Stickman's Weekly Column September 5th, 2004

The Mother In Law Visits The UK


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Mrs. Stick's mother's adventures have appeared in the column before. Well not really her adventures, but her thoughts on life in Thailand. A proper, traditional Thai woman, she had an adventure recently, a trip to the UK to visit one of her daughters who is furthering her studies in that part of the world.

Now to say I was concerned that she would not be allowed into the UK, notwithstanding that she had been granted a visa, would be something of an understatement. You see, the mother in law doesn't speak a word of English, and neither can she read or write it. I had visions of her back in Thailand 36 hours or so after we had seen her off at Don Meuang, having been refused entry to the UK. But no, the good folks at Immigration in the UK allowed her in, no questions asked…which is just as well as she wouldn't have had a clue what they were on about anyway!

I'm always interested in what Thais think of the West so what follows is a few questions I asked her this weekend about the trip. We chat in Thai so it has been translated as best I could into English.

Did you enjoy your time in the UK?

Yes, but everything is so expensive there. It is amazing that people actually pay those prices for everything. The country is nice and the people seemed pleasant.

What did you like the most?

The weather was very good when I was there, cool and refreshing. The house where I stayed was very nice and it seemed like most of the other houses there were very nice too. I really liked the way everyone seemed to look after their houses and the way they decorated them. Everyone had lots of plants and flowers and when out shopping I noticed a lot of shops selling plants and flowers. This made the whole environment feel very nice.

How did you find the people in the UK?

I remember seeing some youths sitting around during the day time, smoking and drinking. They didn't seem to be doing anything and I was then told that they do not have jobs and that the government gives them money. Is this for real? But apart from them, the people seemed pleasant.

What about the food?

I never actually tried farang good. I took a lot of Thai food products over so that we could cook Thai food and all of the things that my daughter misses. We did go out and eat at an Indian restaurant but I can't say I really liked it. There were even Indian people working in the restaurant.

What did you like the least?

The prices of everything. They told me that the prices of cars over there were cheaper than in Thailand but even those seemed expensive. Everything seemed so much more expensive than Thailand. Even for people who live there, everything seemed outrageously expensive. We were in a supermarket and I saw a cucumber and the price was a pound! A pound for a cucumber? My goodness! <She erupted into laughter at that point>

In London we bought a discount travel card which we were told would save us a lot of money. We could get on and off various forms of public transport all day. I can't remember the exact cost but it still seemed to be very expensive to me. It was a few hundred baht for the discount card.

And people seem to walk everywhere. I guess I can understand why with everything so expensive but still, if you have to walk everywhere, people must get very tired.

What were your general impressions, and your most vivid memories, of life in the UK?

The prices. How can you live a reasonable lifestyle when you have to pay such huge amounts for everything. Even a cucumber in a supermarket was ridiculously expensive.

It took this trip for me to realise just how lucky we are in Thailand. Everything is so cheap, the weather isn't too cold and we don't have to walk everywhere due to the outrageous prices charged for public transport, as in the UK. I can now understand why so many farangs come to Thailand and can see much more clearly what the attraction is for them. I am in no hurry to ever leave Thailand again!

It is interesting that she dwelled so much on the prices. Going from Thailand to the UK, one of the most expensive places in the world, it seemed that for some things the prices were about ten times what would be paid in Thailand.

Where is this pic?

Last week's pic.

This week's pic.

It was Sukhumvit Soi 19.
You wanted a tougher pic…..you got it!

Last week’s pic was taken

from the pedestrian walkway over Sukumvit Road, close to the Sheraton Grande and the Westin. It was looking down on the entrance to Sukhumvit soi 19 and the big bar whose name I blurred was Country Road. 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. Spare a thought for Peter from the UK, who has been first to correctly guess the picture most weeks for the past two months. Unfortunately being domiciled in the UK means that he is unable to claim the prize.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX:

Keep your passport with the boys in brown!

The question of carrying or not carrying a passport, has been a dilemma I have faced since I first came to Thailand. In Pattaya, a couple years ago, there was a concerted effort to educate tourists about using safety deposit boxes. Every place that had safety deposit boxes for rent, had a sign installed outside their premises advertising the fact, and there was also a list of these places advertised in the local papers etc. One of those places was the immigration office in Soi 8, it clearly had a sign up stating how the immigration office was the ideal place to store your, valuables, money and passport. I always thought how ironic it would be to, get locked up by immigration for not carrying your passport, while paying them a "small fee" for looking after it.

Not what he expected.

I have a friend who is now married to a Thai woman in Bangkok. For a long time, he would politely criticise me for taking a bar girl for my girlfriend. He would gently nudge me to meet a friend of his wife who was looking for a husband, stating that he thought she was more suitable for me. I declined politely. Nevertheless, he would gently put me and my girlfriend down, insisting his prospects for happiness were far greater than mine, with his squeaky clean wife, who incidentally was a masseuse in an expensive hotel. I recently discovered that he has since found out that his new ‘perfect’ Thai Chinese wife already has a child tucked away and neglected to tell him when they married. All I could do was laugh, not at his misfortune but at the fact it never ceases to amaze me how many Thai women, from every walk of life, will conceal the truth. I wonder how long it’ll be before he discovers she turns tricks at this expensive hotel…now I’m only speculating, of course.

Strangulation.

The attempt to destroy nightlife in the city started at the same time as the economic melt down when the baht devalued. This upset the conservatives in Thailand who blamed the West. These same conservatives who are now in power have a vision of creating a Singapore style regime in Bangkok. The destruction of 'traditional' nightlife here will start with the farang bars in Nana and Cowboy, but will eventually hit the Thai nightlife. No opportunity will be missed, oil prices, elections, national holidays. It is fairly obvious that there is a fairly slow strangulation of such activities in the city. The powers that be are hoping for a city population that is early to bed and sober. As for 'farangs' it wants them restricted to expensive hotels of an evening and tours during the day. Strangely many Thais that I know who are fairly well off support this concept, and support the crackdowns against farangs. So we probably do need to find somewhere else, if we want the nightlife.

Commotion down south.

I witnessed an interesting event in Bunny’s in Phuket the other night. A young Thai man was drinking and lounging inside the bar and falling over every so often, one of the bar owners suddenly yelled at him and the Thai took off around the back of the bar. However the owner collared him and put him in a headlock and dragged him back into the bar (you can imagine the fuss). Anyway he said check his pockets: and wallets, cash and telephones were found. What had happened the girls working there leave their handbags on a shelf and this guy was knocking them onto the floor acting drunk stealing from them and putting the bag back onto the shelf, the bar owner suspected something and kept an eye on him from a distance. He was caught red-handed the tourist police and security were called and he was carted off we all thought for some justice the girls had already laid into him pretty well, guess what he was back on the street 15 minutes later.

The unique feeling of being in Thailand and making friends with Thai women.

It's not the beautiful women, it's not the sex, it's not the romance, it's not even the food, it's not about the low cost, it's not about the good laidback feel that men are so fascinated with Thailand and Thai women. It's about a man's ego – on the prostitution side, it's a man's ability (no matter if he looks like Tom Cruise or Jabba the Hutt) to reject the most beautiful lady based on his whims and fancies. On the normal side of skirt chasing – the women are friendly, their culture is warm and hospitable, they welcome foreigners and they are extremely curious to try anything new at least once in their lifetime so that they wont miss a beat of life's many experiences. The Thai feeling for men – the ability to easily access and obtain your heart's desire without any colossal effort at all. This is just a general overall view, there are exceptions but the exceptions are akin to this: what is left on the tip of a needle when a needle is dipped into the big, deep blue ocean.

A VERY common scam.

I booked a Volvo taxi from Pattaya to Bangkok for 1,200 baht. Come the appointed time a Toyota Corolla turns up. "Volvo not have" but no offer of a refund. I demanded either a Volvo, a full refund or minimum 200 baht refund and the Toyota. 20 minutes of frustration, phone calls and argument ensued resulting in us stopping off at the travel agent for 200 baht. I know it's small money but it's the principle.

Cheapskate or shrewd punter?

I brought this cute, pleasant waitress from a gogo bar in Jomtien to Hong Kong. She said she just wanted a holiday and told her boss she was going home to Ubon for 2 weeks so I didn't have to pay the bar fine. I said I would pay her 10,000 Baht for 2 weeks to send up country to the family and paid her air fare. Everything was splendid until our first night out in Wan Chai. I thought she would be interested in the gogo bar scene here to see how it differed from Pattaya…..big mistake. On the wall is a sign listing lady drinks $HK 220 (1,250 baht) and bar fine $HK 4000 (20,000 baht). She did the sums and her face scowled…. "You bring me to Hong Kong because I am cheap, you think Thai girl stupid". Oh shit! Exit the bar, tantrum in the street, "I go home tomorrow"…..a bit of explaining and a meal in the local Thai restaurant to calm down, but I think I have blown it. Never mind, just put it down to experience I guess.

Escaping from the scene of the crime?

Last night with my gal heard a "thump" and then some crying. A Thai bar gal (with purple hair) was literally shoved out of a farang's hotel room – her stuff thrown all across the hall and she was let literally crying in the hallway. I have no idea what has happened or what led to the incident. She was in complete tears, but appeared unhurt (no bruises, wounds, etc). A small crowd appeared outside her door. The farang (who was as large as a football player) got out of his hotel room practically stepping on the girl and ran to leave. She was left on the floor crying and eventually picked up her things and left. Very sad event. I personally hoped that she would have called the police on him. Many of these people here are real scumbags.

The cops aren’t totally on top of their game and are arriving a little late to oversee the closing of the bars so for now you can assume closing time in Nana Plaza is some time between 1.00 and 1.30 AM. Apart from all the problems that the Bangkok bars have suffered internally, the recent terrorism around the globe doesn't exactly encourage people to fly across the world. With all of this killing like we saw in Russia over the last few days there are times when I think that the world has gone stark raving mad.

And if you thought the early closing times in Nana were bad, spare a thought for some of the other bar areas. The police seem to be making it up as they go along. On Thursday night the beer bars on Soi 22 were told to close at 12:30. No reason was given as to why. Customers were allowed to continue their drinking sitting outside the bar, however! One bar, with shutters, clearly still had customers drinking, inside behind the shutters.

Boss Hogg paid fines in excess of 20,000 baht and apparently the girl with customer issue has gone by the wayside. They were convicted of not having a bar beer license. They have a license to sell alcohol and cigarettes and a food license. No one has a bar beer license and no one can get them in a non-zoned area. The good news is that they can't be closed down for 30 days because they do not have a license! Go figure. They now have entertainment, ladies sitting with customer, liquor, cigarette import and domestic, food and pool association licenses for Bully's Pub, next to the Marriott, which is scheduled to be opened on September 15. Now I wonder what the boys in brown will come up with to extort money from Boss Hogg next?

Nana Disco are getting cheekier and cheekier and have put up the entrance fee to 300 baht. Perhaps they feel they are in the same sector of the market as Spasso's, Q Bar, Mystique etc and that they can afford to charge such an entrance free? Seriously though, with this place one of the few naughty venues in Bangkok remaining open until 2:00 AM, and perhaps the only place in that immediate area to do so, they can probably afford to charge just about whatever they want. And what is really ironic is that while Nana Disco stays open until 2:00 AM every night, the discos in Rachada, which are in a so called entertainment zone, are closed at 1:00.

Cathouse has renewed their lease for three more years. They have just remodelled the inside so more brave punters can partake in the all you can drink Chang 4 hour happy "hour" for 100 baht.

Chequers in Soi 4 just reopened on Friday night after a new facelift. They are the only bar on Soi 4 to serve Guinness.

Guinness said they could not give any promotional support to the soon to open Bully's because there will be too many girls working at the pub and it would be bad for their image….would someone please tell them that this is Bangkok, and not Dublin!

The picture below was sent in by a reader. You have to look at it a little bit more closely….yes, that's right, in the land of expensive vehicles, someone is using a BMW as a taxi!

Look closely at this taxi – it's a BMW!

At Immigration on Soi Suan Plu, a reader discovered the hard way that the officials there are being very strict over all issues. It seems that the new boss has put staff on notice that all rules must be adhered to according to the letter of the law. In the past, those applying for retirement visas haven't had to present a doctor's health certificate and an official statement of accounts from their bank. That was until recently. As of now, anyone wanting any of the long term visas must have – and that means no exceptions – a form from a doctor or clinic attesting to your good health, and an official form from your bank of choice containing your account information. In the past it has been possible to simply show a copy of one's bank book. So if you are going to Immigration, be sure to get these documents along with all your other paperwork or you'll have the hassle of a return visit.

Whatever happened to Singha Gold? I remember one night out in my first year in Thailand drinking many, many cans of it. I had assumed with the “gold’ in its name that it must have been Singha’s premier product. I drank can after can after can and even at the end of the night, I didn’t feel too bad. I woke up the next day feeling just fine, a stark contrast to the way one feels the morning after a night out with the standard Singha product. I assumed that my propensity for handling alcohol must have improved until someone told me that Singha Gold was actually a low alcohol drink that had been targeted at women. Ooops!

Big John, the Aussie pie guy, will be expanding his business into the building around the corner from 1st October. There will be a grand opening party, but not for a while yet – I'll let you know when the date is confirmed. What will make the place different, especially in that part of town, is, not only will they have affordable quality western, home style and fusion food and inexpensive drinks, but they'll also have 40-60 young backpackers staying most nights. This should create an environment where by you'll be able to find young people, both male and female, interested in communicating with like minded individuals in a suitably conducive environment. They'll also have a satellite dish and big screen TV for those interested in sports and special events, and a pool table. All of these elements should entice the locals. On another note, their beef meatballs & meatloaf should be available on the shelves of Villa in the next few days.

