Cheap food, cheap beer, cheap accommodation, cheap transport, cheap everything, or just about everything. For many, this was part of the reason for coming to Thailand, be it either for a holiday, or to relocate on a more permanent basis.
But not everything is cheap in Thailand. Sure, some great food can be had for around 25 baht and you can travel 10 miles in a taxi for 100 baht. Super cheap. But not everything is cheap, not quite everything. In fact something that is quite important to most of us is not cheap – and in fact can be deceptively expensive.
Women in Thailand don't come cheap. And no, I'm not talking about working girls here. I refer to the vast majority of Thai girls, all of those ladies who have never worked in a naughty bar.
Money is important to Thai women. Thai girls expect you to pick up the tab for most things. Sure, in most cases it is us, the farang, who earns a lot more than them – and of course, the man picking up the bill is is the Thai way. Thai women like to look good, and looking good means spending money. We're not talking just decent clothes, women's beauty products etc here, but gold, jewellery and brand names, lots of really new, modern and popular brand names. So, its not just at meal time or when you go to the movies that you pick up the bill, it can quickly become a case of if she wants it, you pay for it!
And it is not just the everyday things that add up, it is some of those one off expenses that can mount up to. Decide you want to put a ring on her finger and you might find yourself in a position where a dowry is demanded. If you have kids with her and she is away from work for a while, there will be no hand out from the government for her – no financial assistance meaning, that you'll be picking up the tabs for everything, somewhat different to many places in the West. Many miscellaneous purchases will fall over to you to pick up the bill, much more so than in the West. And if she decides that she likes something while the two of you are out shopping, the hints that you buy it for her may not be that subtle. Worst of all, failure to whip your credit card out may bring her to sulk.
That's the funny thing about Thai girls. You never really know what is coming next. While they can be absolute darlings and treat you in ways that you have never experienced before, indeed never even believed was possible, it always comes with a price tag. And that price tag is one hell of a lot higher than you ever thought. Be it spontaneous shopping sprees, assistance for family or any of a zillion other unexpected things, Thai girls can be high maintenance financially.
It is no secret that Thai women not only like to be with a man who has money. They will, over the course of time, examine your ability to be able to not just look after them, – and possibly their family too – but to provide them with all that they desire. And in most cases, they won't consider how long it took you to earn that money, nor whether you have any purchases in mind for yourself which that money may have been earmarked for. If they want something, and you don't buy it for them – yet they see that you have what they deem to be enough money to be able to do so, they can become bitchy, bratty and in a worst case scenario, the whole relationship can become a little rocky.
In fact just this past week, while we were discussing various things of a monetary nature, my girlfriend teasingly asked me, "maybe you can't afford me"? The funny thing was that I'm still not sure if she was quite serious about this or not.
However, what it does do is show you that in some ways, prostitution and having a regular girlfriend are in some ways, not that much different. You spend enough money and you get your end away / have your fun. Relationships with women in Thailand DO cost money. Getting your end away with a working girl IS cheaper, but then that is a whole other story, and not the focus today.
Back in my corner of Farangland, where things have become horribly politically correct and where women often insist on paying half of the bill, the way that women hunt out the man with the money is somewhat masked. The way that many Western women fight to pay her fair share lulls you into thinking that when it comes to size, its not your wallet that she is looking at. But the West it is quite different to Asia.
There is a certain ruthless drive and hunger that the vast majority of Thai women have with money, a certain hunger that I personally have not quite got used to, and that I personally find a little perturbing. If you find yourself in a situation where money does make a difference to you, where perhaps the relationship isn't going anywhere, or perhaps she earns roughly the same as you – or God forbid, even more than you, test her and see how she responds to clues that you are not so rich after all. Just don't be surprised if she fails to conceal her exit and resume her hunt for the next man.
Never underestimate the importance that Thai females place on income level and the size of your bank account when they are choosing a prospective partner, especially someone they are considering as a long term partner. Security is important to women the world over, but to women in this part of the world, it is paramount!
Its sad to say, but if you don't have a pot of gold in your back pocket, you really might find yourself with the leftovers in Thailand. It is the men with the biggest salary who get the best girls. Yeah, to some extent its like that elsewhere, but it is much more so here. What do they say about no money, no…….?
