Stickman's Weekly Column February 20th, 2005

Noseying Around, Trust, Or A Lack Of It


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I’ll come straight out and say it. I truly believe that the average Thai woman is much less trustworthy than the average farang woman. I really do. This is based on many things ranging from personal observations, to personal experience to reading all of the stories that readers submit to his website, both those for publication and those not.

With this in mind, I have always recommended that for anyone involved in a relationship with a Thai woman, that they pay a bit more attention than perhaps they would if she was farang. That doesn't mean that one should go spying on her, but do pay attention, notice the little things.

But just what do you do if you notice that there are a few things that don't seem right. What happens if you think she really is up to no good? What options exist?

Noseying around in your partner’s affairs is never a good idea, and frankly, it is strongly discouraged. However, sometimes it may become a necessary evil. Snooping can take many forms. In its crudest form, it will involve going through one’s personal items, from their wallet to their drawers or the pockets of their clothes to even scanning through their call lists in their mobile phone. This might be done when they are in the shower or the other room, or perhaps when they aren’t home.

But most people who are up to no good are aware of all of the obvious and therefore are able to hide, conceal or destroy any physical evidence that may be found in such a search. While it may be hard to find evidence the conventional way, these days many secrets can be found through the use of technology and people who store their secrets or communicate with their extra-marital lover(s) electronically often have a very false sense of security.

A personal computer contains a wealth of information, some of which may be clear evidence of lies or some of which can be pieced together to work things out. Even just the history in one’s internet browser can be telling. But just how do you access these secrets?

It is easy enough to check and see just where your partner has visited online, but what if you want to dig a little deeper? The most common type of program used by those jealous lovers, or those who suspect that something is amiss, are keyloggers. This is a small program which once installed on your computer captures every keystroke. In theory this would allow you to see just what your partner had been typing online, but it actually gives you a whole lot more. The most obvious use for keyloggers is that they can be used to gain and passwords to email accounts and other online memberships which could be accessed at a later time. This alone can be extremely revealing…

An email from a reader this week highlighted how he had ingeniously installed some software on his laptop that along with the appropriate cable allowed him to connect his darling’s mobile phone with his laptop. He did so on the pretence that he would be able to download pictures from his computer to her phone and she could then use them as the wallpaper on her mobile. What she didn’t know was that while his laptop was connected to her phone he could not only transfer data from the laptop to her phone, but also in the other direction, from her phone, to his laptop! He took advantage of the situation and copied all of her telephone records including calls made and received, but even more importantly, all of her sent and received SMS messages. He suddenly had a snapshot of her life. He found out that she had been seeing SEVERAL guys while professing her love for him, and only him.

Of course if you truly believe that something is up, you could hire a PI to nosey around her background. Getting a farang PI in Bangkok is actually remarkably cheap, and odds are you'll find out most of what you need to know – and potentially save a lot of heartache later.

But what to do if you find something? What if you find something that very clearly shows that your teeruk has been up to no good? This is where things get really difficult.

As I wrote in the opening piece of a column a couple of years back, if you draw to the attention of a Thai that they have done something clearly wrong, or even something questionable which should be discussed, it is very likely that they will see YOU as being at fault, the totally warped thinking being that if you had not brought it up, there wouldn’t be a problem!

I conducted an investigation for a gentleman recently and was able to provide him with very clear proof that his darling was not showing the level of integrity that he had expected of her. But once presented with the evidence, the question suddenly became one of just what one does next. Once the trust has been broken, I say it is time to skedaddle, but that's me, you might want to try and work it through. If you catch a Thai woman in the wrong via some sort of covert surveillance or snooping, she will almost certainly believe that it is *you* who is in the wrong! What's more, she'll scream and yell and want consoling and apologies that you won't do it again! Ha!

There are several issues here. The main one of course is the whole issue of spying on your darling in the first place. From a privacy point of view it is clearly wrong. But if you have reason, and some sort of evidence that something is going on…then perhaps it is justified?

I have always felt that such noseying around is potentially very harmful to a relationship, very clearly wrong and should ONLY be done if one has a fairly strong reason to suspect that something is up. Sometimes you just have to trust and if you can't, you will in all likelihood have a troubled relationship. You may find that you will forever be noseying around in the shadows, quite possibly looking for something that isn’t there. This is no way to live. But I think the bottom line is this. If you cannot trust her, or she has given you enough reason not to trust her, then get out of the relationship. When the trust has gone there really is nothing left.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was Pattaya Bay, as seen from Starbucks.

Not far from Bangkok…

Last week's pic was taken from the top floor of one of the Starbucks branches on Beach Road in Pattaya, late afternoon, looking out over Pattaya Bay. Each week the first reader to correctly state where the pic is by email to me wins a 500 baht credit from Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. Please note that the credit MUST be claimed within two weeks and you MUST state in the email that you are Bangkok based. So, to claim that prize, you must be in Bangkok at some time in the next two weeks. For the next several weeks, top British thriller author Steve Leather has very kindly provided some copies of his just published novel, "Private Dancer" to give away. So, for the second person to correctly state where the pic is, a copy of the book will be sent to you. You must provide a postal address in Thailand. This week's pic is outside Bangkok.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Getting it right.

Bar names are often quoted incorrectly. Am I going crazy or what but isn't there a pool ball with a 2 on it between the words Morning and Night? That would make the name Morning 2 Night which is far sensible than the often heard and ridiculous sounding "Morning Night". The other one is CM2. Harder to ignore as EVERYBODY says this but the sign clearly says CM². I would make that CM squared as in "Siam Square".

Bangkok ain't so bad!

I always thought pre-skytrain Bangkok was the height of insanity, a fundamental flaw in driving with a bunch of people who believe in re-incarnation, but I have never seen anything like Jakarta in rush hour. There seems to be a system which they all know but I could never figure out what it was. It was just drive wherever you find a space – sidewalks, bus stops, whatever. And most of them are Muslims! They aren't coming back! Go figure.

Be careful at the border.

Some caution at the Poipet border crossing. It seems that lately there have been more pickpockets than before. Some of the child beggars don't seem to be content with just begging now days. I strongly advise people to be aware of their possessions at all times. A bill fold should be carried in your front pocket. Mobile phones should also be put in your front pocket and not hung from your belt they will sneak up and try to remove it from your belt. Backpacks should be carried on front if possible, if left on your back they will try to remove things from the small compartments. Don’t underestimate the cleverness of these children. Remember that mobile phone of yours is worth a month or two or even six months worth of food and shelter in Poipet. A foreign passport can also bring in a pretty good sum on the black market. Most of the pickpockets will try to nudge up against you to distract you, while the others will remove what valuables they can find. I also must stress do not give out any money not even one baht to any one begging at the border, if you do you are only asking to get robbed. Within minutes you will be surrounded and targeted by the thieves. I must include that as with any where it’s the few that give the rest a bad image, while most of the people here are hard working individuals. They go to work everyday doing whatever it is they do, they go to the store and buy food, and carry on just as we do. My heart really goes out to these people living in this extreme kind of poverty that most people in developed countries couldn’t imagine. I only wish that so many here didn’t have to resort to thievery or dishonest practices to live. Most of the people that live in Cambodia are as honest as can be.

Difficulty finding a wife.

After coming to Thailand for years I have to admit that finding a wife is not a problem. But finding a woman of your expectations is something else. I have friends who introduce me to ineligible women everyday. They are all excited to meet a farang and get married. After many introductions and meetings I conclude that most of them have dream worlds of what marrying a farang is all about. They seem to fantasize about a big house, a new car, everything nice etc. They look at us as white knights literally. When I first started looking for a Thai wife I was interested because of the idea I could take a kind loving woman and provide for her and our children perhaps in a way one from her immediate friends and colleagues could. I was thinking live in her environment, and take care of all her needs and give our children opportunities they would never get from other relationships open to her. Good home, good education, great recreation, travel, security, good future etc. What I have found is women with short term goals, immediate showing of wealth and power through high rolling ways. I see many houses that sell in villages for 500,000 to 700,000 baht that would make good homes for a single child family. I would not have a lot of money tied up but we could have a good life. But the women want 4 to 10 million baht mansions. I look at new light trucks, they look at luxury sedans. And the list goes on. I live in Canada and own a new car, a 26 foot sailboat, belong to good clubs, own my house and travel everywhere. I just want to share that with a good woman. But a good woman is hard to find here. I strongly believe most women here expect farangs to place them way above their peers but do not possess enough class to understand what a good life really is because they have never been exposed to it, and when they are exposed to it their response is take the money and run. It's like the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. I personally have given up on meeting a Thai woman who will respect the true intentions of a white male to honestly give them a good life and really take care of them and help them to grow beyond where they are. I now look at them the same way I look at white women – greedy, selfish and manipulative. The only difference is here women can be found immediately after giving up the last one. Permanent relationships are impossible to have. Just stay with them till you are tired of them and then get a new one. I am glad I finally realized this and can live with it.

