Stickman's Weekly Column October 31st, 2004

Control


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Relationships for Westerners in Thailand are difficult at the best of times. The cross cultural differences are huge, language barriers exist even between those who speak both languages well and expectations of each other are often very, very different. But there is one major issue that many Westerners seem to have with Thai woman, and one which they are fully aware is present in their relationship, but are often unable to articulate. It is often mistaken for manipulation, but actually it is one of the very worst problems one can experience in a relationship of any kind. It is control.

I don't know how the shrinks define it, but I would define control as something like "actions or words primarily made or taken to influence the behaviour of another." A classic example is when one person says saying something like "if you do or do not do this, I'll do that" so as to unfairly influence the other. In some cases that might be acceptable, such as "if you stop the car at the shop, I'll dash inside and get us an ice cream", but to demonstrate it in a control sense, it could be "if you do not buy me one baht of gold, I will leave you tomorrow".

And when Thai women have a problem, what do they often do? They sulk! They clam up and refuse to talk about it which can have the effect of upsetting or annoying the bloke they're with, or at least spoiling his enjoyment. Refusal to talk about the issue and the implication that they will continue to sulk unless they get their own way is yet another classic example of control by withholding emotional support.

Thai women seem to be ultra jealous, especially in serious relationships and they will frequently accuse their loved one of cheating, even when he hasn't and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that he has which often results in the guy being forced to be "extra nice" or "super nice" or in a worst case scenario, buy her some sort of gift or perform some sort of favour, just to pacify her.

I am astounded at the way a significant number of Westerners, both guys resident here in Thailand, and guys who come here on holiday, seemingly allow themselves to be controlled by their Thai girlfriend or even their wife! I have seen some of the most appalling behaviour by the odd Thai woman in a relationship with a farang man – and I am NOT talking specifically about bargirls here – and the equally astounding way that these guys accept it. WTF?!

Obviously control is not a Thai thing and it happens to some extent everywhere, but the extent to which it happens in Thailand seems to be much greater than the West, or at least the part of Farangland where I come from.

The moment you experience any such behaviour where control is an issue, stamp it out immediately. For some women, this seems to be the only way they can survive in a relationship. They just have to dominate and they just have to get their own way which really is not that much different from a spoiled child. I'm not a psychologist so have no idea why it happens or where such behavioural patterns come from but it would be interesting to know.

If you are in a relationship where control is an issue, I reckon the only way to fight it is to stand up for yourself. Don't allow yourself to be abused or walked over. From various readers, these are exact quotes sent to me in emails about issues with Thai women which demonstrate a situation where control was used:

She would threaten to jump from the balcony, when I left for work.

Approximately 12 mobile telephones were destroyed. (by the Thai woman)

I am totally confident that she would not have talked for days and it took a trip to the rarn tong (gold shop – Stick) to bring her around. What is most fucked up is that it was her who was sulking in the first place and it cost me money to fix her problem.

Now whenever one has some sort of problem in their relationship it should be talked about, talked out and hopefully some sort of resolution or solution agreed upon. The difficulty with this is that it can be very difficult to talk things out with a Thai woman. Try using the terms "psychologically damaging" or even a word as seemingly innocuous as "control" and you will be laughed at, at best, or told that these are Western buzzwords for bizarre concepts that have no place in Thailand, at worst! You're gonna need a bit of luck getting it resolved.

One symptom of a relationship where control is prevalent is when one partner starts acting like a child, getting stroppy when they do not get their own way, and becomes manipulative to try and get what they want.

OK, so not all Thai women are like this, and it may be just as bad or even worse in the West, but I seem to see this more and more these days. Worse still, if you have watched any of the Thai soap operas, you'll see this sort of behaviour from some of the actresses playing those ultra irritating hi-so princesses which makes me even more worried that some people may even see such behaviour as the norm!

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE?

It was Sri Ayuthya Road, near Phyathai Road.

A little tricky….but it IS in Bangkok, somewhere…

Last week’s pic was taken on Sri Ayuthya Road, looking West towards Phyathai Road. If you can read Thai, you'd have seen the sign for Decha Hospital in the top left of the picture. Many people got it right. This week's should represent a greater challenge. Each week the first reader to correctly state where the pic is wins a 500 baht credit from 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 EMAIL INBOX

It really is common sense.

