Stickman's Weekly Column October 23rd, 2005

In Search Of Neon At Night


StickmanBangk ok .com


Have you ever wondered what Thai guys do for kicks? Have you ever wondered what the naughty nightlife scene for them is like? So much information is available online about what is available for Westerners and other foreigners, but given that you do not see Thai guys in the bar areas for Westerners and other foreigners – they’re usually not even allowed in – just where do the Thai guys go?

The most well-known strip of establishments for the Thai guys is located on Rachadapisek Road, which was once described to me as The Las Vegas strip of Bangkok. Truth be told, while there are some huge massage parlours there and a tonne of neon, it doesn't quite compare with naughty Nevada. But this is the place where the wealthier Thai guys go. What about the poorer guys, the common man?

In an attempt to find out just what Thai guys get up to, myself and a friend went hunting in a province that borders Bangkok. We figured that we needed to get a bit out of Bangkok to find the sort of places that are typical of where Thai guys go, and not just of the wealthy Bangkok boys. Into his car we piled, in search of neon at night.

So there we were in his car, approximately 40 km from downtown Bangkok and heading further away. Down the main road we went and we had barely covered a couple of clicks when we passed the first establishment for the evening, the conspicuously named Love Club. It was a single shophouse in size, in a block of shophouses, all the other businesses already closed for the evening. It was still early evening, having only got dark an hour or so earlier, and outside this venue were 6 or 7 fair-skinned maidens, all dressed in matching pink evening gowns. The sign in Thai informed us that it was a karaoke venue but we didn’t venture in, for it was early, it looked quiet, and we wanted to explore some more before entering our first venue for the evening.

Less than a kilometre down the same toad we approached one of those large country style pubs that are so prevalent all over Thailand, the type of place where the irony is never lost on me. I mean, in the car park you often see Mercs and Beamers so the customers have money, yet they venture into a place with the sort of music and food that is most popular in the countryside and the rural areas, amongst the very people who wealthy Thais prefer not to socialise with.

We decided that this was worthy of further investigation and pulled into the large gravel car park out front of what was a massive property, set back from the main road. In addition to the large car park, we could see what looked like these two large barns, nicely done out.

Getting out of the car and walking towards the main entrance we were waied by a well-dressed Thai man who asked if we wanted karaoke or massage. Not knowing what we were going to find, we said massage and were ushered into the barn on the right.

Inside we saw that it was a fish bowl with perhaps 40 or 50 Thai women looking bored, most watching one of the two TVs that were placed inside the bowl. There were a number of tables set up facing the fish bowl and half were already taken by what looked like middle to upper-middle class Thai guys, most of whom were relatively young, late 20s through to perhaps 40 for the oldest. This was not a dirty old men's convention.

On the glass window of the fish bowl prices were written clearly for all to see. 170 baht per hour for a Thai style massage or 650 baht for a two hour oil massage. It also noted that early in the day it was just 100 baht per hour for traditional Thai massage.

The girls in the fishbowl ranged from pleasant on the eye to very attractive. There was not one old, one fat, and most certainly, not one ugly girl. Frankly, in terms of their appearance, this sort of quality cannot be found anywhere in the farang nightlife areas. Believe me, it just doesn’t exist.

We ordered a beer, which being Thai style was one large Heineken served into two separate glasses. We were offered a bucket of ice which we declined, us explaining that it is not to the farang taste raised a few eyebrows amongst the locals. When the bill came, it was just 120 baht. Fair. Very fair.

We chatted with the papasan about the deal in this place and he confirmed that the prices posted were for massage only and any extras were to be negotiated directly with the girl, with him suggesting that such services would likely be in the vicinity of 1,000 to 1,500 baht. Whether this was accurate or not, I do not know, but that would seem to be in the ball park. Given that this was what I would term a massage parlour of medium quality, but in a less prosperous area, the figures might have been a little on the optimistic side. But frankly, I do not know for sure.

