Stickman's Weekly Column May 16th, 2004

Ladyboys Unravelled


We see them all over the place, not just in the naughty bar areas but everywhere. To some they are the bane of a visit to Thailand, but for others, they are the very reason for visiting! Just who are the ladyboys of Thailand?

I have little knowledge about them and in an effort to find out more, I approached the owner of the world's most popular ladyboy website, Captain-outrageous.com, someone who knows a lot more about all of this than I do.

We got together earlier this week and what follows is an interview with him which took place in that most salubrious of locations, the lobby of the Nana Hotel. We talked about the ladyboys of Thailand, his website, and his involvement with them.

Tell me a little bit about your website. How long it's been running, what made you start it up etc.

I am a journalist and have been for most of my working life. I have worked as a foreign correspondent, as a travel writer, as a broadcaster, and also as a photojournalist. Ever since I first handled a camera, when I was about 12 years old, I had wanted to take photos of naked girls. I didn't know anything about ladyboys at that time! It was only the coming of digital photography that got me into nude photography. I have liked ladyboys for donkey's years, ever since my first visit to this part of the world, when I went to Singapore way back in 1980. I was taken to Bugis Street, a very famous night market. It was my first night on my first trip. I was jetlagged, drunk and totally disoriented, and that was probably the best light in which to see Bugis Street. The market and all the little restaurant tables were packed with people. Then around midnight all of these transvestites came out of the shadows and moved amongst the tables. I had the kind of feeling you get when you are an adolescent and you start noticing girls for the first time: I was breathless at the sight of them. I didn't know what they were, didn't know what was underneath the clothes. As an experiment I took one back to a short-time hotel and that changed my life! I kept quiet about it all at the time.

You'd have to, wouldn't you?!

I made one comment about it in my local pub back in London and the hostile reaction I got convinced me to keep my mouth shut in future because no-one was ever going to understand. The funny thing is that the people who like ladyboys are usually regular people, like me. I get emails asking if liking ladyboys means you are gay. No, it doesn't. I have no attraction to masculinity at all. I love women and I love ladyboys. They really are like the third sex. When you go with a ladyboy it is not like being with a guy. You're with a girl who has a dick, and the rule book goes out the window.

When the internet came along in the mid '90s I immediately set off surfing for pictures of ladyboys. There was very little around back then in 96 and 97, a long time ago, right.

Yep, it is in this modern world. Did you get any idea then to do the site?

I found one site that had Thai ladyboys but the pictures were so bad. The photographers
were just going into a short time hotel room with a ladyboy, a 35 mm camera and a flash, and firing away. The pictures made the ladyboys look cheap and ugly. The pictures were just very, very bad!

I hadn't photographed a nude person ever since first holding a camera but I thought, I can do better than that, so I went out and bought myself what was then the new Sony Cybershot, delivering 3 million pixels with a beautiful big Carl Zeiss lens. Over the course of a couple of weeks I rounded up a few ladyboy friends and photographed them in
my apartment, and in a short time hotel. I made sure to use plenty of natural light to get really good skin tones. When I had five sets I emailed the owner of this particular site and asked if he would be interested in buying them. He was on the phone half an hour later and was very interested! He bought them and said that whatever else you can do I will take them! It worked like that for two years or more. I would shoot them and he would buy them, sight unseen in the end. It developed into a good working relationship. And it changed the appearance of the site.

How did you come up with the name Captain Outrageous?

In my schooldays my nickname was Captain. I was going to call myself The Captain, which sounded pretty cool. But when I was going through my first pictures I kept catching myself saying, "that's outrageous!" That's how the idea of Captain Outrageous came about. Much later, when I Googled my name, I found that is also Ted Turner's nickname. So, if you're getting any odd emails these days, Ted, sorry about that!

It was funny doing my first photo shoots. I was in a relationship at that time with a ladyboy named Jeab. She was my very first shoot. I had seen her undressed many times but when I saw her in front of the camera, pulling her pants down and acting a real tease, it was so erotic, so totally absorbing and so different through the lens.

When did the site as it is now begin?

