Stickman's Weekly Column November 17th, 2002

Do We Take It Seriously?



Before I moved out to Thailand, few of my friends in Farangland were married. This was largely because at the time, most of us were still fairly young and not yet ready to commit to one person. Of my friends who were married, all took the marriage seriously, all seemed to be happy, and none of them, as far as I know, ever cheated on their wife. In fact if they had have, such behaviour would have been considered highly questionable and not at all appropriate. Even their close friends would have been disappointed. Maybe this is because we were all still somewhat young and idealistic?

I have far more friends here in Bangkok than I do back in my homeland. I'm not sure why this is but I partially attribute it to the fact that Westerners living in Bangkok do tend to battle a lot, and they therefore tend to make friendships a lot more quickly and easily than they perhaps would in the West.

Of my Bangkok friends, I guess around half of them are married, and because of the age that myself and many of my unmarried friends are at, many of us will most liked getting married off soon. Married off, no longer to lead the footloose, fancy-free lifestyle that is so available if you want it in Bangkok?

But when I look around at my married friends here in Bangkok, and at other marred Western guys who I know, more than half of them do, from time to time, have a bit of "fun" away from home, and I'm not talking fun at the local pinball arcade. What these guys decide to do is up to them and it is not my place to criticise, but what makes me chuckle is that virtually all of these guys would be horrified if their wife was to go and have a bit of fun with another guy. Hey, if it is good enough for you to do it, then what is wrong with her getting that itch scratched?

I've never been married and thus am missing an important part of the equation when I write this article but, for me, marriage means monogamy. I mean, why bother getting married if you still want to have your fun? It seems to me to sort of defeat the purpose. Yeah, there are good arguments for straying from the marital bed too, but personally, I have always felt that marriage is marriage and one should be faithful. No silly religious arguments here or anything, this is just my personal philosophy.

So, the question that must be asked is why are all of these guys unfaithful to their wives? Is it all due to the availability of female company in Thailand, both commercially AND non commercially? Is it that many of these Western guys have, despite their protests to the contrary, gone native? Or perhaps is it that humans are largely incapable of being monogamous, and that the monogamy that exists in the West is the result of a lot of Farangland residents leading unrealistic, overly PC, un-natural, suppressed lifestyles.

But the one I wonder the most about is this: Is time in Bangkok simply one big holiday for a lot of the Westerners who live and work (or are possibly retired) here? Do so many expats living here feel that they are now in a place where due to cultural differences, they do not have to as the Thai general population does, and thus, they have freedom, carte blanche, to do exactly as they please? And is it perhaps possible, that many of these guys would walk away from their marriage in a heartbeat, if they found someone else better, or if things simply got too difficult? Is it true that a good number of Westerners would leave Bangkok behind if things got too tough, be it related to their wife or something else, and that they would quite happily leave their wife behind too? Do many Westerners residing in Bangkok consider their wife little more than a personal plaything, a chattel?

Thailand is a very tolerant country, and if you play your cards right you can live a wild lifestyle with very few repercussions. But when it comes to relationships, and specifically marriage, is it possible that many Westerners who are shacked up with a Thai woman simply do not take things too seriously? Certainly, it seems that many do not play by the same rules that they would in the West. I still hear many Thai women complain about how Thai guys are terrible, and how they will jump into bed with any girl given the chance. But do these Thai women know that farangs living in Thailand really aren't that different?

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

It was of course the Hard Rock
Cafe in Pattaya – NOT Bangkok!

This week's pic.

First to get last weeks pic right won $25 worth of goodies from the good guys at ClubHombre.com. Remember there are 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 a tube of MyCreme sexsational cream. You MUST be in Bangkok to claim this particular prize which 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,