After half an hour of observing the comings and goings, girls being selected and taken out back, we finished our beers and departed, but not before going for a wander around the complex. There were a large number of chalet style bungalows and low rise buildings out the back, as well as fountains, gardens and pebbled pathways. These led to private karaoke rooms. I got the feeling that singing was not the only thing that may happen in those rooms…

Back in the car and on to the main road, we drove for several kilometres. It was probably around 8:30PM and the further got from Bangkok, the less traffic we saw. If you have driven around Thailand at night you will have seen small venues with lots of neon lights and coloured light bulbs outside. These are karaoke venues. They range in size, but in the smaller ones there is usually one karaoke machine playing videos of popular songs with the words there like subtitles. You can choose your song from what is often a huge list, a microphone is given to you and you can sing along, all other customers getting the pleasure, or otherwise, of your singing. The girls in these venues sit with customers and they too sing songs. And of course arrangements are often made to go elsewhere. That's not to say that all karaoke girls are up for it, because that is not the case. Some only sing songs, and some sing songs, and, well, you know.

We turned off the main road and entered a lane which had several such venues. We were now in rural karaoke country. The lane was perhaps 150 metres long and there were several small karaoke bars, each with perhaps 10 or 12 girls. There were also a few very small restaurants, all no doubt supported by the karaoke joints.

Each of the venues was a single floor, single shophouse inside. Small. Surprised to see farangs at such a venue, we were invited into each venue Pattaya beer bar style, with girls calling out to us. The only difference was that everything was in Thai. Finding English out there isn't easy. We found the biggest venue and entered.

The bar, if you could call it that, was dimly lit and the furnishings were similar to what you would get at a typical food vendor on the street. We're talking basic. We were approached by a couple of girls who sat beside us, me quickly shooing one away. At the time I was worried about fleas. I don't know why, but I was! I also wanted to observe the comings and goings. There were a couple of other customers in there, two much older Thai guys.

I couldn't help thinking that this is the closest the Thai guys have to the gogo bars that cater to Westerners. Actually, this isn’t strictly true as there are gogo bars predominately frequented by Thai men in the Sutteesan area of Bangkok, but those are something of an anomaly, and while there are a few gogo bars around and about for Thai men, they are not typically found in all corners nationwide.

From a looks perspective, the girls in this particular spot were probably on par with the better gogo bars, such as Angelwitch or Rainbow 1. Some of the girls were seriously cute. They were all relatively young and from what I could see, all were in the 20 – 25 age bracket.

The girls were mostly from the surrounding district and had not been shipped in from the North or Isaan. All were there of their own accord. Sadly, some were of a very modest education, and two could not even read or write. I asked the girls about broken marriages and babies and no, most hadn't been married and NONE had had babies, major difference with the girls in the farang sector of the industry. Frankly, if you were to pull all of the girls out of there and put them into a Nana gogo, you’d probably be running the gogo bar with the prettiest girls. And absolutely without a doubt, the most polite.

Patong Harbor View Condominiums

This is what I found perhaps most interesting of all. The girls were VERY polite especially when compared with the girls in the farang oriented sector of the industry. They used polite vocabulary, used all of the right pronouns showing their understanding of the customer / service provider relationship.

We had had a couple of large bottles of beer and one small plate of food and I called for the bill, expecting it to be somewhere around 300 baht. I was therefore most surprised to see that it was 680 baht! Each of the large Heinekens was billed at 150 baht and the one food dish we had ordered was 80 baht. All a bit dearer than we had thought they would be, but still acceptable enough. The killer, the extra 300 baht, was for a large 2 litre bottle of Pepsi which one of the girls had opened without our permission. We were pissed but we both knew that it would not be a good idea to kick up a stink in a neighbourhood like that so we paid and disappeared, chalking it up to experience.

This highlights one of the problems of venturing into such establishments, you just do not know how things work so have to be a bit careful of what might happen, be it cheating on the bill or other more sinister issues. We put that behind us and ventured even further into the countryside.

Out through the provincial capital, we passed a huge Tesco Lotus Supercentre and turned right, heading along a smaller road until we spotted pink lights emanating out from several shophouses down a dark soi. Proceeding down the soi, we passed 6 double-width shophouses, each of which were lit up by red / pink lights. Bingo, we had found what looked to be the local brothel lane.

