Stickman's Weekly Column August 8th, 2004

Thailand’s Best Known Farang?


Who is the best known farang in Thailand? Could it be the American ambassador? Nope, I reckon 90% of Westerners resident in Thailand wouldn’t even know his name…go on, ask your mates and check… (The answer is Darryl Johnson). What about Bill Heinecke, the awfully successful farang businessman who is behind many businesses including a whole host of food franchises and who, I once read, made his estimated $US 100 million fortune almost entirely here in Thailand. (Who said farangs couldn’t be successful in Thailand?) What about Christopher Moore, the Canadian born author who has written more novels set in Thailand than any other farang author? As well known as he is, I don’t think even Chris’s popularity could compare to the man himself, Bernard Trink, the man behind one of the longest running columns anywhere in the world, the man we know both as Bernard Trink and as the Nite Owl, the man who is most likely the most well known farang in Thailand.

A couple of months back I ventured into the offices of the Bangkok Post awfully late one night to interview the man himself. While we had exchanged emails on a few odd occasions, we had never actually met before. Anyone who has been in Thailand for very long has an opinion of Trink and many people's opinions oh him are not that high. I didn't know quite what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised to meet someone who struck me as a real gentleman, someone who had maintained that old world charm that is becoming harder and harder to find in people these days.

We'd barely exchanged niceties when the interview got going, me asking the odd question and him responding at great length, my hands pounding on the laptop keyboard trying to keep up. I have transcribed the interview accurately and thus there are some grammatical errors, but I think keeping it exactly as things were said maintains the feeling of the interview much better.

Why do you work these hours? (I’m in his office and it is midnight!)

It goes with being the Nite Owl. Whatever I am doing is something you can only do at night. If I go to the clubs, they are only open at night. Look around. This place is full during the day. At night there are usually just 2 or 3 people on the whole floor. I enjoy the, no, not the solitude, but the ease, the quietness of it.

What has been the secret to maintaining the column for so long? 38 years and counting, right?

40 years. Cause I tried to make it interesting, I don’t stick only to nightclubs and prostitutes. I go off on different things and talk about historical things and the key is to try and keep it interesting and to change every few years so they don’t say that that is the same column I read when I was a baby. On my site I have changed it.

What changes are in the online version? How do you feel the column has evolved over the years?

I would say I would have made the changes anyway. I have been doing it for a few years. You would see in the paper I always began with letters from readers and pissy answers. I got many such letters and that went on for a while. I decided the time had come to stop or at least reduce the letters and go off and talk bout things that interest me, preferably with some reference to prostitution but not necessarily to that.

Why have you provided less and less coverage of the naughty nightlife in your column over the last few years. Has this been due to the column switching to a family audience, editorial control at the Post or your own loss of interest in al the naughty stuff, or perhaps something else?

My whole conflict with the Post has been that it is a family newspaper, which it is – as it should be, and really what is a prostitution column doing in a family newspaper. Now I tried to justify by the usual reasons – it is here, it is going to stay here, people want to know about it. And that wasn’t good enough. The main opposition to the column came from within, not form outside. There was resistance from outside although I got more complimentary letters than brickbats. The Outlook staff felt that I was degrading women by referring to prostitutes and though I kept saying that from my observations there has never been any field study and that only about 1% of all the women in Thailand are prostitutes. Outlook didn’t want me to talk about that 1%. All Thai women are pure. So I pointed out when I made my rounds, they’re not all pure! And unjudgmental. I didn’t try to reform these prostitutes. I didn’t say they should become dressmakers or something like that. That is not my function as I see it. Just to describe what they are. I think I have done that for a long time. As accurately as I could. Periodically, I get quite a few offers for people to interview, most of which I accept. I don’t want to use it as a pejorative but the feminist journalist who has preconceived notions that prostitutes are there because men force them into it and it is sexual slavery which it is not. I make a distinction. Those working in a brothel are sex slaves with no right to reject a man and no right to leave the premises.

