It's been a hectic week and this coupled with
the fact that I have been away from Bangkok for
the past couple of days means that this week's column
is a little lighter than usual. It'll be back to the usual size
next week with the opening opinion piece intact.
Last week's "where is this pic" was of course taken outside the tailor's store just outside Parkway Lodge which is very close to the Nana intersction…ahh, so easy!
Where is this pic?
Clue: What wat?
Of course all temples don't look the same!
And you thought your Thai was good, eh? Did you know this one?
Personally I think this decrease must in part relate to the general economic downturn that is pervading Thailand at the moment. I also think the great 'cash cow' is drying up due to the many reasons outlined in Stick's recent column, plus the increasing effectiveness of the Thai tertiary education system.
Perhaps students are also realising that their improved standard of English has not led to an appreciable increase in their wages, but rather stretched their debt burden still further.
For what it's worth, I believe the teaching standards out here are quite poor, and I attribute this to the sheer number of 20 something non Celta/Tefl qualified teachers on the market. Frankly I think a Degree is worth little these days and certainly doesn't enable anybody to produce a good language lesson, nor does it provide integrity.
Beach Road outside Royal Garden Plaza
resembled Walking Street on Saturday night.
With Pharaoh's Bar – the first beer bar you see when you enter Nana Plaza – as one of their properties, the Crown Group has a monopoly on the best piece of advertising space in Nana Plaza. Walking into Nana Plaza this week, one can see a large banner advertising Cascade Bar, the newest bar in the Crown Group, and likely to become their new flagship bar, will open March 1st.
Is it possible that some bar owners read this column? Absolutely! Is it possible that they might actually take some notice fo what is said? Well, they're a stubborn bunch, but yes, it is possible. After my comments in last week's column about how the Nana proprietors really need to give us a reason to return, I notice that Bottoms Up has changed their prices a little. The short fellow outside who tries to entice you inside is holding up a card with a new price list – 300 baht bar fines and 100 baht beers. Funnily enough, I think the price for beer has increased, but 300 baht as a bar fine is the cheapest in Nana, and as far as I know, the cheapest gogo bar fine in the capital.
For verification that business REALLY is down at Nana, I hear rumours that a certain gogo bar has been getting record low takings this month. Yes, record LOW takings. And no, I'm not talking about one of the smaller bars on the 1st floor where business really is fickle. No, I'm talking about a bar at the other end of the spectrum actually…
And down in Pattaya, the hotels are full while the bars really are not that busy – which really does make me wonder if there has been an increase in regular tourists and a decrease in sex tourists? Anecdotal evidence only, mind you.
While down in the city of sin this weekend, our group had a great time in Peppermint Gogo bar, the gogo at the top of the lifts right next to Marine Disco. A lot of nice looking girls in there, and the place seemed to be largely attitude free. Also, if you are looking for the biggest bathroom if any gogo bar in the Kingdom, Peppermint has to be right there with five urinals, three cubicles, and all in a very spacious area and decorated with pictures of lots of pictures of Asian beauties on the walls. Some of the bars in Soi Pattayaland 2 were a lot of fun too, though the Emergency and Lipstick a Gogo had the smallest buffet I have ever seen offered. A table of food was laid out for customers and employees, but the whole buffet was cleared out in less than 15 minutes, with some customers unable to get a bite, and a few girls missing out too. Super Baby A Gogo was the only bar that we went into where the girls were topless and where lewd shows were still being held… I've never been a fan of Happy A Gogo, with both the staff and the girls in there doing their level best to refrain from smiling. And at 115 baht for a drink, it is not on the Stickman trail. The cursory glance that I made in there last night showed that the girls continue to struggle to muster up a smile. Still, many people seem to swear by it.
The Pattaya chapter of the "Down And Out Farang Club" appears to convene around the back of Mike's Shopping Centre, near the Second Road, early on Saturday evenings. It's a horrible sight to see a group of farangs, who had obviously individually lost the plot, huddled together with all of their possessions stored in those green Big C plastic bags. Yes, these guys were farangs, and boy, they were in a bad way. One fellow didn't have any footwear, and it looked like there was a lifetime worth of gunk and dirt baked on to his feet. While he had no money for footwear, he did have in his possession a bottle of alcohol, a local whiskey I believe. Losing the plot in Thailand would not be nice, but these guys were so far gone, it wasn't funny. Strange that I have never noticed farangs this bad before in all of my trips to Pattaya.
A new nightclub opened in Pattaya earlier in the week called Angels. Its located along Walking Street where the old Susan's Place use to be several years ago. Sticking his nose inside, a friend maintains that owners of other similar clubs will not be losing any sleep…
In what is the most shocking piece of news to the Bangkok English teaching industry that I have heard in a very long time, the main AUA branch at Rajadamri have employed an ex-policeman as head of security. Word from within is that his first task is apparently going to be to take the fingerprints of all the foreign teachers! What the xxxx? If AUA is trying to scare its teachers away, it is going about it magnificently! I know things are getting a little unusual recently, but this is extreme! What can be their justification for this? Maybe someone is pilfering resources?!