Slowly cruising past, each of the places had a number of Thai guys relaxing, and drinking and they looked rough. Forget taxi drivers or tuktuk drivers, these guys didn’t even get close to those lofty heights in the social strata. Labourers, factory workers and farm labour were this lot’s vocations. Certainly not one of them had arrived in their own transport and that we drove up and parked outside in a private car marked us as different, even before we got out of the vehicle to a chorus of the word “farang” being said in seemingly all 6 bars at exactly the same moment. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit some nerves and no small amount of trepidation.

We strolled up and down the lane, poking our noses into each venue and were welcomed into all. There was no anti-farang policy at play out there.

We finally chose one venue and wandered in, grabbing a seat. Looking around the shophouse, there was a fridge out the back full of Chang Beer, and signs up on the walls in Thai saying that no weapons were allowed, no drugs, and no gambling. Everything was basic, plastic chairs and tables and the glasses which were presented with the beer must have come from the Vietnam era, and perhaps only been cleaned a handful of times since. Despite the rudimentary surroundings, even there, at the very bottom of the food chain, in what essentially was a rural brothel, the girls were polite, very polite in fact. There was no pressure placed on customers apart from some gentle words of persuasion and while I wouldn’t say everyone was smiling and having a jolly old time, neither did it seem like I had expected a low class brothel to be.

Chatting in hushed tones to find out the score, the deal is that the lady gets half and the brothel gets half of the fee paid, but the lady doesn't get her share of the money until the end of the month. The lady has a degree of control over everything and it is her who sets her price, and not the establishment. We were told the prices were generally 300 baht, or 400 baht short-time, that being the only English we heard all night. Inquiring about what the 300 baht got you, "30 minutes upstairs was the response", short-time being one hour. This is an all up fee.

Apparently the most expensive ladies go for 600 or 700 baht although they would represent a very small number. These women come from very poor backgrounds and the sight of a purple banknote is a lot of money to them. They have to work every day except during menstruation, and if they miss a day they are docked 2,000 baht at the end of the month.

The girls sit on one side, and the Thai guys on the other. The guys drink and chat together and then they simply pick a girl and take her upstairs, with no communication beforehand, and absolutely no rapport at all. It's not indifferent from a massage parlour in that respect.

We finished up our beers, 80 baht for a large Chang and decided that it was perhaps time to disappear. This is not a neighbourhood where farangs ordinarily venture to, and while we did not feel that we were in any imminent danger, neither did we want to over-extend our welcome

So off we went for another lap of the district, speeding past rice fields, buffaloes, and barns garishly lit up with Christmas tree lighting and music blaring out over the quiet night of Central Thailand. We passed naughty venue after naughty venue after naughty venue, and clearly the naught nightlife industry is flourishing in the provinces.

As it was now the early hours of the morning we felt we'd done enough research for the evening and decided it was time to head back to the big city.

From an anthropological point of view, this was one fascinating evening out. And contrasting it to what is available to the average Westerner in Sukhumvit, well let’s just say it is no wonder the average Thai is puzzled at what farangs end up with. The girls we met and saw were friendlier, prettier and more polite. That said, I don't expect to see taxis full of farangs venturing up and down provincial highways, in search of Thai princesses.

It was a fun adventure.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was a bank branch near Ta Chang.

Central Bangkok..

Last week's pic was taken just along from the Ta Chang pier, the place where you get off the river boat if you wish to visit the Grand Palace. The lovely colonial style building that features in the picture is a branch of the Siam City Bank. This week's prize is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. The prize is only available to people in Thailand now – either resident or tourist and MUST be used within 2 weeks.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

The poor sap.

Sin sot is, in a nutshell, complete and total bullshit. I paid not one baht for my Thai wife, nor did she or her family expect me to. Nor would I ever. I'd tell the girl if she loved me, marry me, otherwise bye bye. The gentleman in your essay, I fear, is in for a hard time. You wrote at the end that after sensibly tossing her out, he decided 4 days later to go ahead and marry her, so she obviously dug her hooks into him somehow. Poor sap.

Face and the dowry.

As most guys will realise, much of the dowry pressure is from competition in the village to out do the neighbours. If a girl married recently and had 15 tables of food and drink at the party then the next girl's party should have 20! If the previous dowry was 1 million then the next family's should be 2 million just to beat the opposition in the face and status game. An example of this is the guy from my wife's village who married her cousin, in his late 50's, big company owner from mainland Europe etc. who built a large house in this rural Isaan village (which looked completely out of place amongst the huts and shacks of the neighbours). Every villager who had daughters thought they should compete with what this guy was offering and the dowries went sky high. Competition is big out in the sticks.

2 million baht is peanuts!

All it needs is even a rumour like this of such an incredibly dumb water buffalo, to get all the Thais from one end of Isaan to the other rushing down to Bangkok like some frenzied demented lemmings. Some might even argue whilst there are potential super mugs like this flying, why not get a slice of the action. Of course 2,000,000 baht to a man of such standing is small change out of his annual bonus. To some spending such sums on women is just another leisure pursuit. Of course there will be many drowning in their Heinekens tonight that he should still be considering such irrational behaviour of marriage, but it just goes to show that Thai girls reach parts where other beers don't stand a chance, there by God go I that this fate was never ordained on me.

Single and can't get a job?

I have recruited a number of western expats here and it's quite amazing how very well educated guys with good business acumen just seem to leave all logic at the airport when they arrive when it comes to their personal lives here. My company generally won't send single guys to Thailand now for that very reason.

Thais renting land from farangs.

My place sits on the river up in the north and we have a large festival here right now. Vendors come up set up their stands in front of my building and block some of my doors.
When I went down I told them if they were going to sell in front of my place that I needed a little bit of rent from them. I asked for 50 baht for the day and I asked nicely. They didn’t stay polite for long. Of course they didn’t want to pay anything and at some point were arguing with me that 40 baht was a better price. With tempers hotter than it should have been, I cancelled the deals and evicted them from my sidewalk. Unfortunately, many times you have to deal with Thais very sternly but in a fair way. They just don’t respect you otherwise.

A guest in an amusement arcade!

Thinking of coming to Asia to drive a car, well here are some ground rules. In the West one drives by comparison aggressively, whereas here in Thailand a defensive form of driving is the order of the day. At home you go to great lengths to study and pass written and physical driving tests, where you are taught basically how to behave on the roads. Everybody is taught for instance who has priority when two drivers met. Here they bypass this formality and can go straight out and purchase a licence in lieu. Having gone through this inconvenience, the locals then have the right to come at you priority a droite, a gauche, tu droite, in fact underneath and over the top of you as well. In fact they have all the rights, and as soon as you start thinking that you might have any that's where the problems will begin. You are a guest in their amusement arcade, and the big difference in these real life Asian dodgems is that you must spend all your time trying to avoid hitting others.

Self-protection.

Body armour, of the flack jacket type they're talking about, is most appropriate for large scale shoot-outs, drive-bys, and other such instances of general mayhem and inaccuracy. They do nothing to protect you from a .22 in the base of the skull, or a 9mm between the eyes (or a cheerful little kneecapping, for that matter). I don't think the police are necessarily out of place in questioning a farang importing such gear into the country for the purposes of "tourism". Perhaps of better use would be a forearm sheath, or something more akin to a fencing prot. This would be useful if you're up against knives, which is more likely, or a seasoned fighter, who won't be keen on beating down a steel arm. Alternatively, I think it would be a buyer's market if someone could come up with some form of protection to stop all of these farang from "accidentally falling off their balconies", during "business disputes"?

No need to battle at the Cambodian border.

Just to advise that I have done yet another border run to Mae Sot and, once again, it was a completely hassle-free trip. This route just has to beat the alternative Aranyaphrathet / Poipet every time.

Have we hit high season already? There is a definite increase in the number of dazed, white-skinned, long-nosed creatures wandering around the capital. Mid-October is perhaps 2 or 3 weeks before the high season starts, but things are most definitely picking up, in Bangkok at least.

Rainbow 4 in Nana continues to do a roaring trade and venturing there this week, the place was absolutely packed, so much so that one could not even find an empty seat! I cannot imagine how much money they are pulling in, but we're talking very serious $$$ here. Good on them, they have a great product.

