Stickman's Weekly Column February 23rd, 2003

Pity The Thai Guys



She treats you well and makes you feel like a million dollars. She does things to you that no women has ever done before, like you thought no women ever would. But deep down you know that she is a professional, a working girl, a prostitute, a whore. You justify it in your mind with the knowledge that you paid her fairly for the transaction. And you try and mask this in your mind that it is not really prostitution because payment was not made in the explicit way it would have been in the West. And besides, the ultimate justification often comes from the misnomer that if she hadn't met you, she would be back in a village in the middle of nowhere with some punk who would treat her like dirt and who wouldn't give her the love, attention and MONEY that you do. For many whoremongers, justifying the way they fuck their way across Thailand is easy because they seldom give the consequences of their actions any thought at all.

But back in the villages of Thailand, desperately poor places, all as is not quite as you may think. The stereotype that so many have of the rural men of Thailand all being a bunch of good for nothing layabouts is so often totally unfair – and wrong! While so often these Thai guys are portrayed as villains, the perpetrators of evil, we have to remember that they are men, just like us, and funnily enough, they have very similar dreams and aspirations to the rest of us. They want to meet a nice woman, settle down, have a family, and generally live a pleasant life. Unfortunately with the way things are in Thailand, they are up against it. Having missed out on the benefit of a good education, they may find themselves having to trade 10+ hours of hard labour under the unabating Isaan sun, all for the ignominy of a red – a solitary 100 baht note.

There are guys in the villages who have seen their girlfriends, wives, and in the worst case scenarios, the mother of their children, head down the well trodden path to Bangkok, down the path to a career in the world's oldest profession.

In October of last year myself and a good friend went on a road tour of Southern Isaan. My friend is married and I had a girlfriend who I was very serious about so meeting women was the last thing on our minds. However, we couldn't help but notice the lack of females in the 18 – 35 age group. Throughout Buriram, Surin and Si Saket, the girls who fell into that age group didn't tend to be too attractive. Travelling around Thailand, one gets used to seeing many attractive girls wherever one goes, but in those provinces there were few. They were conspicuous by their absence. And then the penny dropped. Many of them had gone to work in Bangkok or Pattaya.

My best guestimate is that there are around 30 – 35,000 bargirls servicing farangs within the Kingdom. And there must be thousands outside of Thailand too. On top of these numbers, there are thousands who have been married off and either live locally with farangs, or who have married and moved abroad. We are now looking at serious numbers.

Let's assume that in Thailand there is one boy for each girl, and one girl for each boy. But in Thailand, a country where the locals are notoriously sensitive and thus selective, it doesn't take much for a woman to become undesirable. It goes without saying that a stint as a working girl will render any woman totally undesirable to a Thai man, in just the same way that Western men are not at all thrilled at the prospect of marrying a working girl either. Many Westerners in Thailand either mar the women or take them away. The village men now find that their potential pickings are very slim indeed. Women from the higher echelons of society simply aren't interested in them. Remember, women like to "marry up".

By creating a commercial demand for the girls of Thailand, sex tourists and locals who consume heavily in the pay for play girls are partially responsible for a reduction in the number of women available to the local men, especially to those men who find themselves in the villages, the places where most of the women who work with farangs come from.

I remain mystified at the way the poorer Thai men seem to largely accept this in so much that they do not respond in a way which would confirm their stereotype in some circles as drunk thugs. How would you feel if people came flooding into your country with salaries far greater than you could imagine, and started buying up the women? Well, that is exactly how the village men view this phenomenon. These poor village men watch as their childhood sweethearts, their girlfriends, and even their wives get wooed by Western suitors with bank accounts bigger than Everest. These poor Thai guys can't even hope to compete. If it were me in the situation of the Thai men, I'd feel a great deal of resentment, perhaps even more.