The thing about the bars is that the girls are free to move around, free to leave, free to stay, free to reject, free to reject offers. That is a different situation. The only question is when these feminist journalists practically put words in my mouth saying that “you could seriously believe that they could voluntarily become prostitutes”. Here you have a girl upcountry and one of her neighbours who had come to Bangkok and become a bargirl and returned to her village with gold necklaces and gems on her fingers and the least fashion clothes. How did that happen? I work in bar and make money and I spend it this way. Actually they spend a lot of money gambling, mainly card playing. They’ll get into these games with other girls. They’ll play games with other girls for 12 hours straight, I have heard 24 hours. They are really gambling addicts. And of course they play for the money but also for the excitement of gambling. That is where most of the money goes. Also for the TV and refrigerator. So this girl goes up to the village and the younger girls see it and they say that this how the money was made. What do these girls upcountry who spend their day with the buffalo react? They pack their little rattan suitcase, head for Bangkok and go to work in the bars. Which is not to say that a girl works in a bar becomes rich. But there is money they could have which they would never dream of and there was the great hope of these girls to meet a rich farang.

The thing that impressed me was that here you had a bargirl who married a rich farang and goes to his homeland, could be anywhere, Norway, Switzerland, it doesn’t matter. Tells the husband that she is homesick, goes home to see the family. He is working so he gives her money for travel and living expenses and expects her back in two weeks. What she doesn’t tell him is that she goes back to the bar and does what she did before she married him. Dancing with men etc., she enjoys the excitement. She may spend maybe a night, maybe two with family, which will be enough and at the end of the two weeks she will go back to her husband’s home and doesn’t screw around and acts like the wife or mother or whatever she is and waits until the next trip to Thailand. Mainly the husband doesn’t know what she is doing. Occasionally one of the husband’s friends may spot her as a friend. That will create problems and probable divorce. This is quite common. There is excitement there.

Have there been any defining moments over the years in the evolution of the column?

When the Post took over the World I essentially side-stepped to the Post which was good in the sense that the Post had a greater readership. What you must realise is that when I started at the World there were no rules from the editor. We want this. We don’t want that. They simply said write an entertainment column and let’s see if the readers go for it. There had been in fact a Nite Owl column in the World where the guy who was running it was an American and what he did was go to one place which had an English or Scottish entertainer called Sam Scutt, a piano player, who was one of these in the same league as Victor Borge with a combination of quips and stories while he was playing. And this guy before me they didn’t have for very long. He used to spend the whole column repeating his jokes. It wasn’t enough for the readers.

The editor came to me and asked me if I wanted to do it and they handed it over to me. If you can revive it and make it your own fine, if you can’t we’ll close. I was at that time the entertainment editor which basically meant writing film reviews because I started the writing part of my journalistic career in Japan. Lived in Japan for 3 years. Worked for two English language papers there and even before that in Hong Kong I had done proofreading for the South China Morning Post and even before that in India I was writing little stories. That is how I managed to exist in India. But it any case with the World I was able to fashion my own stories, my own style, and it picked up very luckily because what can I say, it was sexy and there were readers out there who wanted to know these things. This was interesting. Made my rounds. You see at the beginning, 40 years ago, Patpong was not an entertainment centre. It was a business centre and had just 2 or 3 bars. All the nightclub work was on New Road, not far from the Oriental. The other was Rachadarmnoen, not far from Democracy Monument. This was all Thai. New Road was essentially farang.

Even 40 years ago farang had their own area?

Yes, this was in fact before the Vietnam war. Things were beginning to pick up. The GIs hadn’t quite turned this place into a rest and recreation destination. You see I came here even earlier because I was traveling around the world and I first arrived here in 1962. I didn’t settle anywhere, stayed a few months here and there, worked around, India for quite a while, but that was not a place you wanted to settle, but you wanted to see everywhere you could including Nepal. Remember going to Pattaya. Hahaha, there was nothing there. A nice beach with maybe 2 or 3 guesthouses. Maybe one or two restaurants. But it was nothing you would ever think to yourself that this would develop into a tourist attraction. I have been to over 50 countries. I travelled around, went to Japan which was the first time I decided I was not in any hurry to leave. It was interesting, the people along my travels I met, different women with whom I corresponded. I did many things include teach English as we all do. When I had been in Thailand in '62 I was teaching and I liked one of the students very much. I’m not one of the teachers who letches after students but this one was special. There were other women in other countries I corresponded with but when I was in Japan I decided the student in Thailand – she was more mature and in fact she became a teacher. Said alright something I hadn’t really thought of. Come over and let’s see if we are compatible enough to marry. We did and we married. My wife now is a student teacher. I married her in Japan.

Were there many Thai women in Japan then?

