Stickman's Weekly Column November 16th, 2003

Sleuthing, 2003 Style



Yesterday morning I received an email* from a British fellow who wrote what for me was a very moving piece. It concerned a bargirl who he had fallen in love with and who had left the bar scene to wait for his return. Everything appeared to be on track until he snooped around in her email account, put a few bits and pieces together and realised that she was keeping another guy on the back burner, a fellow countryman of his who she was planning to meet next month. Now there was a lot more to the story but that is pretty much the crux of it. By snooping around in her email account, he found out information material to his relationship which not just jeopardised it, but has probably ended it.

The average Thai does not like rules or regulations because they simply do not abide by them. Whether this is something recent and part of what I often refer to as the massive erosion of traditional Thai behaviour and values or not, I simply do not know, but it is more than just rules and regulations that the average Thai breaks. Thais are in my opinion, much less faithful in serious relationships or marriage than the average farang, at least those farangs back in Farangland. In Thailand you can be forgiven for thinking that everyone is doing everyone and it is not just Thai men who are playing behind their partner's backs, the women are doing it too. The attitude in Thailand with so many of the locals seems to be that "what my partner doesn't know won't hurt them".

The problem is that they simply won't admit what they are doing and in essence, they are lieing to themselves. They may truly believe that their extramarital bedroom olympics in no way effects their partner at all, totally dismissing any fears of the transmission of STDs.

As more and more Thais move into the information age, frequent internet use is becoming the norm. With the middle class now more or less all online, the internet is not just a means of covertly communicating with one's extramarital sexual partners, but also a place where one can hunt for such new partners. But, as anyone with just a little computer and internet nous knows, the net is incredibly insecure and it is awfully easy to find out just what someone has been doing online, who they have been talking to and indeed, just what they have been saying! With this in mind, more and more people are doing like the fellow mentioned in the first paragraph and snooping around behind their partner's back online, examining just what they are doing.

I have heard God only knows how many stories of Thai women rifling through their farang partner's computer. In almost every case something was found that created huge problems. It might have been something quite innocent that was misinterpreted, or it might have been something more sinister, akin to the youngster being caught with his weeny in the basin.

While Thai women may search for picture files or skim through the inboxes of Outlook or Eudora, the farang with a bit of computer knowledge tends to be far more sophisticated in his approach. Hacking email account passwords, searching through cache, undeleting old files, reading message logs and the installation of network sniffers and the like are just a few of the tricks that computer savvy farangs use.

Is it ok to snoop at your other half's emails and search through their computer, or is this behaviour so far over the line that anyone actually doing it should not be involved in that relationship? Perhaps it's relevant to compare it to the pre computer / internet age. How would you feel if your partner started going through some of your private possessions?

I do not have any definite opinions about whether snooping around behind your loved one's back is acceptable or not. I guess if pushed, my opinion would be that if you already had strong evidence that something was up, and it was that evidence that prompted you to snoop around to try and find out more, then that would perhaps be ok. But if you just went looking for the sake of looking, then that is something I personally would consider out of line and unacceptable. Whatever the case, lovers all over Bangkok are turning into super sleuths, searching for evidence that their partner is up to no good.

* The piece is in the reader's submissions section of the site and titled "Hua Hin Situation – Update".

Where is this pic?
Last week's pic

This week's pic

It was the Elephant Building.
A castle in Bangkok? WTF!
Last week's picture was the Elephant Building aka known as the 'white elephant', the building that showed that during the economic boom, money didn't necessarily have any claim to taste. A huge number of people got it right, more than 100 people sending correct answers on Sunday alone. Remember, just the FIRST person to get it right wins the prize! This week's pic may look like a castle, but really it is somewhere in Bangkok and not Europe! This week's prize is a great book from Dean Barrett and I might even ask him to sign it for you. 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. To find out more about Dean's excellent books, check out: http://www.deanbarrettmystery.com/

FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:

No Man's Land Part 2

There I was up the preverbal creek without a paddle. Having survived the land crossing from Mukdahan / Savannakhet to Moc Bai on the Cambodian – Vietnamese border I now find myself in no man's land having been refused entry into Vietnam, as my visa didn't
stipulate Moc Bai as being my official port of entry into Vietnam. Having initially let me sweat it out in the mid day sun, the immigration officer said that a sweetener of 100 US$ wouldn't go amiss. By this stage the novelty of visiting Vietnam had already worn off with my Thai girlfriend, her comment being "If they don't want me I don't want them", further more my Scottish nature was playing up again. We then decided to retrace our steps, but then half way across no man's land it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't have a re-entry visa for Cambodia. Thankfully they were very sympathetic to our plight, and said this happened several times a day with tourists being forced to return in the event they weren't up for the extortion. They felt that there was some kind of deal going on between the embassies that were issuing the visas and the kickbacks that the border officials were cleaning up on. This all happened in 1996 I think, so it all may have changed since then, but if not beware!
Love / Hate, again.
I like the Thais, mostly, but the more time I spend here I find them to be rude, narrow minded, thoughtless, insular, lacking any consideration, ignorant of the effect of their actions on others, and usually on the make. Still as long as they have a nice shirt and a smile its all OK…..ahhh the Thai way, what a great nation!! By the way I know they think we are all dirty western pig dogs who don't shower enough, but in my experience Thais very rarely ever wash their hands after visiting the loo (number 1 or number 2's (that's pissing or shitting to you non Brits)). This is particularly noticeable with bar and restaurant waiting staff who are easily identifiable, watch them next time you go.
This is absolutely not recommended and is seriously dumb. NEVER needlessly antagonize a Thai.
I know all the advice about not getting upset in Thailand and showing anger, but there are just some occasions when I cant let things go. I was in a taxi coming back from a night out with my girlfriend; we had a good evening and we were both feeling great. We pull up to my apartment building and I go to pay the fare. Normally, I round fare up to the nearest 10 baht but wait for the guy to offer me my full change before doing so. However, this guy has decided that he is not going to offer so then I say politely that I would like my full change. When he tells me I am not getting it I call him an ass and say keep it. All this is happening in full site of my girl and the security guys so he feels really ashamed and after calling me a shit tries to give me my change. In a polite, but defiant tone I tell him to keep it and say bai sii. When he shouts at me again I call him an arsehole and tell him he should go. The car backs up and I think that is that. Just before I enter the apartment building he has stopped the car, gone to the boot to pick up a knife. Screaming at me, he trusts the knife towards me in a threatening manner, although he was about 50 feet away. Now, I am not saying I was as forgiving as I can be but these guys need to attend an anger management class. He was prepared to pull a knife on me for a lousy 9 baht. Anyway, the security guards, my girlfriend and I just stood there laughing at him. It's true, one never knows what will happen next in Amazing Thailand.
How to….be a classy sex tourist.
Any geezer can walk into a go-go bar, pay barfine, and get his end away. Getting satisfaction is another matter. Just because you choose and hire a girl for sex does not mean that you own her ass, and she is under no obligation to do anything more than lie on her back like a sack of rice and dream of that lost love in Udon Thani. The trick of the trade would therefore seem to be to get the girl to choose you, in which case there is even a chance she might like you and give you good service. Some great advice has come from these columns about smelling nice and dressing fancy, which have gotta come top of the list. A couple of further tips are these. Be a non-smoker. I am surprised at how many girls do not smoke, and want to get out of the smoke filled atmosphere of the bar pronto. The other tip is to wear a wedding ring, whether you are married or not. Why this should make any difference is hard to comprehend. One theory has it that Thai women are very competitive, and get perverse pleasure from getting one over another woman, especially if she thinks your wife is a farang. Another theory holds that married men are essentially steadfast responsible fellows who come with an implicit recommendation from another woman to this effect. It could also be that a married man has probably not come there just for a beer. If none of these tips work, try masturbation. Cheaper, safer, less hassle, and does not compromise a man's integrity.
Visa runs made easy.
I have made many visa runs from Pattaya to the Cambo. border at Hat Lek, but have never used a visa run service for the simple reasons that they leave at the ungodly hour of 7 AM or so (in order to get you back the same day) and cram you into a claustrophobic's nightmare of a mini-bus. Fuck that. Here's how I do it: I take a well mannered, semi intelligent bar girl for company, wake up whenever I feel like it (generally around noon), have a leisurely breakfast, take a songtaew or two out to Sukhumvit Highway, and wait for ANY bus heading south/east. My destination is Trat, but I don't care if I have to change busses along the way at Rayong or Chanthaburi or wherever. The Thai bus system is simple. Upon arrival in Trat, I check into the Trat Hotel, which has decent, simple rooms for pretty cheap (I think around 400 baht last time); have dinner at the night market right outside the hotel, buy beer at 7-11 across the street and return to my room to drink myself to sleep. I wake up the next day, (again), WHENEVER I FEEL LIKE IT, eat a leisurely breakfast, check out and go to the minibuses around the corner and across from the bus station for the 100 baht / person drive to the border. Minibuses leave approximately hourly. At the border, it's the usual border run red tape: a few forms and some money to be paid (far less than you'd have to pay a visa run service), then I take another mini-bus back to Trat, have lunch in town, and take a bus back to Pattaya. Simple! Comfortable! And cheap!
I have always wondered about these sex tour companies that operate guided sex tours in this part of the world. There are a few that advertise online and I have always wondered how they are allowed to continue to operate for so long. There are so many people out there who would like to see such companies close down, all manner of people from the general public to organisations like the Tourism Authority of Thailand to femeniazi hate groups. It would seem that one of these self appointed police groups, one of the variety that wear flat soled shoes, have moustaches and short hair – but still have boobs and a cunt, have taken it upon themselves to rid mankind of their exploiting ways when it comes to what they term "exploitation of women in Thailand". A certain New York based women's rights group must have been monitoring the Honolulu entrepreneur that promotes "The Ultimate Asian Sex Tour" on the website www.videotravel.net and went to his home in Hawaii this week just as the tour leader was about to fly across the Pacific with his tour group to Bangkok. After a protest outside the tour leader's house which also happens to be the sex tour company's registered address, the tour operator announced that this will be his last tour. Like so many non net experts who run businesses online, he had failed to act on a small piece of advice that could have prevented his identity from being easily accessible to anyone with just a small amount of net knowledge. He has been around for a years and has sold hundreds of copy of his Bangkok sex tour video and run countless tours. I hear that his website is about to be taken down.

Spicy Girls in Pattaya was showing earlier in the week, but most of the other gogo bars down that way were not. So, even with APEC over things have not returned to normal. Baby (Super Baby & Girl A Go Go) near Walking Street is not only featuring gals sans tops, but also it has a lesbian show. True, the show is not nearly as wild as some in the past (no toys and no pouring of beer), but the gals are in their birthday suits.

On a different topic, what is it with those vendors hawking live snakes in Pattaya? Are the snakes meant to be pets or just lunch? Perhaps one should release them in good Buddhist fashion and then in true Thai fashion somebody will catch them and resell them to another farang?

And speaking of things returning to normal, Panthip has not returned to its former self, far from it in fact. A friend visited Panthip on Friday with a shopping lost and was given a tour of the neighbourhood as he picked up a few bits and pieces. For DVDs, he had to prepay in Panthip itself and was then taken to one of the higher floors of the luxurious Grand Diamond apartment building next door to Panthip where he collected his movies. With the software he also had to prepay and again was taken outside to collect his booty, out back in the pokey Panthip Plaza car park. Apparently this current crackdown is due to the police who patrol the area. As was the case once in the past, while pirate software is hard to come by, there are stacks and stacks of hardcore pornographic DVDs for sale clearly on display of which the availability just reinforces the belief that Thailand is something of a sexual paradise. The best place to get DVD movies at the moment is that shop on the main Patpong soi, near Suriwong Road end, not far from the big 7 Eleven. They will ask 250 baht for a movie but if you speak decent Thai and buy a few, they'll give them to you for 150.

Best wishes go out to Andy, the proprietor of Electric Blue in Pattaya. Andy reached the half century this weekend.

Ricky who used to be in charge of Vixens and Rock Hard is back in town so I guess a return to the UK was not quite what Ricky wanted. He is now in charge at Angel witch, and I'm sure he'll do a good job there.

Good things are being said about the staff in Spanky's in Nana. Word on the street is that there are a lot of very attractive girls in there. I haven't checked it out myself though.

160 baht Guinness can be had at O'Reilly's as well as The Irish Xchange. In fact this new pricing on Guinness might be a city wide thing but I haven't been to enough bars to say for sure.

The Silver Dollar Bar have updated their website and a nice little website it is too. In the past I was somewhat underwhelmed by this bar along with a few of the others in Washington Square which seemed to not only be a haven for a lot of the genuine Old Asia Hands, but which seemed to almost discourage the younger whippersnappers amongst us. Anyway, management from Silver Dollar Bar advise that they are doing all that they can to change that image, and they want it known that all are welcome. You can check out their website at: http://www.geocities.com/bkk_silver_dollar/

I received an email from Volunthai which describe themselves as an organisation which provides volunteer placements to travellers free of charge. You can check out their website at: www.volunthai.com for details.

Following on from the piece in last week's column about The Visa Shop in Pattaya. It seems they are open again but whether they are offering the same services as in the past, I do not know. What should be noted is that people who paid for a service in the past and who did not get the service they requested appear to be getting their money back. Top stuff.

For the nth time, I got it wrong. Stating that The Office Bar has the cheapest beer in Sukumvit Soi 33 was yet another in a long line of Stickman stuff ups. Good old Wall Street, the Kiwi owned bar in soi 33, has an outstanding special that bars all over the city should try and emulate. All day, everyday, Carlsberg draft is just 55 baht a glass. Now this is a real deal! And apparently the place is full of Kiwis at the moment watching the Rugby World Cup. Sounds like heaven.

Of the many things that I am frequently accused of, cynicism shines out amongst all others. I am cynical of relationships with bargirls, cynical of the true ability of the average farang to integrate into Thai society and at times, I am cynical about the education system here in Thailand. Let me just give you a couple of reasons, absolutely true stories from an international school, that demonstrate partially why I am so cynical… Story number one concerns three girls who misbehaved in class. They were punished with detention, told that had to stay behind class after school and tidy up the classroom before they went home. They appealed the detention by asking if it would be ok for them to pay the maid to clean the room for them. They were told that yes, this would be ok! The second story is perhaps even worse. Four boys got pissed off with their home room teacher (that is the Thai teacher who stays in the classroom but doesn’t actually teach them, rather just oversees them) and so the ran a key down the side of her car. They were caught and they were told that they had to get down on their knees, give her a deep wai and a flower, which signified how sorry they were. The police were not called and neither they nor their parents were asked by the school to pay for the damage to the car… Man, what sort of message does all this sort of nonsense send? That you can buy your way out of trouble and if mummy and daddy really are bigwigs, you have carte blanche freedom to do anything you wish with impunity? Education in Thailand…would you want your kids educated here?

We have had an ongoing crackdown on closing times of entertainment venues that has been going on for almost two and a half years without letting up. The naughty nightlife has been cracked down on with gogo bars too scared to show any flesh for fear of being closed down. There have been been many mini crackdowns on pirate software and there has been a recent crackdown on dodgy visas. I wonder what will be next? Looking into my crystal ball, my feeling is that the next big crackdown will be on those working without work permits and one that could be very big indeed, a crackdown on taxes. If this happens, a few farangs might get a little uncomfortable. Who knows? My feeling is that around one in three of all of the farangs I know in Thailand works without a work permit.

If you have a problem with your phone or more specifically, if you lose the SIM card, all hope is not lost. While thoughts are racing through your mind that Lek, Daeng and Nit's phone numbers have been lost forever, it is nice to know that AIS, the main mobile phone operator, will provide a replacement SIM card with the same number. This happened to a fellow at work who was quite distressed that he would lose his old number. AIS gave him a replacement SIM card with the same number, all at no cost! Now that is damned good service. He did it all at the AIS service centre in Central World Plaza where the staff are extraordinarily helpful.

Many people wrongly believe that this column started up as a competitor to the Trink column which appears every Friday in the Bangkok Pot. This is absolutely not true. This column started up as a new part of the site where I would be able to put up to date news and the type of information that may date quickly and / or my not be a perfect fit in other parts of the site. Now on the subject of the Trink column, it is as much a Bangkok institution as Patpong. But I notice that for whatever reason I notice that the Trink column is getting smaller and smaller. This past week's Trink column was the smallest yet.

Quote of the week is from a sign in a Pattaya hotel. "Guests are prohibited from bringing undesirable women into the Hotel." However, it should be noted that the management has no problem with desirable women…

Want to be a TV star? If the idea appeals, you live and / or work in the Sukhumvit Road area and would be willing and able to be followed by a camera crew, then this may be for you. You can be farang or Thai, lady, man or I guess, ladyboy. Interested parties should drop an email to the very affable Russell at [email protected] or give him a tinker on 06-0315675.

I note that many so called experts feel that international investors are seeing Thailand as a fantastic place for a holiday and thus a place which has a growing economy and increasing visitor arrivals. Retail rents in Bangkok are going through the roof. Where two months ago, prime spots were 1,000 – 1,500 per square metre. Prices in the last month have jumped to 4,000 -5,000 baht per square metre and even in one case on Sukhumvit Soi 15, the landlord of a 32 square metre space at the Underground store (next to Thermae…has old computers and old books) wants 6 million key money up front for 6 years to sign the lease and rent of 300,000 per month with a 20% increase after 3 years. This comes out to around 12,000 baht per square metre! This has to make prices increase as higher costs have to be passed onto the consumer to make a profit. Probably the best way to beat the big increase is take over an existing business and get a more reasonable rent. If you're interested in picking up a business in Thailand, click on the Sunbelt Asia link below.

The latest of issue of The Big Chilli magazine is out, the November issue I believe, and it features a three page spread on this website, and me. If you don't know The big Chilli, it is the best of the English language monthlies published in Bangkok, and the editor dares to publish slightly more interesting and racy stuff than the competition, the likes of the backpacker orientated Farang magazines and the "we don't know quite who our target market is" Metro. When I was first approached about the possibility of an interview I was little trepidatious, but the interviewer struck me as someone with integrity, someone who wanted to get it right and not just publish some sleazy tabloid style article. My instincts were right and he has done a fairly good job of profiling the site. There are a couple of minor misquotes and a couple of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but on the whole, it is pretty good. "Bangkok's agony uncle", he refers to me as.

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: I was wondering if you might have any information about any consumer
protection agency that can handle cases where foreign residents can make a complaint when having problems in Thailand. In my case it is a building owner that refuses to fully refund my apartment rental deposit on the basis of some quasi damage supposedly caused by to the unit.

Mrs Stick says: Yes, there is a government agency which in English I guess would be called Consumer Protection Agency or Department. If you are absolutely sure that you didn't do any damage, you need to check the contract which states the condition of the apartment when you moved in. If it doesn't state any damage that was there when you moved in, then it would be assumed that damage was done afterwards, by you. You might need to go right to the top on this. You need to be very polite initially and try and keep the emotion from it. If this still doesn't work, you might have to tak it further which would mean getting legal advice and a lawyer. You should be abel to get a free consultation and only get charged if they take on the case. You might have to try and compromise with them.

Question 2: The question I have is what opportunities exist in Thailand for foreign spouses of Thai nationals who don't feel cut out to enter a career in teaching. My background is
mostly IT having worked mostly in the USA as an IT consultant on an off for the last five years. Recently I took my wife to Australia with the goal of settling there. We stayed only two weeks before I decided that the cost of living / taxes and opportunities for work in my line didn't make the place attractive to stay long term. I'm faced with the classic dilemma of making compromises to be with my wife.

Mrs Stick says: I don't know a lot about IT to be honest with you. If you find a job in Thailand as someone searching for work locally you will not get the same sort of deal as someone who is hired from abroad, who will get a far superior deal. But I'm sure Thailand is the most liveable country in this area and it isn't expensive so you can likely have a better lifestyle here than the US or Australia as well as it being much easier for your wife to get a job here.

Please remember that putting this column together and indeed maintaining the entire site, keeping it up to date, replying to emails and the general maintenance of it all takes a lot of time. While my Bangkok based mates may be down in Pattaya or Hua Hin for the weekend, or sending me SMS messages from The Londoner, telling me how Liverpool just put 5 past Manchester United, I'm back at home replying to emails, fixing errors in the column and racking my brains for new pieces to write about. The opportunity cost of putting it altogether is huge. With this in mind, if you know anyone who runs a business either in Thailand or abroad that would appeal to fans, residents or regular visitors to Thailand, please do have a word with them about advertising here. It is the kind support of the advertisers that keeps this column going.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Special thanks this week go out to Seoul Mate and Whosyourdaddy.