Working in a Thai high school alongside a large number of Thai teachers and a relatively large number of farang teachers too, comparisons between the various teaching styles and their respective degrees of effectiveness is inevitable.
This week I had a candid conversation with one of the more open and outspoken students whom I had previously taught. A sharp lad in grade 12m he is one of those model students, the student by which all others are judged. He is polite as most Thai students tend to be, but unlike the majority of Thais who seem petrified of making a mistake and thus do not say boo, he is not at all shy in offering answers and doesn’t get at all upset if he makes a mistake. He is also not shy in offering his opinion all aspects of life and seeks out myself and a colleague as teachers he likes to talk to, and share his ideas about life as a teenager in Thailand.
Anyway, this time he wanted to talk about the differences in teaching styles between the farang and Thai teachers. in his opinion, most Thai students preferred the farang teaching style but the very same students also felt that the farang students were quite kind, too kind in fact and many students took advantage of it. He commented that many students believed that the farang teachers have problems controlling students in the classroom and supported this by saying that more than a few kids behave one way when the teacher is farang and another way when the teacher is Thai. He was bold enough to say the he felt there was no way that the kids would behave the same way with a Thai teacher for fear of what might happen. According to him, more than a few kids even see their English class with a farang teacher as “happy hour”.
Now what I find interesting about this is that there are certain similarities here between the way that Thai students view farangs and the way that Thai women view farangs in relationships. Like Thai students studying with farang teachers, Thai women do certain things in a relationship with a farang guy that they wouldn't dare do if they were dating a Thai guy. The roles of the male and the female in a relationship in Thailand are much mor clearly defined than in the West. In a typical relationship in Thailand, the women will cook the food, clean and generally wait on her man hand and foot. He will provide for her to the best of his ability. Things are becoming a little skewed as Thailand adopts more and more ideas from the West, but this still tends to be the way it is, even in Bangkok.
But things are not always the same when the relationship is between a Thai woman and a farang man. Thai women will still expect the man to provide for her as best he can, but more than a few of these very same women are conveniently forgetting that they too have certain responsibilities. In more than a few relationships that I know of, Thai women insist on being looked after in the same way that a Thai man would provide for them, yet it would seen many are shirking their responsibilities.
All generalisations of course, but I truly believe that there is a good deal of truth in it. In many ways, the average farang is what I would term "nicer" than the average Thai, at least in the way that us farangs consider someone to be "nice". We are generally honest, straightforward and have, in my opinion, a greater deal of integrity than the locals. We are nice to people and generally give people a chance. This is interpreted by more than a few Thais as a sign of weakness and some of them will seize the chance to thrive on the latitude given and abuse the situation. I therefore wonder if it is prudent to be a bit of a hard ass in Thailand, to lay down the law and to not allow the locals to take the piss.
Even away from the classroom and Cupid's arrow, I think the average farang in Thailand, be it tourist and expat, gets walked over much more than they realise and I am not talking about merely paying more.
A good friend of mine is what I would call a "hard ass". He is a very nice guy deep down, but whenever anyone even looks like they are going to give him a raw deal, or a lesser deal than they would a fellow countryman, he leaves them in no doubt that he will give them a right bollocking if they even try and he usually gets a fair deal. It’s hard to play the hard ass role if that is not really your nature, but I believe you have to do it to a certain extent in Thailand to make sure you are not walked over. Being assertive is important anywhere, but perhaps more so in Thailand where failure to do so can result in you being treated like crap.
There is real value in Thailand in being a nice person, smiling and generally just going with the flow. Those who rock the boat or try to change things will not get anywhere. But while there is value in being nice, you have to remain assertive and not allow yourself to be walked over too. Stand up for what you believe in.
Where is this pic?
Last week's pic
It was inside the Nana Hotel.
This week's pic
FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:
Xmas in July.
Gentlemen" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and laughing about the absurdity of it, I waited a minute or two and asked her to change the music. She seemed puzzled and I tried to explain, but not sure I got my point across. She did put on something different though (innocuous jazz crap), and at least I could concentrate on her hands on my body which, as before, felt pretty damned good."
usually in golf clothes.) There was no evidence that the girls were looking for money as their primary interest. It became quite a joke. We would walk up to a group of 3 or 4 girls and they would all climb all over him, and I was usually left off to the side watching the whole thing, quite alone. (In my defence, when not with him, I attracted the usual attention.) I even saw several girls leave the laps of other men to come and attach themselves to him. My point is to caution anyone from drawing any conclusions about race as purely a negative factor. Or, in our case, the perception of wealth as the only relevant factor. If there is any one thing that, in my opinion, separates the Thai prostitute from her sisters in the rest of the world, it is their joyful exercise of their own free will. Sometimes girls just want to have fun.
subsection (a) (D) entitled "Prostitution and commercialized vice." This is a very moralistic statute. Among other things, any alien who has engaged in prostitution within a period of ten (10) years of applying for a visa is inadmissible. So, even a "reformed" bar girl could be legally kept out of the USA just because she might have been bar fined at some point during the past ten years!
The big news from Nana, and what was really inevitable, is that a number of bars have put drink prices up from 110 baht for a standard drink, up to 125 baht. I won't tell you which group of bars has been first to put prices up to 125 baht, but you can guess… Yikes, a hefty increase and one which I have to wonder how they justify. In any business, price increases are usually due to increased expenses, increased demand or perhaps a change in the service or product offered. I am not aware of any increased expenses but I do know that there is a real lack of demand at the moment – so that can only mean that there has been a change in the product / service offered. Well, the girls are dancing in full bikinis now so I guess the extra 15 baht per drink goes towards the cost of buying their bikinis… Not all of the Nana Plaza bars have put their prices up but I guess that others will probably follow shortly. Some of the beer bars have dropped their standard drink prices from 110 baht to 90 baht which is realistic. With so little being offered at most Nana Plaza bars, those who have pushed their prices up to 125 baht are going to push away the price sensitive customers. No, not everyone is a highly paid expat or a short term tourist with a pocket full of baht. When you can get a bottle of Heineken for 75 baht in the pleasant surroundings of Gulliver's, why go to Nana? Some bars in Nana are worth visiting but some are starting to take the piss a bit. This price increase needs to be accompanied by something whereby customers feel they are getting extra value for money. Customers who feel like they are being ripped off will go elsewhere. Two years ago Cowboy experienced a soar in trade, partly due to increased prices at Nana. Could it happen again?
In one very popular Pattaya gogo bar this week there was hardly an empty seat as the place was full with a busload of Koreans, mostly couples. The usual (these days) firewall was in place, but suddenly just for 90 seconds or so, the upper hardware covers were loosened and the software released into the public domain. It would seem that the moral of the story is, if you want to see tits, follow the tourists! Taking another approach, a couple of bars, Misty's and Carnival, are complying with the cover up, but doing it in a very clever way. Misty's has acquired a lot of very sexy strappy black costumes, sort of cutaway Catwoman look, while the Carnival girls were all in clinging lycra dresses with scooped out portions a la Ms. Hurley style. Not a tit in sight in either place, but boy did those girls look horny. What you gonna do about that Mr. Moral Guardian? Will "street clothes" be banned in the gogos next?
Oh dear, not again. I hear rumours that another bar manager / owner has just collected a lot of money from would be investors and done a runner… This is not the fellow who has been mentioned several times and is associated to what I have refereed to as the "soi 4 scam".
Beware when getting on motorbike taxis at this time of year. Not only do the wet roads make things more dangerous than usual, but with cars throwing up all of the shit of road everywhere, you get all this crap over your clothes. Don't be a dork like me and wear your best white shirt while sitting on the back of a bike…needless to say, Mrs Stick was not happy.
I received the following SMS from Darryl, the good guy in control at Dollhouse. I have not had a chance to get the details clarified, so print the message exactly as he sent it to me. "Dollhouse golf tournament 6 october 2003 at Royal Golf country club 2500 baht green fee, caddy, golf cart, dinner buffet. We will have a auction at the Dollhouse Soi Cowboy, the Friday night the 3 at 9 pm, every foursome bids on their own DH special caddy please pay a deposit ASAP. Charity is for DH day care. Sponsors wanted." Sorry if it is a little unclear but I'll get on to Darryl and get it clarified this week. Oh, and take one little bit of advice from me. If you are having a stag night, do not invite Dollhouse Darryl, that is unless you like being tied up to a chair and having a katoey trying to get her wicked way with you while all of your mates cheer *it* on. Apart from that, Darryl's a top bloke!
Man, some of the these naughty bars piss me off. I received an email from a friend this week who was presented with a cold towel in a Pattaya bar which he duly accepted. A lot of bars provide these for free, a nice touch. When he went to leave this bar he noticed an item on his bill for a cold towel – 100 baht! What the fxxx?! This is a really nasty scam. He called the mamasan over and complained but she was not interested at all. It is stories like this that make me have no sympathy whatsoever for the bars when times get tough. Nah, they're not all like this but this sort of thing is total BS.
I hear that the newest bar in Nana, Erotica, is doing good business.
Should the Thai government introduce a language proficiency requirement for Westerners who want to stay on long term in-country? Back in my corner of Farangland, the government introduced new regulations not so long ago whereby would-be immigrants had to score a certain score on the IELTS test as part of their application. No language skills, no approval. Maybe the Thai government should do the same in an effort to ensure that they get people who really want to be here and integrate in. Introducing the B6 (grade 6) language proficiency test would rule out 98 – 99% of the Westerners here, yet be done in such a way that the government could actually justify their decision (not that they have to). To get to B6 level from scratch would take 9 – 12 months study.
Great joke from a reader: Why are all Thai women like condoms? Because, when they're not hanging off your dick, they're in you wallet!
Quote of the week comes from a Thai woman "If you are not married then it doesn't count", alluding to the way that Thai women will stack up several guys and set them off against each other in the pursuit of a good husband.
Following on from my piece last week about do it yourself passport photos, it would seem that digital pictures are not acceptable for passport photos, only for visas and ID cards…yet they are so good these days that I wonder just how they can even tell? Apparently it has something to do with the heat sealing process making them discolour though if they were printed at a photo shop, I do not know how it would be any different. Well at least now you know there may be a problem with Stick's suggestion…
From Walking Street, Pattaya, another farang "Tourist Police Volunteer" has been spotted. Described as a Western male between 30 and 40 years of age, about 180 cm, and about 100 kg in weight, he has been seen patrolling in and around the Walking Street section of Pattaya. In fact the exact words that were used to describe him was that he "seemed smug and cocky like he was spoiling for a fight." No-one likes over-zealous cops. He had handcuffs and some small weapon (not a gun) in a leather pouch on his belt (mace?) and a what looked like a two-way radio also. He was with a Thai guy, presumably a Thai cop, but in plain clothes. They were seen questioning some "hello" girls out in front of a gogo bar. Later, the farang volunteer cop was seen with a folder of just confiscated counterfeit watches under his arm. Who the hell are these guys? I wonder just what the extent of police powers these guys are being given by the Thai authorities is. And what sort of training do they have? Could you imagine being sprayed in the face with mace, arrested, handcuffed and taken to a Thai police station / jail by a fellow farang wanna-be cop? Bizarre! If you know anything more about these guys, please let we know and I'll publish it here.
Competition is on the way for Kim and co at Shenanigan's as a new Irish Pub and restaurant called Scruffy Murphy's is being built on Walking Street in Pattaya. It's located couple doors down before Polo Show Bar and should open around November.
The September issue of 'The Big Chilli' has my favourite Bangkok author, Jake Needham, on the cover and the first chapter of Killing Plato inside. So I guess at least a few people here will finally get to read at least part of the book which Asia Books are essentially refusing to stock here, notwithstanding that his previous books sold in their stores in massive numbers. I hear a rumour that The Big Chilli will have a big interview with someone else in it very, very soon…
The Nana branch of Subway goes 24 hours starting September 15th. While there sure is demand in this area for a late night bite, one has to wonder if we will get a lot of short, dark skinned former Northeast residents going into Subway to order the cheapest thing on the menu, a bottle of water perhaps, and then nurse that water, waiting, lurking, hoping that they might just find someone who takes a fancy to them. No, It is not beyond the realms of possibility that bargirls might target Subway as a place to loiter. It will provide a challenge for the management to ensure that this doesn’t happen. And the canvas bags have finally arrived at the Nana branch of Subway at long last! Just mention “Stickman” to get your FREE personal Subway bag.
And still on the subject of Subway, embassy workers will soon have an alternative to Au Bon Pain as the next branch of Subway is due to open on Wireless Road, next to the American Embassy and across from the Rolex store. Opening should be around November 1st.
Ever wonder why the soundtrack is played so loud at movies in Thai cinemas? Well, the Thais cannot help but chatter throughout the movie so the soundtrack is played loud so that chatting doesn't interfere with others' viewing pleasure.
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 read on the net that Thai ladies don't walk in the street hand to hand with their boyfriend. Is this true?
Mrs. Stick says: In Bangkok, things have changed totally and it is nothing like this any more. Actually, in Bangkok it has not been like this for a long time. When I first came to Bangkok more than 10 years ago, people were walking along the streets holding each others' hands. Even 10+ years ago it was the norm for people to hold hands. Upcountry is different but even there it is changing.
Question 2: If Thailand were to become unfriendly to expatriate farangs at some point in the future, and Mr. Stick were induced to move back to his corner of Farangland, how happy would you be to accompany him? Have you been before? What was it like to be surrounded by farangs, with few or no Thai connections / support?
Mrs. Stick says: P
I think that if we agreed to move to New Zealand then I am sure that I could survive quite happily because I personally enjoy new things and a new challenge and am always excited to discover all things new. This sort of thing is what excites me. I think language is a key point here. When you learn a new language, you don't just learn the words, you learn about the culture too. Culture and language are tied together. So for those people who have learned English (or whatever language) to a high level, they should have far less problems and it makes you feel as though you are not alone. The other side of it is that if you don't know the language it is going to be MUCH more difficult. The person needs to try hard, work hard and be committed to learn the language and adapt themselves, then it should be ok. That is of course, if they really do try. I see Thai people living all around the world, and a lot of them do not know the local language yet they still seem to survive ok. Some actually seem to prosper overseas more than they would here. It really depends on the individual person and the environment surrounding them. Every time I have been in another country I have enjoyed it and have always wanted to stay longer to find out more and to learn more about it. I think travel is the great adventure of life. When you come back to your own country you see your own country in a different way and it helps you to understand both your country and yourself better.
That wraps it up for this week. September is statistically the wettest month in Bangkok but it hasn't rained much at all over the past 10 days or so, so I am guessing that we are due for a massive downpour soon. And I wonder if there is going to be a massive downpour on the naughty nightlife industry? I heard an unsubstantiated rumour that a number of Thai massage parlours are refusing to let Thai men be naughty in the rooms, for fear that they are a reporter and will report that such and such a parlour is offering sex on the premises. Yeah, there is talk of banning naughty goings on in Thai massage parlours! Funnily enough, for foreigners entering the very same parlours, it is business as usual. Oh, isn't this country amazing?!
Your Bangkok commentator,