Stickman's Weekly Column January 26th, 2003

Keep Your Eyes Open!



Things have been going well with your Thai girlfriend. You've broken through many of the barriers and issues inherent in cross cultural relationship and you have told all of your friends about your new girlfriend. Yep, you have found yourself a nice Thai girl and you are now "officially" involved together. Love is blossoming.

But as good as it may seem, there may be things going on in the background to which you are not privy. Her phone rings and the resulting conversation is with another guy. Nothing unusual about that but if your Thai is good enough, you may realise that she is whispering words to a Thai guy that may not exactly endear you to her. And if the conversation is in English, it may just be that she is doing a great juggling act, trying to maintain her relationship with you while keeping a guy, or worse, a couple of guys, in reserve, just in case things do not work out with you.

So what is so unusual about this? It's not like juggling lovers is something entirely unique to Thai women, is it? Western women have been known to do it too. And hell, guys do it also! But Thai women seem to have made an art form of it, almost perfecting it, and they seem to do it far, far more than a typical Western woman ever would. They keep guys on the back burner, sometimes more than one, and they may even be fully involved in more than one relationship at the same time! Generally, none of the guys know about the other(s) and the girl in question will often be very careful about what she says to each guy, using words that are not entirely lies and which may even have the effect of making her truly believe that what she is doing is not just ok, it is fine! Failure on the part of one of the guys to outright ask her as to whether she has another boyfriend (and this would obviously be considered a coarse question) means that the issue is seldom, if ever, broached.

A little story to demonstrate. I remember one girl I knew about 18 months or so. We went out a few times but it never developed into anything. As we were never really an item, there was never really anything to call off, and instead of saying it was over – when there was really nothing to be over, we simply saw less of each other. After a while, she started bombarding me with SMS messages, claiming her love for me. I ignored them for a while before eventually sending her a reply that said I had found someone else, but let her know that I had enjoyed the few occasions we went out together. Now her response to my SMS was quite profound. Despite having declared her love for me and offered to throw herself to me, she replies telling me that she has a boyfriend already and that she was never really interested in me anyway! Translation: she was trying to keep me interested while she had a full on relationship with someone else.

By keeping someone else in the shadows, a woman's decisions are influenced in a way that can be detrimental to your relationship. If things get too difficult, where she may have otherwise tried to work through issues, she may just walk away, deeming it all too hard, knowing that there is someone else waiting for her. This person in the background is almost like a lever that she uses against you when things get tough. Put too much pressure on her and she is gone.

So, how exactly do you deal with the situation? She will deny that there is anything between her and the other guy to the bitter end and will claim that they are nothing more than friends. If this is the case, insist that you get to meet him and when you do, make it VERY clear to him that the two of you are an item. Carefully observe her behaviour. Refusing to allow you to meet with him, possibly citing implausible reasons over a period of time, is a sure sign that something is up.

If you do find out that there is someone else who your teeruk is keeping in the wings, denying you to and denying to you, you have to act quickly and decisively. If you want exclusivity, you have to act firmly and let her know that enough is enough. This can become a tough one as you have to be firm yet not to the point that you scare her away.

With these women, you may be competing with guys in the shadows, guys who you never even knew existed. You really should do everything you can to establish just what is going on. There is nothing worse than making a significant time, emotional and financial commitment with a woman who is secretly weighing you up against others and may be ready to discard you at the first minor argument that doesn't go her way or when a better prospect comes along. The idea of dating multiple partners is fine if people are open about it, but in Thailand, it seems that all of the partners are concealed and love is declared for each person individually, so as to make them believe that they are the only one, and to increase the individual's options.

Sure, it can all be a very fine balance. Relationships are not about control and one has to allow their other half a certain amount of freedom. However, this has to be weighed up with the very real possibility that you are not the only guy in her life.

Remember, one of the golden rules in a relationship is to watch what she does, and not necessarily follow what she says.

Of course, if you expect her to be a one guy girl, you gotta look at yourself and make sure you're a one girl guy too!

The whole idea of guys in the background throws up many sub issues. The issue of cross gender friendships and the cynicism that many have towards them combined with the reputation that the Thais have for, as Stickgirl says to me, "being a little naughty", can all combine to make you somewhat nervous about farang / Thai relationships. Keep your eyes open.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

It was Phuket!

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 last week was a bit trickier than usual as it was NOT in Bangkok, and I did not mention that. It was of course Taipan on Rat-u-tit Road in Patong Beach, Phuket to be more precise. 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!

