Stickman's Weekly Column July 27th, 2003

I’ve Been A Good Boy



Close to two years ago I wrote one of the most controversial opening pieces in this column when I stated that I was turning my back on the naughty nightlife, at least as an active participant. I offered a few reasons for it, but the crux of it all was that I felt that prolonged involvement wasn’t doing me any good at all. I also went on to upset more than a few people by saying that, in my opinion, anyone who spends a lot of time in that industry, either as an employee or as a customer, will suffer long term. Emails flooded in and I was accused of everything from being a super hypocrite to forgetting who my readership were. While I took note of the feedback, I knew the way that the industry was affecting me, and I knew that it wasn't doing me any good at all. I pledged to get myself away from it all, and to never indulge in the pleasures of the flesh with a bargirl ever again.

It has been close to two years since I wrote that article and I have managed to do what I pledged to do, stay away from bargirls, at least in the sense of hiring their services. I still go to the bars from time to time and yeah, I still find a handful of the girls physically attractive, but the carnal instincts are no longer there and dreams of sweating it out in a crusty short-time hotel room are truly a thing of the past.

While I used to go to the bars at least twice a week, nowadays I go far, less frequently and the only reasons I go these days are to have a quiet drink with friends or to gather news for the column.

What I have noticed is that more and more people have made the same journey. Like me, some time after arriving in Thailand they fell into the bar scene, played around for a while but eventually it lost its allure and they became not just disinterested with it, but disenchanted by it, much like I did.

Now that is not to say that everyone will walk the same path, get involved with it and eventually lose interest. I have had guys have email me and tell me stories that suggest that they have been messing around with bargirls since before I was born so it is NOT to say that everyone will fall out of favour with the bar scene. Some people seemingly never lose interest and many of them seem happy. That's cool. It works for them. They are happy.

Have I ever had the urge to sneak one of the sultry lasses around the corner to a short time hotel for a bit of sneaky hanky panky? Not at all. I have gone through a major paradigm shift whereby I now see the girls for what they are, prostitutes. Not whores. That's a bit harsh. But not rented girlfriends either because frankly, that is being a bit too nice.

Funnily enough, the opportunities to scratch an itch are so diverse in Bangkok that I am surprised that so many people continue to frequent the bars. One does not need to go to the bars for such things. You can meet perfectly pleasant girls for a bit of non-committal hanky panky, extremely easily in this city. The notion of Thai girls preserving their virtue until their wedding night is very much a thing of the past. I would bet that the typical, modern Thai girl is not that much less promiscuous than their Western sisters. The Thai lasses frequenting Bangkokchat represent a classic example. Many of them are out there for sexual gratification and little else. Just this part Friday a friend of a friend told me how he had met a 21 year old girl online and how she ended up back at his place, sweating it out horizontally. Two hours later he got back online and using a different alias and the very same girl hit on him again, looking for more action, the very same day! Yeah, it's out there all right!

I maintain that the bar scene is addictive and that short term it can be a lot of fun, if you are able to keep it in perspective. But long term is another matter altogether. It is just like so many other things in life that are fine in moderation, but prolonged, long term use can become a major problem.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

It was Hellfire Pass

This week's pic

Last week's pic was was correctly answered by a truckload of people. Fantastic stuff given that while it is a known tourist attraction, it is well off the beaten path. Now, where is this week's pic? We're back in Bangkok for this one which was taken about a week and a half ago, when we had that nice stretch of good weather, not the crap rain we're experiencing most days now. There is a prize offered for the where is this pic prize each week. The first Thailand based person to answer the pic correctly wins a 500 baht credit with Cheap Charlie's Phonecards. I'm sorry that for now, prizes are only available to guys who are Thailand based – anywhere in the kingdom. However, for guys outside LOS, still do feel free to email me your guess.

FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:

The best laundry in town?
I remember the time when about 6 of my favourite dress shirts got bulldozed with the bars on Soi 10. The laundry owner was very sorry but said the shirts were "gone". About a week later, my girlfriend arrived at my apartment with the 6 shirts. She said the laundry owner had to "dig 'em out of the debris". Missing was my socks and underwear, but I'll never forget the smile on my girlfriend's face. My girlfriend actually went out the next day and bought me new socks and underwear, because she did not want me to think badly about Thai people. That makes for a great personal story to tell the folks at home.
Peace of mind.
I want to comment on the shake-down you reported on the highway. From what I have read, this is a fact of life for a farang driving around in Thailand. I guess in one way it is not all that different from the Lumpini experience – a dual-pricing plan for farang vs. Thai drivers. But it is disturbing in another way; growing up and living in a farang country, when I see cops around, I don't ever need to feel any alarm of fear provided that I have not committed any crime. This peace of mind is priceless, but people growing up in farang countries take it for granted. Then we go to visit or live in a country like Thailand, and our perception of the cops change. When we see them, we feel some alarm and worry that we may get shaken down for a bribe. The worst part is that much of what happens is beyond our control. Being law-abiding does not protect you from a cop who can and will cause you a lot a grief if he has a mind to. I know there are many advantages to life in Thailand, but I feel some pity for people in societies who cannot enjoy the same peace of mind that I enjoy living in a place with an honest police force.
It's not just a Thai thing.
Just last month, I was taking a Jakarta taxi from a restaurant to a nice club with a resident co-worker. Being around midnight or so, we were enjoying the light traffic, only to be "randomly" pulled over by a police officer (actually a gang of them). All four doors were yanked open violently, and the one peering into my doorway began shouting commands in Bahasa. Luckily, my co-worker translated into English for me. The officer wanted to see my ID. All I had was a bit of cash and my american express card. I lamely offered him the card as ID not realizing how how funny that could be. Imagine a new commercial for american express cards showing an Asian policeman taking his payoff by running the card through one of those old imprint machines (with big grin on his face). Anyway, after much back and forth in Bahasa, my friend told me the "fine" was 20,000 Rupiah…about $2 US, else they'd have to take me in. Although I was pissed off about it, I handed over the 20k. The cop then decided that my transgression rated another 10k Rupiah. So I hand it over and off we go. It was odd that the taxi driver said not a word through any of this, as if it was a routine evening….which it might be. Another mini-adventure with local law enforcement.
Are you a metrosexual?
One of the many interesting themes in these columns of recent weeks concerns what kind of farang man your average nice middle-class Thai girl prefers. The only thing no-one disagrees on is that without money, you're fucked. I believe this is true even in rich countries, but that's beside the point. Factors like looks, age, height and personality must also be part of the equation. I followed with great interest David Beckham's recent tour of Asia, where he was mobbed by hordes of girls everywhere he went. Yet here is a man who goes on TV and tells the whole world that he uses cosmetics, wears sarongs, and is scared of his wife. He is not a playboy and does not subscribe to the hard-drinking macho lout image that so many of his compatriots want to project. To your average Herbert down the pub, he has the perfect touch of gayness which women find irresistible without him being branded a woofta. I believe that this new type of "metrosexual" man is what appeals most to the more liberated, assertive internationally minded women of the 21st century : mild rather than macho, cute rather than handsome, nicely dressed rather than flash. I would recommend to any chap out there not having much lady luck to slap on the eau de cologne, dab on a touch of mascara, and wear a pretty shirt. You may surprise yourself with the results. And don't get too close to those lady-boys.
Bugger the cold…give me Thailand any time!
If there is any truth in the claim that Thai bargirls stay married longer to Scandinavians than to men of other nationalities, then it has little to do with the national characteristics of the spouses. Those little sluts know which side of their khao pad the spice is on. Scandinavian countries are among the richest in the world : Norway is 1st (because of its oil), Iceland is 3rd, Denmark 4th, Finland 5th (thanks to a mobile phone company), and Sweden 7th, according to recent OECD figures. These countries are clean, modern, efficient, and without the glaring inequalities you find in the UK or the USA. The people are polite, egalitarian, sociable, and generally treat new immigrants well (only Denmark may be a little dodgy recently). Their welfare systems are legendary and a Thai wife will earn more in child benefit for her first-born than most women will ever earn in Thailand for doing respectable jobs. Creche facilities, schools, hospitals and adult education opportunities leave the rest of the world behind. The only real hardship in these countries is putting up with the long cold dark winters, but the planes from northern Europe to Bangkok in January and February are full of Thai wives and kids on their way home on a long vacation to Isaan leaving Olaf freezing his bollocks off in a fish processing plant in Oslo. Unfortunately, the day is not far off when a new EU government will regularize taxes and force Scandinavians to give up their generous welfare systems. Then let's see how long these lazy trollops stay married over there once they realize they will have to work for a living like women in other countries.
I was surprised to hear that in the last week, one bar in Nana Plaza raised their standard drink prices to 120 baht. Excise tax went up on imported drinks back on March 1st and gogo dancer salaries are creeping up and up so one could argue that this price increase is overdue. Will this be the start of a new wave of price increases? Despite what cynics may think, there isn't a cartel who fix the prices in Nana. In fact whenever I ask one bar owner about another, the following sentence is seldom without expletives. There's no love lost amongst that lot!