Rumours are that there will be a place in Pattaya which will be comparable to Bangkok's Panthip Plaza. It was going to open this month, but due to the usual delays, Thai time etc., opening date has been mooted for December.

Just to prove that even one of the best can be dodgy, a high profile so called decent language school appears to have some problem paying their foreign English teachers this month. This makes two months in a row! For some teachers, last month's cheque, being over 3 weeks late, was for a pay period from about 10 weeks ago! And once again, the cheque for this month is late yet the senior teachers and DOS appear to have been paid on time. It is just the minions who suffer. Under the current regulations it would appear to be difficult for them to legally employ all of their teachers in the English Department. Without paying proper taxes and not having a work permit, the teachers feel as though they cannot complain, since we all know that if (when?) the shit hits the fan, it will be the teachers covered in shit, not the institution. So for another month, many teachers will be living off their credit cards, and will no doubt have to pay a late fee on their apartment rents (and their credit cards too!).

This goes to serve as a reminder that working without a work permit is not recommended. Not only are you technically breaking the law, the organisation you are working with might even remind you that you do not have a work permit and that you thus cannot go and complain to anyone!

Thai Travel Tips, an advertiser on this site, has recently opened a bar on soi 8 in Pattaya. The name of the bar was "Thai Travel Tips." Well, a couple of days ago they changed the name of the bar to the 3 T's bar, and got a big new sign to go with it. Just above the name 3 Ts they had put "Top # Thai # Tits". Of course it wouldn't be long before that came to the attention of the boys in brown. And a couple of days later the final 't' in Tits had been changed to a 'p'. Was it a mistake or had they been told to change it? Perhaps a good catch phrase would be "Top Thai Tottie"?

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. One or 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: I am looking to meet a nice Thai lady to settle down with (nothing unique there), and have been using the internet and some dating sites to make contact since my visit to Thailand. My plan has been to make a number of "friends" through the internet, spend a few months getting to know them by email, telephone etc., and visit each of them in Thailand to then determine which one there is mutual "chemistry" with. I have also tried to make it clear to them up front that while I am very serious and genuine in my intent, I won't fall in love with anyone over the internet. It will be friends first, until we can meet and spend some time together. I am not a butterfly because I only want one woman, just the right one for me…and vice versa. However, I keep running into the same issue with many ladies…as soon as we seem to decide that there is a level of mutual interest worth exploring – basically become friends from my perspective – they want to know how many other people I am talking to… I understand that this is probably one of the many tests that a Thai lady will present to a prospective mate. There must be some way to answer, explain, and get acceptance, that its okay for both of us to continue talk with other people as the two of us get to know each other better (rather than lying or denying that I talk to other ladies as friends). How would one express that to them in a way that makes sense from a Thai cultural perspective? Is there no such thing as dating in Thailand? I treat this as merely an issue of taking a proper amount of time and effort to get to now the other person. Perhaps they approach it as an issue of control e.g. who makes the "choice", and / or trust. Or maybe they view it as unacceptable when there is not continual and incrementally increasing commitment from one day to the next. Many seem to be as determined as cruise missiles to find a target of opportunity for marriage, and at the quickest possible speed. So much for Asian ladies taking things slow! But despite some issues and problems like this, it has, and continues to be a rewarding, interesting, and worthwhile experience. Thanks for your consideration of this question

Mrs. Stick says: I'm sure that many ladies who are chatting online are chatting with many guys, just as you admit that you are chatting with many girls. I'm sort of surprised that they try and compel you to speak with only them. Obviously you are free to chat with whomever you want. I used to chat a lot online and made many friends that way. It was never my intention to actually find someone through that means, although that is what eventually happened. In Thailand, we do not say we have a boyfriend until we are really serious about him and see a future with him so if the ladies you are talking to consider you to be their boyfriend yet they haven't even met you, then they are fooling you. Sorry to tell you that but it is the truth.

Mr. Stick says: I can't help but add something here. I would speculate that these women realise that there are a lot of Thai women online hunting for Western guys and they are being as manipulative as they can to try and make you think that it is wrong for you to chat with many girls. There is little doubt in my mind that they are searching for Mr. Right and you are just one of many that they are chatting with. Take no notice of any crazy suggestions of being "exclusive chat buddies" apart from the fact that the woman in question would be a right controlling hag to live with so you can now cross her of your list!

I've been up in Korat this past weekend and unfortunately haven't ventured very far because of a cold I've picked up. But even sitting here in the mother in law's front room, surfing the net and firing out my weekly nonsense, I have been amazed at how many pretty girls live up here. Even on this sub soi, the number of pretty girls who have walked up and down the soi over the last two days is staggering. This really is the land of beautiful women.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Dave The Rave and Claymore.