I received the following email and thought it appropriate to reply.
It is important to understand that this column and indeed the whole site is not written to appease the audience. Some readers talk about my target market but the reality is that there is NO specific target market. I'm not trying to make any particular group of people happy and I am not trying to sell anything either! I simply like to write about expat life in the city as I see it. Readers of this column are an incredibly diverse bunch ranging from the proverbial whoremonger through to those who could be considered somewhat conservative.
Many people wrongly believe that I am writing the column for sex tourists, whoremongers, perverts, whorists – call them what you will. Some even mistakenly believe that I try to promote the whole idea of foreigners coming to Thailand for sex. Worst of all, some readers – just like the author of the email above, seem to think that my existence in Thailand is purely for cheap pussy. Those who know me well, and those who read carefully what is written, know that this could not be further from the truth. Quite frankly, misbehaving with a bargirl is the last thing you'll see me doing.
Yeah, I still enjoy a drink in the gogo bars. I'm a male and looking at girls dancing in the buff while enjoying a beer with friends will always have an allure. But I'd be lucky if I enter a gogo bar more than twice a month these days. It grows old, you know. Sex and anything a bit naught sure gets people interested, so that is why I continue to include information about naughty nightlife in the column.
In terms of morality, I have to chuckle. I certainly have no agenda here, and a good Christian boy is not something I have ever been called. Agnostic would be much closer to the truth. What people choose to do is entirely up to them, but I would not recommend anyone spending long periods of time in the bar areas. If one were to go back and read my article on naughty nightlife, one would see that there has been a major shift in tone, one which questions why anyone would choose to come to Thailand primarily for sex. The focus of the article is to discourage people from coming to Thailand for solely that reason, and to warn of the dangers involved with it all. Come to Thailand for a zillion other reasons – the food, the shopping, the culture, the history, the beaches…and so on.
Of course there was a time in my life when I really enjoyed going to the bars and I don't deny that. Whosyourdaddy and I would hit the bar areas twice a week. We'd drink, get drunk, joke with the girls and have a good time. But it becomes old hat. We were new to the city, and in a way, I think that cruising the bars for a while is like part of one's initiation to Bangkok. These days I'd much rather go to a nice restaurant, enjoy some good food, good wine and bullshit with friends.
To this end, you may notice that the focus of this column may shift a little. No, I will never stop reporting on the nightlife because in many ways, it still fascinates me. But it has become more an observation in human behaviour than anything else.
I assure you that Stickman has absolutely not lost the plot, not yet at least! But over time, Stickman has changed, and certain things that he used to enjoy may no longer hold their previous appeal. Certain things that he once said – and indeed that he may have advocated – may now be of little interest. I'll continue to report on how I see Bangkok, and won't be shy in putting my thoughts and opinions forward. And hell, I might go on to contradict myself in later columns. So be it. The world changes. People change. And yes, I have changed too.
Where is this Pic?
The city at night….but where is this?
Last week's where is this pic was taken from the canal boat on the Saen Saeb Canal between the main pier at the World Trade Centre and the next pier running east at Rachatewi. Winner of this week's calendar is Gordo, the writer and founder of the excellent Asian website, www.talesofasia.com. Still plenty of calendars to give away so first with the right answer wins a cool calendar from Thai Temptations.
Mandarin and the Grace.
Regarding the Grace Hotel. I have been going to Bkk for 15 years and for the first few years stayed at the Grace. They have always been open with other places are closed (even on elections and Buddhist holidays). Most of the time they even sell booze though a few times they didn't sell booze.
The reason I was given is that as it is a hotel for foreigners it should not have to close. Basically, I am kind of cheap and have never tried other hotels on these days. For example, Riva's in the Sheraton Grande has a bar with girls available for play, but they are very expensive and no better looking than other places so I have only gone there a couple of times. If what I was told about the Grace is true then imbibers should be able to go to hotels and drink and perhaps pick up girls, but most I know will not pay B150+ for a beer.
Looking back towards the city from Ramkhaemhaeng.
Rumour has it that there is no inter-connect agreement for SMS messages between Orange and AIS (and this includes all One 2 Call users). however, anyone using a phone connected to the DTAC system can send an SMS message to a user of the Orange system. The more I hear about Orange, the more I wonder why anyone would want to use their system, notwithstanding the attractive prices of both the phones and calls. Incidentally, DTAC Sim Cards with 300 baht credit now cost just 300 baht. So, you can essentially have a second phone number in your mobile phone…. Ideal for those of you with mia nois!
If the rumours are to be believed, Clinton Plaza has been sold to the Khun Ying that owns the Central department store group. Word is that a SOFITEL will be built on the existing site and not a Novotel as has been inferred. Novotel and Sofitel are both owned by the Acorn Group but the franchises are not related here. The Khun Ying is having problems getting the papers from the bank as there are several law suits against them regarding the building so there is gonna be some tooing and frowing before things are finalised. Some of the Clinton bars have another 3 years on their contracts with a sub lease holder…so even if they lose the case it's gonna take at least 18 months plus the appeals – figure about three years! The first hearing is due for October 15. Rumour has it that the Khun Ying is gonna offer sweeteners for the existing lease holders (that is the bar owners) to leave. And not wasting any time, the Sofitel group have started taking soil sample on Clinton Plaza. More information from the bank is supposed to be forthcoming on Monday or Tuesday so with a bit of luck, I'll have more on this next week. Whatever the case, Clinton's days are numbered.
It would be nice if some of these bars that are offering World Cup specials actually had enough service staff on duty so that one could actually get their beer promptly. A short wait is fine, but waiting 15 minutes just to order your beer is totally unacceptable…
Riva's, the Western style bar in the Sheraton Grande on Sukumvit is another bar offering World Cup specials. But with Heineken regularly priced at around 200 baht for a bottle (small bottle) – yikes, don't expect their specials to appeal to many of the city's penny pinchers. The matches are shown on a big screen monitor and if you guess the scores of the games that day, you go in to enter our special prize draw, where you can win a World Cup Day's Drinking FREE. Or, if you just get the scores right, you get 3 free glasses of beer. Plus everyday one attends, you receive a voucher for the next day of the contest which guarantees a 20 % discount on all your drinks at RIVA'S or the ALL YOU CAN DRINK SPECIAL for 650 BAHT for all Heineken with snacks while the LIVE football is in progress! And there is even a dining offer too: Choose 3 dishes from menu at only baht 500++ per person before 10.00 p.m. So, if you have a few more baht in your pocket than I do, and would rather not hang out with a bunch of scruffy, smelly English teachers, perhaps Riva's is the place for you to watch the big matches.
While some of the bar owners are friends, others are arch enemies. It seems that the owners of the Crown Group and the owner of Woodstock fall into the latter category. Earlier this week, The Crown Group ordered their staff to pull out their best screwdrivers and take down the signs outside of Woodstock. Reasons are a little unclear but it seems that the reason may be that the Woodstock's signs contributed to obscuring the Cascade sign – the new jewel in the crown fo the Crown Group… Woodstock management called the cops, who had already warned the Crown Group about doing this again. Last time they had to pay to put the sign back, as well as a 40K baht fine. The cops have now ordered David Walls, the head of the Crown Group, to appear at the police station! And now the best part, Woodstock management were already planning to take the sign down but as it has been done for them, they are now planning on writing a thank you letter to David, which will likely piss him off even more!
Who moved that sign?!
The Londoner Pub on the corner of Sukumvit Soi 33 is so popular for people to go and watch the World Cup matches that they are reserving seats for some World Cup football matches. A good idea if you are a regular, but it can sort of alienate all other customers…
If Panthip Plaza is on your list of places to visit, beware that another crackdown is currently taking place – and pirate software isn't available. Where once thousands fo copied CDs sat, now all one can see is original software licensed for sale in the Thai market. These crackdowns occur periodically and no doubt things will return to normal in a week or two.
If you are sending an SMS message from overseas to a telephone connected to the One2Call network and that number has an 09 prefix followed by a 0 (e.g. 09-0xxxxxx), you should be aware that you can NOT receive the SMS on those phones… Seems to be some sort of error in the system as other numbers seem to be able to receive international SMS just fine…
I know it is not necessarily about Bangkok but…I truly wonder what the future of SMS messages on mobile phones is. While it is a great feature, it can also be intrusive to get the magic two beeps when you least want it. With junk mail now such a problem with email accounts, I have serious fears that SMS junk messages is going to be the next big menace, right up there with computer viruses. It is so easy to send SMS for free via the internet that unscrupulous advertisers could really become the bane of mobile phone users.
To everyone who wanted to read my "guide to successfully meeting non working girls" – the guide that will never see the light of day, I'll give you one HUGE clue… Thais are incredibly sensitive to smell. Its almost as if this sense is heightened. The difference between smelling good and smelling bad can well be the difference between going home alone…and otherwise. The ugliest guy in the world who smells fine would give David Beckham a run for his money if old Becks had forgotten to shower for a couple of days.
And speaking of David Beckham, is it just me or does his haircut make him look like Godzilla?
It looks as if Asia Books is about to create a new flagship store. Well, perhaps not a new store per se, but the branch on the 4th floor of Siam Discovery is being expanded. Work is underway and it looks like the store will at least double in size. But, will the new renovated version offer anything different or will it just be more of the same? Asia Books is bland and shopping there sort of reminds me of eating my mother's tomato sandwiches. They satisfied the need – but only just.
And on the subject of Asia Books – which is actually a book publisher as well as a retailer, it seems that over the last few months they are just re-releasing old books. Since Thailand's leading local author Jake Needham defected to a Hong Kong based publisher, Asia Books new releases have been a bit lean… Will Asia Books release anything decent now that Needham has gone? Another of my favourite local authors Colin Piprell has not published a novel in a while so maybe he has something new on the way? Still, I shouldn't complain because with new novels out from Stephen Leather and Clive Cussler, I'm sure I can wait for the next local release.
I guess the average English teacher in Bangkok earns around 30 – 35 K a month. A good majority never taught before arriving in Thailand and many have various skills that could perhaps be better used in a different job. There are a lot of Thais working in office jobs earning not a lot less than 30 – 35, and a good part of their job is spent dealing with foreigners. They are hired for their English ability and their job might predominantly entail contact with foreign customers. While many are no doubt very good at their job, the stark reality is that many have poor English and are unable to perform the task as well as a native speaker could… I wonder if some of these companies would consider paying a similar salary to what English teachers earn – and directly target foreigners in the city as potential employees. They would get native English speakers at a salary not much more than they currently pay locals. And I just know that there are many English teachers out there who would happily do regular office work for the same salary… The truth is that significant numbers of English teachers would rather be doing something else.
Word on the street is that Lumpini is not the only place where you can find a purportedly somewhat attractive and relatively cheap temporary girlfriend. Word is that other parks have a similar deal… Hmmm, bargirls is one thing but streetwalkers? I don't know, but picking up girls off the street really seems like one has hit bottom of the barrel and it really makes me wonder. Still, what others choose to do really is none of my business.
I've heard the argument that one of the reasons why there are so many farangs now dating Thai ladies is that there are far more Thais studying English than there used to be. But just why are more and more Thais choosing to study English? Is it symptomatic of the way the world is going, the global economy and all of that. Is it due to Thai girls specifically targeting foreigners and realising that the way to do this is by improving their English? Or is it possibly due to the fact that studying English is for the average Thai woman, somewhat liberating? Language is after all, an integral part of one's culture.
Wine is expensive in the Land of Smiles, damned expensive. And for someone who is just beginning to appreciate wine, the prices here are ugly. But, there is one restaurant that sells wine very cheaply… Where in the city fo you think you can find cheap wine? Only 59 baht a glass? Is such a deal possible? The old favourite, 13 Coins, of course. Exactly what the wine is like at that price, who knows. But I bet that it is the cheapest glass of wine in the city. (If you happen to know anywhere cheaper, let me know because Miss Stick is going to bankrupt me with her love of wine.)
In what can only be described as a desperate measure, not to mention an original way to make the city look really ugly, some clown has gone and put advertising stickers for Tony's Pub and Restaurant all over the leaves of plants in the Siam Square area! Tony might be known for decorating the city with advertisements and billboards, but I somehow doubt that he would condone this incredibly ugly way of advertising.
From the "only in Thailand file" comes the sad story of Mike the urangutan who died this week in Chulalongkorn's animal hospital. An article in the Bangkok Post reported that Mike is survived by his two wives….only in Thailand do even urangutans have mia nois!
Last week I talked about how part-time English teachers often get paid more per hour than full timers. There are apparently several reasons for this as follows. Sometimes you have to pay the freelancers more just to get them to take the work. From a management perspective, it’s also more expensive to keep full timers. You have to pay for medical insurance, work permits and other costs. Probably the biggest expense is that if you don’t have any work for them you still have to pay full-time employees. Freelancers get no guarantees. I guess the security of full-time work is not without its costs to both sides. Also, if you figure out what a full-time teacher gets paid per hour and tried to pay the equivalent hourly rate to an hourly employee, they probably wouldn't take it.
An interesting article about Bangkok appeared online here this week: http://www.t-mag.com/articles/213thai.html
And for a long shot bet, England to beat Brazil 3-2, but go on to get knocked out in the semis…
Your Bangkok commentator,