Stickman's Weekly Column June 25th, 2006

The Rich And The Poor



The average resident Westerner can experience frustration in his day to day dealings in Thailand. Some of it can be explained by communication barriers, some angst is due to cultural differences, but a lot of the problems are simply due to the people you interact with.

On a daily basis, the average farang interacts with many locals from poor backgrounds and with all due respect to them, people from the lower echelons of society – tuktuk drivers, taxi drivers, sales assistants, street vendors and if you're really unlucky, with the local boys in brown. While many of these people can be charming, pleasant, and there are some real characters out there, some can be a real nuisance and can give you one big headache. But unless you live your life in a bubble, have a chauffeur driven limo, shop in only the finest up-market international name stores and never come a cropper of the law, it can be difficult to avoid dealing with some of these people.

They're the salt of the earth, but they are not always the most sophisticated. From dreadfully poor backgrounds – you don't know how poor they really are unless you visit their home town or village – they've not had anywhere near the same level of education as the average Westerner , and many have been brought up in an environment where their daily goal might merely be survival! Even in Thailand 2006, many families struggle to put food on the table. Luxuries and the finer things of life that many Westerners simply take for granted have never been a part of their lives.

As awful and cold-hearted as it sounds, when dealing with people from the lower echelons of society, my expectations are rock bottom. Escaping without any requests for money or hard luck stories is the goal. I used to enjoy riding in taxis and chatting with the drivers, but there seem to be more and more hard luck stories these days – I think the better your Thai gets, the more inclined they feel to tell you their problems. There is so often a rub. Like the taxi I sat in a couple of nights ago. As the rain started belting down, the driver solemnly informed me that it would be a bad night, and would I mind giving him 100 baht when the meter read 59 baht. (Anyone who has spent time in Bangkok knows that the taxis fill up when it rains so he was just trying it on.) I really hate being looked at as a charity. Even though driving in Bangkok peak hour can be stressful in itself, I now much prefer to drive myself than listen to drivers moaning and groaning about life in general. OK, they're not all like this, but many are. My best guess is that 90% of Bangkok taxi drivers come from poor parts of Isaan.

It is widely known that many Western guys have problems with Thai women, and much of this is attributed to the fact that the guy tried to settle down with a lady who once had the dubious title of working girl. It's easy to blame the problems on that. She was a prostitute – that word makes her an easy target. Now it might well be that things failed because she was damaged by the industry- and anyone who has spent much time in the industry knows that it destroys people. But just as often the problems encountered in relationships with these girls are due to the fact that she was, for want of a better term, from a seriously underprivileged background, and didn't have the advantages that your average Westerner took for granted. Her whole perspective on life is just so different to his.

Not so long ago the Mrs. and I went to the housewarming party of one of her colleagues. These were not wealthy people, but neither were they poor. Genuine middle class I would guess. I was the only farang there. For a period I thought I was some sort of superstar, as every guest wanted to chat with me. After initial introductions and pleasantries were exchanged, I had enjoyed pleasant conversations with a number of people – some in English, some in Thai. Funnily enough, not one person there told me of their financial woes nor hinted at an unsecured loan. There were no sick buffalo stories. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They all wanted to invite the Mrs. and I over for dinner, or at least maintain contact somehow. I left that party thinking how much fun it had been, but upon reflection, I realised that this particular do was not really anything particularly special, simply more how things should be. That is how things are in our own countries. We meet people from similar backgrounds, we have things in common, and a friendship begins. It's not exactly rocket science.

I always have very good experiences with the parents of my students at parent / teacher meetings. They're from the wealthier sector of Thai society, not wealthy enough to send their little princes and princesses to the likes of Bangkok Pattana or ISB, but they have done well for themselves. They're always extremely pleasant, and very interesting to chat with. Quite simply, I have a lot in common with them. Conversation is not limited to the weather, the football, and the best place to get a plate of som tum.

It's all very nice being noble and saying that we should give everyone a chance even if they haven't had the same opportunities as us. Sooner or later you start to realise that there is little common ground. Once you have exchanged pleasantries and asked them who they think is going to win the World Cup, there's little left.

