Stickman's Weekly Column July 3rd, 2005

The Love With Korat Affair Is Over


StickmanBangk ok .com


It's just a three hour drive from the capital and for the best part of the last three years the Mrs. and I have been visiting Korat regularly, at least once a month, spending time with her side of the family. During this time I have got to know the city fairly well. I've got to know the neighbours in mother in law's soi, some of the vendors who operate in the neighbourhood and a few of the vendors in a couple of the city's markets. I've also managed to break into the expat scene where I've mixed with both those who teach, as well as those who do things that are, shall we say, somewhat more profitable.

Korat, or Nakon Rachasima as it is also known, is a pleasant enough place, but would I want to live there? Is it an untapped oasis that has been overlooked by the average farang, or is it yet another boring provincial Thai city?

What does Korat offer the intrepid farang who is looking for somewhere to lay his hat? What are the landmarks, and the specific places or things that the locals are especially proud of, or the features of the city that may appeal to Khun Farang? Perhaps the most well-known landmark is the Ya Mo statue which can be found in a large park right in the centre of town. Day and night the pilgrims come and ask for Ya Mo's blessing. If my Thai is as good as I think it is, one hell of a lot of people are asking for a lottery win and I just hope they don't all get it the same week otherwise the jackpot is going to be split about a million ways. The park is surrounded by the usual mix of shops, a plethora of gold shops and pawn shops and no shortage of food vendors. Just a stone's throw away is Klang Plaza, which used to be the largest shopping centre in town until…

At the weekend the locals now head for The Mall, a large Bangkok-style shopping centre with hundreds of shops. There is no Asia Books, no Bookazine, no Foodland, and no Villa. Bourbon Street doesn't have a branch there and you can forget even finding a Starbucks branch. And not to say that Starbucks makes good coffee, but you'll have quite a job finding yourself a decent coffee fix in The Mall. There would not be one shop in there that targets foreigners – everything is for the locals.

But it is more than just farang conveniences that Korat lacks. The city is nowhere near the sea so there aren't any beach areas to relax at, and while Khao Yai national park isn't that far away – it's about an hour or so's drive from Korat, it is sufficiently far away that you probably wouldn't go there that often.

In addition to The Mall, or Da Mor as the locals say it, there is the obligatory Big C, Makro and Lotus Supercentre. Good for cheap shopping and groceries, but really, there is very little that a farang hungry for treats from home will find. Favourite imported products, so common on the shelves of Villa and Foodland in Sukhumvit, should be forgotten about. You're dreaming if you want to find your favourite brand of baked beans in Korat. The average farang in Korat still needs frequent shopping trips to Bangkok for their essentials.

As with other Thai provincial centres, there is no shortage of weird and wonderful things going on. The lord Buddha going for a Sunday drive or 6 family members on a motorbike are just some of the sights that can be seen on a daily basis. But while the sights and sounds and the general freak show of rural Thailand may give you a chuckle the first time you witness them, you quickly become de-sensitized to most of it. These are the sort of things that tourists get off on but when you're living somewhere, you just don't notice them after a while and they become meaningless.

So, what about the people of Korat? Well, they are a pleasant bunch it has to be said. Beaming smiles everywhere and locals are generally very friendly and often make some friendly comment. Unfortunately it is not all joy and fun. Several times I have retreated to the park in the centre of the city, just me, a cool coffee and the Bangkok Post, keen to get away from it all and just sit back and relax. About every second time I sit down in that park, trying to enjoy a bit of peace and solitude, I am approached by someone or other, and they are always a bloody nuisance. "Milk for my kids" is the most common request, quickly followed by "hello handsome man"! I kid you not, even in the main park in the centre of the city of Korat at midday on a Saturday or a Sunday, I am approached by hardcore hookers who can speak English and who succeed in making a real nuisance of themselves. The calls of "hey you, where you go" from tuktuk drivers are almost as common in Korat as they are in other more heavily touristed spots throughout Thailand.

And this is where the troubles start. Korat, for all of its good points – and there are many, such as the friendly people, the extremely low prices, and the laidback lifestyle – has little that really appeals to the average farang. Unless you have a specific reason to be there, there really is not that much to get excited about.

The low cost of living would appear to be the main reason to choose Korat or somewhere similar to live. But as has been my mantra for some time, I truly believe that you're better off trying to earn more than you are spending less. Obviously though, if you're in your twilight years and are living off a pension or some residual income, then Korat is an option.