And speaking of waves, the recently opened Blue Wave between Sukumvit Soi 4 and the JW Marriot is certainly impressive to look at. Wow, it sure brightens up what was a dim and dull part of Sukumvit to the extent that the proprietors ought to get some sort of dispensation from the city for lighting up that part of the street. They won't need any streetlights there!

The male member of the dodgy soi 4 couple is rumoured to have had his passport confiscated by the police for safe keeping…just in case he decides to do a runner! But then it was always my understanding that the cops really cannot confiscate your passport as it is the property of your government. Not sure quite how true this rumour is but it sounds like the heat is being turned up.

What is wrong with bar building contractors in Bangkok? Nothing seems to get finished for ages around here. How long have people had to stare at the derelict shell, that was once Vixens? Come on Boss Hogg get your boys on to it! It looks like a bomb site in Baghdad! Carnival is not much better and now Anton's new project behind Mercury Bar appears to be at a standstill. Also with a huge pile of bar stools outside the now closed Hollywood Rock, they are the latest bar to join the derelict club. Are the Thai builders downing tools like the British Airways staff or what? Once again Nana Plaza is turning into a messy building site. My message to bar bosses is finish what you started as quickly as possible!

I was under the impression that the song "One Night In Bangkok" was illegal and was not permitted to be played in Thailand but when I posed this question to a few people, I was told that it was not so. Some even retorted that they had heard it in a gogo bar so it must be legal. Ba! Well, this past Wednesday night, just after the 9:00 PM news, I heard it on the radio for the first time. It was not the original version but another… Is it illegal? Hell, I'm sure that I read or heard somewhere that it is illegal.

The Studio Cafe in the Jomtien Complex, Thrappaya Road present the classic movie & TV quiz night on Sunday 10th August at 7:30 PM with special guest Al Avalon. Al Avalon is famous for his roles in Bonanza & Hawaii Five O as well as roles in many other films. It promises to be an evening of great entertainment and interesting stories. The quiz is an interactive game with movie clips and sound bites from the golden days of Hollywood.

I have concerns about how successful the Subway branch in Silom will be. The prices are not cheap and the location is a little out of the way. I'm reliably informed that the high standards that Subway insist on means that the cost of sourcing the ingredients locally is much higher than customers would expect. While I am confident that the Sukumvit branch will do ok due to the high numbers of tourists in the area, the Silom branch might struggle. They sure are good sandwiches though.

Nice sunsets earlier this week, before the rain came.

A new Bangkok Expats Club has been formed by a Dane who has been living in Thailand for 18 years. The club meets twice a week (seems awfully often) at the Office Bar in Sukumvit Soi 33. Weekly meeting 1 is held every Sunday from 11:30 to 14:00 (or longer if necessary). The first meeting was held earlier today! The second weekly meeting will be held every Tuesday from 17:00 to 20:00 (or longer if necessary). The first Tuesday meeting will be held on July 29th 2003. After the two first meetings, the next scheduled meetings will then be:

Sunday August 3, 2003 -from 11:30 -14:00
Tuesday August 5, 2003 – from 17:00- 20:00
Sunday August 10, 2003 – from 11:30 -14:00
Tuesday August 12, 2003 – from 17:00 – 20:00
Sunday August 17, 2003 – from 11:30 – 14:00
Tuesday August 19, 2003 – from 17:00 – 20:00

These meetings are all informal with no speakers and no official program. New members can go to The Office, learn more about the club, ask questions, give ideas, provide feedback, sign up for membership, network with other members, have some food, a drink, etc. Sounds like a good way to make a few new friends and to learn more about life in the city.

UPDATE MONDAY 28 JULY. THE CLUB MAY DIE BEFORE IT EVEN GETS GOING. THE FOUNDER EMAILED ME TO SAY THAT THE TUESDAY MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED AND IT IS UP TO SOMEONE ELSE TO RUN IT ALL.