I never counted. We didn’t really have anything to do with Thais. Japanese farangs. Had nothing to do with Thais except at the embassy if I wanted a visa or something. When my wife became pregnant for the first time she decided quite understandably that she wanted to return to Thailand and have the baby near her family so she came back here and I came a few months later to return to her, still in time for the birth and as I had been writing for the English language version of the Japanese papers. I had scrapbooks and I went to the Bangkok World with the scrapbooks and the editor in chief or publisher, he was all sorts of things, he said leave the books with me and come back tomorrow and I’ll see what I can do for you. When I came back he said that you are our entertainment editor. 40 years later I still have that title. I was writing movie reviews and we were doing supplements and hotels were opening. Was offered money for extra supplements. Little but little things added on, books were added on. I began doing the restaurant column. On top of that I was doing an interview column.

The man himself, Bernard Trink, the Nite Owl.

Who did you interview?

Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Loretta Young. One of the most interesting people I have ever met was one of the Three Stooges. I went to interview thinking what an idiot he must be with the films he makes and he spent an entire day giving me a history of comedy on the screen. I am good at the movies. But this guy was an expert. He came up with things I really didn’t know and it was fascinating. Interviewed no local stars. You see as the Vietnam War picked up, entertainers were coming over to entertain the troops. I would interview them Bob Hope. I went around with Bob Hope as he performed upcountry. Not when he went to Vietnam. Interesting guy. The most intelligent man I met was Sean Connery. He started talking about James Bond and ended up talking about the world economy which is not my strongest subject but he knew it all really well. There were so many.

I understand that at some time in the past you upset someone influential when you ran a restaurant review and while what you said was apparently justified, some big guy got well pissed off to the point that he wanted to close down the entire Bangkok Post! Is this true?

That was my last restaurant review. I’d been writing it for years. There was a restaurant. There were always restaurants opening. I went to this one which was opened by a woman who told me straight away that she was from a rich Thai family. The name, if you heard it, you would know immediately. I had a meal which was, let’s just say it was piss poor! And that is basically what I said in the review. I am a fairly honest fellow. Once the review came out the shit hit the fan and the woman went ballistic. She kept taking about how I had made her lose face in front of her family. She said I was nothing more than a hippy. I was never a hippy! This is a standard insult in Thailand. When they call you a hippy it means you are a bum which I was not. She kept saying that her uncle was the patriarch of this clan and he is going to pull all the ads from the Bangkok World, destroy the paper unless they got rid of me! Well, the paper immediately killed the column and told me to keep a low profile but do the other things you do and that was it. That was my last restaurant column. I remember most how quickly the paper caved in. Every paper has an editor who likes to posture himself as putting things first and stating that they print the truth and to hell with those who want to guide their opinions and we’ve got that now. You always have it in a paper, usually one person who would rather go to jail than reveal their sources. I believe in the truth and nothing will change that. I was amazed that a guy who had been saying all of this just caved in. That is something you realise after a while that these chief editors are lying through their teeth. It is not that they change stories so much but they lie about their attitudes, bravery in the face opposition and adversity. So that killed that.

That's the first half of the Trink interview. The second half will run next week and includes his opinions on the internet, his online column and amongst other things, his future.

Please note that his column can be found online at: idontgiveahoot

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic.

This week's pic.

It was The Mall Ramkhaemhaeng.
Mmmm, where could it be?

Last week’s pic was taken outside The Mall Ramkhaemhaeng, that is the one next to Soi 15.

There are three Malls, called #1, #2 and #3, but I can never remember which is which. Only a handful of people got it right…and I think this week's should be much easier. Each week the first reader to correctly state where the 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:

Are you really a member of the family?

I wonder if you believe that if your wife was to pass away, that her family would continue to accept you as believe they do now? I am married to a poor uneducated gal. Her parents are dead, but that doesn't prevent most of the 7 brothers and sisters from attempts to hustle us. Early on in the marriage, they had some success in obtaining loans (50,000 for young brother's schooling, 15,000 for a tractor), all were turned into gifts as there was very little interest shown in repaying them. Got hustled for another 20,000 for unordered dirt when I attempted to get rid of the ''tractor debt'' by proposing that the youngest sister's husband cut down the banana trees that were on a portion of the family land that we chose to possibly build in the distant future. LOL now, they earned 35,000B in 1 day. I thought they had bought the dirt from someone else (''already done, already done''). So, although we did not order it, I told the wife to pay them and let them know that money was the end of our ''financial sharing'' to requests. They have all made various unsuccessful attempts the last 3 years. It is amazing some of the schemes that they come up with and their absolute indignation shown when we don't comply with their requests. I was mentioning to my wife that knowing myself and my desire to truly be helpful to others especially family, if they would have been more appreciative of our unrequested sharing and had shown some interest in our health, welfare and daily life (no soliciting phone calls or visits), they would probably have greater success in attaining ''help'' from us. There is really no interest shown in us other than as a source for money. That is one reason we are not living in the village! I can imagine what would happen if we were living there and my wife was to pass away! I believe we are tolerated or accepted as a way to a means only! Accepted as a family member, as a friend or as a friendly neighbor, NOT A CHANCE…

