Do you ever worry that the amount of time that you spend in the city's dens of iniquity, with the pay for play girls, starts to shape you, change your beliefs, change your ways and change the way that you act around Thai girls. Do you worry that it may reach the point that you are so used to the bargirl environment that when you are outside it with a regular Thai girl that you will suddenly be a little lost?
What is the done thing with bargirls is in most cases absolutely unacceptable with decent girls, and while deep down we may know that, the fact that we have spent so much time in the bars has changed what feels normal to us. You buy a girl a drink and you feel that you are entitled to put your hand on her leg. Do that with 99% of regular girls and you'll be in for a shock.
After a fun night out with a decent lady, a smile is as much as you'll likely get, and suddenly you find yourself wondering, "what, why doesn't she want to come back to my place?" You might even get irritable, mistakenly thinking that she is somehow holding out, not delivering her part of the bargain!
And it's not just what you do, but what you say too. You have to be very careful with what you talk about, for the things we talk to bargirls about are not the things that a regular Thai girl wants to know about. You have to be careful that you don't spit out some of those phrases that are so common with bargirls, but which regular girls seemingly seldom use. I have yet to hear a nice Thai girl say bark-warn (sweet mouth / sweet talker) or kee-nee-ow (stingy with money). And God forbid you start talking about butterflies, helicopters or the local short time hotel.
And as she asks you what you usually do on a Friday and Saturday night – you've been living in Thailand for four years after all – you have to suddenly come up with some cock and bull story to cover up the thousand or so visits you have made to the Thermae. Your body language betrays you when you falsely respond that those nights were reserved for a visit to the cinema and from the look on her face, you just know that tonight is the last time you will see her.
Should you wish to make the change, the transition from the bargirl environment back to the regular girls is one fraught with danger. Its a huge paradigm shift that can take some getting used to!
Prolonged periods of time in the bar environment without the reality check of dating regular girls can really change you. Personally, I have found it quite an obstacle, having spent quite a period of time fooling around with the girls of the night, and now back with the more regular girls finding it quite tough to get used to it all again.
Don't get yourself into a situation where those little things, the wonderful parts of falling in love, are no longer important to you. Like when your shoulder brushes hers in the cinema or when she grabs your arm to get your attention, but deep down you just know it is because she is warming up to you as a potential mate. Yes, the bar environment can really damage you and diminish the value of such special moments.
We talk about how girls become hardcore, and we often cite that little ditty about how "you can take the girl out of the bar but you can't take the bar out of the girl". Well, it works the other way too!
So, if you are at a point in your life when all you want is sex, then do as you wish in the bars. But if you are still looking for that someone special, be aware that fooling around with the bargirls over a period of time can result in a change that may make it more difficult to settle down with a girl in the future and enjoy all of the little things that make a non-commercial sexual relationship so wonderful. Don't let the bars steal your innocence.
Last week's where is this picture was of course taken from the sky train looking down over Soi Asoke and the entry to Soi Cowboy. I forgot to tell you that last week there was a prize for the first person to email me the correct answer. The prize goes to "Adelaide Ian" of Australia who wins a cool calendar of Thai ladies, courtesy of the good folks at ThaiTempations.com.
Where is this pic?
clue: That is a big hotel in the background.
Photo taken looking east.
We're only a stone's throw from an un-numbered soi.
Less attractive girls.
The sun beats down on the World Trade Centre.
Business is back to normal at Panthip Plaza and all of the pirate software that one could ever want is once again available, just as it used to be. Gotta say that I am surprised to see it back, but hell, I'm not complaining.
AUA language school seems to have put aside plans to fingerprint all of their English teachers. This comes on the back of many people threatening to resign, and some in fact resigning – though those few folks who tendered their resignation are in most cases now withdrawing the resignation. Related or not I don't know, but the word from within is that AUA is getting record LOW numbers of students at present.