At the beginning of 2003. I had started taking photographs at the beginning of 2000, and I ended up working for two other sites. I enjoyed it immensely and I had a great respect for the site owners. But I saw that they were making a lot of money and I was making almost nothing once I had paid my model fees. And it was taking up a lot of my time: I was still a working journalist. I felt I would either have to stop doing this, or start my own site, because if you are working for someone else you're never going to make much. The demand for ladyboy pictures is growing at a fantastic rate, and I felt that having my own site was viable. So I left to go out on my own.

How much do you pay the models for a photographic session?

I would prefer to keep that under my hat, because this is a competitive business. But I pay them a standard fee that I know is a very fair one, and I pay for their taxis, and I pay a finder's fee if a friend has referred them to me. Fixing the fee in your own mind allows you to know just how much the site will cost each month. I would never try and bargain a fee down… I have a good deal of respect for the models I photograph, and I want them to enjoy the shoot. I try to get them laughing and hope that they have a good time, partly because it is fun for both of us, and partly of course because it all comes through in the photographs. My approach works, because I have a continuous procession of models coming to me. And they come from everywhere: the schools, universities, cabaret shows, beauty salons, mainstream business, and of course the bars.

What's the market like for these types of websites, both here in Bangkok and around the world?

There are now a lot of websites based on ladyboys or shemales.

What's the difference between ladyboys and shemales?

In the US they are called shemales and in Thailand ladyboys. The polite Thai term, incidentally, is "sow praphet song", which means "second type of woman". There are
probably about half a dozen sites specialising in Thai or Asian ladyboys. I have no idea how many there are in America but it is a lot. But many of those sites are not producing original content. Like a lot of things on the internet, there aren't that many original content providers. A lot of the American websites feature photographs that are used under license, bought, recycled, or just plain stolen. Having a good, original site is where you have a competitive edge. I take all of my own pictures. As to the market, Asian ladyboys are a niche within a niche. As with the girlie sites, many people have a real preference for Asians, while others are into Westerners.

Are these sessions conducted in a dingy short time room in the PB Hotel or do you take them to a flash studio and get it all done under proper lighting?

The single most difficult aspect of all this is finding a good location to shoot. I prefer natural light, because under the right conditions it will give the most beautiful skin tones. But then you have to think of things like timing the shoot for the right time of day, the angle that the sun is coming into the room, the amount of diffused light as opposed to direct light, the colour of the walls and the floor and the furniture. Like yesterday afternoon. I had a shoot all lined up, and then the rain clouds blow up and everything turns into total crap. I use a couple of apartments and a couple of hotel rooms on a regular basis, but you can become predictable if you use the same settings. In Bangkok, finding a hotel room is difficult because they all have tinted glass, and that will drain away the flesh tones. Now that the site is established I'm in the process of getting a studio. And I've got some big studio lights now: no choice, really. It will give me much more flexibility.

Do you know many of the other players in the industry?

A few of them. Three or four of the site owners. There are the two guys I used to
work for but they were very unhappy with me when I left them: a great pity, I lost a couple of good friends there.

What sort of equipment do you use?

The Canon EOS 10D with an L series 24-70mm lens. I use a macro for the dirty close ups. The Sony was very slow to use but the Canon really allows me to move around. One thing which I try and get on every session, but which is very difficult, is the spurt shots. For each set I follow a formula where the model strips off, or does a tease show, and then whacks off for the camera. I try and catch them spurting up in the air. Some of them can't because they have been on hormones and there is just a trickle, but with the best performers you can get a really great shot. If you're fast enough! The Canon is very good at capturing this. And I like dressing them up. The really young looking ones can look great in school uniform, and in fact many of my student models actually do cut classes and turn up wearing their own uniform. Then they peel off, shoot a load for the camera, get dressed, and go back to school. They cum and they go! Others can look great in sheer pantyhose, especially if they have a big dick. Transparent nighties, yes, again, much depends on the model. And I've recently started a series of ladyboy lesbian sets, where I have two ladyboys going at it with each other. That's not always easy: ladyboys are not into other ladyboys, they are into guys. So you have to mix and match your two models, otherwise you get a set of pictures of two limp ladyboys rolling around giggling.

