Stickman's Weekly Column November 23rd, 2003

Return Of The Mother In Law



It was one of the most popular opening pieces in the column recently, quite funny really given that it as knocked up in about 20 minutes, my brief few questions to my mother in law, a very traditional Thai woman giving her opinion about life in Thailand. Due to popular demand, she is back. What follows is once again, a few questions from me and her learned answers. I initially wrote the questions I wanted to ask her in English and then conducted the whole interview in Thai while furiously writing notes in English, before writing it all up. Jumping in an out of Thai and English, I damn near confused myself! So here it is, another 20 minute special.

How can a farang man make sure that the Thai lady who he chooses is a "good one"?

You need to take your time and have a really close look at her. Don't rush it at all. Also, you need to meet the family and look very closely at them, particularly the mother and father. What sort of family values are instilled? Do the follow the traditional Thai customs? If they are pleased about the prospect of you marrying into their family, why is that? How does the lady in question treat her family and how does she interact with them? Is she honest with them? What is her personality like and how does she respond in certain situations, especially when pressure is on. <The next part I had to push her onStick> If a Thai woman is prepared to sleep with you very quickly, then she is most likely not a good one. Even today, good girls, that is those girls considered good by Thai society, do not do this.

What advice would you give a farang man who wants to pursue a long term relationship with a Thai woman?

As with the previous question, take long time to look at her closely and once you have got married, look after her well. Be aware that you must look after her and the family you build as best you can. You also need to be aware of your spending habits. Spending a lot of money is never considered a good thing. Good Thai woman will always save money, look after their husband and treat him as well as they can and the Thai wife should be rieb roy. <best translation of this is "proper"Stick>

What are a Thai woman's responsibilities in a marriage? What should a farang man do if his wife doesn't perform her responsibilities in the marriage, like I see happening in so many farang / Thai marriages. I hypothesise that some Thai women marry a Western man, not only for the reasons we so often acknowledge (richer and less or no philandering), but because they wish to shirk their traditional responsibilities.

A good Thai wife has to know her duties and her roles both inside and outside of the house and more than anything, she has to respect her husband. Nowadays, she needs to also be aware of the need to make money, not just to keep her job, but in fact to try and earn more for the family. Her role now encompasses making money too, which is quite different from the past. She absolutely should not like going out much at all to nightspots and above everything, her family and husband must come first.

What are some of the biggest mistakes a farang man could make in a relationship with a Thai woman?

In the past, the husband gave his entire salary to the wife who returned an allowance to him, paid for everything in the house and then was responsible for saving some too. This was done partially because Thai men have traditionally not been good at saving money. With the goal of saving money, no husband should go out too much and he should not be spending any money on other women at all. If he does and if, God forbid, he gets involved with other women, then this is the biggest mistake he can make. It is a barb. <major sinStick> It is unacceptable for a husband to get involved with other women. Money should not be wasted and if the man has a problem spending too much, then it should all be given to the wife to look after, as per the old times, and not withstanding that this is not the farang way. Whatever happens, the family must come first and foremost in the husband's decision making.

Is it possible for a farang to have a successful relationship with a woman who used to work as a prostitute?

Good Thai women do not smoke, drink or gamble, yet these three traits seem so prevalent in such women. So of course it is very difficult for a farang man to have a successful relationship with one of these women. So many of them just want the easy life and they do not want to contribute. Many have children who they have just forgotten about and through it all, most are dishonest. I feel terribly sorry for all the farang men who get married with women like this. No self-respecting Thai man would ever get involved with such a woman. In fact Thai men are very particular about women and they feel that they do not understand foreign women enough to get involved seriously with them. Also, foreign women do not usually look after a man as well as Thai women do, or at least should.

So there we have it, a few more thoughts from a very traditional Thai women on Thai / farang relationships. See, it isn't just me who advises that you stay clear of the bargirls for long term liaisons. To me perhaps the most interesting point is when she categorically stated that a man going off with other women is a barb. Such behaviour, according to her, is absolutely not tolerated, despite the fact that a few farangs claim that their girlfriends or wives allow it.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic

This week's pic

It was the fortress on Pra-Artit Road.
How good are you?
Last week's picture was of the fortress on Pra Artit Road in Banglamphu and was taken the night of Loy Kratong when there were throngs of people there. Remember, just the FIRST person to get it right wins the prize! This week's pic is outside of Bangkok…and this week we have a new prize, a book from Frank Viskay called Everything But Die. Due to the cost of postage out of Thailand, the prizes offered this week are only available to the first person to get it right who can provide a postal address within Thailand. So, if you think you know it and want to claim the prize, make sure you state clearly that you are Thailand based. Please note that you do NOT need to send your address to me when you answer the pic. If you are first to get it right then I will notify that you have won and only then will an address be necessary.

FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:

More visa run options.

For the guys who are in Isaan and wants to do a visa run by themselves I can recommend Chong Jom (not far from Surin), the neighbouring country is Cambodia. The visa costs 1200 baht and the fee for returning to Thailand immediately (fee for NOT playing casino) is 100 baht. Or Chong Mek (not far fram Ubon), the neighbouring country is Laos. They now have visa on arrival and the cost is 1500 baht (and there is no casino at that border). It is really hassle free and this must be the best border I have ever been to. There are also almost no foreigners, which means that the whole procedure is done in less than half an hour. The same goes for Chong Jom; no foreigners. The latter is a really small border post.
Wanna work in Thailand?
I have spent time trying to get a rental apartment in Jomtien at Xmas. No luck. Email unanswered websites that wouldn't let you in. Strangers asking for bank details. There is an opportunity there for someone. Hell, in London there is a guy who rents luxury apartments then sublets to tourists.
Selling one's daughter.
I heard the story of a girl in Korat who will be going to work in her aunt's beer bar on Beach Road in Pattaya upon graduation from high school. Not the first in the family to follow this path. Poppa guaranteed a boon companions loan for 100,000 baht. Friend skipped town once he got the cash. Daughter going to work in "factory" to help pay off insurmountable debt. All females in family know truth of employment. Have heard similar stories about lifelong friends that skip out leaving someone else holding the bag. Where is this girl going to work? I wont say. Unfortunately a lot of the girls really are just off the farm and only in town a couple of days. Will she ever pay off Poppa's debt. I doubt it. Most girls get caught up in expenses related to bar work and can send very little home to the family.
If it weren't for the women and the food…
I'm a recent arrival from California, living, working now, and learning about the Thai "culture". These people are truly amazing!! How could the PR and the reality be so far apart? It's like the US government, saying this when it is exactly the opposite. I don't want to sound superior or hypocritical, but for crying' out loud, these people take the cake when it comes to bigotry, lying, scamming, unnecessary violence, reckless driving, and just generally corrupt behaviour. Their only saving grace, as you say, is the "never mind" attitude, the great food, and beautiful women. Also, at least the corruption is mostly up front, instead of being masked behind slogans like "Justice For All" or "In God We Trust". If you know before hand what to expect, it's not so disappointing when you get screwed. Was there ever a time when Thais had personal integrity, or have they always been the lying, thieving, lazy, underhanded shits that I run into every day?
No Romeo at home = no Romeo in Thailand?
Many of the foreigners in Thailand, when in their homelands, cannot get the girls that they want or even a single date. That said, why do these same guys think that when they come to Thailand that they should be able to get any girl that they want? If you're successful with girls at home, you'll be successful with good girls in Thailand.
From the streets to stockbroker.
A good friend of mine, came with me to Bkk 5 years ago. At the time he had 3 shops and a warehouse in England. This man hit Bkk harder than hard. His credit cards were burning! I tried to advise as I have been a veteran of 15 years. A couple of other friends advised me to let him get on with it as I would have ruined his enjoyment (in hindsight I think they were right) he done it all, 3 shags a day, loved up took the bird back to England, house in Isaan, "mine's not a bar girl" tried Russians, got pickpocketed, drugged and robbed even kidnapped by a taxi driver, 2 years later his business had gone (with debts of 500,000 pounds sterling), though he claimed it was going anyway. He actually ended up living on the streets of Bkk. Then one we were having a beer and he said "I have ended up without a penny, but I cant thank you enough for bringing me here, I have had the best 2 years of my life". He vows never to go back to England ,and has survived 2 to 3 years without a penny. He is now a financial adviser!! Yes, boiler house and still alive.
Bars should close earlier?
I don't expect to make many new friends for saying this, but I actually agree with the 2.00 bar closing times. I live in an oppressive authoritarian state (England) where most pubs still have to close at 11.00 p.m. Coming to Thailand and being able to drink until 2.00 a.m. is a luxury. There are three ways of dealing with early closing times. One is to do what many Brits do which is drink very fast so that you are rat-arsed by closing time. Another way is to have your home or hotel fridge well-stocked with beer for after hours revelling. The third method, my preferred one, is to start early, preferably with dinner, around 7.00 pm. After, I have a beer in 2 or 3 bars then retire to my hotel room for a leisurely shag. After, there is time to go back to the bars to wind down pleasantly till closing time. I also have to add that there are 1 or 2 secret late drinking places in Bangkok which have naughty ladies too. The taxi drivers know where they are.

There was a massive Police raid on Soi Cowboy on Friday. The details are sketchy and my ability to investigate it has been hampered by being 250 km away, but I heard that many people were drug tested. At least one bar farang boss was said to have fled the scene quickly along with many customers! Word is out that a few Soi Cowboy bars are about to get their closure orders, right as we get into the high season, Xmas and New Year! Then Nana was packed to the rafters with customers as everyone headed up the road.

There are more than a few bar bosses scratching their heads and wondering where the high season has got to. Where are all the farangs? The stringent new laws and strong-armed tactics against foreigners are having an affect. Many people assumed that the 2 AM closing would be a passing phase, but two and a half years on it is here to stay with this current Government. Customers still complain about the early closing now, plus all the restrictions imposed upon the bars and massage parlours. And certain folks with a degree of power are hammering the massage parlours, "strictly no sex on the premises" they have been ordered. BJ bars in Patpong like Rose are not allowed to take customers into private rooms for a blow job meaning customers are supposed to take their chances in the bar in front of everybody! Work that one out!

Mmeanwhile Lumpini Police with their dented reputation are all over Nana Plaza nightly checking that gogo bars do not "show." It does boil down to the fact that farangs still frequent the bars in endless search for lovely young Thai women. Despite having a "no show" ban enforced, the army of 'honey hunters' still march upon Nana Plaza but there is currently a definite decrease in go-go bar customers. Rather than the beginning of the high season it is more like the beginning of low season. Some bar owners have told me that their day takings are very low at the moment.

The Crown Group are renovating the already elaborate Lollipop Bar foyer. After building a brand new and expensive looking foyer they proceed to rip the entire front off it and renovate it again. Pharaohs and Road House are having their roofs renovated with steel panelling; how much does all this cost? I may not know how much it al costs but I do know who is paying for it all. Crown Group Bars seem to be turning into Crown Group Builders!

This week Soi Cowboy had a visit from a different police district and currently Suzi Wong, Sheba's and Bacarra have been ordered to don full bikinis. Word on the street is that certain bars in Cowboy were paying three times the normal rate to be able to have birthday suit shows.

Regarding underage girls, Nana Plaza bars have been ordered to register each member of staff. Registration forms, finger prints, photos, ID details and some bars have even had to purchase a new filing cabinet to store all of the info because the authorities are really on the case. Perhaps in time other bar areas will get the same treatment. It seems to be starting by raiding bars that are "showing."

Lots of girls on Khao Sarn these days… but those legs are too skinny for me

To everyone who emails me wanting to meet the so called regular or normal girls, my advice is simple, go to Khao Sarn Road. Thai women are flocking there in bigger and bigger numbers on the hunt for farang…

A British fellow has taken a long time to research and prepare the script for a ghost movie that he hopes to make in Thailand. He has made a lot of progress establishing the commercial potential, and hopes to start shooting in March next year. He has raised around 80% of the finance, but there is still an opportunity for investment by smaller investors. A website giving initial information about the project and the potential for feature film investment in Thailand can be found at: www.phii.co.uk.

Yes, it would appear that the lower prices for Guinness are indeed city wide. The Bull's Head Pub and The Dubliner both offer draft Guinness for 160 baht and Kilkenny for 180 baht. I still can't be sure whether this is permanent or not. some places say the prices will remain at this level until the end of the rugby World Cup which would indicate that Guinness is a major sponsor (but they are not, Heineken is) and at least one other venues, the Bull's Head has said these prices will remain only until December. Now as to the price of Guinness and, Kilkenny a new company, Diethelm, has taken over the distribution, and have said that both beers will be on promotion until the end of November. Some bars such as Shenanigan's in Pattaya even had a promotion here during the World Cup where they gave away Guinness until England scored and gave away free T-shirts and hats. But for a time they ran out of Guinness completely for two weeks and Kilkenny, for Six weeks. An Irish bar running out of Guinness, fancy that! Not wonderful given that they had seven adverts for Guinness and five for Kilkenny painted on the Pub Walls! Diethelm have said the present price will remain until 2004 meaning that customers should be able to get their dose of iron at a reasonable price.

Driving past this week, I notice that Pink panther in Patpong has changed its name to Pinka Panthera – adding an "a" to each name of the name. Seems a strange name change and I wonder if it is related to licence issues?

Know those toilets stuck in behind the gas station on Sukhumvit Soi 4? Well, emptying one's bladder or bowels is not the only reason that folks go there. No, before you think that the girls of Nana are peddling their wares there, there is actually a different reason to go there. That is the place where some girls go to get their body piercings done. A friend barfined a girl in Nana and after she had changed into her regular clothes, they sat there and watched some of her colleagues dancing. A few of her colleagues had body piercings and this girl became a little envious and decided that she would like one. But while her friends had navel piercings, she decided she wanted something more risqué. She told my friend that they were off to get her…you know what pierced. My friend was a little confused when she made a call and told him to come with her and led him to the toilets behind the gas station, nestled in not far from the Nana Hotel. A Thai fellow comes along with piecing contraption, she tells him what she wants and right there in the toilet, she drops her drawers. He whips on the surgical gloves, drops to his knees to have a closer look at her nether regions, applies some spray, presumably their an anti-septic and then goes to work. In no time, she is the proud owner of a pierced clitoris. Apparently these toilets double as the body piercer's office. I guess rents in the Nana area are too high for him to have his own piercing studio…

I can confirm that the strong rumours about Pretty Girl bar in Nana Plaza falling into another district, outside of Nana Plaza, are quite untrue. But despite it most definitely being part of Nana Plaza, the girls in Pretty Girl are most definitely dancing topless, while all of the girls in other bars are well and truly covered up…

What is it with all of these firework's displays up and down the river? Every night earlier in the week (and perhaps later in the week though I wasn't home every night), from my apartment window we saw the most amazing fireworks displays over the Chao Praya River. Mrs Stick hypothesized that it might be to celebrate some hi-so marriages but I am not so sure. It seemed too well co-ordinated, and too expensive to me to be that. Anyone know?

It’s when you know you have hit a nerve, raised an issue and argued it to a point where you have them cornered. They're like a beast stuck in the headlights that knows that it can't go anywhere. And then they play what they think is their trump card…you don’t understand Thai culture! How I hate these words and how crass they are. Believe me, when a Thai says these words, in virtually any situation, you have them absolutely cornered. To me, these words signify that you have won the argument – but they'll never admit that, and in a final effort to win, they say this!

Subway Nana has their Grand Opening on Tuesday November 25th from 11 AM to 3 PM Get A FREE 6 inch sub (any type) when you order a medium drink (with unlimited refills) for 29 baht. Their Subway sandwich artists will make a fresh sub in front of you in only 20 seconds – but expect long lines on this Tuesday when there is this special promotion, as they are serving around 400 people a day now. Better get there early…I sure will be!