Midnite Bar are upping the ante in Soi Cowboy. This wonderful little bar that used to be a nice quiet, favourite spot of mine has now taken off and these days it can be very hard to find a seat. To make matters worse, Midnite are introducing a couple of new specials. The first is a Wednesday night special where you pay 1000 baht and drink all you can – all beers and top shelf stuff, but not shooters or cocktails. The second special is every Sunday where draft beer is available at 60 baht all day, all night. This past week they have been undergoing a minor renovation on the new bar beer outside of Midnite Bar.
Contrary to the rumour doing the rounds, Playskool in Nana Plaza has NOT been sold. In fact the current owners have no idea how this rumour came about. They have no plans to sell. After all, with the bar doing so well – and it is my pick as the best bar in Nana at present – why would they want to sell?
Poor old Cascade Bar at Nana is experiencing teething problems. The new flagship of the Crown Group closed on opening night, signs out the front indicating that the girls have been temporarily moved to Voodoo – but I think a few of them actually originated from there anyway! Problems with the waterfall and complications with their liquor licence are to blame.
In Pattaya, one just can't help wondering what is going on. In SuperBaby all of the girls are topless and continue to do full nude lesbian shows, so it sure does make you wonder why the farang owned Dollhouse gets shut for a month for showing a couple of nom. The farang bar is closed down but the Thai owned bar gets away with the full monty. Am I being paranoid…or is this a justified concern for farang business owners, not just in the bar industry, but in other industries too?
In what might be viewed as the biggest policy change to hit the gogo bar environment in Thailand, all Nana Plaza bar owners got together and decided that all customers wishing to pay bar for a girl must present some ID to the cashier which will then be copied – a driver's licence, passport, work permit, or other form of ID. The management of all of these bars argue that the girls are in many cases required to deposit their ID with the receptionist or security guard when they go back to a customer's hotel or apartment. This is done for the customer's security. So, with some girls being stiffed by customers, being given less money than promised or in some cases being physically abused, the bar owners feel that they should protect the girl's, that is their employee's, best interests. That new shop out the front of Nana next to Big Dogs that we wrongly thought would be a t-shirt shop is now home to three photocopying machines and this is where your passport or other ID is copied. No ID to photocopy = no girl, no exceptions!
It's hard to believe, but there are actually some students from the West who choose to come to Thailand for their tertiary education. Yep, they come here as opposed to studying in their homeland or going somewhere with more specialised courses or reputable institutes like the US or the UK. Anyway, I wonder how much longer that trend which brings valuable foreign exchange into Thailand will continue? At one school offering a degree programme and is home to several international students, the school is having major problems getting the appropriate visas for the students, and these students are considering going elsewhere. And no, the students are not from "high risk countries".
We often read stories in the press about the daily minimum wage in Thailand being somewhere around the 150 baht mark, and the minimum in Bangkok being a little bit more, at about 169 baht or so. The sad reality is that these figures are misleading, and many people earn less, much less. Shopping at one of my favourite vendors in central Bangkok this week, I was told that one of the staff members works 8 hour days for the princely sum of 60 baht. Yes, a measly 60 baht. She does get free food there, but still, her take home pay is just 60 baht. Hard to believe really.
Contrast that with the fellow who got 40,000 baht for just one day's work. Yep, according to the newspapers, that was the price paid to the fellow who has been accused of murdering New Zealand expat Ian Travis. 40,000 baht….to be honest, I would have thought a farang, especially this guy who seemed to have a bit of money – and was reasonably high profile, would have cost a bit more to get rubbed out – but obviously I was wrong! So, if you are going to piss someone off, make sure they have less than 40K in their back pocket!
Its time to go to the beach, this hot weather is unabating.
I continue to hear very positive reports about Samart's unlimited internet package at 300 baht per month.
