Stickman's Weekly Column April 30th, 2006

Thai Women And Ferraris



A bright red Ferrari evokes emotions in most people, irrespective of age or gender. It's rare, and with rarity comes exclusivity. But exclusivity and image isn't everything. However a Ferrari is unlike many exclusive items, the likes of say a Gucci handbag, or a Rolex watch, items which look classy and which may last. These items simply don't give their owners the same sort of thrill that a Ferrari can.

A Ferrari is a delight on the eye and everyone looks at one when it goes past. That most people look, suggests that they like what they see, and who would say no to a set of Ferrari keys? You don't have to have driven one to know that their performance is sensational. Get ready for the ride of your life.

But Ferrari ownership is not always a bundle of joy. A Ferrari needs to be looked after very carefully. You're hardly going to take it to the corner garage every 6 months and allow a mechanic to do an oil change on a Morris Minor before he attacks your red baby, are you? The only option is to the authorised Ferrari dealership where they wouldn't dream of using anything but the most expensive oil and genuine Ferrari parts, all imported direct from Italy, and sold at prices that would give the average Honda or Toyota owner a heart attack. Ferraris are a high precision machine and need this sort of tender loving care to stay that way. This is not your average vehicle where the oil can be changed a few thousand kilometers late without worry.

And unlike something more common like Honda or Toyota, you can't just park your Ferrari any old where, unless of course you have a security guard in the passenger seat 24 / 7. There are so many things to consider with Ferrari ownership.

And when kids come along, what are you going to do? With the engine mounted right behind the driver's seat, you're can't throw the rug rats in the back. So do you decide against having kids?

What about a trip upcountry? You can't even fit a week's shopping into a Ferrari, let alone a couple of suitcases. And I won't even talk about going for a spin along a beach, or even a bit of off-roading. Your tender little red baby is totally impractical.

So Ferrari don't make the perfect car. Unless you're a Ferrari owner, you'll probably agree. Highly desirable, sure, but far from perfect.

If you want a really practical car, something which can all but match a Ferrari on a track, carry the family around on holiday, and is just as happy chugging along to the supermarket on a Sunday as it is cruising down the highway to Phuket at 200+ km/h, you'd be better off with something like a BMW M5. It might not be as exotic as the Ferrari, and it might not have the same air of exclusivity nor be nearly as exotic, but it is far more practical. In terms of performance it will all but match the Ferrari. Don't be surprised that a BMW M5 up against a Ferrari on a track is far from a foregone conclusion.

The similarities between a brand spanking new bright red Ferrari and an attractive Thai woman are not insignificant…

And so to women, specifically, Thai women. The average Thai woman in Bangkok is fairly decent looking. Maybe not quite a Ferrari, but if your only visit to Thailand was a walk along Silom Road at lunch time on a week day, you could be forgiven for thinking that the city's nickname, the City of Angels, is truly appropriate.

Most people find Ferraris very pleasant on the eye and highly desirable, and so most Western guys find Thai women desirable too.

As explained already, a Ferrari needs to be looked after. It's not your reliable Japanese run around. And like Italy's finest marque, Thai women need to be looked after too. In fact many Thai women can be quite demanding, perhaps not in the same ways as Western women, but many need to be doted on, they need to be made to feel important. Chester Grill or MK often just won't cut it. Thai women visit the local beauty salon awfully often, and it isn't a small number of Thai women who don't even wash their own hair, many preferring a visit to a salon every second or third day to have it washed for them. Nails, facials, spa treatments, they need to be looked after.

As gorgeous as they are, Ferraris are totally impractical. In some ways, the same can be said about Thai women. The idea of walking any more than one absolutely has to puzzles the average Thai women. They scratch their head in bewilderment when they see Westerners pounding the pavement, walking when a taxi could be taken. And all of that make up would simply melt in the sun, so forget going out into the heat unless that's the only way to get from one shopping centre to another. And if it's sunny, forget being outside at all! For the outdoors lover, having a Thai woman as a partner throws up all sorts of logistical problems.

Everyday I receive email about the evils of Western women and how Thai women are the ultimate creature, the perfect women, and how the writer will never ever look at a farang woman again, let alone, God forbid, date one.

