Stickman's Weekly Column October 16th, 2005

Mr. And Mrs. Stick To The Rescue!

StickmanBangk ok .com


If one decides that they want to put a ring on their Thai girl’s finger, there is a certain protocol that is usually followed that starts well before the wedding day. In fact it happens well before the engagement. The traditional approach would see the boy go to the girl’s parents’ house to negotiate the engagement and wedding gift (dowry is not really the right word, rather engagement gifts perhaps being more accurate).

Different families handle it differently. Sometimes there is an engagement ceremony held months before the wedding itself, whereas others do both the engagement and wedding ceremony on the same day. Generally speaking, at the engagement ceremony the guy will give some gold, usually a chain and also a diamond engagement ring. The ring is for the fiancée and the gold is usually for her too, though sometimes it is retained by her parents. Then at the time of the wedding, a dowry is often paid, and it will be put on display for all to see. Exactly what happens to the dowry after the wedding is something for another column.

So before the engagement ceremony itself, the guy will go to the parents' house and ask for permission to marry her. It is at this point that there is a negotiation for exactly what will make up the dowry / engagement gifts.

Last weekend I was contacted by a reader of this website who was caught in a bit of a bind. It was Saturday lunch time and he was having this very pre-engagement meeting and negotiation with the family of the girl he was looking at marrying at 7:00 PM that evening. As he did not have any real Thai friends, especially seniors of some social status, he had had to organise someone to negotiate on his behalf. He had hired a Thai woman to help him but the appointment time had been changed and she was unable to assist. So, when in a bind in Bangkok, who do you turn to? Stickman, of course!

Truth be told, I did not feel comfortable getting involved in something like this. The language would not be a problem, but it really should be a Thai person there to help, someone familiar with both the process itself, and the people there. But this guy was desperate. I ran the situation by the Mrs. to see if she was interested in doing it. She agreed, on the understanding that she would be happy to deal with the language and translation side of it, but was not confident about the general format of the negotiation. Somewhat reluctantly she agreed to help.

Off we trotted to meet said gentleman, to get a feel for him, to find out about the whole situation and agree on what our relationship with him was before the negotiation process itself commenced.

He was a computer professional with a Western salary, something he was not shy to tell us. Everything about this guy oozed money. He was well-dressed, well groomed and despite being in his 40s, you knew that women would find him handsome. Frankly, he would be an extremely good catch for a Thai woman. But I couldn't help get the feeling that he had more money than sense.

After a bit of chit chat, he filled in the gaps. He had met this particular lady at CM2 Disco a couple of months back. Things had moved quickly and she had been living with him for the past two months with him "looking after her". She did not work. She felt that they should take the relationship to the next level if he really loved her. Obviously he had not been looking at marriage just yet, but things had somehow got to the point where he was meeting the parents for the pre-engagement negotiations.

The story we concocted was that the two of us had worked together some time ago and that I was there for moral support. We could not say that we were close friends as she had met most of his friends already. So, with the story straightened out as best we could in such a short amount of time, we then headed across town to meet her and her family.

The meeting was scheduled early evening at a restaurant in a large suburban shopping centre. By the time we got there, they had already ordered a huge amount of food and our arrival was greeted with what I felt was a muted welcome, them seemingly more concerned about scoffing down the food than making introductions.

A bunch of family members were present, all Bangkok residents, but natives of one of the far flung Isaan provinces. The senior family members were pleasant people, quiet, but rugged looking, the sort of people who you know hadn't had the easiest of lives, but whose instincts were first and foremost, to smile.

After ordering several dishes ourselves and quickly polishing them off, one member of the family asked Mrs. Stick if we were ready to commence the discussions. Still no introductions had been made. A woman was pushed to the front and surprisingly to me, the parents took a back seat, not saying anything. It turned out that this woman was not even a family member, but a woman who used to be their neighbour. She was someone who they felt knew more about such things than them, yet someone they trusted.

Going straight to the main event, they laid their cards out on the table. If he wanted to marry her, they required 500,000 baht to be paid at the engagement ceremony which itself should be held as soon as possible, within the next week preferably. On top of this, he would also have to give 10 baht of gold (gold currently retails for 9,200 baht per 1 baht unit of weight), and a 1 carat gold ring (this would typically cost 150,000 – 200,000 baht). That was just the start of it. At the wedding there would be another payment of cash given that must exceed the amount given at the engagement, but would not exceed one million baht. There would be another 10 baht gold. Adding it all up, Loverboy was looking at an outlay at the engagement ceremony and marriage ceremony combined of close to 2,000,000 baht.

To their credit, they were straight up and said that not a single baht would be returned to him. The first 500,000 baht given at the engagement ceremony would be given to the mother and father “as they deserve it because they are poor”. Interesting logic, that. The next payment made at the wedding ceremony would be deposited into his fiancée's bank account for her to use as she pleases, and it would provide a backup for her should he decide to leave her.

I couldn't help but notice that our friend to be married had suddenly developed this mysterious twitch and was suddenly a lot less comfortable than he had been. He then revealed to me that the figures that had been mentioned earlier that very same day totaled a mere 700,000 baht, but had now close to tripled!

Now dear readers, if these figures sound a bit on the high side to you, then you would be absolutely right. Just going off on a tangent briefly, middle class city girls would usually command a dowry of 100,000 – 200,000 baht with gold and a ring pushing the total closer to an effective outlay for the groom to be of 150,000 – 250,000 baht.

It was at this point that Loverboy asked me just how the "valuation system" works. I told him that a number of factors came into it such as the social standing of the girl and her family, her education, her sexual history (primarily whether she was a virgin or not), amongst other things. A nice guy, but somewhat in the dark – he had only known this girl for 2 months. He didn't need to be an expert on all things Thai to realise that these numbers were unrealistically high.

I confirmed for him that these figures were far, far too much and that he was being had. He didn't come back with a counter offer but asked just how this figure was reached, to which the response was, "take it or leave it".

He then asked me if we could bring up the fact that he had met her in a bar and she had slept with numerous other guys and that frankly she shouldn't command such a high price. Mrs. Stick frowned and said that while what he said was correct, we could hardly say that. If we did, the whole negotiation process would break down amidst huge loss of face.

He made a counter offer by saying that he would be footing the bill for her education and that that would cost him at least 200,000 baht. He rightfully said that if she was not married then it would be the parents who would have to foot the bill for this. Total disinterest from them. "Whether she is educated or not is your business, not ours", they said, which was all I needed to hear to know that they didn't care about her at all, but simply wanted his money.

They then mentioned another condition which totally threw me. The engagement ceremony needs to be as soon as possible, preferably the following week, and then he would not be able to see her until the wedding, the date for which they would set when they were good and ready. Warning bells were going off left, right and centre. Can you spell S-C-A-M?

But things were to get worse. Much, much worse.

He kept politely coming back with the comments that the figures were on the high side and Mrs. Stick translated this time and time again. They kept coming back with the logic that if he was sincere, he would give as much as he could, a situation exacerbated by the fact that he had been giving her 50,000 baht a month while she was living with him, and he had foolishly disclosed his astronomical salary to her. They said that they were showing their sincerity by even entering into this negotiation and for him to be sincere, he had to offer more money, such a fee being commensurate with her "worth", they argued. Counter arguments were made but they simply cast these aside and said that they showed a lack of sincerity on his part.

This was not a negotiation. It was quite simply a take it or leave it deal.

It was at this point that the spokeswoman for the family leaned closer to Mrs. Stick and in a hushed tone, not hushed enough however, said that “this girl has woman’s problems and she is unable to have children, but whatever you do, do not tell him that!” I shook my head in bewilderment. Did I hear that right? My face must have become contorted because she then looked at me and frowned. I could see her thinking, "Did the farang understand that?" Here she was purportedly extolling the virtues of being sincere and doing the right thing and then she whispers to the translator that the girl who is being auctioned off is in fact spoiled goods!

It was obvious that agreement could not be reached at that point in time and the negotiations were paused with our friend saying that he would think about things and get back to them. The spokeswoman then said that he was not allowed to see his girlfriend until he had agreed to the terms and if he did not agree to them, he could never see her again!

Before this part was translated I told him to settle the bill immediately and go outside explaining that I had something very important to tell him. The family scurried off quickly, and I took him outside and told him what had been said. He was furious and it seemed to take all the control that he could muster to prevent him from going into a rage.

We piled into a taxi and heading back into town, both the Mrs. and I gave him our thoughts on the complete lack of sincerity of the family and how their motivations were clearly financially motivated. We told him how insincere they had been, how the numbers they were talking about were completely unrealistic and how quite frankly, marrying into a family like this would be a nightmare. He agreed and said that he intended to go out and get drunk.

He called me the next day and said that he had packed up all of her things which had been at his apartment in preparation of her coming to collect them. It was over he said. Wise.

Patong Harbor View Condominiums

There were many issues that came out from this most intriguing few hours.

I guess I should not find it surprising the way the family automatically assumed that another Thai, Mrs. Stick, would pull the wool over a farang’s eyes, even though she was there to represent him.

When a farang is involved the amounts talked about become not just silly, but totally outrageous. I was looking at this woman sitting opposite and boiling inside. Maintaining composure was difficult because the one thing that really upsets me is people who are clearly bullshitting but maintain an angelic look and purport complete innocence. When she started talking about the girl as some sort of princess and not the freelancing slag that she was, I could feel my blood boil.

A large sin sot / dowry in some ways gives a woman an INCENTIVE TO LEAVE THE MARRIAGE. In the old days, a woman stayed with a man because she had to. She would not be able to survive without him and no-one would want to marry someone who had already been married. This is no longer the case and divorced Thai women often remarry these days.

The amount of bullshit, and complete lack of sincerity from the family was disturbing. I have never seen anything quite like it and was appalled that people could lie so terribly at a time when people are supposed to be happy and joyful.

Paying a dowry is one thing, but the whole negotiation process to me was just disgusting and that you cannot actually come out and say things which are relevant to the negotiation is just ridiculous. To me it is a fundamentally flawed process.

Obviously when discussed by senior Thais who have been through such before, it would likely be a much smoother process. But my impression of it all was that I was very happy I never had to go through anything like that.

He emailed me 4 days later and said that he was going to marry her.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was Sathorn Road.

Somewhere in Bangkok…

Last week's pic was taken looking up Sathorn Road. The first person to email with the correct location of the pic wins a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

The difficulty of restaurant reviewing in Thailand.

Food reviews are always a difficult business. In order for it to work well, you have to have a magazine of sufficient stature that they can basically tell the restaurant to go take a hike, and they don't give a damn if they pull their advertising accounts or not. If you're Vogue in the New York market, or the Financial Times or any of a string of others, you can afford to take this attitude. Alternatively, if things are dire enough, you print whatever you like 'cause you don't have any advertising revenue anyways. But, if, say, you're a small magazine or periodical in a limited market like Bangkok, that relies on the restaurant and hotel trade to cover your costs, then you have another problem altogether. Now here's an interesting Thai angle on the restaurant trade. The Thai hi-so crowd is a fairly self-contained bunch. Do you dare slag the opening of a new nouvelle Albanian brunch pit that just so happens to be the latest pet of khun C's darling daughter? Or say anything bad about the wines of khun V's nephews vines? And, beyond that, not just relations, but friends of relations could take offence at any moment. So many feet to step on.

The body armour question.

Re your readers emails of today, (9/10/05) and the chap asking if it is ok to bring in body armour / bullet proof vest. Well, I used to sell this stuff to the Thai Military / Police and Government and so am up to speed on the subject. The answer is no. No way. There is at least a horrendous fine for a Thai found with a set without a special licence and for a foreigner, a fine and jail term being more likely. The authorities attitude being that anyone with body armour must be up to something nefarious. As civilians, Government ministers are allowed to own it as they can be in danger of assassination, however it must be procured via the Government procurement Department. Naturally a foreigner needing body armour must be a gangster. Anyway, why does the chap feel the need for such a thing? How many farangs actually get shot each year in Thailand? The odds must be billions to one!

Don't complain about service in Bangkok.

I actually feel that the comments about lack of service in Bangkok are somewhat overdone but leaving that aside how would your readers explain the truly appalling levels of service that exist all over the UK. It makes me laugh / cry that here we are supposedly getting rich on the back of a service led economy when levels of personal service in almost all areas are so bad. It is difficult to adequately describe my pleasure at arriving in Bangkok, checking in to my usual hotel, getting coffee at my favourite cafe, eating at my favourite restaurants, shopping or browsing in my favourite shops and stores, and so much more.

There's an exception to every rule.

We might be an (the?) exception to the Bangkokchat.org “rule”. I did meet my wife a little over a year ago on this chat site. She being a very well educated woman, speaking good English, far above average for a Thai. Just looking for a farang to chat to, not being interested in Thai men for a relationship. I was looking for somebody like that with a brain and absolutely not a bargirl. Reading the many articles about it on Stickman we know how difficult that can be. Lucky us?! We met, dated, got engaged and got married. I have not been chatting for a while so I do not know the status is as you described. Last year it was more decent for sure. I guess it all depends what you say (and do). This I think is valid for all chat sites worldwide.

The warning on Bkkchat should be for farangs!

Considering how many needy people and worthy causes there are in the world today, you have to question the sanity of any individual who decides to make it his life's vocation to warn Thai females away from using an internet chat site. What kind of women does he think he is trying to protect? True, a small percentage of users are very young and inexperienced, but innocent they most certainly aren't. I am an old Asia hand and have tales concerning "sweet, innocent girls" which would make even the most hardened monger choke on his Chang. I would go as far as to say that it is the male users of Bangkokchat who need protection, from slutty whores and scheming gold diggers.

The hay days of Bkkchat are long gone.

2 – 2.5 years ago I had a lot of fun on Bkkchat chatting with girls and meeting up with them, sometimes for sex, sometimes not. Unfortunately the good times changed and about 18 months ago I got so fed up with the attitude of the girls chatting there that I stopped using it. There always were girls who enjoyed winding foreign guys up. Arranging to meet and not turning up, the girl you met thanks to Photoshop – looking very little like the photo she sent – 2 girls in particular were dainty and slim looking in their photos but in real life were huge! Other girls would turn up really late or simply not speak when we met. All this was worthwhile because the majority of girls were fun and / or were interested in sex! The balance shifted, I guess due to the increased popularity of the site, with guys who were simply interested in cheap thrills chatting about sex can a guy really get off with sex chat on a computer? It never did anything for me. Anyway, the attitude of the girls seemed to change, they became more game playing and less inclined to get to know a guy. They always seemed to be chatting with several guys at the same time, making conversation slow and dull. I had a bit of fun logging on as a female just to see what the girls had to put up with and to give some guys their cheap thrills you see you never really know who you are chatting with. In my opinion a far less hassled way to meet girls is simply to be out and about in Bangkok. I am not talking about working girls, just normal everyday girls. For example in the last 3 weeks I’ve met a graphic designer, a businesswoman and a student and had one night or one afternoon stands with them all – none mentioned nor expected money. We just had fun!

The Bus Stop is not dead as had been thought. It is true the main structure we were familiar with has been demolished. The restaurant / bar has merely been repositioned on the site – it is now alongside and at the back of the detached house that was behind the original venue. It is accessed from Soi 4 by a new path with circular stepping stones. Checking the spot for a look, the illuminated sign was on and to my amazement two Singapore Airlines clad girls were sitting outside. Business as per usual! If anything, the revised location is more discreet than before – seemed to be just as many girls hanging around as before. The latest from the girls that work there is they are rebuilding the front area. They are to re-open there in 2 months.

The staff at the Robin Hood bar have been telling customers that they will be opening another venue on Sukhumvit Soi 4 in what is said to be a new building which is yet to be built. Could this be in the space where the old Bus Stop was? The Nana location will be three stories high with a top floor being an open floor. This makes it sound awfully like Sin. Another rumour doing the rounds is that the Marriott has been linked with the space too, though it is only conjecture at this stage.

And just to add to the rumours about the Bus Stop, boy have there been a lot of them, is that it is going to be a shopping centre and high-rise condo, similar to the Nana-Sukumvit corner, but with condos sticking out of the top in the middle of the property. The building will be lower than Sin's rooftop, and the high rise section is being built behind Sin's current rooftop area, so fortunately it won't effect the view much, but it will effect visibility from both the Marriott and Nana hotels.

A new manager, a familiar face, has been appointed manager of Playskool and started this past Friday. I am sure he will find working for Peter & co. much easier than working for his previous employer.

From the story about the friction at Erotica as reported last week comes something of an explanation about what has been happening there. It is alleged that the doorman downstairs in Erotica took a video with his cell phone of a girl dancing naked upstairs. He did it because she used to work downstairs and the owner got on her case because her husband took a liking to her! She was a good earner for the downstairs bar with a good body and very easy on the eyes. She went to work upstairs Erotica with no notice to the downstairs crowd which is obviously a recipe for disaster. The new boss upstairs says you have to make the customers enjoy so she disrobes and dances nude on the glass floor and she encourages her old customers to go upstairs too! The folks downstairs saw this as their opportunity to make a problem for her (and the upstairs crowd) and showed the video to the police. She was arrested and the bar cut her salary to almost nothing for the month of September.

After the worries of 170 baht lady drinks at Safari in Patpong, it would seem that management has settled on 109 baht lady drinks. Such odd numbers are almost unheard of in Bangkok bars.

The reason the old Hillary bar was downsized is because the building that they were in is being renovated, also for a hotel / condos. This part of the Raja Hotel had been derelict for many years. Word has it that Hillary was a temporary / permanent structure on a parking lot, although such arrangements are not entirely unusual in this part of the world.

When the Heidelberg restaurant renovated its upper floors about a year ago it created a really sweet party penthouse with a Jacuzzi, bar area, two big screen plasma TVs, a surround sound system / Plasma in one of the party rooms. They will even provide a bartender for you. It really is a sweet party pad and can be had for around 4,000 baht. While this might seem pricey to locals, people jetting into Thailand on holiday would get great value for money by renting the party pad. You would also be right in the middle of the action, no embarrassing security check, and a 3 minute walk from Nana Plaza.

With all of this recent development it looks like the Sukhumvit Soi 4 neighbourhood is improving.

Mystique has closed for 3 or 4 months while relocating and they hope to re-open in December. Apparently they are moving locations. Sin has picked up most of their staff, at least until they re-open.

It looks like the police crackdown will be running for another week or so and with a bit of luck, pressure will be lifted around the 22nd when, with a bit of luck, 1:00 AM happenings will return to, shall we say, abnormal operating hours.

I managed to spend a few days in Pattaya this week and checked out a number of the bars while down there, trying to catch up on how things are in Fun City. Overall I would suggest that Pattaya was still relatively quiet as they slowly crawl out of the slow season. Some bars were doing very well, and others, including some of the big name bars, were on the quiet side.

The first place on the hit list of new venues to check out was Coyotes. This is one of a few new gogo bars in Pattaya with a new look style that I for one am not convinced about. Instead of the usual "everything black plus mirrors" standard gogo bar look, Coyotes has what appears to be an all white interior. I say appears because with red lights flashing inside the bar, the whole place actually has a pink haze about it. I couldn't help but feel that I had been sent into one of the hidden rooms down a long dark corridor in a sanatorium, pink supposed to be soothing and all of that. On top of that, the seating isn't the usual gogo style tiered seating, but a number of stools, and beds. Yes, you read that right, beds! One has to flip off their shoes and leap up on to what would appear to be mattresses. Now these only make up a small amount of the seating, but it is still kind of weird. The interior of the bar I just cannot make my mind up about. If this was a movie, I think I'd be looking for a new set director. But as for the casting director, well let's just say that that fellow did a fine job. There are a lot of very pretty women dancing in there and I don't think we saw one well-rounded girl in Coyotes.

TJ is determined to make Coyotes better known and has 17 showgirls alone and many sweet table top dancing girls, for a total of about 80 girls working on the premises. Because the bar is located a short distance away from other such venues in Marine Plaza, many customers to Pattaya still don't know about them, so they are having an in-house dance competition on Sunday 30 October. And to make things interesting, there will be a prize given out for the best threesome lesbian act on stage!

Next stop was Diamond A Gogo. It wasn't that busy until the showgirls came on, and then the place really started to buzz. Unfortunately the bar lost some of its best showgirls recently and it didn't quite have the same zest as the last time I was in there. Still, Diamond remains a must visit when one is doing the rounds in Pattaya. And aren't the waitresses in Diamond the best dressed in town?

Heavens Above has been getting some good press and was next on the list. Located on Soi Diamond, just up past those Asian tourist trap gogo bars with all of the awfully young looking, white-skinned girls, Heavens Above is a relatively small gogo bar that is reached by climbing a flight of stairs. It is decorated not dis-similarly to Coyotes with a similar colour scheme but unlike Coyotes, which could do with a few more members of staff, Heavens Above is packed with girls. A small bar, this gogo bar is absolutely packed with a heap of really attractive women. And I do not know quite how they do it, but the night I was there it was like every girl was trying to emulate the Eveready bunny, oh so full of energy, "lively" does not even come close to describing it. This bar is serious fun with a number of really pretty girls. This was probably the pick of the Pattaya gogo bars on this trip but just to add some balance, a friend who went there about half an hour before I did said he felt it just didn't work and he didn't feel there were that many pretty girls there. Different strokes and all that.

A friend who is resident in Pattaya suggested Carousel which brought a groan from me, it being one bar where I think I have never really enjoyed myself. He said that its fortunes had turned around. OK, let's see what it's like. He was right! New shows, new girls and I believe a new manager too. This was another fun bar with a lot of really friendly girls who seemed to have a far better attitude than I have experienced on previous visits.

Club Electric Blue is once again the slickest operation in town. Beautifully decorated and put together as is a hallmark of Andy's bars, the girls all in exactly the same outfits gave it something of a Las Vegas feel. A lot of pretty girls in there and like so many places, Andy has 45 baht draft beer available all night.

Beavers is the newest gogo bar in Pattaya and the first you come to on Walking Street, just 50 metres or so along on your left. It is a small bar with six tables for table top dancing. It has only opened recently but is doing very well indeed and has a lively atmosphere.

Other gogo bars in Pattaya that deserve a mention include Peppermint which was absolutely packed to the rafters with girls and guys. Happy was the same as ever, proudly holding the title of gogo bar with the most tattooed ladies. In fact do they have any girls dancing there who don't have tats? Maybe they should rename it the Tat Club?

Casino was quiet when I popped in an probably not representative of how things are there generally. Casino is sort of weird. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it and really need to go back to get a better idea about it.

Living Dolls Showcase was very quiet early in the evening but packed later on. This seems to be a feature of a number of Pattaya bars and as someone who is not a local, you don't quite know when each bar is busy.

One thing that I REALLY liked about Pattaya is that most of the good gogo bars had cheap draft beer available all night. Virtually everywhere had it at give away prices early in the evening during happy hour, but many bars offered cheap beer all night. I am reliably informed that the better gogos that do not have draft beer at happy hour prices all night have faced something of a backlash from a large number of local imbibers who choose not to frequent such establishments. Good on them. This has never been the case in Bangkok and likely never will be, with so many of the punters seemingly being big earners. There is no question that Pattaya remains much more affordable than Bangkok for the naughty boys. Drinks are cheaper, hotels are much cheaper and I am informed that the girls themselves do not have the same lofty expectations as their sisters in Bangkok. The attitude of most people is so much better too and the whole place is just fun. All in all I enjoyed my trip down to Pattaya this past week and I once again must re-iterate that for the naughty boys, there is no comparison, Pattaya shits all over Bangkok in virtually every respect.

"You take photo, movie, in room, ok!" That's the cat call I was getting up and down Beach Road as I went for my daily stroll. Now every time I go to Pattaya – too many times to count – I always take this walk and I always have my camera out in full view. This time it seemed that every girl who said something mentioned the camera and not just photos, but full video. I guess this sort of thing is happening frequently.

And if you are an amateur photographer and taking shots in the hotel room of your lady on the bed, do yourself a big favour if you are using a digital camera and do NOT shoot her when she is on white sheets. The dynamic range of virtually all digital cameras (Yes Eddie, even your 1DS 2) simply cannot cope with the extreme contrast of a dark skinned girl on bright white sheets without a lot of post processing. Shoot her on top of the bed covers – so long as they aren't white which will mean less contrast. You'll likely get far better pictures.

Last year, the big trend in Pattaya was for many girls keeping downstairs trimmed. Six months back the trend seemed to be piercings in the same region. The latest trend seems to be the girls having a piercing below their lower lip, just above their chin. Conservative Stick doesn't care for it!

And I note that the Beach Road is slowly being put back together. There is also a nice new garden area on the main sidewalk on the Beach Road just opposite Soi 5. But the atmosphere of the Beach Road is most definitely changing. Throughout the day the girls are on patrol, making sure that any visitor to Pattaya in search of a local friend will not be forced to look far. But come night time, it is quite different, and if you had not found yourself a friend to show you the delights of Pattaya, then you will have to look much harder, for their numbers dwindle in the evening, due to a crackdown on their choice of rest area.

If you're in the market for a sex change operation, the Pratunam Polyclinic is advertising in the Bangkok Post that they perform them for a very reasonable $US 1,625, that is an all up price!

In what was long overdue, Bangkokchat have changed the way that they operate and all users are now required to register. I don't give the site much longer as there seems to be number of young Thai women on there who have had very bad experiences and seem interested in taking their complaints further.

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 am involved with a business that takes me to many bars and restaurants around Thailand. My previous girlfriend used to come along with me on many of the appointments, although she was not too involved in the business. We broke up almost 9 months ago. My current girlfriend is very involved with the business and goes to most appointments with me. Here's the problem. Every time we go for a meeting where we have to deal with a Thai owner or manager, they will always stare at the new girlfriend and then ask her what happened to my old girlfriend. They will than proceed to say things like you're older then she was, her hair was much longer then yours, etc. This always causes major friction between us. I try to explain to her that I have no control over the situation and there is no reason to blame me for this. My questions is: are Thais normally like this with what I would say are VERY rude and embarrassing questions. When ever we deal with a farang manager he will either say nothing or at least call me over to the side to ask what happened.

Mrs. Stick says: Truthfully, you must be dealing with people who really do not have any concept of what is right and wrong. I'm kind of surprised to hear that this has been your experience. Educated people and people who have superior social skills would never say things like this. It is only really people who quite frankly have no sense of what is appropriate who would say things like this. I guess you have two options, either don't take your new girlfriend along, or let her know that the problem is not you but the people you are visiting.

Question 2: In the Thai press, how are food and wine reviews handled? Do the average Thai pay any attention to them? Are they concentrated on the food, or do they look for decor, or do they look at the type of people to be seen there, and what sort of social connections they have? Do only the hi-so crowd read this, or does it filter into the middle class?

Mrs. Stick says: They seem to concentrate on the food and environment but to be honest, I do not think that they are much different to food reviews anywhere else. Some of the best food reviews are on TV where you get to see a lot more of the restaurant and the food than you do in the print media. The camera will go into the kitchen, showing the chefs preparing the food and they will talk about their specialty dishes.

Question 3: Recently, two different older wealthy Thai ladies have been pursuing me. We met at parties and they were a bit aggressive in approaching me, asking for contact info, and pursuing future meetings. Since I hate working, how can I get these women to take care of me financially? I am 42, both of these women are around 50-52 but look good for their age, not like old Elvises. They both have good jobs, high salaries, and social standing. Does this kind of thing happen? I am not wrong about their pursuit, but how can I see to it that it is rewarding to me?

Mrs. Stick says: I guess these ladies see you as some sort of toy and want their fun with you – but they will probably just as quickly throw you away. If you want to get ladies to take care of you, you might have to make it a career and sell your body. I do not know what you look like but you are probably too old for this at 42. Actually, I think this is disgusting but good luck if it's what you really want.

Contrary to the opinion of some, there is no personal bias in the column. I do not prefer Cowboy over Nana, or vice versa, neither do I try to comment in such a way so as to influence where punters go. I am truly neutral. I have my favourite bars, restaurants, bar owners etc, but that is to be expected. Despite being offered money to write favourably about certain establishments and bar areas, I will not. I was recently offered a sweetener to write favourably about a group of bars, and I turned it down. Truth be told, they didn't offer nearly enough.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Bkk Grasshopper.


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