Stickman's Weekly Column October 20th, 2002

Home Sweet Home



As I sit here at my keyboard, my eyes wander around my apartment, spying what little shares the apartment with me. The place where I live is a relatively small studio apartment, long and narrow, as opposed to the more conventional square shaped box. There's a bathroom off one end. There is no kitchen, nor is there a separate bedroom. Everything is in the one room – the bed, the wardrobe, the sink, the fridge, the computer, the fans, everything. I do my entertaining, my work, my sleeping, my food preparation, my studying, my considering, my reading, in fact I do everything in the same relatively small space. Does it sound like the last place you'd want to live?

I like freedom. And I really don't like being tied down. I'm not someone who needs to be surrounded by a lot of material possessions to make me happy. As far as possessions go, a computer and a camera are about all I really need to be happy. While I have a TV, I barely turn it on and while I also have a stereo, the reality is that most of the music I listen to is through the computer, these days. I have a video but again, I don't use it, in fact it was one of the dumbest purchases I ever have made. While this might all sound a little extreme, I am actually very happy with the place I live and the way I have my apartment arranged.

In a small apartment you do not need a big stereo system and it always makes me chuckle when I walk past an apartment that is the size of a shoe box but is home to a sound system the size of a house. There are so many bars that you can easily go out and listen to music at any time, cheaply too.

But its not just music that you can go out for. In Bangkok, you do not need to fill your apartment with all of the conveniences of modern living because almost everything can be had elsewhere in your neighbourhood, and may even be better than what you'd otherwise have at home.

Hungry? Food, even if you had a kitchen, how could you make it so cheap AND so good as the street vendors do? Food vendors in my neighbourhood charge 25 baht for a good sized helping. Time, effort, money, you just couldn't match it – so why would I need a kitchen? Still, I know that I couldn't live without a fridge…that would be just a bit too much!

So many people, both Thai and farang, spend very little time in their apartment. In many ways it is a place to sleep, to store a few things, and little else. Even somewhat wealthy Thais may have an abode that defies their riches and evidence of this can be seen in some of the cheaper inner city apartments that go for just a few thousand baht a month, yet the car park is full of late model European cars.

With the numbers and variety of vendors in most Bangkok neighbourhoods, most services are available and many will provide you with a greater level of service or better experience than you would get in your apartment anyway.

OK, so some people like all of the comforts of home right there, accessible at any time, with no need to share with others. And some people like their privacy. In such cases these people may choose to fill up their apartment with all of the goodies that they require.

But, if like me, you don't want to be tied down with the material possessions of modern living that can quickly become encumbrances, then Bangkok living will appeal to you as much as it appeals to me because you simply do not have to fill up your apartment with all of the things that you may not necessarily want nor need. No matter how sparse your apartment is, you know that just a few steps from your doorstep there will be a decent restaurant, somewhere to listen to music, or somewhere to entertain you, all at very reasonable prices. And that's nice to know.

Where is this pic?

Taken a couple of years ago, so it may have changed a little.

Last week's pic was of course Sri Ayyuthya Road in Central Bangkok. It took a week before anyone got it right…many people wrongly thinking that it was Wittayu Road with a lot of guesses for Sathorn Road too. The first person to get the pic right was XXXXX who wins $US 25 worth of sexual aids and other adult goodies from the good guys at ClubHombre.com. Like last week's picture, this week's pic was taken almost three years ago and this place may have changed a little since then…

Need net or computer services?

