Stickman's Weekly Column July 28th, 2002

Postcard From Singapore



It has been well over three years since I have stepped foot in a developed country. This past week I had the chance, or should I say the pleasure, to make it to such a country. My destination was the most developed spot in Asia outside of Japan. My destination was Singapore.

Arriving at the world renowned Changi airport, you immediately feel like you are a million miles from Bangkok. The entire place is spotlessly clean and everything seems to work just how it should. The level of English is just brilliant, so good in fact that I could not find a grammatical or spelling mistake anywhere. Many people complain that they find Singapore to be sterile, dull, over policed and over regulated, but all of these things aside, I quickly realised that there is so much in Singapore that we simply do not have here in Bangkok.

Street vendor food in Singapore puts what is on the streets in Bangkok to shame – and that is saying something because the fare the vendors in Bangkok come up with, is in many cases, pretty good. The bookshops in Singapore are as good as the West, just fantastic – and make one realise that we simply do not have a decent bookshop in Bangkok. The supermarkets, oh the supermarkets. Remember all of those favourite products from home that you had forgotten all about – well, you'll find a lot of them in Singapore! And while Thailand might be known for its friendly people, the folks in Singapore were friendly, helpful and in almost every case, actually had something interesting to say too. Thai people may smile a lot….but the Singaporeans did too!

And what may come as a big surprise s that I realize that in many cases, we actually pay too much for a whole variety of things in Thailand. In terms of general goods, there are countless items from fruit juice to the MRT (the Singaporean equivalent of the skytrain) that are so much cheaper in Singapore than they or a comparable product is in Bangkok. And even when the price of many things in Thailand is cheaper, one must reflect that really, the level of service is commensurate with the price paid….and that is, at times, damning.

Never once did I feel anyone even tried to rip me off, let alone actually rip me off. And funnily enough, the moment I got back into a cab at Don Muang, I was greeted with the old "meter doesn't work" story, though this took all of 10 seconds to fix. To contrast that particular individual with a Singaporean taxi driver would be an insult to the professionals who drive cabs on the island nation. Yep, you notice it right across the board, that everyone in a job adds value, and contributes to making your experience al the more enjoyable.

Three days in a place is not nearly enough to think of moving there or anything like silly that. But, it is more than enough time for one to realise that as good as Thailand is, there are many, many things that Thailand doesn't have, and likely won't have in the near future either. Leaving Thailand to visit a developed country has suddenly brought home to me how there are many things that one misses out on in Thailand. And then there all of the other evils from double pricing to reckless driving to institutalionalised corruption and inherent dishonesty. Yeah, i'd probably miss those things after a while for one uses them to their advantage more than they care to admit.

And for the red blooded males who wonder about the situation with the women, let me say this. For a long time in Thailand, I lamented the lack of educated, intelligent, interesting, pretty females. I said that meeting a pretty girl was easy, but meeting someone with brains too was a whole lot more difficult. However, I got lucky and met "Miss Stick". Singapore is FULL of pretty girls. I don't know how they are personality wise, but their education system is purportedly the best in Asia, and it seemed harder to meet a girl without brains than with! All of the Singaporeans that I chatted with were very pleasant, and dare I say it, the fairer sex seemed to have the best attributes of women from both the west and east. Again, I was only there for a few days so cannot make any bold, sweeping statement about the female situation, but let me just say that the ladies I met were a very impressive bunch. If you want a docile, submissive girlfriend, I don't think Singapore would suit you.

Thailand is a great place to live. But for the first time in ages, I have come to realise that there is a huge opportunity cost to living here, and one is foolish if they do not dwell on that from time to time.

Where is this Pic?

Ahhh, just looking at this scene makes me
hungry for there is a very good restaurant in this picture.

Last week's picture was taken of the steps outside Panthip Plaza. This week's picture features an area that would be known to many locals, especially a lot of the Americans who have been here for a while, but perhaps not to well known to people passing through.

Forget the gogos, let's hit the beach!

Why would anyone want to visit an A-Go-Go unless to see women in their birthday suits? In Pattaya or Phuket, you can watch topless women at the beach all day for free! You also get to enjoy sunshine, a view of the ocean and a nice sea breeze. You can bring your own music (boom box) and your own drinks and snacks in a cooler, or purchase refreshments cheaply enough from the beach vendors. Compare that to choking on cigarette smoke in a crowded Go-Go bar, listening to your most unfavorite music and paying entirely too much for your drinks and "lady drinks." Unless they're showing it ALL, the beach beats the Go-Gos hands-down!
How to save 2000 baht.
Police stopped me by RAMA IV on my motorcycle. Two of them jumped in front of me and I almost killed them. They had to dive out of the way to keep from being hit. I stopped (Mistake) I said that I couldn't speak Thai and that I didn’t understand anything. They asked for license, registration, insurance, and the works. I had everything. The guy spoke about 20 words of English. After he realized that he couldn't get me for bad paperwork he then said that I was driving in the wrong lane. Of course, the correct lane was blocked so you couldn't drive in it. He showed me his ticket book, motioned as if he were writing and said, “OK? Understand? 2000 baht. Police station. Pay.” I said, “Ok. Give me the ticket.” This went on for about 15 minutes. I offered no bribe. He then said, “OK. Pay here 1,000 baht.” I said, “I thought it was 2,000 and I had to pay at the station. I don’t understand.” He repeated himself. I said, “Ok. 1,000 baht. Pay here. Give me the ticket.” And I pointed to the ticket book. He said, “No. No. Pay here 1,000 baht.” Finally, he radioed his friend who came over, wrote the ticket and took my license. I called my wife, explained what was happening, told her to ask for their names and also said that I wasn’t paying anyone shit and that I would (now that I am unemployed) make it my personal mission in life to make these guys sorry they ever messed with me. The second guy (who didn’t ask for money and was also adamantly denying it on the phone) said that there were a lot of police there and he didn’t know which one it was!! So, there I am in the middle of Ratchada, pointing at the guy’s face saying, “It’s him. This is the guy that asked me for 1,000 baht. I want his name.” I was trying to read his name tag which was conveniently covered up. My wife was still on the phone with the other guy and, meanwhile, nobody was getting pulled over. None of the 6 or so cops who were there would even look at me. Finally, the first guy talks to my wife, hangs up the phone and tells his friend to tear up the ticket and give me my license back. I said thanks and took off. No ticket, no payoff. If more Thais would do the same, this shit would stop.

The Thermae's newest sign.

Not a lot of news this week as I have been away from the big city.

Midnite Bar has closed the upstairs part of the bar. It was originally designed as a private party area and a certain bunch of party hard folks utilisied it a lot a year or so ago. Then, when the bar changed hands, the new management put dancers up there and sort of made it a two floor gogo bar. That seems to have failed and they are back to one floor.

One of the best gogos in Pattaya, and certainly a personal favourite of mine, Misty's A Go Go in Soi Neon (or do they call it soi Pattayaland?) will be having their third year anniversary. September 8 is the big day so mark it in your diary. There will be a free pig roast and hot and cold food platters for everyone, and free drinks from 6 PM until 9 PM for all their regular customers and Mistys members. And a special thanks to this bar for actually telling me about their special well in advance, not like the other so and so who tell me the day before, even though the weekly column only comes out every Sunday…

Was that a rumour about the return of the dance contests? A rumour or…?! Maybe I had a dream and I'm not sure if it was a dream or reality…. Who knows?!

Angel Witch in Nana Plaza seems to be making a real effort, one of the few bars to try something different. Manager Matt has introduced shows between 10:00 and 11:00 PM each night and they are a little different to what one sees elsewhere. Also, he seems to be making a real effort to get the girls to treat the customers the way that customers want to be treated. I heard that all of the girls have been told that there are certain things that the are absolutely not allowed to say to customers, and one of these is calling a customer "a butterfly". Ahhh, this is the way to go Matt, you will attract more customers if you can get the girls well trained.

Cascade Bar in Nana Plaza is dead. Well, it is still operating, but it needs to be seriously looked at. After the Crown group went and spent all of that money on doing the bar out, someone had the mad idea to full the place up with the least attractive bunch of girls employed by The Crown Group. A hint to the Crown Group. Round up all of your best dancers and your best DJ and throw them into that cave. On top of this, for a week or so, make all drinks a flat 80 baht. And if you want to REALLY lure the crowds in, put on some free food. Erect banners in the plaza advertising it a week or so in advance and to top it all off, send emails to Trink and others who will happily mention it. And finally, send my marketing consultancy cheque to Stick HQ.

The Dollhouse in Cowboy has been ordered to close for 30 days. Most of the girls will be strutting their staff up at the Clinton branch so Clinton Plaza, fighting to stay alive, gets a bit of a reprieve. Conspiracy theorists will no doubt be saying that one of the Clinton Plaza bars was behind the closure, knowing full well that Dollhouse would send their girls up to Clinton, and that Clinton would get a boost for a month or so…

You've got to give the guy full marks for balls, if nothing else. A farang living in Thailand has been ballsy enough to erect his business card amongst all of the forms at the Bangkok Immigration centre in Soi Suanplu! Hmmm, I am sure he gets great exposure down there but one has to really ask if the guy might have just gone a bit far this time. Still, you got to admire his confidence!

Stick