Stickman's Weekly Column January 27th, 2002

Bargirls Are Like Fast Food



In recent times, I have shocked more than a few readers by announcing that my days of fooling around with bargirls are over. I have been taken to task over it as people challenged and questioned me as to why I would give up patronising these so called heavenly creatures. Some people even suggested that I've lost my marbles.

Not so long ago, a close, trusted friend of mine from Farangland said to me that the time will come when I will look back on this aspect of my Thailand experience and laugh. He was right. The time to laugh has come, and I'm quietly chuckling to myself. That's not to say that I look down on the girls or the people who do fool around with them, more a case that they no longer interest me in terms of anything more than conversation. The day came when I looked at myself and thought, "why the hell are you still whoring around?" I realised that it was getting me no where, and in a land where there are so many nice girls who really are easy to meet, I was wasting time with this particular group of girls.

Bargirls are perplexed by us. Simple country girls who can be a bit rough around the edges, they are completely dumbfounded as to how farangs fall head over heels with them, often acting like total clowns, like teenagers in love. They see these wealthy farangs with all of their worldliness, material possessions and incredible wealth falling for a simple country girl who many a rough Thai lad wouldn't even give a second glance.

It dawns on these girls that most of us farangs really have no idea about how things work in Thailand – and the girls are so right. Unfortunately, this often has the effect of bringing about bad behaviour and you find many of the girls really pushing things. The girls are often competing amongst themselves to see who can provide the worst service or be the rudest to the farang customer. They'll say all sorts of rude things to the customers, usually in Thai but often even openly in English! The nature of the business, we're talking about prostitution after all, means that this is largely accepted.

So many of the things that the Thai bargirls do and say to farang customers simply wouldn't be accepted by a Thai customer. It really shouldn't be accepted by a farang either, but in most cases, it is. Of course, they wouldn't dare say such a thing to a Thai man. They wouldn't dream of saying a comment such as kee-nee-ow because the customer failed to tip as much as they wanted. They wouldn't dear ask for a drink within 30 seconds and then abuse the customer because he turned them down.

It all boils down to a lack of respect. It surprises me how so many foreign guys virtually worship these girls, giving them huge amounts of respect while at the very same time, the girl is taking the piss, looking at and treating the customer with utter contempt. Sitting back and observing things, it is amazing to see some of the nonsense that goes on. As in any aspect of life, a little respect for these girls is a good thing…worship is not.

On top of all of these immediate issues, things that happen in the bar, you have the longer term issues to deal with too. Marrying a former bargirl is fraught with a zillion possible problems. I have seen so many of these go bad though I have always known deep down that I could never marry such a girl. And even if I could accept her, the simple fact of the matter is that for someone who wants to be successful in Thailand, a former bargirl on your shoulder – yes, she is spotted a mile away – will not endear you amongst others in Thai society. And whether you like it or not, if you want to be successful in Thailand, you will need the help and assistance of other Thais. With a bargirl on your shoulder, less and less people will be willing to help – or even get involved for if they are helping a girl of such low class, it reflects badly on them.

So, I found myself in a position where I was enjoying time in the bar environment less and less, and that there would certainly be no long term relationship entered into, so my interest just fell away. My days as a customer of these girls, at least in the sense of taking them out of the bar finished.

Whatever way you look at it, there are issues involved in spending a lot of time with bargirls and there are lessons to be learnt from all of this. If you are someone who is planning on moving to Thailand with the girls of the night as your primary motivation, you really do need to re-think matters. While you may initially be in heaven, you could well lose interest in them in time, just as I, and so many others have. Perhaps most importantly for the single male, and contrary to what is so often said, genuine regular Thai girls are actually very easy to meet.

Bargirls are like fast food, they are a temporary fix, satisfying you in the short term – and enjoyable enough at that particular moment. But they are something you really do not want to have too much of, because long term, they won't do you any good at all. Just like your mother used to tell you, junk food is ok every so often, but not every meal! Translation: These girls are fun in moderation, but don't overdo it, and be aware of the potential dangers.

Last week's "where is this pic" was of a large, somewhat flash looking apartment building that is on the east bank of the Chao Praya River, perhaps 2 km north of the Oriental Hotel.

Where is this pic?

clue: Nowhere near Sukumvit.

Another beautiful day in the capital…

Is this the quote of the week or not? Beautiful!

