Stickman's Weekly Column July 2nd, 2006

Exploiting A Flawed System



You won't likely read about it in the guidebooks, but you will hear about it in the bars, and for sure, you'll read about it on some websites and in some online discussion forums. The locals bring it up unless they feel they are being backed into a corner, or feel that perhaps you are not all you seem to be.

It is said that foreigners who cheat the locals, even if for just a few baht, may well end up a victim themselves, on the end of a nasty act of revenge. Someone who feels that have been cheated might throw a fit and scream and yell, or when really aggrieved, they may get violent and attack you. Floating face down in a klong, staring down the barrel of a gun or subjected to a brutal beating are the most common forms of revenge we hear about.

But just how does this sort of thing really happen? Do these seemingly gentle, laid-back people really have the capacity to lose the plot and go totally crazy? Is revenge a big deal in Thailand, or is it some urban myth?

A myth? I ask this question because there is a certain farang who is leaving a trail of destruction across the countryside, and if ever there was someone who you'd think would come a cropper from the locals, it was him.

He has been doing what he does for about a year now, day in, day out, and nothing has happened to him. Absolutely nothing! That is unless you call a few bargirls screaming obscenities at him retribution. Does this disprove the theory that there is no limit to what the locals do if they feel they have been ripped off.

This story is set in Pattaya where a certain individual resides, and plays. He is wanted back in his homeland for crimes of deception. He has brought his charms to Pattaya where he gets off using the services of the city's many prostitutes. "For free." He does not pay them for their services and uses a variety of means to get himself out of paying.

As best as can be established, he has lived in Fun City for a bit over a year and during that time he has kept himself busy chasing the girls of the city.

Initially he was a paying customer but soon enough he saw that the system of payment by slipping some baht into a girl's hands as she left the hotel the next morning, or surreptitiously placing some money in her handbag while she was in the shower, was flawed. He experimented a bit and saw that many of these women would just leave without explicitly asking for payment! He saw an opportunity and he exploited it.

Several months back, he got on the very popular Thailand Friends site, and made arrangements to meet some of the female members. He found that it was easy to meet women there but after he had met many of the good time girls, he found it harder to meet others. He resorted to trickery to meet others who were perhaps less interested in meeting him, or meeting any men for that matter. Various ruses were used to get these ladies down to Pattaya to meet him, the promise of free concert tickets being a popular ruse. He would tell his prey that he had concert tickets and that they could come down to Pattaya to party with him and while there, they could collect the concert tickets. Remarkably, a lot of women bought this and he had women venturing down to meet him every day, taking either the bus, or even driving themselves there. Of course, there were no concert tickets.

After a while he started to get a bit of a reputation. Descriptions of his exploits started to appear on the discussion forum of this particular site and warnings about him went out. He was banned but came back under various other usernames. This worked for a while before he eventually found it hard work to meet women there any more, so well known were his tricks.

He refocused his efforts in Fun City.

He uses many names and for a while he was going by the incredibly corny name of Harry Potter. Charming and intelligent, he can talk about a range of subjects from current affairs to world events to what is going on in Pattaya.

With the hunt resumed in Pattaya, he would troll around town, particularly Soi Buakow, and pick up women and invite them back to his long-stay hotel for a swim before retiring upstairs. Next was where his expertise kicked in as he would come up with all manner of lies and schemes to ditch the girls without paying anything. He is quite proud of his prowess in this area and eager to share this knowledge and skill with anyone who cares to listen.

The boiling point came after he got others involved with his lies and the girls started to bad talk him so much at the place he was staying that he was forced to leave. He threatened to trash talk the establishment and sure enough, his posts were exactly as he said he would, posting under the user name "blue eyes".

Not so long ago he found himself a protégé, an Aussie guy. Now this guy also went through many girls as well but he left after a couple of weeks. Our main character's scam was that he got the black book of phone numbers from the Aussie and called the girls pretending to be the Aussie and set up a meeting. He would go and check the girl out and wait until the girl realised that the Aussie was not showing and swoop in. He said it was surprisingly effective and he would send photos back to the Aussie.

But he is not alone in his ways. There are a number of guys who prey on these girls and who avail themselves of the girls' services without providing any remuneration whatsoever. As I have said, the system is flawed, at least from the girls' point of view.

When backed into a corner he will go and slander all and sundry on the various internet discussion forums. Unfortunately this can result in establishments getting a bad rep when it really isn't deserved. It also leaves a trace of where he has been, and where he is accessing the internet from.

While he loves this life in Pattaya, he is considering a move up into Isaan. It would seem that he is getting low on funds and relocating to the northeast would seem to be a means of making whatever finances and income he has go that much further. As he becomes more and more desperate, the likelihood of another of his scams coming to the fore increases.

What this fellow has managed to expertly exploit is the Thais' seeming total inability to read farangs. Many Thais, especially the poorer Thais, just seem to have no idea what sort of person we are. While judging a book by its cover can often result in getting it wrong, they really have no idea about us. Dress well, speak politely and you'll get the thumbs up. That said, the average farang is just as bad at reading a Thai.

I remember my mother in law telling me a while back that meeting me to check me out before I married Mrs. Stick was largely a pointless exercise. She said to me that she could spend time with a Thai, someone from Laos, someone from Isaan (she makes a distinction between general Thais and those of Isaan) or even someone from China, and she would have a good idea of what they were all about, but bring a farang into the fold and she had absolutely no idea. Unlike most Thais, she will actually admit that she is blind to the ways and the nuances of farangs, and cannot read us at all.

But for the star of this story, preying on these girls in Thailand, conning them, and ripping them off. Come on, that's getting out of hand.

But it DOESN'T amaze me that he has got away with this for so long. He must have literally done the dirty with hundreds of girls and apart from a few reported run ins, things have yet to go bang. And I don't know if they will. My feeling is that if things do catch up with him, it will only be because farangs got involved.

The way that many women in the farang sector of the naughty nightlife accept payment is one of its charms, but for the girls themselves the system is fundamentally flawed. And if something does go wrong, many are scared of going to the police for help, fearing that admitting themselves to be a sex worker will not result in the full co-operation of the police, particularly in a tourist area where police hassling visitors, whether justified or not, can have a detrimental effect on the number of foreign tourists.

Like I say, while I hardly admire nor condone what he has done, I am not surprised that he has got away with this for so long. And if what some of the girls in Pattaya say is true, there are a number of guys like him.

Ripping off prostitutes is seriously uncool.


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was Soi Thaniya

Where is that – from 1975?

Last week's picture was taken from Silom Road, under the Sala Daeng BTS station, looking down Soi Thaniya. This week's picture is from 31 years ago, and is actually really not that hard! You know it! By the way, if Bangkok from the past interests you, check this out. 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 forth 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

One vote of confidence.

You're essay this week, about interacting with the poor, is spot on. You're right, in the West there are SO many in the middle class that it feels easier to interact socially with just about anyone you happen across, so long as they're not wearing a formal tuxedo or a cardboard box for pants. My wife is solidly from the Thai middle class in Bangkok, and she is very wary of the poor herself. She is kind to them, never speaks down to them, but she's not about to get too involved with them, and for the reason you mention: They'll want her money. When I first came to Thailand in the 1980s, my job was specifically to interact with the poor upcountry, but as soon as they discovered I really had no big agency money to spread around, the vast majority – but by no means all – lost interest in me. It is not elitist to recognize that this is a different world than the West, and you just can't get let yourself be an easy touch. And it's not politically incorrect to say so, but I'll bet you get a lot of angry e-mail.

Make that two.

You are spot on this week and mirror exactly my own experiences of living and working in Thailand, though I have the good fortune to work with very well educated Thais, I concur fully with what you have commented on this week. Nor is it the first time I have heard this argument. I first came across this view in "Pictures From The Water Trade' by John David Morley ISBN 0-00-654146-1. He writes of his experience moving into Japanese society and makes the exact same observation regarding 'the service providers', what in Japan are called the water trade (specifically, bars, restaurants, hotels etc), the first contact a foreigner has with a culture. I read the book and had my own experiences confirmed. I took the message and changed my socializing from bars to joining clubs and societies – I never looked back.

Three?

I must say I agree with you about interacting with the lower strata of Thai society. When I first arrived in Thailand, I made a conscious effort to talk to taxi drivers to pass time, but really got sick of it after a while, particularly with sob stories and being hit up for money. I don't think it is a language thing as even at the end of 1998 my Thai was quite good and I can't recall ever being asked for money. However, by the beginning of 1999, myself and some friends noticed that taxi drivers started to increasingly look at us farangs as ATMs. We even made a conscious effort to take the bus for a while instead of taxis and if taking a taxi not to talk to taxi drivers at all. I speculated that the word must have got out there that farangs were easy marks. I had a policy of never tipping taxi drivers who asked for money. If I wasn't asked for money and I had no complaints about the driving, I would usually round it up to the nearest twenty baht figure or a maximum tip of twenty baht. There are some exceptions to every rule, but as a general rule, I also didn't date girls or make friends with Thais who didn't have a university degree / were currently students. I don't think it is snobbish in the least, but it is something I learnt overtime was a good starting point.