In the West, most of us are "middle class". When I was back in New Zealand, it felt like about 5% of the population was rich, perhaps 15% poor, and the remaining 80% were middle class. I'd hasten a guess that in most Western countries the percentage of the total population who could be considered middle class would be much the same, around 80% or so. In Thailand the percentage of people who could be classified as middle class would be much, much lower. 25 – 30% perhaps?

For the average Westerner, it's the upper middle-class or even the lower upper-class who are the most suitable in terms of friendship, business liaison and what not. These are the people who likely have the most similar background, and general outlook on life as you do.

One friend, a well-known Thailand based European photo-journalist is very happily married to a lady from an extremely poor background. He can't stand women from the Thai middle-class, and often tells me how boring such women are. This is from a very articulate, astute fellow, so it does go to show that there are exceptions.

There are times when you have no choice but to deal with certain people, but in your social life, and in much of your work life, you do have a degree of control over who you spend time with.

Hanging out with middle class folks in Thailand instead of those from the lower echelons of society who so often eventually tell you all of their problems, particularly financial related problems, is nauseating. It wears you down and can give you a horribly negative outlook. I will however be the first to admit that from an anthropological point of view, spending time with poorer people, those who have never had it easy, can be a great way to really learn about the country and its people.

And before you label Stick some sort of politically incorrect jack ass, let me re-iterate what my mother in law says, herself a native of Isaan. "I don't want to sit in a Bangkok taxi because many of the drivers see me and all they can think of is how they are going to get their hands on my money." In private, many middle and upper-class Thais will be vocal about the class issue.

I have heard it said several times that Thailand is a country with the nicest poor people, and the least pleasant rich folks – or words to that effect. I can see where someone is coming from when they say this, but I don't really feel it is true.

So many of the negative generalisations about the locals, and much of the "Thai bashing" that goes on, is due to bad experiences Westerners have had with folks from poor backgrounds.

I used to get really pissed off at so many things in Thailand. I eventually worked out that it was the service providers I was spending time around. I started to spend a bit more money, go to better places, and avoid the riff raff, and guess what, the negative feelings started to go away. I'm now much more positive about life in the Kingdom.

I do not want to sound elitist. It is not that you shouldn't soicalise or interact with people because they are poor. That is not what I am saying at all. Simply socialising with people from a similar social strata to yourself will in all likelihood be more interesting and ultimately more rewarding. Since making these changes myself, I have been happier, and much more positive.


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was Soi Convent.

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was taken on Soi Convent, but it was made difficult by tricky Stick removing the names of the various venues there, including Starbucks, Coyotes, and Irish Xchange. 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 prize right gets a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British Cafe in the Khao Sarn Road area. The third and fourth prizes are a 500 baht credit 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 have a preference as to which prize you would prefer, do not be shy to let me know!

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

No-one is going to go hungry.

Just an insight to your end piece about Thai people throwing away money on the world cup. I happen to have a direct line to a few Thai bookmakers in Pattaya and Bangkok and as of this Friday night just gone, the bookie in Pattaya is 5 million baht down, the small bookie in Bangkok 10 million and a rather large bookie in Bangkok nearly 50 million down. Nearly all the matches the Thai handicap favourite has won so far and it's getting to the point that a few more faves winning and the bookies will make a loss this world cup, so not as many families as you think will be going hungry at the end of this month.

Words of the uncouth.

I don't get it. What is there to comment about? Team-A kicks the ball one direction, then Team-B kicks the ball the other direction. The game seems pretty straightforward to me. Very similar to following an automobile road race around in a circle, really not much commentary is needed to follow what is going on. If you could remember and recognize 40 or 50 Thai words then you wouldn't need English commentary. What all could possibly be said about kicking the ball one direction or the other, with it (the ball) occasionally being kicked into the goal. How much Thai is necessary to know what is going on? If you were to go to an actual game there would be NO commentary at all, in English or any other language. I think this idea about being in English is one off.

The secret, unlocked.