What about the farangs in Korat? I can't say I know that many, but I do know a few. They can largely be put into two groups – teachers and alcoholics. There might even be some common ground where the two groups meet, I don't know. The few teachers I know in Korat all seem to be quite happy there. In fact, they seem to be in no hurry to leave.

The alcoholics issue is far from a Korat thing though. All over Thailand there are huge numbers of alcoholic farangs, but the concentration of them outside of Bangkok seems to be even greater than in the capital. I often wonder if they were alcoholics before they moved to their new home, or if it was after their arrival that the bottle became their lord?

What about farang hangouts in Korat? The first thing to understand is that there really aren't that many Westerners living in Korat. If we consider the city of Korat which would have, at a guess, the best part of half a million people, my best guess would be that around 1,000 or so farangs live there, not a significant enough number for entire businesses to target with farang orientated services. Incidentally, no-one seems to agree on the number of Westerners living in Korat. My best sources suggest that in the city of Korat, there are about 100 Westerners teaching and there are obviously others involved in industry or in their own ventures. The rest, that is the vast majority, are retirees. Estimates of the number of farangs in the city range from 500 to 2,500 – my best guess would be about 1,000.

Two of the more popular farang venues are Pasinee's Lebanese Cafe – which gets thumbs up for its excellent quality, good value food and the Pizza Shop which is right next door. These two venues are right next door to each other on Suranaree Road, less than 100 metres from the SriPattana Hotel where you can also find a number of farangs relaxing in the lobby. Then there is the German restaurant / bar with the name that begins with B. Its name slips my mind. It's ok, but frankly, nothing special. The German food is quite good mind you, especially the sausages. There's also the VFW which is a hangout for older Americans, Vietnam vets I believe. A sign outside advertises fillet steak for 75 baht. Obviously many of the farangs resident in Korat venture to some of the Thai nightspots, of which there are many.

So many centres in rural Thailand look the same. The roads look the same. The songtaews look the same. There is a night market somewhere central and I swear, it looks the same as the night market in Buriram and the night market in Khon Kaen and… There are a heap of Buddhist temples. And there are very few farangs, or even remnants, of Farangdom. And when you see a farang they are inevitably cut from the same cloth. 264 years old, staggering down the street with a beer in one hand, though you're never quite sure if the staggering is due to their age, the amount of liquor they've consumed, or both. It's not the way I hope to spend my twilight years.

Living in rural Thailand (and here I mean just about anywhere other than the farang strongholds of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Samui and a few other spots) virtually forces one to live a Thai lifestyle. That is all very well if one actually wants to do that, but in my travels, I have met few who really want that. In fact, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I know who live a Thai style lifestyle because they WANT TO. Most of us live a lifestyle that is more farang than Thai. The average farang living in Thailand who mentions the lack of integration of minorities in his corner of Farangland is truly calling the kettle black.

It was not a conscious decision that I reached, weighting up the pros and the cons of life in Korat, as this article has tried to do. It just came to me this weekend while I was up there. I was sitting there in Pasinee's very pleasant little Lebanese cafe enjoying the rugby when I thought to myself, "I would NOT want to live here". I wouldn't last a month. I really wouldn't. But then that is me. You might be different.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was Cheap Charlie's.

Wall to wall neon.

Last week's pic was taken at Cheap Charlie's, a small hole in the wall style venue in Sukhumvit Soi 11 where back in the days when imported cigarettes weren't legally available, they sold smuggled cartons in good quantities from under the bar. To me, it is perhaps the most over-rated venue in Bangkok, an outside bar with almost no view….but then maybe I am just a snob? There are three prizes available this week, one for each of the first three people to email with the correct location of the pic. The first is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. The second prize is a signed copy of Steve Leather's cult novel set in Bangkok's bars, "Private Dancer". The third prize is a beautiful hand-cast, crafted sandstone sculpture offered by BKIThailand – for this prize, you MUST be in Bangkok. Unfortunately, these prizes are only available to people in Thailand now – either resident or tourist. If you would prefer one particular prize over the others, please do not be shy to tell me! Next week we should have a new prize available, exclusively for the Pattaya readership. More next week!

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Phuket nightlife.