As far as work permits for English teachers go, the Ministry of Education is starting to get really tough. No ORIGINAL degree = no work permit. And absolutely no questions will be answered, no appeals to be listened to. Really, the bottom line is this: If you are over in Farangland and you do not have a degree, but you have plans to get a job as an English teacher in Thailand, you need to be aware that without a degree, you will NOT get a work permit. So now you know.
The dictator monument, oops,
I mean the democracy monument.
A reader reports that up in Chiang Mai, it is business as usual as far as pirate software goes. It seems that the crackdown is solely on Panthip Plaza – the place widely known amongst farangs…
The fellow who took a certain school to court seeking damages for unlawful dismissal was unsuccessful in his case. Well isn't that a great surprise?! As I have said a zillion times before, your contract should be looked at as a guide, a sort of gentleman's agreement by which both parties will agree to abide by. If things do go wrong, you may well be on your own and clauses in your contract should not be seen as a means of automatic redress. Remember, contracts in English have no legal standing.
Stories have come in this week about the Immigration Department getting nasty with that law that requires you to register with them every 90 days. Some folks have been fined the mandatory 2,000 baht while others have been able to talk their way out of it!
Bangkok based American author Dean Barrett is never too far away from controversy! Poor old Dean has been advised by his US agent that, the titles Thailand Land of Beautiful Women and Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior are on contraband hold at customs in LA. Basically, this means that the books have to be thoroughly inspected before they decide whether or not to release them. If they do decide to release the consignment, Dean will have to pay for the examination! If they decide not to release it, Dean still gets charged for the examination, and the merchandise may need to be shipped back to China. Some horny customs agent officials in L.A. are no doubt drooling over the photos of Thai women in his book, no doubt confiscating a few copies for personal use. What is weird is that both of these titles have gone into the States many times before with no trouble. (Who did you piss off this time, Dean?!)
Craving a helping of grease to soak up a little alcohol, I ventured out of a Nana Plaza bar and went to buy a burger from the king of grease himself, the burger vendor out the front of Nana, but to my annoyance, he wasn't there. Oh, bugger it, a kebab will do even though in three mouthfuls it'll be gone. Damn, he's gone too! OK, one of those French break baguettes with the real French cheese and pate, a steep 120 baht, but it'll go down a treat (not that I would have appreciated it in my state that night). But no, that vendor isn't there either! What's going on? It seems that someone has got it in for the food vendors at Nana.
There was a fire at the Novotel Lotus on Wednesday night, the hotel that is located in soi 33, near all of the Artists bars. From 10:30 PM until around 12:30 AM, the power was out at all of the bars and all of the girls from the bars came out into the street to catch a look at the fire.
Au Bon Pain fans will be disheartened to know that they have removed the hearth bread from their menu. Yep, their best, tastiest bread is no longer available… Myself and a friend agree that this was the best of their breads and with Murphy's Law in mind, it just figures that they would cut it!
Quote of the week comes from my portly friend, the Bonking Baron. In a piece talking about the Dollhouse Soi Cowboy, he said "there were far too many girls on the stage". Dear oh dear! Too many girls a bit hard on your eyes, Baron?!
If there's a crackdown in Soi Pattayaland 2,
this little neighbourhood will resemble a ghost town.
Am I the only person that likes Smooth FM? I really enjoy it… Yeah, I do. Am I mad? Most of my friends seem to think I've lost my marbles. With all of the madness that happens outside of my little castle, when I step back into the apartment it is nice to hear the soothing smooth, easy listening sounds that they play.
As one spends more and more time with the plug and play, or is it pay and play (?!) girls of the night, one gets used to the little routine that most of the girls follow. They will ask you to shower and while you shower, you start to shit yourself that the 50,000 baht in cash in your wallet will not be there when you get out of the shower, it'll be half way down the road with the little vixen. But she's still there and then its her turn to shower. Mistaking your bathroom for a water park, water gets splashed everywhere, even into places where it seems physically impossible for water to reach. She comes out of the shower with a towel wrapped around her and heads into bed, under the covers, the whole time the towel is still there. It's the same routine almost every time. But what about regular Thai girls? Do they splash water everywhere, and return from the shower with that blasted towel wrapped around themselves? No, you don't get any of this nonsense. They don't even shower, so not only does your bathroom avoid a drowning, you don't get the feeling that the fast forward button has been hit, and you're suddenly at the main event. And that is just one of a million reasons why regular girls are sooo much better. So, what you have got to be aware of is the regular girl who does do the little shower / towel routine. Maybe all is not what it seems?! Maybe her previous job was…
Your Bangkok commentator,
Thanks go out to Bangkok Phil, Khun Sanuk,
Dean Barrett & The Mad Stockbroker
for help gathering news for this week's column.