Is the party over?

I must agree with a past female Thai on your site who said Bangkok has lost the "sanuk". Things have changed drastically over the last five years since I became a frequent visitor. I, for one, don't trust Thais…but it doesn't matter. I don't care if they lie to me as I know it is just their way. I also feel Thais know we think they are liars. There is no trust, nor should there be. I have a few friends here who I like to visit, but very little point in going to the beaches as they are not as beautiful or tranquil as they used to be. I read the news today, oh boy…politicians kids cheating on exams… In parting, I will tell you what a girl I met last time told me. She said she wished farangs would leave after just two or three days. She said we need the tourism and money farangs bring in, but farangs quickly learn about Thais. I'm not exactly sure what she meant but I think she was talking about how most farangs see Thais as dishonest and poorly educated. I feel she is quite ashamed of the actions of many people here in BKK.

Another happy reader.

Thank you Stick for publishing the probable passwords for Hotmail. I was with a lady who had her own shop i.e. not a bargirl. We had applied for a fiancée visa. I am ashamed to say that given your info I hacked her account (password 222222). I was phoning every day then last week she told me she was worried about my phone bills so don't phone (red alert). Got into the email and she was with a man last week, surprise, surprise. Needless to say, I have cancelled the application.

Truer words were never spoken.

I've never been a great fan of gogo bars what with their bad smoke-filled air, music my dear old dad used to listen to, customer unfriendly staff continually touting for tips etc. But even worse these days is the price of the drinks. Why should the punters have to pay 125 baht for small bottles of standard industrialized shit when you can drink genuinely world class micro brewed beer at 100 baht for a 500 ml glass at the Tawan Dang German Beer Hall in Rama 3? The girls you see there on stage or as customers are far better than anything you will ever see in Nana Plaza. I was reminded of this fact when a Thai business associate took me recently to some of the naughty places Thai men go to (mainly karaoke). It made me realise what second-rate talent are being fobbed off on the unsuspecting farangs in the Sukhumvit area.

No wonder Thai women are so popular.

Unfortunately, 65% of ALL Americans today are considered overweight, and about 1/3 are "OBESE". This stat is taken from all age categories, so you can imagine what the stats are for ladies in a "dateable" age range (i.e., 28 – 40). And the standards they use are quite generous. Granted, these are only stats for Americans and not others in the "West". If you eliminate the fatties, then you have a large percentage that are either: 1) taken, 2) smokers, 3) butt ugly, 4) emotionally damaged, 5) psycho, 6) have an unrealistically high idea of their own self-worth, 7) have some other screwed up problem that disqualifies them. There's not much left after that. While I try to stay objective and not have tunnel vision, knowing well the adage that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, the handwriting is on the wall. At least with Thai women, with all of their negatives to include poor communication traits, an over-preoccupation with saving face, the payment of the dowry, and all other things attached, at least with the Thai lovelies they are taking care of themselves physically. If a woman is not taking care of herself physically, the relationship will not even get to a first date! You won't even bother striking up a conversation.

Som num nar (people deserve what they get)

Now, I'm not stupid, but I know my limitations and I know that I'm also not a rocket scientist. But there are just so many guys who let women walk roughshod over them that you just have to conclude that they deserve it if they're really that stupid, otherwise you will wind up DRIVING YOURSELF INSANE. You know the deal….you CANNOT save someone from themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to point a person in the right direction who has fallen for the wrong woman, but in the end it's always fruitless. I have long ago given up trying. In the long run, they only end up hating YOU for it! For this reason, I have absolutely no pity for the stupid ass farangs who get involved with Thai women (or ANY woman) who take advantage of them and abuse them financially, emotionally, or any other way. By being as stupid as they are, they are asking and even begging for it.

