Stickman's Weekly Column June 11th, 2006

Little Tokyo



Mystery surrounds Bangkok's Little Tokyo, or Soi Thaniya as it is better known, the soi where the Japanese can be naughty boys. Right next to one of the busiest skytrain stations, slap in the middle of the city's commercial district, Soi Thaniya is the heart of the naughty nightlife for the Japanese in Bangkok. There are other bars for the Japanese that cater to their particular style of gentlemen's entertainment, but Soi Thaniya remains the centre of it.

I have walked up and down this strip hundreds of times but I have never actually been inside any of the bars. Several years ago myself and a friend approached the door staff at some of the bars and asked about the possibility of entering. We were told that we would be welcome, and that the bars were not a Japanese only domain. It was simply that the Japanese bars were set up in a way that the Japanese liked. But while we were told that we were welcome, the prices put us off. We were quoted two prices in a couple of different bars. In one bar, we were told that alcohol could be consumed at a cost of 1,500 baht an hour, as much beer or top shelf as we liked. In another joint we were told that beer went at 600 baht a glass – that's not a misprint – six HUNDRED baht. As two poor English teachers, these numbers were well and truly beyond our means and we left our short research project at that.

At street level, ladies linger outside the bars in evening gowns, purring out "hello handsome man" in Japanese to any gentlemen of Asian ethnicity who clearly isn't Thai. I had chosen the bar I would try out, one of the biggest and longest running establishments, Club Kirara. Unsure if I would be able to enter, I was accompanied by a Bangkok based Japanese friend. We had it all worked out in advance, even though it was actually my idea to go, he would pretend that I was his guest. He rattled off a few words in Japanese to one of the Thai staff who nodded, and responded in Japanese that of course, his white-skinned, long-nosed guest would be welcome.

We were whisked into a lift and taken up three floors. We exited the lift into what was a cramped, and frankly not particularly attractive reception area. It reminded me of a brightly lit short-time hotel reception area, more than anything. From there, we were quickly ushered into a small room. We did not see any other customers, or any girls, just reception staff. Unlike farang bars where the bar area can be seen from street level, the Japanese oriented bars are much more discrete.

The main part of Club Kirara, that is the part where customers hang out, is set over two floors. On the third floor are a number of private rooms, the so called VIP rooms. But don't let the name fool you into thinking of it as some sort of opulent club, for that is not what we found. A complete mish mash of styles, with cheap Thai wall hangings that looked like they were picked up from Patpong. A granite topped table which would look better outdoors than in was in the centre of the room and a TV with a CD player pumped out what karaoke songs from what were clearly knock off CDs. Nothing matched. There was a bit of Thai style here, Japanese style here, and even farang style there – but mix it all together and it was a little like mixing the three different types of cuisine together. It didn't work. It was all a bit of a letdown, to be honest. I hadn't expected opulence, but I had expected some attention to detail. After all, this sort of club aims at the well-heeled Japanese, and they are supposed to be a fairly discerning bunch.

If you venture to Soi Thaniya, go to the ATM machine first. There are a number of things you must pay for and it is all quite unlike any of the farang bars. First of all, you buy your alcohol. The charge was 800 baht an hour to drink whiskey with mixers – as many as you liked, or 1,600 baht for a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, which actually works out fairly well. If you went for the bottle, there was no hourly charge, just a 200 baht supplementary charge for unlimited ice and mixers. We chose the bottle, as the more economical option. Every gentleman who enters will have at least one lady who will come and sit next to him, and entertain him, perhaps chat, or perhaps sing karaoke songs for, or with him. She will sip away at Coke which is included in the charge for her, at 800 baht an hour. The girls don't drink alcohol. And unlike in Western bars, the girls will just stay with one guy. Even in a group, they will just sit with the guy who chose them.

Ahhh, the selection process, I appear to have jumped past that. Once you are seated, the mamasan will bring a bunch of girls along, line them up, and you choose which ever girl(s) you like. It is all very much like the fish bowl experience with the girls standing there, smiling, and fluttering their eye lashes trying to convince you to choose them!