Down at Patpong this week, I started considering why it is that the girls down there tend to have a different, somewhat harder, businesslike attitude than the girls in all of the other farang oriented gogo bar areas (though it must be said that Nana is catching up to Patpong at a rapid rate). Patpong is famous the world over as Bangkok's red light district and I just wonder if this has something to do with it. Tourists coming to gawk at the girls see them and recognise them as prostitutes, the girls never really getting a chance to look at themselves in any other way. But the girls in all of the other farang areas generally do NOT consider themselves as prostitutes. Talk to them in Thai and they will NEVER use the word sopanee (prostitute) or guhree (somewhat coarse, meaning whore). They will always refer to themselves as service girls, or some other warm, fuzzy word, notwithstanding that they do provide sex for money.
This week's quote of the week comes from Bangkok Bob. "If its free in Thailand, its just not worth bothering with."
Luciano's in Soi 33 continues the trend of more happy hours and cheaper prices in the soi who's nickname of "Millionaire's Row" seems to be becoming less and less appropriate. With happy hour running all day Saturday and Sunday, Luciano's, like many other bars, is trying to appeal to the mass market.
I note that the sign outside The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy states that the free buffet has been extended to 8:00 PM now, although the sign on the ticker inside still says 7:00 PM. The buffet is pretty good too.
Mobile phones used to be fairly expensive in Thailand but over the last 9 or so months, prices have been tumbling, and they are now more in line with the prices of similar phones in other countries. In the past, more than a few folks became frustrated at being unable to use the phones they brought from abroad on the Thai mobile system. Then it became possible to get your phone converted at some Mahboonkrong vendors who would change the IME number to trick the phone into believing that it was sourced locally. However, while this could be done with most brands, Nokia phones were never able to be converted locally. You could drop them off at an MBK vendor and they would be sent to Hong Kong, and sent back to Bangers a few days later, all for a hefty 4000+ baht. Then someone based locally figured out how to do it and the price dropped to around 2,000 baht. You'd drop your phone off one day and collect it the next. Well, now, converting the modern Nokia phones is not a problem at all. Into MBK, just 500 baht and a few minutes later, the IME number on your phone has been changed and after buying a local sim card, you can use the device locally, no problems at all. So, if you are on your way over and have a phone, bring it with you and you'll eliminate the unnecessary expense of buying a new one.
Just as I do not email any sort of advertising crap or unsolicited email to anyone who emails me, please do not forward the the usual crap that does the rounds on the net. Further, please do not send large attachments to me either. I'm always happy to receive email, and in 95% of cases will reply to your email, but the unsolicited crap / jokes / naughty pics / politically motivated emails simply don't interest me at all.
The Thai version of Jake Needham's superb first novel, "The Big Mango" will be out this coming week. Anyone who read the original English version will remember the rich text, and some of the very subtle jokes that were very much plays on the language. Just how will this part of the book be translated? Well, the word is that the translation is "hysterically rude." I'll be picking up a copy for Miss Stickman and if you want to pick up a copy for your Miss Someone-Special, a few of the more prominent stores to offer it will include: Central (Chidlom, Silom, and Lad Phrao among others, including many stores outside of Bangkok), the B2S chain, the Book Chest, Discovery Books, 23 Book Center, Duang Kamoi (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Udon Thani), D.K. Books, Chula Book Center, Kasetsart Book Center, Thammasat Book Center, and Villa Market (!).
In King's Castle 1 bar in Patpong, the sign in Thai at the back can be translated as "Please do not sell narcotics in the bar – and do not bring them into the bar either." The amusing part about this message comes from the tone of it, which really does suggest that the management of the bar believes that there are employees who use drugs, and they simply want to ensure that the drugs stay away from the bar, and thus do not cause the management any problems.
