For many Bangkok based expats, Friday night is a chance to unwind with one's colleagues, to go out and have a few beers and forget about office life. And for serious numbers of expats, the places to unwind are often the devil's playground, Sukumvit. What starts off as a few quiet drinks with colleagues can end up as a night of passion with one of the devil's darlings.
But it needn't be like this. Live in Bangkok long enough and you will meet yourself a nice lady. Sure, you will! A decent lady, a lady with traditional Thai values, someone who is oh so different from the girls down in the bars.
Now us farangs have a bit of a reputation in Thailand, a reputation for playing around with the working girls. Good lord, what makes them think that?! With this in mind, as things develop in your relationship with the good girl, you are going to get THAT question. Yep, the one that we all dread. Sooner or later, your regular Thai girlfriend us going to ask about your exposure to, and indulgences in, the world's oldest industry.
It might be as innocent or abstract as "have you ever been to Patpong?" or as was the case with my girlfriend, she came out all guns blazing, hitting me with, "When you go with prostitutes, do you always use a condom?" Well thank you darling for assuming that I am a whoremonger! I was serious about her so I told her the truth, and she accepted it, or at least seemed to. I was relieved at her acceptance and happy to have a relatively clear conscience. But it did make me think about my time down the bars, which while I do not regret, has left me with a certain reputation that is not exactly desirable.
You see when I went down to the bars, on the few occasions that I misbehaved I used to bring the girls back to my place. Back to my apartment, the place where I live, the place where I am known. I always thought that the biggest worry was one of security. I never considered any damage to my reputation, be it at the time, or later on.
So, when the question finally comes from your regular girlfriend – and it will, how do you answer it? Do you tell her the truth and admit to liaisons down in the bar areas, or do you cover it all up. Is the past her business at all? Does she have a right to answer this question? Do you have to answer it? If you do answer, should you answer honestly? These questions are all irrelevant if you have taken girls back to your place. Thais gossip like crazy and half of Thailand knows what you have been up to! To lie to her will send you down a road that can only end in disaster.
The most important thing to remember in Thailand is that as a farang, everything that you do is noticed. You may think that you sort of slip into the background, pass the locals by without any interaction or communication, and that you are almost invisible. This could not be any further from the truth. We are a novelty, and wherever we go, whatever we do, the locals watch and observe us. They remember…and they talk.
The way in which you do your misbehaving could have a serious effect on things later on. Dragging girls back to your apartment building is oh so visible, more than you will ever know. More and more, I think it is a really bad idea.
And all of this might come back to haunt you when you finally meet someone who you really like. If you lie, you are damned. If you tell the truth, you may well be damned too! When the trust has gone in a relationship, there is nothing left.
So, take Stickman's tips and unless you are a poorly paid English teacher who doesn't have a brass razoo to his name, don't take girls back to your apartment. Do it Thai style and use the short-time hotels. You'll be far better
off in the long run.
Where is this pic?
A precise answer please…
Thanks to SF Ben for the picture. Remember, the first person to email me with the right answer wins a fantastic calendar with pictures of Thai ladies from the good folks at ThaiTemptations.com. Last week's picture was the over bridge very close to Panthip Plaza on Petchaburi Road. The first person with the right answer was Pom Michael who wins the calendar.
This lack of consideration for others has been one of the more difficult things I have tried adjusting to while living in Thailand. I finally came to the realization at some point that many East-West behavioural differences don't faze me because I naturally look at them as being "cultural differences". Consideration for others falls under the category of "common courtesy" in the West and at one time I thought such a thing would be universal. It appears to be more of a learned concept than I would have ever considered.
I think a lot of the difference traces back to how Thai parents discipline their children. Case in point: how many times have you ever been out to eat in Thailand and a bunch of Thai kids will run amok in the restaurant disturbing other patrons? Generally not a word from the parents. If kids were doing that at a restaurant in the States, the smack would get laid down on them in short order.
In short, I think there is more of a daily emphasis in the West on consideration of others, a notion I would have never entertained before moving to Thailand.
I watched this fellow from a distance pull some chicken
bones out of the garbage and start gnawing on them.
Today is a Buddhist holiday in Thailand and all of the bars will be closed. So sad… It really doesn't seem that long ago when I can remember how the bars opened every day except for the birthday of HM The King and even then, Patpong still remained open.
What is it with seemingly every shop in Panthip now offering laptops for sale? Is it a case of if you want to be a modern man, a desktop is no longer enough? Is a man a modern man if he is not a proud laptop owner? The answer to this question I am not entirely clear on, but it sure does seem that laptops are the hot item of the moment in Panthip.
Last week there was an email doing the rounds about a female teacher who was working at AUA Pattaya and had only been there for a few days before she was deported and apparently even blacklisted – all for the heinous crime of working without a work permit! Why does Thailand always target the farang in such cases? Why don't they do it like other countries and fine the business that employs foreigners without a work permit – surely that would be the way to go? And if they are going to punish people for working without a work permit, would it not be fair to really expedite the work permit process to give one every chance of being legal? Being thrown out of the country for doing a job that didn't negatively impact upon Thais seems awfully harsh.
The Dollhouse bars will be opening early throughout the period that the World Cup is on and will have live coverage of the matches. Head down to their Cowboy outlet and watch it on the big screen. Their Dollhouse operation has also installed six new TVs.
So much for the traffic being light in the morning for the last couple of months…with schools starting the new academic year this past week, we are back to even more madness on the roads.
The Pattaya bus station is being done up. I can remember just two or three years ago when buses to and from Pattaya left every 30 minutes – but now it is every 20. With Pattaya attracting more and more visitors, the authorities obviously want visitor's first and last impressions of Pattaya to be good. Now they only have several square kilometres of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll next to the beach to clean up too.
Hollywood East in Clinton Plaza closed earlier this week. Walking past, it is all boarded up. It had been quiet for some time and I would have serious doubts if they were breaking even, let alone profitable.
A reader mentioned that he liked the fact that in Mandarin bar in Nana Plaza, when you order a Coke, you get the whole can, and not a mere 100 ml of flat soft drink from a bottle, the rest ice. How many other bars do this? I seem to recall Playskool gives you the whole can too. Are there any others? Some bars are super stingy, filling your glass up with enough ice to sink the Titanic.
There are some decent discount vouchers being offered at skytrain stations for places that actually appeal to farang customers. Amongst the establishments offering discounts and freebies, Woodstock has 15% discount vouchers and Bourbon Street has free appetizer vouchers.
Being caught a few bob short in the West is an embarrassment, but its usually a situation that can be worked through. In Thailand, where the cynics argue that they only like us for our money, being a few bob short when the checkbin arrives verges on a crime against the country. A friend ended up in one of those small Thai-style, neighbourhood karaoke bars. The problem with these places is that they are so different to the types of bars that tend to be more popular with farang customers. The modus operandi was not known to him and perhaps more importantly, neither were the prices. My friend entered, ordered a beer and was brought a large Heineken, even though he thought it would be the smaller size. A girl then joined him and he offered her a drink. Her first drink went down the hatch and he offered her a second. Down that went too. As his Heineken was coming to an end, and as he knew he was low on funds, it was time to call it a night. He called for the checkbin and got a fright when he saw the bill, 450 baht. 150 baht for the Heineken, 150 baht a lady drink. He tried to explain that he didn’t have enough money on him to pay the bill (he had 300 baht) and that he would pay what he had and happily return the next day with the balance. A few dodgy looking Thai men suddenly appeared out of the woodwork and things got nasty quickly with a bit of pushing and shoving. The shutters came down and he was locked inside the bar, drunk, with insufficient funs to pay his checkbin and no means of escape. Threats were made that if payment was not forthcoming, blood would be! Fortunately, a call made to a friend proved fruitful and the said friend came around and bailed him out. Very simple moral to this story, be careful how much you drink and ALWAYS have enough money to pay your bill. Thais have the propensity to get very nasty when they feel that money owed will not be paid.
Is that Jake himself on the cover?!