Just when we thought they had forgotten about it, the early closing times have come back to haunt late night revelers. Authorities have been going around the bar areas and all bars are being closed at 1:00 AM at the moment. How long it will last isn't known but early indications are that the early closing times will be enforced for at least two months. The orders for this have apparently come from the top level police. Remember, this is the time of year when police are shuffled around and no-one wants to be sent to an inactive post for allowing all sorts of hanky panky to happen on their patch, hence the crackdown. Areas being closed early include Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy, Patpong and Rachada but I suspect all of Bangkok will be closed at 1:00 AM. Not good!

But in contrast it is business as usual in Pattaya and bars are open to 2:00 AM, if not later….so, for now at least, this crackdown would seem to be Bangkok centred.

In Phuket too it seems that there has been no change, with no discernible enforced closing time. A couple of bar owners who were asked what time they had to close replied, "whenever we like"! Certainly in some well known night entertainment venues down there the party is still going until 4 AM.

And still down in Phuket, some hanky panky is going on with a couple of bars on Bangla Road. Someone, reputedly the Kangaroo bar, keeps pulling the shutters down on The Full Monty bar, which keeps opening them again. Now most days there are some tough looking fellows sitting in there, not the most inviting prospect for somewhere for a relaxing drink.

With rain lashing the capital very frequently, the bars are really suffering. Combined with the early closing it is yet another cruel blow. Low season, heavy rain, a perceived drop in farang visitors along with local politics all add up to a very grim reality for the Bangkok bar owners. Another bad year for them it would seem.

With all of the gogo bars required to buy a new licence at a cool 100,000 baht, this does seem like a lot of money, especially for some of the smaller bars. Having been privy to the books of some of the smaller bars in Cowboy, this can be more than some make in the low season in an entire month. I can see some bars knocking out walls and so extending the bar size to encompass bars on either side and thus avoid paying all these license fees for lots of different bars. What do you think? 3 bars at Nana. One bar per floor?!

More drug testing took place at both Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza this week. This is fast becoming reuang tamada (the norm).

Blue Wave next to the JW Marriott is closed and has already been gutted. The new concept will be pub / tavern style. English, Irish and American fare available, there will also be pool tables and girls. A complete interior remodeling is in progress and it should reopen by September 15, if not sooner. Guinness, Kilkenny, Heineken, Singha and Tiger beers will all be available on draft. Double shots on all drinks. The bar does not have a new name yet. Any ideas from anyone? Send them to me and I'll pass them on to the developer. I'm sure he'll give you a few free drinks if he uses your name!

Farangs employed in the naughty nightlife industry are on the move. Aussie Kat (the former manager of Carousel in Nana amongst others), has had his lot in Phuket where he was managing a bar for a while and has gone back to Oz. Anton, the former manager of Hollywood Rock in Nana, appears to have been forced out of his business and is looking at getting into a couple of beer bars.

A long time Patpong bar owner had a 3 baht gold chain (that's about 24,000 baht value) stolen by a motorcycle rider on Silom Road. At around 8 PM one night this past week the bar owner was in a tuktuk on his way to his bar. While in traffic on Silom a motorcycle pulled alongside and the rider pulled on the bar owner's T-shirt sleeve exposing the chain. A friend with the bar owner advised him to be careful thinking it might be a trick but the bar owner thought he might know the motorcyclist and just let it go. A little further up the road the motorcyclist reached into the tuktuk and ripped the chain from the bar owner's neck and took off. The friend got out to take off in in pursuit of the crook but he fell while getting out of the tuktuk. Luckily the Buddha that was attached to the chain fell off into the bar owner's shirt and was not lost. This sort of thing is not that common, but it still pays to be careful.

Dancers at Electric Blue in the Pong are now dancing wearing those little nipple covering stars and no tops. Bikini bottoms have been replaced by short, ultra tight, micro mini skirts without knickers. It sounds like they're al wearing Andy's signature garments. The upper rows of seats have been given their own small tables so the punters sitting there have somewhere to rest their drinks.

Away from the bars, Panthip Plaza is becoming an even more stressful place to shop. Once a fun place to hang out, browse and pick up all of the latest DVDs, many now prefer to do a quick hit and run. Get in, buy your DVDs, software and any other bits and pieces and get the hell out! You can't wander more than a few metres without some dodgy character approaching you, GRABBING YOU and literally screaming, "Mr., you want sexy movie?" – and every Thai within earshot suddenly gives you a filthy look like you are some sort of convicted paedophile! With the underground now open, Fortune IT is a much better place to do one's computer shopping and it is easier to get to than ever with the underground stopping right outside.

