Stickman's Weekly Column April 2nd, 2006

Maybe She Really Is Different?



There are many great lies in this world. "The cheque is in the post" is a good one and "I love you" is even better. Of course, many a guy's favourite is "I won't come in your mouth".

But there is another line, some would say a lie, which always gets people laughing, particularly when what is being talked about is the speaker's latest Thai number. "She is different." I can't think of any other phrase that elicits such hysterical laughter amongst expats in Thailand when they're talking about Thai women, especially those of the naughty bar variety.

I am a cynical sod. This cynicism is born from the odd bad experience with Thai women, but mainly from running this site and doing investigative work concerning ladies of the night. I see so many lies, so much deceit and so much heartache that I almost expect things between Western men and Thai women to go bad – that is if they are not bad already, but especially so when I hear the words "bar girl". But I am not quite that hardened, nor stupid, to realise that there are some decent women out there caught up in the industry, and that it is possible to have a successful relationship with a Thai bargirl. But I am also realistic enough to know that the success rate is awfully low, and in my estimation, such relationships have a success rate of no greater than 10%.

Recently I inadvertently met a woman working in a bar, a woman whose story touched my heart, and a woman who I really think could be different…

There I was sitting in the bar, just minding my own business, when I noticed that one of the waitresses had a smile that seemed that little bit brighter than usual. She seemed to have just a little bit more energy and bounce about her than the average waitress in a gogo bar, many of whom drag themselves around with the enthusiasm of a pig herded into a slaughterhouse. My glass was almost empty and she came over and asked me if I wanted another one. I did, and she scurried off to get it.

She returned, gave me the drink and told me to enjoy it, in Thai. What? I don't think any woman in a naughty bar in Thailand has said that to me in the last 5 or so years. "Enjoy your drink!" That sort of caught me off guard and she noticed me giving her a funny look. I responded to the unasked question that she was very polite. I refrained from saying that such comments were a nice change, not wanting the riff raff, the other members of staff, to lose face, you know how sensitive Thais can be.

A show was taking place up on stage and the bar was fairly quiet when she asked me if she could sit down next to me as, this is a new one, her legs hurt! Funnily enough, I think her legs really did hurt and it was not some sort of awkward come on. You don't get awkward come ons in the bars, do you? You're more likely to get the "you buy me cola, barfine me, I smoke you good routine", usually in that order.

Anyway, the little waitress sat down next to me and before rubbing her legs, she waied me. Yikes! Wais in the bars are pretty rare these days, especially delicately delivered wais with the fingers at the appropriate height and with the body dipping down slightly in a respectful way. I couldn't help but be impressed with this girl's politeness, something which really is missing in many of the staff of the naughty bars these days. Incidentally, did you know that the vast majority of Thais don't like their fellow country folk who work in the bars, not because of what they do per se, but for the way they behave that goes against Thai culture. Anyway, back to the story…

I asked her a few questions in an effort to establish why she seemed to be a little different to the typical bargirl, or bar employee. First of all, she came from Nakon Somewhere, which is not in Isaan, the area where 90% of the employees in the naughty bars hail from. She had worked in the bar for three months but you wouldn't have known it. It was like it was still her first night and she really was out of her depth. Her English was very poor and she had a bounce to her that most girls lose in that industry very fast.

She told me about her life, and her tale of woe was not that different to the usual. She completed high school to the end of year 12, but admitted that she wasn't the brightest kid on the block. She failed her entrance tests meaning that if she wanted to go to university, she would have to go to an open uni, like Ramkhamhaeng in Bangkok. Her parents didn't have enough money to send her there so she had to look for work. Her parents own a farm but their health means that they are in no position to work the land as they used to. She is the youngest of three siblings, the other two having got married, and with their own respective families already. As such, she is expected to look after her parents. Like in much of rural Thailand, finding decent-paying work with only a high school education isn't easy so she headed off to the big smoke, not Bangkok, but Pattaya.

Before she left word got around the village that she was heading to Pattaya and it was assumed that this pretty young thing would be destined for the world's oldest profession. She denied this to everyone and they just smiled, believing otherwise. But she really did not want to do that. In fact she was determined not to. Hell, she had never even had a boyfriend in her life! She wouldn't know what to do!