The King's Group of Bars of Patpong is the city's largest employer of girls and has the largest number of bars in the farang oriented sector. On Thursday night, a memo in Thai was distributed to every one of the bars in the group and was passed around for every girl to read. The memo stated that a girl in one of the bar's was fired by the mamasan, but she came back later on to fix her bitterness, attacking the mamasan and from what I could work out, she hurt her fairly badly. Now, a reward is offered for any employee in the group (there are HUNDREDS) to advise the management where the alleged perpetrator has gone. With so many employees reading the memo, expect the girl to be found, and for her to suffer…
OK, so the paragraph back towards the start of the column about bars requesting that customers who take girls from Nana Plaza with them be required to leave ID is bullshit, complete dollair, Stickman's imagination running wild. No, the Nana Plaza bar owners never met to discuss anything of the sort, and no, there is no need to deposit any ID before you par bar! Apologies to anyone who's blood pressure started soaring at the thought! But it does raise an interesting point nonetheless. Everything is geared towards the customer in the bargirl industry. The girl has to submit her personal details / ID card, she often is just given a very small payout without having explicitly set a price herself, and in many cases – and trust me, this does happen, she is abused in any one of a number of ways. Will the day ever come when any customer taking a girl off the premises is required to present some sort of ID for the girl's protection? Could that be the next step in the social order crusade?
The new book review section of this site will finally go online in the next few days. As an avid reader of books set in and about Thailand, the idea of this new section of the site is to write short reviews about books that I believe would appeal to the readers of this site. Following are my thoughts on a novel that is set in an around the Pattaya beer bar industry. While it has been out for a while, it is not at all well known, probably because I believe it can only be purchased online – though with a bit of luck, Asia Books will carry it soon. Check out the review and if you like the book enough, click on the link at the bottom of the column from where you can order it online.
Tippawan – The Joy of Math by Jesse Gump
This book has been around for a couple of years before I was kindly given a copy, so this review is not in fact of a new release. With a very limited print run, it may be hard to come by but if you contact the author via his website, the link for which can be found at the bottom of today's column, then you should be able to track down a copy.
The story revolves around Tippawan, a typical rural Thai girl who goes to Pattaya to work, not as a bargirl, but to work with her brother who runs a small business there. She meets Mike, a farang who is living and working there, and from then on it is one big roller coaster ride.
Many things about the book made me wonder if this novel is in fact a story based on events that happened to the author – or perhaps even a biography of his time in Thailand. Certain things are brought up and certain observations made which have no real relevance to the story at all, but which the author seems to consider important.
Most novels out there about farang boy meets Thai girl are set in Bangkok but the bulk of this particular story is set in Pattaya. It makes a pleasant change. Unlike some novelists who prefer to change the names of the naughty nightlife establishments, the author uses the real names of the bars, so that if you know Pattaya, you will know exactly where they are!
What I liked: Something about this book really tugs on your emotions, and in many ways, it is one of the more moving books that I have read. The author doesn't stray away from the nasty scenes. When the heat turns up, he chooses not to hit the fast forward button but rather provide a commentary of some of the nastier things that happen.
What I didn't like: There are unfortunately more than a few typos and grammatical errors although this is par for the course for many Bangkok based novels (Jake Needham's excellent novels being a notable exception). There are quite a lot of factual errors too, but I feel that these can be overcome as they really do not detract from the story. It could have done with a bit more polish.
Overall: Very readable, and if you are able to get past the factual errors and typos, this book does provide a very moving story. As the guy who delivered the review copy said to me, this is the first novel that has brought him to tears.
HELP SAVE THE STICKMAN WEEKLY COLUMN! As this column starts to eat into my leisure time, I have to admit that, as much as I enjoy putting it together each week, that it is starting to take its toll. It takes several hours to put it all together, and in addition there is also a not insignificant amount of time spent on doing research, going out to see what is happening, and following up with others who are out there amongst the Bangkok action. While I have some very helpful friends who let me know what is going on in their neck of the woods, I do my own research and DO NOT LIFT NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES. With this in mind, I am looking to rs to help support this column. Advertising space is offered at very reasonable prices and the proceeds will be used to help offset the opportunity cost of putting it all together. So, if you know someone who is in business in Thailand, or who is selling or offering a product or service that would appeal to readers of this site, please do try and twist their arm to approach me about advertising.
Your Bangkok commentator,