Do you have sex with your models?

Yes! There is always some sex play during a shoot: you can't help it. But I never let it reach a situation where I toss the camera over my shoulder and leap on the model. I'd never get any sets finished if I did that. When I really like someone I invite her back later. I meet some great ladyboys that way!

Some photographers make a point of sticking their own dick into the pictures. I never do that. Some people like to see that kind of shot. I don't. The last thing I want in my fantasy is someone else's hairy beer belly.

Who are your membership? They and even you are a bunch of right perverts, yeah?

I'm very proud to accept the title! This is the great thing about being a pervert. You can do the most disgusting thing in the course of the afternoon, and then in the evening you can be having dinner with the most respectable people, and be sitting there thinking to yourself, "if only they knew what I had been doing a couple of hours ago they would think what a thoroughly disgusting git I am."

What about your members? Typical stereotype?

No, no typical types. Those who I have met are perfectly respectable people of all ages. About 50% of them are American, probably 20% from the UK, the same in Japan, a lot in Germany, the rest worldwide. Many of them contact me and say, "I've just discovered ladyboys through the internet, where can I meet them?" As I said earlier, the net is spreading the message. Some ladyboys give many non ladyboy interested people the hard come on.

It can make you think that they are desperate.

Very often they are. Many of them make a precarious living that way. At a certain time of the night along Sukhumvit you will be hassled. A lot of men pretend that they are being taken in by a female. But they know what is going on. Since I have been communicating with others, and since I have become so well known in the ladyboy community, I have learnt a lot about human nature and what people really want. No matter what they might pretend. The old barriers are breaking down and if you are with someone who looks and sounds and behaves like a beautiful woman, what's the difference really? Once you take away the masculine and feminine aspects of sex, if you reduce it to the pure act of sex, a level sensual playing field, then straight sex and gay sex are equally as enjoyable. I think a lot of people are coming to realise that. I love women and I have been married three times. Before my Bugis Street experience – and I was married at that time – I had never had a same-sex relationship and had never really fantasized about doing so. After Bugis Street it didn't change my attitude towards girls: I just felt that my sexual world had become a richer and more exciting place.

Do you shoot them in other countries or just in Thailand?

I haven't done so but that is only because I am here. I'd like to do some shooting in the Philippines and Indonesia and also look at Laos and Cambodia but I haven't done so yet because of practicalities. I am still a functioning journalist and I therefore have to ride two horses at the same time. But there will come a time, yes, and it's not that far away.

What about farang ladyboys?

I have never been with one. I just don't have the knowledge. I'd like to give it a try in terms of photography and many of them are extremely beautiful. The best ones seem to be in America, in California.

What are the legal ramifications of it all?

Pornography is illegal in Thailand but I'm photographing consenting adults for an agreed
fee and the pictures are being published in America, where my server is located. Pornography is legal there, within certain limits and as long as the subjects are of legal age. People can only view my site if they become members, by paying. So I don't see how this affects Thailand's legal system. But I wouldn't like to put it to test in a Thai court of law.

<Laugh> One site owner is a very good friend of mine. We often get together to swap notes. He told me of a recent trip he made upcountry. He booked a suite in the biggest hotel in town, set up his camera and his lights, phoned his ladyboy contacts to arrange several days of intensive shooting, rubbed his hands in glee, and went down to the lobby for a drink, only to find that the hotel was hosting a police convention. Fear and loathing in Udon Thani! I wet my trousers when he told me that one.

The site's profitable?

Yes, I'm happy to say that the teething problems were over quite quickly and the site is growing every month. But it's hard work. Running costs are high for a site like this and you can never take your eye off the ball. On the up side, you see the response to what you are doing immediately. I watch the daily live stats and see what works and what doesn't. Part of it is getting the name of the site out there. There is a tremendous growing interest from people in ladyboys. A decade ago most people had never heard of nor seen one. To promote, I put pictures on TGP sites <independent free access sites that post pictures with links back to the source pay sites>. When the site was first started a year and a half ago, there were only two TGP sites specialising in ladyboys. Now there are at least a dozen.

Not just some readers, but also me and some of my closest friends think that ladyboys are mentally unstable men who have butchered themselves in the worst possible way.

Are you talking about ladyboys, or about post-ops? Those who have had their dicks cut off, well that is something else entirely different.

What is different there? How many have had the chop?

There is an increasing number who go the full monty. They pump themselves full of hormones to a point where the dick ceases to become functional and becomes like a little spout. They develop a disgust for themselves that they are still male and they realise that they, as a ladyboy, have only have a very limited shelf life. The operation is very affordable, it is only about 100,000 – 120,000 baht. They go for the snip and then they can try and enter the mainstream as women. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I have no interest in post-ops myself. Can't even look too closely. I have tried having sex with them but I just can't do it. I feel like I am fucking someone's operation. The very thought of a doctor and a scalpel slicing along a penis and opening a hole in the groin. It makes me go cold. I just can't do it. I don't even like to look closely. If you look too closely, it looks like a bit of plumbing. There are a few sets on the site of post-ops but rather than looking like a vagina it looks like a cistern.

What happens to ladyboys when they pass their prime?

They tend to go back upcountry, if they haven't opted for the op. Many have saved money and will open up a business like a florist, a dress shop or a hairdresser. They have a good commercial grounding living the way they have, and shifting for themselves. Many ladyboys are actually young college kids who have a decent education, and ambitions. A lot go into the media business and there are many in the tourism business. I know many who work in the offices of major companies. A lot of ladyboys really do look and sound like women because they have been taking hormones since their mid teens and they can pass as female in an everyday working situation.

Have you ever been completely fooled?

Yes, but not in an unpleasant way!

Even now, I don't know why there are so many ladyboys in Thailand. I know of many kids who are making the decision at puberty. I know ladyboys in their teens now, who told me they decided when they were eight or nine years old. And they start taking female hormones when they are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. So even I, having known the Thai ladyboy scene for more than twenty years, find myself meeting ladyboys who would pass completely, in any society, as a beautiful girl. A female build, a female walk, a female voice, hormonal breasts.

A few years ago, I had a steamy affair with a ladyboy named Kwan. She was small, had a ponytail, wore a little tennis skirt with white socks and sneakers, and had a knock-knee'd Lolita style stance that turned me on something cruel. We would burn up the sheets. But we drifted apart, as happens, and I didn't see her for a year. Then early one evening I was walking up Silom Road, near Patpong, when a couple of young Thai guys got off a bus. They were obviously gay. One of them, a weedy looking little guy, came up to me and greeted me. At first I was blank, but then I realised. It was Kwan. She had reverted to being a male, and was working in a gay bar in Soi Twilight. He invited me to go along, but I never did. The sexual heat had totally gone.

Do you think the large number of ladyboys in Thailand could be due to acceptance?

It is partially acceptance. Thais seem to think it happens because of something they have done in a previous life. They are paying back the bad karma in a previous existence and everyone accepts it. Some of them come from broken homes. They see their father being unemployable, drunk, useless and violent, and they take their mother's side. They do not want to grow up as a Thai guy. A lot of Thais live very close together, and the impressionable youngster sees his mother, sisters and aunts forever making themselves look beautiful, with their long hair, makeup, perfume, and sexy clothes, and he realises this beats being your average Sombat in a pair of ripped jeans and rubber flip flops! The average Thai guy walking down the street is invisible, but everyone looks at a beautiful girl. The opportunities for a young Thai male from a poor to average background are dismal. But if you are a beautiful girl, you can always live well. It goes a bit beyond our comprehension that to do this you have to change your sex, but Thais don't appear to have this rigid attitude towards sex barriers. They haven't had the benefit of a good Christian upbringing to teach them all about sex and guilt. If you took a cross-section of the workers in the gay bars, I bet the average percentage of genuine gays there is not much above the national average. I also think that the possibility of doing the compulsory military service is a factor. The only way a Thai guy can avoid being registered for the draft is to demonstrate extreme effeminacy. I have on a few occasions forked up for a ladyboy I cared for to have a breast operation, to keep her out of the draft. The army isn't big on troops with tits.

Anything else you'd like to add?

A lot of people now come to Thailand specifically to meet ladyboys. It's a growth sector of tourism, and I'm doing my part! But I don't think I'll be getting a gong for it. Members ask me where they can meet ladyboys, and whether they can me meet me to talk. Often it's the first time they have spoken openly about it, and they are so nervous and they don't know what to do. They quickly find out just how gorgeous ladyboys can be. And how addictive. Sex with a ladyboy is a high-voltage experience. I would say that they all go away having had their lives changed. It is a life altering experience.

Where is this pic?

It was Soi Pattayaland 2, by day.
No, it isn't Pattaya!
Last week's picture was taken in Soi Pattayaland 2, during the day, not the most popular time for photography in that little lane. Many people got it right, a great number readers from Pattaya. The first reader to correctly state where this week's pic is – back in Bangkok again – wins a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. Please note that the credit MUST be claimed within two weeks. So, to claim that prize, you must be in Bangkok at some time in the next two weeks.

FROM STICKMAN'S BAG OF EMAIL:

Look further for something permanent.

Well let me start by saying I have been to Thailand now around 27 times. It's a great place for pussy and to have fun but got to keep it real. Pussy is pussy and that's that. When I root a Thai girl I only see a pussy and a pair of tits. How the hell can any of you guys get off in falling in love with these bar girls is beyond me. Some one who has had more roots than you have had hot dinners and their English is limited to buy me a coke or you want short time or long time. Sure they may have great looking bodies compared to the woman back home but that's it. If you looking for a true loving relationship look further than her arse. It's what's inside. You will struggle to find a genuine bar girl. At the end of the day bar girls are root bags. Have your fun treat them well and everyone is happy. I have read so many stories of guys who have had there hearts broken by bar girls, it's so crazy. What I say to you is grow a pair of balls and get real if you're some old fat fucker with no hair do you think she will love you for real? No way you're just a dam ATM to them. I love BKK and always stop off there on my travels. I have even been ripped off once but I think of how many roots I have had in Bkk and it's not a bad average at all, only ripped one time. Just remember a bargirl is like a new car when you get it, it's great! Show all your mates, drive it night and day but it soon wears off. Bargirls are the same, the only difference is she already got a damned high mileage on her.
The baht to 45, or even 50?
From a currency traders perspective all that Thai arrogance may come to an end a lot sooner than later. Price action week before last and recent developments in China anything to go by, we could be to 45 and on to 50 in USD THB a lot sooner than later. We are already eyeing 113.15 in USD JPY and the commodity currencies (AUD, USD and NZD) were slammed Friday before last. Just keep your eyes peeled.
So if Koh Samui is the new Phuket, where is the new Koh Samui?
After numerous stays in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, I decided for a change to go to Koh Samui. In my mind I had visions of poor young backpackers sleeping in small huts on the beach. What a shock! That place is full of luxury resorts, and there are more five stars hotels here than in the French Riviera. I had a really hard time finding a room under 1000 baht : this island is definitely the most expensive place I've been in Thailand. Even on the beach, I've been asked 100 baht for a chair (50 baht in Phuket and 20 baht in Pattaya). And that was only the low season! Otherwise the place has a nice laid back atmosphere and great scenery : a good place to have a rest from Bangkok. Surprisingly there are probably more girly bars here in Chaweng and Lamai than in Phuket. At night I felt like being in Pattaya. The funny thing is that all those young (and obviously rich) backpackers wouldn't dream of going to Pattaya, afraid of being called sex tourists. But here they don't have any problem barfining the numerous bargirls.
Pricey Hong Kong.
I am now in Hong Kong for the next 12 months. Only been here a week and missed the friendly faces and chance to practise my crap grasp of the Thai language so I took off to the 'Wan Chai' district with a mission to find a Thai bar. A meal in a Thai restaurant, a few questions and I was pointed to the 'Hawaii' bar. Walking through the black curtains there they where, all these pretty Thai girls in bikinis dancing on the bar……cracked it I thought, just like being in Nana. I ordered a beer and waved one of the beauties over for a chat. The wooden bin turned up with my bill and a glance revealed $40 HK dollar (about 200 baht)…not unexpected as it is expensive here. Chatting to the girl she was from Korat, not particularly stunning but she speaks Thai and I was on holiday again. Want a lady drink?… no problem. The miniature coke arrives together with the slip……get this $225 HK dollar (1,125 baht) for a lady drink. She wolfed it down in about 10 minutes followed by the mamasan prodding me to buy another; my dream was shattered. How much is the bar fine then?…$4000 HK (20,000 baht) for long time……credit card accepted. I supped my beer, announced I was keeneow and got the bill. They even tried that crap trick of giving me my change in coins on a silver dish (about 300 baht) which I emptied into my pocket. I get a decent wage but I am way out of my league here. Next time you go to Soi 33 and think it is a bit pricey think of the guys in Hong Kong. First and last visit to Wan Chai, I can't wait till my holiday in LOS.
Look at yourself first.
Those who write about the increasingly cold behaviour of Thais toward farangs often ignore the role of farangs behaving badly. The majority of truly awful public behaviour that I've witnessed in Thailand (verbal abuse, physical threats and assaults, etc…) has involved farangs. Far more common and subtle forms of rudeness further sully our reputations. I've seen countless examples of farangs barking at Thai waiters and taxi drivers for the most minor annoyances. Anything less than a controlled voice and the use of polite particles in these situations is perceived by the Thais as incredibly rude. Thai jingoism and xenophobia are certainly fuelling prejudice against white faces. But remember that every time one of us snaps at a Thai without good cause, we give our hosts just one more good reason to dislike us.

Beware of taking any photographs in gogo bars. A friend was in a certain Nana Plaza bar and asked permission from a waitress if he could photograph the menu with the camera of his mobile phone. Permission was granted and he took a couple of shots of the menu – only the menu. Before he knew it thugs appeared out of the shadows and he was thrown out of the club and threatened. Shocked by what had just happened, he went and had a cup of tea out of a T-POT to calm his nerves.

Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in the Thai capital and some streets, such as Sukhumvit Soi 31, have a whole heap of them. In fact in that soi there are probably more Italian restaurants than there are Thai restaurants. But where does one go if one wants really good Italian food? Well, you could always go upmarket and Angelini's at the Shangri-La is one of my favourite restaurants, but the prices there keep it as somewhere you just go to for special occasions. Then there is Zanotti in Soi Sala Daeng. Very, very good, but it is still just a little pricey. Is it possible to get really good quality Italian, but a t reasonable prices? Well, yes, now it is. Limoncello restaurant, in Sukhumvit Soi 11 opened recently. Opened by the owners of Zanotti, this is a great little italian restaurant set over two floors. Everything is good from the reasonable prices, to the good service to the very nice atmosphere. The pizzas are excellent, probably the best I've had in Bangkok. Needless to say, Limoncello is well worth a visit.

While the marines have invaded Pattaya, the reserves from Isaan have come down, not to battle them, but to ensure that there is ample supply. I find it interesting that so many people avoid visiting Pattaya at this time of year, citing the marines' arrival as a reason to avoid the place. Sure, there are many guys around, but they are there for a good time like everyone else, and as I wrote in this column around the same time last year, most of them are friendly and polite, not at all the drunken riotous sailors of yesteryear. It is funny watching them all hunt for a woman and dash off to one of the hotels where they may or may not have booked a room. Come 2:00 AM, they all have to be back on boat or on base, or wherever George Bush hides them.

One of the beer bars in Middle East Street next to the Grace Hotel is being demolished but for what, who knows? And in that same neighbourhood, Eastern European hookers are beginning to reappear around the Grace Hotel as the sun goes down.

The new beer bar / restaurant opposite the Old Dutch has opened. They will have to do something about the katoeys who congregate at that end of the soi towards the end of the evening. Maybe call Captain Courageous and get him to come down and offer them a temporary assignment elsewhere?

'Spice New Girls' has opened in Cowboy. It appears to be the usual gogo format but I have not given it a close inspection yet. No sign of any closures in Cowboy yet.

Have you seen how much sugar they put in the iced coffee here? My God! Having seen my waistline increase in size, I have been taking more notice of just what I eat, and just what goes into what I eat. I am amazed at how much sugar they put into iced coffee. Two heaped tablespoons in one glass – no wonder it tastes so good! Actually, when you really look closely, the amount of sugar that goes into, well, just about everything, is high.

Quote of the week is timely, given that the new school year starts very soon. From the owner of a certain Bangkok based website who wishes to remain anonymous (and no, it isn't me), "You only realise how much you truly hate teaching in Thailand when you are forced to return after a two month break". Now just which webmaster said that…

Heineken must be rubbing their hands together at the dispute between Carlsberg in Denmark and the local Chang Brewery whose differences led to Carlsberg no longer being brewed locally. Carlsberg was probably the most popular draft beer, as being the relevant word. Just about everywhere which used to stick Carlsberg draft has switched over to Heineken who must not have a monster market share. Whatever the outcome of the dispute, it is hard to see Carlsberg getting back into the market here.

An Australian reader's wife has saved enough money to buy a house in Udon Thani but they are unsure of just how to proceed. If anyone could advise them of, or recommend, honest and reputable house & land agents and lawyers in Udon, and advise re approximate
prices, commissions, land taxes, and anything else they should be aware of, please email them at: [email protected]

Why are there such huge differences in the prices of drinks at beer bars around Thailand? At the top end is Krabi followed by other southern resorts and islands. One exception in the south is Hua Hin where everything is very reasonably priced. Just 60 baht for a bottle of Spy, 30 baht for a soda water for which you get the bottle and not just a glass of soda water. Also the ice is regularly topped up. Around 90 baht for standard drinks. If the bar has a pool table it's free to use as long as you're drinking there and some bars even provide a small bowl of nuts. Plenty of smiles and a higher ratio of good looking ladies than most other beer bar areas. Hua Hin is more than just a sleep beach town.

For many readers, what must rank as a dream job is on offer in Bangkok. Club Electric Blue is looking for a bar manager to run their new Bangkok bar. While experience in the industry would be helpful, it is not essential as full training will be provided. The salary is good, but anyone who thinks one of the perks of the jobs is test-driving the girls, then you're mistaken. That is Andy's job. Just kidding! To apply for the job, drop an email to J[email protected]

THE PATTAYA REPORT

Down in Sin City for a few days this week, I was able to catch up on all that is happening down there, visit a few old favourite venues and a few new places too.

Being Bangkok based, I can never really tell just how busy Pattaya is. Everyone down there was telling me it was quiet and wandering the streets at around 8:00 PM, they'd be right. But come 11:00 PM and it seemed that there were a lot of people out and about, wandering around, watching the comings and goings. But that is all they seemed to be doing, spectating. While Walking Street was thronging with people, most bars were fairly quiet inside. I guess it can all be explained by holidaymakers having long dinners and then going for an evening stroll afterwards.

Pattaya's gogo bars are a mixed bunch and with so many, I guess it is inevitable that some are very good and some are, quite frankly, pretty bad. I did my usual run through soi Pattayaland 2 and then down to Walking Street. My first stop in Soi Pattayaland 2 was Lipstick where I was the only customer, in fact the first for the night I was told and this was after 9:00 PM! The girls let out a huge roar as I entered and were equally loud, but much less positive, when I left shortly after. With Misty's still closed, the rest of this soi wasn't doing much trade at all.

Down to Walking Street where I was very pleased to see that many of the larger gogo bars were offering cheap draft beer specials early in the evening. All bars with cheap draft beer specials were packing the customers in.

One bar which I have enjoyed in the past but really didn't like this trip was Peppermint. The male waiting staff were way too pushy and while I was not shopping, the selection was not as good as it has been in the past. Not that I was a buying customer, but even from the point of view of eye candy. The Dollhouse was another bar which has been a favourite in the past but they were both quiet in terms of the number of customers and the number of girls. Living Dolls was also a bit average though the type of music they had playing in there really is not to my taste, so that didn't help. It has to be said though that the bar that is popular this month will unlikely be so popular next month and that things go in cycles in this industry.

OK, enough of the average places. Two bars stuck out as a cut above the rest. Living Dolls Showcase had decent music and more than a few attractive girls, though someone wants to mention something to that young lass with the blonde hair and let her know that Westerners actually like the dark hair of Thai woman. Goodness only knows how much peroxide was used to get her hair that white but on first glance she looked not too indifferent from a hardcore Russian working woman. Easily in a class of its own was Club Electric Blue. There were a huge number of girls there, they played the best music (at least to my taste) of all the gogos I visited but perhaps more than anything, the owner was there, on the premises, directing things, running around, greeting customers, geeing up the girls etc. There is also something about Club Electric Blue that makes you feel like you could stay there in the one venue quite happily all evening. It is not dirty and seedy like a lot of bars but rather new, clean and very bright.

A wander around Soi 7 and 8 found them quiet early in the evening and packed later at night, something which was very much the theme in Pattaya on this trip.

Shenanigans still has the best breakfast in town and unless you really want to make an absolute pig of yourself, I'd recommend it over the buffets offered at the likes of the Apex, the Lek and the Diana Inn. Dropping by the Apex for their dinner buffet, it has to be said that they have a very impressive range of food, having added a number of items including various seafood such as grilled king prawns. Pretty good given that the buffet is only 160 baht! Despite the impressive range of food, it ha to be said that much of it was of questionable quality. A cheaper cut of beef I don't think you could find and the salads tasted like they were either made yesterday, or had been made in the morning and left out in the Pattaya heat all day long.

And if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Pattaya, with a good location yet very reasonable price, look no further than the Welcome Plaza Hotel. On the Second Road, very close to Royal Garden Shopping Centre, the rooms are a steal at this time of year at just 650 baht a night. I had a room with a sea view, a big balcony and all the usual comforts like a zillion channels of cable, hot water that was genuinely hot and air-con that was genuinely cold. 650 baht a night, you can't go wrong.

Mrs. Stick's Corner

Each week, Mrs. Stick answers 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. Unfortunately, she doesn't have time to reply to your inquiries via email. Questions for her should be limited to 100 words. Mr. Stick may answer the odd question in place of Mrs. Stick of he thinks he can do a better job.

Question 1: With a genuine nice, traditional, moral Thai lady who has never married and who is certainly NOT a bargirl; how physical might she be in private in the "early days" of a serious relationship? She lives in Pattani, not cosmopolitan Bangkok. Some books say that holding hands, cuddles and kisses even in private would not be accepted and anything more physical only being for when married. I do not want to offend my new girlfriend. I want the relationship to work and care for her feelings and wishes.

Mrs. Stick says: In any relationship, anywhere in the world, if the romantic feeling is there and is felt equally by both people then there is no certain line or limit. If it happens naturally and you both feel right and feel good about it, then that is fine. As long as it is not aggressive and on person is not taking advantage of the other. I'm sure that if you are genuinely serious with her, you will know what is right, and what isn't and will not do anything you shouldn't.

Question 2: Do older Thai women lose face when seen with an obviously younger man (date)?…and where can I meet these fine ladies….not old pros losing there teeth, but where nice older single Asian women get together…..in the states it's bookshops and expensive restaurants

Mrs. Stick says: No, so long as the gap is not too great, she won't lose face. And if you are farang, that makes it different. Asian women tend to look younger than we are so that will help bridge the gap. I'd like to know why you want to date older woman. I think these types of women are everywhere, but they probably get together in restaurants or in the workplace. More and more, middle aged women spend time in coffee shops too. You might also find them in certain nightspots, but not those "commercial places". They are everywhere!

I hope you enjoyed the interview at the start of the column. I have three more interviews lined up in the next week, including an interview with the fellow who must qualify as Thailand's most famous farang. Keep an eye out for these, one which will run in the column and the other two which will appear in the interview section of the site.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick



Thanks go out to Dave The Rave and Basil Brush