Stickman's Weekly Column October 9th, 2005

Bangkok’s Naughty Internet Landscape


StickmanBangk ok .com


Bangkok's Naughty Internet Landscape

To call it a whorehouse would not be entirely accurate, but what goes on in there, or at least what is organised in there, bears a greater resemblance to the likes of Patpong and Pattaya than it does to the conservative lives that many of the ladies participating in there would like us to believe they lead.

A feature of the Bangkok internet landscape for many years now, Bangkokchat has been through various guises. But despite the changes in appearance and ownership, it has always been far and away the most popular English language real-time chatroom in Thailand. And more than this, it is known as the place where younger Westerners seek to make arrangements to meet Thai women for, make no mistake about it, no strings sex.

Typical Bangkokchatters are Western men aged from their early 20s up to, and sometimes beyond, their mid 40s and Thai women aged in their late teens to typically, their late 30s. In recent times there has been an increase in the number of Japanese men logging in.

Like most internet forums and chatrooms, Bangkokchat has its own set of regular users and personalities with names like 7baht, each with their own distinctive persona. But these characters that choose Bangkokchat as their local hang out are perhaps not so typical of the average Bangkokchat user.

Most of the chat in the main chatroom itself is the sort of drivel that wouldn’t hold even the most ardent Thailand fan’s attention for more than a few minutes. But that’s not where the action is. No sir. The private rooms are where it’s at.

Most of the Western guys using Bangkokchat are in Bangkok but there are always a few accessing it from their corner of Farangland, often trying to schedule a sex fest for their upcoming trip. Online reports would indicate that these guys are successful.

The Thai women using Bangkokchat could be separated into perhaps three main groups. Those who are working, i.e. online hookers. Then there are those looking for a boyfriend, and the most common group of all, those looking for sex. Guys being guys, most are looking for a roll in the hay, although you see the occasional guy logged in with a name like “FarangCleanChat” – which could well just be a ruse to lure in some innocent Thai gal who has been put off by the hardcore crowd already.

From the main chatroom, users click on another username and are automatically taken into a private room with just the two of them. The modus operandi is that each party quickly checks to see what the other is looking for, usually general chat, friendship (which means I want to chat with you for half an hour before agreeing to anything), or sex. If they find a match, they then exchange MSN Messenger IDs and take the conversation there, where they can save their new friend’s contact details into a contact list and enter into a much more sophisticated chat facility with the added options to view each other via webcam, swap pictures, use emoticons etc. As Bangkokchat is Java based, it can slow down even the fastest PCs, and not infrequently crashes, so switching over to MSN which is more stable is a better option.

The fact that conversation in Thai is not possible in Bangkokchat and that everyone essentially must use English (or another language typed in the Roman character set) means that the women on Bangkokchat tend to be at least computer literate and can speak English beyond a mere rudimentary level. Many are educated Thai women, and as has been discussed here so many times, the type of women who may be interested in meeting Western guys for a bit of fun, but determined that no-one too close to them, particularly members of their family, knows about it. They are the "JFF" girls as one once told me, "Just For Fun".

A close colleague at work is a Bangkokchat addict and frequently uses it in the office. He delights in reading out excerpts of his conversations when they get particularly racy, which is pretty much every day. Make no mistake about it, many of these women are up for it. He swaps pictures with many Bangkokchat user and some of the less discriminate have even emailed him nude pictures of themselves.

Over the last few months when I have had some free time on my hands, I’d check in to Bangkokchat for a laugh. The one trend I’ve noticed more than anything is that it has been well and truly discovered by the money girls. The real working girls are now on there and it is not unusual to see girls logged in from the Sukhumvit branch of Gulliver’s.

Bangkokchat has not gone un-noticed in expat circles either. Utter the words “Bangkok chat” and you get a knowing nod or wink from the full spectrum of Westerners in Bangkok, from English teachers through up to the big-moneyed expats. Everyone knows about Bangkokchat – and it would seem a good number use it too.

But something interesting has been going on in Bangkokchat recently and someone is doing their best to try and protect the innocent Thai petals from the Farang barbarians. At certain times of the day, when anyone logs in with a clearly female username such as “Lek24”, “21YearOldNeeds2000Baht” or “NaughtyOfficeGirl” – any name that clearly shows that they are a Thai female – they may get a private message sent to them warning them about the guys in the chatroom. And this private email points them straight to a website which highlights the dangers and devils of Bangkokchat, Farangs.org.

The Farangs.org site is written in coherent English and a Thai female’s name is prominently posted amid claims that she is the person behind it. The Farangs.org site is essentially one medium-length article with a number of links through to articles at other websites that support its message. There are even a couple of links through to articles at this site.

You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that it is very unlikely the work of a Thai woman. The articles linked to at this site would have taken quite some time to find and this alone suggests that the author of Farangs.org read a huge number of articles online right here, which is hardly the sort of thing you’d do unless you enjoyed them. Given that on this site alone there are over 2,000 such articles, and some of them are very long, you begin to realise that the author of the site most likely fits the standard Stickman reader profile.

Checking the registration details of the domain name Farangs.org reveals that it is registered in the name of a gentleman with a distinctly Scandinavian sounding name. But this isn’t, I believe, the person behind it, but more likely a friend of the guy behind Farangs.org.

The truth about Farangs.org is that it is the work of a successful Swedish IT professional in his mid 30s who is based in Bangkok. Exactly what prompted him to put together the site I do not know, but one would guess that his crusade has some reason, for he has put a not inconsiderable amount of time and effort into building the site, and continues to spend a lot of time warning female users in the chatroom.

This is all very strange given that he would appear to be, or at least have been, a reader of sites like this. I have yet to figure out why he runs the site but feel he is taking a risk or two, for he has made some claims that are potentially libellous and his Fan Club would appear to be full of people who have really got it in for him.

Patong Harbor View Condominiums

But one can't deny that there are some questionable goings on in Bangkokchat. It is one thing for a guy to jump into bed with a prostitute, but tricking innocent women, as has happened on Bangkokchat numerous times, is seriously bad. In this respect, Farangs.org should be applauded. But on the other hand, there are a few too many generalisations made for my liking and I cringe at some of what is said there.

The writer seems to have failed to isolate the worst offenders on Bangkokchat who are young Westerners, based in Bangkok, earning good money. Logging on to Bangkokchat and purporting to be a Thai female for research purposes, I was dumbfounded at what followed. Within 5 minutes, more than 10 guys were trying to hit on my username and I engaged each of them in private conversation. Amongst them were a Westerner who works at the HQ of Thailand's biggest bank, a partner at a large, expensive English school, a couple of engineers and a high profile athlete. There were a heap of English teachers. Within minutes, virtually every guy had disclosed way too much information about themselves. Every guy was happy to send pictures of themselves, their real name and name their place of work. The better their job, the more willing they were to disclose it, and I was hugely surprised when guys started volunteering what their salary was, suggesting that they see the pursuit of Thai women as something of an auction where you have to out-bid everyone else.

A number of guys both had and were willing to send nude pictures of themselves. Some admitted they were married and not even shy to admit that! The most aggressive were the younger guys who seemed to have a real hunger to meet someone, making no attempt to hide their intentions, and often going into explicit detail.

I find Bangkokchat puzzling. The owners of Bangkokchat, who run Thailand’s most popular internet discussion forum, actively avoid such sleaze on the main forum and do their best to avoid major controversy. Yet Bangkokchat is little different to Patpong insomuch that the goal for Westerners visiting there is to get laid – and that goal is achieved with as much ease on Bangkokchat as it is at Patpong! Really!

But Bangkokchat is far from the only Bangkok internet forum where such hanky panky can be so easily arranged. There are other sites which bring together a similar mix of Western men and Thai women, although the guys on other sites don’t seem to have quite the same hunger of those in Bangkokchat. Obviously there is an overlap between the various sites but many of the others seem to be, for want of a better word, more civilized, and perhaps more geared towards brining people together for friendship, to some extent at least.

But back to Bangkokchat, the women there are not the elusive “good Thai women” that a good number of farang men lust after. Many of the women in Bangkokchat are no different from the proverbial company car that has been test-driven and thrashed by all and sundry.

While it may not be so obvious, the rules of engagement in Thailand are not the same as the West when it comes to women. Messing around with women who aren't on the game can result in, shall we say, the unexpected. It'll be interesting to see how Bangkokchat develops in the wake of Farangs.org highlighting all of the goings on in there.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was the skywalk from Erawan to Siam Square.

