Stickman's Weekly Column May 11th, 2003

Is This The Best Accommodation Deal In Town?



Stuck in a small shoe box style apartment without a view, much natural light and sometimes even without a window, many Bangkok apartments can become pretty depressing. If you have been stuck in an apartment and have longed for a house, somewhere to really call home, then you are going to drool over the place featured this week which I reckon is the best accommodation deal in Bangkok – easily the best value for money place I have seen here.

My first apartment in Bangkok was the proverbial shoebox. Just 34 square metres, it had no balcony and not a lot of natural light. It was my home for a few years and it cost me a cool 10,000 baht a month, largely due to the fact that it was in an ideal location.

I was always told that apartments are the only affordable places to stay in Bangkok and that houses ae prohibitively expensive, in fact a lot more expensive than what you would pay for a comparable place in the West. Check out some of the sharks advertising on Sukumvit, especially in the immediate vicinity of the Emporium, and you'll be shocked at some of the prices. Just yesterday, Mrs. Stick and I noticed a three bedroom place with an asking price of 220,000 baht a month. Yeah, you read that right. For the same price you could….well, what *couldn't* you do with 220,000 baht a month? Yep, house rental in Bangkok can be prohibitively expensive.

A new arrival in Bangkok seeing such prices could be forgiven for thinking that his days of living in a house with a garden is a thing of the past. While you expect a house to be significantly more expensive than an apartment, in a country where you can get a plate of fried rice for 20 baht and take a 15 km taxi ride for 100 baht, it just doesn't seem right that house rental could be quite that expensive.

Yeah, it's shaped like a crescent!

A friend called me recently to tell me about a dream home he had found here in Bangkok. He described a place that sounded truly amazing. A multi-level place with four bedrooms, maid's quarters, double garage, massive rumpus room, nice garden with mango trees, all fully furnished. I quietly wondered how on earth my friend could afford it, knowing that he is not the most wealthy of characters. Surely such a place would be out of his reach financially?

So, how much do you think you would pay for such a place? 25,000 baht a month? No, don't be silly? What about 15,000? Nah, still WAY too much! 10K? Hmmm, that might be the total cost including all of the bills. The rent on this place is a mere 8,000 baht a month! Yes, you read that right, 8,000 baht a month! Yep, this mansion is even English teacher friendly! A local Aussie has truly found himself a palace for a pittance.

And no, it isn't half way to Chiang Mai. It is less than a kilometre away from the Major Cineplex on Rachayohtin, not that far away from the Elephant Building. Yeah, the traffic in that area makes Sukumvit at rush hour seem quiet, but if one doesn't need to get out and about a lot, or one works in the area, we really are talking about the deal of the century.

The front lawn is big enough for a game of cricket!

Yeah, ok, it is all a bit '70s (but then so are so many Bangkok apartment buildings, even those built in just the last few years) and there are a few too many mossies around, but this has to be the best accommodation deal in Bangkok. I couldn't tell you how many square metres the place is because they probably measure this place is square kilometres. The lawns are so big that you need a pair of binoculars to see the neighbours, and if Bangkok is looking to build a cricket oval, his front lawn would do nice nicely.

I sure was envious when I saw this place. The location sort of sucks but if one is living the quiet life, such abode is perfect and just goes to show that if you really do want a house, you don't need to be downtown and you are prepared to spend a bit longer hunting, you really can find something that is so much better than the proverbial Bangkok shoebox. One does not have to settle for a pokey little apartment if that is not what one wants. I'm sure that this is not the only rental bargain in Bangkok.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

The train station with
the unpronounceable name

This week's pic

Last week's pic was far too easy. It was of course the main railway station at Hualompong and a zillion people got it right, which I guess goes to prove that Stickman readers are a bunch of tightasses, too cheap to take the plane. There are two prizes offered for the where is this pic however to claim either prize, you must be Bangkok based. The first person to answer the pic correctly wins a 500 baht credit to use at the Classics Movie Lounge and the second person wins a tube of MyCreme, the love tonic that will send your teeruk to heaven – even if you are an unlucky plonker with knob the size of your little finger. 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 :
(and therefore I do not necessarily agree with nor endorse what is said)