But we haven't finished the charges yet. The room goes for either a 300 baht flat charge, or 300 baht an hour, this bit I wasn't clear on. So while you are paying for everything else, you have to pay for the room too.

Now when you first entered the establishment an older woman would have greeted you, led you to the room, brought you the menu, taken your order and helped you select some girls. This is the mamasan. Don't think she is doing all of this out of the goodness of her heart – you're paying for her too! I don't know the charge but it was something like 200 or 300 baht. The mamasan who dealt with us spoke just a few words of English, but her Japanese was at least functional.

After a short while, two girls were chosen and a small plate of snacks was brought. It was essentially a 10 baht bag of crisps and a 10 baht bag of nuts emptied on to a plate. For this the price is 100 or 150 baht. This comes automatically and is billed automatically. I cannot imagine the scene that would be caused if someone said they didn't want it. The bottom line is that the Japanese like this and would never decline it.

So, in summary, at one of the Soi Thaniya venues you have a room charge, a mamasan charge, the cost of your drinks, and a compulsory snack plate charge. Obviously you also have to pay for the company of the girls. This isn't going to be cheap.

In some of the clubs the rate for the girls' company drops after the first hour and in some venues every subsequent hour after the first is charged at only 60 – 70% of the rate.

So, we sat there, with two women and chatted with them, my Japanese companion preferring English with his girl as her Japanese was not that good, and me chatting with one lady in Thai. She confessed her Japanese was very basic, and that she only knew a few basic phrases and a handful other words.

The girls were a little curious about us, more about me than anything. Very few Westerners ever go to these places and each of these two girls had never sat in a booth with a Western guy before. The girls were a little awkward and they just didn't know quite what to do. They suggested singing karaoke but with neither of us into that, we just sat and chatted. The karaoke videos were clean and there is supposedly no hanky panky on the premises.

Obviously with the sort of money you're paying, the girls are paid very well. The monthly salary is 6,000 baht, but they get a commission for every hour they spend with customers, as well as direct cash tips paid to them by customers. How much they make per hour isn't clear – they were very reluctant to disclose this but my best guess would be that it would be perhaps 100 – 200 baht per hour, – enough that they could make a god living without having to get on their backs.

There was a knock on the door after an hour and the mamasan entered informing us that one hour was up, and asking us if we would like another hour. Due to the steep costs, we declined. The total bill was a bit under 4,000 baht. What was surprising was that they actually discounted a number of things, waiving certain charges. This sort of thing you do not experience often in Thailand and I guess it must be due to the fact that there is competition in the soi and they wanted to try and convert us into regular customers.

800 baht an hour for the girls seemed steep and my Japanese pal mentioned that usually it is around 500 baht an hour. The little number I sat with was attractive enough, and sort of reminded me of the girls you see in Thai style massage parlours.

It is said that the prices at Soi Thaniya have come down over the past several years. With the Japanese economy performing poorly over the last decade, the sort of money that was said to be thrown around down there years ago is the stuff that legends are made of.

The mamasan were very relaxed on the time and we seemed to be there for more like an hour and a half – and they didn't hurry us out of there as can be the case at massage parlours or in short-time rooms. What I liked was that after one hour the mamasan came in and said that that was one hour and asked whether we would like to stay long or not. Apparently the Japanese like to be very clear on these things. While the Japanese may pay a lot, they like to know up front what they are going to pay and simply don't accept any of this sneaky nonsense that Westerners seem to suffer from in Thailand, with one thing agreed to, and something different delivered.

Upon exit, even with a good amount of Johnie Walker Black numbing the senses, I started to see all of the cracks in this establishment, quite literally. There was a swarm of ants all around the lift, you know, those ants that are about half an inch in length, and not insignificant in width, the sort you never see back home. They were everywhere. The carpet was stained. The girls' make up was crudely applied and from the look of it they had all been to the same make up artist who had given every girl the same style. And my wallet had just been emptied of almost 4,000 baht.

