Stickman's Weekly Column January 6th, 2002

Don’t Forget That It’s Prostitution



When I booked my first holiday to Thailand, I will never forget the travel agent telling me how good service was in Thailand. "Don't worry yourself about anything young Stick", she said to me. "If anything at all goes wrong, the Thais will run around and do everything they can to fix it for you." And she was right. It seemed that everyone was virtually falling over themselves to help me. In most cases, Thais in the tourism industry do everything they can to ensure that your stay is as enjoyable as possible.

But why is is that my email box fills up with people who are complaining about all sorts of problems that they have personally experienced? 90% of the complaints regard experiences in, you guessed it, prostitution! Every complaint under the sun from "I caught an STD" to "She wanted to leave after 45 minutes" to "I woke up and my wallet had been stolen" have been received at Stickman HQ. Being the victim of bad service, or worse still, a crime is no fun at all, but perhaps some people forget what they are dealing with?

Even in countries where the people are known for their honesty and sincerity and where corruption is very low a bad experience with a prostitute would be put it down to the very fact that what we are dealing with is prostitution – it is known that problems in this industry are inherent! So why should Thailand, a country that most of us really do not understand that well anyway, be any different? At the end of the day, we are talking about prostitution. Where ever you go, anywhere in the world, when you deal with prostitution, you should expect some problems. AIDS, underage girls, poor service, theft, STDs, scams, beatings, indentured slavery, druggings and sometimes even murder – they're all part of prostitution in Thailand, just as they are in virtually every other country.

Sure, it may all be a whole lot better in Thailand than just about anywhere else, but the bottom line remains – we are talking about prostitution. Don't get upset when bad things happen. No, it isn't right – IT'S LIFE! Don't get me wrong. When things go wrong, you most certainly do have my sympathy, but you're presumably a big boy, and you should realise that these things do happen. It's a risk that you chose to take.

Last week's "where is this pic" was taken from the National Stadium BTS station looking east towards Siam Square. The distant building in the centre with the blue neon sign on the roof is the recently painted Novotel Siam Square.

Where is this pic?

Clue: It's NOT the Grand Palace.

New Year's Day in the capital…

Wham bam, no thank you man!

We started out at the Bier Garden on Soi 7, then on to Nana, and Cowboy, and back to Nana. Well about 1 or 2 A.M. we were on the second floor of Nana, and I think it was the bar next to Rosemary’s. Spider Web. Well my friend went in for a look around while I stayed outside. He wasn’t in there for a minute when he came stumbling out. I asked him if he tripped, and he said that he was pushed. I asked him what happened. He said he was looking around and a farang came up to him and said “buy or get out”. So he turned to walk out, and the guy pushed him out with some force. Well I couldn't believe it. Just then a farang stuck his head out the door. My friend said that's him. I pointed to him and said “you're a fucking asshole”. Then, bam, he slapped me across the face and my glasses went flying. I looked at him in disbelief and said “what did you do that for” and then I slapped him and knocked his glasses off. Well the balcony erupted and some Thai girl was swinging at me yelling “you hit my boss” and then a stocky Thai guy hit me saying the same thing. So my friend had picked up my glasses off of a table and we managed to walk away. Maybe the guy was just having a bad day. And if that's the case he should post a sign outside to the effect of “Having a bad day. Enter at your own risk”.
Overpriced barfines, girls…and now, whisky!
My biggest gripe is regarding the over-pricing of whiskey. I'm talking about a glass of decent scotch or bourbon, on the rocks; nothing fancy. A fifth bottle at the local store costs around 500 baht. This contains about 25 ozs. or 25 drinks which a bar will charge about 100 baht a glass for, thus charging a total of 2,500 baht for the bottle. This is FIVE TIMES the retail price. The same bar will charge only around 70 baht for a bottle of beer which retails for about 35 baht at the local 7-11. Why is whiskey priced at 5 times retail when for beer they only charge double? For fancy mixed drinks, I can understand a certain labour cost being factored in (although labour is extremely cheap here, being in abundant over-supply. For every girl mixing a drink, the bar will have 10 others sitting on their ass.)
Wanna teach English? Think again! This sort of episode is not that uncommon.
He quit over the holidays after working here for eleven (11) years; He quit because he was being docked 20,000 baht (yes, that's four zeros) for each of two months in a row, because he took off an extra week when his brother was here. Now, he had asked for and received permission from the owner way in advance to take off like this, but when the time actually came, and the owner saw that he was gone, the rest of us saw how upset he was.

We also just found out that one of the Thai staff resigned. She had asked for and received permission to take Saturdays off for two months to attend a training course. After the first month, the owner forgot he gave permission, was shocked and angry that she was gone, and docked her 1000 baht for each day gone, even though her salary came to 500 baht per day; that's being docked two days for every one day missing, and missing with permission!

A Hong Kong based expat makes comparisons.
Compared to BKK I still can't believe why expats even bother with Hong Kong! A beer at a club goes for 275 baht. Girlie drinks range from 600 / 1200 / 1800 baht. Barfines are 22,000 baht before 2:30 AM and 14,000 baht after 2:30 (you don't pay the girl however). Freelancers are typically 5,500 baht short, 11,000 baht long. Ahhh well, rich Chinese I guess. For that money I can afford the round trip plane ticket, 4 star hotel, and a girl in BKK! My perfect woman? Filipino body, Thai attitude and smile.
Contrary to what others have said, relationships can work.
On another note, your readers may find my situation with my Thai lady heartening.

I met her on the now defunct (Siam Girl) web site, and came to Thailand to see her and Thailand in general. Our relationship has been positive from day one and other than the usual communication issues, I could not have asked for a better friend and wife to be.

I was able to obtain a visa for her to visit me in America, and she has really made the transition extremely well. We have a Thai restaurant near the apartment and this gives her the chance to speak her language and improve on her english as well.

I'm not sure what the average Thai lady (non bar girl) is like with regards to their view of a relationship with a farang, but all I can say is my lady has made every attempt to be a loving, positive contributor to our home and our lives.

Heavenly creatures and horrible creatures.
There really is another side to these foreign male / Thai female relationships in Thailand.
For example, if one looks carefully at the men who frequent the bars, massage parlours, etc. in Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket one realises that at least 90% of them are of a very low class indeed (excluding the Taiwanese and Japanese). In fact, their stature in life in their home countries in most cases must equate roughly with the place most of the bar girls and their families hold in Thai society. I have great sympathy for any Thai girl who has bring herself to accede to many of these really disgusting creatures. And one needs no imagination whatsoever to realise the bullshit that most of them feed these girls. The promises made – the debts unpaid – the abuse – the desertions, the unwanted pregnancies, the diseases, etc. No girl could face this crowd of zombies for more than a couple of weeks and come out of the scene with her sanity. This is what makes most of them the way they are.
They're all thieves!
It is not only the bargirls who can rob you blind it is the upper class too. I recently moved into a moderately upscale apartment in Bangkok. When I moved into the apartment they said they had a deal – pay 5 months in advance and get one month free. I thought it was a good deal and I had the cash so decided to do it and get nearly a 20% discount off my rent. So I wander into a law office to pay my rent to the general manager (who is a lawyer) and sign the contract and get the keys. Today I get a knock on the door from a 2 guys who says I owe them money for this months rent… One I have seen before and I guess he is the condo owner of the place I live in, the other must have been his lawyer. “Nope already paid it” I replied in Thai and show them the receipts with the apartment complex name on it. The lawyer is getting mad and starts to raise his voice and get nasty. That’s it, now you got me mad too. “Who are you Mr. Thai man who comes to my door and starts yelling at me? Fuck off.” So I march downstairs, looking for some of the office staff, who were in the room when I paid my 7 months rent. Of course the GM is not there but one of the guys who was in the conference room is. My girlfriend approaches him and says we have a problem and could he explain what is going on. He conveniently forgot everything! At that point the condo owner wants to take my receipts and copy them. “Nope, I don’t trust any of you and think you are all thieves and will not give them to you. But I will copy them and give you to you tomorrow.” But he wants them now and is getting more angry. It is at that point that I lose it and start dialling the police and if he wants to talk to me further he can talk with my embassy and the police present. Be aware of any Thai when large sums of money are involved! They will rob anyone!

The new Dollhouse sign is HUGE!

The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy is getting very close to opening and just like outside their Pattaya branch, the Dollhouse have erected this huge great sign on Cowboy that really does catch one's attention. There is absolutely no way in the world that yo could go to Cowboy and miss it.

There were co-ordinated efforts at Soi Cowboy on New Year's Eve as all of the bars erected big bunches of balloons and decorations outside the bars. Some even decided to put up Christmas decorations at this late hour, which looked a little odd, but hey, what the hell – it all looked very suay!

In the City Of Sin (or should it be called the City of Dubious Farangs?) the old Sexy A Gogo on Walking Street seems to be after its demolition. Looks like it will return as a bar beer. Sexy A Beer Bar?

Interesting happenings in Vixens Gogo bar, Pattaya, this week. What was until recently one of the more popular gogos suddenly became totally quiet. Seems like the girls and the mamasan didn't exactly see eye to eye, so after pay day, Jan 2, virtually all of the girls left to go and work in other bars. Given that this is the height of the busy season, they can walk into virtually anywhere and start work right away. This left Vixens with zero girls (literally) working / dancing during the peak season – a bar owner's worst nightmare. Naturally the punters stayed away and earnings were minimal. However the situation has since been resolved and the result is that the mamasan is out and the girls are coming back, all of which goes to show the collective bargaining power the girls have, especially in the peak season. Could this be the start of the UBG – Union of Bar Girls?