Yawn….wait till you see, Mum, Dad and 3 kids.
After flagging down and rejecting 5 taxis in front of the Nana (no meter, no comprehension, no desire to please) I finally ended up hurtling at breakneck (and every other body part too probably) speed down an old highway. No words can adequately describe the scene on the highway. People were driving as fast and as irresponsibly and as dangerously as possible. They were driving as if they were escaping a plague, or as if they were being chased by people with guns. Jack knifing, brake jamming, cutting off other drivers, honking; and all with the gas pedal to the floor. Apparently, you don't 'lose face' by driving in a way that jeopardizes everyone else's human dignity and human life. Finally, after about 15 minutes of this lunatic Thai behaviour, I settled back in my seat resigned to early and pointless death. Just then, out of my left eye, I saw a motorbike start to pass us. Mom was driving, and Dad was on the back; and there was a BABY! Was the baby in Dad's arms on the back? No. Was the baby held by one of Mom's arms while she steered the bike with the other hand? No. Was the child safely seated in one of those farang backpacks? No. Was the baby in a basket on the front handlebars? No. The baby, wearing only diapers, was STRADDLING THE GAS TANK! Head bent forward, face in the wind, and it's little fingers and toes gripping the flange of the gas tank. If I live to be a 100 years old, it will be one of the images in my mind that never goes away. OIT (only in Thailand)!
Let's celebrate Isaan Day!
There should be a national Thai holiday called "ISAAN FARMERS DAY" to thank them for providing such beautiful daughters, but alas it would cause hell with the political correctness of the snotty upper class folk in Bangkok! But while the Thai snobs sip wine and champagne, the poor Isaan families wonder how well they will eat this rainy season. It is certainly easy to sit in a top class hotel restaurant and ignore the starving and poor people, and make no attempts to implement any kind of effective welfare system. Very hypercritical when these snobs look down upon the bargirls, and do nothing but build their own corrupt empires primarily by utilizing cheap labour from Isaan, and by exploiting the beautiful people from this region. I have fond memories of Isaan and find Isaan people to be both fun loving and much more down-to-earth than your average Bangkokian.
It ain't an even playing field.
After living in Thailand for 14 years, it has been my observation on many occasions that if a farang lends money to a Thai, he / she has NO chance of ever seeing the loan re-paid. But farangs should know that if they borrow money from a Thai, they will be visited daily by the loan shark's representative on a motorcycle for the interest payment.
Buggered if I know!
Why are the Thai so proud of never having been colonized, whereas they have been turned into slaves by their Chinese bosses (5000B / month is a mere survival wage)? Why do they never say thank you? Why do they never hold the door open for you?
Why do they believe in ghosts? Why do 25 year old girls behave like a 12 year old children? Why are they so irrespective of nature and throwing litter everywhere? Why do they think that if a shop makes a good profit, building 10 other similar shops near the first one will also make profit? Why do the girls always have photos of themselves in their purse? Why do they use so many plastic bags, adding to the litter? Why are they so materialistic whereas their Buddhist faith teach them to get rid of material goods? Why are they lacking so much of honesty? Why are they always late, and if they don't show up at all they won't bother to give you a phone call? Why is prostitution illegal yet there are huge massage parlours everywhere? Why do the rich think so little of the poor, showing absolutely no compassion for their own brothers? Why is it that the first thing they ask you is if you have already eaten, as if eating was all their life? Why in the case of a road accident does the faulty driver always will run away? Why can't they say "sorry, I made a mistake"? Why is it that when you invite a girl for dinner she always come with a bunch of freeloaders who won't even say as much as thank you when you pick up the bill for everyone? Why will they increase prices when business is low, failing to understand that it will turn more customers away? Why do they have such a high self esteem whereas the whole world see their country as a big brothel? So why do I like this country so much whereas I should hate it so much?
Bargirls are forgettable.
Bad girls. Bar girls. God, aren't they great! And they are so plentiful. And so obvious. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to find them, recognise them, chat them up, date them, or have relations with them. Hell, you don't even have to be handsome. But marry them? Take them back to mother? Sign a lifetime contract with them? Have children with them?. NO WAY! If you are like me though, sometimes your male fantasies include meeting a nice Thai female, bonding with her successfully for life; and becoming a husband and a father. Well, I met one of these nice Thai women once and she was unforgettable. I had gone to the River City Shopping Center to have a pair of crocodile shoes made at Siam Leather Goods. Coincidentally, the annual antique show was being held and the mall atrium had been converted into a lot of little antique shops. Standing in one of these little atrium stores was a retail sales woman. A more attractive, feminine woman would be hard to imagine. I know a lot about art and about antiques and I can speak about 50 Thai words and phrases. I can be charming and friendly and I am not unattractive looking. We got along. She talked. I talked. She smiled. And I smiled. She laughed and I laughed. I bought a little "Long Life-Good Luck" stone turtle. I heard wedding bells. She was dressed properly and conservatively in a skirt and a blouse. And every time she had to bend over to show me something, her left hand would instinctively and automatically clutch at the top of her blouse so that it would not fall open. So that I would not be able to see anything that I was not supposed to see. Her sense of self and her modesty was instinctive and automatic. And I found it electrically exciting. I can't remember most of the naked and half-naked Thai sirens that I've seen in bars. But I'll never forget the woman that sold me the stone turtle at the River City Shopping Center.
Despite huge publicity that there really would be a major crackdown on pirated software in Bangkok, copied software, DVDs and the like remain easy to come by. Strolling up Sukumvit Road around sois 5 and 7, I noticed the vendors still have a huge selection of all of the latest DVDs – and hardcore porn remains in full view of the many families shopping in the area. At Panthip Plaza, things are quieter than usual, but software is still available, although al lot of cat and mouse is going on between the vendors and the constabulary. So for now in big bad Bangkok, it is still a lot easier to find copied software than it is an 18 year old virgin.