Don't fool yourself. Thai women are not the perfect creatures many guys make them out to be. They are, in my opinion, much like the Ferrari, outstanding in many ways, but flawed. They are very pleasant on the eye and can be a great ride, but they can also be highly impractical and needy. Let me insert a proviso here though, that if they were educated or raised abroad, they may be close to the perfect creature.

Many Western guys settling down with Thai women made their choice of lady based on the way she looked, and how well she, ummm, errr, performed! Thoughts of just how practical she would be were in many cases cast aside.

If you could have one for a year, would you take a BMW M5 or a Ferrari? I reckon the Ferrari would get 90% of the vote. But what about if you had to use it as your only car for the next ten years? The Ferrari or the BMW? Remember, with almost 500 horse under the bonnet, the BMW can match the Ferrari for performance… It might not look quite as good, and it might not be quite as exclusive, but in all likelihood is it a more practical choice for many.

When considering marriage, you have to look beyond today and tomorrow. Using the Ferrari analogy, it might be a lot of fun for a while, but in time it almost certainly becomes impractical. Just how suitable is a Thai woman as a wife for many Western guys? Is it really what they want? It may be, but then again it may not…

I'm not saying a BMW M5 is better than a Ferrari, nor am I saying a Western woman is better than a Thai woman. I'm simply saying that you have to look very carefully at your choices. Each has its respective strengths AND weaknesses. And so it is with Thai women, and Western women. Thai women most certainly have a lot going for them, but they're not perfect.

Of course, most people who drive a Ferrari also drive another car…


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was Rachadamnoen Ave.

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was taken on Rachadamnoen Avenue. Just out of picture to the right is Democracy Monument. Heaps of people got the picture correct. 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. A number of people who win the prizes do not claim them. If you do not think you will be able to claim the prize, please, let me know. It is a shame if the prize is awarded to someone who doesn't collect it.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Regional specialties, or Bangkok specialties?

I have to laugh at your attempts to locate masaman curry in the south…this very much parallels my experiences trying to find decent Isaan food – or *any* Isaan food – in the region of the same name. I totally agree with your wife that the best restaurant Isaan food is to be found in Bangkok, by far. You can find it in provincial capitals, but you really have to dig. It's a similar situation in Laos…there are really only two places in the country where you can find Lao food: Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Restaurants in the various provincial capitals often don't even have sticky rice! I think this can be attributed to two things: 1) people in these areas simply don't have the money to eat out, and 2) the Isaan (or southern) food they make at home is far superior to anything produced in a restaurant. Anyway, thank god for Bangkok!

Thumbs up for the Dollhouse.

Just a quick note with in relation to all the (usually justified) complaints on the low quality of customer service and the "I could not care less" attitude you find in most of the bars these days. I was in Dollhouse on Cowboy the other day and got a nasty Heineken that tasted like it had been out in the sun all day. My buddy and I misunderstood the labeling and thought it had expired rather than just a couple of weeks old. Well, to my surprise, after ordering another drink the mamasan said it was on her. This is the first positive resolution to a customer service issue I have had in a gogo, and I think they should be commended for taking care of a legitimate complaint. In fairness, this is the first time I had a problem there as well.

Thai police scared of farangs!

My wife and I have often talked about the Thai police and I find their avoidance of farangs comical. Last time we were in Phayao province I noticed a policeman standing just a few paces down from a major intersection, so that you would have to make the corner before you saw him, but when I made the corner and he started to step into the street to halt me, but seeing a white face he immediately turned away. The wife says they don’t believe that farangs would do anything bad, but I suspect that they are fearful of speaking English and a loss of face.

More on the 90 day reporting.

There is one more aspect about the 90 day reporting requirement. You can reset the 90 day clock by leaving the country. So if you leave Thailand on a trip and then re-enter, the 90 day counting period restarts from the date that you re-enter Thailand. So if you leave Thailand on a trip prior to your 90 day expiration you never need to file the 90 day reporting form to Immigration.

Confusing promotions.