Stick

The freelancer joint below the Grace Hotel was raided again on Friday night. Seems to be a common theme down there, no doubt due to them opening beyond the supposed 2:00 AM enforced closure time.

If you are in the Sukumvit neighbourhood around midday over the next few days, consider a visit to the Amari hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 5 for lunch. From 12 – 2 PM you can get the amazing buffet for just 99 baht++. Banners outside announce the special runs from the 15th to the 31st of this month. Apparently it is getting busier and busier which is hardly surprising because that's a great deal! It's special to celebrate the hotel's 10th birthday.

I don't report the same stuff as in the newspapers, so if you are not local, keep your eyes on what is happening in the Bangkok Post and Nation online. I might make some smart assed comments about what is happening in the news, but that is my limit. I'm not a reporter, ok!

All sorts of rumours do the rounds about just what it would cost to get someone popped. It's not the sort of shit you'd ever want to get involved in but morbid curiosity may get your mind wondering just what one's life is worth. I was told that to get a farang out of the frame, you'd likely be looking at a minimum of 50,000 baht, and for that the trigger puller would likely be a ya ba crazed Cambodian. To get a local professional to do it would actually be quite a bit more. Around $US 1,200…not a hell of a lot!

Fans of Bangkok based novels are in for a real treat with three new novels recently released. Dean Barrett's "Murder on The Skytrain" is available in bookshops now, as is another title called "Bangkok 8". A couple of friends have read "Bangkok 8" and have enjoyed it. But the one I know many have been waiting for is the latest from Jake Needham, "Killing Plato".

Jake Needham's newest Thai-set crime novel, Killing Plato, is finally available, at least it is if you know where to look. Jake now has an online store operating on his web site at www.JakeNeedham.com and I've just discovered that Killing Plato is now available there for immediate delivery. When I found that out, I tracked Jake down here in Bangkok and asked him if his fans can also get Killing Plato in bookstores now. He told me that the new book's official publication date is not until September 1 and Killing Plato will not turn up in retail stores until after that, but that he was letting some advance copies go out now through his online store. I was also surprised to hear from him that buying it online may be the ONLY way residents of Thailand will have of ever getting the book! What the XXXX? While book distributors and retailers in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries in the region have been ordering copies by the thousands and Killing Plato will be widely available in bookstores around Asia after September 1, Jake says it looks now as if Killing Plato will not be sold by any retailers in Thailand at all. He explains that the only English language book distributor in Southeast Asia is Asia Books Ltd, the company that also published Jake's first book, The Big Mango, here in Thailand. After The Big Mango became a huge success, Jake moved to a larger publisher in Hong Kong that had the ability to distribute his newest books far more widely, and ever since, Asia Books has absolutely refused to sell his books in Thailand and neighbouring countries. Since they're the only English language book distributor here, they have been able to prevent his new books from reaching local residents pretty effectively. Although Jake doesn’t really seem all that fussed about it, from a local reader's point of view, I think it’s a croc of shit. Jake's Thai-set crime novels have sold over 50,000 copies in English, two of them have been brought out by Thai publishers in Thai-language translations, and one has even been bought for a film by the star of the hit television series "The Sopranos". I was able to read an early draft of Killing Plato late last year and I can tell you that it’s one of his best. Jake is easily the best known internationally of all the novelists living and working in Southeast Asia. But, if you live in Thailand, you can’t buy Killing Plato or any of his Thai-set crime novels here anymore because of local jealousies and personal animosities. It is utterly ridiculous. So, if you live entirely outside of Asia, or here in the Land of Smiles for that matter, I can only recommend that you visit www.JakeNeedham.com where you can find out more about Killing Plato as well as Jake's other novels. Nothing makes Thailand live and breathe for me quite like a new Jake Needham novel, and I think Killing Plato will prove to be another big winner for Jake in spite of Asia Books efforts to prevent it from reaching us local residents.

Punters who go into gogo bars want to see lots of pretty women, preferably naked. Hmmm, there is no surprise in that really, is there? Well, why are there a few bars trying to get into some really whacky, weird shit to get customers in? It doesn't work. Silly games, quizzes, bonking bulls or bronking buffaloes or whatever the hell they call them. Pretty girls and cheap booze. That'll do it every time. Odd promotions and whacky props won't work. Pretty girls, no clothes, cheap booze. You don't have to be Einstein to work it out.

The Italian gentleman currently emailing "Helen" (working at TPI in admin) and who has invited her to stay it Italy with him for a holiday soon, should contact this reader for some interesting "background info". The Swedish gentleman currently emailing and SMSing Ngamta R. should contact the same reader, though be prepared for a nasty surprise. Said reader's email address is: [email protected]

On the 1st August, 2003, Big John's Aussie Pies and Burgers will have it's soft opening on Sukhumvit Soi 1. Opening hours will be 7 AM – 2 AM. Expect the grand opening about a week later. The menu will include the same great Aussie Pies and Burgers and international food at the same prices as the Thonglor branch. In addition, it has just been decided to include guest beds and rooms at the reasonable prices. They'll also be taking over Number One which will become the Big John's Number One Pool and Sports Bar. There'll be pool tables, darts, large screen TV, great food, and cheap drinks available from 12 noon until 2 AM. Gone will be most of the current Soi One rentable / barfineable staff. New bar and cafe staff will be banned from the guest rooms.

I heard a classic tale of a fellow who couldn't get laid in Bangkok on Friday night! First off he picked up a girl and took her back to a short-time hotel. He was about to do the business when he insisted on doing the dirty without a sheath. Said girl said no way and he said no pay! An amicable agreement was reached and the dirty wasn't done. As he'd paid for the short-time room for the whole night and as he was all horned up, he decided that he wanted a replacement. So, he goes out, finds another girl, agrees on 1,000 baht for the whole night and takes her back to the room. When he gets back to the room, the other girl is still there. Again, no dramas, the two girls chat briefly and the first girl leaves. Upon removing the clothes of the second girl he discovers that she has all the evidence of having dropped a few sprogs, nasty scars on her stomach. In fact it was so bad that he thought that one shot would be enough. He didn't want to do the dirty with her all night. As he had offered 1,000 all baht and she had accepted, he countered with a 500 baht offer for short-time. No way she replied. 1,000 baht irrespective of how long. He declined and set her free, penniless. He also decided that he had had enough for the evening and returned home, presumably to Mrs Palmer and her five ugly daughters.

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 for 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 sat round a dinner table with 8 Thai ladies, ages from 27 to 34. I asked each one what they wanted in a husband (or their next husband!). Without exception they all said farang (English but then I believe they were being polite because I'm from London). No surprise to me because ALL Thai women I meet say this – it's become a cliché. What did intrigue me was they all wanted men a little older but not too much, between 4 to 10 years older max. In other words, that's exactly what most young Western women would say. So much for all those old Western guys who write to your husband talking about the difficulties faced in their relationships with Thai girls at least 20 years younger than them! What is your take on this?

Mrs. Stick says: It depends on the age of the man. Women working in a professional role often prefer guys who are 30 up while teenagers usually prefer someone who is about the same age as them. In my case, there is a two and a half year age gap between my husband and I. But there are a lot of older farangs who want young Thai girls.

Question 2: I'm a 49-year-old American happily married to a "low class" village girl from Udon. We've been married for five years and have one daughter. Often I think about retirement to Thailand. Put 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account, retirement visa, etc. However your husband's cautionary tale "She comes from where?!" has me worried. My wife is poor and uneducated but proud and spirited. She does not like to be patronized any more than I do. Should we retire to Thailand from the USA or should we stay here? Perhaps if we stayed away from Bangkok? What do you think?

Mrs. Stick says: I think your idea of living in Thailand is a good one. America is quite different for your wife and for a short time I can imagine it is good for her, but in the long term she might well have a nervous breakdown. I guess if she struggles with the language then things could be difficult and it could be a big problem. As far as her being a poor girl, try not to let that bother you. It is important for her to feel good about herself and not let others upset her. I think it would be great if you could live in Udon. It's her home and that is where she will best survive. However, it might not be quite what you want. From her perspective Bangkok might not be ideal as there are a lot of girls here, and a lot of opportunities for you to meet someone else and yes, this could play on her mind.

What a fantastic time to be a Kiwi in Bangkok last night. A couple of friends, one Canadian and one Brit would have done anything to have a Kiwi passport in The Londoner last night. Oh, the gory.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Special thanks go out to Dave The Rave