As you know, there are many "nice gainfully employed" Thai girls who will go out with a farang, but only a "certain kind of farang". And this is KEY. And once they trust you, they will introduce you to their friends. If you can converse in Thai fairly well, dress
nicely, treat the girl with respect, don't YELL at her, don't get DRUNK ALL THE TIME, have an interest in Thai culture, and just try a little politeness, you, I mean a lot of farang, would be AMAZED at how many great Thai ladies there are out there. Not everything comes down to money. I am average looking, fifty something, love to speak Thai, especially joke in Thai, TRY to be as polite as I can, dress nicely and like learning about Thai culture. I can tell you a rock star never had a better life, or more opportunities. Most farang guys just cannot get that, it is THE WAY YOU BEHAVE, not that you are a farang. I have lots of Thai friends, yes, almost all Thai girls, but they have regular jobs, are educated and treat me very well. One of the nicest compliments a middle class Thai girl ever paid me was when she told me that her Mother doesn't like farang, but always asks her what I am doing. She laughed and said Mama likes you. What did you do to my Mama? Mama says "you are very FUNNY". Humour goes a long way with the Thais. The Indonesians too.

The gravy train.

It is funny to have a hardship allowance in Bangkok, but add to that the $$ for relocating, $$ for new electrical goods (paid again when repatriated), home leave visits, school fees (I have colleagues that, with five kids, have school fees that are more than triple their actual income. In places like Singapore it's worse) and in some cases even membership fees. Manila is on the highest "hardship" allowance, with Thailand down a notch. The former I can understand, the latter is a mystery. Remember also that when someone's posted on an expat assignment, they typically don’t have a place to go when their tenure comes to an end. So the poor unsuspecting expat can wait about, overseas, applying for internal postings, hold out for a grade increase and another expat venue. It's a gravy train that many people spend years in.

Revenge of the betrayed.

Here's a true story my wife heard from her sister. She went up country (Korat) to the village for a visit. I remained back in 'Kok because the humidity up there (no air conditioning) is a bit much for me. When she returned, she told this story. One punter who was living with his teeruk (at her village) returned to Farangland (don't know which country) for a visit, leaving his honey behind in their modest abode. Whilst he was gone, she was evidently distributing sexual favours to a man who allegedly, just happened to be, her Thai husband. Somehow the farang got wind of this and returned to LOS. Upon arrival he says to the girl, "Honey, we need a new home, a much bigger and better one"…she naturally loved this idea. But first, he continued, "we have to bulldoze this one and start from scratch". She liked that suggestion as well. So the wrecking crew is called in and they level the place. The next day this guy gets up, sneaks on down to the airport and boards the next flight back to where he came from.

A Thai Moment.

Yesterday I am driving back Bangkok to Hua Hin somewhere out in the salt flats. I pull up along side a Thai guy on a small motorcycle who is flying along at about 80 km/h. Nothing strange in that? Agreed, except that he had his feet up on the handlebars, with his arms folded over his chest! No mates around to show off to, no girls in awe of his prowess. Just bouncing along at 80, tempting fate. Is there any wonder why the highway death rate in Thailand is the highest (per capita) in the world?

Be careful in department stores!

As a warning to others, when I have visitors here who want to see some of Thailand's famous ladyboys, I always take them for a stroll through the cosmetics counters of The Emporium and see how many they can spot. A Thai friend explained to me that katoeys are famous for their makeup skills, for the obvious reason that they depend on them heavily themselves. So, probably not the best place to pick up girls if you actually want them to be girls…

Bars with South African cable installed showing the World Cup matches in English are doing a great trade. A number of such bars are experiencing a very busy period indeed and the low season for them will not be nearly as bad as they had feared, in fact this month is reaching almost high season levels at some spots.

In the past couple of weeks a lot of people asked how they can get this South African TV hooked up. JSat is the answer and you can find them here. A number of readers have used their service and the general consensus seems to be that their product and after sales service is good.

One bar owner mentioned to me that for bars, South African satellite is available in Bangkok and the cost is 72,000 baht for installation, satellite dish and program card. Keep in mind this is not a small dish, but one with a 2 metre diameter.

Another reader out in Rangsit uses a cable company called SRN Cable. Apparently they're not that big so unless you live out that way they might not be much use. But for people in the northern part of the city, their phone number is 02-9916601/2 if you wish to check them out. Besides S3 (SuperSports) you can also get ABC Asia Pacific, ChanelNewsAsia, Ariang, HKK and DW TV. The basic cost is 1,000 baht to have the cable hooked up, and then 375 baht per month, cheaper if you pay in advance.