Isn't it amazing how someone from humble background (who would only be considered by their own male counterparts) can transcend through half a dozen social layers and mix it with foreign middle class businessmen. They have the power to even bring them to
their knees!
More evidence that there are some evil girls out there.
I was speaking to a bar girl the other day. She is a nice enough girl. I have always had a good laugh when ever I "came across her", for want of a better expression. Naaa, really, she is a humorous type and very sweet in some ways.

But my opinion of her being a nice enough girl has now changed. We spoke about HIV and she said that if she ever caught it, there is only one thing she would be determined to do. What is that I hear you ask.

She said that she would be determined to PASS IT ON to every man she slept with and would EVEN ENCOURAGE him to penetrate her virused pussy UNPROTECTED and that she would sleep with as many men as possible AND EVEN REDUCE HER PRICE in aiming to pass on her HIV. Like some sort of revenge crusade!! It made me wonder how many other bar girls have the same "attitude".

Is there no cure for a head on your shoulder?
Also, regarding the letter about the Pattaya bus traveller, when I first ventured on a bus into China in the late 1970's, I soon found a middle-aged Chinese guy was using my shoulder as a pillow for his head. This is a common thing in Asia as Asians have a different sense of territoriality than we do. So we find it annoying or insulting but Asians see it as no big deal.
US dollars in disguise?
Your estimate of a minimum of 40,000 baht a month being necessary to live comfortably. What I find interesting is that that level remains scarcely changed from years before, in U.S. dollar terms. At today's rate, 40,000 baht = $US 909, about. Before the crash of July 1997 (precrash rate was 25 baht to the $, nowadays it's 44 to the $), the rock bottom minimum for comfort was 20,000 baht, and I mean ROCK BOTTOM; figure a couple thousand baht more as a cushion, so that's 22,000 or 23,000, let's say 22,500 baht for a decent level of comfort. Back then 22,500 baht was…$US 900. Almost the same. Even though in U.S. dollar terms, many items have risen (movie tickets from a range of $0.80 – $1.60 then to $2.27 – $2.72 now; a small Singha beer at a beer bar from $1.60 then to around 41.80 now maybe), the overall comfort level has appeared to stay the same in dollar terms.
Randy Japanese!
Working for a Japanese company in Bangkok, it was protocol for the company to arrange for single men to be "assigned" a live-in lover / housekeeper for the duration of the stay. I left that one for the japs, but took the 30,000 baht allowance to operate in a more flexible way.

Also working for a European company, it was common for managers to have ladies shacked up in apartments for private use. They were always hand picked from one of
the Kings bars in Patpong. My boss, although married with kids, had 2 which he visited 2 or 3 times a week. He set them up in boltholes, 5000 baht for an apartment 10,000 baht for spending money and changed them when he got fed up with them.

You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a princess…but is she really a princess?
Much has been surfacing in the column regarding "cheapskate" and "fair" prices for the ladies and their services in and out of the bed scene. Being no Pitt / Cruise look-alike, I was surprised that it was in fact the girls who often set the price. Pattaya in particular seemed to have the tendency for one being offered "package" prices as long as the lady enjoyed your company and you were willing to commit to them for a day or three. This obviously meant the occasional dinner etc, but for 700 baht including BF, what a pleasure!! This was all long time, and in one instance with the company of a lady who gave a genuine Thai massage that left you wobbly on your feet.

Women are, after all, still women, and I feel that if they feel comfortable with you they are willing to overlook the higher prices they could have got. Why earn more yet have to be nauseated by an uncouth fat pig for the same time? These were not "howlers" but often good looking girls who enjoyed showing one around and having a good time.

People change, things change, the world changes…
I just think your comments about things not being as good as they were to be incorrect, in my view anyway. I've been a regular visitor to Bangkok for about 10 years, sometimes staying for 5 – 6 months at a time sometimes less, and I know what you mean about
thinking the girls are "not as good as they were". I think all this should be taken with a BIG pinch of salt. Whenever I bring somebody new here they always think it is the greatest place on the planet, and then when they return it's somehow not as good as it was. I think we can all remember the first time we came here as being a bit special. I think if you spend to long here it's a sort of "can't see the wood for the trees" thing. I mean lets be fair the girls are pretty beautiful in anyone's book, and the way things are done here (farang scene anyway) it's all pretty good for the punter and the girl. I know lots of girls and if they don't want to work they don't ( don't get paid of course, but it is still up to them) I just think maybe you should again say some good things about the bar scene like you used to.

The bright lights of Nana don't lure me like they used to.

In Pattaya, all the bars in Soi Yodsak have shut their short time rooms down. One can get around it by taking a girl to a short time hotel, located conveniently on Soi Yodsak itself, but can't go directly upstairs in the bar as one used to be able to. The Soi Yodsak crackdown will no doubt have the biggest effect on locals who need to be discreet.

Vixens Bar in Pattaya is on a bit of an upswing again after the problems over the New Year. All the girls are back and some of the new lasses are apparently very easy on the eye. The management has refurbished the seats, and while this sounds like a good thing, they have put in some horrible plastic coated seats in double rows a la Long Gun. This week an unusual event took place in there, although apparently they used to do it all the time. Two girls got naked, that is totally naked – not even shoes – and then each got a glass containing a shot of whisky. They then went around to each girl in the bar who then put a pubic hair into the glass. Then the 2 girls, with their whisky cocktail ran around the bar three times. After the last lap, the front door was opened and each girl stuck their read out the main door and while leaning forward, threw the contents of the glass between their legs and out onto the soi! I have heard about some strange shit in my time but never this.

Highbinders, the movie mentioned in this column a few months ago, starts shooting in Bangers today down in the beautiful seaside suburb of Klong Toey. Jackie Chan is in town so fans of Jackie should keep their eyes peeled and you might just spot him…

Frozen a gogo in Pattaya has been closed for 30 days…and a couple of the other bars in that little gogo bar soi have been closed too. 30 odd girls from Frozen re-located temporarily to TQ2 bar but it seems that they didn't like it there and can now be found at the Dollhouse. So, why was the bar shut down? Because the girls were flashing their tits around. Why else? What a crime! Funnily enough, other bars in that particular soi still have girls jumping around topless… Lipstick and Cats also have the doors shut, but for how long, who knows? From a business point of view, just imagine how bad that is! You still have all of your fixed expenses, but no income for an entire month. And in this industry, those girls are NOT going to wait, especially at this time of year.

Rumours have been coming in about a shortage of girls in Thailand… Could this be true? Surely not! Well, actually, it is true. Since the high season of 1998, Phuket has been overflowing with tourists and this demand caused accommodation prices to soar. But Phuket continued to boom, running at virtually full capacity for months on end, the high season seemingly getting longer and longer each year. The slack was taken up by Ko Samui where it too is now difficult to find accommodation during the high season. Samui doesn't quite have the same infrastructure as Phuket, and there are not as many bars – and girls, working in that corner of paradise. So, we have a most unusual situation for Thailand, where by, come late evening, most of the working girls – remember there are not that many of them – have found themselves company for the evening, but there are still plenty of folks wandering around aimlessly, looking for company. It seems that this has been the cause of an altercation or too. Samui has never been known as the best place to find female company, and it sounds like it may be getting worse!

If you want to visit the bars in Sukumvit soi 33, but feel that you really cannot justify the high prices, note that there are at least two of the flasher bars offering a buy two, get one free deal. It sure makes these places a lot more affordable and brings the prices about into line with the more expensive bars in Nana. This particular deal can be found at Christie's on a Wednesday night and at Santana's on a Thursday.

I used to always like Asia Books as they have a reasonable selection of new release novels, a lot of branches, including one less than 5 minutes walk from home. However, when comparing the prices at Asia Books compared to elsewhere, this penny pinching columnist noticed that Asia Books didn't stack up too well. The book I was after, the latest from David Baldacci, in trade paperback format (the big size but with a soft cover,) costs a princely 650 baht at Asia Books but at Books Kunokinya (spelling?), the book shop in the Emporium, it costs just 514 baht. Exactly the same book… I note that books at Asia Books are imported from the UK whereas the store in Emporium sources material from the US. 20% + IS a significant difference.

Ko Chang….it's nice, but it is a bit far from anywhere
and I don't know about this idea of no backpackers..

Ko Chang has been getting A LOT of coverage in the press recently. The word is that the island is going to be developed into some sort of high end, exclusive island, along the same lines of Phuket. However, it has been decided that backpackers will be discouraged from visiting, no doubt the tool used will be ridiculously high prices. For many reasons, I just cannot see this working. First of all, while the beaches are nice in Ko Chang, I didn't think they were anywhere near as nice as many of the other more popular islands in Thailand. And on top of this, the beaches are relatively small. You just don't get long, wide beaches on Ko Chang as you do on Samui and Phuket. There are no plans to build an airport on the island itself, so the big spending jet setters flying in will have to first fly into Bangkok, then take a domestic flight to Trat, before being transferred into some sort of vehicle to the port, then on to a boat, across the channel, into another vehicle to endure the twisty, windy, bumpy roads before finally making it to the beaches… Hmmm, would someone pleas tell one of the big wigs making the decisions that this is exactly the type of adventure that backpackers thrive on, and that folks paying top dollar pay to avoid… But it looks like they are going to charge ahead and develop it anyway so, my advice about Ko Chang is to go and visit now before it changes…

