Stickman's Weekly Column May 30th, 2004

The Late Column


Once The Sale Is Made, It Doesn't Matter

Unfortunately this week's column was published a few hours later than usual and there is no opening piece. We attended a funeral today and were away from Bangkok al day. Sunday is the day when I usually tidy up the column and write the opening, opinion piece. All should be back to normal next week.

Stick

Now it would be very easy to say that all of the aforementioned are tourist locales and that this type of thing while not good, does tend to be more common than it should.

OK, so what about these situations.

There are a bunch of seafood restaurants on a certain major intersection corner in the centre of the city where from late afternoon onwards touts stand outside and invite potential customers to come inside and try the cheap, tasty seafood. From the outside the restaurant looks ok with bundles of seafood sitting on ice. get inside and you are at a plastic table with a waitress who doesn't speak English and a glance at the chef makes you wonder if he is the twin brother of the taxi driver you were with earlier.

Walking through Patpong, pretty girls flatter you with nonsense talk proclaiming you to be handsome and to escape the hot tropical night and come on in for a nice, cool drink. you go inside and the drinks are watered down and all of the girls inside are a bunch of absolute trolls.

When taking out a car loan, a friend was promised the earth, but he has had nothing but headache after headache since making the purchase and taking out a loan.

Too often when buying any product or service in Thailand, it seems EVERY effort is put into enticing someone to buy, in promoting the good or service to be something really good. But once you have either parted with your money or have reached a point where it is clear you will not be backing out, no effort is made at all. And if you want to back out, change your mind or even just make a small request or change, that supposedly kind, friendly service disappears altogether.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic.

This week's pic.

It was Sukhumvit Soi 23.
Down in a dungeon….
Last week's pic was taken on Sukhumvit Soi 23, just a bit further down past Soi Cowboy. The first reader to correctly state where this week's pic is 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:

Saying you don't understand works a treat!