There are many things that make me wonder about some of the farangs who come to Thailand. Some folks really do seem to check their brain in at the airport before the enter the country proper. If you have read many of the reader's submissions of this site, you will know that many folks have been burnt financially here. The story is so often the same. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy moves to Thailand and buys girl a house, girl tells boy to piss off and keeps the house. Sound familiar? It should because it happens to often. But just why is it that so many farangs go out and buy a house for their girlfriends outright? Why not take out a loan? Yes, as a farang, you CAN take out a loan! Of course, there are certain criteria that need to be met, but if you are living here it is most definitely possible. By taking out a loan you inadvertently protect yourself from losing it all. A long term loan that will be paid back over 20 or 25 years means that if she decides to kick you out after a year or two, you only lose whatever it had cost you in the first couple of year's payments. But the real beauty is that any farang taking out a loan needs a guarantor, a local as the guarantor – her! If things go bad, she has to pay it off herself, which contributes to reducing your exposure. Sure, it is an infinitely more complex issue than this, but I have always questioned the wisdom of buying a house outright and putting it into someone else's name. It all strikes me as remarkably daft – unless of course you are willing to lose it all.

Hooty's Showgirls will be having its grand opening today, Sunday 11 May, on Walking Street in Pattaya from 8:00 PM. 50% off all drinks and there will be a free barbecue. The bar is located right next to Electric Blue.

Apparently the reason for the higher prices down in Phuket is that there was a bit of a land rush at Patong a while ago and some of the land sold for crazy prices – and hence that exotic part of terra firma is now rented out at crazy prices. Word is that the McDonalds down there pays 50% more for rent than the average Bangkok branch.

The proprietor of Temptations has proved to the world that he really does care what happens in his bar. After the bar was closed because two 17 year old girls were employed there, the manager acted quickly and decisively by firing his mamasan who had been explicitly informed that they were to operate within the law.

Word has come out of Nana Plaza regarding the state of the complex, particularly its cleanliness, or lack of. It would seem that the master property lessees refuse to take control and enforce any type of rules and regulations. The maids who work for them were doing such a bad job and after my complaints over two years they hired a janitorial company to handle the cleaning – but of course the bar owners all had to pay more. Guess what happened next? Two months later Nana's manager allowed the janitorial company to hire the old maids who were not cleaning and hence the same result – but with the bar owners continuing to pay more money!

With so many bars doing terribly at the moment, Big Dog's and Lucky Luke's just had their best month in history! It comes back to the three Ls, location, location, location – and those two bars have most definitely that. As fussy as I am, I have to admit that the last time I walked in, I saw a few cute looking girls in Lucky Luke's – and one of them was a girl who used to be the receptionist at a friend's apartment building, a girl we had both lusted over in the past! If I wasn't married…

The following appeared on Bangkokchat on Thursday 8th May when my email was deluged with people asking questions as to what had happened to this hugely popular chat site. No, I have no idea about what caused its demise. The message that was posted can be seen below Now, just who are these people I wonder? This is not the first time that Bangkokchat's service has been interrupted and I imagine that it will return again, before too long.

The asshole hall of fame:

Terry Roe
7baht
5baht

5baht – We have been in touch with your ISP. Welcome to the NZ blacklist. That's a secret list that the ISPs in NZ circulate amongst themselves of people who are forbidden internet access because of acute assholism. If you recall one of the last times you wept because you were blocked from chatting and you had your ISP contact us we made a deal with them – well, that was part of the deal. So you'd better buy some good books or find some television shows you enjoy, because soon enough you'll find that there will be no internet access available to you.

Now, it must be mentioned that a certain ex-administrator of the Bangkokchat site allegedly used his administrative powers to selectively probe Thai girls in the chatroom. When this person found a girl who was unsatisfactory physically or unwilling to provide intimate details about herself to him, he would ban her IP address, effectively blocking her from entering. This unscrupulous attempt to build a cyber harem backfired when the domain owner was advised of such actions.

We stuck our head in Conrad Hotel this last week with a view to having a drink or two in 87, the bar just through the lobby that seems to be awfully popular these days. Looking into the bar from the entrance way, it looked ok, but nothing special. However, I was shocked at the entrance price – 750 baht! Yes, 750 baht to get in! Sure, that princely sum got you two free drinks, but unless there was a complimentary blowjob included in the price, they can forget seeing me as a customer and needless to say, we went elsewhere.

If you are thinking of buying a bar, be careful! This past week I heard about what can only be described as a major scandal PURPORTEDLY being carried out by a fairly well known bar owner. No names here, but the guy in question is NOT farang. Strong evidence suggests that this guy who incidentally is remarkably popular with barflies, has ripped off several people, including one disabled gentleman to the tune of 8,000,000 baht. Stories like this are unfortunately all too frequent in Thailand. Many guys moan about the bargirls, but the real sharks are con men who will have your life savings away like a rocket. A bargirl might steal your time and a bit of cash, but millions of baht lost in a scam is what naive newbies get taken for all the time here. So, if you want to buy a bar, do your homework first and strongly consider going through a business broker who can guarantee title of the business and provide audited accounts. Complaints have been laid with the local police and apparently an investigation is currently taking place, but what happens will remain to be seen.

I heard a quite diabolical story about the Siam Commercial Bank this week. An English teacher was paid his salary for the month of April (remember, we get paid monthly in this part of the world) and there was an error with the amount deposited into his account with him receiving more than he should have. The school contacted him and told him about the error so he went into the bank to withdraw the funds to take them into the school so the problem could be sorted out. Meanwhile, the school jumped the gun and went into the bank, explained that they had deposited too much into the account and that they needed some of it taken out. The bank did not question them at all and simply withdrew funds as needed and gave the to the school. They did not even try to contact the fellow in question to check whether it was true and to get authorization to make a withdrawal from his account. What happens if the school had been lying, or had been mistaken? I have been away from the West for a while, but I imagine there is no way this would happen back there. For what it's worth, I have heard of another bank make these unauthorised withdrawals too. Just imagine if you are an English teacher, or ANY employee for that matter, who falls out with his or her employer. The employer simply has to go into the bank and say "we deposited too much, please reverse the transaction by XXXX baht" and the bank will. Hardly gives you confidence in Thai banks, does it.

A few years back, I spent many months studying Thai in a local language school, full-time. I had hoped to make a lot of new friends, but there was a lack of Westerners with the school dominated by Asians keen on getting a grasp of Thai. Roughly 40% of all the students at the school where I studied were Japanese, and I never did find out what the attraction was for them. A friend is studying Thai full-time at present and has noticed the same phenomena. He asked a few of the Japanese students, predominantly females, what the attraction was. He was shocked at the response that a good number of them have come to Thailand for…the Thai men! Yikes!

Rumours abound that more than a few Nana Plaza bars are facing closure due to them pushing things too far. Very little tolerance is being shown by the cops in that area and the full nudity that was so common in the past is not on, let alone some of the sex shows that now seem a distant memory. It can actually take up to a couple of months for closure orders to come through for the bars who have broken. While competition is fierce between the bar owners at Nana, a couple have quietly said to me that they hope that a number of bars do not get closed because it might have the unwanted effect of pushing people down to Cowboy, or even Patpong.

If anyone can help Boss Hogg to get rid of 20 kilos, ooops, I mean the 20 kids who float around Nana Plaza, he would be deeply indebted.

The top floor above Cathouse is going to be a beauty shop. Is The Boss about to enter into the beauty business?

Wow, he must be man of the week or something, but yet another piece of gossip about Boss Hogg. The rumour mill has it that he may well be the biggest single investor in Nana Plaza, having put in more than $US 1,000,000 into bars in the Plaza in recent times. A bi of advertising revenue thrown my way wouldn't hurt either….

The excellent Misty's Gogo bar in Pattaya will soon be doubling in size. Yep, the owner of that fun bar has just bought the building next to Mistys that was known as Emergency A Go Go and yesterday the builders moved in to knock through the wall to make Mistys double the size. It should take about six weeks to finish all the work and then of course they will have a grand opening. Any excuse for a party!

If you're heading to the big city, pack lightly. You won't be needing half the clothes you had planned on because it is as hot as hell here at the moment and this last week must've been the hottest week of the year so far.

Mrs. Stick's Corner

Mrs. Stick is an open-minded Thai lady who frustrates me day after day by insisting on speaking Thai despite the fact that her English is better than my Thai. Each week, Mrs. Stick will answer questions about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average Westerner in Thailand. 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 tidy up her English. 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 read on discussion boards about the virtues of marrying a Thai
woman, as well as a lot of generalization regarding the drawbacks. So I am interested in what Thai women would generally consider to be the disadvantages of marrying a foreigner.

Mrs. Stick says: There are no real disadvantages but the Thai woman has to try a lot harder because farangs are different, totally different. There is a risk that you will be looked at as a rebel. Remember that Thai people think that farangs are quite different, so said Thai women might be looked at quite strangely (not necessarily badly, but curiously – people are thinking "this woman must be a little different or unusual").

Question 2: I see Thai ladies looking for farang mates on the internet and many of these say that the suitor MUST HAVE GOOD TABLE MANNERS. Do Thai woman in general think that farang eat like pigs or does this mean something different than I understand it?

Mrs. Stick says: Farang eating manners are different to those of us Thais. We have many, many different rules for the way we eat at a table, such as not putting too much food on your spoon, using the right utensil for the right type of food, and generally being "proper". It is important and I can give you a tip. First of all you have to know Thai food, and then you have to know how to eat it properly i.e. when eating Thai style with a few people sharing several dishes, one of the dishes may be a soup. It would be proper to serve some of the soup with the serving spoon on to your own spoon and then put that spoon in your mouth – and not the main serving spoon that everyone uses! And if you can remember what Stickman has always said, appearance is very important for Thai people, so learn to eat properly! But so long as you don't burp or fart in front of your girlfriend or her family, then whatever you do should just about be acceptable.

Question 3: Please don't get me wrong…I love Thailand and Thais are great cooks but what happens to all the best cuts of meat? Do Thais like eating bits of fat and gristle? Or am I just being fussy?

Mrs. Stick says: If you don't go to a good restaurant, it is true that they don't use good meat. Meat is often cut into very small pieces and it is easy to get away with using lower quality meat which is a lot cheaper. It's not like farang food whereas with say a piece of steak, you can tell immediately if it is good or not. Where have you been eating? Why not spend less on girls and more on your food?

That's all for this week. Thanks a lot to the friendly bunch of Brits who we chatted with over a few Heinekens in Gulliver's on Friday night. It is nice to know that the column running late gets up your noses! Sunday arvo in Blighty can't be too much fun if you find yourself waiting for my weekly crap!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks as always go out to Hollywood Dave