Serviced apartments are not only available for long term leases, but many of these establishments will be happy to rent you a room out for a short period of time. Serviced apartments tend to have far more in room facilities than a hotel room with the likes of radio, video, microwave, crockery and cutely often included in a rate which is usually significantly cheaper than a hotel. However, many of the city's serviced apartments are coming under major pressure from the hotels – and receiving specific threats – that if they continue to offer daily / short term rates then things are going to get messy. It seems that serviced apartments do not have the proper licences to rent out rooms short term and many hotels realise that their business is being cut into. There was a BIG meeting in Rayong yesterday with many of the Bangkok apartment building management teams getting together to work out how they can combat this threat. At the end of the day, most of the serviced apartment buildings are flaunting the law… Many of the serviced apartment buildings that used to offer a daily rate have pulled such advertising from their website (Centrepoint being just one example) although they do continue to offer daily rates to certain people. Walk-ins and email requests for short terms stays will be turned away but existing customers who have stayed there in the past or people faxing from abroad will still be able to get the daily rates.

The small, but relatively good English language school IEG is moving from Sogo Tower to Wave Place. The reason given is that they are expanding and are talking about trying to attract students from neighbouring countries. Hmm, dunno about this because it has been tried before and has failed – and there are reasons why it has failed! However, they are one of the better employers around if you are a qualified teacher and looking for work.

I heard a rumour that Thammasat University may be moving the English language department to the Rangsit campus and many teachers have been threatening to leave.

If you are coming to Thailand to teach, beware of one teacher training school which is DOWNRIGHT misleading with both their advertising AND their email communication to prospective customers. All sorts of false claims are being made, literally scaring these teachers into thinking that if they do not do this particular course, then they will not be able to get a good job, which of course is false. A teaching qualification will help you to get a better job, but it is not absolutely necessary to get employment. Also, be aware of which course you decide to study because they are not all the same.

A most intriguing rumour has been coming out of one of the country's larger English language schools. While not prepared to name the school, I'll simply tell you that the name of the school is often abbreviated to three letters… The rumour is that a memo was distributed late last month saying something along the lines that there would be no more work permits issued for teachers at this school. If true – and I fully acknowledge that I do not have the full story – it really is quite incredible. The consensus amongst a couple of people that reported this is that this was the one school that was able to provide work permits in the past for part-time employees while no other schools were able to do this…and that this school is being punished for flaunting the system. More as it comes in.

Thailand is not the place for a dog with no cash…

Someone said something to me the other day which I very much agree with. "Thailand is a fantastic place if you have some money in your pocket, but is can be a terrible place if you don't". I agreed, it being something that I have always felt. It's a fact that is well represented by the country's canines. While dogs don't earn money, Thailand sure is not the place to be a dog without a family to look after you. The number of dogs in a dreadful state here is enough to make even a cat lover like me sick.

Reports coming in about JI-Net, the super cheap unlimited time and data dial-up internet provider have been surprisingly good. Good connections with decent speeds seems to be the general consensus.

The Living Room will be having a Superbowl Party early on the morning of Monday February 4. It'll all get going at around 4:00 AM and is expected to run through until about 10:00 AM. 500 baht entry will get you a free breakfast and a guaranteed seat in their big screened dedicated auditorium. You will also go into the draw to win door prizes including a free bar fine, Living Room 30% discount voucher, free beer etc. You can get your tickets directly from The Living Room at Clinton Plaza now.

For a while now Telecom Asia through their ISP, Click TA, have been offering quite a promotion on a cable modem connection. For 2,200 baht you can, during the time of promotion, get a 256K down / 64K up, unlimited time, unlimited data connection. In the big picture of the global internet industry this might not sound like anything special but here in Thailand, it is one hell of a deal. It gets even better when you read that the standard price for a home user for this package is a whopping 71,000 baht per month. No, that isn't a misprint – seventy one big ones! Now where this could all get interesting is that some of the promotions are for a period of one year. Still with me? What happens after you have been using this connection for a year, perhaps falsely believing that this is the price in finitum. Then one month, the promotion ends and your next invoice arrives with the standard price, 71,000 baht! Nothing in this world surprises me these days. So, if you have taken on such a service, check how long the promotion runs for, and what happens when the promotion period runs out!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick