Stickman's Weekly Column August 7th, 2005

The Danger Factor


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There is a unit in an English teaching course book that I use that revolves around city life. The focus of the lesson is the grammatical use of "has / have got" as well as the vocabulary of landmarks, buildings and features of a city. While my job is that of a language teacher, I never waste the opportunity to give the kids a bit of insight into the farang way of thinking. I am after all, an educator. So when I taught this particular lesson just a few weeks ago, I told the students that many farangs, and indeed many of my friends, truly believe that compared with cities in the West, Bangkok is safe. I relayed the story to them of how a number of people I know frequently walk in dark alleys late at night without a care in the world. They're thinking about their next teeruk, not the thief hiding in the bushes. OK, I never did tell the kids that bit… But I did mention that some of these people wandering the streets may have, from time to time, a not insignificant amount of money on their person. I explained to the students that truly the last thing these people think would happen would be for them to be attacked, robbed or be the victim of any funny business.

My students were horrified. They couldn't believe what they were hearing and they disagreed strongly, saying that Bangkok was dangerous, and that the city is full of criminals, many of them violent. I was touched when, at the end of the class, two of the female students stayed behind to give me some advice. "Please do not do what these people do. Bangkok is very dangerous. We are Thai people and we know. We do not want you to have a problem."

I used to think that Bangkok was safe, but recent events have forced me to reconsider this.

I briefly mentioned an increase in violence in last week's column and a friend who is a long time reader of the column read that and told me he was surprised until…..he flew in from London this week and on his very first night out he saw two different instances of violence, right out in the open on Sukhumvit, both involving foreigners getting beaten up! The first was on Sukhumvit Soi 4 where a farang got a hiding outside the Golden Beer Bar, you know the bar attached to the Nana Hotel. Just a couple of hours later he had the courage (stupidity?) to step in and assist a Belgian who was getting the crap beaten out of him on Sukhumvit Soi 5.

I do voluntary teaching to policemen from three different police stations. After the lesson ends the cops hang around and we chat about life in Thailand. One of the coppers said to me that there has been a huge increase in the number of rapes in Thailand in the last year and said that it has become a much bigger problem now than it ever was in the past. He said it was getting much worse, not just in Bangkok, but nationwide. These cops, the very guys who are right there at the coal face, told me that violent crime is on the increase in Thailand.

Some of the worst violence is warring between the students of rival vocational schools, but it is not unknown between high school students either. It's easy to feel that this is a Thai vs. Thai thing and that foreigners don't get caught up in it but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a vocational college on Phyathai Road, a few hundred metres away from Mahboonkrong Shopping Centre. This institute has been the subject of drive by shootings and I see farang tourists wandering around lost in that area all the time.

A former colleague of mine was on a red bus recently when a petrified vocational college student jumped on and tried to run through while pursued by two boys from a rival vocational college. One of the pursuers swung a machete which passed just a few inches above my friend's head, narrowly missing him, but going straight into an older woman's shoulder, sending her to the floor and my mate covered in blood.

One bar owner who gives me plenty of news and gossip said to me that there have been a heap of fights in and around his bar area but he wouldn't tell me about them in detail for fear I would run it in the column and it would have a detrimental effect on business.

There was a quite awful, graphic description of an attack on a foreigner posted on various Thailand websites last weekend. The foreign gentleman was attacked while on the back of a motorbike being ridden by another foreigner late on Saturday night, last weekend. In what appeared to be a random act of violence by a motorbike gang against a foreigner, he was attacked with clubs, knives and machetes, beaten up and basically mutilated! He was rushed to emergency surgery where one leg was amputated in emergency surgery before he went on to die a day and a half later.

A year or two back there was the Canadian who lost his eye when a taxi driver shoved a knife into it. There was the British photographer who got the crap beaten out of him in Hua Hin by a couple of foreign students, and who kept kicking him in the head while he was down causing swelling of the brain, facial disfigurement and major problems with his sight. There were all of the Hua Hin bar managers and owners attacked by locals over a short period of time. There was the popular American bar manager who was attacked near Clinton Plaza and whose bald head has the imprints of a hammer! There was the fight in Diamond A Gogo I personally witnessed and reported on a few months ago – and which afterwards Ricky said to me, "oh, that was nothing, you should have seen some of the fracas we used to have in Bangkok". I could go on and on with more and more stories of violence in Thailand involving foreigners in one way or another, but I think you get the drift.

There would appear to be a number of contributing factors. First off is the increased nationalism that came about, oh, around early 2001. I wonder what that coincided with? Whereas in the past foreigners used to be tolerated, I feel that more and more Thais do not accept us as they did in the past, and that many actually resent us. Farangs are no strangers to every corner of Thailand, and being unique isn't a card we can play anymore. More and more, Thais seem to have a short fuse with farangs and if pushed, have the propensity to go crazy, which means violence.

Then there was the crackdown on drugs which broke the supply chain and resulted in the cost of drugs soaring. Addicts could no longer afford their fix and those desperate for drugs resorted to desperate measures. Crimes were, and still are, committed to raise funds to feed their habit, and the common man, the likes of you and I, could be their next victim.

The atmosphere in the naughty bars seems to have changed and this is in no small part due to some of the farangs who have discovered Thailand recently. There seems to be more and more farangs of, shall we say, questionable moral fibre, who are visiting or even moving to Thailand. There are growing numbers of folks who take the attitude that they will not back down to anyone, and even those who are not shy to provoke a fight. The old "a good night is a pint and a fight" crowd. Admittedly, many farangs do bring trouble upon themselves, especially when they are full of liquor, but many are innocent victims. But even then, those who may have been responsible for starting it almost never deserve the "punishment" which is handed out.

If you do get into a spot of bother, you should remember that Thais tend not to interfere or intervene in public spats or fights, even if it is plainly clear that someone is being unfairly attacked, beaten up on or whatever. They'll stand back and watch, but that's generally all they'll do. And when the police get involved, they do not always handle things the same way that police in the West do. Many a foreigner has felt let down by the level of support or follow up from Thai police.

I'd urge you to do your very best to avoid any trouble that could escalate into a fight or an incident. Smile, back down, walk away, apologise, admit fault even if you weren't at fault. Do whatever you can to diffuse the situation. When you're on the ground unable to get up, and obviously unable to defend yourself, it doesn't necessarily stop – in fact that is when the big hits start, and the real damage is done. Too many people have suffered when the ante has been raised to ridiculous levels.

Violence in Thailand is nothing new. I can remember before my first trip here when a Kiwi policeman friend asked me to buy him a copy of the 191 magazine, which if you have never seen, shows pictures of the mess that coppers have to deal with day in, day out. Violence and violent crime has been a problem in Thailand for a long time. But it's getting worse.

And yeah, this sort of thing can happen anywhere in the world but its prevalence in Bangkok is increasing at a remarkable rate. And where in the world, in the West at least, do people continue to put the boot in and cause grievous harm even when someone is down? The damage done is taken to a whole new level and it is almost as if the perpetrators want to permanently maim the victim.

Many of the attacks happen at night, late at night, and this means that most people will be safe at home, thankfully. Read the reports and so often they occur very late at night so going to bed early drastically reduces the chances of being a victim. But that's the last thing some people want to do in Bangkok.

So it might not be Bogotá yet, but the increase in violence that we're seeing in Bangkok, both planned and random acts of violence, has to be a concern for anyone spending a lot of time here, particularly those people who choose it as their new home. Don't take your safety for granted.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was the Nana area.

Three lovely Cowgirls.

Last week's pic was of Nana area including the skytrain station which was on the right hand side of the picture. There are three prizes offered 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 say!

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Be careful in soi 4!

In the past 2 weeks I have met a number of visitors to Thailand who were out playing pool and enjoying the bars. 2 of the many people I met sent me emails about their experience. These people were not aquatinted with each other, but their stories were quite similar. Both of them were partying on Soi 4. Both of them remember walking down Sukhumvit Soi 4 late at night. Both of them woke up the next morning in a hotel near the airport with all their ATM, credit cards, watches and money gone. Both of them were taken to ATM machines and withdrew 20,000 baht. But neither of them remember anything about the ordeal. Both believe they were slipped a mickey in their drinks. Therefore, it is best all know about these two circumstances and that they happened within a week of each other. Perhaps the same set of thieves?

A visa run alternative.

I can't understand why people go to Poi Pet at all other than the fact it is the closest border crossing point to Bangkok / Pattaya. Apart from that it is a nightmare what with the queuing, the rude Cambodian immigration officials who are there to try and steal your cash, and you lose a complete page from your passport each time. Far better in my humble view, is the border crossing with Myanmar at Mae Sot, Tak province. Each time I have been I have taken the overnight bus from Morchit; gets into Mae Sot around 05-00 hours when you can make your way to the border, opening at 07-00 hrs. You walk over the friendship bridge into a little Burmese town called Myawaddy – there's little there, mind you, but there's even less in Poi Pet. There are never any queues – in fact, you hardly ever see any other farangs – the Burmese 'visa' charge is 500 baht (unlike Poi Pet, where it is 1,000 baht), you get two ordinary stamps in your passport which are acceptable to the Thais for coming back. Getting to Mae Sot by luxury VIP overnight bus (24 seats) was baht 480 one-way prior to the latest fuel price increases. Getting back to Bangkok, via Nakhon Sawan, can be achieved for about 300 baht. That's overall still cheaper than the 2,000 baht round trips firms offer to the Poi Pet alligator pool.

And another.

As for nightmare visa runs, I avoid them by doing it on my own and taking my time, making a fun little excursion out of it. Take a nice girl from Pattaya. Use the public or private busses that continually run up and down the Sukhumvit highway. Not going all the way to Trat? No problem. We can get on another bus at the station in Rayong. Maybe this one only goes to Chanthaburi. No worries. In Chanthaburi, there's always a bus to Trat. Spend the night in Trat, drink some beers, relax. Next morning, take the 100 baht minibuses for the 1 hour ride to the border at Hat Lek. I've done this many times and it's never been crowded when I get there. The process is quick, simple, and pleasant (except for the surly Cambodian border police. You always interrupt the card game they have going in the back room and this irritates them. The Thai immigration officials are always nice and friendly.) Minibus back to Trat; last bus straight back to Pattaya leaves at 3PM and arrives about 7:30 PM. (If you miss it, you can either spend another night in Trat or get creative and take a later Bangkok-bound bus, get off near Pattaya, and do some backtracking). Travel ANYWHERE within Thailand is simple. You don't need a visa service to hold your hand and herd you along like cattle.

A true democracy.

There was a local election, involving three candidates, in my lass's part of Isaan yesterday (Sunday)….on the Thursday before, the first candidate came round, asked everyone to vote for him and gave each of them 200 baht….on the Friday before, the second candidate came round, asked everyone to vote for him and gave each of them 200 baht….on the Saturday before, the third candidate came round, asked everyone to vote for him and gave each of them 200 baht….I asked the lass how she would now decide who to vote for, as every candidate had bought her vote, and she told me she would compare the people and decide who she thought would do the job best – true democracy and at least the folk are each now 600 baht better off – more than some of them (e.g.: the agricultural day workers) get for a whole week's backbreaking labour in the fields. Don't ya just love it? – I know I do!

Seeking sanuk.

It's hard to imagine how any 50 year old Christian Anglo-Saxon electrician, computer salesman or teacher imagines that he can fall in love with a Buddhist, 20 year old rice farmer's daughter and expect that they will live together happily ever after. After 34 years of visiting Thailand I've seen lots of changes. The one thing that hasn't changed is the social divide that exists between males from the West and the ladies of the Thailand. Yes, I'm a tourist that enjoys all the "advantages" that just a relatively small number of dollars can provide in the LOS. However I have never forgotten that I am just a visitor and will always be a stranger in the Kingdom. This hasn't stopped me from having lots of fun because past the daily commercial "contract" between 2 consenting adults I have no other great expectations. My attitude is that in Bangkok, Pattaya or wherever in Thailand, it's not about "sex". That's a commodity that's easy to come by. It should be about fun. It is so inexpensive to have a great time as long as you don't leave your brains behind you when you pick up your bags from the luggage carousel at the airport.

Nightmare!

Regarding being addressed by street hookers, it is especially embarrassing when they use that tired old line, "teeruk, why you forget me!" This from girls (or worse, katoeys) who do not know you whatsoever. They just yell this out to everybody. Long-timers might understand this, but imagine you are with friends or family just visiting! Or your WIFE!

Building work has commenced on the extension to Angelwitch, floor 2, Nana. The small bar on the left of Angelwitch formerly called Secrets has recently been purchased by the owners of Angelwitch. The building company have been given 30 days to complete the renovation, which includes both male and female toilets and a larger changing room. In addition to the new toilets and changing room will be up to 30 extra seats which will make Angelwitch much more comfortable for everybody and give them the seating capacity that they have always needed. I mean, when ISN'T Angelwitch packed? It seems to me it is always busy!

As is usual at this time of year, bar bosses in Bangkok are complaining about how the nightlife areas are. I notice that even the best bars in Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy are quiet during the early part of the evening. The number of visitors to Bangkok's bars has dropped considerably and August has started in much the same way as previous years' low season months. Traditionally the worst months for the bars are July and August and this is proving to be a very poor low season for the bars. With fewer customers out early in the night and early closing still in place, many bars are less profitable than they would hope. So, with a much smaller window in which the gogo bars can make money it is no wonder that trade has decreased. One top NEP gogo bar stated that July was their worst month on record for three years. Some bars like the two Hollywoods on the top floor of Nana are actually losing money, an indication of how serious the situation is becoming.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of the tourists to Thailand are people who have been here before. It is easy to suspect the policy of early closings is having an effect and those who have never been here are opting for elsewhere. People wait all year to unwind for a week or two in the sun, some place other than home. But when they get to Thailand, the government tells you when your bed time is…

Hilary bar on Sukhumvit Soi 4 closed Saturday last week for reduction in size and refurbishment. They expect to reopen at the beginning of next month. Their last night was packed with a live band etc. Unfortunately the management decided to reward the local customers by refusing to accept the usual discount for those carrying "locals' discount" cards.

Bully's, that odd, but very pleasant, Gulliveresque bar on the main Sukhumvit Road, has changed their theme a little. Bully's now has girls working that will go with customers. This is the first week of this policy and it is said to be working well.

What was known as Boss Hogg's has been renamed to the Green Mango and will re-open shortly with three pool tables. A nice spot to play pool from and look over the goings on in the plaza.

Alex Bar on Sukhumvit Soi 6 will open this weekend after the wall was knocked through to join what used to be Suzy Bar. So long as Alex doesn't continue to practice for the WBF title with customers it should do OK.

I was saddened to hear that the medical professional who had offered to run STD awareness courses at a bar in Soi Cowboy was mucked about by the mamasan and that the course never got going. A disappointment, but if I am to be honest, not entirely unexpected.

Although each month end, and this one in particular, sees a new swathe of bar closures in Phuket, there may be some light creeping into the end of the tunnel. Crazy A Gogo, new in Soi Sea Dragon, has girls dancing in bikinis, the string bottom types that show what is surely one of the ladies best features. They're still in granny bras, but truth be told, in these papers there is seldom anything of note up there. Is this a sign of a more relaxed attitude in Phuket?

Anton has finished at Rock Hard / Rio and is working on re-opening the former Chicago / VIP on the opposite corner. To be known as Club Hollywood, a reference to his former baby in Nana, he promises an impressive place with good music and plenty of what we all like to see, eye candy, sexily but tastefully attired, and discount cards for drinks. Why is it that Anton is about the only bar owner who realises the value in having a discount system for regular punters? Soon we'll be calling it the "Anton Card".

A co-ordinated task force of police descended upon Patong and forced everybody out of the bars and on to the street at 1.59 AM sharp! The top of Soi Bangla, and the bottom of Soi Sansabai was full of puzzled, disillusioned people. In the last months, since the tsunami, bar after bar has closed due to lack of business. Hell, there have even been some murders, the most recent seeing a Brit bar owner accused of murdering his girlfriend just this week. This is August, the 'mini high season' for Thailand as Arabs and Italians suddenly appear for the one month only. Just as the bar owners start to thank Buddha, thank Allah or whoever they thank, the government decides to enforce things to the word of the law. When will they ever realise they are actually reducing people's fun and making them strongly reconsider where they holiday? Phuket is not, and never will be, without a massive investment, Monaco, Miami, or Honolulu, and the rich tourists so desired by the current regime will NOT appear while the streets are topped by a thousand cables, strewn with bags of rubbish, and everywhere the drains stink. OK, they can spend millions of baht building a super highway from the airport, but if it leads to a dirty hole where people are going to be told to go to bed at 2AM, who do they think is going to use it?

Just what is Darel up to these days? The head honcho at the Dollhouse sent an SMS out this week that left the mind boggling, "Come see the donkey show Dollhouse Pattaya tonight". I don't want to know!

Pattaya businesses remain in the doldrums. Purported reasons for the prolonged low season include the tsunami of last December, avian flu, terrorism in the south, increased airfares thanks to surcharges imposed to cover higher fuel prices, early closing hours, police raids on Pattaya nightspots, random drug testing, rain…the list of negatives goes on and on. Bottom line: fewer tourists are converging on fun town. Many bars around the city have shut down in recent months. Even Walking Street has some victims, including Folies Pigalle, Roof, and Nui’s. However, Nui’s reportedly will reopen following some remodeling.

Other victims of the tourist downturn, of course, are working girls. With fewer customers available in bars, gogos and discos, many ladies have left town, some have turned to day jobs, some have turned to crime – using sexual attraction to lure and rob farangs. Drugs, slight of hand and sometimes beatings – with the help of male accomplices – reportedly are on the rise in Fun Town. Be careful.

Despite frequent downpours, Pattaya’s water problems continue to mount. More and more residents, smaller hotels and boarding houses are without water for hours or even days at a time, and those buildings that can afford it must resort to trucking in their water – but few seem to know the origins of imported H2O. All indications point to even more dire water shortages in the future with some speculating that the predicament may reach crisis stages by year’s end. While the powers that be have been discussing the challenges for months, little has been done to solve the immediate problem. Focus seems to be on long-term solutions – spelled years!

While water supplies are depleted, waste supplies are rising. The company responsible for collecting garbage in Pattaya reportedly is allowing mounds of the smelly stuff to remain uncollected for days and weeks on end. The problem is so bad that a city council member went so far as to accuse some of "graft." (What? In Thailand!?) The council member pointed out that the official now in charge of the department has launched his own waste recycling plant, demanding that garbage be sold to his company. Unable to resolve the problem, the council moved on to other business, including how to impose more restrictions on entertainment venues. You've got to ask the question…

There is an advert in the Bangkok Post in the classified section for long-term international drivers licenses, of either 10 or 20 years duration. These are dodgy, BUT they seem to be accepted by the local police here. They will be laughed at in most countries. Despite the fact that they seem to be accepted locally, I wouldn't touch one. Remember, driving without a licence may in fact mean that you are driving without insurance – could be awfully costly!

In a Tesco Lotus supermarket yesterday, I found myself a little perplexed at what they choose to stock and what they don't stock. You can get chocolate from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, England, America, Germany and Switzerland. But if you want beef, not a chance. Not one type of beef could be found, but different varieties of chocolate could be found from many corners of the globe.

In last week's column a reader asked about the best venues to play pool in Pattaya. A number of readers answered and there was a real consensus that far and away the best place is Megabreaks. It has about 12 full size American tables (5' x 9') and they're only about one year old. Everything is in very good shape, tables are well maintained, sticks are of good quality, etc. It's a big place, very spacious. Apparently they even have nice looking hostesses, but as a rule they don't go with customers. Still, slip them your phone number and anything is possible after hours. Megabreaks can be found on Soi Diana, between Second Road and Soi Buakhao. It's not badly priced either. You can get a table for an hour for 240 baht or you can pay a per game fee of just 30 baht instead. You must state this as you begin or the hourly rate stands. If you are playing fast 9 Ball games, the hourly rate is best but if playing leisurely 8 Ball, the per game fee is probably best. They have drinks and food. If you're into more unique places, you can check out this beautifully crafted table at the Trafalgar on Soi Lenky between Soi Buakhao & 3rd Road.

I have spent a few evenings in The Barbican on Soi Thaniya recently. I didn't go there for many years but have found it a pleasant spot to have a few after work drinks and a bite to eat. They have a GREAT cheeseburger. I have also observed it as a spot where what would appear to be office girls go…..to get picked up. Fascinating interactions going on there, to say the least.

In Sukhumvit Soi 1, Simon and his Mrs. are looking into building a small holiday resort on Samui which means that they have to sell their Sukhumvit bars. Because they like their Revolution Salsa bar so much, they are going to hang on to that one. But Night Night Joop Joop and Big Screen Sports Bar need to be sold to generate enough money to start the Samui project. Each bar has a 3.5 year contract, with rental at 50,000 baht per month. The asking price is 2 million baht per bar, or 3.75 million for both. If anyone fancies purchasing either bar, or needs more details, you can email Simon at [email protected]. So there we are, for less than 100K US and you could have two bars on Sukhumvit!

The naughty boy brigade say that the Philippines can't match Thailand, notwithstanding that the Peso is markedly weaker than the baht and that the cost for services in the Philippines, Angeles at least, is lower than Thailand. They also say that food in the Philippines is not a patch on Thai food. But there is one area where the Philippines kicks Thailand's ass, and I'm not talking about the English ability of the locals. The Philippines is the place for affordable contraband. The price of DVDs and media is incredibly low there, and there are many titles you just can't get in Thailand. They used to have movies available in 3 in 1 format (e.g. one DVD would contain 3 Rocky, 3 Jurassic Park movies etc). But now they come in 6 or even 7 in one packs (7 Van Damme movies on 1 DVD, 7 Will Smith, 7 Harrison Fords etc. all on ONE DVD). Live rock concerts are 30 pesos each (20 baht) and standard DVD TV series go for 40 baht. Now I do not want to be seen to be encouraging the purchase of such obviously fake goods, but it is interesting that people seem to think said items are cheap in Thailand. The Phils would appear to be the place to purchase them! The only thing I will say about the multiple movies on one DVD is that they are likely very heavily compressed and I imagine the quality would be a lot closer to a VCD than an original DVD.

Is there a disproportionately high number of benders in Thailand? The number of queens here seems to be high. At my place of work, either 15 or 20% are bent (there's one who the jury is still out on). Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with it at all, but it just strikes me that there are a high number of foreigners living here who bat for the other team.

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'm familiar with spirit houses and generally why they are built and revered. BUT, what is the deal with the 'spirit house grave yards' one sees on the side of roads, usually in a desolate part of town. One I can think of in BKK is near the beginning of Ramkhaemhaeng, piles of abandoned spirit houses. Definitely curious about this. Is this what happens when buildings are knocked down or SH replaced / upgraded?

Mrs. Stick says: That place on Ramkhaemhaeng Road is a sprit house vendor – they are all for sale! I know because I used to live just around the corner from there. I think there might be some confusion here because I do not know of anything like a spirit house graveyard. They are probably the spirit house vendors that you have seen, the places where you buy spirit houses!

Question 2: I am in the final stages of arranging to get married to my GF. The reason for my question now, is that I am seriously getting COLD feet about the whole thing. Not because I love her less, but because of other fundamental things to consider. And as much as I can glean from regular phone calls with my GF, I am getting a feeling that the future is not all roses. Even though my missus is saying and doing all the right things – in that she is committed to me and moving to Oz with the blessing of her family, I just ain't convinced. I have been looking hard and thinking about things much further down the track and I question her resolve in overcoming issues about climate and culture and all the day-day things. My question is about 'obligation' versus 'love'. That is, given the nature of my commitment to her in providing material support throughout our relationship and whether this somehow, is the nature of her commitments to me now; rather than one of mutual affection. Hence is this the only reason she is coming to Oz? Deep down maybe I already know the answer, but am a coward to not be willing to accept the obvious. Also, given that, as a generalisation, Thai women view support and love along similar lines of importance (correct me please, if this is not so), have I been wrong to develop our relationship in this manner, where expectations have been set. Is this a lost cause?

Mrs. Stick says: You are the person who knows the answer to this question better than anyone. Of course there will be some differences in the things that you both expect and this can be an area of concern. You need to ask yourself whether she is prepared to be a good wife for you and able and willing to give you what you want. You need to look at her actions in the past as they will be the biggest indicator of how she will be in the future. Forget what she says she will do, watch what she has done. Of course, she will have looked at you for your future potential and your ability to look after her in the future. This is normal for all Thai women and not just your future wife. I have some Western colleagues and they tell me that British women, at least, often look at a man's earning potential too, so please do not think this is only a "Thai thing".

Question 3: I am interested by Thailand, I like Thai women, I studied communication at university, I would like to know your point of view on Thai women's body language. I mean, what are the subtle signs a Thai woman makes when she is potentially interested by you. I imagine also that the signs may vary according to the social class of the woman. To be precise that I ask that speaking about the majority of Thai women in great cities like Bangkok as I think their body language is quite different if they live in a city (where they are influence more or less by the occidental culture). I would also like to know if flowers (types and colours) have a signification in Thailand like in some European countries.

Mrs. Stick says: Interesting that you say that our body language is different than others. We're all humans so I thought it would be the same! I am not really sure about this but I imagine that it would be much the same as for Western women. My guess, and I really am not so sure here, is that higher class women may be more subtle about displaying their feelings, but you know, I just don't know. Sorry!

So what about the danger issue? Is Bangkok dangerous, or getting more dangerous than it used to be? Do Westerners who so often rave about how safe the city is and how safe they feel here have a fair and realistic view, or are they living in Dreamland? Have your routines or behaviour changed due to a perceived increase in danger in the City Of Angels? Your views on the issue of personal safety in Bangkok, which I'll run in next week's column, are very welcome!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper, Mr. Write, Gapton and Jon.


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