Central Bangkok, yet again…

Last week's pic was taken from right outside the Erawan shrine, looking west towards Siam Square, so the World Trade Centre, which is out of shot, was just across to the right. If you said Chidlom or Central Chidlom, I said you were wrong, because technically, you WERE WRONG! Chidlom is about 200 metres east – not precise enough! Ha! The prize for the winner is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. To claim it, you need to be in Bangkok now, or within the next two weeks.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Poor country, poor service?

You were spot on in your observation that the main reason for bad service in Bangkok's restaurants is due to the low wages of the staff and the gap they perceive between themselves and the wealthy foreigners they are catering for. I have seen the same in tourist areas of poor countries all over the world. The exception of course is in posh restaurants where the staff are over-polite because they expect good tips, and that sucks too. When I visited Greece in the early 80s, I hated the country for its rude surly people. 25 years on, with Greece now a relatively well-off EU country, the people are far nicer than they used to be. It's amazing what a bit of prosperity can do. The old clichéd "poor but happy" is a crock of shit. If it applies at all, it only applies to rural areas in poor countries where everyone is badly off and so no-one feels hard done by.

There's a Shark in the Bar!

Sad to report that someone in a Cowboy bar tried to rip off the change. One mate and I had a couple of beers and I bought one lady cola, but by about 11:30 we were thinking time to head off, without any 'accompaniments'! My mate handed a 1,000 baht note and the bills to one of the waitressy types, but neither of us really noticed which one. 15 minutes later still no change, so we start asking and strange to relate, no one could recall taking the payment. It all started getting a bit arsey but then my mate who can speak (and swear) in fluent Thai after 16 years in Bangkok switched to Thai. Up to then we had acted dumb tourists / newbie expats. The rest of the staff then all said it's her over there, she has done it before etc and hauled the lass over: she started ranting on about how it wasn't and then from nowhere the change appeared while the lass was still ranting. Moral: check who you give the payment to!

Black kettles and all that.

I was amused by the gentleman who described some ugly bargirls as trolls. Considering the number of fat and downright ugly customers, it seems hypocritical to take this attitude. If he doesn't like the girls on offer, he can and should go elsewhere. From his insulting and arrogant attitude, I'd guess that next to him those ugly bargirls would look like beauty queens.

Anyone know the answer?!

As I have read about shootings over there I have this question: Is it legal and OK to bring one's bullet-proof vest to Thailand? I have lightweight and good quality one.

Where the beggars are on Sunday.

Don't know if he is still around, I daresay he is, but regularly up Sukhumvit you would see a small, bent, slightly deformed Thai man, probably 40 ish, poorly dressed and with the begging cup out. He would come past most nights around 11 or 12 PM and often when I was sitting at one of my favourite haunts (sad to say, pretty low class one!) on a plastic stool near soi 13, having a Sangthip and coke. I tend to blank these people, but often friends, or even Thai girls sitting with me, would throw something in his cup. Now it is probably well known that yours truly enjoys partaking in the sport of Kings, and even the fairly rugged, and very corrupt racing scene in Bangkok, albeit far from Ellerslie or Flemington, did on occasions entice me, and it was on one such occasion, when to avoid the queue at the 100 baht window, I went over to the 1,000 baht window to place a bet on a 'sure thing' and who was there in front of me, in an obviously custom made white suit, placing a 10,000 baht wager, but little Mr. bent over beggar from Sukhumvit Road!
I couldn't help myself, had to make sure he saw me, so politely asked if he was having a good day. From then on, when ever I saw him near soi 13, I would immediately call out 'Have you got a tip for the sanam mah on Sunday" – which would see the head drop, and him scurry off.

Do you run two operating systems?

I was somewhat amused by your recent posting about your love / hate relationship with Bangkok. About liking it one minute and wanting to leave it the next. As a resident of 48 years, maybe I could offer some suggestions: – First you have to throw away that western yardstick. You can not measure Thailand or East Asia in general with a western yardstick. If you live here long enough, you eventually come to the point where
you are like a computer with two operating systems. When you are with Thais, you switch to the Thai operating system with all of the accompanying customs and attitudes, and when you are with Farangs, you switch to the Farang operating system. That really works quite well. In fact there is no other solution. You are not going to change Thailand, nor is it likely to change. You simply have to adapt and assimilate yourself to the local culture. That is not so bad, once you accept it. If you read old novels, written during the Tang dynasty in China, more than 600 years ago, such as "Dream of the Red Chamber" and "Golden Lotus", you will find many attitudes and customs almost identical to what you see in Thailand today. Asian culture is very durable. It has been around a long time. Simply accept it and embrace it for what it is, and quit trying to judge it by western standards, and after a while you will grow to appreciate much of it. (Even the women begin to make sense after a while). You know, if you read the Thai Rath, and then the Bangkok Post, you would not know they were printed in the same country. It is the same with the culture. Western and Asian culture are not compatible and never will be. You simply have to broaden your horizons and accept them both at face value. I must warn you that Asia grows on you and if you ever really hope to leave, then you better do it soon, or you never will.