Laundry Man, Jake Needham's latest novel, is getting wide circulation, good reviews, and is being well publicized already in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and almost everywhere else in the region. However, fans will be disappointed to hear that it appears that Thailand will be practically the only place in Asia where it isn't readily available. The core of the problem with regard to distribution in Thailand is that almost no one here sells current books in the normal large format size in which they are initially published. While of course the large format is more expensive than the smaller version, unlike around the rest of Asia, Thai booksellers seldom even offer us the alternative and sell almost nothing but mass market sized paperbacks. The problem of course is that those mass market versions don’t appear until a year or so after the original large format editions, so we tend not to get books here until after they've been out everywhere else for quite a long time. For more information about the books and links from where they can be ordered online, check out: www.JakeNeedham.com
From the management of Dream A GoGo, I am told that the new name has nothing to do with the Dollhouse "and any one who might think so must have a problem, as they don't even sound alike". The new name was taken from Perth, Australia were there is a very large following in all the pubs that have strip shows and the name of that show is LIVING DOLLS. Apparently the name is known all over Australia. They did think about calling it "The Aussie Bar" but decided against it.
News from Pattaya is that the Cobra Gold boys have taken over the town. At least South Pattaya. The go-gos on Pattayaland 2 and Walking Street have been packed, reminiscent of high season and it has been estimated that close to 40-50% of the customers in the bar are the Cobra Gold boys. Walking into Happy a gogo close to midnight on a week night and there literally wasn't a seat to be had. They are barfining the girls too. In Super Baby one night this week around midnight they had maybe a dozen girls left in the whole bar! It seems that the army boys haven't discovered Soi Yodsak and I would guess that the beer bars on Soi 7 and 8 are a safe haven as well as the Soi 2 / 3 area. Of course, there are still plenty of girls for everyone, but no doubt many of the Pattaya regulars prefer a less crowded atmosphere. Mixed reports from the girls about how much money they spend. Some have said that they don't have a lot of money and others have said that they are generous (stupid) with their cash.
Was Tivoli ever as luxurious inside as it is now under the guise of Charlie's Angels? Fact of the matter is that I never went inside when it was called Tivoli, but entering it in the last week, I was very pleasantly surprised to see something a little bit different, a bar where the management had made an effort to make it really nice and cosy inside. In fact you could almost describe the interior as plush, not indifferent from the lobby of a very good hotel, and much more upmarket than the likes of the soi 33 bars. And they don't have soi 33 prices either! Worth a look, although the concept of girls dancing on the gogo stage in their regular clothes is not one that other bars will be copying in a hurry.
The rumour about town is that Clinton Plaza has been bought by the food outfit owned by Thailand's richest farang resident, Bill Heienecke. Maybe Bill is going to diversify his range of companies and target that sector of the market whereby you are fed by scantily clad girls?
And just before the column was published, there is yet another rumour about the future of Clinton. Some folks are saying that the Sofitel has bought the lot and that Sukumvit Soi 13 will be the new address of the world's newest Sofitel hotel. Whichever rumour is true, there are markings around Clinton Plaza which more than suggest that it will not remain a bar area that much longer.
I have to laugh at the way that most Thais get paid monthly, and how, in so many cases, the money never lasts. Knowing the way that many Thais really do not consider the future, it seems almost cruel that they should only be paid once a month. Even those on a decent salary seem to run out well before the end of the month.
At what age do Thai women become desperate? We've all heard the stories about Asian girls who start to get anxious to marry at 25 and who are over the hill and unwanted at 30. Not so sure how well it applies to Thai girls, but I have my little theory on how to tell when they have become desperate. There are more than a few older Thai 'girls' with braces on their teeth, some in their late 20s and perhaps even 30s. Is the braces on the teeth at an old age a sign that the woman really is getting desperate – and this is a last ditch effort to improve her looks – and get a husband?
Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling to meet the 3:00 PM publication time. I might change it to 8:00 PM, local Bangkok time. Having a definite time and not meeting it sort of defeats the purpose.
In recent months I have been working on "Stickman's Guide to Meeting Regular Thai Girls". What started off as a small document has grown into a very lengthy piece with all of the tricks and tips to successfully meet non working girls. I'm proud of what I have written and have no doubt that if you read it, and followed the steps, you would have a nice Thai girlfriend. However, I now find myself with a huge dilemna. Do I publish this…or do I delete it? On one hand it would be great to help genuine people who are interested in more than a quick bonk get out of the bar scene – away from a lot of the bullshit and meet genuine ladies, yet on the other hand it could – and almost certainly would, be abused….so what should I do? Your thoughts would be most appreciated.
Your Bangkok commentator,