Recently I went to the MoChit Department of Transportation to apply for a Thai car and motorcycle drivers licenses. I filled out the application form and presented my supporting documents to the clerk. Things progressed, and long story short, she would issue me a license to drive a car, but not a motorcycle. “Can not get same day.” I just smiled and kept repeating “mai kow jai.” She conferred with a colleague and they decided that it would be acceptable for me to simply copy all my docs and immediately apply for a motorcycle license. Eight copies and 30 minutes later I was leaving the building with a car and motorcycle license. Sometimes Thais are inflexible, but then sometimes they are very helpful too!
About Thais and manners.
Yes behaviour is different here but I don’t think their perceived rudeness is specifically directed at farangs. Ever observe how the Thais interact with each other? The svelte Thai maiden slides off the motorbike and hands the driver 10 baht with out speaking or making eye contact. A young professional Thai man orders Pad Thai from the street vendor, who nods curtly and makes no additional acknowledgements. It’s a business transaction period. However, are only the Thais brusque? A few weeks ago while riding the skytrain, a sixty something farang lady entered the very crowed car where I was seated. I smiled, rose and motioned for her to take my seat. She accepted, but she also gave me a stone cold, unfriendly, stare for my trouble. Maybe it’s the heat…
Inflation.
I was first in Bangkok in 1968. It was a Utopian existence. Living and working on Soi Asoke, 5 days a week, occasionally going TDY to Viet Nam (it was wartime). The bars in BKK had NO barfine…If you liked a girl, you took her out…plain and simple. Short-time was THREE dollars (US) Long-time was FIVE dollars (U.S.). There were no tourists, except for some G.I.'s on R&R from Viet Nam. You never saw a bargirl over 20 years old. No condoms (I didn't say we were smart!) No tattoos, they didn't smoke, NO cellphones! A 'naughty' massage was three dollars, with a Two dollar tip for 'extra services'…
Supporting the boys in brown.
I have been to Thailand 17 times since my eyes were opened to the Land of Smiles in 86, and have come into contact with the Tourist Police twice, first time going too fast on a motorcycle, ended up drinking Thai whisky back at the station and had a very enjoyable afternoon with the boys in brown, second time was in a dispute with a beach vendor, trying to shaft me for “damages“ done to his jet ski (the damage had probably been done over 6 months ago and he made the extra money for charging tourists!!) and again the Tourist Police were as good as gold. It might help that I speak a few words of Thai and have always shown respect to the policeman or I didn’t shout and wave my arms about moaning about getting ripped off. But I only have good words to say about them.
It takes a while before you see their true colours.
I reckon you summed up marriage / relationships with Thai / farangs in a nutshell. In my opinion it can take a long time to get to know a Thai lady properly as with other women. she will put you through many tests / trials before she trusts you let alone loves you. Sure, a bar girl will say she loves you within days and many guys believe it. I have been through the mill in LOS and had my heart through the shredder, etc. I first met a great Thai lady here in my home town in england and we lived together for nearly 4 years but it finished due to her possessiveness / jealousy and her temper. She would go berserk and I was actually scared for my safety (knife maybe) my point being that this side of her personality took about 2 years to surface. I once saw 6 bar girls fighting, they trashed the bar in one minute flat and it was scary to say the least as they all broke bottles to use cute young things one minute then bang, very vicious. What I find incredible is the marriage agencies where men go to Bangkok meet a lady and have a holiday for a couple of weeks and then get married, knowing nothing about each other let alone Thai culture. For example a work colleague of mine did this and the marriage finished after just over a year (strange, she left him the same week as she got her indefinite leave visa). To be fair, she seemed a very nice lady and I don't know who was to blame perhaps him as he knows little about Thailand. Anyway he has gone straight back again and chosen another one and proposed to her after 3 weeks holiday. I feel this is all wrong.
Don't be a bad guy!
I was sitting with my GF in a beer bar on the lower level in Nana. We watched kind of amused an argument between a Thai Woman and a Thai man at the next beer bar. She was behind the counter, he was in front. Things got suddenly loud and the next thing was she had a meat cleaver out and cut the guy right across the forehead with it blood splattering all over. She hung over the bar screaming and looked like she would jump over and whack him more, but as same as sudden several female co workers jumped in hustled her away and some guys appeared and took the guy away. One of the bartenders cleaned the bar and 2 minutes later everything looked as normal as before. Another 5 minutes or so later 2 boys in brown showed up, walked around the beer bar and left. I asked my GF what happened, she shrugged and answered: he must be a bad guy.
Would a dull place be so bad?
Thanks to advertising and the media, sex is portrayed as the ultimate pleasure a man can aspire to. Yet is it? If most guys were honest with themselves, they would have to admit that sex often falls short of expectations, and can even be boring. In short, sex is not what it is cracked up to be. Given a choice of a shag or running two laps of Lumpini Park, I think I would more often than not choose to go for a run. This brings me to the subject of what type of guys go with ladyboys. A number of gay guys I know who go to Thailand regularly would never consider shagging a ladyboy even though they appreciate their beauty. Gay guys want to go with men who look like men. So the guys who go with ladyboys must be predominantly heterosexual. I have never been with a ladyboy personally and have no intention of doing so because they scare the shit out of me, but I know guys who do. These are the guys who are disillusioned with heterosexual sex and want to try something different. And why shouldn't they. If we were all the same, the world would be a really dull place.

Carnival in Nana Plaza was raided by the police this past week in what had to be the least unexpected raid on a naughty bar ever. Despite the fact that the coppers have been keeping an eye on things and insisting that no flesh is shown in the naughty bars, Carnival had hit the rewind button and gone back about three years to a time when all sorts of shows were the norm. The police entered the bar though just what they saw when they came in, who knows? Will it be business as usual for Carnival or will they get slammed with a closure order?

And after entering Carnival, the boys in blue went across to the other side and entered Hollywood Carousel. All the staff had to produce their registration forms for the police to inspect, but everything was in order so no problems there.

The team at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy have introduced a new happy hour. All standard drinks are 60 baht until 9 PM. It's not quite 7 Eleven prices but it's a step in the right direction.

We don't get a lot of bar news from Chiang Mai, and when we do, it is usually bad, reinforcing the idea that for those searching for a holiday companion, the northern capital is perhaps not the best place. Naughty bars catering to Western tourists are being closed at 12 midnight sharp and this is strictly enforced. The gogos can stay open until 1 AM but then Chiang Mai only has a few. The people behind all of this, the friendly boys in brown, also insist on accurate records being kept by all of the bars. Records of just what I wonder, but it must making running a business quite a headache. At least one owner has a stack of Xerox copies, marking off little strokes in various categories each time something happens, a drink is bought, a barfine paid etc. Asked what she was doing by a customer she replied "Records for month". It is also my understanding that girls walking the streets are being hassled and arrested too. Given that Chiang Mai is one of the main centres for tourism in Thailand, perhaps they want to keep this sort of thing contained in the traditional naughty places.

Earlier this week when Freelancer bar in Pattaya were hosting a party, the bar lost half of its electricity. FLB management thought it was just them as the sparky was in during the day sorting out some wiring issues but it seemed it involved a few bars on the beach side of Walking Street as they are on 3 phase power. Seems FLB bar has 1 and 2 phase running concurrently so when the one phase got knocked out the other phase kept on ticking over. About 40 minutes later a crew from the electricity supplier fixed the problem by replacing something on one of those big power poles and Walking Street was all back to normal again.

Pattaya Pete, the owner of Freelancer Bar in Walking Street, has a new prediction (remember the last one about the closing times fiasco – he got it spot on). Anyway, his new one is that the Thai parliament will introduce an exclusive zone to Pattaya for 4 AM closing but it won't be this year as it takes time to put things through parliament. And after Pattaya gets 4 AM as a test case, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Koh Samui will each get the same treatment as tourist entertainment zones. Let's wait and see.

And just what is going on at the bus terminal in Pattaya? A week or so ago, passengers arriving in the seaside city of sin were met by a number of Thai police dressed in ‘DEA’ jackets. They then started to search the bags of all the farangs arriving at the bus station, while Thai people just walked freely by! There is something about the Police here that makes me very nervous, even though I abide by the law. I wonder why they were only targeting farangs? This sort of thing gives me the creeps….I guess it was some sort of precautionary measure due to all of the American military personnel down there….makes you wonder though, doesn't it.

And still in Pattaya, there's some nasty shit going on down in Soi Pattayaland 2. Earlier in the week in broad daylight the farang owner of Misty's Gogo bar was attacked by a couple of Thai lads equipped with big long iron pipes. The poor owner got quite a seeing to and the incident received a splash in the Thai press with Thai Rath printing their version of events which included a really nasty picture of the bar owner's face showing an horrific eye injury which will require ongoing medical attention. But what was the cause of this fracas? Well, my email to the bars went unanswered so what follows is a lot of speculation. Certainly, the management of Misty's have not been shy in saying what they think about other gogo bars in the soi and even certain members of the provincial government. Yep, to say that the Misty's management have an enemy or two is somewhat an understatement – and being a farang with enemies in Thailand is not good at all. Well, the best money is on it that one of these enemies got a bit pissed off with everything and had a go at the farang owner. Despite the fact that a number of onlookers saw it, only his wife came to his rescue, but then again in Thailand one does want to avoid getting involved in things that do not concern oneself. I was surprised to hear about all of this because the fellow involved is someone I was led to believe was one of the smarter bar owners. Perhaps it is that ugly situation of the local Thais jealous at his success? There is a definite undercurrent on Pattayaland 2 at present. The said farang bar owner was seen in Bangkok a couple of days ago with what appeared to be an entourage….of bodyguards.

Quote of the week comes from prolific writer, Dana. "I am more and more convinced that the vast majority of so-called 'sex tourists' in the Kingdom are not sexual adventurers at all; but sad guys still looking for attention from the girl next door, the girl next door at home who didn't pay attention to them when they were in high school".

And another good one from Professor Jon discussing the phenomenon of wedding former bargirls. "If you just want a glass of milk, why purchase the entire cow – and from thereafter be forced to support her entire herd?"

If you have walked past or been inside the JW Marriot in Sukhumvit Soi 2 recently you'll have noticed that they have a HEAVILY armed guy out front on Sukhumvit, and another in Soi 2 in front of the hotel's main entrance. By heavily, we're talking pistols and a sub-machine gun strapped across the chest – with his finger on the trigger! I guess it all goes back to the bombing of a hotel from the same chain in Indonesia a while back. So what do these mean looking armed security guys do when it rains? They're in the lobby chatting and snacking of course! And what did they say when asked why security effectively closes down when it rains? "Osama group, people him no like rain". So now you know. Perfectly safe when it's raining and Osama puts everything on hold.

