Stickman's Weekly Column December 15th, 2002

Who Has Never Misbehaved?



My first and only trip to Thailand before relocating here was in the first half of 1997. I came to Thailand with my best friend and neither of us had visited Thailand before. We were largely travelling on impulse, having secured a cheap package deal. It was a spare of the moment decision, and we really did not have time to plan it. We were somewhat in the dark as to what Thailand was like and knew little other than the beaches were supposed to be very nice, and the food excellent.

I did know about Thailand's reputation as a haven for sex starved foreigners, though the thought of ever indulging never really crossed my mind. Now the funny thing was that I was travelling with a friend who had used the services of prostitutes before, who had a predilection for Asian women, and who had no financial concerns at all. Everyone back home joked that I would have to try and restrain him from the girls, and that I would be bored at night because all he would want to do would be to visit the naughty bars, while a wholesome character like me would spend his evenings visiting regular bars, and perhaps doing more "socially acceptable things" such as reading. I have to admit that I was a little concerned that the trip might turn into some sort of whoring tour for him and we would largely be two people travelling together, but doing completely different things. As it turned out, I had one indiscretion and it was him who was the good boy. I worried about my indiscretion for weeks, constantly examining myself, scared that perhaps red spots would start to appear, that the whole thing would turn green, or God forbid, it might even fall off. I came to Thailand with absolutely no intention of being a naughty boy, but I returned home with my first experience with a prostitute under my belt.

Recently I was chatting with a certain Thai female about farang behaviour in Thailand, and specifically, the way that some farangs spend a good chunk of their discretionary income with the girls of the night. This lady seemed to think that this was largely a tourist thing, and that a lot of the farangs living in Thailand would be above such behaviour. She also had a certain image in her mind of the type of guys who would get involved with such girls. She told me about two men in her life, both farang, her ex-boyfriend and someone who she admired a lot, and she made the bold statement that neither of these two would ever stoop to such depths.

This annoyed me, for she knows that I once misbehaved although I stopped some time ago. It started to become an issue with her all but stating, "these guys are better than you because they would never do such a thing". I disagreed with her logic, stating that the stereotype that so many have in their minds is not as typical as people might think – and that I did NOT fulfil the stereotype either! I was being judged for my past indiscretions, and compared with two people who were presumed to be innocent.

In time I went on to meet these two guys. After meeting one of them, I later saw him dining with a friend and a couple of obvious ladies of the night. It may have been innocent, but it may not have. Who knows? I was not interested in knowing what happened later that night for it is none of my business. Still, the guy would obviously have known that these girls were working, and being spotted with them in an area notorious for working girls would not do his reputation any good at all.

The second guy was a lot more open about such things, in fact he was a breath of fresh air. He openly talked about Nana Plaza, and how men will be men, and with Bangkok having so many opportunities for men to be men then…we all know what happens. He also came out straight and said that yes, he goes to certain places where women are available but stopped at that point, refusing any more questions, stating that that was his business. This was said in front of my friend and simply went straight over her head! Damn, these Thais can be selective in what they choose to listen to!

I had a chance to raise the topic of these two pure and innocent gentlemen later on, when the topic once again came up in conversation. Stating that these guys were no different to the vast majority of Westerners resident in Thailand did not endear me with her, even when anecdotal evidence was provided. My friend remained incredulous at my comments and with her being Thai, I had to broach the subject carefully. The point was not to prove that at least one of the guys was whoring his way around town, but simply to make her aware that, rightly or wrongly, a GOOD percentage of foreigners resident in Thailand have, at some time, done the dirty with a working woman.

How many Westerners don't, or haven't at some stage, misbehaved? I would suggest that the percentage is fairly low. I make no moralistic judgement at all, but am simply curious as to how many people do pay to play in Bangkok. My best guess of Westerners living here for 2+ years is that 90%+ have at some stage indulged. But try telling that to a Thai woman and she will look at you like you are a pervert!

Where is this pic?