Two bars in Nana, essentially sharing the same space, have been competing with one another for punters ever since the bar was divided into two leaseholders. The upstairs joint actually hired away many of the best girls from downstairs. The competition saw a lot of naked flesh as the dancers observed one another through the glass ceiling floor and it was a one of the most fun places to be in Nana until last week. That's when someone snapped a girl without her top on. The cops hit the bar with a 10,000 baht fine and the threat of closure the next time it happens. Now, who took the photo and why is the real question. Bar owners ratting each other out does nothing to improve their own business and in the case of these two establishments, connected by a staircase and able to look into each others' emporiums, they will both lose. But it could have been another bar owner figuring that driving the customers away from these places would fill up his own bar? Whoever owns that brilliant mind has probably just sent the punters down to Cowboy. It had been argued by some that they really couldn't be bothered with Nana any more, but went along because of the fun in these two bars. Obviously once they were there at Nana, they would venture to and spend some cash in the other bars too. Most business people understand that, but well, this is Bangkok, isn't it?

Bully's is moving along in the right direction. They are putting in an expanded menu in November and the girls are, shall we say, popular.

Bully's will be having its one year anniversary party on Sunday October 16, and from 4 PM onwards all drinks / beer will be 60 baht except Guinness and Kilkenny which will be 125 baht a pint. Food will be on hand as will the Bully's girls. PJ and Boss Hogg will be in attendance and it will be the last time Boss Hogg will be in the bar before leaving Thailand permanently.

Even with sporadic rainfall, and some of it has been very heavy monsoon rain, business in Nana Plaza continues to be brisk. The Rainbow bars (1, 2 & 4 at least) are packing the customers in and so is the newly renovated Angelwitch. Even though Angelwitch is bigger than before it remains full at peak times. Also, Angelwitch have to be complimented on the new hong nam (toilets) which are much better than anywhere else in Nana Plaza.

Nana Plaza was visited by top level police on Friday night, which coincides with the annual police reshuffle. The entourage of police was accompanied by cameras and TV film crew who filmed the goings on as well as sticking their cameras into some bars. If you were there then, you might have ended up on TV! I wonder if you'll still have a job on Monday?!

Running a bar isn't easy, and if things aren't done right then untold problems can follow. A certain bar owner from a major bar area in central Bangkok has apparently packed up his apartment and run off to the US after a criminal complaint was filed against him, related to the bar. The so-called millionaire apparently couldn't give back the money to the buyers, presumably because he didn't have it. He told his office girl he would be back in 6 weeks and not to tell anyone he left. He then apparently emailed her and told her he had no more work for her after he left!

If you've wandered along to the Beergarden in Soi 8, and attributed its absence due to the not inconsiderable amount of liquor you had consumed, then perhaps you were not as drunk as you thought you were. The Soi 8 Beergarden, the younger and much less popular sister of the Soi 7 Beergarden, has now moved to Soi 19, just a stone's throw from the Honey Hotel. So do we call it the Soi 8 Beergarden or the Soi 19 Beergarden now?

The re-modeled beer bar attached to Pink Panther in Patpong has opened and it looks good. Done in light stone type decor it has more open space than the old bar which makes it look that much more inviting.

Still at the Pong, the long time establishment Tip Top Restaurant is open again and has been done up in an Asian style and the good news for smokers is that it now features an outside seating area where smokers can blaze away until their hearts content.

In some disturbing news for fans of Safari Bar, on Friday October 1st it was reported that a gentleman tried to buy a dancer a lady drink but to his dismay found that he could not buy a regular lady drink and he was REQUIRED to buy her whiskey at a cool 170 baht. I'm not sure if this is a Friday only requirement or if it is a new policy. Whatever, that will put people off as it even exceeds the cost of a lady drink down in Soi 33, the most expensive farang bar area.

The Bus Stop in Sukhumvit Soi 4 which was something of an Aussie hang out and considered by many to be an establishment with good farang food (I think I am the only farang in town who thought the food there was no better than average) is now not just closed, but the whole place was completely demolished this week. Rumour had it that over a year ago the property had been sold along with the house next door where the Thai owner lived. A hotel was to be built was the rumour doing the rounds. The owner said it wasn't true… But to confuse matters, from a server who worked at Bus Stop comes word that there is going to be a two storey bar built on the site and that the house in the back will be opened shortly for service. We'll just have to wait and see.

You could have been forgiven for thinking that you were in New Orleans this week, even though you were actually in Bangkok. We've had heavy rain most nights but Monday night was a beauty that saw many parts of the city under water, including Soi Cowboy. Several inches of water ran from one end of Cowboy to the other, although when the rains eased, the flooding subsided quickly. Another week or two and that should just about be it for the rainy season in Bangkok.

I had previously mentioned that Woodstock may re-appear in Sukhumvit Soi 13 but that would appear to be unlikely as owner Peter has told friends that the new Woodstock will be just off Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thonglor, and it is rumoured to be in Soi 13. It is mooted that it will have 4 floors with the first 2 being the bar and food area, with the top 2 floors being a small hotel. Peter feels that this new area is up and coming as an entertainment and dining area. While there are a lot of expats living in that area and Thonglor is one of the wealthiest Sukhumvit neighbourhoods, I just wonder about re-locating down there. Woodstock had quite a following, that is a following amongst those who like to party in the Sukhumvit soi 1 to soi 23 area. It seems to me that Thonglor is a whole different neighbourhood with an entirely different crowd and I wonder if people will go that far out of their way to try it? Peter is from all accounts very upbeat with a tentative grand opening date of October 21, although some sources believe this is awfully optimistic.

I have been inundated with complaints from Westerners being mis-changed at the Rachatewi skytrain station. The culprit is a male member of staff who constantly gives incorrect change to tourists. It seems that if you change 1,000 baht, you get back 100 baht less than you should, and if you change 100 baht, you get back 20 baht less. Be careful if changing money there, and do not be afraid to give him a piece of your mind if he tries to rip you off.

Have you seen the size of the rats at Siam Square? They are the size of a small cat. Not a kitten, a small adult cat! I used to live in the area and used to see them all the time, but they were never that big. They seem to be huge these days, and they run around during the day without a care in the world. I didn't know rats could get to be so big.

Don’t wait until Halloween to experience ghosts, vampires, bandits, pirates and other assorted creeps. From now until October 31 customers at Dasa Book Café will receive a 10% discount on all second-hand titles in the Mystery, Horror and Children’s book sections. Dasa customers can also sell back books or exchange them for store credit – and this credit can be used for coffee and desserts as well as for other books.

There is construction all over Sukhumvit and many of the developments are the sort of places that you’re going to need a lot of money to be a customer at. Sukhumvit is going more up-market. One can’t help but wonder what sort of effect this will have on the naughty nightlife that is so popular, but so out on the open, in Sukhumvit. Yes, it is likely that the economic conditions that helped so many of the girls choose to enter the world’s oldest profession will not change markedly and so there will always be girls looking for a way to make more money, but will the authorities continue to let the industry flourish as it has? 5 years from now, just how will Sukhumvit look? What about 10? Sukhumvit has scrubbed up a huge amount since the late ‘90s and it seems to be moving ahead even faster than ever. Will the time come when the Sukhumvit area is so up-market that the bars no longer fit? If Singapore is anything to go by, I guess the answer is no as the four floors of whores, Orchard Towers, are right there on Orchard Road.

Farangs are moving to Thailand in ever increasing numbers and while many are coming over with bulging bank accounts in the West which they can access with an ATM in a nanosecond, many folks residing here are not so lucky, and have to work. Thailand can be a fun place to work, but in most workplaces there are policies in place that the average Westerner struggles to deal with. A couple of stories from schools to demonstrate: At one school, someone wanted to take two days off, a Friday and a Monday, so they could have a long weekend away. They are to be docked double time for the two days they are away AND for Saturday and Sunday, meaning that effectively they lose close to a quarter of their month's salary for taking two days off! At another school, one teacher has been dating another teacher and has knocked her up. They are not married. The school has said that if they wish to continue working at that school, they must get married. Sometimes the employment policies here feel like they're from the Middle Ages.

There are many things I have leant since running this column, and one of them is to take food reviews with a grain of salt. When do you ever see a food reviewer in Thailand slam the restaurant that they have reviewed? Almost never. It would seem that, in Thailand at least, the food reviews are often tied in with advertising and that the reviewer does not dare slam the restaurant or any of the dishes for fear of losing advertising revenue. Food reviews should perhaps be called "extended restaurant advertising"!

An expat has a couple of cars up for sale. The first is a Toyota pickup, regular cab, purchased 3/03, manual transmission with power steering and a fibre glass shell, original owner no accidents, insured to 3/06 with full coverage, dark green and in perfect shape, 21,000 km, full Toyota new car warranty through to 3/06 – 275,000 baht. The second vehicle is a Ford Everest SUV purchased 1/04, automatic, leather, 7 seats, CD, 36,000 km, insured through to 1/06 with full coverage, black limited edition and has a full Ford new car warranty through 1/07 and 50,000 km, no accidents – 750,000 baht. If interested, contact John on 09-1376593.

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 met a great girl from Isaan who works at one of the resorts in Krabi. Despite her very limited English and my non-existent Thai, we clicked and had a great time together over a week. No sitting around bored because we can't speak – more like laughing our asses off and having a blast as we tried to break through speaking barriers with pigeon English, gestures and sound effects. She seems to have a good heart and to be honest – her friends and co-workers say the same. Says she's never been a bargirl or anything like that. She's definitely someone I want to know better. I'm a little unsure of where we stand now. I told her I liked her a lot, and she said she liked me, too. Sometimes, though, she said (and says) she "loves" me. I'm not sure if this is a Thai thing – if you have a great, romantic time with someone you say that more freely – or if she is really saying she LOVES me. She knows like is "chawp" and love is "ruk." I don't want to jump to any conclusions, thinking maybe it's just a cultural difference. I tried to explain the idea of really liking someone at the beginning of a relationship and it becomes love as things develop, but I'm not sure if it came across. (She said "You chawp me, I chawp you. You ruk me, I ruk you. Mai pen rai.")

Mrs. Stick says: It is normal for people who just throw words out easily to declare their love for someone very quickly. It might be genuine so it is up to you to tell. But why care about what she says? Look at what she does! That is much more important than what she says. Her actions need to correlate with her words! We do not usually declare our love quickly in a relationship. A lot of it is related to the person's background and their intentions in this relationship. I do not want to generalise but a well-raised person would not usually throw out I love you comments so fast. But let me say this, a good Thai woman would not ordinarily say this quickly! In fact they may not say it for a long time.

Question 2: I have a couple of middle class Thai friends in Bangkok and we share a similar professional background. They often ask me to bring them the latest software or books about graphic design, spare parts for exotic European cars or other hard to get in Thailand items. I agreed to this as a sign of generosity but over time it grew out of hand. Including the costs for air shipping this favour doesn’t come cheap. Despite their promises to compensate me on my next visit they never do. Whenever I come back to Bangkok they never mention the things I have sent them. They do not even thank me for my service rendered. And I do not dare to mention it either because I fear the loss of face for them and for myself. Is this behaviour normal in Thai society? As I am not the social welfare I have no intentions to continue this service. How can I stop them asking me for these favours and order these things via the Internet?

Mrs. Stick says: Yes, this is normal, unfortunately. You need to be straight with them. If you don't want to mention it, fine, but if I was you, I would. You can do it in a nice way. You do not need to have manners with people like this who try to take advantage of you! If they ask again, tell them that you are happy to do it and explain that the cost will be this and you need to send the money to me first. No more bullshit! That will be a subtle way to let them know that they have to pay.

Question 3: Is there anything in Thai culture that views loved ones departures differently than western views? For example, when a western man must leave his loved ones for a few months it is usually emotionally sad. Question is when a Thai is in the same situation are they having similar feelings, and would those feelings be displayed to that loved one?

Mrs. Stick says: Given that one has a normal relationship, this is not a farang thing but a normal thing so yes, Thai people do miss their loved one and yes, they will show their feelings in public. If you look around Thailand you will see people showing their feelings in public, holding hands etc.

It looks like the tail end of the rainy season isn't far away. Thank goodness! I don't mind the rain as such, but I really hate the feeling of being trapped in my apartment, or wherever I happen to be. When it starts raining, it is very hard to get anywhere. A few seconds in the rain and you are soaked through and obviously traffic comes to a stand still. But it's almost over for another year!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper and Claymore.