Stickman's Weekly Column October 5th, 2003

Change



As an 8 year old I was football crazy and it was my dream to one day walk out on to Anfield, not as a spectator, but as a professional footballer, weaning the famous red Liverpool strip. Just a few years later and football to me was a girl's sport, the sport for those who couldn't make in what had then become now beloved rugby.

In my late teens I was fascinated by Japan but as a 20 year old, I found myself working briefly in London, and Japan was the last place on my mind.

In 1994 I flew from London to Hong Kong via Bangkok and never dreamed of having a stopover in the Land Of Smiles, believing that the country had nothing of interest to me.

In 1996 I worked with a guy who told me all sorts of sordid tales of the two years that he spent in Bangkok, and all of the hanky panky that he got up to. I did have a morbid fascination with it but ultimately found the thought of jumping into bed with a paid professional quite disgusting. But just a year later, I somehow found myself in a short-time hotel off Soi Bangla in Patong Beach, Phuket, and believe me, I was not alone.

In 1997 I had a very good job in New Zealand and enjoyed it very much yet just a year later, I found myself living and working in Bangkok, the very city just four years before had held absolutely no interest for me.

By 1999 I had fallen into Bangkok's notorious red light scene and was, from time to time, a participant. By 2001, I had gone the other way, declaring that participation in the nightlife industry did no-one any good at that while I would still visit the bars from time to time, there was no way I would partake in it again.

You're probably starting to think that Stick is one fickle fxxxer….and perhaps you'd be right, but then I'm not the only one whose mind changes and whose needs and wants change with time.

More and more Westerners are moving to Thailand and I have noticed that more and more younger folks are moving here. Fresh out of university, they have already, perhaps prematurely, decided that they have had enough of the West and that they not only want to try their luck in the East, but many even declare that they have no intention of ever returning to their respective homelands.

People change. Places change. Situations change. I see so many people moving to Thailand but it sometimes appears to have been a decision made in haste and without a great deal of planning – and more than not these people have truly burned their bridges back home.

Our needs and wants change. What we desire today may not be what we desire tomorrow. What something or some place offers us today, it might not offer us tomorrow. There can be no guarantees about the future and this holds true in Thailand even more so that in the West. While we change, we can to some extent predict how our needs and wants will be in the future. But, we have no idea how Thailand will change.

With all of this in mind, anyone thinking of making the big move to Thailand, particularly people who have yet to experience a lot of life, and who still have so much of their life before them, should consider the decision very carefully. Whether one's motivation comes from the warm weather, the spicy food or the availability of the horizontal hump, none of us can be sure that what we want from life now, is what we will continue to want in the future – and whether Thailand will be able to provide this or not. With this in mind, plan your move to Thailand carefully and make sure that the door is still open to return home, or move on elsewhere, if the situation may change. For now, Thailand remains a great place to live, but who knows if it will always be like this?

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

This week's pic

It was one of the Kings Group bars, Patpong.
Now this is a trifle more difficult…
Last week's picture was way too easy – taken at Patpong outside one of the King's Group gogo bars. Unfortunately there are still no prizes this week – but you'll get a congratulatory email if you get it right… Is there anyone out there who has got a prize to donate in exchange for a bit of advertising? It needn't be anything of great value, but should appeal to the majority of the readership. If yes, drop me an email.

FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:

Royal River? Never heard of it!

For the past 5 or 6 years I have been staying at the Royal River Hotel as it is inexpensive and close to the homes of a number of my Thai friends. There has never been any charge for "guests" until my last visit a year ago April. I was charged 500 Baht for my "guest". hen I protested that my room was a double, I was paying for 2 (cost was the same but I had 2 breakfast chits for each day) I was told that the first "guest" of one's stay was OK but any subsequent ones were charged as extra. One exception was after having rented a car and driver for a whole day I asked my driver to deliver a couple of girls for the night. They came directly to my room, no "guest" charges. I was given a receipt and the girls ID was kept at the desk until she left.
Since Jakarta, maybe not quite so easy?
JW Marriot Sukhumvit, June 2003. The security guards are ready to show folks how to unlock the after hours entrance – even if one of those folks is a male "farang" and the other obviously a local "working lady." No registration of short-term guests is required
once inside. The hotel might have a bit of a security problem, especially at this day and age…
Even the Euros double price.
So many of your readers have written in lamenting the dual pricing practices in the LOS, I thought I'd point out a few similar policies from my travels. In Italy, European retirees (including Brits) get free admittance to all the galleries and museums. But Yanks and Kiwis, regardless of age, pay full fare. In St. Croix, the US Virgin Islands, tourists pay full fare in any of the taxis that roam the island, while the locals ride free. This is because the island is too large to walk, while the population is too small to support public transportation (i.e., there are no bus lines). Taxi drivers will stop and pick up a local, whether or not they already have a fare, and then deliver their passengers in the manner most convenient for the taxi driver. In other words, you want to go from point A to point B, but wind up taking a side trip to the local's home first. When you're the passenger, it feels very much like a kidnapping. And you, the tourist, will be expected to pay for the whole trip, and leave a tip! So, Thailand is not unique in this respect.
The trick's online.
I have discovered a way of getting naughty girls into the posh hotels. You must book on the internet – and when you reserve the room, you write your own name and the name of a Thai girl. It doesn't matter if it is a different name from the girl you bring back. They will still take her ID card but they can't make you pay for her. The added bonus is that she will get a free voucher for breakfast the next morning and you can have fun watching the reactions of the other hotel guests.
Sneak them in the basement!
The Amari Watergate is a very nice place to stay, but also an uncomfortable environment in which to show up with a friend. Although I don't know what the policy was on extra room charges, the feeling of a 'perp walk' through the large lobby under the gaze of several dozen employees and guests made for an unfriendly environment. Fortunately, the Henry Bean's bistro in the basement had its' own entrance, and from there, one could enter the elevators quite easily and anonymously. Perhaps similar bypass routes are possible at some other high-end hotels.
Better than a birthday suit in the lobby.
I do know how to do it in The Shangri-La. It's easy, have a 40th birthday. I happened to be staying there on mine and presumably they twigged the date from my passport. They presented with a cake at lunchtime and throughout the rest of the day every member of staff wai'd and wished me 'Appy birday Khun M'. The first 50 times were fun but I had to get out onto the streets for some peace and quiet When I returned much later flying a few sheets to the wind with demimondaine on arm, they wished me appy birday again and I waltzed upstairs to my room.
Not "that type of hotel".
Hotel charges for the ladies – Both the Narai Hotel (500 baht) on Silom and the “Plaza” (350 baht) on Surawongse put the charges for guests directly onto the bill, so cash never changes hands. Of course, there's no charge if you check in with the lady. The Narai is a pretty nice hotel, although not as nice as the Oriental of course. My impression is that they charge so much just to keep those women out, as they do not want to be seen as that type of hotel. There are mostly families and businessmen staying there. I’m sure that the Oriental must also have some extraordinary charge that would make you think “why bother”.
It doesn't matter where she comes from, you pay!
A funny thing happened to us in Pattaya at a nice resort hotel. My buddy and I are both limited in our walking ability and my physical therapist had accompanied us on our recent trip from California to Thailand. The three of us were in a baht bus and returning to the resort after a night out at a Thai cultural show and dinner. The bus passed the guard at the rear entrance and was taking us way around to the front as we had asked. However a security guard stopped the driver before we got there and told us we had to walk in from the back of the complex, which would be way too far for us. We insisted we go to the front and he insisted we go in from the back. This made no sense to us. Then my therapist, a young, tiny, long-haired, brown skinned lady of Puerto Rican descent, spoke up and said we were disabled and couldn't walk that far. The guard looked surprised, said something involving "American" to the driver and they both laughed. The guard then waved the driver forward to take us up front. It seems the guard thought my American therapist was a Thai girl and he was trying to save us from paying the 800 baht overnight fee we would have been charged by the hotel had we entered through the lobby. But we were already paying 800 baht for a third person in the room anyway. My therapist thought the whole incident funny.
The Crown Group have put up a big banner near the Nana Plaza entrance above Pharaohs Bar advertising the grand opening of as they put it, "The original Hollywood!" Cheeky buggers! It would seem that they want to somehow cash in on the success of Hollywood Strip upstairs, consistently Nana's busiest and best bar for the last of 12 months. How can their new bar be hyped as the original Hollywood when the Crown Group have made it unrecognisable from the great bar it used to be? It now looks like a boxing stadium; a circumference of three tier seating with just a small stage in the middle. And in an effort to attract more customers, G Spot Bar, also owned and operated by the Crown Group, is offering what can only be described as diversified entertainment with a truly unique show of a dwarf and a katoey doing a lewd dance together! Perhaps I am totally out of touch with reality and what gogo bar customers want these days, but this seems like a hell of an unusual offering. A load of katoeys have been shipped in to work in Cascade, while the genuine girls have been moved downstairs to work in their newest bar, Hollywood Rock.

Some of the girls working in Soi 33 bars have been telling customers that they will not be working for 3 days over APEC due to bar closures and while it seems that some soi 33 bars may have had word about closure, this must be contrasted with news now coming out of Nana that the bars there will NOT be closed. In fact one official has been overheard saying that he will be checking all the bars over the period of the APEC summit which indicates that places won't be closing. Or will they? You know the Thais, they leave everything to the last minute.

And there was more piss testing in Nana on Friday night. It seemed that no-one saw it as a big deal and that it has almost become like the norm, which is sort of scary really.

One of the first stories I hard when I arrived in Thailand was that there were a few Thai women in the naughty nightlife industry who applied a drug in the form of a clear solution to their tits which when later in the evening were licked by a guy, he would fall asleep, only to wake up and find that all of his valuables had been stolen. Urban legend or not, I don’t know. But what is true us that there are three middle-aged Thai women who can be found in the Sukumvit Soi 3 area ­ and perhaps elsewhere ­ who are up to not dis-similar tricks. This past week a friend of a friend fell victim to being drugged. At a regular (read: non-naughty) bar in soi 3, this Westerner met three middle-aged Thai women and they chatted away. At some time, something was put in his drink and he must have fallen asleep in the bar. He vaguely remembers being taken back to his apartment by them. They somehow got past security in his fancy Thonglor apartment building, most likely giving the story that he was drunk and they had to get him up into his apartment safely. When he woke up, all of his valuables, including electrical appliances had been taken. Unfortunately, the embarrassment of it all and the fact that his local employer is awfully strict about such things means that he is unwilling to report it to the police. So, be aware that there is some funny business going on ­ and keep a close eye on your drink.

Those damned boiler rooms continue to operate, ripping off the fine folks from my part of the world. It would seem that the King of Con has been pointing fingers at the few remaining few boiler room operators and it is well known that one of his operatives was providing names and addresses of other 'shops' to the Thai SEC (via email until the ISP was traced). As it is said, this big operator felt victimized by the 'unjust' crackdown on this type of activity, so much so that he tried to have another operator, a former employee, closed. Honour among thieves and all of that… Apparently, a private investigator nailed this fellow with the help of local CSD police at the airport while travelling under a phony Liberian passport.

Remember Megabreak mentioned in last week's column?
Well, here is the photo, forgotten from last week…

Westerners resident in Patong, Phuket are pleased at the arrival of the first Pizza Company outlet which is open 24 hours a day. In Patong where there are zillions of Italian restaurants, locals have complained about the prices of pizzas and Pizza Company's arrival brings real competition. And despite SARS, war and terrorist bombings, some Phuket beer bars report that business is better than previous year. Patong is quiet now but for September and October this is normal. There is a new nightclub opening called Baya Beach, located between the current VIP and Tai Pan, and they have a grand opening in 2 weeks. It will be run by the old VIP owners.

Soi Cowboy was hit by Immigration Department officials Friday before last and this really demonstrates how the Immigration Department is getting serious in targeting the farang crowd. It would seem that their expectation was that all visitors should be carrying passports, although photocopies were accepted. And it is not just Soi Cowboy. Thai Immigration are patrolling all around the city, and making random checks on non-Thai citizens, requesting to see their passport and check that the visa is all in order. Just as Thai citizens are required to carry their ID card with them at all times, technically us foreigners are supposed to carry our passports at all times too. While it has always been the law, in the past it has generally not been necessary and a copy of the passport or some other form of ID has sufficed. It is a pain having to carry one's passport with them all the time and no doubt it will start to become worn and tatty. However, this is not a time to test the immigration officers’ patience and I for one am taking my passport with me everywhere, despite the fact that it is a major hassle. If you don’t have your passport on you and are stopped at random by an immigration official, you might well set off a chain of events that ends up with you in the IDC even though you are in the country legally. Yeah, things have got that bad.

It took quite a bit of convincing, but I eventually managed to convince Stickgirl that we should go to Khao Sarn Road for a night out last night. The idea that there may be terrorists in town made her more than a bit squeamish at the thought of going to what has to be the biggest target in Bangkok. The police presence at Khao Sarn Road seemed to be greater than it has been in the past and some bars, such as Gulliver's, were taking no chances at all with a number of security staff checking everyone who went in, checking bags and patting people down. They seem to be very aware that they have to be a major target, but it was reassuring to see that they are taking it seriously and new security procedures are in place. And on the subject of Gulliver's, this place was crawling with pussy. Yep, there were a hell of a lot of really attractive Thai girls there and while a few were obviously on the game, I got the very distinct impression that a lot of them were interested in umm, err, sampling farang. Khao Sarn Road has always been a popular place for curious Thai girls who want a piece of white meat, and Gulliver's in Khao Sarn seems to be full of them, a little different from Gulliver's in Sukumvit which has plenty of Thai girls, but the variety who want a bit of money.

The pizza chef at Bourbon Street does a fantastic job. Even though their pizzas are not really that well known, believe me when I say that Bourbon Street’s pizzas are truly delicious and I’d go as far to say, perhaps the best I've had in Bangkok. And speaking of good food, the hamburgers in The Irish Xchange are bloody good too. Maybe not the absolute best in town, but still damned good ­ and decent value also.

And speaking of good food, for anyone finding themselves in the Siam Square area and is bored of Au Bon Pain, consider the bakery in the Novotel Hotel for lunch. They have these really great gourmet sandwiches with fries and salad for 130 baht all up. A great deal.

Phuket has been getting awfully expensive over the past few years and recent reports have mentioned that prices in the bars have been going up and up. In fact a report this week suggested that all of the beer bars in one of the most popular bar sois, Soi Eric, had begun charging 150 baht for lady drinks. 150 baht for a lady drink? Outrageous! However, it turns out that this is NOT true at all. Some bars at Soi Eric charge more than 120 baht for said lady drink but most of the Soi Eric bars do not. What I can confirm is that one punter recently got the shock of his life when he went to pay the bill at one of the girly bars on the main Bangla Road where the cost for a lady drink was a whopping 180 baht! Now that really is outrageous!

There is an errant young German fellow called Eric who is floating between Bangkok and Pattaya making naughty photos and movies of Thai girls that are being sold on to customers in Europe. At just 25 years old, young Eric seems to be not just rather brave, but also completely unaware that such behaviour is very likely to not just get his ass thrown out of Thailand, and likely his mug shot published in newspapers not only in Thailand, but all around the world. Funnily enough, he is not the only guy making naughty movies. That funny looking British guy who ran that horrible teen Asia site and the two French guys based in Ekamai are apparently still making naughty movies too. Taking naughty photos and video of Thai women is one thing, but at least the Brit and the Frenchies are reportedly taking shots of bargirls and are apparently totally open about it with the girls. It would seem that the German guy has a quite different modus operandi and is tricking non working girls into it. His way of operating is actually quite sickening.
He has at least one Thai women trawling personals websites looking for attractive young Thai girls. She then contacts them and fools them into thinking that they will go for a photo shoot but they get to a hotel and are coerced into something much worse. Do a runner guys because if the Thai authorities catch you, you're in for a whole heap of shit.

What's the deal with that abandoned wreck on Wireless Road? Yep, it seems as though a late '80-s BMW 3 series had one hell of a prang and was pushed to the side of the road and abandoned. Months and months later, it is still there and is quite the eyesore. I wonder why the city doesn't get it moved? Surely, the cost of moving it can't be that expensive – and if no-one is going to claim it, they could flog it off for scrap metal. It really is quite bizarre that a smashed up vehicle could remain there for so long, especially when they are supposed to be tidying up the city prior to the APEC meeting!

Why is it that just about every Thai woman I know, from my wife to my mother in law to my boss, all insist that I eat and eat and eat. Whenever I am out with any of them, they pile the food on to my plate like there is no tomorrow. But then these very same people are not at all shy in pointing out that I am gaining weight and the once handsome Stick is starting to look more like a pig. While this may sound like little more than a humorous anecdote, I actually think there is something in it. Thai women never fail to baffle me.

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: In last weeks column Stickman wrote that the he thinks that the naughty nightlife will not go away. Does Mrs. Stick and perhaps large numbers of Thais agree that the naughty nightlife will shrink faster than it has grown and entirely dry up?

Mrs. Stick says: No way will it go away. Going out with my husband and his best friend and wife last night, we were in Gulliver's Bar in Khao Sarn Road. I asked my husband about a group of girls there as to whether they were prostitutes or not. This group of girls were what Stickman says are farang crazy. Even if the prostitution were to disappear, there would still be girls like this who really do not do Thailand's reputation any good. I can only imagine what farang guys think of Thai women when all they see is girls like this hanging around the places that they go. Prostitution will not go away, but if it does, a lot of the girls will likely become like these girls we saw last night. Either way, it reflects badly for Thailand. I don't want to be seen as looking down on people but after the huge drug problem that has affected our country terribly, prostitution is possibly the next biggest problem. It is sad to see people who have no reason to be doing it, being on the verge of prostitution. They are almost prostitutes…and that is sad.

Question 2: What is the best way to break the ice with a nice Thai girl? Let's say I am at a shopping mall see a girl I like, how could I break the ice with her? I want to meet a nice girl, but I know that Thai girls can be shy and would feel incompetent breaking the ice the way I usually do it. What should I say? And, what should I definitely not say?

Mrs. Stick says: I think its more about your own technique and being yourself, more than anything else. for a younger girl, I'm sure if she's alone it is harder approach her as she may not have much confidence. But if she is older, a woman on her own will be much more approachable. For a younger girl, it might be easier for her if she is part of a group. I think approaching a girl in a shopping mall is not actually that easy. If you walk past and come on to her, then it might scare her and she might think that you are a bad guy or have bad intentions. The most important thing is to survey the situation first and make sure that her boyfriend or husband is not near enough to kick your ass!

So, we come to the end of Stickman's BS for another week. Next week the column will be awfully late. Figure it to go up online, some time after 9 PM on Monday, yes, more than 24 hours late. I'm going to be out of Bangkok for a few days so don't bother tuning in next Sunday. But Monday's column should be a good one, with an extensive report from outside of the big city…

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Dave The Rave, as always.


All feedback is welcome – please forward email [email protected].