Talking about Subway Nana, they now are open 24 hours and are cooking your favourite omelette, any filling you like, from midnight to 11 AM as well as serving their fresh giant sandwiches. From what I hear, they seem to be getting a very good late night crowd.

Huge conjecture in the staffroom at work this week over which is the best ISP in Thailand. For 5 years I have used Loxinfo, now called CS Loxinfo, and seldom have I had a problem. In fact I find the service and speed not only good, but the access from anywhere in the country excellent. Even up in Isaan, the connection speeds are good. Jest save all of their dial in numbers on your laptop hard drive and you can get online anywhere in the country.

As far as I know, the closest place to exit Thailand overland if you are resident in Bangkok is at the crossing into Poipet, Cambodia. Officially, the cost of a Cambodian visa is $US 20 and indeed the visa says $US 20 on it. In the past, they Cambodian Immigration service at the border would accept either $US 20 – which had to be in US currency or 1,000 Thai baht for the visa which can be bought there on the spot. Now that the US dollar has depreciated in value, they specify 1,000 Thai baht only Cambodia and they won't accept $US at all. It appears to be a scam and what the immigration guys do is simply change the baht into $US, which should give them $25, and put $20 into the government visa fund and keep $5 for themselves. Given the numbers that must be passing through on a daily basis, thy must be amongst the most highly paid people in Cambodia. While I couldn't be certain, I believe that you can still get a Cambodian visa for $US 20, using US currency, at the Cambodian embassy on Rajadamri Road, that is if you can be bothered trekking there twice, the first time to drop it off and the second time to pick it up the next day. In fact it would seem that many of the merchants selling various goods in Dodgy City, that is Poipet, will not take $US – and prefer baht. Can't be many places in the third world where a local or regional currency is preferred over greenbacks!

Mrs. Stick's Corner

Each week, Mrs. Stick is pleased to answer your questions about Thai / farang relationships and general issues that baffle the average Westerner in Thailand. Mrs. Stick likes to think of herself as an open-minded Thai lady so go ahead, ask anything because you won't shock her. Please send questions for her, via me, at the usual email address. Two 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. Please note that I may not necessarily agree with what she says and unfortunately, she doesn't have time to reply to your inquiries via email. Questions to her have been a bit thin recently so don't be shy to send in your queries.

Question 1: What is the level of homosexuality among Thai women? It is an accepted part of the society? I mean is it acceptable for a married Thai woman to have a lesbian lover or to have sex with another woman on the side? It seems that some of the girls I've known don't seem to think there is anything wrong with this, but it is something I cannot accept.

Mrs Stick says: As far as I know, it has never been acceptable for gay women. I have only ever seen a few and there are very few who actually come out openly and say that "this is my girlfriend". With this in mind, I would say that it is largely not accepted. I have seen many ay guys in my workplace and they try to act like real men – but they are not. Gay men are generally accepted in Thai society. Gay women are something else altogether. But even gay men do not come out and say this is my husband and we sleep together, which indicates that even that is not totally acceptable. Gay men are generally accepted more than katoeys. Over the past 10 years, there seems to be more gay guys around, I guess because Thai society has become more open. But do not think it is totally acceptable, the majority of gay Thai guys try and conceal it, and I guess the lesbians are the same.

Question 2: I am in love with a Thai woman here in the States who got a divorce from her Thai husband in the past year. We have known each other for about 5 years. I too just got a divorce. We both have children from our marriages. She and I email each other every day just "talking" about things. I love this woman and adore her. What is the "Thai Way" of telling her my feelings and romancing her?

Mrs Stick says: There is no Thai way in these circumstances as the internet is new to all of us. If you think it is proper, perhaps the right time and the right place, then mention something to her. But try and make sure it is not going to be a complete surprise to her as that could shock her. As you are both presumably single, then why not wait until the two of you are together in person. Then she can see the sincerity in your voice and on your face when you say it to her, which is much more powerful than mere words on a screen.

Another week passes by with more of the same, police raids and crazy stories. How do we manage to retain our sanity in this crazy country? Seldom does a day go by when we do not hear a crazy story.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Special thanks this week go out to Dave The Rave and Long Dong Don.