There is a reason why the Japanese oriented bars are not popular with Westerners. It is novel to check them out and see what they are really like inside, but believe me, 4,000 baht for an hour of nothing, it is just not worth it. The same would have cost about 600 baht in a farang bar.

I talked to the lady I was with about extra services. For anyone who wishes to indulge, the barfine is 1,000 baht, the short-time fee 2,500 baht and the long-time fee 3,500 baht. She suggested that these were uniform across all of the girls in the bar.

For Westerners, the closest thing we have to Soi Thaniya is Sukhumvit Soi 33, but the bars in that little alley from Heaven are really not that different to the whole farang scene in general, and far more resemble the farang sector of the industry than Soi Thaniya.

If we were to compare Club Kirara with say The Champagne Club, the upmarket venue right next to Bully's, the only venue I can think of off the top of my head that is even remotely similar but which directly targets Westerners, Soi Thaniya simply doesn't compare. Ok, the ladies are just as nice, but this was a tired club, a venue that I am sure had seen better days. I cannot say how representative this was of other bars in the soi but it really looked a little tired.

There are of course much flasher Japanese night spots in Bangkok than Soi Thaniya and Club Kirara. This is the sort of place middle or lower management might venture to, but for the big boys out celebrating a big deal, there are some secluded spots around some of the Sukhumvit back sois where the real crème de la crème can be found.


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was the Sukhothai Hotel

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was taken of the beautiful courtyard area within the Sukhothai Hotel. This is one hotel you do not always hear a lot about, but believe me, it is one of the best 5 star properties in the city. This week's picture is, obviously, somewhere outside of the capital. The first person to tell me where the picture is wins a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. The second person to get the picture right gets a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British Cafe, in the Khao Sarn Road area. The prize is 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.

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Murderer on the loose?

There is a 29 year old bargirl or maybe she is a mamasan now, I'm not sure, working in Pattaya. She is from the same village as my wife and I have known her for the five years I’ve lived there. The problem is both I, and the villagers, think she might be killing her husbands. I know it’s none of my business what she does but because I’m the only farang in the village she brings them over to meet me. I never met her first victim, a Thai, but I got to know the second well enough to the point that we email each other. He was a retired British serviceman in his 50’s and seemed in good health the last time I saw him. Five days later I heard he was dead – cause of death “smoked too many cigarettes in one day”. The kicker is she is HIV positive. I tried warning him and told him about her last spouse’s mysterious demise and the HIV but he didn’t believe me or didn’t want too. Within days of his death she brought another British farang to the village who was going to help her get the pension from her recently dead husband. That plan apparently failed because they didn’t register the marriage. They'd only had a village ceremony and the British government refused to give her anything. She keeps bringing new victims every few months to my home. I don’t want to be rude but I don’t want to meet them. If I warn them she may retaliate and cause harm to my family when I’m away working offshore. What should I do?

Are Westerners wearing the locals down?

I've been here for almost 6 years now. It's been very hard for me to admit to myself that things in Thailand for farangs have changed for the worse in the last 2 or 3 years. We are no longer accorded the same respect we used to have from the man on the street. Violent crimes against us have risen. Prices in the tourist spots and nightlife areas have soared. Even the attitude of the bargirls towards us has deteriorated. I guess if I was Thai, it would be bad enough seeing slobby Westerners with seemingly limitless reserves of cash. But now there are slobby Chinese and Indians with loaded wallets too. Doesn't seem fair if you are an average Thai. I may not be here for much longer, but it still sure as hell beats returning to a hypocritical politically correct Anglo-Saxon culture where even my own peers would judge me harshly for not having become a financial success.

Don't promise a house!

As for the recent item about the farang getting murdered for his money: A farang friend of mine died in very suspicious circumstances last year. He had been with the same lady for several years. He had always promised he would buy a big house in her home town upcountry once he was ready to quit his job in Bangkok. Eventually he quit and moved into 'his' new house. Not long afterwards a friend in Bangkok called to catch up with him. He said he thought he was suffering from a sudden case of food poisoning and he felt very bad. Next day he was dead. Strange thing is his girlfriend who had until now been really great with all of his farang friends suddenly would not talk to any of us, or return the things which she had no right to!