After McDonalds dropped the price of their Big Mac recently, I notice that Burger King's prices have soared….hmmm, wonders never cease. Au Bon Pain and Subway will be rubbing their hands together because suddenly their products look a lot more attractive, at least in terms of price…still, I get the feeling that unlike in the West, people who eat this type of food in Bangkok are much less price sensitive. I mean, whether it is 100 baht or 125 baht, the difference is 4 times or 5 times the price of a cheap Thai meal, isn't it and thus if they wanted to save money, they wouldn't be eating farang food in the first place..

The Thai embassy in Hong Kong is handing out a small notice with all visas issued, stating that one should not use the services of visa agents to get a new visa and that such services may not be legal. It just goes to show how aware the Thai government and its various departments have become of dodgy visas.

Chatting with a Thai soldier in Korat, he told me how many of his colleagues were seizing the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and make a bit of extra money while the American military is in town. They have been providing a transport service for many of the soldiers who want to go from the military camp where they are staying into town at night. The Americans are picked up early evening and taken to all of the hot spots, read pubs and massage parlours. They are ferried around town and when all the bars close at 2 AM they are returned to base. The charge per person? A cool 500 baht. The Thai soldiers love this time of year as they can make a nice little earning from it. At 2,000 baht per carload for one night's work, that is very good money in provincial Thailand.

In Thailand they call is moo satay. We know it simply as satay. It comes from Malaysia and it is the grilled strips of meat served with a peanut sauce. What I don't get is that in most of Thailand we can only get moo satay, the pork variety. What about chicken and beef, as is the norm in Malaysia – and so much better than the fatty pork crap they sell in Thailand?

So you have made the big move and put a ring on teeruk's finger. She happens to be a lady from the countryside from a modest background and her family still farm the land. You're a fair bit older than her and she is concerned about how her future will be when your time comes to meet your creator. She asks you to open a life insurance policy that will see her right in the event of your death. What do you do? Do you take out a policy or don't you? For guys who find themselves in this situation, I'd be interested to know if you actually went through with it. It is after all quite an incentive for her to get rid of you! If she really is motivated by money then a big pay day could just be around the corner… Do you have any concerns about naming your Thai darling as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy?

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: Do Thai students learn mental arithmetic as school? Every purchase in every shop appears to have to be checked on a calculator. Last week I made a 999 baht purchase in Boots and offered a 1,000 baht note. The change was checked twice on a calculator and once on the till before I was handed my 1 baht.

Mrs. Stick says:

Question 2: Unfortunately very little about Thailand is shown on the media here in England, occasionally the travel shows rightly claim it to be one of the best holiday destinations in the world, but mainly the media focus on the negative aspects, drugs, prostitution, nightlife etc and tend to give Thai women a bad press. For example the most popular TV programme (soap opera drama) called "Coronation Street" currently features a story line where an elderly, lonely man meets a Thai lady on the net, pays her fare to england, falls in love immediately and proposes. She tells him her father is very sick and must go home to look after him. The man then gives her £5,000 for hospital treatment for father. Of course it's all a scam and the Thai lady lives a few miles away and works on a market stall never having ever been to Thailand. In my view it is a terrible piece of stereotyping and offensive. What are your views on the way Thai ladies are stereotyped like this and also how is my country (England) and our men portrayed in Thailand.

Mrs. Stick says: I

Question 3: I purchase a lot of wine from various locations. Instead of being left in peace to make my selection, I will be offered various bottles which I am not interested in and told they are delicious. In every case the assistant will say that they have tried the wine, when in fact they are usually unable to even explain whether it is a red or a white. It is very difficult not to appear rude in such circumstances of make the assistant lose face by exposing their ignorance. Are they expected to lie like this by the store owners or are they trying to show they are more sophisticated than they actually are?

Mrs. Stick says: T

Please think of this column as a men's room, a place where blokes talk about bloke's stuff. With this in mind, while I welcome all feedback, positive or negative, please do not call me or any of the contributors up for being politically incorrect. That is quite simply the nature of the beast and no apologies will be made for it.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Dave The Rave and Claymore