Stickman's Weekly Column September 17th, 2006

It’s Time To Throw Her Out!



We all make mistakes in Thailand. It is all part of the learning process.

Some of us have allowed a tuktuk to take us around a number of stores where we may or may not have purchased something at a heavily inflated price. It's only a few baht, and we'll get over it. Then there are the guys who walk into a gogo bar and immediately wai the staff. Now this is pretty dumb. There are countless other mistakes we make, but most merely cost a few baht, and you get over it.

But there is one common mistake that many of us make in Thailand, and one in which the consequences are perhaps a little more serious. That problem is trying to fix the mistake of moving out a lady who we had invited to move in with us, who was perhaps not quite what we are looking for. After a while we may decide, or discover, that she really is not for us, and that it is time for her to move on….because after all, there are a heap more fish in these bountiful waters. But it is not going to be easy. She has gone and moved in all of her possessions, all of her belongings. She doesn't work, and she doesn't have an income. And to make matters worst of all, everyone knows that she has moved in with you, so moving her out is going to result in that most dastardly of issues in these parts, LOSS OF FACE!

I'll never forget the episode of a good friend who took in a young lass. He hadn't been in Thailand long and I guess he probably blames me for it all, because after all, it was me who took him down the steps to the underground cavern, the Big T, the Thermae, the venue where he was to meet a lady he shacked up with for a while.

At first she was pleasant enough, providing companionship for someone new to Bangers. He didn't love her and he was not really in a position to provide for her, so he paid all the bills, all the meals, and occasionally she would go out and work – and make the pocket change that was needed. Yeah, it was an odd relationship, but despite its oddities, he treated her well.

One Sunday afternoon him and I had been out and about in the big city and returned to his apartment to find her writhing on the bed, perspiring heavily and in genuine pain. I'm not medical expert but this was real. She was in a bad way. As he had some medical training he was able to work out that this was indeed something serious and he rushed her to the nearest decent hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. Let's just say that this problem, exclusive to woman, was almost directly attributable to her time in the industry.

She was in the hospital for a few days and he visited her a few times and generally was extremely good to her. I never was quite sure on what arrangements were made for the bill, but I think she agreed some sort of term payment plan. She was visited by family in hospital but upon her release she returned to stay with him. He was very good to her and looked after her well.

After making a fairly quick recovery she was forced to return to the big T as she now had a debt to pay off, about 60,000 baht odd if my memory serves me right. She would go there at night, work, and come home in the middle of the night to his apartment. He had moved into a cheaper apartment building by this time as he was an English teacher and wasn't earning a great deal of money.

I remember commenting on the situation and how strange it was that she would go out and work and come home to him, late at night, most nights. I never considered it a great situation but hey, it wasn't my business, was it? While she continued to provide companionship, over time she became lazier and lazier, and eventually he started to find her a burden. This was not a relationship that was going to go anywhere and as a young, presentable guy, he knew he had real options finding someone else. He knew that he had to get her out.

At some point they had an argument, a big argument. I never did know what it was about, but it was a good one from all accounts.

I got home early one evening and the answerphone was flashing that I had 4 messages. WTF? I didn't even know 4 people back then. The first message was from him. "Can you give me a call. I have a slight problem." The second message was from him too. "Give me a call as soon as you get home. It is important." The third was also from him. "I have a major problem so please call me now", followed by the last one which was "Don't even bother calling – just come straight on over when you get this!" Being the good mate that I am, I did just that.

When I arrive at his place, another apartment building in the neighbourhood about 10 minutes walk away, I find him outside the building with his live-in hurling abuse at him and trying to kick him and hit him. She was accompanied by the hillbillies, her really rough looking relatives who had obviously answered her pleas for help. They had brought the pick up truck and all of her stuff was being loaded into it. Despite the fact that she was a whore (and yes, that word *IS* the best choice here) she was trying to demand money from him, even though his monthly income at that time was a measly 25,000 baht a month.

She had always liked me and upon my arrival she cooled down a bit. His Thai was poor so her and I started chatting in Thai, her giving me a barrage of abuse about him with me using the tried and tested tactic that appeases every wild woman, nodding and agreeing with all that she said. Well, at least she stopped trying to kick him at that point! She wanted compensation and was trying to demand money before leaving. She tried to argue that she had been good to him, had looked after him and had ummm, err, serviced him, and now she wanted to be compensated for that! As I said, he had very little and so he gave her a very small amount, about 1,500 baht or so, from memory, and off she went. But much worse than the money, all of this drama had taken place at the main lobby area. The security guard just stood there and did nothing while other residents made their way in and out of the building, carefully walking around the action. While not the flashest building in town, his reputation there would never be the same again.

You see, Thai women don't just see moving out as moving out. They are moving out of what is almost certainly a more comfortable place than they will be moving into, that is if they even have money to move into a nice place. The nice lifestyle they are giving up may not be easily replicated. Any financial advantage that they had by living with their guy will be lost. To them, moving out is much the same as getting a divorce – and there are no common law marriages in Thailand, so she essentially gets nothing! She knows that! Don't think she is going to go without a fight!

Moving a local woman out is never easy. There are three things that you not only have to consider, but you have to manage carefully.

The first is financial. It might be that she has no money, or worse still, she doesn't even have a job. In a case like this you must give her something to see her through for a month or two. For cheap Charlies, that could be a significant amount of money… and so this is made all the more difficult if you don't have any money or are a low income earner such as a teacher. I'll get abused for making this generalisation, but it does seem from my email inbox that it is the younger teachers, new to Thailand, who make the mistake of moving in young bargirls faster than any other single group, and then bitching and moaning that she wants half a month's salary to move out. What do you expect?

The second issue to consider is practical. She is going to need a place to live – and she is going to need all of her stuff moved there. Of course it is true that most girls can find a friend to stay with for a while. Thais are really good about taking in friends or family in need. At the risk of generalising, if she was a bargirl, she will most likely have heaps of friends who would happily take her in, in fact they probably wouldn't even blink at the sight of her arriving on the door with her stuff. But that leads in to….

The third issue is the biggy. Face. This is the one that is most difficult to manage. By throwing her out, not only is she going to feel bad, she is going to feel terribly rejected. Thai women tend to be a bit more sensitive about such things than Western women. And given that all of her friends and quite possibly her family, most likely know that she has been shacked up with a Westerner, she is going to be looked at with suspicion as many of her friends and family may all feel that she was not good enough to keep her man and that was the very reason why she was kicked out (which is quite true). The loss of face on her part will be dreadful and oh so awful to deal with. Remember, if this was a lady who never worked in the bar industry, and perhaps had had few boyfriends before, the shame is going to be significant. Just the fact that she had experienced farang makes her very much used goods in the eyes of many Thais.

One strategy here is to say to her that the reason the two of you cannot continue is because that you are a bad guy and that you cannot live with someone. Make it seem as if the problem is you. Tell her how wonderful she is and how great she is to be with etc. but it is you who has got a few issues and you need time to sort those out yourself. This allows her to retain face, to some extent. But it really isn't easy.

A few months back in the lobby of the condo where I live, a well-presented mid '30s English guy who spoke excellent Thai and who always dressed in nice suits, (this guy would rate highly with all Thai women), was having a huge row with his live-in who clearly was not from a bar background. I had just come back from my morning walk and took a seat at the other end of the lobby where I feigned reading the newspaper as this wench screamed obscenities in both English and Thai, making the most vicious threats all while the security guards stood by grinning! "I'll smash everything you own. I'll wreck your car. I'll tell everyone at work what a bastard you are. You won't stay in my country another day if you don't compensate me for the time we were together." He had apparently ordered the guards to prevent her from entering the building even though she had been living with for some time. One of the guards told me that he left the building a few days later. It was a quite awful scene, my description of it not doing it justice at all. This woman was totally out of control, using threats and blackmail to get what she wanted.

Of course if you don't move them in in the first place then you'll never have these problems! Seriously, if you move a Thai lady in with you, unless it is expressly agreed that it is a temporary thing, it can be very difficult, and very stressful to move them out. Stories of the number of women who have gone berserk at even being asked to leave is large, and the number of guys who have literally had to move their entire apartment in hours while she was out is not small. Think carefully before you give them a key!


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was Pattaya Bay.

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was taken at Pattaya, late at night, looking out at a couple of apartment buildings, with Jomtien over the hill behind them. 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. Please remember that we do have a prize provider in Pattaya, my favourite bar in Pattaya, Catz. However, there seem to be few people in Pattaya sending in answers. If no-one from Pattaya gets it this week it may be time to pull that prize. 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! Also, if you are in Pattaya, please let me know so you can be eligible for that prize!

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

The immigration crackdown.

One thing I have noticed over the 24 years of living here is that when he authorities crack down on some long established abuse of certain rules they usually at the same time or somewhat later change the regulations in such a way that everybody can live with it again. As an example, some years ago the embassies in surrounding countries stopped issuing multiple entry Non Immigrant visas. This was very inconvenient to all those people with work permits who could not get a year visa at the time. Then they changed the rules so that anyone with a work permit now can get a one year visa. I suspect something similar will happen here and will probably change the situation for the better.

It happens every few years and will blow over.

The latest Immigration thing is just what they do every so many years. In '95 or was it '96 when the WTO were meeting in BKK they were worried about the IRA and Immigration went around Khao Sarn, even to Soi Zero, looking for Irish to get rid of. A lot of very aggrieved Irish that week. In '94 they used to stamp your passport after 3 tourist visas in Penang – 'Applicant must apply for a work permit' – and in those days work permits were like rocking horse shit. Nothing has changed much!

Major confusion.

Major questions hang in the air regarding the new tourist visa policy. Significantly, is it a new rule or a stricter enforcement of existing rules? Does this not conflict with the government's goal to make Bangkok a 'hub of everything'? Say a traveller flies into Bangkok for a few days, then on to Luang Prabang, back to Thailand for a beach break, off to Siem Reap for some temples, then back to Thailand. By the proposed policy, the next trip out of Thailand will be his last. If he wishes to visit the Philippines, Malaysia or Singapore, he must find his homeward flight from there (though he could transfer through Bangkok, he couldn't leave the airport). Consider also the situation of a Western businessman in a neighboring country, say a hotelier in Siem Reap. How many times a year must they travel through Bangkok? They are ineligible for a non-immigrant B visa. Will their next visa on arrival be rejected? It is obvious a new, clearly enforceable law needs to be written. It is equally obvious that will never happen and they will continue to fiddle with imaginative ways to bend enforcement of the existing laws. I just hope they stop blurting out poorly conceived half-thoughts to the press before any real policy is in place.

The benefits of Westerners aren't seen?

The writing has been on the wall for all to see for years, the only difference is that now even the blind can read it. The pressures along this fault line obviously could stand no more, on one side of this seismic plate the Thais' outright discrimination and racism towards farangs, and on the other their sheer love of money. Translate hello as I want your money, and welcome as when are you leaving. Down here in Phuket the diving and real estate industries have both recently been run out of town. This shoot from the hip policy, without careful considerations of all the implications that will be involved again defies any form of logic. By comparison the UK economy has boomed with the recent influx of imported Polish workers. Why Thailand cannot accept and embrace the 21st century, whereby every man and his dog is now working from a laptop? There are no work permit boundaries in cyberspace. Okay for sure few would argue that the old re-entry system was totally used and abused, so why a well measured response cannot be thought through that would benefit both sides?

Japan cheaper than Thailand?!

I just want to comment on the prices of drinks there. Most bars in Japan now charge 500 yen for a drink, that is lower than the 200 baht equivalent in Thailand that you mention for beer. Only in the most up-market bars would the prices be higher. Thailand more expensive than Japan? I think I'll be drinking here more often in future. But I will say that female company is pricier than Thailand.

Make sure you wrap it up!

Tonight, Sunday 10 September a Pattaya bargirl who was diagnosed HIV positive ten years ago was interviewed on Thai TV. The interviewer asked her why she continued to prostitute herself knowing that she is HIV positive. Answer, "I want my revenge for the farang that gave me this"!

Women being women.

In last week's weekly a reader writes — "…all they can think about is making flirtatious eye contact with me giving me that sly, sexy 'come on' smile." He offers this as evidence of the basic behaviour of many Thai females and he finds it unappealing. I admit it does not bode well for a stable marriage to have the wife making eyes at other men but at the same time I believe it is a mistake to find it exceptional. Just as marriage and lifetime mating is an artificial social construct for men, so also is it for women. The generally accepted notion is that women benefit from the construct because they need a stable home life to raise children. However, that vastly simplifies other primal needs competing for attention. In the limited fertile years of the female with the clock constantly ticking, attracting men is what her life is all about. Don't believe me? Read any women's magazine. It is all the magazine talks about article after article, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade regardless of the country or the culture or the language. A women's being and success is measured by her ability to attract and hold and extract from men. And they are always looking either for additional validation of their powers or on a more practical level they are looking to trade up. This behaviour is not limited to Thai women but includes all women. So that woman that this gentlemen is being so judgmental of is just being a…woman.

The Office Bar, pretty much the most popular spot in Sukhumvit Soi 33 for a number of years, has been sold. Part owner Sam has already been paid and is essentially out of the loop while Bob will get his money paid over time in a deal that will see him stay on for one more year in what must make the highest paid bar manager in the industry. It will be interesting to see if any changes are made – you'd hope not as they have a winning formula already.

Also in Soi 33, Mojos is doing well, with live music 5 times a week, boosted by a good number of regular customers who come along with their Thai wives or girlfriends. Vincent van Gogh is having difficulties with a number of girls leaving and very few customers most nights. Apart from that Soi 33 has been quiet for the past couple of weeks.

A dance contest will be held at Hollywood Rock in Nana Plaza on Thursday, September 28. To clarify, that is the ground floor Hollywood bar – there are three bars with Hollywood in the name in Nana Plaza.

Bully's Pub turns 2 on Tuesday, September 19 and they will be celebrating it in cowboy fashion with the "Bully's Wild West Pint Party" from 6:30 – 10:00 PM which will include 100 baht pints of the good stuff – Guinness / Kilkenny / John Smith, 60 baht Heineken and Tiger at just 50 baht. There'll also be Tequila slammers, Jello shots and Upside Down Kamikazes as well as a BBQ dinner. And you can listen to the sounds of T-Bone live from 10:30 onwards.

Pattaya rains are picking up steam. Tuesday brought a huge downpour that flooded streets throughout the city and Friday night brought even heavier rains that brought Pattaya to a standstill – transforming Soi Buakao into a river. Nightspots city-wide suffered. October weather is expected to be even worse – traditionally the heaviest downpours come in October.

Secrets Bar and Nightclub in Pattaya Soi 14 is hosting two huge events which promise great food, music and fun. The first party – Fixkix – is tonight (Sunday September 17) at 8 PM. All are invited for a night of fun and frolics, not to mention a free buffet. And before things cool down, the nightclub will throw its second bash – Stormy’s Super Slutwer Event – next Saturday. All hostesses will dress down to look as slutty or as slinky as possible. Again, a free buffet will be set out at 8 PM.

In the Covent Garden area, Catz will be hosting a party this coming Tuesday, 19 September, for Callum. There will be the usual pig on a spit, free food, and lots of fun.

A number of the big bars currently have a few less girls than usual. The quiet season is the reason and I would expect most to be back by late October.

The Fun House, at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 11, is now serving Beer Laos. It is also offering customers free wi-fi service. Happy hour is still the same – from 3:30 until 8:00 PM, all beers and well drinks are 70 baht or you can roll two dice to set your price (roll a 3 and pay 30 baht, roll a 9 and pay 90 baht, etc…) The shower dunk tank has been a big hit but the Beer Laos has been impairing everyone's ability to throw the carnival balls at the target (not to mention the wet girls in the shower)!

I spent a few hours in Nana Plaza on Friday night, checking out a few bars, trying to see if things had improved. Erotica had a lot of pretty girls totally infatuated with themselves and with that "my shit doesn't stink" attitude that has permeated so many of the bars in Nana. Pretty girls, but there are question marks over their attitude and the way it is run. Across to Rainbow 4, and then Rainbow 2, which were exactly the same. Heaps of pretty girls and heaps of attitude. I could not get out of there fast enough. These bars seem to typify Nana Plaza – pretty girls with attitude. Thankfully the night was saved by what is very clearly the best bar in Nana Plaza, Angelwitch. The prettiest girls, the best attitude and quite possible the best range of drinks with the likes of Beer Lao and San Miguel Light both well promoted. They've got a heap of new shows and those twins perform in a fair few of them. Even old Pin, who organises a number of the shows, starred in a couple. Sure, some guys might not like the show bar format, and some guys might complain that even with the recent expansion that it get so busy that it is hard to relax and enjoy yourself, but overall, Angelwitch is, in my eyes, clearly the pick of the bunch in Nana. It is almost as if the bar is out of place, it is that much better than the rest.

Most of the girls in the bars that farangs frequent come from a similar background. Born into poverty in Isaan, their parents didn't have the finances to send them all the way through school so they only got 6 or 9 years education, meaning that their chances of getting a job are difficult. Some do not even have a sufficient education to get a job at 7 Eleven. Falling pregnant at a young age shortly followed by the father doing a runner seals their fate in the bars. The backgrounds of so many of these girls is much the same. But there is one bar where there are a few girls who break the mould. Angelwitch in Pattaya has at least three girls dancing who graduated from university, successfully completing a bachelor's degree. Many years back you would occasionally get students of a certain large university found in the northeastern part of Bangkok moonlighting in the Thermae for some extra baht, but gogo girls who are university graduates is rare.

Following on from the opening piece in last week's column about the changing times and the current visa situation, I can pass on a few more rumours that have slipped through. The first is some clarification of the rule regarding entry into Thailand on what is termed anything from an entry permit to a visa on arrival to a standard 30 day visa. Call it what you will, I am referring to the 30 day stamp in our passport that we get if we arrive at the border without having got a visa from a Thai embassy or consulate abroad beforehand. Rumour has it that once you have had three entries into Thailand (of ANY duration) in a six month period, you cannot re-enter Thailand again for a period of 90 days on that type of 30 day visa stamp. Essentially you would either have to wait out the 90 days before returning, or go to a Thai consulate or embassy abroad and apply for a tourist or non-immigrant visa. Some officials from within the Immigration Department have said that they will happily allow people to come and go on tourist visas issued at Thai embassies and consulates abroad ad infinitum.

The criteria for the investment visa has also been changed. Before you had only to show either 3 million baht in a local bank account or that you had purchased a condo with funds brought into the country of 3 million baht or more. This figure has now been raised to 10 million, or about $US 267,000 equivalent. People who were already in the system at 3 million baht will be grandfathered through at that level. But it does have the cynics wonder just what will be next? Will they up the amounts required for retirement and marriage visas?

There are a few other visa options available. Aussies and Kiwis are lucky and have a real lifeline. Nationals of these two countries can apply for an APEC card which gets the holder a 90 day visa stamp on arrival. As it is designed for business people, one probably wants to look the part as they pass through Immigration. More details for Kiwis can be found here and for Aussies here. This card, at just $NZ150 (for Kiwis), essentially gives you a three year multiple entry visa into Thailand – or any other countries in the region – a BARGAIN. Of course there is always the Thailand Elite card. At a cost of 1,000,000 baht, you can join this "club" and get a special visa that is essentially a 5 year multiple entry visa. Membership of Thailand Elite is lifetime so in theory by paying a 1,000,000 baht fee you essentially get visa free entry to Thailand for life – that is if you have the confidence that the rules won't be changed.

It has to be said that the whole Immigration affair has been a public relations nightmare. From many farangs' perspective, confidence in Thailand has been dented and damage has been done.

The concept of up-selling is practiced the world over, but it has been taken to an extreme by Mantra in Pattaya. A long-term reader took his girlfriend to Mantra where she ordered one of the pork dishes, priced at a not exactly cheap, but still reasonable, 320 baht. The waitress then decided to try and up-sell, and offered the girl a steak dish….Kobe steak! Of course she neglected to inform the lady that that dish cost 3,600 baht. She also failed to consider that this is a specialty dish and one that is only usually ordered by the wealthy and / or genuine steak aficionados. I also have to wonder if the waitress would have offered this if the lady in question had been dining with a Thai female friend, as opposed to a Western man. The gentleman concerned almost had a heart attack when presented with a bill that he expected to be well under 1,000 baht coming in at 4,500 baht – 3,600 of that for the Kobe steak! It has to be said that this practice does occur in various places in Thailand and while up-selling in itself may be considered fair, in a case like this when the huge price difference was not explained to the girl, it smacks of the word SCAM. It is time to pull your socks up, Mantra…

The perils of getting involved with married women in Thailand are not to be underestimated. A report came in this week about a Belgian (?) national who was pursued and shot by the husband of a Thai women he was purported to have been bonking. He was followed to Phi Phi Island from Phuket where a hitman put a few bullets in him. The scene was viewed by a long time reader who saw it all outside the Aquanaut scuba office on Phi Phi. The body had been removed and they were hosing down the area and market stalls which he described as blood-splattered. There were plenty of onlookers and police, all Thai, and when he asked what had happened to a girl he knows in the local cafe she was very tight lipped. His impression was that they were all told to keep quiet about it.


The ultimate Thai dating site with ladies from all over Thailand!

More from Singapore this week. Apparently the recent Orchard Towers crackdown by the government – which has legalized prostitution in certain areas in the past few years as a way of controlling it – wants to keep the industry in certain areas, which include the Eunos and Geylang neighborhoods. It is said that Orchard Towers isn't the only place affected. Massage parlors staffed mostly by mainland Chinese women were becoming more numerous in the government housing estates in which about 80% of Singaporeans live so they shut down some of them and made rules for the remaining ones that mandate that all services be rendered in the open, without so much as a half-curtain for privacy. That may not be as heavy-handed as rounding up the women and deporting them, but I bet it has a similar effect! Don't worry, I am not going to be giving Singapore coverage every week – this is just follow up to the piece run last week.

Many of the locals think we're mad, and another farang did his bit to help cement that reputation. Sitting on the skytrain next to an office girl who looked like a right little hotty, he heard her say hello. He looked around and couldn't see any other farangs sitting around her so he said hello back. She then said "How are you" to which he responded that he was fine. She then asked where they would be going tonight to which he, a little confused, quickly thought about it and mentioned a place. Amazed at how forward this girl was – and on the skytrain no less – he thought that it was going to be his lucky night. He noticed that most of the passengers in the carriage sitting around him were looking at him rather curiously. He then turned to look at the girl next to him, who he had been talking to, and noticed that she had an earpiece. He then suddenly realised that she was most likely talking with her farang boyfriend via the earpiece which was part of her cellphone – and not to him at all!

Here is something worth knowing if you have a mobile phone. There is a simple way of making lost or stolen mobiles useless to thieves and the phone companies know about it – but keep it quiet. To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following on your phone: star-hash-zero-six-hash ( * # 0 6 # ) and a fifteen digit code will appear on the screen. This is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it safe. Should your mobile phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset, so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You won't necessarily get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use / sell it either. If everybody did this, there would be little point in stealing mobile phones. (Additionally type in (*#0000#) and you will get the phone version data. Save that also.)

Further to permanent markers on whiteboards, nail polish remover will do the trick and it only takes a minute.

We all know that corruption and a lack of transparency are endemic problems in Thailand but it is sad to read a site like BumrungradDeath which, while only about one operation at one hospital, makes one wonder about the entire healthcare industry in Thailand. Purportedly Thailand's best hospital, this website is so damning that I do not know how anyone could read it and step foot into that facility with confidence ever again. Read it and weep.

I love the title of this article on the excellent BBC news site, "Bangkok's Airport Faces Nervous Start".

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. 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: My Thai wife and I have been happily married now for 2 years. This marriage was hatched from a non-bargirl, educated and professional environment. I am 37, she is 27 and her parents are doing okay financially. Due to our job situation, we have been apart in our respective countries for about 60% of the time. At the time of our marriage, I encountered the typical dowry and family issues, but none that I would call excessive given the experiences that I have read on your site. We have reached a point where we are thinking about starting a family and was taken aback when told by a family member that this would require a presentation of money and gold to her parents. Through my research and reading, I have not encountered this – although I could just be misinformed. So my question: Upon the birth of a child, is there any Thai custom or requirement to the parents to ‘present’ cash and gold…and, if so, how much is typical?

Mrs. Stick says: I have never heard of this. Did you pay a dowry when you got married? Perhaps you didn't pay a dowry then and the parents expected one and now they think would be an appropriate time to pay? There is no dowry to be paid because of the birth of a child.

Question 2: What does the honorific Khunying mean and why is it used so seldom?

Mrs. Stick says: This is a title that is given to women who have done very good work for the country. Sort of like Sir Elton John. :)

Question 3: I have had a girlfriend in Bangkok for about one year now. She is fantastic and we both share the same quirky sense of humor. I brought her back to Australia once to see what I do and where I live, which is a country town 500 km from Sydney. To my surprise she said she loved where I lived and would swap city living any time for where I lived. She cried for the whole 500 km back to Sydney and did not want to leave. My question. She seems to get very hot under the collar for not very much reason sometimes and even cancelled a second ticket to Australia (my shout) because she got upset when I asked her to confirm something to me, claiming I didn't trust her. These bouts are usually followed by days or even weeks of no speaking, although normally we would communicate several times a day. I hear alarm bells ringing and wonder, oh man, just what these bouts would be like in the flesh. Why is she so jai rorn? Are many Thai girls like this? Am I being unrealistic? Or do you think long distance relationships are the problem?

Mrs. Stick says: I think you have communication problems. It might not just be with language but in being able to understand each other's needs. I guess if you are in Australia and she is in Thailand then it is going to be really hard. She might make certain suggestions or hints and perhaps you do not understand them. When you do spend time together I think you have to try really hard to understand each other. I think long distance relationships are very difficult. Is there any way for you to bring her to Australia?

Despite its total domination as the hot topic in expat circles, I am reluctant to comment much more than I have already on the visa hysteria that is gripping thousands of Westerners. Everyone has an opinion and we're all merely speculating about just what will happen, and what the consequences will be. I'm going to refrain from saying anything else until we really know what is going on. When the dust settles and the new policy is clear, I'll put a few more thoughts down. Remember when it comes to government department policy in Thailand the left hand does not always know what the right hand is doing. Call Immigration and ask them what the policy is and you'll hear one thing and then visit half an hour later and you'll hear another. Trink said it better than anyone – "This is Thailand."



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Thanks go out to Bangkok Grasshopper and Mr. Write.