THIS WEEK'S HOT EMAILS:

How many notches on your belt? But bargirls don't count!

I was on the plane back to London from Bangkok last week when I overheard some chaps on the row of seats behind me boasting of all the "conquests" they had made of girls they had paid to have sex with. Nothing against the gogo aficionados concerned, but I found the whole thing rather silly. I mean, it's a bit like boasting that you've just bought a new pair of shoes, or a box of cornflakes. Also, it's a well known fact that most prostitutes do not kiss their customers, and to me, sex without the intimate act of kissing is a waste of sperm. I would rather lie at home and choke the bishop while thinking of Condolezza Rice.
Katoeys, lovely katoeys.
What happens to katoeys when they get old and unattractive? Do they macho up and rejoin society? Do they become chat show hosts? Is there a home for retired katoeys where they mince with their zimmer frames.
Is the south safe?…perhaps, but it sure is cheap!
Just a brief note regarding the price of taxi's between the Malay border at Sadou and my weekend retreat in Songkla. I have done this trek over 10 times leaving my motorcycle at the border and taking a taxi the final 90 km to Songkla. Various taxi firms offer secure parking and a 700 to 900 baht fee for the ride. The last time I went with my friend and his Thai girlfriend. She told us to wait inside the duty free and set off round the various taxi's. 10 minutes later she came back, "400 baht is that ok?". EH? 6 UK pounds for a 90 km journey in a relatively new car. When we got out at Songkla I gave the guy 500 which is still a bargain in my eyes. I took the guys number and he picked us up on the Sunday and transported me back to the border for the same price, smiling all the way. I don't know if us farangs would be able to get it for the same price alone, but this guy is quite happy for me to ring him in advance next time.
Thai tones.
If you like music that's off-key, you should love to hear Thais sing Karaoke. They are constantly, consistently off-key. I think Thais must be the most musically ungifted people on Earth and for some perverse reason they love Karaoke. There's a Karaoke bar about every 50 meters anywhere you go in Pattaya. The nearest one to me is just outside my window in the hotel's beer garden. Every evening the torture begins at about 6 PM when they turn the fucking machine on to blast Bob Segar's "Against the Wind," sans vocals (the machine plays without a singer until people arrive). It then segues automatically into "Joy to the World" (Jeremiah was a Bullfrog), and other perennial favourites. Apparently there's a set program of songs the machine runs through on auto-pilot until someone requests to sing something. It's the same songs in the same order night after night (I've been hearing it for THREE MONTHS now), and the machine is a cheap synthesizer that sounds like a kid's toy, only much, much louder than anything a child's tender ears should be subjected to – or, for that matter, an adult's. About 8 or 9 PM the drunks begin their caterwauling and it's just unbearable. My only defence is to play my boom box even louder than the Karaoke that penetrates my walls and window.
Thai girls can drive even the most sane men to do crazy things.
I was watching my local BBC Wales TV nightly news bulletin last weekend. Along with the usual boring crap about the decline of Welsh rugby, was a short report of a Cardiff man who had allegedly murdered his long term Thai barmaid girlfriend in Phuket. This apparently occurred when he found out that his girlfriend was already married to a local Thai man (surprise, surprise). Driven by jealousy he allegedly strangled her with a telephone cable.
Who's cruising for a bruising?
I was in Bangkok in August of last year when some English guy came up to me and asked if I could help. My first impression having lived most of the last 9 years in Thailand was NO CHANCE. But he must have been a very good actor for me to fall for his story. So I took him to my local bar (Hog's Breath Saloon in Nana) where I got the guy a few beers and ended up giving him 800 baht so he could phone his dear old mum and get some money sent. Well he promised he would come back to the bar and pay me back (about as much chance as finding rocking horse shit. But at least I know he is now operating in the Nana area, and I am back in Bangkok on the 4th of Feb. WATCH THIS SPACE.
Have you paid Baw's phone bill?
I am touring the bars in Songkla buying a few lady drinks, having a chat and generally enjoying the evening until I meet one particular girl who I like. I buy a few beers in her bar before paying the bar fine and off to a local Thai bar with cheaper beer, good food and an excellent local band. Back at the hotel she starts rummaging in her handbag and excitedly produces an unopened letter from her “Paw”. On opening the letter her face suddenly drops and she hands me part of the contents, which is a telephone bill for 1200 baht. “Paw phone brother in Singapore too much, he say I have to pay” being a bit worse for wear I think nothing of it, switch on the box, grab a beer and enjoy the rest of the night. In the morning I slipped her the obligatory 1000 baht and, guess what, the telephone bill appeared from the handbag again, this time with tears. “I so worry about this” she said. Having had such a good time and she really was very pleasant company I gave her another 500, instantly stopping the stream of tears and producing a big smile. ‘Gee another sucker fell for it’ she is probably thinking. No doubt the same bill will be posted back to self, to be used again (I never checked the date on the bill). I kicked myself afterwards for being taken in by such a simple scam. I have been back to her bar since and bought a couple of drinks but every time she mentions 'bar fine' I ask if her “Paw” has sorted his telephone bill and move on.
Just as the column was going online, some shocking news has come in at the very last minute. Sukumvit Square, which was the newest farang oriented entertainment area, located alongside Sukumvit Soi 10, has been demolished! At around 4 or 5 AM this morning, a demolition crew went in and totally flattened the place, destroying it beyond any recognition. Yep, the area where there were a whole load of bars and even a recently opened gogo bar, all of which was home to a bustling party atmosphere just last night, has been totally obliterated! The handiwork was completed by three bulldozers and I'd suggest that the American military could not have done a better job. To say it looks like a bomb landed there is no exaggeration. The area has been cordoned off and is surrounded by barbed wire, military style barricades, and there are quite literally hundreds of security guards patrolling. The whole operation was all conducted with military precision. Word has it that the bars were stocked with alcohol, many still had last night's takings in the safes and there were people sleeping on the premises, all of which suggests that no prior warning was given. Many people will have lost a lot of money to say nothing of all of the jobs lost and this will do absolutely nothing to encourage would be investors to invest in Thailand. A LOT of the bars there were farang owned.

Later in the day, there were many people walking around outside with placards in both English and Thai, protesting at what had happened. Rumour has it – and at this stage it is just that, a rumour – is that there has been a dispute over the land that led to the destruction. Rumour also has it that the people who organised the site to be demolished are before the police at the time of writing.

A truly unbelievable sight as Sukumvit Square
was totally demolished overnight!
(photos kindly supplied by M Dev and Pom Michael)

Poor old Pink Panther Gogo Bar down in Patong Beach, Phuket. They were closed down again after only re-opening for 2 or 3 nights, for not having the correct licenses. I've heard that the paperwork they submitted had the new name "The Height Bar". When they went to get the new Gogo license, they were told that the name they registered doesn't have "Gogo" in it, so they can only open as a beer bar! Local bureaucracy strikes again! And for now, the premises are still locked tight! The big boys from Bangkok where in town the other night, with local and Bangkok Police, the news media in tow, TV cameras and all. Some of the Gogos got a visit by the contingent with TV cameras and with lights blazing, naturally the customers quickly departed. There were some rather unhappy owners that night, to say the least. The next morning all owners had to attend a meeting, where they were all reminded of the no showing and underage rules and also the social order policies. There was also talk of later opening, apparently paperwork has been submitted to Bangkok, but I'm not holding my breath. While authorities may be open minded to later openings in tourists areas such as Patong, they are worried that if they allow it in one place, then other places will then want it too.

Soi Cowboy suffered more raids earlier this week when three bars were hit. I heard Long Gun 2, Midnite Bar and at least one other bar were raided. After the raids the rest of the bars closed at 1 AM, probably to avoid trouble themselves. Very cat and mouse at the moment in Soi Cowboy. What is surprising is how much risk the gogo bars are prepared to take to try to desperately pull the punters in. Despite warnings they still keep "showing" naked girls and young lasses, which in this political climate is madness. I heard that Midnite Bar were back to their old ways with lewd shows and naughty stuff on Friday night, so perhaps that is the lead as to why they have been clobbered by the police.

And there are a few Nana bar owners who are annoyed at the way a certain Nana bar which shall remain nameless never gets visited. I am informed that the said bar has 15, 16 and 17 year old girls working in there…naughty, naughty. But, truth be told, I'm not gonna stick my balls on the line and tell you which bar it is. Suffice to say, if you are shopping at Nana, be VERY careful about verifying your victim's age before you get down and dirty.