There might be a way to get English commentary at home – over the Internet! Go to www.bbc.co.uk and then click on the "Sport" tab. Then click on "Open Audio and Video" which is near the top. Then follow along with your audio turned down on TV. This is said to work although there might be a slight delay between what you see on your screen and what you hear via the net!

And in another question from a reader in last week's column, Clausthauler is said to be the best non-alcoholic beer available in Bangkok. It can be found specifically at branches of Villa, Foodland and Tops supermarkets.

Oh God, this Thai commentary at the World Cup is getting even worse. Some of the gems that I have heard include at one point in a game featuring Togo and the camera panned into the crowd where there were a bunch of Togo fans – the commentator talked about how scary the group looked! Then in another game the commentator said that as the team had lost three games they would be too embarrassed to ever return home.

I hear rumours from one fellow of the weirdest show taking place in a Pattaya gogo bar. Apparently the Western owner of the bar sits on a stool on stage and all of his clothes are removed by the girls. This sort of thing might me laugh once every so often on a stag night, but this is said to take place every night. I was trying to work out which bar boss it could be.

On Sunday 2 July Ed Carabao will be performing at Hillary Bar 2 in Sukhumvit Soi 4. You can buy tickets now to see this Thai music legend perform.

The bars seem to be closing at 2:00 AM for the time being though closing times are subject to change and whenever I write in this column that bars are open until a certain time, it invariably changes the following week. There are however at least 4 "late night venues", 3 in the Sukhumvit area between Soi Nana and Asoke, and one a little further away. I'm not going to tempt fate by saying their names, or stating their location, suffice to say that conversation with the girls, bar managers and owners will get you the info. I cannot comment on these venues as I am very seldom out after 2:00 AM in Bangkok. It must be noted that these venues are NOT English teacher friendly. Drinks, that is standard drinks, go for around 200 baht each.

Down in Sukhumvit Soi 33, Degas is still closed and it looks like it is under reconstruction. Venus Club is closed too, and it doesn't seem to be open any more. Lucky Luciano was closed up to now, but obviously something has been happening in there and some renovation work has been done. Maybe they found a buyer? Mojo’s has been completed, but still doesn't have that many customers.

The R-Club next to Livingstone's re-opened two months ago as a Japanese karaoke, but really does not seem to be doing that well at all.

My favourite spots in Soi 33, Livingstone's, Dali and Monet are all doing an average trade, nothing to write home about, but they should survive the low season. Livingstone’s of course shows the World Cup games on big screens now, in the Sports Lounge and the Pub (new), with English commentary connected to the sound system making you think you are sitting in the middle of the stadium. Owner Hermann will be unbearable if Germany wins. This bar is also a popular spot for Formula1. They show the rugby too, though Wall Street remains the favourite spot on Soi 33 for that.

Vincent van Gogh has lost many girls and there are obviously some problems in there. In summary, it could be said that Soi 33 is feeling the low season more than other areas and it is mainly football fans down there at the moment. One bar owner commented that even many regular customers were staying away for the time being. Of course the awful weather we have had for a few weeks now with rain almost every day has not helped – but then soi 33 does seem to have been hit harder than other areas. With so few customers, if you want a bit more attention, soi 33 is the place to go.

If you missed the news, or you are out of the country, PM Taksin, has announced that the new airport will open to all flights, that is both domestic and international, on the morning of September 28, just three months from now. The new airport should be real nice and modern, though it might take a while until all the kinks have been ironed out. I cannot help but think for the first month or so that the likes of The Nation and The Bangkok Post will be swamped with letters from people who have experienced various problems getting to and from there. The new airport is a little bit further from the city centre than the current airport at Don Meuang, but it is a lot closer to Pattaya. From the new airport to Pattaya should take about an hour and a half, quicker if you have a driver with a lead foot. So my prediction is that for the first month or so it will be a nightmare, but once things settle down it should be a lot better. Just the taxi situation alone at the current airport is a nightmare and anything would be an improvement on that.

Barry Kenyon, the British Embassy’s Honorary Consul in Pattaya, has been awarded an MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire. This column featured a lengthy interview with Kenyon two weeks ago. The MBE award for meritorious service to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was announced in London in conjunction with the birthday celebration of Queen Elizabeth.

If the North Pattaya location of the tourist police was not inconvenient enough for most visitors, it certainly will be as of this week. The new offices will be located on Pratamnak Hill. For those new to Pattaya, first figure out where that is, then figure out how to get there. Or just call them at 038-425937. Moving day is Monday.

That’s about the only noticeable change in Pattaya of late. Tourist numbers remain at their lowest in years. Patronage at nightspots is off – some estimate as much as 50 percent (at most beer bars it appears to be off 90% or more). Over this weekend, the most popular gogo bars – particularly on and off Walking Street – attracted a fair number of punters, but even they lost at least some business to the World Cup on TV. And while the world looked its nose down on England and Germany for the violence of football fans Saturday, Thailand took it one step beyond. An argument at a local bar sparked a gunman to shot and kill two soccer fans. The unidentified gunman complained that the two were cheering too loudly during a World Cup broadcast. All three involved were reportedly Thai.

One of those gogo bars doing bang-up business despite low-season doldrums is the Dollhouse. Now in new hands, the Walking Street venue has introduced a new and improved lineup of ladies. Well worth a visit. So too is the revamped and quite improved Naughty Girls (Soi Diamond). Having re-opened following renovations, the gogo bar features some attractive ladies and a pleasant atmosphere.

Remember we reported in 2004 that Beach Road would be beautified with a project that would bury all those unsightly telephone and electrical cables? Now, two years later and two years late, the City of Pattaya reports that the 250-million baht project will be completed next year.

Attention all Yanks: The US Embassy consular section will be in Pattaya Thursday, June 29, to provide services such as passport renewals, additional passport pages, notary services, address changes, etc. Staff will be at the Amari Orchid Resort, Beach Road in North Pattaya, 8 AM to 12 noon.

Customer service in Thailand can be questionable at times and this week I experienced another Thai episode. In the local Tesco Lotus picking up a few items, I saw that the expiry date on a bottle of milk was just three days away, so I grabbed a bottle from the rear, which had over a week until it expired. Just as I put one back and grabbed the other, I felt a firm hand on my shoulder, and an even firmer "no"! Somchai, the shelf-stacking moron, was intimating that I could not take a bottle from the back, and had to take the front one! I turned around and gave him my best pissed off look. It must have worked because he quickly let go of my shoulder. If this had happened in NZ I would have taken it much further, but here you just have to attribute it to moronic behaviour.

There are a lot of discussion forums out there, and Bangkok has a heap, though many can get a bit much. There is one particular discussion forum in Pattaya that seems to be very well moderated. For those with an interest in Pattaya, check out Pattaya Secrets.

I have to admit that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the number of websites are being blocked in Thailand. This week I was doing a lesson at school and was searching online for an interactive activity to liven up the lesson. A couple of teachers in the office recommended an interactive activity at the website of a well-known English language teacher’s resource site. I tried to access the site and would you believe it, Somchai had blocked it! To say this was frustrating would be a major understatement, but what is of greater concern is just who made the decision to block these sites? I bet there is some geek in some dark office somewhere who is charged with finding such sites and blocking them. Highly questionable….

I also see that access to one of the busiest Thailand nightlife forums has just been blocked too. This was quite possibly the busiest nightlife forum of all. I was never an active member so do not know if being blocked is due to anything in particular but I do remember that there were naughty pics all over the site. What should be noted is that they are doing a right amateur job of blocking sites. First of all, it would appear that they are doing it by site name and not by IP address. Secondly, the blocking is not done at any particular gateway, but rather it would seem the local Thailand ISPs are asked to implement the block. Local efficiency means that the block is not always across the board. Get yourself up to speed on using proxy servers to get around this issue.

I also notice a proliferation of radars in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. The busy expressway out past the airport, the new road that passes out by the new airport and the expressway on the way to Chaeng Wattana are favourite spots for the boys in brown and their new radars. This isn't a scam, they really do have radar guns, fancy ones that are tripod mounted and take a photo of you belting along the road. Don’t ask me how I know…

Bacchus Bar in Soi 33 is up for grabs and if you want to join the “I own a naughty Bangkok Bar Club” then the price for entry is merely 4 and a half million baht. Just don’t count on getting your money back in a hurry because much of Soi 33 can resemble a ghost town at the moment.

Starting today, Big John's will have roast turkey in addition to the usual Sunday roast of ham, beef & pork, and each last Sunday of the month. Carving time is 7:30 PM. On 1st July, Canada Day, there will be free Poutine to all Canadian drinkers and their friends and on Tuesday 4th July, American Independence Day, all you can eat BBQ ribs, roast turkey, pizza, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn and apple pie & ice-cream at a give away 190 baht. This will get going from 7 PM. Budweiser beer will be available for 120 baht per bottle. You won't find a better Independence Day special than that anywhere in Bangkok.

A bunch of my grade 12 students are very proud of their "grade A" (their words) copied World Cup football shirts. Germany seemed to be the favourite this week, Brazil the week before. One poor lad had an original and they were ribbing him about it as he had paid a few thousand baht more for it and you couldn't tell, I mean, you really couldn't! They asked me if I could tell which shirt was the original and which one was the copy – and I got it wrong!

If you're not careful, you can get stung on water when dining in restaurants locally. I wasn't pleased when charged 150 baht for a bottle of sparkling water imported from Italy a few months back. But it is not only water they get you on. A friend dined at Basel, the fine Thai restaurant, this week, and ordered two fried eggs to go with his meal. He told me that he felt he had been robbed, so I guessed that they had charged him perhaps 50 baht an egg. I wasn't even close. 90 baht per fried egg, and of course there is a VAT and service on top of that, making it over 100 baht per fried egg. Yikes!

Did you realise that it is possible that someone on a full expat package may earn as much as 100 times salary than a locally hired person working for the same company? It sounds extreme, but really, it's quite possible. Let me explain. Let's say we have an American executive earning $US150,000 a year. That is, to use a ball park figure, 6,000,000 baht per year. Add on an accommodation allowance of say 100,000 baht a month, a car and driver which is worth about 50,000 baht a month and my favourite, the hardship allowance of say 10%, another 600,000 baht. We now have a total of 8,400,000 or 720,000 baht per month. That would be 100 times more than someone earning 7,200 baht a month, the sort of salary that is often paid to maids, cleaners, and the like. Big difference!

Quote of the week from a reader who was talking about how all of the girls in the bars have noticed that they are invisible when the World Cup matches come on. "The world cup is the punishment for the girls sent from hell as far as they are concerned."

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: It was my understanding that Thai woman can always tell a natural woman from a katoey, at least if they meet the person for a few minutes. Is this 100% sure?

Mrs. Stick says: I think anyone in this world can do that. With so many transsexuals in the country I guess we might be a bit more observative and tuned in to their characteristics.

Question 2: What does the average Thai woman look for in a Western man, specifically Western man, for a serious relationship or marriage. I can't help but feel that it is money, money and money. I have dated a number of employed women and that is all they seem to care about. For example, would the average Thai woman be interested in an English teacher with a 40,000 baht monthly income FOR MARRIAGE?

Mrs. Stick says: This is a hard one. All women look for a man who is honest, responsible and able to look after them. If the man is a Westerner, a Thai woman will generally expect a bit more of him. When Thai people see Westerners in Thailand they see that most Westerners here have a very comfortable lifestyle and so it is quite possible that they may pursue or chase someone who could be considered "better than average". There is no specific rule but the average woman will look at a man's success, his manners, his willingness and ability to fit in with Thai culture and of course, his financial situation – if not how it is today, then how it will likely be in the future.

We're two weeks into the world's biggest sporting tournament and its effects are being seen in many aspects of life here in the Kingdom. People are staying home to watch the matches instead of going out – and I am not just talking about farangs here. Traffic is much lighter than you would expect most evenings, so when I say that places are quiet, it is establishments across the board, and not just farang oriented venues. And from virtually the moment the World Cup started, internet traffic to many Thai sites has been down a little. This site for example has been about 10% down Monday to Saturday, although on Sunday everyone still seems to tune in.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Thanks go out to Bangkok Grasshopper and Mr. Write.