In the early evening I went outside onto Bangla Road to answer my mobile phone. As I glanced up and down the road, now a walking street, I felt something was amiss. Then it hit me, I could not see a single farang, only a few Asian people were walking about. Later at about 10 PM I was in Soi Gonzo, never the busiest soi at best, but last night I could see from where I sat, 16 bars, about 60 girls, and 4 farangs. Never in my 7 years here have I seen the place so quiet. Of course the authorities blame the tsunami, for the turndown in tourism, as last year they blamed bird flu, the year before SARS and before that 911. I guess it would be losing too much face to address some of the pertinent reasons i.e. clampdowns on this and that, especially showing in the gogos. Early closing is another, although that is somewhat relaxed in Phuket of late. Escalating prices driven by nothing other than greed and failure to sort out the atrocious transport situation all contribute. The 'powers that be' probably ride everywhere in their chauffeured Benz with blacked out windows. If they got out and walked down some of the pavements they would soon know why their bid to attract quality tourists is failing, and why even the trashy ones are returning to Spain.

Transportation problems on Phuket.

It seems that Phuket and for sure Patong has a cancer growing and has had for some time with a lack of desire by the local government to take control of certain things. The beach has a very distinct Beach mafia mentality as do the tuktuk drivers. The situation is similar at the Phuket Airport with only 1 "authorized" transport company. The metered taxis (the few around) have to wait outside the airport proper the last time I read anything on the subject via the Phuket Gazette. I have negotiated round-trip fares with tuktuk drivers and returned to the point of departure only to have them tell me that the original price was a 1 way fare. It is just better to pay than to have to worry if you are going to be singled out as I ride a motorbike somewhere and get pushed off the road. As there are times that I stay for extended periods it is just better PR to do it that way. Then there is the taxi driver who asks which hotel you are going to and tries to get you to switch and even stops on the way from the airport at some travel agency and someone comes out an tries to get you to switch. It is a bit cheeky to say the least. These are some of the things that have happened to me over the years when things were much better.

Gouging will kill Phuket…

I was in Phuket with girl of the moment Noi. We were walking around near the restaurants about 5 o'clock afternoon. We were hungry, but not that much. Outside one restaurant two waitresses were trying to bring in punters. It looks nice enough, so we go in. We are the only customers. We have chicken fried rice each and two Fantas. As always I checked the prices off the menu before they are taken away. It should be 250 baht. We finish eating and I ask for bill. Waitress comes over with calculator and says "2,500 please". I say, I think you made a mistake. "No mistake sir, your bill is 2,500 baht." I ask for the actual bill it reads – chicken fried rice twice and 2 Fantas – 2,500 baht. I ask to speak with boss. "Boss not here today, (she's very angry now) Noi gives me her jai yen yen look. Look sir, your bill is 2,500 baht, please pay it. I take 250 out, leave it on table and leave. If looks could kill.

Immigration ease.

Good news for expats that are lucky enough to have a long term visa. When you go to Suan Plu immigration office for reporting your address every 90 days you no longer have to slog up to room 401 on the 4th floor. There are new rules now being used and you have to get a queue chit with a number from the information desk on the first floor then go to window number 6 and wait for your number to be called, if you forget to get a queue number and wait to talk to the women at the window they will send you back outside to get a number before talking to you. Still quick service as it only took about 3 minutes this week.

Thai tips.

I would pass on a couple of things I have found helpful. A European doctor I know who passed his oral and written medical boards in Thai said the best thing to do to improve your Thai was to read every sign you see in Thai on the street. I also read Thairat every day and find it a great help in vocabulary building, especially for crime-related things since the same words get repeated over and over. Secondly, if I want to speak Thai and the waiter / bargirl / merchant wishes to speak English and does so, I smile and say 'Kow tawt. Pom phen khon Mexico. Pom may khaojai pasa angrit. Kun put pasa spain dai mai kap?" Virtually no Thais speak Spanish, so I am off the hook and can speak Thai and nobody loses face. I also make it a rule (unless I am REALLY hungry for farang food) never to go to any restaurant or street vendor that has any language but Thai on the menu or wall. If there is no price listed for an item, I always ask how much first.

The authorities in Phuket have come up with a shrewd plan to invigorate the waning tourism numbers down there. On Friday night 50 odd heavily armed officers stormed into Soi Eric, that is one of the sois of the main Bangla Road, turned off the music, questioned bar owners and piss tested all of the girls. Soi Eric is home to beer bars, no gogo bars at all. This move is sure to have a positive effect on the tourism industry in Phuket….NOT! And just to make matters worse, very strong rumours suggest that this will be a weekly occurrence targeting various venues on the paradise island.

Angelwitch in Nana is the only bar to be challenging the Rainbow group and it continues to draw large crowds at show time since owner Pim has introduced an exciting new show. The costumes, choreography and the upbeat style really make it well worth seeing. Unlike many other bars, Angelwitch do change their show programme in a rotation system to offer varied entertainment.

Nana Plaza has been quiet this past week with annoying drizzle most nights, and with it being June, one of the quietest months for inbound tourism, there has been a distinct drop in customers. It seems that there are only so many gogo girls and customers to go around all the bars, and it's Rainbow that are attracting the vast majority of both girls and punters. Some bars are only attracting a handful of customers for hours and they must be hurting financially.

Rainbow 1 might be amongst the busiest bars in Sukhumvit at the moment, but they have a real odd mix of music on their current play list. This week I heard "Wichita Linesman" by Glen Campbell and "Country Road" by John Denver. No, they weren't modern disco versions but the originals! Still, with eye candy like they have, they can play just about any old rubbish and the customers will remain.

Temptations in Nana had their best month ever last month. Remember, this is now a katoey bar!

Tomorrow, Monday July 4th, Bully's will be serving hamburgers and hot dogs off the BBQ from 3 – 7 PM along with a salad buffet to all customers FREE! Sounds like that is the spot to spend tomorrow afternoon.

With the big brass no longer in the neighbourhood, Sin in Sukhumvit Soi 4 is open until around 6 AM most nights – or should that be most mornings?

I can still remember the first time I went to Pattaya which was back in the rainy season of 1998. I went into one of the most popular bars and it was just before show time as the announcer told us that show time was coming and the dramatic theme from Star Wars blared out over the sound system before a few girls ran out on stage and started doing their stuff. The next time I heard the Star Wars theme in a gogo bar was in Phuket, just before show time. And when I was in Rainbow 1 recently, guess what piece of music was played before the shows?! The Star Wars theme, of course! So when I went to see the newest of the Star Wars movies, I was half expecting to see a bunch of naked Thai gogo dancers defending the Death star alongside Darth Vader.

The rumour mill has it that Mystique, the swanky upmarket disco, was targeted by police because the owner of the place was talking so casually in an interview in a magazine about drug use in his family's old club in New York. True or not, who knows?

A Cowboy bar owner, horribly indignant that a Soi Cowboy bar was said to be a place which has underage girls, sent me an email stating a certain Nana Plaza bar that has underage girls too. He named the bar and named the girls. Disgusting stuff. Remember, the best way to know if a girl is underage or not is to check her ID card. The current Buddhist year is 2548 so a girl born in 2520 would be 27 or 28 (depending on the month she was born). Depending on who you speak with, the age of consent for working girls is either 18 or 20.

More visitors converged on Pattaya this bank holiday weekend (no doubt all of those randy overpaid stockbrokers amongst them), crowding sidewalks and jamming street traffic but far from filling the coffers at most night spots. The usual suspects offering the winning combination of cheerful beauties and cheap beer attracted ample business, but beer bars continue to hurt for customers, as do run-of-the-mill gogo bars – all of which have been depressed for weeks. Frequent rains may explain some of the slowdown, and the exodus of many better looking yings has certainly taken its toll as well.

While tourism continues to decline, tourists continue to be discouraged from enjoying local nightlife. The walkway along Beach Road is torn up worse than ever and major roadways in midtown are again being repaved – further congesting traffic, Adding to the alienation of tourists, last weekend Thailand’s Justice Minister accompanied drug suppression police and other officers in raids of nightspots from Naklua to Walking Street.

Lucifer Disco, which must feel persecuted after the many police invasions, saw 400 partiers herded together for drug testing. But with the air conditioning turned off and the threat of long hours of waiting to be tested, the crowd stampeded for the doors, trampling and damaging property. Many made their escape successfully. A number of other Walking Street spots also were raided, as was Star Dice in Naklua. Net result: a Hong Kong man was busted having tested positive for meth.

Speaking of police, it appears volunteer police forces are expanding. A volunteer police box was just opened on Thepprasit Road by the city police force. Such volunteers, numbering about 100, ostensibly are authorised only to provide information and assist police. Other volunteers include those with the tourist police (black shirts) and with the immigration police. Most volunteers are Thai, but a good number are farang.

If the big blondes entertaining at Las Vegas (Walking Street) are stirring passions in the loins of oglers, a growing number of their compatriots from the former USSR are available to satisfy those desires. Found walking or imbibing at select bars on and around Walking Street, these ladies come as tourists but sell their wares to locals and tourists alike – irking local ladies of the night, something that is never recommended. The latest influx of foreign working girls hails from Uzbekistan. Last week 14 such ladies were rounded up by police, fined 1,000 baht, then released. Several dozen others have been deported.