Where is this pic?
This photo is NOT recent…
OK, so last week's pic was easy. It was of course the Chao Praya 2 Massage Parlour on Sri Ayyuthya Road. First to get it right was that old horn dog, Mad Mike of Bangkok Companies. Mike wins $25 worth of goodies from the good guys at ClubHombre.com. I just hope that the vibrator that he ordered doesn't chip too many of Mike's teeth… A shitload of people got it right, suggesting that it is more than a little popular with farangs!
Starting this week, there will be TWO prizes offered for the where is this pic. First person to get the pic right, irrespective of location, wins the prize of $25 worth of goodies from ClubHombre. In addition to this, the first Bangkok based person to answer the pic correctly wins the a tube of MrCreme sexsational cream. You MUST be in Bangkok and the prize will be delivered to you. So, to all Bangkok based folks, make it clear in your email that you are Bangkok based so that you qualify for the cream that will send your teeruk to heaven!
From a bar manager…
doing it for about 2 months off and on to make ends meet and pay her rent etc. and take care of her mom who is disabled and cannot work. Her dad is out of the picture. So I have spent 4 weeks with her and have gotten to know her. She is very sweet and I
believe what she is telling me. The thing I do not understand is…how come she cannot find a job?
I almost made this the week's "where is this pic" – but too difficult.
This is how Las Vegas and Wet Lips in Soi Cowboy look right now.
The old, run down Soi Cowboy that we knew and loved for so long has been getting a very major make over ever since Bacarra opened a bit under two years ago. With many new bars opening and old bars being refurbished, Cowboy in 2002 is now home to the newest gogo bars in the capital. And it is going even more upmarket with the adjacent Wet Lips and Las Vegas bars having been secured by the owners of Suzy Wong. The wall has been knocked down and another big, new gogo bar will open in the not too distant future.
Rapid progress has been made at the gogo bar that was formerly Spider's Web with dance floor, poles, seating and tables, all in place. Very close to opening, in fact word on the street is that it may open tonight. Plain Jane A Gogo, it will be interesting to see how it is run, given that Big John, Boss Hogg, or the Yank with the biggest beer gut in the Plaza – as he is known, is running it. After all, he has experience with beer bars but a soiree into the world of gogo bars is something new for him. The new bar is small, very Crown Group military standard with a straight narrow floor with a precision line of poles and 16 small tables. Nothing left to the imagination I'm afraid. As this bar has been bought by the fellow who owns the bars either side of the entrance to Nana Plaza, both of which are brimming with girls, he should have no problem filling it up with some young lasses. And speaking of that bar out the front, Big Dog's, is it just me who thinks that it is outrageous to charge 110 baht for a beer there? I mean 110 baht for a beer in a gogo isn't so bad because at least you have a show to watch, but 110 baht in a bar that is open to the elements with little on display….hmmm, more than a bit steep methinks. Still, it seems to be packed every time I walk past so the owner obviously knows what he is doing.
Morning Night, the new large beer bar on Sukumvit Soi 4 where Tom's Quik used to be is really pulling in the punters. Two pool tables at the back, nice decor and a friendly chill out atmosphere. While it hasn't been open long at all, it seems to be going from strength to strength and getting better all the time. They have a few nice girls, no stunners, but it is better now than when they first opened. They serve good food that undercuts the local market and the drinks prices are your average man's dream. 80 baht for a beer is a lot better than 110 baht, 20 metres further down the soi at the aforementioned Big Dogs. Morning Night can only be good for Soi Nana, attracting more and more customers to an area that has suffered in recent times from a major swing to Cowboy. Quite a modern bar concept for Thai management and many folks seem to be impressed. A good place to start your evening before your assault on the Plaza. Check it out!
What is it with the bongo drums outside the entrance to Cascade? By God, they are a racket on your ears. A bored looking girl sits there, pounding this blasted drum, with seemingly no rhythm to her pounding. Perhaps she thinks it is all the same as pounding a bucket of som tum?
The Bali bombing IS having a significant effect in this part of the world. I know more than a few expats who have will no longer venture out to the likes of Cowboy and Nana on Friday and Saturday nights, citing these as the two busiest nights, and the times that they believe these locations will represent the biggest danger. It is still the number one topic in Bangkok expat circles.