Hollywood Strip's kung fu showman, Khun Salee, was in action at the Bangkok film festival this week. Hollywood stuntmen performed various stunt shows before Salee took the place by storm. Emerging on stage through explosions and flashing lights, the amazing martial artist was said to be the best performer of the evening. Rice flails, broad sword, fire eating and other exciting performances stole the show for the little man from the South of Thailand. After his excellent performance, Salee, who admitted he was overwhelmed by all the attention, was swarmed by Thai photographers and reporters. A TV film crew also recorded the event for international television. Influential VIPs in the audience also showed an interest in Salee. Perhaps his days performing at Nana could be over and this could be the beginning of a new career in the other Hollywood, which I hear is somewhere in America.

What is the deal with the Beergarden in Sukumvit Soi 7? It seems as though they are now denying entry to men of colour. Where blacks were once welcome, it seems as though the Beergarden has adopted a policy similar to a few of the Nana gogo bars which don't allow entry to our black brethren. No use arguing it as once the Thais have something fixed in their mind, they will seldom relent. If you are turned away from a venue, no point arguing, just disappear and tell others about their policy.

Titty Twister (to the right of Cathouse) is up for sale.

Word on the street is that Santos has put Titty Twister on the market with an asking price of 12 million baht! I'm no expert but that seems a staggering amount for such a small bar! With Three Roses Bar going for an equally incredible 7.5 million baht, it seems that bar owners want to scoop what they can while the going is good – and why not! Regarding Titty Twister which although small, does have a very good reputation and an almost cult following amongst not insignificant numbers of locals, the 12 million big ones are negotiable! The polite and popular Mr Santos just requests that potential buyers know what the price is, so no time wasters please. Serious potential buyers can visit Santos at Titty Twister Bar during working hours.

In what is still a relatively poor country, 1,000 baht is a lot of money and paying for many goods and services with a 1,000 baht note can cause the vendor no end of embarrassment as they may be unable to provide change! To avoid this problem, when you go to an ATM machine, withdraw odd amounts like 9,900 baht instead of 10,000 or 5,900 baht instead of 6,000, which will give you plenty of 100 baht notes for those smaller purchases.

Remember dodgy old Arthur Daley from the brilliant British '80s TV series "Minder"? Well, if they had had an episode in which old Arthur came out to Thailand and opened up a naughty bar, it would have all been quite believable wouldn't it, for old Arthur was a bit of a dodgy fellow, wasn't he? Well, it seems that this may just have happened….for real! Strong rumours told to me this week suggest that the actor who played the role of Arthur Daley is in fact the proprietor of a bar in Jomtien Beach operated under the same name of Arthur's local in the hit series. Well, wouldn't you know!

Life expectancy in the East and life expectancy in the West are quite different. But as a Westerner living in the East, what are the relevant figures – those of the East or the West? The difference is significant – about a 10 year difference between the life expectancy in Thailand and in my homeland. Will, all things being equal, my life be 10 years shorter if I stay on in the Kingdom?! Or, should I go home a day before I turn 69, the average life expectancy for men in Thailand?! Perhaps us Westerners resident in Thailand should add the figures together for the respective countries and average them out?

While most night spots in Bangers shut up shop at 2 AM sharp, you can always find a late night drink down in Patpong. Yep, some of those dodgy looking open air bars on Patpong Soi 2 are home to the city's night owls, drinking right through the night and seeing in the light of the new day. You can drink there all night, and if you are really desperate, really drunk, or both, you might just be able to find a companion too.

Is it just me or does Jake Needham resemble one of Hollywood's finest actors, one who even shares the same initials? In some pictures, our favourite local author looks very much like a certain Mr. Nicholson. Check out pictures of them online and compare.

MBK, a popular shopping centre with shitty toilets.

My quest for decent public toilets is proving fruitless and strangely enough, my findings indicate that the cheaper the shopping centre, the better the public toilets! As crazy as this sounds, it seems to be true. The Mall Ramkhamhaeng, a cheap shopping centre popular with tourists has far better toilets in terms of cleanliness and facilities provided (toilet paper and soap) than shopping centres which attract hi-so types such as Siam Discovery Centre.

Now what is the deal with Bobby's Arms, the British Pub in the car park above Foodland in Patpong Soi 2? The question that must be asked is if it is ever busy? Dining there this week, a friend and I were there for almost an hour and a half and the whole time we were there, we did not see one other customer, not one! And this was from 5:30 PM until almost 7:00 PM on a week night, a time when you would expect the after work crowd to be relaxing in such places.

There really is something funny about watching tourists who drink in packs, competing with each other to see who can drink the most, and ultimately, who can make the biggest asshole of themselves. I note a certain nationality, a country which has a bit of a reputation for being big drinkers on holiday, who seem to have a predilection for Singha Gold. These tough guys, so often tattooed and with God awful beer guts drink from noon to night, consuming as much as they can. It just cracks me up that their drink of choice in Thailand is so often Singha Gold. "Singha Gold – its more pure than regular Singha one plonker once told me". Well well well! If only these posers who want to be seen as serious drinkers knew that Singha Gold is actually Singha's low alcohol product, which was once upon a time targeted at women… The locals are chuckling quietly to themselves.

And the reason that I was in Bobby's Arms is because I had been visiting someone who spent a few days in Bangkok Christian Hospital this week. Now I have to say that I am quite a fan of this hospital. I have been there a couple of times myself for outpatient treatment, and at least a couple of people I know have spent several nights in there. The hospital is very efficient and the staff are excellent. It is not as flash as the likes of Bumrungrad, but then the prices are much cheaper. A good hospital with high standards, Bangkok Christian gets the thumbs up.

Stickgirl's Corner

Stickgirl is a youngish Thai woman with a decent education and a good job. She enjoys jazz music in the morning, likes British movies and when she is not burning a hole in my wallet with her appetite for good wine, she'd rather down a Pepsi over a Coke (see, she isn't perfect). Perhaps most interesting of all, she is fascinated by farang culture and the behaviour of farangs in Thailand. She has never worked in a bar and could be considered your average "good Thai girl". Each week, Stickgirl will answer questions you may have about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average farang in Thailand. Please forward questions to her, via me, at the usual email address. Two questions will be chosen each week and answered in the following week's column. The responses are hers and NOT mine – and I may not necessarily agree with what she says! Please note that she doesn't have the time to reply to your inquiries via email.

Question 1: What farang behaviour most offends Thai people?

Stickgirl says: The lack of respect for Thai culture i.e. tourists who visit attractions such as the Grand Palace yet dress inappropriately despite all of the warnings in guide books and brochures. As far as farang residents here go, the way that some farangs look down on Thai people yet enjoy a high standard of living which is partially due to them using these very people they look down on and complain about. Many farangs come to Thailand and seem unwilling to accept that they have been very fortunate to come from a rich country with very high standards. They always compare and complain which is often because of a lack of willingness to fully understand Thailand. I personally don't get upset by farangs per se, but many, may Thai people do.

Question 2: How do you perceive the status of the modern Thai woman in a previously male dominated and extremely sexist society?

Stickgirl says: Woman's status in Thailand today is much better than in the past. However it is still unacceptable for Thai men to allow Thai women to be equal or higher in stature than them. But Thai women do have what I call an "art of living" meaning that they will generally follow what the male or husband says, but will not be afraid to voice their opinion if the man says or requests something that they consider is out of line. The world is changing and Thai women's status is changing, but this remains Thailand, and thus Thai women still don't have equality. But things are changing for the better. Believe me.

As the number of readers to this column increases, so too, unfortunately, does the number of odd people with crazy ideas and hidden agendas reading it. In recent times, I have been sent more than a few emails from people, abusing and defaming certain bars – apparently in the hope that I will run the story, print it as gospel and thus harm the reputation of such bars. The most recent was a total bullshit story from a fool who first claims to have been beaten up by bouncers first in Rainbow 1, before later changing his story to the Spirit House. Whether the story is true or not, I have no idea – and doubt that anything of the sort even happened – but it most definitely did NOT occur in either Rainbow 1 or Spirit House. Unfortunately, the story was run as one of the interesting emails in the column. Apologies are therefore extended to both Rainbow 1 and Spirit House for the inclusion of an email in a previous column that said that the reader had suffered at the hands of bouncers at these bars. The Spirit House, of which the Crown group is part of, doesn't even employ bouncers. In fact, the person who sent the email appears to be the same dick-head drunk who was arrested and questioned at Don Muang a few months ago for causing a disturbance on an international flight. I can only conclude that said dick-head has a grudge against these bars and used me to run the story. I'll exercise far greater caution when running such stories in the future. Again, apologies go out to Rainbow 1 Bar and The Spirit House, which is a part of the Crown Group. There are absolutely no reasons not to enjoy these bars. They are both totally safe.

That's all for this week. I hope to have more on the Sukumvit Square situation next week.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick