We'll call him S. He emailed me a couple of months ago with an oh so typical story. He had been in Ko Samui several months previous and while there spent time with a lady of the night. No real attachments were made and no love professed. They both had a good time together, she was paid and he left happy. After a few months he got an email from her. No, she wasn't asking him for money…she told him that she was pregnant and that the baby was his. Yeah, there was a chance that he might have got her pregnant… So he had a problem and was not sure what to do. He does a search online and guess who he finds? You got it, he sends an SOS to the Stickmeister.
My reply is to the point. Yes, I could pursue an investigation to establish whether the girl is pregnant, but that is about all I could really do. At that stage, she was claiming to be 7 months pregnant which would obviously be showing quite clearly. But even if she was pregnant, what would that have told him? He would have no idea if the unborn child was his or not. As I was not able to provide any sort of comprehensive answer, he decided not to use my service and instead came back out to Thailand to find out for himself.
S had described himself as a professional Brit who had just entered middle age and from his emails he sounded like a decent bloke so we met up and went out for a few drinks while he was in town. He explained the whole story to me again and I felt like I was watching a man in turmoil, a man who was suffering psychological torment, and who really didn't know quite what to make of it all. The baby had been born just ten or so days before he arrived and he had visited the girl and the baby already. He was able to determine that the baby was luk kreung but still didn't know if it was his.
When we talked about the possibility of the baby being his, S would go from being lukewarm about the idea, claiming that he did want to have kids at some time and that after all, he wasn't getting any younger, through to claiming that her background would not make her a suitable mother and that it would not be great to have a kid out here in the slums of the Far East while he would be back in the UK, forever wondering what his kid is doing, what his kid is thinking, and perhaps most of all, how the kid was being treated. But he still didn't know if the kid was his.
While it is possible to get DNA testing done in Bangkok, S's experiences dealing with those offering such assistance weren't so good. First I directed him to Bumrungrad which doesn't actually do such testing themselves, but will act as an agent with a facility that does conduct them. S had no luck in there, dealing with a nurse who didn't really understand the whole situation so then he went to my next recommendation, the Thai police. I had heard that you could go into the forensic division of the Police HQ on Henri Dunant Road and get a DNA test done there for a few thousand, but he found his lack of Thai was inadequate and he was essentially turned away. A visit to Siriraj Hospital, the government hospital on the river and he was finally able to ascertain that they only do DNA testing by blood, and that they cannot take blood from an infant who is just two weeks old. Extracting blood shouldn't be done until the child is at least six months old! For DNA testing to be done at this age, a swab would need to be taken from inside the infant's mouth, and sent overseas to a lab capable of performing such a test, along with a sample from the party it would be compared with.
Samples were taken and they were sent by international courier to London. A few days later, S made a follow up call and was met with the news that there was no result yet as the samples had actually been sent on to New York, and that the London office was merely an agency! After a few more days of follow-up calls, the news was that there was not enough DNA on the swab from the child so another swab would have to be taken! Another swab was taken, sent off to New York, via London and the news finally came through. The DNA doesn't match and the baby isn't yours.
When S called me one morning to relay the news, his tone defied his words and he couldn't hide his relief that the bay was in fact not his. In his own mind he had been trying to justify that having a baby to a former (or current?) Thai working girl wouldn't be so bad, even though common sense would suggest otherwise. His reaction to me was not dis-similar to that of the man who had been told he had terminal cancer, only later to be told that he had been given the wrong results, and that he was clean. The idea of having a bastard child to an Asian prostitute truly is a nightmare.
What is interesting to me is whether the mother really knows who the real father is, or not, as the case may be. The child is definitely a luk kreung and no doubt there are any number of possible fathers, most of whom she likely has no contact with.
S may not have succumbed to her charms and fallen in love with her, but she still managed to catch him another way, purporting that the baby in her bulging belly was his. He lived a nightmare until he finally found out that the child was not his, the small amount of money he sent her and even the cost of coming out to Thailand the least of his problems. She put him through a psychological nightmare.
I hear many such stories and in most, the girl was never pregnant at all. When she is in fact pregnant, I have found that in about 4 out of every 5 cases, the guy(s) that she claim is the father is in fact not – but almost certainly did have unprotected sex with her, meaning that, in his mind at least, there is a chance it his.
A friend recently told me how a bargirl that he used to have intimate relations with on a not infrequent basis claimed to have become pregnant. She approached him about this, stating that she didn't know who was the father, but it was more likely his than anyone else's. He was quite blase, dismissing it as one of the hazards of the job, telling her to go away and not to bother him with it. One might state that this is downright irresponsible, but what is he to do? We see and hear the "I'm pregnant scam" so often – and there is little that can be done until the baby is born, so why worry about it until then? It's a difficult situation, but with Thai girls regularly pulling this scam, I understand, though don't necessarily admire nor agree with, his approach.