There are risks.

I do a lot of work at the Immigration Detention Center, on Soi Suan Phlu off Sathorn Road. I think any person interested in pursuing the nightlife of Bangkok, Pattaya, etc. should go check out some of the wayward souls down at the IDC, maybe during visitors hours when they go to the Immigration Bureau to renew their passport. In addition to the many people from Laos, Cambodia and Burma, there are many from Germany, US, UK, Australia as well as places further afield in IDC. These are people who have lost their money, their minds and their health, and often their lives to AIDS. Their families back home do not know how to contact them, the embassies often do not return their calls. No one comes to visit them, save for me and a few social workers, in our attempts to help them be released. They have no one. Keep in mind that unlike in the US and most of Europe, once you are in the IDC, be it for an overstay or commission of a crime of which you have served the sentence in another prison, there is no deportation. You stay there until you can pay for your own ticket home. I've worked in detention centres around the world and doing a stint in the Bangkok IDC is some of the hardest time I can imagine. I know that Bangkok can be a lot of fun and there are many stories to tell the mates back home, or here, for that matter. But behind most every funny story is a risk you are taking. I do not want to sound like anyone's mother, but please be careful.

Rainbow Group and the current Woodstock management may have hit a snag in the agreement for the sale of Woodstock. While it looked as though the deal was all set to go through, the very issue I raised in the column last week about the lack of suitable licences for the venue to be a gogo bar may hold things back. Time will tell… The current Woodstock management has said that they would retain certain items from Woodstock like the name, the music collection, the photos and pictures, and probably extra items from the kitchen, the sound system, etc. They are hopeful that Woodstock will be sold and ownership transferred over to the Rainbow Group in early March. If and / or when the current management receive the payment for the sale, they are looking to relocate to somewhere on Sukhumvit, and this new location would be a continuation of Woodstock. It would be an estimated three to four months before Woodstock could relocate, after the sale has gone through. Apparently, the current lease on Woodstock runs through to the end of June.

Woodstock has often been described as an oasis of sanity in the middle of the madness of Bangkok, but is it really an oasis? It’s dark, smoky and the service can be horribly slow. Yeah, the food is fairly good and the place oozes character, but an oasis, nah, it’s probably not the most fitting description. But what if you really do want an oasis in the centre of Bangkok? Somewhere relaxing and pleasant, a place where you can get good food and drinks in a nice setting, but without sky-high prices? 5 star food at 3 star prices with a nice view to boot. Am I dreaming? Actually, no, I’m not! Livingstone’s, the multi faceted hotel and restaurant complex on Sukhumvit Soi 33 is coming along very well indeed. It has undergone major change over the past few months and the venue now features a steak restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a poolside soi 33 style hostess bar, and some small huts out front with luscious burgers and beer. This place really is worth checking out! And they probably have the best steaks I’ve found in Bangkok for under the psychologically important 400 baht mark. The local beef tenderloin is FANTASTIC! My recommendation is to dine beside the pool at twilight and believe me, Bangkok is the last place you'll think you are. A true oasis in the middle of Bangkok.

The bars between the Ambassador and Robinson's on Sukhumvit must be gone by 28th and there are notices up outside them to that effect. Ahhh, another bar area closing. Those bars are in a really busy spot and let's face it, they are both a mess and an embarrassment. Their removal can only be a good thing.

If you're thinking of changing over from AIS / One2Call to DTAC, that's the company who now offer 1 baht a minute mobile phone calls, nationwide, 24 hours a day until the end of the year, then think twice before getting rid of your existing SIM card. As I write this, the Mrs. is cursing and swearing because she cannot get a "line out". It would seem that the DTAC system has been overloaded with people who are taking advantage of this excellent deal. It would appear that they need to upgrade their system to ensure that it can cope…

The 10th Annual Father Joe Maier's Human Development Foundation Charity Golf Classic will be held on Friday, March 11th, 12:00 noon at The Legacy Golf Club (formally called Winsan & Natural Park Ram Indra Golf Club) here in Bangkok. For all the details to play, sign up, sponsorship and donation information, please go to this site or go in and see Doug at Bourbon Street.