I run a small internet cafe and graphic design studio on Sukhumvit Soi 22 inside Liberty Apartments, ground floor. 1 Baht/min or 0.75 Baht/min for member card. ISDN line to be installed within a few weeks. B/W print 5 Baht, Colour 10 Baht & up. Scanning 20 Baht and CDRW services also.
And again.
We take care of computers (Service + Support PC's, networks and servers) as well as do computer training and consultancy. We're generally aimed at businesses but can sometimes look after the individual. The name is Intelligent Solution and Service and my contact e-mail is [email protected] or phone to 01 172 6916.
Thirsty in Pattaya?
I am a Brit who serves a welcome to all. But we have mostly Brits, Americans and Aussies. We are open from 5 PM till 2 AM or till you stop drinking . We charge 65b for any brand of beer, free shot with that before 9 PM, also double anything off the top shelf is 100 baht till 9 PM. We have 10 good staff that are always happy to see you as well as being good lookers as well. We have Thai boxing on from 9 PM till 1 PM. The name of the bar is BAR 21 in the Siren Thai boxing bars on Beach Road, just before you get to Walking Street. We are located between the two boxing rings on the left hand side. Please drop in for a beer and a chat.
What about the Thai dream?
Sometimes we rationalize our move to Thailand with a list of positives about living here. In my case, I had another common sense reason or two why I intend to stay here until my next life. I have not read about these reasons in the message boards. The first reason is affirmative action. Even though I was at the top of my class in bachelors and masters degree programs and had tons of experience, high standardized test scores and even excellent recommendations from employers, I couldn't break into the ranks of administration. Here in LOS it works the other way around. I am treated with deference and given preference. It is so unfortunate that life IS unfair and that every country cannot be colour-blind. At first I was sad and angry that my country had forsaken me, but my rage turned to jai yen yen after a short time living here. Reason two: Did you ever own property in North America? In a cold or hot climate? The cost of property taxes and utilities are ridiculously high and even if you pay cash for a house, you soon realize that the "American Dream" is a trap. The house owns you. If it is in a good neighbourhood, utilities, taxes, maintenance and insurance of even a modest home can cost you in excess of the equivalent of over 30,000 baht a month. It is imperative that you are either born rich or you must have a job to support the house you already own which becomes a form of indentured servitude. (Slavery)
is Phuket ruined? I get A LOT of feedback like this…
Phuket was the worst part of my trip. Not that it was expensive, rather the greed factor there was increased from its usual obscene high levels throughout Thailand, by a factor of a hundred in Phuket. And it happened as soon as I arrived: From KS, took a ferry to some town, and then the minibus. Once arrived in Phuket, the driver forced us to wait in the minibus for his travel agency to open, so they could book us in their hotels for a hefty commission — and it was raining so our luggage was getting soaked. We waited nearly two hours, and it took a revolt of ten extremely pissed farangs to get the driver to move. Of course after the wait, without previous notice they still charged us an extra 150 baht per person to take us to Patong Beach, and we had no alternative, as there were no other busses or taxis around. However, the worst part of Phuket was on the Patong boardwalk. No, not the katoeys. Far worse were the merchants, who would literally harass the farang to buy their overpriced touristy crap. I felt sorry for the tourist who travelled half way around the world just to be harassed. If you give me an address, I will write a formal complaint to those in authority, if you think it would help. I would not recommend Patong Beach to anyone — not until they clean up those harassing merchants on the boardwalk!
Kill a farang!
Once when walking to Panthip Plaza (and tripping to avoid all those taxis / tuk tuk drivers) a guy in a suit and tie just put his hand out in front of me requesting money. Yea, see a white devil, and beg for money – in Thailand it's OK. I believe the average Thai male has a smile on his face, without a brain in his skull, and would kill a farang for ten baht if he could get away with it.
In Hong Kong, stick with the electronic goods…
I am enjoying HK. Went to a club last night full of Thai hookers….so I felt right at home. However I could not afford the asking price of HK$1000 for a short time. If you factor in HK$300 for the hotel you are talking about nearly 7000 baht for a quick one !!!! You could get 10 short times in Pattaya's famous Soi Yodsak for the price of one in Hong Kong.

Thai police commandoes raided Soi Cowboy on Friday night, entering many of the bars and rounding up lots of girls. A number of girls were taken down to the local cop shop necessitating the bar owners to go down and collect them. Not sure what they were charged with but I imagine they charges were somewhat serious like poor application of make-up, failing to arrive at work on time and asking a customer for a lady drink too fast.

Rumour has it that there is something of a genital wars outbreak down in Pattaya. Several Bangkok based expats who frequently venture down to Pattaya have reported that they are finding high numbers of girls with warts where exactly you don't want them! One fellow took four girls back to his hotel (greedy bugger!) and three of them had genital warts, suggesting an awfully high percentage may have been exposed! Genital warts is a nasty one and for those who like to self prescribe antibiotics to kill your STD problem, you're out of luck with this one. The ways to rid yourself off them include scalpel, laser and freezing them off. Mmmm, doesn't sound like any fun at all!

On Thursday 31 October, there will be a Spooky Halloween Party featuring the Soi Dog Blues Band at The Living Room. If you wear fancy dress, all regular drinks will cost only 75 baht each. It kicks off at 7:30 PM. Take a look at their web site to see what a great time they had last year. www.thelivingroombangkok.com Ahh, so Clinton Plaza is still alive…just!

In the event of a terrorist act, Soi Cowboy has more exits than Nana. These words started off a conversation that went on for quite some time, discussing the possibility that Bangkok might become the target of a terrorist attack. Yep, with the horrors of Bali still fresh in our mind, rumours have been running wild, and there has been a huge amount of discussion on the topic. Many westerners have been discussing at great length just what may happen. The major topic for discussion is just where would a bomb be detonated. Many people discount the American Embassy because of the high security presence there. The other favourites are the nightlife areas of Cowboy, Nana and Patpong, and also the possibility, and probably the one that would do the most damage due to sheer numbers, Khao Sarn Road. Yep, the rumours are going fast and furious this time. Amongst the rumours I heard in a Bangkok bar. "A Bangkok entertainment area will be a target within 24 hours". "One Western Embassy has advised the bulk of their Indonesian and Thai embassy staff to return home". Whatever the case, we can only prey that the nutcases stay away from Thailand and that Western and Thai intelligence are on top of things. Personally, I can't see a nightlife area being a target. With the world becoming more and more politically correct, there may well be celebrations in certain PC countries if somewhere like Nana Plaza was blown up.

I always hear positive things about Dynasty Inn in Soi 4 and many claim it is the place to stay in the Nana area. On that Monday almost two weeks ago when the heavens opened and the rain fell and fell and fell, many places in the area were flooded. The management at Dynasty Inn, which received its fair share of the flood water, set up a van to move people between the front and rear wings in the Dynasty, a distance of about 10 metres. It kept people dry. Great service!

Love it or hate it, you cannot knock the Eden club as a successful business model. I mean, how many establishments of that ilk can boast that they have future bookings? This place is not a hotel, yet they have future bookings! Some folks have made bookings right up until July 2003! Marc, the proprietor knows what he is doing, that's for sure. For more details, check out – www.edenclub-bkk.com.

One really has to laugh at that One2Call (AIS's prepaid mobile phone system) advert that has a bunch of Thais on holiday in Kaikoura, New Zealand. They are out on a boat, watching the whales, snow capped peaks in the background, all peace and tranquility. All very suay, just what the average Thai likes. Next thing you know, the Thai girl in the ad picks up her mobile phone and starts using it. Hmmm, now the funny thing about One2Call is that it doesn't have international roaming, does it…! Seems like someone made a bit of a cock up to me.

Is this Japan, or is it Thailand?

Mahlee, who long ago served as manager of Playschool (back 1997ish, when Richard was her boss – before he took the money and ran) and then circa early 2000, she opened the very first go-go at CEP – Flowers A Go-Go (which was later reworked into the Candy Store). Mahlee is now back in BKK after a sojourn to Switzerland with a husband (?), and is working as manager at Dollhouse in Cowboy. It's her work in creating the 30 baht happy hour special, and the uniform "enhancements". What one Bangkok bar regular recalls about Mahlee is that she is an extraordinary recruiter of talent. She is from Galasin, and had a way of recruiting young beauties off the farms there, and Khon Kaen, to work for her. Can we expect that she will repeat her past pattern and load up the Dollhouse Cowboy with a fresh bunch of heartbreakers? Time will tell.

Hollywood Strip in Nana Plaza seems to have improved a lot recently. In the past the staff there resembled a herd of cattle – and well fed cattle at that, but now there are a lot of pretty girls dancing there. In the larger of the bars, now once again known as Carousel. they have installed a second rotating gogo stage, a second carousel. This is the only gogo bar with two carousels. Chatting with the manager, he confirmed that Hollywood will NOT be raising drinks prices this high season, which has got to be a good thing. Hollywood Strip is well worth poking your nose in.

If you're going to The Londoner, and are walking there from the Phrom Pong BTS Station, that is you would be heading west on Sukumvit, be careful as it is VERY easy to miss. They really do need to erect a sign with an arrow showing exactly where it is.

Thinking of teaching English at a school near the beach? Think again! English schools operating near the beach tend to be amongst the most unprofessional in what is already regarded as a bit of a cowboy profession. Schools near the beach tend to pay very poorly, are generally inadequately resourced, both in quantity and suitability of resources, and are generally run in a very unprofessional way. If you have your heart set on teaching on an exotic island, or really close to the beach, you're actually far better off applying for a job at one of the big hotels, many of which do have an in-house English teacher. Not only will you be paid better, you won't have to put up with all of the inherent shit that you get at language schools, be they near a beach or anywhere else for that matter.

Sandbags laid out near the Sathorn Pier.

I made it down to the river this week, one of my almost monthly rituals, an excuse to go for a quiet cruise on the Chao Praya River Express, and get away from the noise and nonsense of the inner city. A lot of evidence remained of all of the flooding from the heavy rains that we have had over the last month. Sandbags were laid out all over the show and there were obvious signs that the river's level had risen really high. While down there, I note that the Sathorn Pier has been completely redone – and it is a lot better than it used to be. With the connection there with the Saphan taksin BTS station, this is now a very busy pier.

A certain chain of language schools with a hyphenated name that specialises in hiring unqualified, inexperienced teachers and throwing them into the premises in shopping malls is up for sale. It seems that there has been somewhat of a disagreement between the husband (non-Thai) / wife (Thai) couple and the Mrs did a runner with a rather large chunk of cash. Anyone in the market for a chain of language schools with a poor reputation, actually, about the poorest there is? I hear they particularly like Brits and Americans…

I forgot to write in last week's lengthy opening piece about Isaan that should be noted is that we did not see any beggars in our travels up there. None. Not even outside big hotels or attractions popular with tourists. It was a refreshing change from the gang organised beggars that you are seemingly everywhere tourists go in Bangkok.

Yep from time to time, this site goes down. Funnily enough, each time is has gone down in the last year has been for a different reason – me voluntarily pulling the plug while the heat went up, a virus attacked it, DNS server error and most recently a domain name that had inadvertently lapsed. I have NO plans at all to stop this site nor this column, quite the opposite in fact. So, if it does go down, you can be sure that I'll be doing my level best to get it back up ASAP.

Stick