Its in a farang venue – why isn't it in Farangese?
Signs like the one above appear throughout Bangkok. If you didn't do 101 Written Thai, you will not know that it kindly requests that you do not throw your toilet paper / tissue into the loo. But what is funny is that signs like this often appear in toilets that are predominantly used by farangs, like the toilets in many of the bars in the naughty nightlife areas. And given that not too many farangs read Thai, who are the locals trying to fool by erecting such signs? While there may be a basket sitting beside the bowl for you to deposit your used toilet paper, I notice that even in late at night, the basket may only have a few pieces of paper, notwithstanding that there has been a queue to use the bog all night long! These silly signs do not work and this is a situation where English needs to be used.
Speaking of English, I finally made it to the Outback Steakhouse this week. Very nice steaks they have too, but damned expensive, it must be said. Now, they got the menu right and I don't remember seeing any mistakes in it at all…a pleasant surprise. This was all ruined however by the waitress whose English was so incredibly bad that I was forced to order in the local lingo. Now, that is fine in my case, but given that most of the customers seemed to be farangs tourists – who have little or no command of the local lingo, then it would seem to me that Outback needs to get their staff's English up to scratch. With the prices they charge for steaks, there seems to be no excuse for having staff who really cannot communicate in English. Any English teachers out there looking for a bit of extra work? Get in contact with Outback…they NEED you!
There will be another Nanapong Dance Contest this coming week, Thursday 31 October, at Rawhide in Soi Cowboy. As per usual, kick off around 8.30 PM and this contest, the 18th in what has quickly gained legendary status, will feature girls from Rawhide, Long Gun, Pink Panther, G-Spot and Suzie Wong bars. Like their recent contests, entry is free.
If you are the type of person who gets annoyed at being asked to buy girls a drink in the naughty bars, perhaps you should make your way over to The Office on Soi 33? In what sounds like an outrageous policy, the bosses have informed all the girls that any girl caught asking a customer for a drink will be fired! Still, anyone who spends a lot of time with a girl in such a bar should buy them a drink. It is the girl's job, after all, and failure to buy her a drink will result in a drop in her income.
Quote of the week comes from The Mad Stockbroker, "The trouble with the Dollhouse is that they all look the same, just like McDonalds".
Another quote, "This go-go bar biz is a numbers game, all the girls have numbers and they're all on the game!" – Hollywood Strip Dave.
A friend was over in Cambodia recently and told me of a scam that seems to be going on over there. What the girls of the night do is establish when you are leaving, and once they know, they will do their very best to rip you of on your last night in town. The reason for this is that they know that few people have the time to lodge a formal complaint or pursue a theft with vigour at the end of their time in that particular place. I have not heard of this sort of thing going on in Thailand, in fact petty theft with the working girls of Thailand seems to be a relatively small problem, but I wonder if the Thais will ever catch on to this? Rumour has it that those Vietnamese vixens are incredibly light fingered.
Also from Cambodia, it seems that that den of underage slavery, Svay Pak, has been closed down. Be it temporary or more permanent, who can tell? All of the houses are shut up and even the food vendors are conspicuous by their absence. However, as with all things in Asia, when demand exists, there will be someone who is willing to supply…and the word is that knocking on the door of various houses will lead to one being lead around the back and into a secret entrance.
Suwan Siam, or Siam Park in English. A nice
place for a day trip, though it can get quite busy.
On Wednesday this week I made it out to Suwan Siam, the amusement park with the artificial seaside. It was my second time out there and while I would have preferred the bona fide seaside, it still makes a pleasant enough day trip. Funnily enough it wouldn't be that much further to go to the seaside for Suwan Siam is located up in the northeast corner of Bangkok, sort of past Minburi. If you are going there from one of the higher numbered Sukumvit sois or Ramkhamhaeng, it is not so bad, but from many other areas, it is quite a distance. The first thing you notice when you get there is that all of the signs for admission are in Thai, except for a solitary sign in English that says "Foreigner: Adult 400 baht, Child 300 baht". Thais get in for 200 and 100 baht respectively. Tut, tut, grumble, grumble. However, this SCAM is VERY easily got around by sending your teeruk to buy the tickets. The tickets for farangs and Thais are identical and the person collecting them is none the wiser. Just stay out of sight when teeruk buys them! Fortunately the day we went it was so busy that we couldn't go on any of the rides, but I didn't want to admit to Miss Stick that the state of some of the rides – which could only be described as total neglect – did not do anything to inspire me. Indeed, they shattered my confidence levels. There is something about these type of places that makes them incompatible the mai pen rai attitude. Safety at such venues is not something the Thais have come to grips with yet. So, if you make it out to Suwan Siam, go and enjoy the artificial seaside, and the long water slide. Wander around and take lots of shots of your darling amongst all of the pretty flowers, but be wary of some of those rides.