So not long after her 18th birthday she gets off the bus in Pattaya, not knowing anyone, not knowing her way around, and quite frankly, rather lost! Somehow she ended up at a market where she was taken under the wing of a vendor and given a job to man a stall at that market for the princely sum of 100 baht a day. She was also provided with a room to stay, free of charge. She did this for a couple of years but it was long hours, boring, and she had precious little money to send her parents.

Around this time she met a guy. A Thai guy. Said guy was a chef in a restaurant on Walking Street. They moved in together and he helped her to get a new job at a restaurant in a hotel as a waitress. He took care of the accommodation costs, although they lived in a very modest room. She was now earning more money, 4,500 baht a month and she had one day off every week. She also got her share of the tips, which could be up to another 2,000 baht a month. Life wasn't just looking up, she'd hit the big time!

They never got married, nor did they even do the wedding village thing, but as far as she was concerned, her and her Thai guy were married, and he was the only man she ever intended being with. Not long before her 21st birthday she fell pregnant. She told him, but he was hardly thrilled at the prospect of fatherhood. In fact if anything it seemed to push him away from her and before the end of the first trimester, she had kicked him out of their room after he had admitted that he had been seeing a waitress in the restaurant where he worked.

She would speak to him occasionally throughout her pregnancy but he was disinterested in her and had already moved in with the waitress. She continued to work in Pattaya, right up to the time the baby was to be born. She called the father of the baby when her water broke and he took her to hospital, and then disappeared. He wasn't there for the delivery and he has never seen the baby.

10 days after giving birth and after she had regained her strength, she took the baby upcountry and one hot, humid night in central Thailand she knocked on the door of her parents' house and presented them with a grandchild that they knew nothing about. The next morning she was gone, the baby left in her parents' care, with her returning to Pattaya where she would now have to work much harder as there was an extra person who she had to support.

Back in Pattaya she worked all of the overtime she could get, took no days off and sent as much money as possible back home. But it was still only a moderate sum. Her total income with tips seldom exceeded 8,000 baht per month. Keeping herself at barely survival level, she would send every last baht upcountry, the bulk of her income supporting three people. But it wasn't enough. She needed to make more money…

Three months ago she applied for a job in a gogo bar as a waitress. She had never been in such a place before and didn't know exactly what such a job entailed, but the advertised salary of 4,500 baht a month, plus tips, was exactly what she needed. This would provide her with enough income to keep herself afloat, as well as Ma, Pa and baby. The bar where she works does not require waitresses to go with customers and there is no minimum number of lady drinks that a waitress must consume. So she can work there strictly as a waitress, without penalty, which is not the norm for some other bars.

We talked about her two jobs and her typical daily schedule. It is hell. She works two jobs, one at the hotel, and the other at the bar. The hotel job is a day job, 6 days a week, waiting on tables in one of the restaurants. It pays 4,000 baht and the work is hardly rewarding. In fact I would not have thought her English was good enough to work there, so I guess there must be a lot of pointing at the menu going on there! She works from early morning until around 4:00 PM, when she goes home. Home is a 1,500 baht a month room which includes electricity and water. I imagine it is pretty rough at that price. She sleeps until 6:00 PM when she has to make a mad dash to her night job where she is supposed to be on duty from 6:30 PM. She is docked pay for every minute she is late, so arriving at her night job even 15 minutes late can really hurt. She gets 2 days off a month from her bar job.

As we chatted more, her life just seemed to get worse and worse. Despite the fact that she works two jobs, she barely makes ends meet. Apparently tips suck at this time of year because the hotel where she is employed is full of Russians – and they seem to tip even less than the Kiwis! So the tips that she so desperately depends upon are low, meaning that her take home is less.

She sleeps about 5 hours a day, that is around 3.5 hours at night and an hour and a half in the afternoon, if she is lucky. This is 6 days a week. She does get one day off a week form the hotel and you can guess what she does that day. Sleep. All day.

Her total monthly income combined from the two jobs, with tips, is about 9,000 baht. This 9K needs to cover not only all of her own expenses including rent, travel, clothes, food and all personal expenses, but also her mother, father and baby. Just going home each night on a motorbike costs 40 baht, or over the course of a month, this expense alone represents about 10% of her entire monthly income!