Overstaying one's visa is a fairly dumb thing to do but some people still do it, claiming that the overstay charge is not that expensive and that so long as the bill is settled on the way out, there are no problems. I had been informed that they put the fines up on 10 July to 400 baht per day with the maximum fine now topping out at 48,000 baht but then checking this seems to disprove it…. Hmmm, maybe someone got their wires crossed, or maybe the rate is about to go up?

The Cambodian Immigration authorities have been trying it on at the Poi Pet entry point, charging 400 baht more for a visa than it should be. The visa should cost $US20 (around 800 baht) but they are asking 1,200 baht. Many people who don't know better are paying it. As far as I know, they will not give you one for less than 1,000 baht even though this is a lot closer to $US25.

Midnite bar in Cowboy has re-opened but as is inevitable with bar closures, quite a few girls have been lost, though no doubt they can be found dancing in other venues.

When negotiating with some of the vendors in markets where there are a lot of tourists, such as Pratunam and Patpong, resident Westerners who have a good command of the local lingo might realise that the people they are negotiating prices with do not necessarily have the same command of Thai as they do. That is because many of these vendors are not Thai. Doing some shopping at Pratunam market with Mrs. Stick last weekend, we encountered an exceptionally rude vendor. It was quite funny watching the Mrs. give her a taste of her mind, and the vendor not quite understand what was being said! I have often said that some of the vendors in these markets, specifically the markets where Western tourists frequent, are so rude that they give Thailand a bad rep. Knowing that they are not Thai themselves makes it even worse. It is amazing it is allowed, quite frankly.

From my place of work comes one of those only in Thailand stories. We have a fellow at work, a bit of a character, who for the purpose of this story we'll call Brett. Brett was cruising Bangkokchat with an itch to scratch when he came upon someone who was up for it. They chatted online for a while and Brett was really excited when he got her picture, a slim Thai gal with a whopping great 38 chest, a rarity indeed! They got on the phone and when he started to talk dirty she said she prefers to do the dirty stuff between the sheets rather than on the phone. Brett was well excited at the prospect of this and gave her his address. About an hour later, the phone rang and it was her, calling from a taxi, lost in the neighbourhood, trying to find his place. He was at this stage getting a bit tired and when he looked at the clock, he realised it had just gone 9:00 PM. His mind fast forwarded to the next day, Monday morning, and a busy schedule. Notwithstanding that he had a hot young lass just minutes away from knocking his door down and throwing herself at his mercy, he decided that he would rather get a good night's sleep! He turned the lights off in his apartment, unplugged the phone and hit the sack. There's something in this. While guys in the West make a huge effort to get their end away, spending money, time and effort pursuing women, it is something that one simply does not have to worry about in Bangkok. One's next roll in the hay is never that far away. Still, perhaps Brett made the right call. Any woman who will go to a stranger's apartment, sight unseen, with naughty thoughts in mind – and without remuneration as her motivation, may well have issues.

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: Last time I was in Thailand, I met a woman called W, who stayed with me throughout the holiday. She was very caring (jai dee), but I cannot see a long term future together. Unusually she has neither parent is alive, only 4 brothers and sisters. She has a child, and my question is:- "What would be the reaction of a future long-term Thai woman or even wife, if I was contributing financially to this child's upbringing / education. I would not be having any relationship with W." Would she be upset or find this unusual?

Mrs. Stick says: It is very nice of you to offer to look after W's child but you might create a problem for yourself though because other women you meet might be suspicious of this and might not just see it as a noble act. They might think that this child is yours. Also it shows that a relationship existed between you and W and if for any reason they do not like W, it is not going to help you. I don't think any woman would be happy at the idea of you supporting another woman's child, especially if you aren't the father.

The monsoon seem to have arrived and it has been raining most days recently, an hour or two later afternoon or early evening. If you've never experienced the rainy season, don't let the thought of it put you off a visit to Thailand unless you are specifically coming to spend time in the sun and work on your tan. The rains bring the temperature down to a more comfortable level and so long as you don't get stuck in a torrential downpour, it really isn't that bad at all.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Claymore and Dave The Rave, as always.