Last week's pic

It was of course The Oriental

This week's pic

First to get last weeks pic right won $25 worth of goodies from the good guys at ClubHombre.com. The picture from the column a fortnight ago was of The Oriental Hotel early evening with the shot taken from across the river. 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!

Face really messes things up.

Endemic lying is a natural consequence of any society where confrontation is frowned upon and the concept of "face" is paramount. The purpose of the lie is usually not to intentionally deceive the listener, as it often is in western cultures, but rather to protect the speaker's pride irrespective of right or wrong. The job of the listener is to passively acquiesce and not to criticise. This is very difficult for westerners to accept. In countries like Australia and Germany, a spade is called a spade and this often ends up with fists and bottles flying. Which is better?
Shakespeare got it right.
Ah, wasn't it Shakespeare who said, "Hell hath no fury, like that of a woman scorned."? Some truths are universal, knowing no geographical, cultural or temporal bounds. Still, I think the fury of a Thai woman enraged is something unique among humankind. Like a force of nature: a tidal wave, a hurricane, a tornado…a force not to be reckoned with! Truly terrifying, these sweet, gentle creatures.
But what if, like Miss Stick, they are not Buddhist?
In terms of dealing with a lie from a Thai person: One of the five precepts of Buddhism is to "refrain from untrue speech". These are similar to the Ten Commandments and every Thai person knows them. If confronted with a lie, instead of saying so to the face of the person telling the lie, you might want to remind them of these precepts. Appealing to the Buddhist that lives inside every Thai is probably something that is rarely tried and it would certainly work better than a full frontal assault on their honesty.
What the hell: Start a full-blown "What would The Buddha do?" campaign in Thailand. Make Thais stop and think about how their actions and words go against the Noble Truths, Karma and the path to enlightenment. And damn… wouldn't it just be a zinger to hear it from a farang? Hehehe.
How Thai are you?
It seems to me that Thais measure all things on a scale of "Thai-ness." If it's Thai, it's good; if it's not Thai, it's neutral at best- downright evil, at worst. As you yourself have pointed out, there's the Thai way and then all the other ("wrong") ways of doing things. Thailand is like some crazy, utopian society, where the inhabitants are blissfully ignorant of the outside world. They don't give a damn how we do it- they do it their way! Isn't it truly remarkable how little curiosity they show about the world beyond their own borders? Try asking a Thai to locate and identify a continent on a world map (yes, I said CONTINENT, not "country!") I have met Thais who claimed to have a university education, yet couldn't find Africa on a globe! You'd think with so many of us foreign visitors coming here, carrying on in our outlandish ways, that they might take a little interest. But beyond aping some superficial fashion trends and mindlessly lapping up Western pop culture, they really couldn't care less about us or the places we come from. We simply do not register on their scale of "Thai-ness." Oh, if you learn the language well enough and adhere to the basics of Thai social mores, they will sometimes bestow upon you what they regard as the highest possible praise, and tell you that you are no longer Farang, but "Thai." If you are trying to fit in here, it's certainly nice to get this compliment (whether or not you regard it as such, that's how it's intended), but I don't think you should take it too seriously. I believe that true "Thai-ness" is an ideal impossible for any Farang to attain. Thais seem to consider themselves a breed apart from the rest of humanity. We Farangs will always be regarded as strangers here, undeserving of the privileges and respect which are every Thai's unspoken birthright.
Kick her ass out!
I don't know why is it so hard for some guys to move the girl out? The problem is very simple! Assess the primary reason why the person stays with you and and eliminate that reason…..again indirectly to keep the blame off you and her. By example, if I move over to LOS I don't think I would want to keep my girlfriend who would automatically assume that she will stay with me and except me to give her money. This is what I would tell her: My darling, the business in my country is very bad at the moment so I've decided to move to Thailand to work for a small company. They will pay me 20,000 baht per month. I know its not much but I hope I can make it and hope we can be together. I'm sure she would be out of the picture as soon as she would hear the mere 20,000 baht part. If the girl is already living with you, simply play an act that your job is going bad at the moment and your boss has cut your salary by half or whatever. Also make sure that you cut on going out buying new things even make up a lie that you will have to move to a small crappy apartment in a shitty part of town.