But despite all of this, she refuses to get on her back. I asked her about it. She said that she had only ever taken her clothes off for one man, and that the idea of jumping into bed with men for money is something she thought that she could not handle mentally. She said she just would not be able to do it. I gently mentioned that if she was to do that it would probably be the end of her financial problems, but made a real strong point of re-iterating to her that I thought she should be hugely proud of herself for not succumbing, for not giving in, and for keeping her pride and dignity above all else. Tears welled up in her eyes, and even though they were tears of pride, tears of happiness and acknowledgement of what I had just said, for more than a few moments I felt like shit for even raising it.

These girls have rotten lives. And the opportunity is there for them to solve it by dropping their knickers and getting on their backs. But this one chose not to. She never wants to become a bargirl and is determined to make it through without ever selling herself. How successful she will be remains to be seen. But she is one girl who would make someone a very happy guy. I really hope she makes it without getting sucked in. I'll stick my neck out on this one. I think she's different.

*WHEN* WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was Sukhumvit Soi 33.

WHEN was that?!

Last week's pic was Sukhumvit Soi 33, with the Novotel Lotus the big building at the top of the picture. Not that many people got it right. This week's competition is a little different. It is obvious where it is – Pink Panther bar in Patpong, but this photo was not taken in 2006. You have one guess only at the year when it was taken. Only the year is needed. The first prize is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar and prizes 2 and 3 are a 600 baht dinner voucher for 2 at Sin in Sukhumvit Soi 4. The prizes are only available to people in Thailand now – either residents or tourists, and must be redeemed within 2 weeks. You MUST say that you are in Bangkok and able to claim the prize or I will consider you ineligible. If you do not explicitly mention you are local or will be in town in the next two weeks, you cannot claim a prize.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

The business-minded women of the 21st century.

Your lead article last week struck a nerve. I've been here for 6 years, and the deterioration of the nightlife has been evident, especially for the last couple of years. Pricing has gone through the roof and the 'attitude' of the girls has changed markedly, as you have rightly pointed out. One part of the latter that is all but gone is the delivery of the "girlfriend experience" (GFE), which used to be such a common part of the game. Both girl and customer acted as if they were boyfriend / girlfriend, which made for a very nice experience. Both parties knew it was acting, but it nonetheless often worked to make the evening pleasant and memorable. Alas, the GFE seems to have passed away along with the 80 baht beers. There is no bar that epitomizes this attitude shift more than Rainbow4. I couldn't agree more with you that this is where you find the best lookers on the Nana / Cowboy / Patpong circuit. However, most of the girls are nothing more than whores – which is a term I have rarely used in the past, because I have known several ladies for whom I had much respect. But most of the Rainbow4 girls are out for the quick baht, and do not even pretend a personal interest. I sincerely hope that the success of this 'model' does not presage a wholesale shift in the way business is done. Nightlife in Bangkok will lose much of its appeal.

Anyone for Indonesia?

I've been saying this for quite some time now, Thailand's nightlife is knackered – rip off bars, arrogant girls who are lifeless in the sack expecting stupid pay checks. The whole game is becoming stale and samey samey. I've changed job and am now working in Indonesia and it's a different story. Better bars and clubs with by far the prettiest girls in Asia with less of an attitude problem than the average Thai hooker. Beer prices are more realistic although the quality of the Bintang is about as up and down as Chang is. I've never been ripped off in any bar (including ones in the infamous Blok M). I've never been robbed or drugged by a girl, I've never had a problem finding a clean sit down toilet in a bar with a door that locks and toilet paper and soap and a hot air hand dryer. I'm regularly woken up to the sound of a bargirl brewing me a cup of coffee and running a bath, ready to give me a rub down and relieve me of my morning wood, and I've never paid more than $25 USD for all night, with stunning and very pleasant girls. Ok, it's another 3 hours flight to Jakarta for the average European…but it's worth every minute.

Bangkok has competition.

For the past few years, I have been using Bangkok as a cheap and warm stopover on my back from the UK to Korea, where I teach English. Met a guy on the plane who teaches English in Cambodia where the pay is about $10 an hour on average (without health insurance). A quick calculation tells me that this is way over 50% more than you get in Bangkok, in a country where the cost of living is about one third. My other point is that Bangkok has now become so expensive that I am going to start travelling through Singapore instead. I don't do poontang so lady prices do not affect me, but there is now very little difference between restaurant prices in Singapore and Bangkok. I can also get a hotel for the same price as in Bangkok, granted not as large or luxurious but all I have to do to relax is go to one of many fantastic and cheap municipal swimming pools. There are some great bars in Singapore with generous happy hours till quite late and there you get REAL service with no touting for tips. Bye bye Bangkok, it was nice knowing you.

Bangkok extortion.

Years ago when I visited Thailand I went for the sweet girls and the low prices. I live in Hong Kong and if I want girls here, I can now find them for the same price as Bangkok since the prices have gone up there so much. I can get a ST in HK near one of the local night markets from between 500 baht and 2,000 baht depending on the quality of girl. These walk-ups are advertised on the internet and sometimes come with a massage. No barfine, no airline ticket, no lady drinks required. Drinks in Bangkok are now on par with HK's regular bars. I was astounded recently to be charged 120 baht for a bottle of water in a gogo bar in Bangkok! That is more than a bottle of water in HK or New York! Simply outrageous. The greed has certainly dampened the experience and that is an understatement. Now on the rare occasion when I go to Thailand, I go to meet my expat friends who work there, go to the beach, and do some shopping. If I meet a girl, fine, but shopping in the nightlife areas is just not worth it.

Are you a FOP?

I was in a Nana bar one night a couple years back. A girl comes over to sit with me and the first thing she asks me (in Thai) was how may years I have lived in Thailand. Many of the girls have a very good sense for this sort of thing or at least that's my impression of them. I definitely think that being identifiable as a local is a turn-off for many of the girls as they know that you are hip to the BS associated with the scene. The veterans of the industry much prefer a punter who is a FOP (Fresh Off the Plane).

How to avoid the key loggers.

I have no idea if this thwarts the spyware, but before I travel to Thailand, I send myself an email with all of my passwords and other bogus words. I then open a couple of browsers, copy and paste accordingly from my email. I never key a single letter / number. I only copy and paste. If someone were to go to my email account, because I must key that in, they'd never be able to figure out what I was copying and pasting. Again, I don't know if this works, but I haven't been burned yet.

First it was the Dollhouse in Bangkok, and now it is the Dollhouse in Pattaya which has come to the party, lowering their draft drink prices. You can now drink draft Tiger beer for 30 baht ALL NIGHT in the Dollhouse Pattaya. What a great deal!

Bangkok's most famous Frenchman will soon be leaving his post. Marc of Eden Club will depart on the first of August due to a number of health issues. His replacement is Francis who has started already and is undergoing a 5 month training program. Nobody wants to see the club change and Marc has faith that Francis will be able to keep as it has been. Marc is known to many readers of this column as someone who prides himself on providing the highest levels of customer service.

Rumour has it that work is taking place on a new Pattaya branch of Gulliver's. Little is known at this point in time except for the location, which is mooted to be beside the Amari at the north end of town, you know, near the Dusit Resort. I would have thought that was a bit out of the way and not the ideal location. I mean, Gulliver's in Soi 5, great location isn't it…..not!

Sukhumvit Soi 33 really is very quiet given the time of year. Livingstone’s is doing OK and the fact that there is an 18 room hotel on the premises helps that particular venue. The Office Bar is consistently busy but as for elsewhere, well, let's just say I would not like to have invested in a bar in soi 33. A shame really, as with prices only a little dearer than elsewhere, Soi 33 is a more viable venue than ever before.

Mojo’s in Sukhumvit soi 33 has not changed that much. There are some new bar stools and tables, a video music system, some more video screens for sports events, and that’s about all. The wall which is to be broken through, to connect to the pool hall in Jina 33, is still intact, so there is no direct connection yet. Not a lot of customers either, though that seems to be the case in a lot of soi 33 establishments at the moment.

R-Club (ex Oliver Reed) was renovated into ANOTHER Japanese karaoke bar but it has not opened yet. The Japanese Karaoke in R-Club opened two days ago. There is still some building work taking place, but it is open for business. Soi 33 is taking on a real Japanese flavour.

Venus Club, which I thought had closed is also open again. It was obviously only closed for a short period.

Still in Soi 33, Degas is still closed for "renovation". The problem is that there doesn't seem to be anything going on in there so one really must wonder if they will ever open again?

I am informed that most bars in Nana Plaza will be open tonight, despite the fact that it is election day. I imagine you'll struggle to get a stiff drink until midnight in most bars though.

Quite a few places were open last night and pouring beer into plastic cups , but no, I am not talking about Nana or Cowboy here, but other places…. Naughty, naughty!

Tourist numbers in Pattaya continue to decline – even among Asians and former USSR citizens. With today's election, bars were closed Saturday until late Sunday as they have been elsewhere. Consequently, few punters wandered down from Bangkok for the weekend. If Pattaya was quiet during the week, it was in the doldrums over the weekend.

Rumour (from a trusted source) has it that a substantial amount of funds went missing from Club Boesche, shedding some light on the recent shake up in staff at the Covent Garden gogo bar.

I received THREE (!) reports this week of the 1,000 baht note scam at a well-known, popular bar in Soi Cowboy. For those of you who are not aware of this scam, when you pay your bill with a 1,000 baht note, you get change as if you had paid with a 500 baht note. Some guys don't realise, and some guys aren't sure if they actually paid with a 1,000 or a 500 and let it go. The best advice on countering this is to point at the note and say "one thousand baht" when you give it to the waitress. But what is really bad is that if I got three emails about it, God only knows how often it is happening!

In one of the most disgusting things I have heard in a long time, girls in bars are getting commission on dobbing in their friends who meet up with farangs outside of the bar environment and go home with them! This is representative of the money-at-all-cost mentality that is so prevalent with the girls who ply their trade in the bars.

First it was Nana Plaza, then Walking Street in Pattaya and now Khao Sarn Road. No, I am not talking about the infiltration of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or any other chain of franchises, but rather the places where the bible thumpers are preaching the Lord's words. Yep, the Lord's disciples can be seen in the backpacker areas now too. Soon it'll be hard to escape this lot.

I received an interesting email from a bar owner this week who wished to comment on my words that preventing bargirls from meeting people after hours was akin to being a pimp. For the time being I am not going to mention which bar owner this is, but let me say that it is the bar owner I respect more than all others. At his bar, they do things a little differently. If the girl meets friends (non-bar customers) and they tell the management then they can go off with that guy when the bar has closed, but if they go with bar customers after the bar has closed, they are given just one warning before being fired. This bar owner said that he accepted the idea that the barfine is to compensate the bar for the lost work and potential profits from the girl not being there which means that one the bar has closed the girls would be able to do what the hell they want. He then went on to say that once they started enforcing the policy of not meeting bar customers after the bar had closed, the number of barfines increased 1,000%!

Next Saturday, that is the 8th April, Livingstone’s in Soi 33 will hold a Songkran Party. It's a bit early but as we all know, most people leave Bangkok during Songkran – or don't dare venture outside. There will be traditional Thai dancing, a “Miss Songkran” Contest in Hawaiian (the organising committee say that it is simply too hot for traditional outfits. There will be games in and around the pool. Guests coming should dress appropriately and expect that they may get a little bit wet. But management have promised that Livingstone’s will NOT be a farang water battlefield ala Khao Sarn Road.

Long time readers may remember that I mentioned in the column a couple of years back how Thai Airways International offices around the world offer cheaper ticket prices to Thai nationals than they do to others. Word coming out of Australia is that the discount now also applies to the spouses of Thais travelling with a Thai national. I am not in a position to verify this myself but it would be interesting to hear form anyone who might be able to do so, and perhaps add any other details.

Jake Needham’s new novel, "The Ambassador's Wife", has just been published together with new mass-market paperback editions of "Laundry Man" and "Killing Plato". They join Jake’s hugely popular first novel, "The Big Mango", and bring to over 65,000 the total number of Jake’s Thai-set crime novels in international circulation in English. Another 21,000 copies are in print in three other languages. "The Ambassador's Wife" will be released in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei on April 2. It will subsequently appear in Hong Kong, Japan, China, and the Philippines in May, but it is uncertain when, or even if, it will be available in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia. I asked Jake how in the world that could possibly be. "Asia Books is the only general book distributor in Thailand," he told me. "After their runaway success with "The Big Mango", which they published and sold over 20,000 copies of, they insisted I had to give them worldwide publishing rights to my future books. When I would not agree to do that – principally because Asia Books only sells books in Southeast Asia and that would have effectively prevented my books from circulating internationally – Asia Books refused to publish my books any longer. As a result, I moved to a more significant regional publisher in Hong Kong and ever since, in retaliation, Asia Books has tried to prevent the sale of my books in Thailand, other than of course the two published by them over five years ago." ‘It’s not just a matter of my books being available in Asia Books stores," Jake added. "Since Asia Books is the sole general book distributor in Thailand, they effectively determine what other book dealers here can sell as well. Bookazine is really the only local retail chain that is large enough to go around them and order books directly from publishers, so Bookazine is now the only source in Thailand for the new mass-market editions of "Laundry Man" and "Killing Plato". Bookazine will eventually offer "The Ambassador's Wife" as well, but since that is a new book in a hardcover sized edition, it doesn’t suit their market as well as do the mass-market paperback editions of my earlier books." "The Ambassador's Wife" is a tale of a killer stalking, sexually abusing, and murdering prominent women in the American diplomatic community. The book is set in Singapore, Bangkok, and Pattaya, and in it Jake introduces a new character, Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID. I have a copy of "The Ambassador's Wife", and will be posting a review in my books section in a few weeks. As a last resort, I am reliably informed that Jake's publisher offered to give Asia Books 1000 copies of his new mass-market paperbacks at no charge if they would stop this ridiculous nonsense and put my books into general distribution in Thailand. 1,000 books absolutely free, gratis, for nothing. You know what happened? Asia Books never even replied.

Author Andrew Hicks is to appear at Dasa Book Café, which can be found on the even soi numbered side of Sukhumvit, just a bit east of the Emporium and Soi 26. To inaugurate their "Meet the Author" series, Dasa Book Café will host Andrew Hicks, author of the novel Thai Girl, on Sunday, April 9. Starting at 1:00 PM, Khun Hicks will be on hand to chat with customers about his book and life in Thailand. He will also be happy to sign copies of his book.

Paiboon Publishing is pleased to announce a new title. "Thai for Travelers," by Benjawan Poomsan. Thai for Travelers is touted as a handy travel companion in the Land of Smiles and it contains hundreds of useful words and phrases for travelers in many situations. The phrases are practical and up-to-date and can be used instantly. The 70-minute CD that accompanies the booklet will help you improve your pronunciation and expedite your Thai language learning. Paiboon Publishing has published many very good, reasonably priced texts to help you learn Thai. I have little doubt that this will be no different and it is a bargain, the book and the CD cost just $15.00!

Thank God for email….if I had to rely on the Thai post office I would not be happy. As it is, in the last month, 3 things sent to me have not arrived, all from completely different places. Add me to the "Not a fan of the Thai post office club".

Did you know that there are three branches of Starbucks in the new Siam Paragon, and that there are three McDonalds branches in Mahboonkrong? There's a piece of dumb trivia for you.

I have always been a little perturbed at how tooled up the security guards are in various condominium complexes, shopping centres and other guarded venues in Thailand. Their equipment usually includes a torch, which is to be expected, a baton which gets me a bit more curious, and a set of handcuffs. I've often engaged security guards in conversation and asked them if they have ever used the handcuffs and invariably they respond that they have. But I got a bit of a fright this week when I was in the local Tesco Lotus where Somchai the security guard had a huge blade on his belt, really, it was about the size of a Rambo knife. I didn't dare ask him if he had ever used that before! But seriously, why the hell would he have one? Questionable I would have thought…

I always cringe when threads on discussion forums soar beyond 100 posts with American readers screaming obscenities about the baht strengthening and their greenbacks getting less than 40 baht to the dollar. Spare a thought for my fellow countrymen, the Kiwis. The New Zealand dollar has crashed in the last few months and where 6 months ago Kiwis got almost 29 baht to the New Zealand dollar, now they get just 23! Australians, Europeans, Brits, pretty much everyone except the Canadians now get less when exchanging their hard earned into baht.

Every Western guy with a Thai wife has got stories to tell of the wife's behaviour, and of some of the crazy things they say. This week my Mrs. came up with a cracker. The conversation went something like this – Her: Can you call your policeman friend for me?
Me: Why? Her: Ask him how much it will cost for me to buy a drivers license. I can't be bothered doing the test… Me: Forget it! – If you get married to a Thai woman, expect the unexpected. Mrs. Stick, do you really have to do your bit for the national average?!

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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 simply offers the perspective of one 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 do try and limit the length of questions to Mrs. Stick to about 100 words. We get many questions that are entire stories of several hundred words which I'm afraid are just too long to run here.

Question 1: In advance of my last trip I started chatting with a Thai woman I met online. She seemed nice and we decided to meet. Turns out she works as a DJ for a FM radio station in Bangkok, is 28 years old, has one son, never married, and lives with parents. She lives quite a way from Sukumvit and we usually would meet at the skytrain near MBK in the early afternoon and have dinner and walk and talk until around 1900, when she would head home to be with her son. We met about 4 times during my 10 day stay. Up front she told me not to expect sex and that she did not believe a person could fall in love over the course of a short holiday. I accepted this, and was growing very fond of her. She ended up staying with me in my hotel my last night and accompanied me to the airport when I left. Several days before I was to leave she asked me for 10,000 baht for tuition for her son's school. I gave her the money. Since I have been home I have given her 7,000 baht for a phone line in her home, 8,000 baht for a cell phone, and 10,000 baht for miscellaneous expenses and a bike for her son. I also bought her son a Nintendo Gameboy. We talk on the phone almost every other day and chat several times a week. She seems very sincere, and genuine. Any time I call her she answers, even the phone in her home. Am I being a sucker? Does any of this sound reasonable to you?

Mrs. Stick says: It is nice of you to support her but to support someone so soon in a relationship is not really right. When you date a Thai woman you will be expected to pick up the tab for dinner most of the time, certainly on the first few dates, and generally to treat her a few times, but actually providing her with cash like this so soon in the relationship really is not right. If you're happy to do that then that is your choice, but it is not really typical of a normal relationship.

Question 2: I'm 39 and have been going out with a 31-year old Thai-Chinese girl for about a year. She's a great girlfriend, but I don't feel quite ready to settle down. She also wants to have kids within a year or two. She has white skin, the kind that Thai guys love. She actually looks Japanese. She comes from a wealthy family, has her own car and makes more money than I do. She really loves me and I can trust her. Would I be crazy to let a woman like this go just so I could play around for a few more years? I think if I was back home, I would've married her by now. Also, is a 31 or 32 year old woman too old to find a decent Thai guy? I'm really worried about wasting her time, but don't want to let her go either.

Mrs. Stick says: If you're not ready to settle down then let her know. It is the decent thing to do. Please don't keep her hopes up high that you are going to settle down with her and build a family and then pull away from her unexpectedly. You'll really crush her if you do that. A real man would be honest with her. Are you a real man? So long as she has not been married, she should not have any problem finding a good Thai man. 31 or 32 is not too old.

Question 3: I often hear Thai girls saying ‘darkling’ instead of darling. I presume this is disrespectful. Does ‘darkling’ mean something in Thai (I suspect it does) or is it just them playing around with the term as a less-disrespectful act?

Mrs. Stick says: ‘Darkling’ is an extremely rude way of saying "monkey's ass" in the Lao dialect. The "dark" bit is the part of your ass right between your ass cheeks….yeah I know, more detail than you need. They are really making fun of you.



Today is the day of the general election in Thailand and it must also rate as one of the most farcical days of the year. The election essentially is a non- contest with Thai Ruk Thai the only major political party contesting it after the major opposition parties withdrew. After all of the political turmoil and protests in Thailand over recent months, today should have been the day when the future was decided, but ironically, that is very unlikely to be the case. What happens after today remains to be seen but it is likely that the protests will continue, notwithstanding that the country has just been to the polls! It is unclear even if a government will be able to be formed. Frankly, it is all a big mess. Who knows just what is going to happen, but whatever transpires, I think it is sad that the country has gone to the polls, but all of the nonsense is likely to continue. I mean, if you protest after an election, surely you are turning your noses up at democracy? Yeah, it is more complicated than that but whatever the case, the shroud of mystery and uncertainty will continue. I just can't help think that yesterday would have been so much more appropriate for this election…


Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Thanks go out to Bangkok Grasshopper and Mr. Write.