I am fed up with the stupid 'promotions' offered by one-2-call. Yesterday I went to buy a top-up card from Telewiz. I asked the girl about the promotions. She said that there were currently 14 'promotions' running. The current hot one seems to be, '3 baht for the first minute, 2 baht for the second minute, 1 baht for the third minute and then free after that'. Oh, I thought, sounds OK. But get this, the promotion only lasts until the end of the month, and then out comes the next one. On the feeble website, which keeps returning to the Thai language on clicking through it, I could find no list showing the details of the 'freedom plus', 'freedom double', 'freedom buddy' etc promotions. In fact, the whole thing has the feel that it is produced by children for children.

Get your own wheels in Phuket.

You're right to say that it's good to have your own wheels in Phuket. With the exorbitant cost of taxis here, unless you never leave Soi Bangla, it's actually more economical to rent a car. You can rent a Suzuki for under 900 baht per day, compared with a 500 ++ baht taxi ride from the airport and one-way prices like 300++ baht from Patong to Karon, 400 – 500++ baht to Rawai and Nai Harn, and 100++ baht within Patong alone. When I say '++', I mean + 'farang tax' and + 'taxi mafia headache', which is clinically worse than a migraine. Of course a motorbike can be rented for as little as 150 baht per day, but it's the leading cause of tourist casualties, followed by monsoon season rip-tides.

The road to hell.

I have only once journeyed on the road south from Bangkok to Phuket, but never again. What you have here is one of Thailand's most modern, fastest routes devoid of any of the safety features and measures that you would find incorporated on a western highway, motorway, auto route, autobahn etc. The first classic example is regarding their outside lane, which throughout most countries is used as the fastest lane. So my scenario is as follows. You are in the middle lane overtaking a constant steam of slow traffic on the nearside lane, in the distance there is a lorry overtaking another lorry in the fast lane, but the at the same time a really fast driver flashes by you in the fast lane, he is thinking that these two lorries are in a simple over taking manoeuvre, and doesn't slow down accordingly, due to fact that by the time he reaches these two vehicles they will have easily have passed each other. Now two things happen, the speeding car is now rapidly approaching this lorry at such a speed that for the first time the thought of braking comes into the equation, but at this same moment he suddenly realises that this lorry is not overtaking this other lorry but is in fact braking itself with the view can you believe it or turning right, that's right turning right and he's in the fast lane! But the sports car driver has only allowed a distance for slowing down not stopping. To the left of him in the middle lane there's a constant stream of vehicles, on the right side there's a gully / moat / minefield that the Thais have constructed to make sure that you simply don't survive this option, so what does he do as it's only seconds before he hits this back of this lorry or even goes under it?

Punters are becoming increasingly annoyed at the expensive lady drinks prices charged at some bars in Soi Cowboy. While a standard lady drink is around 100 baht in some bars, it can run to 130 in others. Offer a girl a lady drink and she might ask you if she can drink a Heineken, or something else with alcohol, not the usual lolly water we usually associate with lady drinks. What she doesn't tell you is that there is a surcharge for that alcoholic drink. OK, so 40 baht is only a dollar, but it adds up – and plenty of guys are not happy paying 170 baht for a lady drink, especially when the lady will sip for a few seconds and then leap up on stage to dance for 20 minutes. So, you pay 130 baht for your drink, 170 for hers, and are largely left to your own devices. No wonder more Bangkok-based guys do their partying in Pattaya these days.

It's not something to gloat about, but never far from the news is Hollywood Carousel which now matches Playskool with the highest salaries in Nana Plaza for dancers at 12,000 baht per month. Increased salaries for dancers is sometimes followed by…..increased drinks prices. They wouldn't, would they?!

Angelwitch in Bangkok has taken on a bunch of new dancers, which has really given their dance stage a boost. Last Friday night there were over 60 gogo girls, quite a number, given that it is not nearly the biggest bar in Nana. And I can confirm that Angelwitch in Pattaya is still the best show in town. Check it out.

Despite a mention to the contrary in last week's column, Pretty Lady in Nana remains closed as the in-house battle continues…the best way to describe what is happening there would be to call it a cluster you-know-what! The latest is that the bar may re-open on May 19, some three weeks away! This uncertainty is going to be a nightmare and when they re-open they'll surely have lost a bunch of their staff. Other bars are rubbing their hands in glee, picking up all of Pretty Lady's regular customers.

In the upper, or is it lower Sukhumvit, well let's call it the part of Sukhumvit with the low numbered sois, 2 AM closing remains firmly in place, although a certain bar / restaurant with a rooftop bar is open until 4. So when you walk out of Nana Plaza at 2 AM, not quite ready to go home, just ignore the touts who offer to take you somewhere for 100 baht and instead turn left, and walk a couple of hundred metres and follow the music…

Big Mango Bar in Nana now has the largest female staff they have had since opening and are not in fact down as was incorrectly stated last week. Girls come and go but they keep picking up new girls from those who show up in the plaza, just off the Isaan Express, looking for work. Big Mango's "lady drink staff", now that's a novel term, is the largest since opening. They also have a new menu – about two pages now – with western, Thai and even some Japanese food – all of Nana's customers catered for! Happy hour is still in place and their standard drink prices are pretty competitive when you compare with the naughtier bars. Taking other aspects of their business seriously, they just got some new pool sticks – the same ones as The Ball In Hand uses – and that, coupled with their tables, is getting them a reputation as a nice place to shoot pool on Soi 4.

Mercury Bar on the second floor of Nana Plaza next to Rainbow 3 recently started doing some very interesting shows. Apparently one show involves balloons. Have yet to check them out myself.

On Friday a power outage blacked out some of the bars on Soi Cowboy. There were no lights in the bars from the Soi 23 end toward Soi 21 on the Dollhouse side. All the bars on that side down to Tilac bar were without power for about 1 1/2 hours making for a party scene in the street as the dancers and customers wandered around the street looking for their next drinking spot. Inside Suzie Wong's was a great place to be as all the dancers from Sheba's joined the ones from Suzie's filling the bar with dancers with no or very little clothing rubbing elbows and other parts of their anatomy with customers!

Compliments go out to whoever is hiring the dancers at Carousel A Gogo In Pattaya. Flat stomachs, no stretch marks, almost no tattoos and amazingly, quite a few smiles. They may not be the prettiest bunch – although they are close – but finding a fitter bunch of dancers in Pattaya would be a challenge, a fun challenge it must be said!

30 baht gold Tequila can still be found at Babewatch on Tuesday nights. Babewatch seems to have changed their play list a bit with more oldies – and the girls seem to really be getting into it. They were jiggling away excitedly to Elvis on Friday night.

And word on the street is that if you feel the inclination to use the short time room at Babewatch then you absolutely must turn the light off, unless of course you are something of an exhibitionist.

They really are happy at Happy A Gogo where you will now find a bunch of ex-Diamond A Gogo dancers employed. Happy has been doing tremendous business of late, but it remains one of those bars which I personally don't like. I've always found the atmosphere cold.

The girls in Catz A Gogo, in Pattaya, do a great show resplendent in leopard skin outfits. This is one that is worth checking out. When I was there, it ran at around 11:30 PM. If you're in the neighbourhood it is well worth checking out.

The same cannot be said for X Zone next door which seems to be having all sorts of trouble. Manager Phil has gone, though probably not a bad thing as the boys in brown visited that bar three times this week. They didn't even stick their head in the bars next door, just X Zone. Sounds ominous!

It would be great to be able to take photographs in the naughty bars but that is pretty much not allowed these days, with the internet largely to blame. So if you want some sort of souvenir shots of what goes on inside the bars, you're pretty much out of luck. Or perhaps not. Pattaya By Night was launched a couple of months back, a glossy full colour souvenir style magazine which features photographs from the gogo bars as well as a handful of articles. It can be found at various locations in Bangkok (the new book store in the Nana Mall and at Nana Hotel lobby) and in Pattaya at a heap of gogo bars as well as DK Books branches. It is attractively priced at just 120 baht and I am picking it to become something of a collector's edition.

Incidentally, friends in Pattaya tell me that once you get the girls back to your room and pull out a camera, most will automatically go into pose mode, and apparently a good number are quite happy to be photographed. I found this surprising and thought the girls were aware of the dangers of the net, but it would seem they're not.

Could it be the end of a popular Bangkok based blog with a nightlife slant? The humorous, entertaining Mango Sauce blog has lost its major advertiser after it would appear that that advertiser failed to understand British humour and rather looked at certain articles on the site as something of an egregious blunder, rather than light, entertaining articles, in something of an FHM style. Goodbye Mango Sauce, it was nice having you around.

If there is one thing I'd love occasionally in Bangkok it is a good fry up, a good old English breakfast. But for the life of me I cannot find anywhere that does a good fry up at a reasonably price. Maybe I am tight but I baulk at parting with anything more than a couple of hundred baht for breakfast. Now it has to be said that you can get a GREAT fry up at the Irish Xchange, but at approaching 400 baht, that's much more than I want to spend. The Londoner is in the same price bracket, though theirs can't compete with the Irish Xchange for quality or quantity. Oh, for The Pig and Whistle or Shenanigans, two Pattaya institutions, to open a branch in Bangkok. Both offer great fry ups and a very reasonable prices, 100 – 150 baht.

Stop the press! Actually, forget Shenanigans. It seems to have gone downhill fast since I was last there. The Pig and Whistle is, in my opinion, THE place for a good English breakfast.

There has been a sudden increase in the number of handsome farang living in Pattaya. It’s not that the town has attracted an influx of good-looking expats; just the opposite. With the seasonal downswing in tourism and the departure of US Navy personnel a week ago, working girls opine, “Farang law law”. In other words, those fat, balding, older expats who are still around are again being beckoned with such endearing terms as, “Hello, sexy man”, “Come inside, handsome man.” That pretty much sums up the Pattaya scene of late. Few tourists. Hungry working girls. Little business at all but the most popular bars and nightspots in town. But there was some good news, some bad news…

The good news is Pattaya hotels, restaurants and bars got a shot in the arm last week as travel agents from around the world met at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort for the 55th annual conference of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. The bad news is the police were out in force to clean up Fun City so that the 1,500 travel agents would leave with the distorted impression that Fun City is a pristine town offering little other than a beach (albeit with polluted waters). To gain face and ensure the outside world would not learn of Pattaya’s naughty nightlife, city officials ordered police to clear the beach of the usual suspects (any and all loitering ladies), close all drinking establishments before 2 AM, and protect gogo bar customers from viewing any female body parts.

The agents have since ended their meeting and things are back to normal, low-season inactivity. Nevertheless, Players, a new disco, opened its doors on Walking Street Friday night, perhaps hoping to sort out any glitches before tourist season returns next fall. Players joins a growing number of discos around town that appeal to the younger set. Two other dance clubs are in the planning stages. Rumour has it that there also are plans to launch a half a dozen or more gogo bars on Walking Street over the next several months. I would suggest that 2006 might not be the year to do it. At the very least, wait until well after the World Cup has finished and with a bit of luck, the new airport has opened.

Thailand-based novelist David Young will appear at Dasa Book Cafe for the second session in their "Meet The Author" series on Saturday, May 6, from 1 to 3 PM. Young is the author of the new detective novel "Bangkok Dick", as well as four other books that feature a Thailand setting. Dasa Book Café is located on Sukhumvit Road, between Sois 26 and 28, across the street from the Tops Miracle Mall.

I just know it is not going to be long before I get in trouble with the boys in brown… More and more, I am seeing them on the roads with radar guns. And it's always the same places, between the 40 baht and 25 baht toll booths on the expressway near Rachadapisek, and just north of the big toll plaza, on the Chaeng Wattana stretch of the expressway. I wonder if radar detectors are legal in Thailand?

There are some amazing things happen in Thailand and the TAT's slogan of Amazing Thailand is apt. But what happened in a Phuket shopping centre last week is one of those things that really gets you scratching your head. Staff from a local hospital had set up in one of the main, public areas of the shopping centre, and they were doing blood tests, there and then, testing for various ailments and ills. One of the things they were testing for was HIV! You've got to wonder… "Sorry sir, you're HIV+. Next please!"

We were reminded of just how fragile Bangkok's road infrastructure is earlier this week when a bunch of bus drivers decided to block a road on the Thonburi side (that is the other side of the river) in a protest against other forms of transport picking up passengers on their routes. Talking with one cab driver who was irate at the traffic jams caused by the protest, he explained that it had taken him over three hours to get from Emporium to State Tower, a journey of about 10 km. It was the worst traffic jam I have seen in Bangkok. It was so bad that the traffic was so badly clogged up, and cars were so tightly bunched together, that in some areas you could not even take a motorbike taxi because they could not fit between cars. There was just no space for them!

If you're out on the town, don't forget it is Dave The Rave's birthday today. Do drop by the Bangkok branch of Angelwitch and say hello.

The following article was written exclusively for Stickmanbangkok.com by someone who knew Steve Miller, the Kiwi killed in Pattaya recently.

Steve Miller, a soft-spoken 39-year-old New Zealander and five-year resident of Pattaya, was shot and killed in broad daylight 10 days ago as he drove his motorbike on a quiet street in North Pattaya. What initially appeared to be just another random killing of a farang—so common in Pattaya—has, however, developed into a crime story that police might not have fully investigated if the victim’s friends and family had not hounded the boys in brown. The real story began six months ago…

By the standards of most men, Jen—a 30-year-old gogo dancer—wasn’t much to look at as she gyrated around the chrome pole. But like most things in Thailand, she was beautiful in the eyes of Steve Miller. Steve loved this country and was genuinely grateful to be living here. So the Kiwi bar-fined the dancer for the night and, eventually, bought her out entirely, moving her into his Pattaya apartment. He provided well for her and her family over the last six months, treated her like a princess, showered her with gifts, and remained faithful despite the temptations Pattaya offers all foreigners—even more so a handsome, mild-mannered young hunk with a constant smile.

Several months later, the expat was preparing to help purchase a house for his live-in girlfriend beginning by making a down-payment on the house. He had sold some property for two million baht and deposited 500,000 baht of that into Jen’s bank account so that she could qualify for a home loan. When the loan was approved earlier this month, she agreed to return the 500,000 baht, but said she must first go to Udon Thani to vote in the national election. She returned to Pattaya for a brief stay, only to return to Udon almost immediately to visit her family for Songkran. She insisted on driving home in the couple’s new car, leaving Steve no option but to tool around Pattaya on his motorbike. A week-ago Thursday, she left Udon en route to Pattaya with the understanding she would return Steve’s money the following day. That same morning, as Steve drove his motorbike from Big C toward Third Road, a passenger on a second motorbike produced a pistol, took aim, and shot Steve dead.

Jen was notified of Steve’s murder when she arrived in Pattaya. Being a dutiful if inconsiderate girlfriend, she immediately placed a call to Steve’s parents in New Zealand, shouting into the phone, “Steve dead. Come to Pattaya.” She repeated her terse statement, then hung up. The family was understandably mortified and bewildered. They learned more only when Steve’s friends called to inform the family of details surrounding his death.

Those same friends were able to piece together the financial dealings between Steve and Jen, and dug up other information as well—learning that Jen had two Thai boyfriends even while she was living with Steve. Her roommate revealed that she never loved Steve but was hardcore and a skillful manipulator, even in past relationships. Friends immediately suspected the Isaan woman’s role in the murder. They gathered what evidence they could and presented their case to the police. Jen was arrested, interrogated, and ultimately confessed to having hired a hit-man to kill Steve. Since then, the motorbike driver has been arrested, but the identified gunman has avoided capture.

At a televised news briefing—where police allowed no questions, Jen attempted to justify her crime, claiming that Steve beat her, forced her to participate in drug dealings, and stole property from her. Police encouraged her story yet produced no supporting evidence that the health-conscious body-builder was into drugs or dealing (his friends insist he was not, nor had he ever been known to strike anyone). Furthermore, the police denied any knowledge of the accused girl having 500,000 baht in a bank, or that Steve lent her the funds. However, friends presented financial records substantiating the transfer of the money from Steve’s account to Jen’s.

When family members arrived here from New Zealand, they were denied access to Steve’s apartment. Police explained they needed to take inventory of his possessions first. The family was finally allowed into Steve’s home this past Sunday, but found the place devoid of all valuables. According to the apartment manager, the previous day police had brought Jen to the apartment to collect her belongings; she took everything—including her savings passbook.

While the case now has been solved and two of the three suspects have been arrested, the question of justice remains unanswered. The glorious triumphs of police in arresting those involved in crimes generally are well promoted by police and the press; subsequently, little is reported on the fate of such criminals. Sources intimately involved in this case imply that the 500,000 baht might disappear into police coffers or may go to finance Jen’s bail, following which she may be allowed to do a runner or the matter may be delayed until forgotten by most. The family has hired an attorney to help ensure justice and return of the 500,000 baht, and friends—at their peril—promise to hound the police until all questions are answered and the killers prosecuted. While they are aware of the inherent dangers to themselves in accusing the boys in brown of misdeeds, they also know the influence that can be purchased for 500,000 baht. More importantly, they know how little value was placed on the life of a young, serene man from New Zealand.

Bart Vandermolan, the current Mr. Universe, hosted memorial services last Tuesday evening at the new Fairtex Sports Club and Resort on North Pattaya Road.

Mr. Write

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: I have a 2 year old step-grand daughter who seems to be pretty bright and if there is one thing that I would like to accomplish for my wife's family it would be to send her to a good school and eventually, university. My wife tells me they are building a new school in Rangsit where her daughter lives but tells me it will be too much. Make that 'too mutt'. She should start pre-school next year or at least by age 5. So my question is, how much tuition would I pay for this schooling in Bangkok? It's probably a little cheaper in Rangsit.

Mr. Stick says: I can answer this question as I work in the industry. At the top end of the scale, fees at the best international schools can run over 500,000 baht per year, which is in addition to a one time registration fee – often around 200,000 baht, as well as various other costs along the way. But 500K a year is a good ball park figure for the top schools, the likes of Bangkok Pattana and ISB. For an "EP Program", which are all the rage right now, fees run from less than 100,000 baht per year, up to 300,000+ baht per year. The quality of EP programs varies drastically, some are very good, some are highly questionable. Then there are the "Mini EP Programs" which are cheaper still. School fees at a good Thai school may run around 10,000 baht a year, although 'donations' may be solicited and entry is very competitive. Geographical location, at least within the greater Bangkok area, does not have a bearing on cost. Getting into a good school is difficult, and it is not just a case of putting the money on the table and you're in. There can be up to 30 applicants for each positive at some of the best schools!

Question 2: I read in a back issue about the probable loss of face suffered by a Thai lady living with a man with no plans to marry. That is my situation, with a couple of complications. I retain a condo in town – mostly as an office – and spend 4 / 5 nights a week at my girlfriend's house not far away. I have told her that I have no interest in marriage (to anyone) but I believe her hope springs eternal and expect the subject to be raised again. I can almost feel the pressure building up. Recently I raised the possibility of my putting up the cash to have her house modernised, mainly so we (ok I!) could have a comfortable air-con bedroom / office, and wonder if this could be misconstrued as a go ahead to pick out the wedding dress? Also, how would I be expected to relate to her 8 year old son if I was to become a permanent fixture? His father died soon after he was born. Lastly, her family who live right next door, completely ignore me, as if I wasn't there. What do you think that means? I would be grateful for any advice.

Mrs. Stick says: I am surprised though that she would let you move in to her property, right next to her parents when you have told her that you don't intend to marry her. This might explain why her family is cold to you. The may not like the situation that you're living with her with no intention of marrying her and that is most likely why they are cold to you. It would be best to ask your girlfriend about it. I think you are perhaps a little confused though. At the start of the question you say that you have no plans to marry and then you ask about how things would be if you do become permanent, and how you should relate to her child? I think you need to decide what you want – and I think the child is going to be a big part of that. You're there 4 or 5 nights a week already, right? That is almost permanent already.



The slaying of Steve Miller brought home to me more than ever the dangers that Westerners living in Thailand face. We're the same nationality and in the same age bracket. Life in Thailand can be so easy and relaxing or it can be fun and exciting, but however it is, one can feel a very false sense of security and safety here. I'm sure Steve felt that. But his story, like so many others, shows that it can all go horribly wrong in the blink of an eye. It is an irrefutable fact that a number of Westerners perish under suspicious circumstances in Thailand every year, and Pattaya seems to be the centre of. That so many suspicious deaths are declared suicide, with foul play being ruled out, is ridiculous. Chatting about the issue with a workmate, he mentioned that he had told his family that if he perished under suspicious circumstances in Thailand, they should just let it go, and not fight it. He feels that such happens so frequently, with so little recourse available, that he would rather his family got on with their lives than prolong the pain. Sad really, isn't it.


Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Thanks go out to Bangkok Grasshopper, Mr. Write, Claymore and Dave The Rave.