New Year's Eve in Pattaya was, by and large, a success with bars open until the early hours. However, word on the street is that it was more restrained than say 5 years ago. The usual firecrackers could be heard but the sois were not ankle deep in red paper as in years before. Dollhouse had a great party and was rocking until the early hours. Some bars put up bar fines to 1500 baht – but not all. However the punters didn't seem to care too much and in general the bars did very well out of it. Only time will tell if this will continue as Jan 15 is rumoured to be the big crackdown date. Still, Jan 1 was supposed to be D Day at Panthip Plaza and it remains business as usual there.

One very serious issue arose when reading between the lines in an article about prostitution in the Bangkok Post this week. The age of consent is unclear. It's one big grey area and at the end of the day, prostitution, like so many other things in Thailand, is so uncertain. The pertinent point is that the Interior Minister was quoted as saying that commercial sex transactions where the girl was aged over 20 was ok, but where the lady was aged below that, they were not. This is quite contradictory to what has been understood in the past. Most folks have always believed, rightly or wrongly, that 18 was the lower limit. At the end of the day, there are thousands of girls in the 18 and 19 year old mark. But that there are so many employed at that age, does not necessarily make it right! I've got to admit that if I was in a taxi late at night with a working girl aged 18 or 19 and we got randomly pulled over by the police, I would not be the most confident fellow in Bangkok at that particular moment. Might pay to stick with girls over 20. I do not wish to appear alarmist on this one, and it doesn't help that it is virtually impossible to get clarification on the issue. Dear Mr Purachai, my name is Smelly Farang and I'm coming to your country to be a naughty boy. Could you please tell me the age of consent…..

And to reinforce this, Angels Disco, also known as Nana Disco, is asking most girls for ID. Any girl aged under 20 is not admitted!

A certain ground floor gogo bar in Nana Plaza allowed a couple of their girls to do a sexy dance last night without their tops on. Are things lightening up, or is this bar pushing their luck? Seems like one hell of a risk…

Remember the farangdingdong site that I provided a link to a few months back? It was the site with the legendary Thai girls with enormous breasts. Well, I have fielded several inquiries (yes, really!) about these particular girls, many guys unsure if this site contains genuine photos or if it was a hoax. Well of course it was genuine – why else would I link to it? Anyway, if you are looking for these particular girls, many of them come from a small province near the Cambodian border called Nakon Nomyai.

A friend chose Pattaya as his playground this week and ended up with a lovely lady for a few days. During this time, the girl decided that she should go and get her regular check up at the local clinic. REAL tests were given – a blood test and a vaginal swab. Tests were made and the girl was told that she had an STD – and this is where it starts to get interesting. The doctor gave her a shot of the magic medicine and he then went and stamped her little STD book as CLEAR! No record was made that she had had an STD, even though it was treated immediately. The girl, being an honest young lass, told my friend, who also had a shot…alas, a condom had broken a day or two earlier. This girl works at one of THE gogo bars in Pattaya, one with many girls. No doubt, most of the other girls in that bar go to the same clinic… The bottom line, which I have been saying for so long: those STD books mean nothing! The fact that everything in them is in English is the first sign that they are dodgy!

Rumour has it that one of the capital's best English language schools just gave the DOS his marching orders. It seems that he may have been favouring his friends when making certain decisions. While it was all very well to have got rid of him, is the new guy going to be any better?


It's almost time to say goodbye to the Xmas lights
and the beer gardens will follow in a month or so too.

Rock Hard Bangkok will be looking for a new general manager to start work on February 1. English Ricky has decided to migrate back to his homeland…what on earth would possess someone to do that?!

Lipstick, a long time gogo joint on Soi Sea dragon, close by off Soi Bangla has been shut and will not reopen. Word is that only Flash – at the end of soi Eric has the proper licences – but they have still been closed twice in the past two months for nude shows. One expat sees this as a case of somnumnar (deserve what you get). The girls there are cute but they want 2000 short time plus 500 bar fine and 500 for a room. One can only deduce that Phuket is attracting a lot of well heeled tourists and one must really spare a thought for the locals who will find prices soaring. A bunch of gogo joints have stopped the girls from dancing but PlaySchool on Soi Sea Dragon is still open – with the girls fully dressed.