Seeing their women migrate to the capital and popular tourist islands and beaches to work as prostitutes and possibly marry off with farangs – a specie far wealthier than they can imagine – has to have some sort of effect on these men. The rural men of Thailand have it tough, tougher than we can ever imagine. Taking their women away from them often results in tragedy. Some men go on benders with the local whisky while others take relief from their sorrow with drugs. Those who become distraught may in some cases even top themselves. If Western guys top themselves in the seaside city of sin when they find out that their girlfriend has a husband upcountry, is not therefore inconceivable that the Thai men does the same? Yes, it happens.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't find the women of Thailand attractive and I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with two consenting adults engaging in sexual liaisons on a commercial basis. Obviously many of the people who come to Thailand do a lot of good for the girls and offer them a life that she might have never been able to get locally. But that doesn't mean that one shouldn't consider the poor rural Thai guys who suffer as a consequence of what goes on.


Where is this pic?

NOW WITH THREE DIFFERENT PRIZES EVERY WEEK!

Last week's pic

It was the building next to the WTC.

This week's pic

Unbelievably, not one person got last week's pic right. In fact, not one person even attempted to guess it so I guess no-one read the column last week… Obviously the pic was a bit…so STICKMAN WINS THIS WEEK! The building in the pic was the huge, abandoned, uncompleted building next to the World Trade Centre which hasn't seen a workman for about 5 years. The photo was taken from the MBK area, using a telephoto lens and I guess the lack of other buildings or landmarks in the picture made it quite difficult. This week's pic is a bit easier. Please remember that there are now THREE prizes offered for the where is this pic. One person, 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. The third prize comes from the good guys at Siam Translator who will provide you with a free translation, yep, have your love letter from teeruk translated! To win the MyCreme, you MUST be in Bangkok as the prize is delivered to you, but the other two prizes are open to anyone worldwide! 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! And starting next week, there will be ANOTHER PRIZE, making four different prizes every week!

CRAZIES OF THE WEEK WROTE :

Dear oh dear.

[To make the poor kiwi not feel so bad !] Had a Brit contact me, met a nice girl in Phuket, worked in a salon, a "good" girl, she said no proper sex till after marriage, though any other "variations" were possible. Doing the right thing, he went upcountry, met her parents, middle class, a nice home in downtown Mukdahan, he then decided to set the girl up in a salon locally – and was flying back out shortly to get married. Just asked me to check up that she was at the salon, possibly send the wife in for a shampoo and a gossip etc. Anyway, the picture looked a bit ordinary, and the true Thai name was not a recognized female one, mmmmm – so first stop was the local municipal office, yep, birth date was right, name was right, but instead of the alleged 22, was in fact 28, – and – you know but now, but certainly born male.
Second class citizens?
For far too long Thailand has been a place where the foreigner has little or no rights. I have many times considered investing in Thailand but then changed my mind. Everything that you own can be taken from you overnight. That applies to a condo too. Imagine if there was a coup d'etat. It is ironic that it was a bar owner from Sukhumvit Square who first made me realise that the army considered themselves almost above the law. He thought that a Coup was a strong possibility. Unlikely, I thought to myself, in view of the great respect the people have for the Monarchy. Now I am beginning to wonder. It seems to me that Thailand is the only place in the world where the wealthy & immensely more educated westerners lick the ground on which the natives walk. Just because it is a great adult playground does not mean that we have to trade our dignity just to preserve the status quo.
Thought provoking.
I am back in the U.S. I find it a lot easier to date here than I did in Thailand. I feel like the girls here like me, but in Thailand I feel that they are interested in money. But, I will still come back to live in Thailand. Maybe it is a mistake. I am 47 and I probably only have a few more years where I have a chance of meeting someone here in the U.S. If I spend the next few years in Thailand I will throw away that chance. I think it might not be realistic to try to find someone in Thailand. But, I am going to make the move anyway.
Sprechen Sie Thai? Je nais sa pas.
On the subject of Thai girls liking you to speak Thai with them, I have found that they like it at first, but soon change their mind. From my experience, when you first meet and can say basically anything in Thai they like it and think it is cute. But, as time goes on they begin to wonder just how much you really understand and I have had more than one tell me not to speak Thai with them anymore. My girlfriend always wants to know if I understand what she and her friends are saying. I say no, even when I do understand just to keep her guessing.
Many farangs don't like Thais, and many Thais don't like farangs, but for those people who dislike the other, have they ever met any truly decent folk, or have they mainly been hanging out with some of the lesser species of that race?
I am not ashamed to admit that I don't like Thai people very much. For me, they are too untrustworthy, mercenary and uncompromising, and seem to have lost the spirituality for which they were once famous. Right and wrong seems to depend on the situation, the
players involved, and what the perpetrators can get away with, not on any consistent set of moral values. However, I can empathise with a nation where 25% of the population are living beneath the poverty line, 70% are hustling in the cities to try and earn a decent living, and the remaining 5% are taking the piss (in the figurative sense). I think some of us farangs forget sometimes that we are in a third world country which has primitive values, and fail to make allowances for this fact. I will continue to take my vacations in Thailand because it is the only country in the world with the perfect blend of sunshine, spice and soda at affordable prices.
Proof that some strange people read the column – I guess the driver was immune to the gas?! I wouldn't believe a word of this…so include it merely for you to have a chuckle.
Just a warning to people who take taxis around Bangkok. My girlfriend's friend was in a taxi heading out to Rangsit / Future Park way, and the driver drugged her with a sleeping gas which was hooked up to his air-conditioning system in the car. Luckily she woke up when he stopped at an intersection and got out. We all know the stories of drivers putting drugs in water bottles and offering a drink to ladies. This new development is a worry so be careful ladies and men warn your partners.
Boss Hogg and co's new bar in Soi Cowboy, Sheba's, will be opened within two weeks, another new bar with two floors of entertaining pleasure. The very capable and experienced Peter from Playskool and Suzy Wong's will be overseeing the goings on. Upon completion Boss's construction crew will swing on over to the former Vixens and start work, time table for completion should be 60 days. And then on to another bigger project in Nana…

The Simply Blues Cafe is now open on Walking Street in Pattaya, right next to Electric Blue. Run by the same team in charge of Electric Blue and promising great farang food, it sounds like it is worth checking out.

New prices greet customers at Annie's, the venerable Soi Nana establishment. Annie's has had major renovations done to some of the rooms and they are now charging 1,500 baht for 1.5 to 2 hours. Apparently it was 1000 baht for up to 2 hours before the renovations but this was recently reduced to 1 hour. A beer costs 100 baht. Apparently they tell customers that the 1,500 baht fee includes "everything" but the girls still expect a tip (money). I have never stepped into the said establishment, and never will, so no comments on quality.

Last week when the police came to test the girls and one Nana Plaza bar was instructed to pick one girl from the bar and send her downstairs to be tested and IDed in front of Pharaoh's Bar with all the country's finest uniforms. Needless to say they sent the nicest girl down. Great for business to have this charade at the entrance of Nana Plaza.

Last Sunday when all of the bars were ordered closed it was interesting to see that Morning Night bar was still open and of course filled to the brim. Now just why might that bar have had a special dispensation?

While rumours suggest that it may be renamed to the totally unoriginal "Dubliner 2", I have it on good authority that the Irish bar currently called Shenanigan's will be renamed The Irish Exchange, effective from March 17, that is St Patrick's Day.

Cathouse in Nana Plaza has been running a special promotion for the past week of the soon to be opened "Bangkok Buffalo Wings" (final location is under negotiation.) "We promise the BEST buffalo wings for the best price in Bangkok", promises Bangkok Buffalo Wing honcho, Cosmic Buffalo aka Allan. Much appreciation goes out to Cathouse for providing the space and all the willing appetites to help with the testing and tasting and the needed quality control evaluations. All comments, both positive and negative, are welcome and will be incorporated in the final product. Does this fellow know the connotation of the word buffalo in Thailand? One thing is for sure, no matter how good the product is, and notwithstanding that it is food – the one thing all Thais love, the locals won't be buying a product that has buffalo in the name!

Deep frying those Western treats.

In the meantime, Cathouse, which already has the best happy hour promotion in Nana Plaza, is now making buffalo wings and fries available every day from around 5 until 8 PM. The FREE wings and fries give-away will continue until Saturday next week at which point they will start charging for them. So get your ass on over there now and enjoy them! They are continuing to operate from Cathouse until a permanent location is opened. Watch this column for further news. So, stop by, have a beer, enjoy the food…and let them know what you think. By the way, Jai, the cook, pictured above, is NOT on the Menu. Barfine for her is set at 50,000 baht, so don't even think of it.

If you fancy some decent farang food in the capital, I have found the offerings at The Londoner to be most worthwhile. This week Stickgirl and I both indulged with one of their steak sandwiches, and bloody excellent they were too. They were a good size and had excellent quality beef, NZ beef no less if the menu is to be believed. However at over 300 baht, one has to ask the question about the price. Back in my corner of Farangland, I seem to recall such food being no more expensive than this, and if anything, possibly cheaper. Now granted that NZ beef isn't cheap to get in this part of the world but I still think that the prices are on the steep side. With overheads and general business expenses much cheaper here than any Western country, it seems hard to justify prices that are dearer than what you may find in Farangland! Now isolating The Londoner does seem a little unfair, and truth be told, most of their Western food is damned good – and even their Thai food is good too, but that IS most definitely seriously overpriced. The likes of the Dubliner and Shenanigans (Bangkok branch – Pattaya branch seems a hell of a lot better) also sell Western food that seems awfully pricey. And don't get me started on Shenanigans…who is the cheeky person who wrote on the menu that the cheeseburger contains "lashings of cheese"? One slice of cheese does not constitute lashings, in this humble English teacher's opinion.

The other night I went for a wander through RCA with Stickgirl. Actually, we are both about 10 years or so too old to hang out there regularly but it was interesting as a one-off nonetheless. It has to be said that there were A LOT of really pretty girls milling around out there, but I'd suggest that most of the folks out there would be much too young for most readers of this site. Still, it is worth a visit to see how the younger Thais party. A pair of earmuffs would not be a bad idea either.

Quote of the week from a reader. "I've known this girl from Thai since early November of last year when we spent about a week together. I returned on the 18th of January this year and we married officially in Thailand after about 10 days."

If you're thinking of picking up a dictionary – and you should, you really should – do not skimp on the price. Some of the cheaper dictionaries have some awfully weird translations, as well as glaring spelling errors amongst other things. And on this subject, I'd like to know just who it was that introduced the word "upcountry" to the Thais. Ask any Thai in Bangkok who is planning a trip back to their province of birth, outside the capital, and they will invariably reply that they are returning "upcountry", which may in fact be the right answer, but is so often wrong. I'd love to know how this infrequently used English word came to be so frequently used in Thailand. My guess is that it was a mistranslation in a dictionary for darng jungwat (other provinces).

I was visiting those good guys at Sunbelt Asia the other day and noticed some of their listings and pictures. One that took my eye is obviously a popular venue with the trendy young Thai crowd these days situated near Seacon Square. The 72 seats in this pub are nearly always taken on any given night, with revellers enjoying imported beers and whiskies. Recent decoration work has involved brightly coloured spray painted artwork. This is a small 60 square metre bar, but it is from all accounts very profitable – over 1.6 million baht last year. During the day, patrons can enjoy the landscaped gardens and fish ponds which sit adjacent. This is obviously a huge attraction for the punters – peace and tranquility in the heart of the fast paced city is a highly valued commodity. The rent is a paltry 18,000 baht, and with a payroll of around 20,000 baht, it means that profits are exceeding outlay by a staggering amount! The owner of this going concern has to sell as he has other ventures which prevent him from devoting the time which he feels the business needs. This would appear to be a fun filled, profit rich company which is yours for the taking. The pictures which caught my eye have encouraged me to pop into this one next time I’m in the vicinity. I’m going to have to take Stickgirl over there to check it out. Be sure to check it out at Sunbelt Asia.

Samlor cruising through the market!

Following on from the piece in the column last week, it seems as though Star TV and UBC are not the best of friends and Star want to force the issue in court. The reason for the court action is that copyrights for pay TV content are issued on a country by country basis. However UBC are happy to do this in retaliation to Star TV who it is alleged signed a content deal with upcountry pirate cable operators!

A friend is currently studying at Somchart Thai Language School in Sukumvit Soi 19 and is fairly impressed with it. They offer one on one tuition at around 300 baht per hour, which is very reasonable given that the teachers appear to know what they are doing.

Rumours coming out of what is generally accepted as Thailand's second most prestigious university suggest that harmony and high staff morale are two things that you will NOT find amongst their foreign teachers. It seems that these foreign teachers have received a letter from the university which responds to comments made about the university on a Thailand English teaching website (NOT this site) by a foreign member of staff. Ironically, the comments made online included both positive and negative points. Anyway, the letter from the university suggested that anyone who was not happy working there should leave. While freedom of the press may be a right in Thailand, anyone who openly criticises their employer in this country is asking for trouble. Combine this with the fact that arjarns (university teachers / lecturers) are highly respected members of the community, it makes me wonder if the person who made the comments realised the gravity of just what they were doing. It is one aspect about Thailand that us foreigners have to accept – there are some things you just don't do or don't say in Thailand, whether you like it or not. Publicly criticising one's employer, especially a revered icon of the Thai education system, is imprudent, notwithstanding that what was said may or may not have been a valid criticism.

I wandered around MBK the other day and the place just gets better and better. The sixth floor has been radically improved. It has been renovated again and there are now a lot of interesting shops selling souvenirs and the like – a very good range indeed. Sure, it might not quite be Jatujak in either the range or prices, but hey, you don't have to battle the JJ crowds and heat. A visit to MBK remains a must for tourists and warrants frequent visits from locals too.

There seems to be a changing of the guard taking place down in Pattaya. I hear very positive things about Electric Blue with the 10 baht well drinks from 7:30 – 8:30 PM and special shows which one person stated were "better than anything I've ever seen in Bangkok". It seems that the Dollhouse, once a must visit on Walking Street, is no longer such a hit with the punters. Funny that, because the fellow in charge of Electric Blue used to work at Dollhouse! It all goes to show that the success of bars is in no small part attributed to those in charge.

Everything seems to have gone quiet down at Sukumvit Square. Walking past, it seems as if there is little happening, and the few former employees of establishments in that area who were keeping a nightly vigil seem to have since moved on. I have heard several rumours about what has happened since, but in the interests of keeping my balls attached to my body, I have refrained from printing them. One interesting rumour that I heard – and I have no idea if there is any truth in it – is that each and every business was offered a one off compensation payment of a measly 20,000 baht. Just who purportedly made that offer? Like I said, I like my anatomy just the way it is, thanks!

Stickgirl's Corner

Stickgirl, contrary to what I have said in previous columns, is not your typical Thai girl – and that is part of the reason she is so wonderful. Caught in a quandary over a boyfriend who writes about her beloved Thailand with a little more negativity than she would prefer, I sometimes think that she sees her corner of the column as a chance to fight back, and to even the score. She is fascinated by farang culture and the behaviour of us foreign barbarians in her beloved Thailand. Each week, Stickgirl will answer questions about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average Westerner 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 although I do butcher her English, generally making it worse. 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 are the signals if your Thai girlfriend really likes you – the same things as a farang relationship? Seems that the daily kissing, lovely teasing etc in public don’t occur so much here as in Western countries?

Stickgirl says: Normally Thai people do not do these things that Western women may do. You will be the person who knows best what love means to you and what form loves takes in your relationship. Try to understand not what she does but WHY she does it.

Question 2: I imagine it must be hard for a Thai lady dating a farang when we seem to be getting more than our fare share of attention from the beautiful ladies of Bangkok. So therefore is it acceptable to stray once in a while or could we wind up missing a part of our anatomy in the morning?

Stickgirl says: The way Thai women are cannot be applied to the answer of this question. I think you need to look at your behaviour and the woman in particular's response – worldwide, not just in Thailand. It depends on how serious your relationship is, what commitment you have given to each other and what expectations she has of you. Of course if you make a "full commitment" and then go out with other girls, there can be no guarantees that your little brother will not be in the duck's stomach the next morning. Good luck to you. <I just have to add something here. How would you feel if she was out getting laid with other guys…most guys abhor the thought of their woman getting a good going over by another man. Think about that next time your misbehaving tendencies arise. – Stick>

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Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick