I have been annoying you with my comments of how easy it is to meet a regular girl, constantly berating those of you have taken the easy way out with a working girl. A recent experience by a friend of mine makes me wonder if Thai ladies are becoming more discerning.
We met for lunch earlier this week. M as I'll call him here is an Australian reader of the site who emailed me many moons ago. We met for a beer and a friendship developed. Whenever he is in town, we try and catch up.
It has to be said that M would be considered highly desirable by most women, Thai or Western. M is in his late 30s, tall and in good shape. I'm no judge of whether he is handsome or not, but I certainly wouldn't think the fairer sex would find him ugly. He has a six figure salary yet remains someone who I would consider down to earth, very easy to get along with. I would have thought that he would be just the type of guy the average Thai girl would be looking for. M used to do the bargirl thing and largely became bored of it as one does, so he thought he'd like to try his luck with a few Thai ladies of the non bar variety.
M got online and joined up with one of the many online services that list the pictures and contact details of Thai ladies who are interested in meeting a foreigner for a relationship, possibly marriage. M searched through one particular site and found three girls who interested him, aged between 24 and 30. He paid $US 25 for the contact details for each girl and duly emailed them all. After a few emails, he let them know that he would be in town for a week and made plans to meet them all, individually of course!
Arrangements were made to meet the first girl on a Friday night. He called the girl at work during the day and the time confirmed to meet in the lobby of his hotel for dinner at 6:00 PM. He waited and waited and as she still hadn't arrived, he called her at 8:00 PM. She said she was still getting ready to go out and wouldn't be there for another hour! She finally arrived, a good three plus hours late. She was made up immaculately and he reckons she looked more like a model than a regular woman. They had a pleasant dinner and made plans to go out the next day, her offering to show him around Bangkok. He called the next day to confirm the time and place and she put him off until later in the day. He called again a couple of times and she kept putting him off, before eventually making the excuse that she couldn't meet him that day. The excuses continued and he never did meet her again. What is perhaps weird is that it was much the same with the other two girls. He met them but they were never really interested in seeing him again. Remember, we're talking about a genuinely nice guy with seemingly everything going for him.
It used to be that white skin and a long nose was all that was needed to meet any of the thousands of farang crazy Thai chicks in Bangkok. The mere site of a farang, any model in any condition used to get the average Thai woman at least a little interested. So why is is that these days, many Thai girls, even some of these farang crazy girls as I refer to them, are becoming more difficult to meet?
The secret is out. Farangs have been flocking to Thailand in ever increasing numbers for quite some time now and the local girls are becoming a lot more selective. They too are exploiting the power of the internet to find their ideal mate, and you might be amazed at just how high they are setting their sights.
Thai women have realised that they are highly desirable to a great number of Western man and many Thai women are now a lot more selective than their sisters in the past. Any Thai woman advertising online, be it through one of the introduction services or who flirts in any one of the many chat groups or discussion boards, will be hit on by a large number of farangs. She will have the chance to weigh up a number of men before making her choice, and as is a classic female Thai trait, she will make every guy think that she loves him and is devoted to him, while she may in fact be considering several different guys.
Dressing well, making sure you are always well presented, being nice, trying to speak good Thai are all a start, but they are just that, a start. There is one thing that they always come back to, one thing that remains important to these Thai women. It comes up time and time again, and it is not just a Thai thing but a worldwide thing. Call me a cynic, but these Thai women like a man with money. Everything else can be perfect, but if you ain't got the cash, you're gonna be left with the trash! If there is one thing that I have learned more than anything else in Thailand, it is that women are attracted to the guys with the cash. Yeah sure, there are some poor guys out there with great girlfriends and wives, but it seems that Thai women realise that not all farangs are wealthy…but if they are going to get a farang, they want a farang with money. A farang without money, well he just really isn't a real farang, is he?!
Getting back to M, one wouldn't realise without him explicitly telling you that he is a self-made man and financially secure. My guess is that the girls he met were not overly impressed with his laid back Antipodean ways that obviously masked his wealth, and thought they would pass up the opportunity to pursue things further. They'll never know their loss.
There has been a swing in the balance of power. It really was not that long ago that a Western man in Thailand could meet many girls easily, and almost have his choice of who he wanted to marry. Now with the internet being exploited by guys the world over, it is the Thai girls who are net savvy who have the power! They are far more selective than they used to be, fuelled in no small part by the huge demand that Western men have for them.
Where is this pic?
Last week's pic
It was the Asia Hotel with the
This week's pic
Last week's pic was taken from the observation deck of Baiyoke 2 Tower looking down at the Asia Hotel and the Evergreen Apartment branch on Phyathai Road. Very few people got it right and more than a few thought my camera had had a hiccup. No, that is genuine Bangkok haze in the picture. This week's pic is a little trickier than usual… There are two prizes offered for the where is this pic. One person, irrespective of location, wins the prize of $25 worth of goodies from ClubHombre which will be shipped to you anywhere in the world. Please note that this is the last week that Club Hombre will be offering the prize, so if you want to win $25 of their goodies, this is your last chance! In addition to this, the first Bangkok based person to answer the pic correctly wins a 500 baht credit to use at the Classics Movie Lounge. Note that this is the last week to win the prize from Hombre so you better be quick! 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 STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL :
From the SARS file, passengers flying into Bangkok on Thai Airways have reported to me that masks are being handed out soon after the flight gets into the air, with passengers having the option of wearing the mask not only when they arrive on the ground in Bangkok, but also for the duration of the flight. The few people that I have talked to have said that the airport is quiet, in so much that there seems to be less passengers flying in than usual. As far as the teams of doctors and nurses checking arrivals, it would appear that they move around the airport and check folks arriving from the main affected countries. Two friends flew into Bangkok in the last week, both from Australia. One on a direct flight from Sydney reported that he walked through the airport and didn't see any of the medical staff anywhere. The other friend was on a flight from Adelaide that had a stopover in Singapore and his experience was totally different. After getting off the plane, every passenger was greeted by a team of medical staff. A small patch was placed on each arriving passenger's forehead by a nurse who took some sort of reading, wrote it down on a piece of paper, and then gave it back to the passenger. The passenger then had to go and give the piece of paper to a doctor. If the reading was ok, the passenger was sent on their way, but if the green light wasn't given, the passenger would undergo a more in-depth consultation, and I guess examination, with the doctor. I also notice that some hotels in Bangkok have erected signs in the lobbies and lifts, advising that arrivals from the affected countries must wear masks at all times.
On the ground in the big city, I have heard of one school which recruited sic English teachers via the internet, sight unseen. Four of the six who accepted positions have since turned them down and are unwilling to come to Thailand, for fear of SARS. A Thai family I know had planned a trip down under this month and they have since cancelled, citing he reason that they feel that they would be unwelcome down there, due to the exposure SARS is getting – and their perception that folks down under may be scared that they are carrying SARS.
And don't get any illusions about thinking the naughty bars are busy and unaffected. The bars are quieter now than I have ever seen them. Those bar owners who said to me two years ago when they put drink prices up from 90 to 110 baht that "85% of our customers are tourists and this is still cheap for them" had better rethink their pricing strategy, fast. Many expats have got fed up with being second class customers to the tourists and have largely given up on the gogo bars. Bars such as the new Gulliver's in Sukumvit Soi 5 where you can get a bottled Heineken for 75 baht in nice surroundings provide a real alternative. So come on you bar owners, show us expats that you value our custom.
From a certain popular bar in Soi Cowboy comes word that several girls ended up owing money to the bar recently. Girls working in gogo bars are fined for arriving to work late, or not turning up at all, and it seems that some made such a habit of it that they ended up actually owing money to the bar! Whether the bar actually took money from them or just made it a zero balance for the month, I don't know. I used to think that this was outrageous but before one starts to complain about the bar being unreasonably harsh on the girls, you have to understand why such policies are implemented. Rural Thais, which the vast majority of the bargirls are, are notoriously poor at timekeeping and if there were no such systems in place, the girls would just come and go as they please – and this could well mean that when you go to a bar, there may well be very few girls there! I used to be of the opinion that the fine system that bars have in place was a little harsh, but knowing what Thais are like with timekeeping and responsibility, I understand exactly why such a system is used.
Word from the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya is that while they are usually at 100% occupancy over the Songkran period, this year they were running at a mere 30%. Lots of businesses in Pattaya are hurting and many bars have said that they cannot wait for the influx of soldiers in the second half of May when the Cobra Gold military exercises take place. That short period of time brings in a lot money indeed, the beneficiaries predominantly the beer bars.
Then and now. The pic on the left is from the column
3 months ago and the pic on the right is how it all looks now.
I hadn't been down to Sukumvit for a while so when I went for a stroll around the Alley Of Sin this week I noticed a few changes. As can be seen from the photograph above, the old Sukumvit Square bar area which was demolished a few months back has been all cleared out and the area looks like it is ready for the next development. Word on the street is that this spot will be the home to a new 5 star hotel. There had been a lot of derogatory messages spray painted on the boards surrounding the area but these have been creatively covered up with a graffiti-style pattern painted over all of the boards which masks the messages underneath.
Ms "Du" is your typical little Thai girl, about 40 kgs, looks 17 but is actually 24. She was a freelancer for some time, but now has a "sponsor" and is allegedly happy not to have to work at Nana Disco anymore. The "sponsor' upon taking advice, has her stay upcountry at her home whilst he is not in Thailand. However, he makes the mistake of contacting her by mobile, rather than by land line. Silly mistake… So from time to time, Ms Du gets bored with life, and makes a fleeting visit to Bangkok, and visits old mates and old haunts – and of course also decides that the "sponsor' is not paying enough, so she is on the lookout for a little extra whilst here. On Tuesday night of this week she ended up at the Grace Hotel, shortly after 2 AM. All of a sudden, around 20 police, heavy boys from crime suppression arrived – the local constabulary was not been involved or consulted, so there was no tip off about the raid! As is usual, all exits were sealed and everyone was asked to supply a urine sample. Now this created a big panic for Ms Du, as one thing she and the majority of her mates need before heading out each night is a hit of yaba. Anyway, a very lucky break presents itself, a European guy standing nearby understands the situation, grabs 2 plastic cups instead of one and tells the police he needs to use the toilet privately. He fills 2 bottles, comes out, passes his bottle over, then goes and hugs Ms Du, slipping her the other bottle. She in turn hands this in, the on the spot test reveals all clear. Great relief, very lucky break and of course she is happy to go off with the guy at no charge. He turns out to be a total sadist, beats her up, has sex with her in all ways possible, then tosses her out. She is a very distraught young girl now and obviously there is little that she can do about the guy. Last I heard is that she was taking the first bus back to the barn-nok, and maybe thinks the "sponsor' not such a bad bloke after all. Worst of all, the guy was not one of the dodgy Soi 3 Arabs, but rather a Brit.
More than a few farangs were upset that while the piss testing was taking place, photographers were shuffling around, firing off shots of those being tested. Imagine if your picture ended up on the front page of one of the local newspapers! Irrespective of whether the sample you gave was positive or otherwise, a headline that read something like "hundreds of farangs drug tested in known prostitute pick up spot" would NOT look good if you are employed locally. Just goes to show that merely hanging out in the bars could prove to be dangerous. I imagine a teacher whose mug shot appeared in a newspaper would get his marching orders – whether or not the sample was negative. Just the association with such a place and such an event would be enough.
Piss testing also took place in Nana Plaza on Thursday night too with a few girls chosen at random from a selection of bars tested. While all of this was taking place, all of the girls had to cover up and this resulted in more than a few customers leaving. They have tested farang customers in regular venues such as discos and at freelancer joints such as the Grace Hotel. Will the time come soon when they will test farang customers in a major naughty nightlife centre like Nana Plaza?
Despite increasing prices and a continuing staff problem which I believe have been directly responsible for the decreasing numbers of customers at Woodstock, the Nana Plaza stalwart "we're a bar and not a whorehouse" is opening at a new location, in Krabi of all places! The bar will be managed by the current Bangkok branch manager, Kim. Given the lack of whorehouses in Krabi, maybe they should make the girls in the new branch barfineable?
There are some things that you don't talk about when people are eating. One's business in the toilet is one thing that springs to mind. But there are other things that you do not want to hear when you are enjoying a nice, quiet breakfast, away from the madness of the city. On Sunday of last week, we chose Bourbon Street as our breakfast venue. Everything was just right, great food, strong hot coffee, pleasant service, everything was just as it should be. We noticed a bunch of people had a long table booked next to us and we watched us as people filed in individually, making their way to this table. My guess was that they might be a social group from the US embassy as it all seemed to be American accents coming from the table. The group chatted in hushed tones until such a point when they decided to ruin the peace and tranquility that we had found. One fellow stood up and announced that "I'm XXX and I'm an alcoholic. I spend all my time with the bargirls and….and…." No, it wasn't the American Embassy Social Club, but rather the Jack Daniel's Fan Club aka Alcoholics Anonymous. Listening to folks talk about their drinking problems, and worse still, bargirl issues, on Sunday morning is no fun at all. Why is it that they have to tell the entire restaurant about their damned problems? On a positive note, we all agreed that Bourbon Street does a great breakfast and a special mention must be given to the eggs benedict, which at Bourbon Street is truly fabulous. In fact, Bourbon street itself is a fabulous venue, but if you are grabbing breakfast there on a Sunday morning, do yourself a favour and stay in the section of the restaurant where the bar is located, and not the other section, so that you do not have to be listen to AA. (No, I am not anti-AA at all, but one should not have to hear about other people's problems when one wants to enjoy a quiet breakfast.)
This week I met a friend in the lobby of a Chinatown hotel for breakfast. We were there for perhaps an hour and a half, just shooting the breeze and watching half of China walk by. Apart from the Chinese, there was a precession of local girls walking through the lobby of the hotel, some looking more than a little tired as if, shock horror, they didn't get enough sleep the night before! Yep, while we think of the Sukumvit Corridor (from Soi Zero to the Asoke intersection) as the place where most girls doing long time can be found, there were a stack of them down at Chinatown too. For a moment it made me wonder if the whole bloody town was on the take – and then I remember that we are in Bangkok – and they are!
Its not just Sukumvit where the girls go long time.
If you exit the small supermarket in Tokyo Department store in MBK, you will be amongst hundreds of mobile phone dealers. Nestled amongst them is one vendor selling blank CDs. This is the best place in town to buy blank CDs, not because the prices are right, but because the girl selling you the CDs can't add up! In an astonishing four times that I have bought blank CDs there, she has made an error with the change, in my favour. Hard to believe, but true.
The timeshare scam has hit Sukumvit. The routine is the same and you are approached by someone who speaks good English and will ask you a few seemingly innocuous questions, and will then advise that your name will go into the draw to win a prize – and therefore your hotel name and room number is needed. You'll get a phone call the next morning to say that you have won some worthless prize, like $1,000 worth of accommodation. They'll offer to send a driver to pick you up to take you to collect the prize. It is nothing but high pressure timeshare sales. Irrespective of this scam, I wouldn't go giving out the name of my hotel and room number to anyone (unless of course she is curvy, sexy and has legs like margarine – easy to spread) We've been annoyed by this crap on Beach Road in Pattaya for ages, but I have never seen it in Bangkok before.
If you were not in country this week, you may well have missed the piece in the news about the proposed taxi fare hike. It has to be said that taxi fares in Bangkok are ridiculously cheap. The proposed fare changes would basically result in overall fares doubling with the proposed increases being the flagfall increasing from 35 to 50 baht and the per km rate from the current rate which ranges from 4.5 to 5.5 baht being increased up to 12 baht. Waiting time when the cab is stuck in traffic is currently 1 baht a minute but the proposal is to increase it to 3 baht. They proposed a price increase 2 or 3 years ago which got a fair bit of press but it never came about. They also proposed a massive increase in work permit fees, a 1000% increase but it never eventuated. They have talked about increasing the price of visas but that never happened either. Is there anything to suggest that taxi fares will go up? Remember, 95%+ of taxi journeys are taken by Thais, often middle class Thais. A good percentage of taxi drivers in Bangkok are farmers from the provinces. Taxi drivers currently make some money, though not a lot. Much of the middle class Thais look down on the taxi drivers and really couldn't give a rat's as about how much the cabbies make. Do I think the price increases will go through? Hmmm, not likely. I predict that the bargain will remain. Middle and upper class Thais are loathe to make a change which will directly take money out of their pockets and into the pockets of the poor.
Did you know that many of the Bangkok embassies have websites where you can get all of the visa / passport / immigration / etc. information you need? These sites can eliminate the need to ask questions online, or worse still, traipse into the embassy itself. Here are links to some of the embassies in Bangkok.
Another vacant lot on Sukumvit.
The building next to Ambassador Place that caught fire a year or two back has been pulled down, and is home to another vacant lot. What will they erect on this spot? Money has to be on, you guessed it, another 5 star hotel!
I'm sure that I make a lot of pronunciation errors when I speak Thai, but I still can't help myself from chuckling when the Thais make certain pronunciation errors. There is a certain move out in Thailand at present, and for the life of them, the Thais just can't say the name of it right. It's called "The Pianist".
Dave, the manager of the Hollywood Strip Bars (floor 3 Nana Plaza), will be celebrating his 40th birthday this Wednesday, April 30th. Pop in for a big birthday bash, there will be free snacks early on and plenty of booze flowing through the night. Dave has worked at Hollywood Strip for approaching four years now under the auspices of Johnny. It has to be said that Johnny and Dave have achieved a remarkable feat of turning Hollywood Strip into two of the very best gogo bars.
Mrs. Stick's Corner
Each week, Mrs. Stick will answer questions about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average Westerner in Thailand. Mrs. Stick is an open-minded Thai lady who is happy to answer your questions. Please send questions to her, via me, at the usual email address. Two or three questions will be chosen each week and answered in the following week's column. The responses are hers and NOT mine although I may attempt to correct her English from time to time. Note 1: I may not necessarily agree with what she says! Note 2: Unfortunately, she doesn't have time to reply to your inquiries via email.
Question 1: I have a wonderful girlfriend who is an ABAC graduate and is from a well-off family in Saraburi. What really upsets me sometimes is that she is often looked down at by people when walking with me on the street, with strange stares and sometimes rude comments. I was wondering, as the wife of a farang, have you also experienced this kind of ignorant discrimination and how do you deal with it?
Mrs. Stick says:
I think I have answered to this similar question before but I’m happy to do it again. From my experience (in Bangkok), I think people can differentiate the type of relationship you have. And if the girl you are walking with is a “normal” type, then people will look with the curious (or sometimes even jealous) eyes! In the countryside, of course, people are not that open minded but still not that judgmental. One important thing is that you have both got to be proud and confident. Then no eyes can harm your feelings.
Question 2: What do Thai people really think of farangs? Are we welcome guests or are we hated? Where do we stand on the ladder of status? Do we even reach the ladder?
Mrs. Stick says:
If you have come to Thailand just once, you'll know without any doubt that farangs have long been welcome to Thailand since the time of King Rama 5, if my historical knowledge is right. And they are more than welcome these days. In vendors' viewpoint, farangs are walking money, in the work place farangs are experts, on the street farangs are welcome
tourists. Having said that, it depends on the farangs' behaviour. As long as you learn something about Thai people and Thai culture (not talking about some things in depth i.e. Thai way of thinking, social structure, etc.) and try to behave accordingly then you will find no problem living in Thailand.
That's all for now. Hope the column wasn't too long this week. Sometimes there is so much to write about and sometimes it is quiet. This was one of those weeks when lots happened. Catch ya next week.
Your Bangkok commentator,