Referring back to your on again off again question weather to stay or leave Thailand…I, like yourself, ponder this question often. Today I drove out 45 kilos to Ram Intra past Fashion Island to look at a housing development. The houses are all built and they have devoted 50% of the land space to streets and gardens along with common area space, a very large % indeed for Thailand. The houses ranged from 200-270 sq meters. The land plots were 70-90 sq wah, quite small, built to an ok standard. Thai windows etc., clothes washer space outside and no place to put a dryer. No air-con in and no back private garden space, the price 6-9 million, 150,000 to 225,000.00 US dollars. I consider this a lot of money for a postage stamp far from town. In America there are many places this would buy you a nice to a very nice house with a big yard, room for a swimming pool, two car garage, laundry room and central heating and air with city services. We then left and my wife said its too far from food and shops. I then said look at all the shit outside the gates, trash etc. She said yes, it's not like America, it's the way it is all over Thailand… Since we stay in America 2 months each year she then asked why do so many farangs come to Thailand to live. I replied that its not really that many, that they're concentrated around certain areas and that most of them are single and a lot come from countries far worse then the US either economically, culturally or climate wise. Also I pointed out that these same farangs could not live in America nor work. Having a wife and a 13 month old to whom I am committed there is no question of where we should live. It's just a matter of when we go to the US to live.

Is this your idea of paradise?

A few years ago the Thai Government announced that they wanted more 'quality tourists' and started a bunch of clampdowns. Nowhere have they been more rigidly enforced than on my beloved Phuket. Back then most westerners here were well dressed and respectable. Girls on the street were covered and girls in closed door a-go-gos were uncovered. Free spending people drank when they liked and wandered quietly off home when they were ready. There was so little trouble, few police were seen after 6.00 PM. Now my paradise on earth gets more like hell on earth every day. Western females glare at us as we go about our leisure pursuits. Hordes of drunken, heavily tattooed, skinhead guys in tank tops look for trouble. Girls walk the streets in see-through dresses, while indoors the dancers are covered up. Phuket must be the only place in the world where go-go dancers remove clothes to go outside. Frustrated hordes of people are forced onto the streets by armed police at 1 AM. As fast as the licensed bars close, unlicensed sidewalk vendors appear selling booze out of polystyrene boxes to anyone that wants it. So now, instead of responsible drinking in supervised bars, and exposure of flesh confined to hidden away places, we have drunken unsupervised mobs on the streets impeding traffic and fighting while being propositioned by semi-naked ladies and others. What kind of 'quality' improvement is this?

De facto curfew?

I still maintain that the early closings are an attempt by the authorities to impose a de facto curfew on the population without having to come out and actually impose an actual curfew. Take away anything and everything people can do late-hours and what choice do they have but to stay at home?

People ARE going elsewhere.

I'm writing in response to your question about the 1AM closing time effecting visits to Thailand in your most recent column. I've been coming to Thailand a few times each year since the mid eighties. Thailand was THE most fun place in the world. The many changes and even military coups would not curtail my visits. Until now. The 1AM closings, the passport checks, the piss tests, the huge build-up in the resort areas, the surly mercenary attitudes of the bar girls and the influx of young low-rent farangs with severe behavior/manner disorders have made visits to Thailand a tiresome ordeal. When I happen to be in the area I occasionally still stop by Bangkok / Pattaya though my stays are considerably shorter.

Good riddance?!

I’ll still visit and thankfully so! Above all, I think we need to remind ourselves that we are truly guests in Thailand and it’s really up to the Thais what direction they take concerning politics, morality or the closing time of bars. If the Thais decide to close bars at 1, more power to them. I can easily get my fill of whatever I like before closing time and hopefully have less drunken farangs to avoid on the way back home. Bottom line, there’s no place like Thailand, restricted closing times or not. The foreigners that would avoid this great place over such an issue aren’t a loss at all. Good riddance.

The Philippines.

I have spent a month in LOS for each of the last three years in December, with a two week follow-up later in the year. I usually party the first and last couple of days, and then travel all around the Kingdom. No backpacker am I, with a daily budget of about $200 US+. I have just booked my December trip for this year. To the Philippines! I MIGHT be willing to live with a 1AM curfew. But who is to say what it will be by then? 9PM? So long old Siam, its been fun.

Yep, I have to say that I did like Prague.

In response to your comment where is everyone going, all my old mates seem to go to Prague where by all accounts the beer is a lot cheaper, the women are gorgeous and also not expensive, and they open late. And its only a few hours away from most major European cities with lots of cheap fares available also. Other places mentioned in dispatches have been Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. The old Eastern block is taking over from the far east it seems.

Try Panama?

The more I read about rising visa qualification costs, poor attitude by Thais toward farang, driving problems (i.e. accidents), healthcare, poor success rates of Thai – farang relationships etc, I am certainly looking at other countries that actually offer incentives for retirees. My subscription to “INTERNATIONAL LIVING” rates the best places in the world to retire, Thailand has dropped from about 4 or 5th on the list 8 years ago, to about 27th now. Panama has been rated #1 for at least the last 3 years. So I’ll be back this year, and probably next for holidays, but have a feeling I won’t be retiring there.

After what seemed to be the start of a major crackdown in Pattaya, many gogo bars down in the city of sin are still open till 2 AM. They just turn their lights out outside, but inside the music keeps on a rocking! The police don't seem to want to enforce the 1 AM shutdown with any great fervour. Still, some days the bars in Walking Street and Soi Pattayaland are being forced to close at 1 AM. Closing times are a bit of a lottery at the moment in Pattaya.

Bangkok bars are still being closed at 1:00 AM or a little after with no real change in what has been happening for the past month, and what we can now only presume is how it will be from now on.

And down in Phuket where the great strike took place, they did get the virtually 100% closure rate for bars that they had been hoping for. However, some rather resourceful young lasses were hanging out at guesthouses and restaurants offering themselves to those who liked like they wanted their itch scratched. The governor has provisionally allowed the bars in Patong, Karon and Kata to open until 2 AM and is going to lobby the government to get it extended until 3 AM, arguing that it is a tourist resort and is thus appropriate. But with all of the commotion in the south recently, I wonder if that will be used as an excuse to sideline it? It has been said that if things revert back to 1 AM, the bars will all shut up shop in unison, again.

The Pong has been slow this past week. I think lots of tourists are looking at the papers and staying away as most of "the regulars" were there. A meeting was scheduled for 0800 Saturday at the cop shop in Bangrak, the police district which keeps an eye on the comings and goings down at The Pong and all bar owners were advised to send one representative. But they were scrambling as no-one wanted to go out at 8 AM which is an ungodly hour for people who work at such venues. On Friday night, bars in the Pong stayed open until 2 AM.

Some bar owners in the farang bar areas are threatening their staff who meet guys after work and who do not pay the barfine with 1000 – 2000 baht cut from their pay, the amount dependent on which bar we are referring to. This, in my mind, officially makes these bar owners and managers pimps. Seriously, running a bar is one thing, but this policy makes you a PIMP! Discouraging it is one thing, but cutting someone a real chunk of their salary is something else altogether.

A friend has a novel way to get around the "farang pay ten times the Thai price policy" at various national parks and heritage sites. As a local, he knows that by showing some form of local ID, he will be admitted at the Thai price, so he uses his drivers licence which has his photo on it. He then gives two other local forms of ID, all of which clearly have his name, to his two farang friends and they all briefly flash these at the ticket person (who it would seem cannot read English) and they all get in for the local price. It has worked at quite a few places apparently!

How does Titty Twister re-open without a license? All bars in Nana paid 100,000 baht to get the required licence for each gogo and as a matter of fact, have to pay the renewal fees this month. There are not supposed to be any new entertainment venues in no zoned areas. Go figure.

In response to my positive comments in last week's column about painted dancers, a reader advises that he was in Soi Cowboy last weekend and in one bar they had dancers painted in fluorescent paint, but he can’t remember which bar! Hell!

Now since there are apparently no beer bar licenses being issued in the no zoned area, how does a new building open up on Sukumvit next to Soi 1, 8 bars opened and the second and third floors soon to follow.

Lollipop in Nana Plaza got popped a week or so ago for no license. Of course they can't get closed because they do not have a license. Lumpini took 5 service girls out with beers in their hands through the Nana driveway, but the bar can remain open and just pay a fine…

From what I have been told, and this is only anecdotal and not absolute fact, the drug tests administered in the raids on bars appear to test only for methamphetamines. A few readers have asked if the tests detect marijuana or not but it would seem that they do not, and to test for various other illicit substances would require a much more expensive test and one which would take longer too.

I don't like to repeat here what is reported in the Thai news but there was one story reported in the Thai Rath newspaper which was quite horrific. An Australian English teacher, married to a local lass and with one little one was reportedly struggling to make ends meet. The story speculated that it had all got too much for the poor guy and he decided to end it all by jumping from the 22nd story of his apartment building. The poor fellow landed on a fence and he hit it so hard that his torso split in two. Oh my God. Was this reported in the English language press? I missed it if it was. Thai Rath included the story with a picture, though thankfully his remains were pixilated. RIP.

A reminder that there is a Halloween party at Hollywood 2 Bar on the top floor of Nana Plaza tonight.

A new book will be out soon from Ken at Living Dolls in Pattaya. Called Thai Temptations, it has black and white photographs of the girls and will go for 850 baht at Bookazine. It is a hardback and has been described as the best photo book on this sort of thing since Nick Nostitz's book on the same subject.

What is the most expensive place for a Heineken in Bangkok? The private members club Exotica might be hard to beat. Non-members are charged the princely sum of 520 baht for a Heineken, though it is cheaper for members. Can anyone beat this? 520 for a Heineken? Hell, even 5 star hotels usually only charge around 200 baht or so for the same thing.

A word of warning to the many folks who self diagnose and administer medicine when they get ill, particularly when they get a dose, also known as the drippy dick. Apparently the drug of choice for people has been Zithromax and guys would pop a few pills and the symptoms would go away. I am told that this used to work a couple of years ago but not these days. Guys who self administer appear to have contributed towards drug resistant strains and now guys are stuck with going down to the local clinic and getting a couple of painful penicillin jabs in their ass. And the word on the street is that the penicillin jabs are even more expensive than Zithromax, which is pricey itself.

The Thai word "jim" when said with a rising tone has a certain naughty meaning. But if your name is Jim, do not worry, as us English speakers would not say it with the tone and thus no, it would not be mistaken for the naughty meaning.

If you're in the market for a Thailand guidebook and are considering the Lonely Planet, it might pay to wait a couple of months because word is that the next edition of the Thailand guide book, apparently LP's top selling book, is due out in December. Joe is floating around the north at the moment, no doubt updating it with all of the latest info. A lot has changed in Thailand in the last couple of years – many new things from new places to go, shop and ways to travel – and prices have moved quite a lot – so it should be worth picking up.

Quote of the week comes from a girl in Pattaya. 'Oh we open 24 hours – just turn off music at one o'clock.

Ball In Hand and Hillary Bar have announced a weekly tournament program for women on Saturdays and men on Sundays alternating between both pool venues. Players of all skill levels are welcome to play as they are introducing for the first time in Thailand a “handicap ranking system” which will allow all participants to compete on an equal footing. The first women's tournament is scheduled for Saturday the 13th of November at the Ball In Hand with the men’s on Sunday the 14th at the Hillary bar. The entry fee is 500 baht for women (max 16 players) and 700 baht for men (max 24 players). The prize purse will be divided as follows: 10% of all entry fees will be kept by the bar. All the remaining money to be divided up as follows: 55% for the winner, 25% for the runner up and 10% for each of the losing semi finalists. This seems damned generous to me and full marks to the Ball in Hand for not pocketing more! Players will be ranked and handicapped based on tournament play with weekly adjustment depending on results. For any further information, please contact the Ball In Hand or the Hillary Bar.