Inclu-what?

The recent crackdown on the ownership % laws regarding property in Thailand is indicative of a disease the US had before the first world war – inclusionarism. It's ok when it works but you have to recognise basic fairness doctrines; a concept completely alien to the Asian mind which regards all social interactions as a kind of war. Iceland is a good example of a very inclusionary nation but they manage to get along with the rest of the world because they use Western concepts of fairness while keeping Iceland for Iceland. The liberal notion is that the Asian nations (Asian mind?) will eventually catch up to the rest of the world. I do not believe it.

The respective of advantages of the East and the West.

I read with interest the comments you made about the 51% thing with Thai property. I think it just highlights yet again that it is not worth buying Thai property. It is cheap, yes, but for very good reasons. Just this last week I sold one of my properties – for a mere $9,000 short of three times what I paid for it exactly 5 years ago, in 2001. So when returns like that are available in the west, why would you ever consider buying in Thailand? It does not make sense. If you do want to buy Asian property, which is very cheap on a yield basis – look to Singapore, but not Thailand. The West does have it uses – let's not forget. As a way to make money from investments it is good. After all there are many cashed up bitches who have retired off of their divorce settlements, who can pay almost whatever they want for their properties. So make use of the West and what it can give you – which is good investment returns.

A shameless scammer.

The farang beggar depicted in this week's column is a shameless, lazy-ass scammer, thinks the world owes him a living, and frankly, makes me sick. I've seen him doing this for at least a year. He could have WALKED home by now if in fact getting home, as claimed, were his true intent. I think one of his signs once indicated that he was Dutch. You got it right when you noted the cheekiness of asking for as much as a thousand or more. I wonder how many suckers have actually forked over such amounts. Personally, I'd like to see the authorities throw him in the slammer. Given how visible he's been for so long, I don't understand why this hasn't already happened.

It used to be called Buckskin Joe's but in an effort to re-label it, and increase its appeal, the name changed to the more modern sounding Soi Zero. Despite being a nightlife venue for many years now, many didn't know that under the dirty, dingy expressway just a bit east of the Nana intersection was a bar area. And what a sorry spot it was. Dirt, grime, cockroaches, traffic fumes and very little natural light, it was the perfect place for ladies well past their expired date. After many rumours, Soi Zero was finally closed down this week. I'd like to say that its death was like losing a long-time friend, but that would be a lie. The end of Soi Zero is more like getting a lame animal put down. The dingiest of all of Bangkok's bar areas, I'd disagree with anyone who said it had character. It was a hole. That Soi Zero no longer exists is no loss whatsoever.

Erotica in Nana Plaza is doing what all of the bars should be doing, offering something a little different to entice customers in what is surely going to be the worst low season for years. First of all they started with the "thirsty Mondays", all local beers at 90 baht – all night long – every Monday. Tequila Wednesday has tequila shots at 50 baht, again all night long. But the best promotion of them all, the doormen and ladies outside the bar hand out COUPONS for a free draught beer inside. No strings attached, it is absolutely free! Customers who are unsure whether to enter or not will be given a coupon to give them a chance to look and sit inside. Erotica is, as far as I know, the ONLY gogo in Bangkok that offers this. Let’s see what the competition comes up with…

But the police have had their eyes on Erotica and they raided the short-time room on Thursday night. I wonder if anyone was caught in the act?!

Angelwitch has made no effort to compete with other bars in Nana on price and instead has put their beer prices UP! Can you believe it?! In the middle of the low season, when the number of punters is down, Angelwitch puts the price of a beer up to 130 baht. OK, it was only a 5 baht increase, but it was an increase nonetheless. The increase has been attributed to alcohol prices rising, increased salaries for the dancers, a higher salary bill due to the bar employing more girls. Angelwitch claims to provide value-for-money and therefore management feel that the 5 baht increase is reasonable. In fact, Angelwitch feel that they attract a higher class of clientele. They believe that they offer a lot more in terms of entertainment and value-for-money, so punters are happy to pay 130 baht a drink.

Angelwitch in Pattaya has taken on a new manager. Patrick from the USA , formerly the manager of Dollhouse in Pattaya, has just started as Matt's new Pattaya head honcho. Patrick has a lot of experience, five years in charge at TQ2 as well as a more recent sting at Dollhouse. When Dollhouse was sold to Ken from Living Dolls, a new manager was put in place.

For a very long time I have been on and on about how the government should crack down on street touts who are openly peddling highly questionable services to tourists – and doing a first class job of sullying the country's image at the same time. The absolute worst example of this is down at "Tuktuk Corner", you know, where Sukhumvit Road meets Sukhumvit Soi 5, where the tuktuk owners are now telling all and sundry who pass by that they can be taken to a place that has "young girl no hair pussy". Now of course, this could be a 21 year old woman who is handy with a razor, but I guarantee, that that is not going to be what the average tourists thinks.

The price of beer is inching up at Bus Stop. It's still not expensive per se, but prices are creeping up.

The annual American Independence Day celebration is being held at a new venue this year. The celebration will be held on Saturday July 1st at a school on Sukhumvit 105, not at ISB on Soi 15 as in previous years. A free shuttle bus service will be running from the Onut skytrain to the new venue. More details to follow.

Friday night on the Pong was like walking around a desert island. Between many expats and most Asian and Thai customers staying home to watch the World Cup match and a lot of people taking advantage of the long 5 day weekend to get out of town, it was like a ghost town.

Work continues on the old Pink Panther renovations with a new location for the entrance located further toward Suriwong Road.

Despite Ricky’s departure, Babewatch in the Convent Garden Complex in Pattaya still plans to host a Dance Contest next weekend, on Sunday 18th. The last one was hugely popular and this one will follow the same format.

It is believed that Players Disco in Pattaya has closed. Please note that this is a rumour and has not been confirmed.

Club Electric Blue Jr. is closed! That one has been confirmed.

Like much of Thailand, Pattaya of late has been about parades, gatherings and ceremonies celebrating HRM the King’s accession to the throne 60 years ago Friday. While the occasion inspired many ladies to return to their villages in the throes of low season, it also allowed increased numbers of punters and families to spend a long weekend in Fun City. Walking Street and surrounding establishments drew fair sized crowds, but stools remained vacant at most bars around town.

Three Thai youths last week were arrested in connection with the murder of Brit Steven Parkinson in Pattaya last month. A fourth suspect is being sought. Ranging in age from 17 to 21, the gang members allegedly are responsible for a number of armed robberies as well as three murders. Two of the youths confessed, implicating their two accomplices.

I’m shocked. Shocked I say. Police have detected prostitutes on Walking Street! Being the upstanding and diligent sleuths they are, Pattaya Police were able to identify and arrest ladies who were selling sexual services to foreigners for as much as 3,000 baht per session. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand. But the girls were busted neither because of their excessive asking price or a sudden enforcement of Thai law. Rather, it was because the nine ladies – aged 25 to 35 – were from Uzbekistan. Apparently there is something called the “foreign prostitute suppression policy” which, it seems, allows prostitution by Thai girls and boys but not by foreigners. The Uzbeki ladies, who previously had been blacklisted from entering Thailand, were fined and released.

Oh My Cod, the British style cafe in the Khao Sarn Road area, confirm what everyone else is saying – Beer Lao is a winner. They sell it at a very reasonable 65 baht per bottle ALL DAY and it is outselling other beers by a ratio of 3 to 1.

And Beer Lao's success in Thailand is set to continue. Under an ASEAN trade agreement, imports will be tariff free by 2008. Under the treaty, the Thais will only be able to charge a 5% tax on imported Beer Lao. Since a 420 ml bottle of Beer Lao goes for around 5000 kip (20 baht) in Laos, once it does come into Thailand with only a 5% tariff, it'll surely take over the market from the barely drinkable locally brewed beers. Apparently Beer Lao is building a brewery in Savannakhet for this very purpose. Now if you didn't top the class in geography, Savannakhet is directly across the Mekong River from Mukdahan – where a bridge is currently under construction, and which will connect the two countries. While I look forward to the day when Beer Lao is available nationwide, it would not surprise me if there were some dirty tricks to prevent this fine beer taking Thailand by storm. The shame across Thailand if a beer from Laos of all places was available cheaper, while also a superior product, would be unbearable.

It has been going for many years now but I had forgotten all about it. So, this is a reminder that Dali Bar in Soi 33 still has the high class striptease every Friday at 11 PM. High class models are brought in from outside and do a strip show.

Lennie's on Soi Diamond, directly opposite Casino Club, offers customers the full broadcast of the Soccer World Cup 2006. With English commentary, and 2 satellite dishes so two matches can, and will, be broadcasted simultaneously on one large 55' projection screen and 3 TVs. Lennie's considers itself the headquarters of the selecao Brazil, but all fans are welcome. Free Caipirinhas for all customers at each of Brazil's goals.

At Jameson's in Pattaya, world cup games will be shown live with English commentary as you would expect in a bar known as a great spot to watch international sport.

The Old Dutch in Soi Cowboy will be showing the World Cup Football with English commentary, starting on the 9th, upstairs on two big screen TVs. PJ is hoping to be around to meet a few friends as this was his idea. No drinks for him, just plenty of telly.

And if you want a bit of a twist on it all, head to Titanium, that unusual venue on Suhkumvit soi 22 where you can see all the England & Brazil matches live with, you guessed it, English commentary. I won't list the full program, but this venue will be hosting a number of well-known bands who will play the same night as the big matches. You're looking at 800 baht for a ticket which gets you a couple of drinks, and the show, or you can buy the humorously named Season Ticket, all 4-concerts and the LIVE action FOOTBALL for only 2,000 baht. The 800 baht entrance fee is for a pre or post-match 60-minute concert by a top Thai band, 2 FREE drinks and the footie with English commentary guaranteed. The bands in question are from RS Promotion – GIRLY BERRY on the 15th JUNE and PINK on the 1st July, from SONY Music BURN and PUZZLE on World Cup Final day. So it's not just the World Cup in English in surround sound BUT a concert as well.

Octopussy Bar in far away Hua Hin has all the games in English.

Absolute Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 will be open until late, screening the games in English. They are offering Guinness at 150 baht for 50 cl from Friday to Sunday only. It should also be known that Absolute Bar has Paulaner beer – dark, white and brown varieties.

The Office Bar and Mojos, along with a number of other bars in Sukhumvit Soi 33, will be showing all of the World Cup games with commentary in English.

For locals, just remember that any bar which has satellite TV from outside of Thailand will almost certainly have the world cup matches in English.

As things cool down a little from the issue of farangs buying property in their name and the dust starts to settle, people are coming out of the woodwork and telling of the difficulties they have had even when they were able to buy a property in the name of a Thai company which they essentially controlled. As some of these people wish to sell the property and then dissolve what are essentially bogus Thai companies, they are encountering more than a few problems. They had never lodged any profit loss statements and had never been audited – and this is something that the Thai Tax Department takes very seriously. In fact the cost of having a Thai company is not cheap. You have all of the tax returns to complete as well as the (twice?) yearly audit – and that isn't cheap. The bottom line is that it turns out these shell companies are not the cakewalk that some has been led to believe when they were initially set up.

Heng Thung, author of the memoir, The Pigeons and the Witch Doctor: Adventures of a Modern Mapmaker, will appear for a “Meet the Author” session at Dasa Book Café on Saturday, June 17. The Pigeons and the Witch Doctor details Heng Thung’s five decades of travels around the world, during which time he worked as a geologist, project consultant, and mapmaker. During his time in Southeast Asia, Dr. Thung was the coordinator of aerial surveillance of poppy fields in the Golden Triangle area, as well as conducting aerial photo analysis to determine what caused the decline of the Khmer Empire at Angkor.

While not a new article, this one is interesting for those based in Thailand nonetheless.

When I first came to Thailand there was only one day a year when the bars were closed – December 5, HM The King's birthday. The next year the bars were closed for one of the Buddhist holidays and over the following years, the bars were ordered closed for all of the Buddhist holidays, as well as some other special days. In the past, the bars were informed whether they could open or not, usually a week or more in advance, but these days they often do not know until the very last minute. Has communication from the authorities become problematic? No, that's not it at all. My theory as to why bars don't know until the last minute is that those in power are calculating what the cost will be, and how they can collect that money. Institutionalised corruption is what it's called…

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: Do you know of any stores in Bangkok where we can find American food? Is there such a thing? I have been in Bangkok but never looked. The reason I asked, I am thinking I may have to bring a lot of stuff I may need that may be impossible to find. Like baking goods, peanut butter, jelly, cheese and just American things.

Mr. Stick says: Western style food can be found at a number of supermarkets in Bangkok. The most popular spots are Villa and Foodland, both of which have a number of branches. The most convenient branches can be found in Sukhumvit Soi 5 for Foodland, and on Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 33/1 for Villa. You can also check out the supermarkets in the upmarket shopping malls like Emporium and Siam Paragon where a variety of imported products are available.

Question 2: I met a girl in Bangkok, had a really good time and I’m coming back to spend time in Thailand with her again. I’m going to a village near Udon Thani to meet her mother. We’re going to spend time in a guesthouse in the village and now, one week out of my trip, I’m getting pressure from the mother to commit to marry her daughter before I go to visit the village. I’m getting told that the mother doesn’t want me to be casual with her daughter. So far I’ve spent one week with her daughter. There is no way that I can commit to marry her in such a short time. I want to meet the mother to show her I am committed. I want the relationship to develop. What are your thoughts about this situation?

Mrs. Stick says: There is absolutely no rationale in marrying someone so quickly. Let's put cultural differences aside and ask if you could many ANY woman this fast. You couldn't. It doesn't make sense. The mother is asking something which his totally unreasonable. Don't get involved with the family before you really know the woman. Once the family is involved you will have pressure from them and at time when it really isn't yet appropriate. You might have to stay clear of the family on this visit.

Question 3: My wife was educated in Bangkok and is what I would describe as an "international woman". She speaks very good English and can fit in with westerners, and other non-Thais no problem. When we got married I didn't realise just how backwards her family were. She likes to visit them often and I am expected to tag along. The truth is that they are backward hillbillies. They are nice, and pleasant to my face, but they have many bad, and dirty habits, and I can't stand going there any more. They also talk bad about me behind my back and think I don't know about it, but I do. How do I tell my wife that as happy as I am with her, her family disgust me and I do not want to go and visit them ever again?

Mrs. Stick says: This is very difficult because when you are married in Thailand you do to some extent marry the family. If you are recently married then I suggest you do not bring this issue up just yet, because it will only cause problems. Whenever you bring it up, it is going to be a problem. You will struggle to find a solution and your wife will be anything from disappointed to upset. She may even develop strongly negative feelings towards you over this. The simple solution is that if you do not like the family then you should stay away from them and send her to visit them alone. She will eventually figure it out. This is much better than telling her straight out as that will upset her, 100% for sure!

It's funny reading the last two questions to Mrs. Stick, about problems in the family. I can't imagine how troublesome that would be. Many months ago I wrote a column about how my love affair with Korat was over. I got all sorts of abuse over it, most of it from people who live in Isaan dumbfounded that anyone could not like their slice of paradise. This weekend I find myself in Korat, for the first time in a few months, and I have to say, I got that column spot on! Bangkok may not be perfect, but this place is not for me. Korat…..once every three months is too much! That said, the Thai side of the Stick family are very nice and the mother in law treats me like a king. I sit in her front room, stealing an open wireless internet signal from an adjacent building, and simply make a noise when I am hungry and food comes. I joked that I wanted lot chong, a Thai style dessert, and half an hour later it came. I'm starting to feel like pizza….

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


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