Walking down Soi Nana, these four women
opted not for a job in the naughty nightlife…

A couple of weeks ago, Roadhouse put up a sign in Nana Plaza, right next to the escalator, and 5 inches in front of Woodstock's sign. At about bout 11 PM or so, there was a big fight between a few Thai men, and one guy ripped down the Roadhouse sign. You have got to feel sorry for Woodstock, and it is hard to retain any respect for the people who run Roadhouse. This was not the big overhead sign by the 3rd floor, but a smaller free standing sign next to the spirit house and the escalator. The Woodstock sign should still be there but the Roadhouse sign was demolished. It was built and put in that spot seemingly for the purpose of blocking the Woodstock sign. So petty. But of course there is probably more to the story, but I don't care to try to get to the bottom of whose right or wrong. There is enough seedy customers in the plaza already, not to mention "the working girls", so this really just adds to the lowlife character of the whole place.

A few weeks ago there was a piece in the column about whether one should dine at the garbage dump, that is, whether it is advisable or otherwise to go down on a working girl – for those of you who couldn't work it out. Well, I would suggest that if you find yourself in the Thermae and find yourself a companion for the evening, that one should be extremely cautious if you are hungry. A companion of mine decided that he just couldn't resist the buffet on offer and a week or so later his mouth and tongue had swollen up, there were these huge great ugly lesions on his face and all over his tongue, and his mouth was full of these really disgusting saliva trails. He said that his throat also hurt like hell too. To say that his face looked like that of an alien would be a fairly good description. A trip to Bumrungrad and guess what, the guy has got a new friend for life. It looks like a big welcome to the herpes club, Ajarn! So, if you ever doubted that going down could be hazardous to your health, believe me, you would not want to go through what this guy did.

A friend of a friend barfined a girl from Playskool and she flatly refused his requests for digital photos. My friend returns to Australia after his trip to Thailand and gets online for the first time and almost the first picture he viewed in a public newsgroup under the title "Asian Happy Hookers" is a series of 5 pics of her! I guess she found out what happened to some photos taken by a previous customer.

A new night club called Blue Zone situated in the basement of Le Royal Meridien has opened. The club before was a Latin club but it has now been totally changed inside with some impressive interior. The concept is club music using international DJs and a few locals with everything on vinyl. Weekly events are: Monday – open night for DJs to come down and play giving DJs a chance to get to play in a club even if its their first time. Anyone is welcome. Tuesdays: funky house with resident DJs from Australia. Wednesdays: urban beats, a mixture of the best music from break beat to drum & bass. Thursday: hip hop and R&B: with guest DJs. Friday & Saturday nights: international guests DJ & residents. All these events start at 10 PM. Entry is free. The club is also equipped with a restaurant serving European & Thai food. The club opens at 5 PM giving a cool place to hang out after work with chilled out sounds and a lengthy happy hour from 5 PM until 10 PM. The club is available for hire at purportedly reasonable prices and also offers special deals for parties. The good thing about this club is you get the best of both worlds. You can chill out or get the feel of being in a club. They will soon be offering memberships, which will give discounted prices on drinks plus other special promotions.

Big Dave at Jool's Bar is at it again. Sick and tired of listening to one way conversations as some of hi customers spend lengthy periods on their mobiles, rumour has it that a mobile phone jammer has been installed and no-one within Jool's will be able to use their mobile. While mobiles are a useful, some would argue necessary, tool, I have to admit that I just hate 21st century mobile culture. Receiving 20+ SMSs from people who all expect a prompt reply is a pain in the ass.

One of the oldest language schools in Thailand had their lawyers contact a certain internet discussion board and threaten that certain discussions about this language school be deleted or else legal action would follow. While the school is quite within their rights to legally protect their reputation, some rumours suggest that they were using heavy handed tactics to prevent genuine information being spread…

If you haven't been there yet, go for a stroll around the World Trade Centre and Rajadamri Road at night. Neon lights have been erected in the area and they look absolutely fantastic. This happens each year at this time but they just seem to get better and better each year, and each year I say a quiet "wow" to myself when I see them for the first time. I doubt you would find a more impressive display of Xmas and New Year neon anywhere in the world. Yep, it really is that good! Earlier this week I found myself near The Mall Ramkhamhaeng, with my trusty camera at my side. This somewhat non-descript shopping centre was decked out with decent neon too so I pulled out the camera and started firing shot after shot. An uppety security guard sees me shooting and came over to tell me that I was not allowed to. What the fxxx? He stated that the management of The Mall, his employer, did not want the neon photographed. Now I have to admit that I do not know the legalities of this situation but it seemed ridiculous so my reply was simply for him to go and get the police if there was a problem. Needless to say, half an hour later and a couple of full memory cards, I still had not seen any boys on brown. The poor guy was just doing his job, but it still seemed like a fairly dumb thing to say.

You can't take photos of it? CRAZY!

Casablanca Bar in Nana Plaza opened its doors on Friday night last week and have been putting up posters around the Plaza to attract girls.

Tourists are definitely arriving in droves to the various watering holes and trade has suddenly risen quite dramatically, especially in Nana Plaza. With Dollhouse closing in Clinton it could be argued that there is nothing worth visiting old Clinton for any more, so I guess the former Clinton Plaza punters are shared between Cowboy and Nana Plaza. Sure, The Living Room is a great bar, but there needs to be more than just the one decent bar to to keep the punters in that bar area. There are a lot of Westerners arriving in particular and there seems to be a noticeable decline in Asian visitors to Cowboy and Nana Plaza. I wonder if there is a general decline in Asian visitors to Thailand, or are they going to other naughty nightlife areas?

It is mildly amusing to see farangs and prostitutes sitting on the streets like beggars. Have these desperadoes no shame? Customers trying to enter Nana Hotel have to fight their way through what seems like a bunch of squatters, who are blocking the doorway. After 2 AM there is a large number of prostitutes and katoeys lining the Sukhumvit streets nightly and it is like walking some perverse gauntlet. Rather than close the bars early and turn the people onto the streets, the authorities should keep the visitors inside the bars where they are much safer. Or perhaps the police could clear the streets of desperate hookers and menacing katoeys! Who cars what happens behind closed doors? Bangkok's reputation as one of the world's naughty nightlife locales will not change in a hurry, although that seems to be what they are trying to do by closing bars early. So, why don't they try and get all of this shit off the street – especially in that Sukumvit corridor where a lot of regular tourists end up…

I have to admit that I have not frequented any bars for quite a while and the rumour is that Clinton Plaza has only three beer bars left, the last proverbial nail has been driven firmly into old Clinton's coffin. Sad but true…..and just think about how much money has been lost by all the people that invested in expensive gogo bars in Clinton Plaza. And what did I say in my predictions for 2002…..ahh!

The Crown Group are making steady progress on the new terrace / veranda / foyer outside the front of Lollipop. It has a stylish tiled floor and a roof that will survive virtually any storm, but we still have not seen the end result. The foyer is now enclosed with air-con, a lovely tiled floor and two pool tables have been placed inside. Looks like they are close to opening the new foyer bar area. Must say it looks very stylish, good work by the Crown Group for a change. Very plush!

The latest from the bar previously known as Rockhard in Nana is that there is absolutely no visual progress – if it is not finished soon Boss Hogg will miss the money train as the high season will be over before he gets his act together. Still, things may well be out of his hands and I'm sure he is conscious of the benefits of getting it open ASAP.

Following on from my piece about the best toilets in Thailand, Mr Thaistyx sent a rave review about the men's room in Club Orbit just off Sukumvit soi 26. Sounds like a visit is in order, but some people don't seem to like me walking into the men's room and whipping out my camera. Hey, I gotta capture it for the weekly, don't I?!

The Lumpini police are closing bars at around 2 AM but no more raids or checks have taken place, so perhaps things are settling down a bit, around the Nana area anyway. I keep hearing that Cowboy still have the police all over them like a bad rash! Word on the inside is that there are still some bars employing young girls – and the cops are not turning a blind eye. Why is it that some Soi Cowboy bars seem to want to take the risks, whereas Nana Plaza are taking no chances? So the cat and mouse games will probably continue.

The Nana neighbourhood is positively booming. Getting a room at anywhere in Soi 4 is a nightmare from hell and at least two bars are breaking records with huge numbers of barfines consistently, night after night. One bar recorded over 100 barfines one night recently.

Sunset at Pattaya

And word is that Pattaya is getting very busy too. Many of the popular hotels are booked up now and right through to February.

The 2 AM closing was lifted in Patong, as of 1st December, and gogos could stay open until 4 AM. Unfortunately they only lifted it while the seafood festival was on. What, does a correlation exist between the consumption of seafood and the patronage of gogo bars?! Now it's back to 2 AM closing again. And still down in Patpong, Pink Panther has been closed for 30 days, word on the street that it was for the heinous crime of showing. That's pretty tough for them at this time of the year, as business is quite good at the moment.

Quote from a reader: "I've found Thailand to be like the Hotel California in that you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

My best friend in NZ sent me the following thoughts about Asian women. "Asian chicks are just like a really radical sports car, when you see one, you really want one, but but basically you don't really want to own one, because even thought they look awesome, they are very expensive to maintain, and every other joker out there wants to steel it or take it for a ride! On top of this, they are impractical and they are only good for a joy ride. Take it back to the lot when you have finished, and take a new one for test drive the next day." I tell you what, when things get rough, I can sort of see where he is coming from.

Yep, yet another dance contest is planned. The Nanapongers latest contest, number 20 – can you believe it (?) will be held at Pink Panther Bar in Patpong soi 2 on Saturday December 21 at 8:30 PM or so.

A little over a week ago, a message appeared on the very popular Bangkokchat stating that service had been interrupted due to some faked emails that had purportedly driven a young Thai women to attempt suicide. Details were sketchy, but the town was full of rumours over just what had happened. Whatever happened, there were a lot of sad people who could not get on Bangkokchat, a site that has become a notorious spot for Westerners and horny young Thai girls to meet for liaisons, sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid. Service at the website has resumed, and short time hotel owners and condom manufacturers report that sales are back to regular levels.

I'm sure we would all agree that folks have much better things to do on a packed Friday night in Nana, other than be hassled by Police. This time the Police ordered tables to be set up and they took samples to test the urine of one girl from every go-go bar in Nana Plaza. It was a circus of course! Bars were ordered to wear full bikinis and fortunately the police got the job done quite quickly and it was back to business as usual. While one has to admire the police for doing their job in a quick, efficient way, we also have to look at it from, another perspective. The one great industry the Thais have going for them, namely the tourist industry and they have to f### with it! Perhaps this sort of thing is best done out of sight, away from the bars?

It was disappointing for me that I was unable to put together a column for last week, but if you knew the hell that I'd been through, you'd understand. The last three weeks have been the biggest roller coaster ride of my life, going from extreme happiness, from what was probably the best day of my life, to two absolutely shocking things that happened the following week. I used to think that the ups and downs of life in Bangkok were part of its attraction, and part of what not only originally lured me here, but what contributes to keeping me here. I learnt a lot about myself in a 72 hour period, realising that these ups and downs are not conducive to good living at all. Bangkok is a great place to live, and I really love it here, but sometimes the ups and downs are just a bit too much. I'll stay on here for sure, and the column, which I really do enjoy putting together, will be be published for a long time to come. However, my thoughts on life in Bangkok have changed just a little. When the chips are down here, it is very easy to see that it is you against the whole country…

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Special thanks go out to Steve Leather, Hollywood Dave,
Pom Michael, and The Mad Stockbroker.