The false claims and scams by Thai girls about falling pregnant with a Westerner's baby have reached a point where, dare I say it, anyone caught up in their own little version should proceed with caution. Yeah, sometimes it is real, but more often than not it isn't.
Watching the emotional turmoil that guys go through when they are made aware that a baby may be theirs, or that a mother is expecting their child, is not a pretty sight. You don't want to end up in the middle of it all.
Where is this pic?
Last week's pic
This week's pic
It was Tom Yum Gung in Khao Sarn Road.
Ahhh, nice and easy
FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:
Sluts, all of them!
Boy, there were some shocking traffic jams this past week as traffic was held at some intersections for what seemed an eternity, to allow motorcades with APEC delegates to pass through unhindered. At one intersection, I waited, or perhaps appropriate was stuck, for almost 30 minutes before able to proceed. Fortunately, this only happened for a couple of days and for the rest of the time, traffic was its usual self i.e. pretty bad! There were various traffic checkpoints erected around the city, the same format each time – a number of cops channelling cars into one lane to pass by them, a torch shined into the car allowing the cops a glimpse inside. Every so often a car would be pulled over, the occupants asked to get out and the car examined along with anything the occupants had with them. The Thai cops seemed to do a pretty good job over it all and these checkpoints which seemed to be a night time thing didn't hold up traffic much at all.
Now this all has to be contrasted with the traffic coppers patrolling the expressway heading north, out of the city. I regularly go out of the city, be it a run up to Korat, or perhaps just a venture out of the city, and I always use this same expressway, the one that runs past the airport. The last four trips I have made, over the past three weeks, have seen me meet cops, always at the same point and always playing the same trick. They are at the toll booths were you pay that odd 13 baht charge, that is the toll booth just a few kms after the airport. Sorry sir, you were speeding. Sometimes I was, sometime I wasn't. They fish for an angle and depending on the cop, they may get pushy, or may not. They claim that a copper that you had passed further back up the road had a radar, which they NEVER do, and that you were closed doing some unGodly speed. Sometimes there is a cop further back on the expressway, sometimes there isn't. I have been told that I have done speeds anywhere from 110 – 135 km/h. I paid the first time but haven't paid since. The best way to deal with it is to make sure that you are in the leftmost lane as you approach the toll booth. That way you can say clearly that you have been cruising slowly in the slow lane, observing the speed limit, and that you have been passed by all and sundry. Let me re-iterate my stand that I am quite happy to pay a fine without a receipt if I have indeed done something wrong, I am happy to pay, no qualms at all. But being forced to pay when you have not done anything really does put you in a foul mood and makes you realise just how vulnerable you are – and while it is useful to be reminded of this, I really do not like that feeling.
One of my new favourite spots for a quiet drink and a bite has just halved the price of Guinness from 320 baht a pint to a much more reasonable 160. The Irish Xchange on Soi Convent is the place to go for Guinness lovers. It is a little unclear if this is a long term special or just for the duration of the Rugby World Cup which runs for a few more weeks.
While I maintain that working in the bar doesn't do the girls any good long term, it is hard to argue with some of the stories that they give you, reasons to support their decision to sell their body. One new girl recruited in a soi 33 bar is from all accounts very attractive indeed. After her first ten days on the job, she had been barfined 8 times. She charges 2,000 baht for short time and 5,000 baht for long term and customers are queuing up for her. So after 10 nights she has already made almost 30,000 baht. How can you tell a girl to stay away form the industry when the earning potential is this great? An extreme case of course, but boy, that's a lot of money!
The Nanapong calendar was a hit last year though sadly they will not be producing a 2004 edition. No problem as Freelancer Bar in Pattaya has stepped up to the plate and they are the producers of a 2004 calendar which is available locally now. On the cover are a couple of Thai girls and the title "Amazing Thailand", which sort of defies what type of calendar it is! Turn it over and look on the back and you see lots of pretty ladies in the pictures, though make no mistake about it, all of the pictures are clean. The photography is a little weak, at least when compared to the excellent shots in the Nanapong calendar. The FLB calendar costs 375 baht and I have seen it available at branches of Bookazine in both Pattaya and Bangkok.
If there is one benefit that came about from APEC, it is that the road markings have been redone on many central roads and they are all much clearer than before, which does actually make a bit of a difference when fighting your way through the congestion that the central part of the city is famous for. At some intersections, it wasn't clear as you passed through which lane you should then be in – but now it is much better.
Down in Pattaya for one day over the APEC period, I notice that it was fairly busy. Most people seemed to be of the tourist variety, making me think that they elected to go there rather than staying in Bangkok. Some Pattaya hotels were full up, many reporting an influx of Bangkok based Westerners.
I get the feeling that the Nana bars might just have gone too far this time. The Rainbow bars have now joined many of the others putting their barfines up to 600 baht, a price which seems to now be the norm in Nana Plaza. Locals are complaining and I'm getting more and more email from people who truly believe that the Nana prices have reached a point that is too high and most of these people say they are boycotting Nana. How long that will last, I don't know, but for now at least, it was confirmed on my rounds at Nana which was very quiet this week. A couple of years ago when drink prices went from 90 or 95 baht up to 110 baht, people complained but many of them were teachers and farangs living in Thailand who have but a moderate income. At that time the bars were doing very well and the bar owners did not need to justify the price increases which were largely accepted and perhaps even a little overdue. The latest round of drink prices increases have not been met with the same acceptance. Sure, tourists paying big money for an airfare and hotel will not really notice what is to them, in the total costs of an overseas holiday, a small increase. But for locals who really do keep the bars going year round, this price increase is a little much. Nana bar owners still operate out of what is probably the best bar area and probably still have the prettiest girls too. So really, they should have a winning formula. However, the atmosphere is not quite what it was and many customers feel that the prices have reached unreasonable levels and are going elsewhere. With other bar areas offering a similar experience, bars like Gulliver's offering beer in a nice environment for just 75 baht and with more and more guys seeking companionship away from the bars, increasing prices will not endear Nana to customers. Perhaps a rethink is in order, or at least add a bit more value to the experience with freebies, happy hours, improved service, something! You know that something is wrong when guys working locally who earn in excess of 200,000 baht complain about the price increases and choose to go elsewhere.
Trends in Thailand usually start in Bangkok and then filter out into the provinces but this time, it is Bangkok that is last. At many intersections around the city, they have installed a neon counter that tells you how many seconds it is until the lights change colour. I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not as Thai drivers at the front of the queue of traffic seem to nail the accelerator the moment that the counter gets to zero. This is all very well as the light will now be green, but in a country where running reds is almost as common as eating rice, it would seem a little imprudent. I'd expect to see a few accidents as a result of people anticipating the lights, but failing to check other traffic still going through.
When eating at some of the roadside food vendors or cheaper Thai restaurants, be aware that there are two different ways to order Thai food of the friend variety. You can either order it gub khao which confusingly means with rice or rard khao which means on rice. Gub khao means the dish(es) ordered will be on a plate all of its own and will be a substantial sized helping, the type of which would typically go in the centre of a table and along with a few other dishes would be shared by all dining together who have their own plate of rice. Rard khao means that whatever is order will be served on the same dish as the rice, and is a single meal, typically for one person. Now all of this can get a little confusing and one should note that the price for gub khao is more than rard khao, due to the quantity served.
As soon as the APEC delegates had left town, DVD vendors came out of the shadows. Truth be told, anyone after a little contraband could find it with whispers from dark corners directed at farangs wandering around Panthip Plaza. But things are returning to normal quickly and Panthip is just about back to its usual self again.
Has this been the driest wet season for many years? Maybe I have just been lucky, but I haven't seen much heavy rain at all, and not once has Bangkok flooded really badly in an area I have been, like it has every other year. Temperatures have dropped and it has only rained once in the last week, so perhaps the rainy season is almost behind us? But Bangkok is a funny place and while it might be dry in one area, it might be hosing down in another.
A personal assistant vacancy exists for a Thai woman:
Location: Luxury home / office on Senanikhom 1, near Phahaonyothin Road.
Salary: 10,000 baht per month to 12,000 baht per month
Must be able to speak reasonable English & be familiar with fax & email operation & have a confident telephone manner. Translate English to Thai with my Thai suppliers of clothing & handicrafts. This is a live-in position only & a 6 day working week. Note: I am temporarily disabled due to a broken leg, so some assistance required -gophering, shopping & some house cleaning. Call Khun John on 06-9060040 for an initial interview.
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: A Thai lady I know very well was out with me one night, and we were talking to four of her friends. My lady friend knew that I put a little hair dressing cream on my hair when I go out, but it doesn't make my hair greasy. She suddenly ran her hand through my hair, looked at her hand, and wiped it on her jeans as if it had picked up grease from my hair. All of her friends noticed. Wasn't this an extremely insulting thing to do?
Mrs. Stick says: It is a big insult but sometimes Thai people have a real problem with respect. There are certain rules within Thai society which Thai people should follow but unfortunately when it come to people of other nationalities, Thai people do not always follows them as perhaps they should which is a real lack of respect. She may have wanted to show off in front her friends and show that she had some sort of special relationship with you and that she could therefore do what she wants. She may not have intended to insult you. You probably should be clear with her about what she can or cannot do and let her know what is acceptable so that you're not upset or annoyed by her in the future.
It's nice to be back on schedule with the column. I hated it when I had it finished but couldn't put it up online last week. I've tried to put a few things in place so that any site problems will not be met with such a long period without an update.
Your Bangkok commentator,