No matter how many NO PHOTO signs we put up inside our go-go bars there always has to be somebody who takes a photo inside. Most girls don't like it and some fear that their face will be shown across the world, and rightly so. If a guy photographs another man's wife while she is sunbathing topless in her garden, I would expect that there is a good chance the "happy snapper" will get his head kicked in. Inside a strip joint in Canada I saw a guy only take his camera out, and he nearly had his arms ripped out off by huge bouncers, who then hurled him out into the street head first. Please do not think Thailand is a soft target, if the Thai Police catch you they take it very seriously. I've seen guys argue and have their film ripped out of their camera; is it worth losing all your great photos? Also you do not want to be in the position where a bargirl sees her photo on the internet and then sends the bad guys after you.
Actually, there are MANY abortion clinics in Bangkok, and some hospitals will do them too…
I had been seeing a regular Thai (non-bar) girl for a few months when she became pregnant. Terrified of the cultural stigma and so on she decided it best to get an abortion. I was told at Bumrungrad that abortions are ILLEGAL in Thailand, but they can be done at one place in Bangkok. There were dozens of girls there, some of whom I knew from the bars. After my lady talked with the staff she informed me the cost would be 1,800 BAHT. I had to get her to repeat the amount as I thought I had misheard. Not 20,000, not 10,000. EIGHTEEN HUNDRED. I think I paid 150 baht to get it confirmed she was pregnant, then 1,800 for the op – that's 2,000 TOPS!! The idea of trying to fleece me to make some money from an unplanned pregnancy did not enter her head, such are the differences between bar girls and regular Thai ladies. If it's any consolation for your mate though, later that week I was knocking back a few in the Beer Garden with my Ozzy mate. "Yeah mate", he said… "I've been in that situation 4 times with 4 women over the years… cost me a fucking fortune it did too… 20,000 a girl." Is it something with Ozzies being sucked in? I think not. Same thing happened to me in the Philippines years ago. I decided to surprise this girl and see how she was and the details of how she lost it were sketchy to say the least. I found her in her old go-go bar leaping from the top of a 2 metre pole, landing in the splits position, her fanny sucking the the floor like a toilet plunger… Call me cynical, but I couldn't help feeling that didn't help much!
Next stop, jail!
The story of the girl taking revenge by telling the police that her customer took naughty pictures has a high chance true. I know a similar story which involves more the Pattaya Hilton (or local monkey house if you want to call it like that). It was told by a reliable person who helped the suspect to get out of the jail and deported back to Farangland. Seems like if you want to take naughty pictures back home you should be careful who you make angry.
Airline prices.
Regarding air travel, I recently purchased a ticket on China Airlines from LA. to BKK for $670. This is for travel in the first part of Jan. A friend who wants to travel in Dec. Paid $800, on United ( sucks), the same time frame for China Airlines is $900 plus. So you can get a ticket but you will pay more for the pleasure.
Short -term thinking.
Some taxi drivers never learn. I flagged down a metered taxi from the Manhattan Hotel to Don Muang. My girlfriend for the week was going along for the ride. We get in, and he immediately says "350 baht to airport, I pay tolls". Wrong, my girlfriend for the week starts arguing and he reluctantly agrees to the meter. (It was still raining Wed. evening, so I didn't want to get out of the taxi right away). We proceed to the highway, pay 40 baht for the first toll, 60 baht for the second toll, and we arrive at the airport in 36 minutes and the fare was 151 baht. Luckily, I still had a bunch of small bills, change, etc. so I gave him exactly 151 baht. I am in no way a Cheap Charlie, in fact, I tend to over tip, but that's another story. It was just the principle of the matter. If he had originally turned on the meter, he probably would have gotten 400 baht from me.
It pulls on all of our heart strings.
Although I know it's a foreign country and it's accepted, but it still pulls at my heart strings to see the little children peddling flowers, gum, etc., and selling all their stuff, then immediately give the money to their mother. At age (I'm guessing) 6-10, that is way to young to be out on the streets and 11:00 P.M. Yes, I'm guilty of buying the occasional flower or two, but it still bothers me inside. (I know it's hypocritical of me…opposing one thing morally, yet on the other side of the morality coin, why am I in Bangkok??…I'm not their just for the Temples).
What the hell, he asked me nicely, so here it is.
As you probably know, last week was Remembrance Day in Britain. Many of your readers probably have an over-idealized vision of Thailand which I feel needs to be balanced. I would be very grateful if you could publish this in your weekly column.

The Thais are an ammoral race. Their actions are determined totally by self-interest and self-preservation. They are shameless mercenaries who would sell their own grandmother if the price was right. My grandfather (now deceased) survived a Japanese POW camp set up on Thai soil with the aid of the Thai authorities. The Japanese invaders were treated as honoured guests and granted special privileges while allied prisoners were beaten, tortured, starved and worked to death. In my eyes, Thailand is as guilty of war atrocities as Japan is and should pay war reparations, which both countries have so far refused to do. Trust a Thai at your own peril.

While the Thai government may be talking down the threat of terrorist action in Thailand, I notice that armed police, the really mean looking guys in the blue uniforms, are now patrolling some of the BTS stations. (They may be at all of the stations but I only get on and off at a few so I don't know.)

And did you get a copy of that Citibank email doing the rounds which warns of a bomb going off in Bangkok between 17-21 November. Maybe it is a hoax, but it has sure got people talking – and worried.

The first few nights at Temptations, Boss Hogg's new gogo bar have been good though they will be working on hiring more girls during the next few weeks. The Boss Hogg owned Vixens / Rockhard is on hold for a week or two pending Nana ownership decisions on some external changes. They have gutted the bar and are ready to go as soon as the ok comes. They have also started gutting the old beauty shop and Nice Bar in Soi Cowboy and hope to be finished by the end of the year. Word has it that they are trying to provide a theme concept in this new venue.

Lollipop on the ground floor of Nana is completed inside, looks very colourful, lots of seating but only a small dance floor in the middle. It looks like Lollipop got a face lift rather than the Clown Group being adventurous and coming up with a new concept. Outside there is still major construction going on with iron erected. Progress has been made though. I just checked it out and they have been open for business a couple of days. Not sure if it is still called Lollipop but there is a neon sign inside saying "Lollipop." Almost like a large foyer at the entrance so I wonder what all that space will be used for?

Following on from my piece and further feedback about pictures taken with digital cameras, I have been told that British customs are getting nasty with anyone coming in with nude pics on memory cards. They are apparently turning a blind eye to topless shots but anything more than that, and you might be off to the interrogation room before you collect your baggage.

The next Nanapong Dance Contest has been announced, DC XIX – The Coveted Edition. It will be held on Sunday 24th November at 8:30 PM at Hollywood Rocks Bar, Nana Plaza. Be sure to get there early for the contests are VERY popular!

Its 20 million and not 50. Yep, that is the price tag on that boutique brothel as I refer to the one and only, the Eden Club. So, if you got the best part of half a million greenbacks, then pop on over and see if you can settle the deal. Just don't change the format of the place and keep Marc in charge because any changes will upset hundreds of folks from all over the world who dream about the place.

As mentioned in an earlier column, Andy's new project is underway and construction has started on his new bar in Walking Street, Pattaya. The place promises to be huge with a large, all air-con Hard Rock style restaurant right beside the water with what promises to be decent farang style food. The restaurant will be called Simply Blues Cafe. Immediately next door will be a three tiered gogo bar featuring Pattaya's first glass floor gogo dance floor called Club Electric Blue. With a bit of luck, it will open in early January.

Like Laundry Man, Needham's most recent best seller set in Bangkok and Phuket that was well reviewed by newspapers and magazines all over Asia, Killing Plato will also be widely distributed everywhere, EXCEPT here in Thailand. How can it be that books by the biggest selling author ever of fiction set in Thailand can't be bought in Thailand? Well, Asia Books is the only significant importer and distributor of international books in Thailand and they are refusing to bring in any of Needham's newest books since he is no longer being published by them, but instead is now being published by an international publisher. That seems rather petty, doesn't it? Anyway, if anyone in Thailand is trying to track down Needham's most recent books, send me an email and I will pass it along to him. He can give you a list of online booksellers that stock his books and ship here.

I was very fortunate to receive an advance copy of Laundry Man. Let me first say that I am a big Jake Needham fan and to me, he is the best local author, in a class of his own. Jake's latest did not disappoint. I'll post a full review soon, suffice to say, I thought it was a great read.

Monet is to Sukumvit Soi 33 what Long Gun is to Soi Cowboy, the bar with consistently the most attractive girls in the neighbourhood. On Thursday this week I happened into Monet for a couple of quiet drinks and was amazed to see all of the girls done up in what I can only describe as Ali Baba style dress. apparently it was fantasy night, something that they celebrate on the second Thursday of every month. All of the girls dress up ion these really unusual, but striking costumes. There is free food too, and it is a bit better than the free food that some bars have the cheek to serve.

Sometimes these Thai girls can be infuriating. On the skytrain platform waiting for the Skytrain, Miss Stick decides that the just formed scab from a razor cut did not look suay and that she would pick it off. So, just a few minutes before I am to arrive at work, she rips off the scab and watches as blood starts to trickle down my shirt and on to my shirt. She then says to me in total indignation me, "oh, you're bleeding – you can't go to work looking like that"! Man, these Thai girls can drive you crazy sometimes.

I had a good one at school this week. With three of my M5 classes (grade 11, 16 year olds) I had an exercise on questions that you would ask to someone who you found attractive and were interested in as a potential girlfriend / boyfriend. Invariably the first question the girls asked the boys had to do with wealth, income, or spending habits. During the feedback section, I asked the class about the importance of money to Thai women when they seek out a potential partner and these refreshingly frank students said that money is not just important, it is PARAMOUNT. To qualify these comments, these students come from predominantly wealthy families.

Morning Night in Sukumvit Soi 4 continues to do a roaring trade, not surprising when they sell Chang & Amstel at only 70 baht per bottle! Well, Chang is, in my opinion, no bargain at any price, but 70 baht for a small bottle of Amstel is fair value.

The Tourist High Season. Technically it should be here of course, but chatting with bar bosses, some are not so sure. People tell me that hotels are full or filling up quickly, a friend got a hotel room last Sunday at his 5th attempt. Nana, Dynasty, Majestic and one other all full, he finally got a room at the Ambassador. So with hotels brimming with eager punters, why are so many bars not full? Early evenings bar owners are pulling their hair out except Hollywood Strip Dave of course, for the poor bugger doesn't have any to pull out. The gogo bar areas are like ghost towns when they first open their doors, then the better bars gradually start to get a steady stream of customers, and then the staff are rushed off their feet for the next two to three hours. This all comes to a very abrupt end when the boys in brown call it a night at usually precisely 2.00 AM. For those working the bars it is enough to make a poor Thai's head spin, going from som tam bok bok with your mates, pleasant casual conversation to facing the sudden rush of hundreds of beer swillers, to sudden death closure! It is all like one big roller coaster ride!

Andy is no longer part of the Dollhouse and settled up his share of the company recently. I guess he had to finance his new venture somehow!

The Londoner, a nice spot for a quiet drink.

So, there might be a better attitude there but someone has to come out and say it, there is a REAL lack of pretty girls in Soi Cowboy. Sure, I'd rather drink there than any of the other gogo bar areas, but I'm one of the guys who does not barfine girls. If you are in the market for the company of a pretty Thai girl, it has to be said that Cowboy is going through a lean period. Nana on the other hand still has a lot of pretty girls, but the atmosphere there is, not quite as much fun, again, in my opinion. So, what do you want – looks or attitude? Sorry for now it seems that finding both is a tough combination.

The Dollhouse Clinton Plaza will close its doors on Friday November 22. There will be a final party that night and for those of you who make it there, you will be able to take souvenirs with you. No, not the girls, but parts of the bar! And it all coincides with former owner, Andy's birthday. It should be a great night out.

At last, clarification on the age of the staff working in bars. It seems that girls working in naughty bars must be 18 years of age or over. However, customers of bars must be 20 years of age or over. This means that, if for example you barfine a girl from Bar A who is 18, and want to take her to Bar B, then she can't enter Bar B legally. So, any girl who you barfine who is 18 or 19 you can’t actually take to a bar other than the place where she works and you only have the option of taking her back to your apartment or hotel. BUT, it does seem that 18 and 19 year old girls ARE legal…

A Thai high school where a friend works this week was visited by the local inspectors. They timed it beautifully and took advantage of the free lunch. Rumour has it that they evaluate schools on how many times they say aloy.

The Hollywood Strip Kung Fu guy was featured on Thai Channel 9 during the 5.30 Sunday Thai Record beakers Show. He got about 15 minutes air time and has made the Guinness book of records for pulling a 2,500 kilo aircraft by a metal hook, placed right in his throat. Hollywood Strip bars kung fu show was shown on Thai TV along with Dave the manager being interviewed. Dave said, "Salee has been performing shows at Hollywood Strip for 2 years and I think he is the best showman in Thailand". Salee performs nightly shows at Hollywood Strip Bars, top floor, Nana Plaza. The current entertainment programme is very eye-catching as well as a bit too slippery to handle!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick