from Banglamphu. Construction is a lot further along than in the pic showed last week which was taken earlier in the year.
Where is this pic?
Clue: Signs can be misleading…
Do you really know Bangkok?
Where exactly was this picture taken?
An interesting question follows. I don't know about the attitude, but I think they will bring their prices to Cowboy and yes, I think there will be a domino effect as many bars increase their prices to similar levels which may have the almost unthought of result of making Patpong the cheapest gogo bar area, for drinks at least.
I made it into Hollywood Strip in Nana for the first time in a while and noticed that they had constructed some new tiered seating, slightly expanding the place. They continue to have their horrible shows and while I missed my pet hate, the frog show, they still have the boxing show. Two gogo girls in full boxing kit slug it out as the crowd yells and screams, encouraging them. The other night it was a totally one sided event with one girl getting an absolute pummelling from the reigning champ. The irresponsible guy running it seemed to think it more important to allow the fight to continue and allow one girl to get unnecessarily knocked around, rather than doing the sensible thing and ending it early. Just another ugly show.
Misbehaving English teachers need to be aware of how long a working girl has been in the industry. This is actually of quite some significance to an English teacher. In Thai society, teachers get automatic respect. Yep, even the motley bunch in Bangkok who have the cheek to call themselves teachers. So, for a girl who is new to the industry, being told that the fellow next to her is a teacher will make her all starry eyed…but after she has had no more than a purple note the next morning from a string of lowly paid teachers, she begins to realise that teachers are NOT the types she wants as customers. So, for all you English teachers, beware of the girls who have been around for a while because they know you ain't got any baht in your wallet!
Down Chinatown way, there are all sorts of shops selling all the usual junk that you find in Chinatowns all over the world, stuff that only a Chinaman would recognise. There are things down there that I don't know the name for in either Thai or English. Anyway, what really surprises me about Yaowarat (Chinatown) is that along the main drag, I didn't notice one 7 Eleven store. In a city that is becoming over run with the convenience stores that are putting many Chinese minimart vendors out of business, Bangkok's Chinese district seems to have staved off the 7 Eleven threat, for now.
Chinatown mai me 7 Eleven na krap.
Chatting with a fellow who visited Bang Kwang prison this week, he told me a few interesting titbits about Bangkok's most notorious maximum security prison. There are 9000 prisoners there, of which 1500 are non Thai. 900 of these non Thai prisoners are Nigerians and this is one of the reasons that Nigerians get such hassles when they fly into Don Muang airport. Most prisoners stay in cells of around 25 square metres which doesn't sound so bad until you hear that the cell is home to 24 people… Imagine that. A 24 square metre apartment is tiny! Even if one is living alone, it feels claustrophobic, but imagine sharing it with so many others. Another similarity is that in your 24 square meter apartment you probably have one fan, just like the 24 inmates – one fan for all of them! Arrangements can be made however to improve the conditions and there are some cells with a second fan installed, just 16 people in the cell, and get this, satellite TV!
On Wednesday night in the UK there was an hour long programme about the Chiang Mai guesthouse murder of a UK woman, all presented with a sensationalist view damning the corrupt police and outlining the dangers of Thailand, which we all know to be one of the safest places on earth. Given that the UK is Thailand's single biggest source of tourists from Europe, one must wonder how many potential visitors this put off?
Is Larry at Rock Hard Nana Plaza trying to employ academics? There is a MENSA book in the main bar area that the girls keep picking up and looking at.
Quote of the week: "If sleeping was an Olympic sport, the Thais would win gold every time". Farangman, Bangkok, 26/10/2001.
Union language school is recognised by many as being the premier Thai language school. It is the longest running and has the highest number of students. However, the teaching staff was recently decimated when eleven of their teachers left to work at a new school which opened in Times Square.
I'm really curious about Cascade Bar as progress seems to be going slow and there is no sign of this wondrous light machine that we have heard so much about. Did you know that the proposed Cascade Bar is an old dormitory area for girls from the Crown Group of bars? Rumour also has it that back in the old days when there was a police raid, all of the underage girls in Nana Plaza would dash up there, hide inside and the door was firmly locked from the inside!
The new Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy that is due to open in around a month's time is going to be the biggest Dollhouse yet. The design will be much the same as the two existing Dollhouses but it has been mooted that in addition to a mezzanine floor as per the existing Dollhouse in Clinton, there will also be a private party room on the next floor up and short time rooms above that, making the whole complex four floors. In addition, The Dollhouse management is trying to retain the chefs from The Horse And Hound – site of the new Dollhouse, as they are rumoured to be the best chefs in Cowboy.
Speaking of The Dollhouse, their Clinton Plaza branch has a major design flaw in that there is no dedicated air-con unit servicing the VIP area which can get quite warm. The fan that they have installed is not really adequate.
Rock Hard in Nana has Carlsberg draught beer all night, every night for just 80 baht a glass. Hollywood Rock on the ground floor of Nana offers a handle of Carlsberg draft every Thursday for just 50 baht.
As we approach the cool season, the sunsets get
better and better. And no, its not a "Photoshop job"!
Marc, the owner of the Candy House in Clinton Plaza says he's out trying to collect up his staff from the far flung reaches of the galaxy with an eye towards being fully operational in a week or two. Clinton Plaza remains quiet for now, no bar as busy as they were before most of the gogos there closed.
With regards to the piece I had in last week's column about the signs around Bangkok about malaria….oops, I mis-translated. It actually says dengue fever, and not malaria.
Ji-Net seem to be offering the cheapest hourly rate for internet access with their current rate 3.99 baht per hour, which is around 9 US cents per hour. How fast and reliable they are, I don't know.
I didn't actually know that such a site existed but I just got told that the site www.nothaksin.com has just been taken down. Would have liked to have seen it…
Hollywood Rock in Nana have a computer full of MP3 music files hooked up to their sound system with what they claim to be the largest range of songs in Bangkok. Feel free to request a song and they will play it – and if they don't have it, they'll try and download it off the 'net right away!
Anyone thinking the bars are quiet might want to re-think. G Spot in Nana had its busiest ever month in September and October looks to be even busier. Dropping in there this week, it is easy to see why as they have a great selection of girls, and the music was pretty good too.
Some English schools report that they are being inundated with applications from QUALIFIED and EXPERIENCED teachers. At long last. One director that I know of told me that his email account is "full of applications from people with an RSA or equivalent and years of experience". Could it be that the industry in Thailand may be slowly turning around?
Well, any thoughts of the industry turning around would be premature, if reports from Khao sarn Road are anything to go by. Dodgy degrees and teaching credentials could be bought a year ago for 2000 baht, initial asking price was 1000 more but a quick bit of bargaining got them down. This weekend, the price at Khao Sarn Road was 3500 per item, and they would not budge one little bit.
And if you are lucky, you might end up with a job like the following, which one rapidly growing school with an office in Bangkok is offering. Paying for all airfares, transportation and accommodation, this school sends you for one week each month to China. In an industry that is known for real nit picking and a complete lack of any real decent perks, this is a great offer.
Oh dear. It seems that both Monet and Dali bar are up to their old tricks of padding bills again. What is strange is that apart from this padding the bills nonsense that has been going on for far too long at both these bars, they are arguably the best two bars in Sukumvit soi 33! They both have that horrible practice of NOT putting a tumbler in front of you, but simply giving you a grand total checkbin when you leave, which of course is open to confusion and abuse. They really should change the practice like….
Sunday at Sanam Luang is family time; football, kite flying and
eating. With the Grand Palace in the background, its a nice setting.
Big Shots Bar in Soi 33 has introduced a new scheme whereby you sign a checkbin after each and every drink that you order. Presumably this system was introduced to cut down on abuse – and it's a damned good idea. This same bar has a happy hour until 10:00 PM each night with two drinks for 150 baht – usually its 150 baht PER drink. Note: lady drinks remain the same price all night.
I quite like the chicken curry at the restaurant in the Nana Hotel but the big bellied bonking baron seems to consider it a poor peasant's fare, especially when it is not accompanied by a bottle of fine French wine. Anyway, I have always found the staff in the Nana Hotel restaurant to be very good. There the other night, I watched the waiter bring out a club sandwich with the bread beyond burnt, it was now officially charcoal. The customer complained that it was inedible but the waiter refused to return it. An argument ensued and the waiter eventually took it back to the chef. A few minutes later, the sandwich returned, but looking at the grin on the waiter's face, I wonder what other changes were made to it… Complaining in Thailand, even when you are seemingly in the right, can result in the situation going from bad to worse.
A nasty situation at an Asoke Plaza beer bar a little over a week ago when a Belgian customer decided that he wanted to re-arrange a poor girls face. A couple of nasty blows to the girl, one to her face and one to get stomach before the police were called. He was lucky that there weren't a few more guys around because people like him deserve a bit of rough justice…still, there might be more to the story but to hit a woman like that…
There should be plenty going on in the bars on Wednesday night when Loy Kratong and Halloween both occur on the same day. Loy Kratong can be one of the best nights of the year in the bars when many of the girls wear the traditional Thai silk dresses, a look that some really like. They say that the rainy season in Bangkok finishes after Loy Kratong and while that is usually a good guide, Loy Kratong falls in October this year whereas it usually falls in November…so still a little bit more rain until we hit the most pleasant time of year, weather wise.
A question for you. Some of the Thai bargirls are stunningly attractive, some less so. But what I wonder is this…would a lot of the girls be as attractive to you if they didn't smile so much? What about if they had the surly attitude that seems so typical of many Western women these days? Would Thai women maintain the same allure if they didn't smile as much?
I've said it a thousand times and I'm probably starting to sound like the very worst broken record, but bargirl / customer long term relationships are fraught with all sorts of complications and while they can work and often seem to work, many guys involved in such relationships do not admit that they are going through pure hell. To eliminate getting into this sort of situation in the first place, be wary about who you invite to join yourself for the evening. Do NOT choose a girl who you think would make a nice girlfriend but rather a lady who you would like to have sex with. There's a big difference.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Read stories and submissions from other readers. You'll laugh
and you'll cry… Why not submit a story about your Thai experiences?