Four!

As fate would have it, after reading your column about the hazards of conversing with the average Thai and being rewarded with a hard-luck story, I went out for the evening and, on my way home, stopped at Carrefour. As I was paying for my groceries, I asked the cashier, "Khun mai yim, pen arai khrap?" ("You're not smiling, what's wrong?" To which she responded, "Mai mee kwam suk" ("I'm not happy.") Then I made the mistake of asking why. "Mai mee tang," she answered sadly, and proceeded to tell me all the problems her lack of money was causing in her young life. I flashed on the point of your column, expressed sympathy and got out of there as quickly as I could. We cannot fix all their problems.

Farangs are 15% of the industry?

If we are talking about hookers who work with foreigners it is difficult to estimate. Percentage wise and I have been told this by Thai guys, is that the use of Thai hookers by foreigners is about 15% out of the total of working girls in Thailand. In nearly every town that I have done work in, some very small, there is a place to find working girls. I had only known of these because of the Thai guys I work with. Mainly the vast majority of these girls would never go with a farang because of the fact that their customers have only ever been Thai. From their mouths! So just to get to my point. "IF" there are for example 30,000 Thai girls servicing foreigners then there are 200,000 in the industry. Taking into account all the different forms of this occupation this is a conservative estimate. If, and a very big if at that, there were no foreigners using these services it would have a small impact on the number of girls working but a much greater impact on the money this industry takes in. Just a couple of points to take into consideration in view of the topic and responses I have seen.

Are we not wanted?

I have been reading Stickmanbangkok for 4 years, and often hear about how expats are received by Thais. I just read a report by Gallup International Association’s 2005 Voice Of The People survey, which surveyed which countries were the most receptive to immigrants. Canada ranked #4 (yes, I am Canadian), with 74% of Canadians considering immigration to be a good thing for the community (new blood: new ideas, new energetic workers, etc.). Turkey was the worst, with 87% of the population saying that immigration is no good. Guess who came in second last? That’s right, Thailand, with 82% of the population saying that immigration is not good for the community. With such a large percentage, certainly many high-so, and most middle class (of which many are western educated), also do not think much of immigration. Is it any wonder then why we read so much about how badly we are treated…it’s not only the bargirls that think badly about us.

Is Club Boesche thinking of re-positioning itself? It seems they are looking at soi 6 as their new location if what some tourists are getting up to on those comfy sofas at the back is anything to go by. If you have to diddle, do it at Soi 6!

All of this website blocking by the Ministry of Information is getting totally out of control in Thailand. For at least two separate periods over the past week, Hotmail, one of the world's biggest websites, and one which I simply cannot fathom how it could end up on the banned list, was blocked. What will be next, Google? This is RIDICULOUS!

The Kiwi infiltration of Nana Plaza has begun. At least one Kiwi has a stake in the Crown Group hierarchy, and I can now confirm that a New Zealander was to take over the Cathouse yesterday. This is the dawn of a new Nana Plaza. It won't be long before all bars will show archives of All Blacks rugby, where New Zealand beers will be the only beers available, where roast lamb will be available at every bar……ok, time for me to wake up!

Silver Dragon Bar in Nana Plaza is offering two drinks for the price of one before 9:30 PM, and it seems to be paying dividends as they have been busier than a lot of places earlier in the night. Pretty girls at the bottom of the escalators are aggressive in handing out vouchers and letting all and sundry know about the special.

After quite a period of ups and downs, and something of a soap opera script, Pretty Lady in Nana Plaza has closed once again. Their girls have dispersed around Nana Plaza. Angelwitch has taken on a bunch as have several other bars like PlaySkool and the Rainbow bars. Pretty Lady seemed to be recovering their trade following the first closure, but now a second closure will really damage their business. Both staff and customers are disillusioned by this recent turn of events. Two closures in such a short period of time won't do their reputation any good.