The following email has been doing the rounds. I am neither for nor against it but publish it here so that anyone who has any feelings on the matter can act accordingly.

Pattaya City News has been asked by Khun Tawit, the Chairman of Pattaya City
Council to undertake an email campaign to support their case to revert back to the 2 am bar closing times. We would like as many people as possible to send an email to us and every sensible email will be printed out and presented to the Council Chairman personally. Although I cannot guarantee this will have any effect, I would like to do my bit helped by members of this board to try and get the new regulations reversed. The fact that he asked me to arrange this gives me some hope that something can be done. I will keep you informed of developments on this board as they happen. Please send your emails to: [email protected] Please give your name and location (not full address). Please mention your Thailand experience (If you live here, how long have you done so; if you holiday here how many times have you come here and would you consider not coming to Pattaya anymore because of the new regulations).

Ask the Sticks

Mrs. Stick is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Please note that for general bargirl related questions, Mr. Stick might answer them. In her words, "why should I answer questions about those girls when you know much more about them than me". Mmmm….the Mrs. was not happy when she said that! Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about.

Question 1: On a dating site I meet good Thai ladies around 30 years old. Sometimes, after 2 or 3 mails, I see I don't want more e-mailing. Should I just stop answering? Or should I clearly say goodbye? I might say: "Sorry, I am so tired after work, I want to stop e-mailing now, hope you understand, all good luck to you". Is this hurting more than just not replying? Is there a loss of face? They are nice, just not my kind of friend.

Mrs. Stick says: Don't be so sensitive! You talked, you didn't click and that is it. 2 or 3 emails hardly constitutes a serious relationship.

Question 2: I discovered Stickman's web site only recently, and have enjoyed the explanations of Thai society very much. I have been especially interested in the emotional scams that bar girls perpetrate on lovesick farangs in order to relieve them of their money. Very interesting! My question to you is this: Will successful, professional Thai women manipulate farangs the same way for other purposes? I taught a course last summer in Thailand and met a delightful Thai woman. She is an professor, quite intelligent, a widow, and comes from a very good family. I am not an accomplished flirt, but I did my best and we became good friends. I enjoyed her company immensely, and while our relationship did not progress beyond flirting and teasing, she became very emotional when it was time for me to return to Farangland. We have been emailing back and forth regularly. Lately, she has been very assertive in wanting to know my true feelings for her, along with frequent complaints about her "situation" in Bangkok, and how she wishes that she could get away from all of the bad memories there. Thus far, it bears a certain similarity to the "please help me get out of the bar" line that Stickman discusses so eloquently.

Mr. Stick says: I think I am better qualified to answer this question. Whether it is just a recent thing or not, I do not know, but it does seem that more and more Thai women see farangs as a new option, a way to get ahead, and perhaps a way to escape something. The bargirl scams are well known, but there have been reported stories of Thai women who are not bargirls – and have never been – doing similar types of things. As for professional women, and professors, I think it is highly doubtful. The cases I have heard about tend to be young women in their early 20s who make up silly stories and perhaps do not quite realise the magnitude of what they are doing. You do get the odd professional women up to no good, but I imagine that is very much the exception and outright scamming is not so likely though it does happen. What I would be more concerned about is that this woman has "issues". What is she trying to escape? Getting into a relationship where the other partner has issues is never recommended!

I'm sure you have seen the scenes on TV and reports in the newspapers of the chaos in the south of Thailand that have been broadcast all around the world and for which the Thai government has been widely criticised. With 78 Thai Muslims perishing under mysterious circumstances, my initial feelings were that this was all wrong, but when I thought about it more, I have to wonder. Only a couple of days later bombs were set up in on of the southern provinces, killing one, injuring 14 including one poor policeman who has had both legs amputated. The bombs which went off in early morning were next to a kindergarten! I don't want to get political here, but my God, if hundreds of INNOCENT Thais had been savagely murdered by the radicals (and they have been – policeman, soldiers, teachers, government officials, judges etc), then I think that perhaps they should count themselves lucky. I had better shut up now. I never want to get political in this column and the last thing I want to do is push my political leanings on to you.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Claymore, Gapton and Dave The Rave.