Asia Books and Jake Needham, Thailand's best selling author of locally written English language novels, have gone their separate ways. But fans of Jake Needham's very popular Bangkok novels will be pleased to know that a Hong Kong and an Australian publisher have formed a new joint venture specifically for the purpose of publishing, distributing, and promoting his books around the Asia Pacific region. The first book under that deal will be out in early March, and it will constitute a bit of a modest first. It will be the first Asian Pacific published fiction ever to be published initially in hard cover size. The publication schedule calls for each book to come out in hard cover first, to be followed eight to twelve months later by the small, mass market paperback size. The first book under the new arrangement should be available all over the region by Easter or so, but whether Asia Books will sell it here or not, who knows? Whether they do or they don’t, the other bookstores here will have it. LAUNDRY MAN, the first book in the new series, is based on the TEA MONEY plot, but the original manuscript has been heavily rewritten to lay the foundation for a long running series of Jack Shepherd novels. KILLING PLATO will be the second book in the series and will pick Jack’s life in Bangkok up about a year after the end of LAUNDRY MAN.

Christopher Moore's latest book, MIA NOI, has been delayed. It was to have been released before Xmas, but late January is the revised release date.

My bickering over Bangkok bars failing to make any real effort to entice customers failed to mention that some of the Washington Square bars DO offer free food – and have been doing so for quite some time. The problem with some of these bars is that unless you are a former American GI, an oilman or US embassy staff, one very much gets the feeling that drinking, or even sticking one's head into one of the Washington Square bars, is like crashing a private party. The girls are friendly in the bars down there, but the atmosphere, it must be said, just isn't that warm…

For me, it's a place to get a burger at the end of the night, and reflect with WhosYourDaddy about the evening's entertainment. For others, its a place to go and use a clean public toilet. And for others still, its a place to check out, under better light than you get in a gogo bar, if your teeruk really is a girl – there are a lot of katoeys running around Patpong you know… Where I am I talking about? KFC Patpong branch, of course. KFC have just opened a new branch near the Ploenchit BTS station, about a 3 or 4 minute walk from Nana. The location, it must be said, is a little odd. It's just far enough away from where most people in that area walk and play, that you would actually have to make an effort to go there. I wonder if the investors may start to get a little nervous when the profit sheets start coming in. Why is it that McDonalds almost always gets the best locations and KFC erects new branches in no man's land? Oh, and if you pick up anyone in Casanova Bar, take them to KFC before you take them elsewhere…

I trust that you enjoyed the New Year's Eve celebrations but I hope that you didn't find yourself amongst the crush of people near the World Trade Centre. Sitting in a taxi that was driving through central Bangkok at 1:30 AM in the early hours of New Year's Day, I was flabbergasted by the number of people walking the streets trying to find a bus or taxi. The roads were packed with tens of thousands of people, and the traffic was stuffed. Tempers started fraying a bit as some folks realised that they might be there for hours, as there were enough people at every bus stop to fill not one, but a whole fleet of buses. If you thought Thais were somewhat rude when they fight to get on to a bus under normal circumstances, you haven't seen anything. After the New Year's Eve party at WTC, it was war at the bus stops as people literally fought their way on to the few buses that came along. It all resembled a rugby match!

Just another one of many nice temples in Bangkok.

Thailand is the land of endless curiosity and as I have said so many times, don't try and analyse things too much, as difficult as that may be. But one thing that I still wonder about is the control that so many supermarkets and large stores employ with their cashiers and other staff who handle cash. The cashiers must stamp all 1,000 baht banknotes that they receive with the store's logo. This acts as a control to prevent them from pilfering the takings. Watch staff as they leave large stores in the evening. In many cases they form a queue and walk past the manager and some staff are chosen at random to have their handbag and even their person, checked! But the question that must be asked is: With an image of HM The King on the banknote, is it not some sort of crime to stamp the banknote?

Why is the expiry date on milk, and some other products available in the Kingdom, printed in the Christian year system – and not the Buddhist? Milk, fruit juices and cans of fruit are amongst the products that sell in far greater numbers to Thais than farangs… If it was an imported product or a product that was predominantly purchased by farangs, it would be understandable, but most of the items I refer to are in fact locally produced product that is unlikely to be exported. Just another curiosity.

Unlimited internet is getting cheaper and cheaper. Ji-Net unlimited internet packages can be found in Panthip for 270 baht for one month or 750 baht for three months. Can't say I have tried this provider – or know anyone that has, but it is cheap. So, I'm gonna pick up a pack this week and I'll let you know how I find it.

Did you know that long movies, usually those of 2.5 hours+ duration, attract a surcharge of 20 baht in Bangkok? An outrage prevented the surcharge being added to Harry Potter, but Lord Of The Rings has it.

Too many bars that have websites have really crappy websites. They have pics of the girls that are either really unclear, or they go totally over the top and have the girls sitting there with nothing on. I was impressed by the website of Jigsaw Bar in Pattaya. Well laid out and the photos of the girls are actually pretty good. In fact, I like it so much that next visit, I'll be popping in for a look. However, is it me, or do some of this pics look like they have been pilfered from another website? Check it out for yourself. Why are the shots taken at the bar fairly average, and the shots taken indoors fairly good? This bar wouldn't be using unauthorised photos would they? No, never! No bar would ever do that! Jigsaw Bar

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick