Friday night. I'm sitting in The Dollhouse Clinton Plaza with Mr. Sun, the star of the opening piece in this column, a few weeks ago. We're sitting, watching the goings on, somewhat indifferent, for we have seen it many times before. The main reason for going there was not to go and watch scantily clad girls dancing, but actually to see the manager of the bar about some business. We had been chatting for a while and it was getting late. We were both a bit tired. The conversation had slowed down. With the lull in the conversation, it was an opportune time for my phone to ring. A casual glance at the wrist shows the time to be 11:45 PM, a little late to be receiving a call, but then this is Bangkok and phone etiquette here is not quite what it is elsewhere.
Pulling the phone out of my pocket, I was surprised to see my girlfriend's name flashing up on the screen as the caller. I jump up, signal to Sun that I'll be back and head outside, away from the blaring music, to answer the call.
I'm a little surprised that she is calling me at this time and am slightly concerned that perhaps something is up, for she doesn't usually call at this hour. Answering the phone, I can tell that it is awfully quiet where she is and I assume that she is in her apartment. But when I ask her where she is, she responds that "I am in a taxi on the way to see you". Surprise washes over me as impromptu visits, particularly at this sort of time, are not the norm.
She asks me where I am and I am a little ambiguous, responding that I am "in a bar with a friend". I'm then asked the question that I thought I may dread, but which didn't bother me so much when it arrived.
"Can I come and see you there"? she asks.
"Sure", I respond, although I start to wonder what I might be getting myself into.
"Where is it"?
"Between Sukumvit Sois 13 and 15".
"OK, I'll call you when I get there".
I return into the bar, a little confused, wondering why she wants to see me at this time of night. Although I had had a bit too much to drink, my brain starts to kick in and I begin to question the wisdom of allowing her to come and see me in such a bar, even though I have vowed to be honest with her. The alcohol is blurring my thought process and I'm unable to decide what is the best way to proceed. I have to be honest with her, but then I do not wish to invite trouble either. What the hell, she is open-minded, at least as much as you can expect A Thai woman to be, so I let it go and decide that it is for the best that she comes. We exchange a couple of SMS messages, the gist being me telling her that while it is ok for her to come, she has to realise that visiting this bar may have a dramatic effect on an otherwise rosy red relationship.
The Dollhouse is a good venue for such an impromptu visit, perhaps the ideal place. If you had to choose a gogo bar to take your girlfriend who would never dream of going to such a place, this would be the best choice. It is one of the newest bars and doesn't have that seedy feel that some of the older gogo bars have. The girls are covered up and there is nothing lewd going on. Furthermore, the manager is a friendly fellow who I am quite happy to introduce her to.
About 15 or 20 minutes later she arrives. She doesn't enter the bar herself but rather calls me from outside, allowing me to come outside, meet her, and escort her in.
After taking a seat, she orders a beer, itself a signal that something is not quite right, but this is offset by the look on her face, which I mis-read at the time, wrongly believing that she was comfortable enough. I went on to introduce her to Sun, to manager Mike and we chatted a bit about what we had been doing earlier in the night. The conversation then comes around to the bar, how these places work, how busy it is etc. It is at this time that I get clearer indication that she is not happy, and that her mood is going south, fairly fast. She jumps up and it is time to leave, no explanation necessary!
Her short legs start to accelerate and after following her out, I suddenly remember that I have not paid my bill. I dash back inside to fix up Sun, and when I come back out, she has gone. A quick dash to the main road and I see her trying to hail a taxi, obviously not too pleased with life at this particular moment. Luckily I beat the taxi to her and after a bit of negotiating, we agree to go somewhere quiet and chat about things. We largely get things sorted out, her understanding that while I go to these places, I do not go so often, and I most definitely do not do any misbehaving, nor have I for a long time. This has the effect of bringing up other concerns and before I know it, we are having one of those "where is this relationship going" discussions… It was almost 3:00 AM before we had finished discussing things, and she indicated that she was comfortable with my explanation, though seemed a little surprised at the depth of my knowledge of such establishments and the industry.
While allowing her to come and meet me in such a venue may be considered an act of brinkmanship, liable to open up a whole new can of worms, I figure that honesty is paramount in these situations. One is far better off being totally honest about where they go, and what they do – that is assuming that one is not crossing the line. Lies always come back to haunt you eventually, especially in such relationships. But, it must be said that the decision to allow her to meet me in the bar subsequently went on to put huge doubt in her mind, and has thrown up all sorts of thoughts that she did not have beforehand. She knows about my previous misbehaving and admitted that she was looking at some of the girls in that bar, wondering, just wondering if perhaps I had been there before. And that feeling did not make her feel good at all. Where once a good level of trust once existed, this has been damaged, and will now take time to rebuild.
In retrospect, should I have said that I was in a different bar, a different style of bar? It would have been so easy to wander around the corner to The Living Room, an innocent enough venue that would not have brought on the same, potentially relationship damaging, feelings. I'm comfortable with what happened, and I still firmly believe that honesty in relationships is the most important thing. Therefore, I do not regret what happened. I do not regret being honest.
Where is this Pic?
This is REALLY tricky….
Last week's "where is this pic" picture was taken of the statue near the park in the city of Korat. I was amazed at how many people got it right. The winner was none other than Dean Barrett, the locally based American author of "Memoirs Of A Bangkok Warrior" and "Bangkok Knights". Dean is the lucky winner of a tube of My Creme, the Viagara for her! This week's pic is again a difficult one and it is NOT in Bangkok.
Reject them immediately – AMEN!
BAD – Bangkok After Dark, from 1967.
The Nanapong dance contests are back and the next contest will be held at Pink Panther Bar on Patpong Soi 2, Saturday 24th August at 8.30 PM. Tickets are 250 baht each on sale from Tuesday onwards from The Living Room, Dollhouse Clinton, Dollhouse Pattaya and Hollywood Rocks in Nana Plaza.
Monday is Mother's Day in Thailand and you guessed it, virtually all of the bars will be closed! Ahhh, it was not that long ago that holidays like this meant that we could go and party hard and had a day off work to recover from a big night out, but now it is all so different.
Midnite Bar in Cowboy will be having a party on Sunday night to celebrate Mother's Day and there'll be free food and special shows.
Without naming the bar, there is a girl wearing badge #77 in a certain gogo bar who looks awfully pregnant to me. Now one really has to question the wisdom and ethics of a girl pregnant working in such a place…
Amongst the correspondence in the Stickman mailbag are questions from more than a few folks about how to get a retirement visa. It is remarkably easy. You have to go to the local Thai embassy in your area and get a non-immigrant O visa. This should be fairly straightforward and should not require anything more than completing a form. However, some embassies and consulates around the world are a little different so your experience may vary. Once you have entered the country, you need to go down to the Immigration department with a letter from your bank, stating that you have 860,000 baht + in a Thai bank account. Your Thai bank passbook is insufficient and you must have the letter. The letter will cost about 150 baht from the bank. Once you have the visa, it is good for one year, and you have to go through the same process again, the next year. As far as the money in the bank goes, you could technically withdraw it the next day. The reason they want to see this amount of money is that they believe that you have sufficient funds so as you do not need to work. Oh, and you have to be 55 years of age or over. It all sounds very easy.
Another story of a farang who has gone native. There is a farang fellow, a Brit I believe, who runs a small restaurant in one the sois running off Sukumvit – where else?! The Thai staff in this restaurant mischanged another farang who was eating there this past week and the farang pointed out that he had been mischanged. Farang owner comes over and tells the complainant to leave, and that he is banned from ever returning! How long does it take for one to go native?
So sad for you if you missed out on one of the Thai Temptations calendars. I gave one to a friend in New Zealand who went on to show it to one of his mates. His mate was so impressed with it that he went and had it copied at great expense – and this guy had never even been to Thailand before! The said guy went and bought himself an air ticket and has since been seen wandering up and down Sex Tourist Alley, visiting nocturnal haunts. Yep, this is true! Maybe the guys at the now defunct Thai Temptations should become inbound tourism consultants to the Tourism Authority Of Thailand?
On Saturdays the Doctor, Stoker John, Chainsaw Wilson and Wan the Man are nailing the groove at the The Pipe over on Soi You Yen, Bangkapi from 8 PM until late and packing them in! It is easy to find, on Lat Prao across from the Mackro which is just down from The Mall, Bang Kapi. Its a cosy bar with fine Thai food, Thai and international beers and a great crowd there…mainly for the blues. Sundays, it's still The Dr Blues Jam over at O'Reilly's Irish Pub on Silom Road from 5 -8 PM. They've been booked to do the farewell gig at Checkpoint Charlies in Clinton Plaza when it closes, maybe sooner than later, and that should be a big blues night as this great old venue closes for the last time.
I note that most new mobile phone numbers available are prefixed with "06". The "01"s got used up some time around late last year and since then, the "09"s came and went in no time. How long will the "06"s last? For some crazy reason, "09" numbers seem to have soared in price! Even just regular old numbers with now pattern to them are commanding much more than the "06" numbers. Weird. Oh, and the "06" numbers appear to have problems receiving SMS messages from overseas, like some, but not all, of the "09" numbers do.
I don't know if this happens elsewhere – it probably does – but it really annoys me when Thais call up your mobile, let the phone ring for absolutely no longer than one ring – and then hang up. The idea being that you call them back and you pay for the phone call! The cost is not the issue, it is the principle. If YOU wanna talk to me, you PAY!
You have to deal with a Thai at work and you need to get something from them that is perhaps a little negotiable. You gather that they have the power to provide you with what you want, but they are not obliged to do so. How do you get what you want from them effectively? Easy, approach them just before lunch time and refuse to take no for an answer. Assuming they have the authority to help you, the thought of being late for lunch will be all that is needed to convince them to grant your wishes.
This week I was very kindly given a copy of BAD – Bangkok After Dark, a guide to Bangkok that was published way back in September 1967 – that is before I was born! It is truly fascinating reading through it, seeing what Bangkok was like back then. This was two years into Vietnam, and I gather that the vast majority of foreigners knocking around Bangers back then were US military men. There are so many interesting pieces in it and I hope to include exceprts over the next few weeks in the column.
Finally, to the many people who emailed me asking about the site, where it had gone and whether the site's absence online marked the end. Even if I wanted to stop the site, I couldn't. Yep, you may have noticed that advertisements have been appearing on the site more and more recently, and some of these are paid up for periods of time well in advance. I have absolutely no intention of stopping. I thoroughly enjoy putting the column together. Yeah, sometimes it is a pain in the ass, come Sunday afternoon, when I haven't written an opening piece. Yeah, it does infringe upon my time, it costs me money, but overall, I still really like doing it….and can't see it coming to an end for a loooong time. I hope you still enjoy it too.
Your Bangkok commentator,
David Blyer, a locally based author / English teacher has
published a couple of good articles online recently.