Stickman's Weekly Column December 2nd, 2001

When Do You Lost Interest?



A little over a year ago, one of my closest and most trusted friends from Farangland who was holidaying in Thailand asked me what I would do when I lost interest in the nightlife scene. I just shook my head a little at him as if to say that I didn't know, but secretly thought that the question was null and void, a loaded question with an answer that I didn't like. What did he mean when I lost interest? Was it a given that I was going to lose interest? Not likely, I quietly thought to myself! (It needs to be noted that this question was asked at a time when I was not working, and had far too much time on my hands…and you know where I spent that time!)

Its a moot point whether the bar scene as we know it is forever, but what I wish to address here is how one's feelings about the bar scene change over time, particularly for people living in country. Obviously a bad experience will change one's outlook, and we all go through different phases, but that is altogether a different matter. As you spend more time in Thailand, develop relationships with Thais from different parts of society, improve your language skills and start to understand better how the whole place works, I believe that one does start to lose interest in the bar scene and perhaps even become disenchanted by it.

In time, you begin to realise that for most of the girls from poverty stricken backgrounds who choose to work in the industry, the relatively high income provides little but temporary relief. When they finally bow out of the industry, many of them are in a far worse state than when they first entered. Sure, Ma and Pa might have eaten well for the last year or two, there is now electricity in the family home and boy, that sure is a few baht of gold around mother's neck. But at the end of the day, the relief provided is in most cases, temporary. When you start to realise this, I think one's interest, and participation, in the bar scene, starts to subside as you realise that very little good comes of it, apart from a quick fix for both the girls and the customers. Temporary sexual satisfaction for the customer, and money to pay the bills and perhaps buy a few luxuries this month for the girl.

Thailand's naughty nightlife is not a gift from the Gods. If you come to Thailand for holiday after holiday, the odds are that you will continue to enjoy it, and after a couple of weeks have passed by, you will have returned to the normality of Farangland. Ignorance is bliss. But if you live and work in country, and start to really immerse yourself into Thai society, I truly wonder how long it is before eventually it all becomes a bit hard to stomach, or at least indulge in, on a regular basis. It will always provide a fun environment to go out for a few drinks and a laugh with friends, but beyond that, I'm not so sure that it has real long term appeal.

In summary, the naughty nightlife is fun for a while, but I would question it as a reason to move to, or continue to live, in Thailand, as seemingly so many people do. It loses its charm over time and while its nice to know that its there, spending a lot of time involved in it can become almost depressing – at least if you have your eyes open to what is really going on.

With all of this in mind, I'd be very interested in hearing from people who have been living in country over a long period of time and who have misbehaved on a regular basis. How do you find your participation and enjoyment of the bar scene has changed over time, and what do you attribute it to? Is the change, if any, just something that comes with age, or is it more as I believe, the more you understand Thailand and the Thais, the less interesting it all seems – and perhaps even abhorrent it becomes? Perhaps you have found the opposite, and that the more time you spend engaged in it all, the better it gets? With a bit of luck, there'll be a few responses in next week's column.

Where is this pic?

clue: you've been past there for sure…

So, you thought you were clever, eh?
OK, so prove it by telling me precisely where this is!

Last week's where is this pic was correctly chosen by just one fellow – Mr Loo Doot, also known as Mr Lewd Dude. It is a Chinese temple up in the Lard Prao area.

Watch out for the piggybacking nasties!

About 2 years ago I was having a conversation with a doctor (he works with HIV/Aids patients) in Perth West Oz about the HIV/Aids virus.

One thing that came up was that the virus (HIV) piggy backs onto other viruses i.e. Gon / Herpes / Syph etc. What he said basically was if the lady has a common STD and is HIV as well then there is about 99.99999% chance the HIV virus will piggy back with the STD from the host to the next victim (so to speak) infecting that person with "both" nasties.

This would maybe drive home the point of wearing / using condoms or some people may not only get a small nasty but they may even get the biggest nasty of all with it.

Attack of the Phantom Rogue Farangs…could be a B movie there somewhere…
I was having coffee and reading my newspaper on the terrace outside the Delifrance cafe on Sukhumvit one afternoon when another middle-aged farang, a Canadian, who was sitting at the next table spoke to me. "Have you seen my rucksack?" It turns out he had been approached by another farang who wanted directions to go somewhere. The Canadian got up to help him. When he was done the other fellow thanked him and left. When the Canadian sat down he discovered that his rucksack, which he had placed on the chair beside him, was gone.