TEFL International, the progressive teacher training school, now offer what is believed to be the cheapest MA, actually an MEd, TESOL in the world. Their MEd TESOL is a partnership with Burapha University here in Thailand. Here is how it works:
1. Take the certificate course or, if you have another internationally recognized certificate (CELTA, Trinity, ITC, Via Lingua) they will waive this requirement. The certificate is worth six credits.
2. Take their Diploma, which consists of four classroom based research projects (each between 10 and 20 pages long). The Diploma can be completed entirely by distance learning and gains you 12 graduate credits.
3. Attend a three week seminar in Thailand and complete the necessary research projects (four more 10 to 20 page research projects) for another 12 credits.
Expand one of your research projects into a thesis for an additional 12 credits and the completion of your MA. The total cost of this MEd TESOL will be $US 6,590 if you have not yet taken a TESOL certificate or $US 4,990 if you already have a certificate.
Rock Hard in Nana Plaza will be closing very soon, likely in the next few days. Only seven dancers turned up for work one night this week and the Silver Dragon opening is probably the last nail in the coffin. Few girls, too much close competition and the worst thing of all, the old marketing concept of the three L's, location, location, location! Unfortunately, it looks like they are DOOMED! To make matters worse, the contract is up again and the key money is 4.5 million baht and monthly rent 100,000 baht. The owner said that for the past three months, they have been losing 150,000 baht a month. Rumour has it that Boss Hogg might be ready to pounce and pick it up at a bargain basement price…
Down in Soi 33, Monet and Dali have a "show". It might be racy by soi 33 standards, but compared to what happens just a bit further up the road, its nothing to get excited about. Two very average girls, by Soi 33 standards, do a little dance routine to three disco style songs. In keeping with the more upmarket atmosphere of soi 33, they keep their kit well and truly on. It just doesn't quite work as it should…flashy surroundings with a couple of trashy girls. The show takes place around 9:00 PM on Wednesday through to Saturday nights. If you don't catch it, don't be too hard on yourself.
Thai building contractors remain in steady work due to the Crown Group's constant build, build, build projects. On entering Nana Plaza one surveys the immediate scene and with a slight sigh says, "It will be lovely this entertainment complex – when they get around to finishing it." And there is still a hell of a mess on the ground floor of Nana, where the old Mermadium used to be. Why are the Crown Group so slow in constructing bars? It doesn't help any of the other bars at all and makes parts of Nana look like a pit.
Are the embassies and their staff of any use to us expats, or are they merely a token gesture – a bunch of career bureaucrats earning sky high salaries who are more worried about when they will smoke their next cigar while sitting on the balcony of a Chao Praya River hotel chuckling about the discomfort of their fellow countrymen? With the lack of assistance that so many people complain about one often wonders if the embassy staff revel in the discomfort and troubles of their fellow countrymen out here. Seldom does a week or two go by before someone I know is forced to deal with their local embassy. Inevitably, they leave feeling much worse for the experience, and in the situations where they had to pay some sort of fee, they walk away feeling robbed, incredulous that they had to pay a fee calculated against a Western currency, yet so often they are forced to deal with locals who are barely speak the language and who really didn't have a clue what they were talking about! The feedback that I hear about embassies here is absolutely terrible, the British embassy seemingly the worst. But they all get a bad rap. Oh, how lucky I am that I have not yet had to deal with my embassy. So, have you got any embassy stories? Or opinions on why dealings with Bangkok embassies are purportedly like this? Let me know – I'd love to include a few embassy stories in next week's column. And if you're on the inside of one of the embassies, we'd love to know how you find it. Let me know!