The new Angelwitch development in Pattaya is huge and word has it that it will be three floors and shaped something like the Coliseum! It is going to be massive so I hope Matt and co. have a large number of staff ready because if they do not get hundreds of staff, it is going to feel quiet, something that doesn't do anything for any bar. I just wonder when it will be finished though? High season is just around the corner and they will want to cash in on that for various reasons. First of all, this is a big development and I cannot imagine the total cost. Half a million US or more would be my best guess. Also, next year's low season will, in my humble opinion, be a bad one, and a period where a number of Pattaya bars could really hurt. With the football World Cup being held in Germany in the middle of next year, many who would have ventured to Pattaya will shoot over to Deutschland instead and next year's low season will, in my opinion, be a quiet one for Pattaya. Of course the new airport's opening will likely help tourism in Pattaya, but that will not be until September…so they say! Whatever the case, if I was in charge of the Pattaya Angelwitch bar, I'd have teams working around the clock to get it finished ASAP! I am very much looking forward to it and it promises to become a new landmark in Pattaya.

Instead of the usual plastic tumbler, Gulliver's is using glasses to keep customers' checkbins in. It is something I find somewhat disconcerting and I bet a number of them break, not that that would bother anyone too much as these are like 5 baht glasses.

And speaking of Gulliver's in Sukhumvit Soi ha, there were a heap of pretty girls there this week. Thy are the sort of girls that I bet most guys would like, those who you are never quite sure if they are on the game or not, even though they almost certainly are.

The Ball In Hand has announced another handicap tournament league. This time the tournaments will be held at The Ball In Hand only although the closing party and the awards ceremony will be held at the Hillary Bar. Since they have used the same tournament format for over a year now, they thought it was time for a small change. Now instead of having separate tournaments, the women and men will play together. The handicap is similar to the leagues before but instead of changing the handicap after every tournament, it is now fixed. The tournament is a race to six racks with the lowest handicap at -4 and the highest at +4. The entry fee for men is 700 baht and for women is 500 baht. Up for grabs is 8,500 baht for the winner, 4,000 baht for second while third and fourth will get 1,500 baht each. Players may register or seek further information at The Ball In Hand and don’t forget, whatever your level of ability, every competitor has a chance of winning!

In last week's column I briefly mentioned that I had visited Casino Club but that it was very quiet when I was there, even though a few people had been raving about it as a happening venue. I have since found out more. Apparently, all the girls are "agency girls", professional dancers and models hired by the bar from talent agencies and they are claimed to be Thailand's prettiest. In a country of truly attractive women, that is quite some claim! They are brought down to the bar from Bangkok on 1-month assignments. There are no barfines, and the girls are not allowed to leave the bar, with a customer that is. They only dance and socialise. They are allowed to get together with customers after they get off work, however. So if she's willing to go, and you're willing to wait until awfully late, then who knows, you might just get lucky… This would explain why the place doesn't get busy until after midnight, which was much later than when I was there on my flying visit. Sounds like it is worth another visit on my next trip down to Pattaya!

So why do both Coyotes and Heavens Above have a similar looking interior? Easy, the same guy designed them both, TJ from Coyotes – although he does not have an interest in Heavens Above.

And just to prove that The Ball In Hand is doing really well, they will soon be opening a new branch near Asoke, between Sukhumvit Soi 12 and 14 in the basement of the Times Square Building. The new pool hall will be a whopping 314 square meters and feature 9 Brunswick Metro pool tables, the same sort as seen in The World Championship 2005. But it doesn't stop there. There will also be seven 9 foot tables and two 8 foot tables as well as a Pro Shop that will cater the full A-Z of cue repairs. Tables will be available as challenge, per game or per hour and there will be weekly tournaments. It has been described as the perfect playing environment for pool players of all levels. The options for pool players in Bangkok are quite dazzling with many, many venues. The Ball in Hand in Soi 4 remains my favourite. (The name Stickman does not refer to my ability to play pool which is, I must confess, nothing to write home about.)

Which prolific Bangkok webmaster has been walking around with a shit-eating grin on his face for a few weeks because he has landed a book deal? Bangkok Phil, who was interviewed in this column several weeks back is the first major Bangkok website owner to be offered a book deal, based on the content of his excellent site. Congrats Phil, I can't wait to see the finished product and I want a signed copy, no less! Phil is the first of a few, I should think.

If you are approached in a gogo bar by a waitress who wants to know which girl you like and who you would like brought over, point out one of the female Asian customers, if there are any in the bar, and plead dumb. A number of the bars in Nana have Japanese female customers and if you are asked which girl you like, point to one of them. It's a hoot! The waitresses don't know what to do!

The last time the column was uploaded late was Mrs. Stick's fault, with her forgetting to pay the phone bill. Words were said! But even if the Mrs. forgets to pay it again, the column will not be late. Sneaking around in my apartment building, I have so far found 7 open wi-fi connections. Unfortunately I have to wander around the building to access them and it must look a bit weird with this farang hurriedly punching at the keyboard in the corridors of the building. Still, it means that the column shouldn't be late again. If you're in an apartment building where there are a number of foreigners, or Thais who get online frequently, I bet there are a heap of open wi-fi connections in your building too.

I recently mentioned in the column about Angelini being, in my humble opinion, the best of the city's many Italian restaurants. Since writing those comments, I have been back a couple of times, once for dinner and for a change, once for lunch. It has to be said that there is quite a difference between Angelini during the day and at night. At night it is stunning, but during the day, it is just very good. Between lunch and dinner time, the menu is different, the staff different, and the ambience is not quite the same with sunlight shining into the venue, and no live jazz. Stick to Angelini at night. Now, for a memorable Italian lunch, Zanotti has an excellent lunch at just 290 baht for a 3 course menu, where you have a choice of starter, main and a dessert. So, my choices are Zanotti for lunch, and Angelini for dinner.

A reader asks if there is a lawyer out there who understands, and perhaps even better still, practices divorce law in both Thailand AND California. If yes, drop me an email and I'll forward it to the reader in question who is in need of the services of such a lawyer. Ouch, doesn't sound like fun!

Quote of the week comes from one of the English-speaking Thai presenters on Thai TV who said words to the effect of "sometimes discrimination is good" when they were talking about the two tiered pricing that is so prevalent at many of the historical and tourist sites in Thailand. I cannot imagine the outrage they would feel if they went to such an attraction in the West where the price for Thais was a few times more than the price for all others.

On the 29th of November 2005, BahtBus are staging their annual 'Drunkatholon' fundraiser, an event involving playing golf, pool, ten pin bowling and darts whilst consuming serious quantities of beer. The Drunkatholon details can be found here. The Bahtbus "Jaidee Appeal" is all about raising money for kids who have been orphaned by and / or born with HIV / AIDS. In the last two years, the Jaidee Appeal has beaten the supposedly 'impossible' 1,000,000 baht target they set themselves and they are now looking for the second million. It's a great cause so do get involved!

A joke from a reader. What's the difference between bungee jumping and sex with a prostitute? Answer: Nothing, they both last for only a few seconds, they're highly exciting and you die if the rubber breaks.

Just a reminder about taking care when in Bangkok internet cafes or when using free internet connections in bars and restaurants. This story here shows how a New Zealand businessman lost $30,000 due to theft resulting from information gained from spyware that was installed on a computer in a Bangkok internet cafe. When I have a need to use such connections here, I only read news and view sites. I do not log into any of my email accounts or even accounts held at other sites from 'net cafes. As I have mentioned many times before, computers in many Bangkok internet cafes are riddled with spyware, keyboard loggers and goodness only knows what else.

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. Please try and keep the questions to about 100 words if you can.

Question 1: I am considering cancelling a February wedding with my Isaan fiancée. My only concern is saving face for her and her family, as I will give her the agreed to dowry in any event. Is it better to cancel a planned and publicised wedding beforehand or to go through with it and then part ways? I can see both sides. In the eyes of her parents, we haven't had sex yet so early cancellation might be better. But to part ways soon after the ceremony must also be quite embarrassing for my fiancée and parents.

Mrs. Stick says: This is tough! The truth is that no matter what happens, people are going to have to live with your decision, and it is unavoidable that there will be some fall out. It is very kind of you to agree to give the dowry even though you have decided not to go through with the marriage. To the family this will show that you have acted very responsibly. Going through the marriage ceremony with potentially hundreds of guests and then splitting up soon after will only embarrass her. But this is only half of it. A failed marriage will ruin her chances of a later marriage to a Thai man. Therefore, you should call it off now and not get married in the knowledge that it is not going to last. This way at least it does not jeopardise her future.

Question 2: I met a Thai girl recently through a former student. She is almost 30, has a good job with a certain mobile phone provider, and just got back to Bangkok from 3 years in Australia. After about 5 lunch dates over one month, we started dating at night – two consecutive Saturdays and then a weeknight dinner at a nice restaurant. Then I was invited to a very nice dinner party at a hotel in Bangkok and she agreed to join me. This would be the third date in one week. I told her that this party was to be a very nice meal and entertainment, with some celebrities and a dress-up night. We were to meet at 6PM on Saturday. At noon on Saturday she sent me a text message cancelling because she had to “go somewhere with my mom.” Your husband has a “one strike and you’re out” rule (that I generally agree with). But this isn’t like stealing money or cheating. Still, if this were back in the US from an American girl, it would mean that either A) she has absolutely no manners, or B) is trying to hint that she doesn’t want to see me again. Either way, I would never call her again. So what's the deal? Is it no big deal for a Thai to do something like this? Just when we seemed to be ramping up to serious relationship, why would she be so casual about it? I am 99% sure she doesn’t have a boyfriend, so that's not why she cancelled. Since then, she called me a couple of times, but I have ignored the calls. The act kind of killed my desire for her. Your thoughts?

Mrs. Stick says: If you think that this girl is a future prospect then perhaps you should give her another chance. This is a cultural thing and we have different ideas about the issue of cancelling by text message. Sometimes Thai people can be a bit loose in their actions and I think this is such an occasion. If you want to pursue a relationship with a Thai woman you will see many things like this that may be quite different to what you are used to. I don't think SMS was the best way to cancel her dinner plans, but she did send it several hour beforehand which for most Thai people that would be considered just fine. There is no hard and fast rule on this. If she had sent SMS just before she was supposed to meet you then it might have been different. Remember you had been out with her many times before this and she called you again afterwards, so she most likely does like you! It would seem a shame to split up over something like this. Maybe you need to communicate to her that you would prefer her to communicate with you in a different way. I'm sure she would be surprised that you found this to be so upsetting so tell her this, and hopefully she will not do it again.

Question 3: I have a Thai girlfriend that I met a little time back and I have an awkward question. We have become very serious to the point that when I return in December she has already decided to take me to her hometown to meet her grandmother. Her grandmother raised her after her mother died and her father kicked her and her sister out. We email each other every day and talk about twice a week. The last time that I left her I couldn’t convince her take any money from me. It wasn’t until last month that she agreed to let me send money directly into her account. She justified it by saying that she decided that I was the one she wanted to be with after asking me if I was serious about her. I am. She has been very truthful with me about her life and her background and I have been with her. I send her about $US 650 a month and told her that I could send more. She replied that that was enough, and maybe too much, and that she could take care of her grandmother also. I am an American who works in the Middle-East and I make very good money so I could easily afford to send her more. When she does buy anything expensive she lets me know about asking me if it was okay or before she buys anything expensive. She even apologized for using the money to pay for a doctor bill when she came down with pneumonia! This is much different experience from my ex-wife who used to spend my money at will. I know the dollar is very strong there but I was wondering how much it takes for a young girl to survive in the big city? I feel like I should be giving her more money. Can a young girl live comfortably on $650 a month in Bangkok? Should I make her take more money or will that just offend her.

Mrs. Stick says: I think it is very nice that you want to send her more money and if you want her to live *very comfortably* then obviously more money would help. But be careful of spoiling her by sending her what are relatively large sums of money. 26,000, baht which is the equivalent of what you are sending, is a good amount, not exceptionally high, but still very good. I would give it a bit more time before increasing how much you send her. Maybe wait until you have met the grandmother first and have really got things straight in your mind.

Excerpts from this column are frequently picked up on by readers of some of the Thailand discussion forums and discussed in those forums at length. The opening piece in last week's column was picked up by at least 4 different discussion forums, many people incredulous at the way the guy could be so silly. It was suggested on one of the forums that the story was either not true, or put together from a bunch of stories that I'd seen, heard about or experienced over the years. This made me chuckle and the person who wrote that showed his ignorance of life in Thailand. There is no need to make things up in this column to spice things up because Thailand is truly a place where you do not know what is going to happen next. Amazing Thailand is a most appropriate catchphrase!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper.


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