Apparently, the farang had an accomplice on the street who reached through the railing when the Canadian's attention was diverted and pulled the small rucksack through. One small consolation was that the Canadian was not a tourist but living in Bkk, so he had only some cigarettes in the rucksack. Slim pickings for the thieves! Anyway, the Canadian told me the people to beware of in Thailand were not Thais. They might try to cheat you out of a few baht but you seldom risked more than that. The really dangerous people were the hard up farang who were prepared to do anything to stay on in LOS.

A farang's struggle to get his Thai girl to adapt to San Francisco.
There are more Thai restaurants in SF than anywhere else, save Thailand. The problem is she sniffs at it, declares it un-Thai, and then pouts. I've managed to find two places near the house that pass as eatable.

Time will tell. I'm patient, as getting her here proves. I'll say one thing you can quote me on: When she is in Thailand, I noticed she was a little different from the people in Bangkok because she's from Isaan, and I chalked it up to charming. But now that she's here, it's clear just how much a fish out of water she is. Little things like going to the store and finding her way around are a struggle. Some part of your writing refers to them going completely bananas when things don't go their way, totally unreasonable as you say. Soooo true. When any little thing goes wrong she turns into a 3 year old. Didn't do that so much in Bangkok.

Received an email I couldn't answer…what happens when the grim reaper comes knocking?
For those considering retiring in Thailand (like myself), I was wondering what happens to ex-pats when they get too old to chase bar girls and eventually die? Are there places that offer assisted living like a nursing home? What about cremation? Is that legal in Buddhist culture? In one decides to retire in Thailand, being so far away from old friends and family, I was curious to know who might be there in the end to see them off?
Is this is rape….or did they genuinely not know?
Two different girls at Patpong (different bars) were ripped off this week by customers bar fining them, then after the sex is over the customers refused to pay insisting that they had paid at the bar (bar fine) and that is all they were going to pay. One said he was a Brit and the other said he was from New Zealand the descriptions of the customers by the girls were not the same. Have you heard of this scam before? I have known both girls for about a year and believe them when they said no fights or arguments took place and that a price was agreed on BEFORE going out. Both of my friends have been working for about 9 months and had never ran into this problem before and both said they were too stunned to think of yelling rape or some such thing and both were afraid to involve police.
Whodunnit? More thieves are about….but who was it?
The fellow that I think I mentioned in my previous email had his wallet stolen – or maybe it just fell out in the G Spot Bar (Nana). We looked around. Finally, somebody found it. Most of the money was gone, but there was one folded one hundred Baht note left. This guy claimed that he did not have any B100 banknotes. So, somebody must have put that in after the other money was taken out. A polite thief? A management gesture? Fortunately, his credit cards and IDs were still in the wallet.

Neon neon everywhere. Bangkok looks
a lot sexier at this time of year.

Less than 1% of the Thai population may be Christian, but the Thais still like to celebrate the Christmas and New Year period. Any excuse for a party seems to be the Thai attitude. Anyway, in what I have always considered the heart of Bangkok, the area around the World Trade Centre, a lot of neon lighting has been erected to dress up the city and help put people in the mood to celebrate the holiday and the cool season. Neon lighting is up around the World Trade Centre, on Ploenchit Road, Rama 1 Road and even around Siam Square. Away from the city centre, Rachadamnoen Road is nicely done up too. Bangkok might not be like Christmas back home, but it does help to put you in the mood. The flagship Central branch at Chidlom is a treat to look at, as always.

An unsubstantiated rumour is doing the rounds about an apparent letter that Interior Minister Mr Purachai has sent to all of the police captains NATIONWIDE who have gogo bars within their precincts. Apparently the letter says that it is Purachai's intention to close all gogo bars nationwide. BS or not who knows, BUT this rumour was passed on to me by someone who is VERY reliable.

Whatever the case, ALL of the gogo bars that I visited this week in Nana / Cowboy and Clinton featured girls in full bikini. One girl in G Spot who flashed her rather shapely knockers for only a few brief seconds was given a real hard time by one of the mamasans immediately afterwards. The word on the street is that the police are giving the bar owners heavy warnings about nudity and lewd shows and the word on the street is that high season or not, you ain't going to be seeing any titties in the bars for now.

Three locals caught syphilis in the last week…well, it was probably a lot more than that, but three people let me know about it. Remember, this one is nasty and it can kill… Also, there is apparently a really nasty STD going around that a certain bar owner has got – and can't shake off! Hello hospital bed and I.V. treatment! I wonder how many girls in that bar have got it too?

Another new bar has opened in Sukumvit soi 33 and from all accounts it is fairly good. The Office, run by a Thai-Australian trio, is the latest bar, well really bar and grill, to hit what is termed by some, Millionaire's Row. Plushly decorated, they have been running specials all week to try and get the punters in – and it is working. 49 baht Carlsberg draught from 4:00 PM – 1:00 AM until Sunday 9 December. Between Degas and Goya, it used to be known as the Pinnacle Restaurant. There's good outside seating, its relaxed, and the girls are barfinable but strangely enough, that is apparently not their core business.

I get a lot of flak for my attacks on the Thais who teach English, their lack of expertise with the language and my biggest gripe of all, the archaic teaching methods that they employ. Arriving at work early this week, I was surprised to see that one of Thai teachers had beat me to the office. Surprised that I wasn't the first person to arrive for the day, I asked her what time she arrived. "I arrive early today. I arrive at six and a half"… So, don't be so hard on younger Thais if their English isn't so good; too often, they haven't had a chance to study with a decent teacher.

About two years ago, McDonalds had a promotion on where by you get a hamburger and an iced coffee for just 33 baht. While it may not sound like the ideal breakfast, it is a good way to treat a minor hangover or a rough night's sleep. (You need a full on Big Mac combo for a nasty hangover.) Anyway, this special got shelved long ago… In McDonalds this week, I ordered the trusty old special and guess what, the price is still 33 baht – they still haven't changed it back in the cash registers. So, if you are on a budget, try McDonalds for breakfast.

For freelancer fans, the Grace hotel seems to be the place that everyone is talking about. Wit the Thermae being a lot quieter than it was been in the past, a lot of people who never really liked Angels Disco in Nana Hotel are now choosing the Grace over the Thermae. The Grace hotel has a disco that closes at 2:00 AM and a coffee shop that seemingly doesn't close, even under the current regime… Formerly a domain of Arabs and other Muslims who make up the bulk of the guests at the Grace, the number of farangs in the Grace's freelancer venues is increasing rapidly, the ratio of farangs to Arabs higher than usual, no doubt partially due to it being Ramadan.

The best place to find private students to teach English and make a bit of extra income is to make yourself available to the students who are already studying at a good school. Many of them would like the opportunity to study one on one with their current teacher, away from the school environment – and many come from wealthy families who think nothing of throwing 1,000 baht an hour at a private teacher. But be careful, because what we are talking about here is not only unprofessional, it is poaching customers from your employer, which is not the wisest thing to do.

Pattaya beach chairs. Stick predicts that the price
will increase this high season…20 baht will be but a memory.

From those presently searching for teaching work, it seems that there are not a lot of full-time vacancies out there at the moment – but oodles of part-time work.

Inlingua have been advertising a new Thai course in the Bangkok Post recently, a course that sounds like it would be just the ticket for a lot of expats. Titled Express Thai, the course aims to get people with little or no Thai (and there are a truckload of them….you lazy so and sos!) up to a basic conversational level in record time. So off myself and a workmate trotted to the Siam Discovery branch of Inlingua to find out more about this promising sounding course. Entering the Inlingua premises, you're forgiven for thinking that you are walking into the most plush and luxurious of corporate premises and the initial impressions are very good, notwithstanding that you quickly realise that these premises are paid for by you, the customer! So it's not going to be cheap! We started making inquiries abut this new course and this is where all of the positives stopped and the negatives started. "No have Thai course" was the first response. After explaining that it is advertised in the Bangkok Post, we were told that the course is ONLY as one on one tuition and that the price varies between 460 and 500 odd baht an hour, depending on the time of day that you study. This is cheap for one on one tuition if we were talking about English, but dear for Thai. Asking to see the course materials, we were again given my least favourite of all responses, "no have". So, while Inlingua may have developed this snazzy new Thai course, it would seem that the Siam Discovery branch is not the place to go and study it because they simply didn't even know about it.

For the best American fried rice in town, try Took Lae Dee's in Foodland. Actually, almost all of the food that they do is great, except funnily enough for old staple, chicken fried rice, which is about the blandest in town.

An hilarious piece from the last Nanapong dance contest which was held last weekend. Apparently there was some fellow sitting next to the stage and one of the girls – as they do, shoved her pussy towards this poor unsuspecting guys face. It seems that the guy was a trifle hungry and this represented an invitation that he was simply unable to turn down. Thrusting his face between her legs and his arms around her backside, the girl started writhing in ecstasy as this guy's technique obviously pushed the right buttons. In a moment of extreme passion, she dropped her hands on to his head, to pull at his hair, but the poor girl didn't realise that all was not what it seemed… Her hands came up and before she had realised it, the fellow's poor hairpiece had been riped up off his head, the girl screaming, and the hairpiece went flying across the bar, landing on the floor! Anyone in the crowd who had not been watching suddenly had their attention drawn towards the couple as the crowd roared with laughter, the girl incredibly embarrassed. Apparently the guy took it all in his stride and had a smile on his face. Good on him. <I didn't see this for myself, but it was relayed to me by someone who was at the contest and he absolutely insists that it is true – Stick>

Following on from last week's piece abut expensive international calls at internet cafes, I approached a couple of internet cafes to see exactly how they work. As mentioned last week, some internet cafes just use a single dial up connection for everyone to share – including people making these so called international telephone calls. But one internet cafe in Banglamphu has a novel way of doing it. They have a dedicated ADSL 128 kps line just for international calls. Whenever someone wants to make a call – at a very reasonable 15 baht per minute, the cafe connects to the net and the call is made through that dedicated ADSL line without any other computers sharing the connection – and the quality is VERY good. The same internet cafe also have several computers accessing the net, but all sharing a single dial up connection! When I asked the owner / manager why she wouldn't just use the ADSL connection for everything, she complained that ADSL costs her 30 baht per hour, while the dial up connection was just 8 baht an hour…the idea of offering ADSL higher speed access didn't even come into the equation…and this from a cafe that is lucky if they make a couple of overseas calls a day. What a waste of a good high speed connection.

The motorcycle taxi guys are bored by the beer bars,
and flummoxed by all of the love starved farangs.

A warning this week, particularly for locals, to keep your passport and your local Thai bank account books safe at all times. A locally based expat found out this week that along with one's passport and bank account, all that is needed is a signature to empty the entire contents of one's bank account! Yes, if a Thai should rock along to the bank with your passport and bank book, and they are able to copy your signature, the pot of gold in your account is all theirs! Don't believe me? Well, have a look at the back of those withdrawal slips from the Bangkok Bank. What you see there is a declaration stating that the person holding your bankbook and passport has authority to make a withdrawal – assuming it is signed and the signature matches. One expat's bank account is 2,500,000 baht lighter this week. Fortunately the withdrawal was made by his wife to purchase a new house and was done so with his express knowledge and permission. But, this demonstrates just what might happen if you aren't careful…

You may have noticed a new message that shows for about ten or so seconds at cinemas, after the King's anthem, right before the main feature. Entirely in Thai, it states that using a video camera within the auditorium is prohibited and that if you see someone filming within the auditorium, and report it, you may receive a reward of up to 5,000 baht. So keep an eye out for folks with video cameras in cinemas and you may be 5,000 baht richer.

The end of the calendar month in Bangkok guarantees many things – traffic jams, retailers doing a roaring trade and restaurants dong their business for the month. But you can add something new to the list: with everyone going out and co-ordinating their plans by mobile, the mobile phone network seems unable to cope with everyone using their meu teu at the same time and network busy signals make this less than patient phone user more than a little frustrated! Network busy signals on the evening of the last day of the month, both last month and this month, make me think that network upgrades are necessary…

A few holidays are coming up and with Mr Purachai on the rampage, one can expect a lot less bars open, that is if any are open at all. This coming Wednesday is the birthday of HM The King and I would expect virtually everything, nightlife wise, to be shut. The following Monday is Constitution Day and under normal circumstances, I wouldn't expect too much to be closed…but with the way things are at the moment, I wouldn't count on that. These comments apply to Bangkok, but in Pattaya, Phuket and other holiday areas, who knows what will open and what won't?

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks for help with this column go out to
Minister Loo Doot and Khun Sanuk.