From last week's column, two readers informed me that the flowers on the front of cars / pickups are there every year at this time. Apparently they are supposed to bring good luck for the Chinese New Year. But just why doesn't this seem to happen elsewhere?!

I am often asked about places for storage in Bangkok and truth be told, I know nothing about this. Anyone got any hints or tips for people who want to store their stuff somewhere in the big city?

Is Thailand the only country in the world where you get cars, or perhaps more often, pick-up trucks, covered in both Manchester United AND Liverpool stickers? Remove the Man Utd stickers and it'd be a perfectly decent vehicle again… (For any readers not familiar with English football, these two teams are fierce rivals.)

If a Chinaman moves to the West, let's say Down Under, they would often call themselves a Kiwi or an Aussie. Likewise if an Afghani moves there, they too would see themselves a Kiwi or an Aussie… But if a farang moves to Thailand, they always stay farang, always an expat. Just why is this? I reckon it probably comes back to the fact that we only ever get one year visas and most of us know just how precarious our existence in Thailand is. We ONLY ever get a one year visa and I think that makes us see ourselves for what we are, expats, and never as Thais. Or then again, maybe the vast majority of Westerners in Thailand simply don't want to become a Thai, that is, even if they could?

The big news on the Pong this week was that the local Bangrak authorities decided to promote the Pong. They had a plan to shut down the Patpong 1 night market on February 18 and planned an Elvis Show a cabaret show (with katoeys) and other entertainment. They announced that such events would occur from time to time with other shows planned. They also plan to open a website to advertise these events. I wonder if the formula to get customers back is somewhat more simple? Perhaps they should just allow the bars to stay open until a reasonable hour?

The safety zone!

The party on the Pong was officially known as the "safety zone party". It truly was a safety zone as the number of cops from all the various police entities outnumbered the tourists for most of the shows.

The main Patpong soi was closed for half its length from the Suriwong end and vendors were allowed to set up in the Silom end of the street. A large stage was erected and HUGE speakers were placed up and down the street. It was typical Thai fare with VERY LOUD Thai music blasted down the street. Why do they have to turn up so damned loud?! Metal chairs were set up for those who wanted to enjoy the show but during the course of the night 1/2 of them were never even occupied! The crowd consisted of mostly Thai workers who had helped set up the stage and straphangers from the various shows. A few tourists would sit down to listen only to be driven away by the sheer volume. The poor bar owners and the very small number of patrons in the bars near the stage had their ears assaulted like never before. The poor vendors that were given no choice in shutting down and the bar owners near the stage were surely hoping that no more productions of this type are staged. Why oh why do they have play the music so damned loud?!

It must be high tourist season for Asian tourists as loads of male tourists from Japan, Korea and China were seen moving up and down the Pong in large groups accompanied by their Thai comfort ladies. In fact, there were so many of them with ladies that it got one thinking that perhaps they were included in the price of the tour?

In some bad news for fast food addicts both KFC and McDonalds on the Suriwong end of Patpong have closed their doors. So if you find yourself in the mood for some fast food in that area late at night you will have to cross Silom to find it, which can be a bit hairy. In a related story the building next to the Thai Farmers bank across the street from Patpong on Suriwong has been remodelled and it looks like small market style booths are being set up. Wonder what will happen to the now vacant KFC and McDonalds locations? More fake bag shops?

There are a heap of Thai dating agencies and marriage agencies online. Heck, the Mrs. and I even thought of setting one up at one time but gave up on the idea when we realised how difficult it would be to find suitable, genuine ladies. The problem with many of the existing agencies are numerous. Some have outrageous joining fees (US$1,500+). Some have prohibitive practices such as forcing all communication between you and the girl to go through the company (and for this you are charged). At least one even insists that should the couple go on to get married, the couple must pay a percentage of the dowry to the agency! And then there are agencies which list girls who never wanted to be there in the first place, who are since married or the classic case, the agency which ran a picture of a woman who was dead! I can just imagine a lawyer licking his lips at the prospect of that! This week I was contacted by a new firm, Bangkokmates.com, run by the very charming Pin. Pin, a very attractive Thai woman in her mid 20s with excellent English, offers what she calls an introduction service and NOT a marriage agency. She simply wants to provide a chance for people to meet each other. Their fees are low and she is very professional (and charming). The link through to them is immediately above this paragraph. I guarantee that when you meet Pin, you'll be impressed – a few guys are going to fall in love with her, even before they meet any ladies through her… UPDATE JULY 2005: Links and recommendations for this provider have been removed due to the questionable practices of the operator.

Quote of the week comes from Chris Pirazzai, the co-author of "Thailand Fever". He said to me, "I only know of one Farang / Thai couple who do not have arguments of money – he simply gives his paycheck to her every month".

Down in Hua Hin this week, despite the fact that it was very busy, it still retains its charm and remains a great place to escape from crazy Bangkok for a day or two. I do have to wonder though, why is it that hotel rooms in Hua Hin cost about twice the price of similar hotel rooms in Pattaya, but seafood in Hua Hin, is about half the price of seafood in Pattaya. Weird.

I had problems with email earlier this week. If you have sent me an email and have not had a reply within 48 hours, please re-send the email. I have replied to all emails but whether Hotmail actually decided to send the email on to you, I just do not know. It seems that many emails I sent got lost in cyberspace. Things seem ok now though, touch wood.

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. It has to be said that Mrs. Stick is not your stereotypical Thai woman. She is not Buddhist and she is not shy to criticise things about her own country and culture, although having said that, she remains proud to be Thai. Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about.

Question 1: I have just returned from my latest trip in Thailand, mainly in the Isaan region as I have a loving teeruk who hails from that nick of the wood. She is a well respected high school teacher. I have visited her home town several times and have developed a great relationship with all of her family. I feel that I am accepted and respected by them. Although my grasp of Thai language is almost no existent, I had noticed that she and her family refer to me as “farang” and don't using my name; for example she’d call her mother and say that she is with farang at school and we would get home a little late than anticipated. I have confronted her with this and she denied it, after much probing she admitted she used to do that at the very beginning of our relationship when her family didn’t know me or just met me but now she vehemently insist that she calls with my name. Now, coming from a Thai, who are world famous for conflict avoidance and white lying in order to keep harmony, I would say that most if not all of them still can’t get around the idea to name my name but feel more comfortable using the term “farang”. This has put a damper in our relationship and has changed my outlook on them, indeed in all my future Thai / Farang rapports – maybe I’m judging them harshly. I am curious to know if that is the accepted norm in these circumstances and if indeed Mr. Stick and or any other readers have found themselves in a similar situation.

Mr. Stick says: I have always been addressed as Khun Stick by everyone in the Thai side of the family. I have never, as far as I am aware, been referred to as "that farang", or anything similar. Sure, it does help that the family I married into is genuine middle class – for example, every adult except for those VERY old, attended tertiary education and has at least a bachelor's degree and a job commensurate with their education. I can see how being referred to as farang could become annoying. I have to say though that generally, most rural Thais tend to be very pleasant, and even if they are referring to you as simply "farang", that is no big deal. My suggestion is not what you would expect…why don't you go and study Thai to a decent level. Once you do this, you will know exactly what they're talking about and then, even if they wanted to (and I doubt they would), they would not be able to gossip about you in Thai!

Question 2: If Thais are so concerned about appearances, and they way you look and dress is a symbol of status and earns face and respect, why do shorts and T-shirts seem to constitute the majority of most Thais' wardrobes? Even if they are poor, why don't they spend more money trying to get their wardrobe to match wealthier Thais, instead of spending their money on gold and mobile phones?

Mrs. Stick says: Shorts and T-shirts? I am sorry but I do not seem many people wearing these out. At home perhaps, but not when they go out. We usually change clothes as soon as we get home into something casual so perhaps these are the clothes that these people wear at home. Just walk around central Bangkok and you'll see few people wearing such clothes.

Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive feedback to the Boss Hogg interview from last week's column. With a bit of luck, we'll get the second part done this week and will run it next week. This time we'll be looking at the cost of drinks and girls, bargirls and their antics and general quality of life. I'll try and do a few more interviews as they always seem to go down well, even when the interviewee is an unashamed katoey fan. Interviews are fun to conduct but they are time consuming. The Boss Hogg interview took several hours to put together, from the travelling time to the interview time to the editing etc. If there is anyone you would like to see interviewed, do let me know. The only criteria is that the person needs to be reasonably well known, though not necessarily famous. Perhaps most importantly, they need to be interesting. Until next week…

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Dave The Rave, Claymore and Bkk Grasshopper.