While The Farang Connection might still be open, it would seem to be doing its best to scare customers away. In something of a bizarre recent trend, various bars in the naughty nightlife areas seem to be trying to outdo each other and see who has the loudest sound system. One regular reader was sitting at the Hog's Breath Saloon, some 60 feet away from The Farang Connection, yet him and his mates could not hear themselves! And this was at 6PM, way too early for the dancers. You've got to ask the question about a bar that is only a few 8 feet wide but has a sound system that can fill Nana.

Just as was predicted in last week's column, the 2 AM closing didn't last long. Despite the fact that it is a quiet time of year, bars have been closed early. In the second half of this week it was closing at 1 AM sharp at Nana and Soi Cowboy. The reasons given were that it is the period of the World Cup and there had been too much drinking and gambling.

Bully's now has English commentary on the World Cup on the BIG SCREEN and plasma screens. Catch the semi-finals and final there.

And still speaking of Bully's, they will have a BBQ buffet on Tuesday July 4th to celebrate the US Independence Day. BBQ ribs and chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw and watermelon from 5 PM – 8 PM, free for all customers. Show your original US passport to Boss Hogg (he's the hansum man sitting in the corner) from 5 PM – 8 PM and get your first Bud on Bully's.

Bulls do fly! Bully's was recently featured in a half page spread in Thai Airways' Sawasdee in-flight magazine June issue, circulated throughout the international and domestic flight routes of Thai Airways. Now if they can get a bunch of Thai Airways' stewardesses in there then it will be REALLY busy!

People out and about much later than I am suggest that soi 7/1 seems to be the spot for a late night drink.

There was a display for Miller Lite on Soi Cowboy, much like you would see in a supermarket – but where were the free samples?! Never mind, my American friends hardly rave about this particular brew.

Yet another reminder in a long list of warnings that you roll the dice when you go with freelancers. A long-term resident got hit this week by a girl in what would seem to be a slightly new approach. He didn't get drugged via a Mickey in a drink, but in his food! She made a big thing about going out to get some food for them and gave it all to him, neglecting to touch it herself. He wolfed it down and woke up the next day to find that she had taken off with his ATM card! Of course it is useless to her without a code. If she is stupid enough to try and use it she will pop up on the radar and may even get caught. The vast majority of incidents of this type are with freelancers. A barfine does give you some piece of mind.

It's been overcast and rainy all week in Pattaya. Not good. Few farangs. Noted drop among European tourists, though many Koreans, Taiwanese, Chinese tour groups.
Pattaya hotel trade association says occupancy rate is about 60%, but some hotels report much higher. A source at Marriott, for example, says the hotel is nearly full.

Someone has published a book titled: "How to Write English Love Letters." Now, for just 128 baht, your average bargirl has access to the most heartrending quotes in almost perfect English. Suitable for eliciting funds, generating sexual desire, or cementing a life-long commitment (or two or three) from one or more kwai whose home is abroad but whose heart is in Thailand. The book is being used – if not yet by bar girls (it is new) then by entrepreneurial sorts in and outside of internet shops. These sorts use it to write emails for bargirls – some of whom never even step foot near the internet shop except to pay for services rendered. In some cases it’s a small fee, in other cases it’s a percentage of the proceeds contributed by the smitten (duped) farang. Often, the service provider reads and responds appropriately to all mail from farangs. No need for the bargirl to get involved, waste her time, brain and talent. If you read Thai, you might want to invest 128 baht. If not, just be aware that your teeruk might be using a book or even a ghostwriter when sending you all those sweet nothings and requests for funds.

Again this week daily rains and the World Cup have contributed to depleted business for Pattaya nightspots up and down the coast. Ladies of the night were particularly petulant having experienced tumbling incomes both from lady drinks and offs just as month-end bills came due and went unpaid. In contrast, those bars offering live World Cup coverage fared well. Even though tourist numbers are down (estimated by nearly a third), punters are hanging out longer to watch the games on the tele and drinking more while watching. Many such beer bars remain open well past the 1 AM curfew. Local police lend a blind eye to such infractions so long as there is no drunken behavior in public. Walking Street has been exempt from the curfew since January.

If you're driving in Pattaya, be careful, and be aware that in addition to pot holes and other road menaces, you are likely to encounter open man holes – no small problem. Thieves have made off with about 2 million baht worth of man-hole covers in the last year alone – leaving a hole in the city budget and a whole lot of open man-holes in city streets. You don't want to be driving your motorbike into one!

For those of you who are into underage girls or boys, the police in Pattaya have been particularly diligent of late in staking out those establishments catering to P4P pedophiles. Let's hope the pedos are caught.

In continuing bad news former patrons of Pink Panther expecting just a remodeling and return to a gogo format will be shocked to find the remodeling has resulted in what can be politely described as a gay Hollywood director's vision of a high class hotel bar. There are low overstuffed chairs randomly place around the grey dimly-lit interior with small tables attending. The tables are just the right height to bang your knees while trying to negotiate your way around the bar. There were no dancers in sight and unless they take to dancing on the tables it looks like dancing is gone at Pink Panther.

The news is even worse in the bar next door that was a boy bar. The two bars are not physically connected but the interior design is the same as next door but they have several aggressive katoeys guarding the entrance and they have been grabbing unsuspecting people walking by and trying to physically drag them into this bar. It is only a matter of time before some startled farang knocks one of these creatures on their remanufactured butts. A good area to steer clear of, unless katoeys are your thing.

And the worst news for last. Since the return of the master of the universe closing time has been put back to exactly 1 AM sharp all over The Pong. Starting Friday night the boys in brown have been under strict orders that closing time is 1:00 AM sharp and not a minute later. The local boys are not happy about it either but word has come down from high up that someone is flexing his muscles proving that he is still in charge.

In some of the little good news going around the Pong, Club Electric Blue has outfitted some of the dancers in tiny short shorts and skimpy tops and have them dancing on the floor area table tops – and they look pretty good.

The management changes at SuperStar have resulted in a full line up of dancers back in action but the new manager must have gotten deaf working in Kings Group bars as the music level is now set a jetplane take off level.

At Pussy Connection the changes have made a big difference and now it is sometimes hard to find an empty place to sit.

Is the Big T about to be renovated?! The full of character (and characters) underground bar appears to be undergoing some sort of transformation. All of the (pause for snickering) artwork, decor, pictures, whatever you want to call it, are off the nicotine stained walls in what can only be preparation for a new lick of paint. The Big T is of course the Thermae.

For any bi-sexuals out there, get your ass over to Rainbow 4. Quite a few of the doormen and waiters over there give some male customers the glad eye. I doubt they can be barfined as such but am sure arrangements could be made. Of course, for the 98% of us who are totally straight, the lecherous looks in their eyes can be quite perturbing.

Patpong was totally dead on Thursday night. I sat in Safari for over 20 minutes and for a period was the only customer there. But pretty much all of Patpong was quiet. Those two days, Wednesday and Thursday, when there were no World Cup matches, were quiet in most areas. It seems that many locals needed a chance to catch up on their sleep after staying up late to watch the matches earlier in the week.

By the way, a neat new section was added to the site this week. This section here features a full scan of all 66 pages from a free guide called "Bangkok After Dark" which was published way back in September, 1967. Well worth a nosey!

And Wednesday and Thursday, the two days this week when there weren't any World Cup matches, were the two busiest days for this site according to the site's stats. There is a real correlation between the timing of World Cup matches, and a noticeable drop in website traffic.

Back in 2003 and 2004 we used to go to The Londoner often. Good food, good drinks and good promotions made it a fun spot. It was also relatively quiet early in the evening – both the number of customers and the music level – so you could enjoy good conversation. But The Londoner has changed quite a bit recently, and is changing its image as much as anything – and I for one am not so sure about it. The central area has all the tables laid out with flash looking table cloths and they have these fancy looking new menus too – of course, new menus means new prices. There are more British pubs in Bangkok than ever before, so I can understand them differentiating themselves from the competition, but I just can't make up my mind about it. A mix between a British pub and a restaurant….strange sort of mix.

Rumour has it that Metropolis FM, which would have to be the expat favourite, will be no longer at the end of this month. A real shame really, given that it was not that long ago that Virgin FM disappeared too.

The bar on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 22 and Washington Square, Danny's Corner, has changed ownership recently and is now being managed by Som, together with her sister. After a few issues in the past, it seems that they are now a serious establishment. Som takes a lot of time and trouble explaining to newbies how things work in Thailand and makes a real effort to find accompaniment if required.

Has anyone seen Nick Hannah, pictured here? Nick left his home in Kheharomkiao on Thursday 22 June where he was teaching. He was apparently headed for Pattaya although whether he arrived there or not isn't known. He is described as tall, well-built and strikingly handsome with blue eyes and dark blonde hair. If you have come into contact with Nick since the previously mentioned date his sister in the UK would be very grateful to hear from you. Her name is Hannah Lawrence and she can be reached by telephone: 01342 835167 or 07784 586 167 or email: [email protected] or [email protected].

And in the second of this week's message board notices, we are being read in Argentina. I’m an American journalist living in Buenos Aires (here are my stories) and I am working on a book about American freelancers in countries like Argentina, Mexico and Thailand who work for US clients, usually in tech / design / writing via broadband Internet. Think of a pop economics / sociology book like David Brooks's Bobos in Paradise, except more Expats in Paradise. I am looking for "free agents" who are abroad, if only for a few months each year, and earn in dollars and spend in pesos / baht / reales as a way to live less work-obsessed lives. If this describes you or a friend, please write [email protected].

Quote of the week come from a reader talking about the recently renovated Hollywood Strip. "That place is so white you think you must be in an operating room."

It has been a bad week for the Aussies. They were cruelly knocked out of the World Cup, perhaps 'robbed' would be a better word. And now, the second young Australian in a week has been shot in Thailand. Last week, a young Australian nurse was shot in the Kanchanaburi area and succumbed to her injuries a couple of days later. This time, another young Aussie was shot in the Chanthaburi area. He survived and is expected to make a full recovery, but not before he has spent a fair bit of time in the Kingdom's hospitals. And it is not just the Aussies who are dropping. A fellow countryman of mine, a Kiwi, was stabbed to death in Bangkok last night, just 32 years old… RIP.

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: Where can a nice American man meet a nice farang woman here in Thailand? I live and work here in Bangkok but I'm just not into Thai girls or hookers! Imagine that! Yes, there are men here who do enjoy nice women. So, if you can point me in the right direction that would be cool.

Mr. Stick says: Difficult one this. A lot of the single Western women here are teachers, so you could go to some of the spots where teachers hang out, meaning British pubs and a few spots in and around Khao Sarn Road. As far as single, professional farang women go, they may be out there, but I do not see them in serious numbers.

Question 2: Here’s a question I would like to pose to you: I have found that the Thais I know, both lower and middle class, seem to enjoy sitting around doing almost nothing. Perhaps I am a little too focused on being productive and almost always have a bunch of jobs to do around the house, but when we make our yearly trip to Thailand, I find myself getting bored very fast, if we are not sightseeing or traveling. I have just landed amidst a bunch of easy going people or is it a national trait? I can’t imagine passing an entire day just sitting around.

Mrs. Stick says: I guess it depends on many things, such as the time of year you visit and the places you visit. In the countryside in the hot season a lot of people will take naps, and many people have a nap at lunch time. After working hard, or after a long drive, people may have a short nap too. I don't think this is only in Thailand that it happens, but in other hot countries too. In cities you will not see people sleeping during the day as much as you do in the countryside.

Question 3: My girlfriend's sister arrived on our doorstep having just visited her folks, but with some excess luggage – her father. He has now been staying here for two weeks, and to date there's no sign of him leaving. As it happens he has the same disposition as my girlfriend so he's not really a problem. But apart from not being consulted prior to his arrival the subject of his departure has not been raised. Coming from the West when my own family makes an offer of hospitality in the same breath they ask when I will be leaving, so you can understand I find this situation somewhat different to say the least. My friends have been joking maybe he'll never leave, so what's your advice whereby face will be saved all round?

Mrs. Stick says: I presume that you are not married, otherwise you would not refer to her as your girlfriend. If this is a long-term girlfriend, then her father may be worthy of the same level of respect that you would give him if he was your father in law. But if this is only a short term girlfriend then that changes things. Irrespective of the length of time you and she have been together, it is important that your girlfriend's father is not made aware of your desire for him to leave, and that any hints about his departure are done through your girlfriend. In Thai families, older relatives, particularly grandparents, might spend periods of time with different family members who take turns to look after them. I think you have to subtly find out what your girlfriend has planned for her father, and then mention that perhaps another family member could take their turn looking after him.

I really was unsure whether to run the opening piece that I ended up with in last week's column, you know, where I discussed how I feel happier when I avoid having much in the way of commercial dealings, or social contact, with the poorer people in Thailand. I thought I would get slammed for it by email, but much to my surprise, there was not one negative piece of feedback. Not one! This is in total contrast with most weeks when there are always a few people who email, disagreeing with either something in the opening piece, or perhaps some comments from something else written in the column. It made a nice change!

But let me re-iterate that all feedback is welcome, be it positive, negative, or otherwise. I sure don't want to give the impression that feedback that doesn't constitute praise isn't welcome.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


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