Despite the usually overcast skies and frequent rains, Pattaya and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard continue to battle one of the worst droughts in recent history. Depleted reservoirs and limited alternative supplies of water have dried taps in hundreds of homes, apartments, businesses, rooming houses, and smaller hotels throughout Pattaya and neighboring Jomtien. Officials have seen the severe draught developing and worsening over recent years but – like so many other problems in Thailand – failed to confront the solution in advance of its reaching a crisis stage.

Brits en route to Thailand: beware. While you can whiz free back home, once you get here prepare to pay a few baht for the privilege lest you get your face bashed. One Brit last week urgently rushed into a gents’ room on Walking Street and was accosted by two Thai men who demanded 3 baht. The farang reportedly objected and was answered with a blow to his jaw which sent him to the ground. At that point both Thai men stomped on him, requiring the Brit to seek hospital treatment.

Quote of the week comes from Gil. "I finally figured out why Thai people are such terrible drivers: How many Thai people have you seen wearing glasses?"

Access to Thailand's longest running naughty nightlife website has just become free. The site, which has been running for several years, 4 of which have been pay to view, is now free. The co-owner explained that the previous business model just wasn't working and in an effort to turn things around, they have made this radical change.

Down in Phuket, a number of specials are being offered at Rio's and Rock Hard. "Special jugs" of Kamikazes, or Margaritas are only 450 baht. The best deal in Patong for a breakfast sees 2 eggs, toast and coffee for only 39 baht. Sounds more like Pattaya prices than what we expect in Phuket. Also, they have Tequila Tuesday when you can get 30 baht shooters all day, and all. There are also T-shirt giveaways nightly when the DJ throws T-shirts into the crowd every night in Rio after midnight. If you miss out, you can buy a T-shirt from 200 baht.

I made it up State Tower this past week for the first time. If you don't know State Tower by name, it's the second tallest building in the city, the one with the illuminated golden dome that can be seen from just about anywhere in Bangkok. Atop the tower is a restaurant called Sirocco and a something of a swanky bar. I'd heard the restaurant is somewhat pricey and the food perhaps not as good as it should be for the $$ so we decided to venture up for a nosey and a quiet drink. The speedy lift gets you up to the 64th floor in less than a minute and a sign clearly states that there is a dress code in place. Khao Sarn Road fans are shit out of luck. Most of the restaurant and bar area at the top is open so thrill seekers can stand right at the edge and admire the view from more than 200 metres up. If you suffer from vertigo, the fact that it is open could be seriously upsetting! Drinks are expensive – in the 200 – 300 baht range but funnily enough, many people didn't seem to be buying. There were a heap of people up there with their digital cameras taking shots of the fantastic panoramic views. I just wonder though how the diners felt having freeloaders wandering amongst them shooting the night lights. The views are great but don't count on getting too many really great shots without a tripod, at least at night. For now, this is probably the best free tourist spot in Bangkok – but with the Chinese tourists yakking away at 100+ decibels and totally ruining the dining environment, don't expect the bar to remain open long. My bet is that it will be closed in an attempt to preserve the atmosphere for diners where the real money is made.

I think we can safely say that the skyway, that is the overhead walkway between Chidlom and Siam Square, has been a flop, at least as far as the locals are concerned. Personally, I like to take a stroll along there. You have a good, elevated view of the Central World Plaza, the large temple next door, the national police headquarters and other landmarks and scenery in the area. And there always seems to be a nice breeze so even in the middle of the day it can be a pleasant stroll. One sees very few Thais using it, and frankly, not even that many Westerners.

Some very nasty reports are coming out of Ko Phangnan from the last Full Moon Party. Reports of drinks being spiked, a spate of thefts, assaults and at least two rapes. Needless to say, all of the victims were farang. From someone who spent several years there, I hear that this is not that unusual. It would pay to have your wits about you if you visit what is essentially a drug party in a country where drug offences are punished heavily.

Who is the longest serving foreigner in Thailand? I have recently come across a gentleman who has been living here for 48 years, meaning he arrived in the year 2500, in the Buddhist calendar. He outdoes Trink by a few years. Know anyone who has been here longer? I hope to interview the said gentleman about his time in Thailand, but must wait until he ventures down to the big smoke. Coming soon, as the Thais say.

While I am sure that the laundry services offered in the five star hotels do a good job, I'd be very careful when using some of the cheaper laundry services in Thailand. I, and many people I know, have had nothing but bad luck when using local laundry services. Clothes washed inappropriately (mixing colours with whites, hot water when cold should have been used etc.), lost items, clothes damaged from ironing (why do they always use the iron at the maximum temperature?), and receiving someone else's clothes are just some of the problems experienced. If you're moving to Thailand, even if for only a year, get yourself a washing machine – you won't regret it!

The Independence Day buffet at Bourbon Street is on TODAY and not tomorrow, which is actually the 4th. If you read this in time, it runs from noon until 10 PM tonight.

Different countries have different ways of measuring things, but most of these indexes are standardized. GDP per capita is a good indicator of a country's wealth, for example. Thailand, as we know, doesn't always conform to the conventional way of doing things. In Thailand, just how do you think they measure how well the economy is going? The Mama index of course! What is the Mama index, I hear you say! Well, Mama is the most popular brand of instant noodles and the word has virtually been adopted into Thai as the word for a certain type of noodles, sort of the same as how Xerox has been adopted in place of photocopy. Mama noodles can be had for less than 5 baht a pack so when Mama is selling well, it is an indicator that the economy is not going as well as it could. Apparently, Mama is selling extremely well at present…

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. Just one thing to consider. Mrs. Stick is a middle class woman from a middle class background and with all due respect to her, Thai people in one class do not always know what is going on in another class. She'll do her best to answer all questions but remember, she'll be looking at it from a middle class point of view!

Question 1: My husband and I are visiting Thailand in August to attend our son's wedding. We have not as yet met our new daughter-in-law and as the wedding is being held at her parents' house near Nakhon Nayok we are wondering what we need to do? We have visited Thailand previously (our son has lived there for about 4 years) and understand how he loves it, especially the people who are so friendly and generous. We have been told the family are buying us a present, do we do the same? We do not want to do anything wrong, we are both looking forward to the day and hope to get to know our son's fiancée (who is a teacher), and her family. I have read your husband's report each week, and also your wedding description. We intend to give them both an amount of money, as we did our elder son in Australia, but into our son's Australian bank account which he can access in Thailand. Do we also put money in an envelope on the wedding day?

Mrs. Stick says: You should prepare a present for your new daughter in law's parents which will show your respect and your generosity. This is a standard tradition. It is not necessary for you to put money in an envelope on the wedding day as you are already paying money into the account and money put into envelopes by guests helps to cover the cost of the wedding. Just remember that if the money goes into your son's account, it may be interpreted as going to just him. I know farangs aren't big on announcing the amount of money given at weddings but at many Thai weddings things like this will be announced. Whether you choose to have it announced at the wedding is up to you.

Question 2: I know that a lot of the women in Thailand like to have light skin. Just the opposite of a lot farang countries, where dark / tan skin is preferred. My question is: Do Thai women prefer light skin on men as well? I frequently will have a Thai lady comment on my white skin (I'm American), and I was wondering if this was a true preference, or if it was just a good comment to start a conversation. I know that everyone's opinion and preferences are different, but I would like to know if there is a general preference on skin colour of men.

Mrs. Stick says: I don't think the shade of a man's skin affects a Thai woman's interest in him like it does for Thai men in Thai women, at least in general. What Thai women are often most interested in is whether the man is a gentleman or not and whether he can look after her, or not. Skin shade is not important at all.

Question 3: I was planning on a Buddhist wedding next year, but my fiancée told me that two daughters are not supposed to be married in the same year (her sister is getting married in May). She said that it may be bad luck to do so and suggested we wed in December of this year. Is this a Thai superstition (she's Southern), or is there some hidden reason that she's not telling me about? I've known her for years to be a very sincere person.

Mrs. Stick says: As far as my family and extended family goes, we have not heard of this one before. Maybe they are a little different down south? I wonder if it has anything to do with their southern roots, which I am not really familiar with. Remember, a wedding is a big occasion and it takes a lot of organise so I wonder if they feel it would be a burden to organise two weddings in one year? I'm speculating here. But let me say that I have never heard it said before that two sisters getting married in the same year is a problem.

Perhaps it is just my mates, I don't know, but there is some fairly strong pessimism amongst a number of Westerners resident in Thailand, and it all revolves around the economy. All sorts of gloom and doom is predicted, although a lot of it is based on news and various articles in the English language newspapers which certainly don't paint the rosiest of pictures about the Thai economy. The one I have been hearing most recently is 100 baht to the US dollar by this time next year. Doom and gloom merchants, or should these amateur economists be snapped up by Wall Street ASAP?

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper, Mr. Write, Phuket-info.com, Gapton and Dave The Rave.