Stickman's Weekly Column October 29th, 2006

A Day Off



With the beautiful weather we're having in Bangkok today, I took the day off. That means there is no opening piece as I was outside enjoying the sun and getting some fresh air. Still, there is heaps of news and views from around about, especially Fun City. Normal service should resume next week.

Stick


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was a vendor at the entrance to Nana Plaza.

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was easier than it looked! It was taken from Big Dog's, looking across at the vendor selling meat on a stick at the entrance to Nana Plaza. 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

"Binding Financial Arrangements" – cheaper in Farangland.

We are getting a pre-nup done – the proper term these days is a Binding Financial Arrangement. Australian lawyers I thought, would be very expensive. After spending so much time stuffing around with Thai lawyers, always having problems of one sort or another, I finally did some research for an Australian lawyer. Of the three I contacted, one turned out to be EXCELLENT. Excellent advice, and CHEAPER than all but one of the Thai ones. So now the Binding Financial Arrangement will be drafted and signed when we are both in Australia. Written in English, sure to comply with Australian law – and protecting assets in Australia. So, although I am surprised to say it, don't be fooled – professional services in Thailand may not even be cheaper than in the West, and the standard and quality of what you get in Thailand is something that is almost impossible to quantify – unless you speak fluent Thai.

The failings of other cultures.

Thailand is a good mirror to the failings of other cultures. We come to the table with pre-conceived notions that what is good for boys is not what is good for girls. If there was no sexism in our heads, nor in our language, then how would we evaluate Thailand? Every tribe needs to allow for a 'selection' time and a 'have-babies' time. First you go dating, then you get married. First you go shopping, then you make your purchase. Aside from letting your parents do the shopping for you, it cannot be otherwise. Yet many cultures pervert this all too necessary phase into something repressive (else be judged as bad). The result is "rebound", overdoing it, whenever people can escape those restraints. But still you hear it almost every time. The guy shops for a BG because that is where the selection is greatest, then desires to pull away from the party to do some "long-time" (make a little home nest). Hey, both are natural enough. Our instincts are not so bad after all! It's the cultural misinterpretations of those natural instincts that screw things up.

The ultra efficient grapevine.

Before I came to Thailand I read that tipping was not common, but after I arrived I saw that most places that catered for farangs also expected tips. So I continued to tip western-style – about 10% as a minimum. Last week brought home to me how much tipping has been incorporated into Thai culture and how fast the grapevine works in Bangkok. I was out drinking in Nana with a buddy who has a reputation for being a bit stingy. He ran up a bill of 700 baht and left a 10 baht tip. I left closer to 100 baht for a similar bill. Two nights later we were in another bar, but this time in Patpong. All night long my drinks arrived quickly and with a smile and plenty of flirting from the girls. But my friend was treated with no warmth at all. His drinks were slow in arriving and he needed to ask twice for everything. The girl I was sitting with whispered that he was "kii niiow" and that he left only 10 baht tip at her friend's bar two nights earlier. She had no idea that I already knew the story, but the gossip had travelled across the town and affected the service afforded him. Is it wise to tip? I don't know. But I had a great night out, while my friend was miserable for most of the night.

Thai person never wrong!

I have found most of the time when I have been in dispute with a Thai they always look for the farang to fork out, even when clearly the Thai is at fault, be it a car accident, business dispute, being over-charged in a bar, restaurant or shop even when it is clear the Thai is at fault. As much as I try to look into the Thai psyche I can’t fathom it out. It is most common with the masses but I have seen this trait with high class Thais also. The book “Working With Thais” touches on the subject but offers no explication. Perhaps there is none. Is the logic in the Thai thinking that farang are all stupid, all having too much money, nationalism, ignorance, loss of face or even a national conspiracy? Even in less developed countries I have spent time in, including India, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia I have not found this human trait so practiced as in Thailand.

One of those "Only in Thailand" moments.

I recently came through the new airport, which is only about 85% complete in my opinion. There's an instant-photo machine for people who use visa-on-arrival, and it's a pretty good franchise to have. 200 baht for 6 photos, a nice profit margin for an all-cash business so of course there's an attendant present 24/7. So there I was around midnight and I couldn't see the attendant anywhere. I walk around, behind the machine, and didn't see anyone. Glancing around, I caught the eye of an airport security guy and he gestured behind the machine. I stick my head around again, but see nothing once again. The security guy then gestures DOWNWARDS – and there she was. In a gleaming multi-billion dollar airport, there's a Thai woman curled up behind her kiosks on a pallet on the floor, getting some sleep. Only in Thailand.

The grass is always greener.

When you’re in Thailand, you want to be home. When you're home, you want to be in Thailand. For me, the same thoughts crossed my mind when I was living in Taiwan in 2004. Bullshit like "I don't have a retirement", "What am I really doing here?", "I don't have a business, or anything meaningful". Crap like that, and that is what made me go back to the US. Well, a few years later, and I still don't have any of that shit, so I might as well go back to Asia. Just walking down a soi and absorbing the environment does it for me. I miss the electricity I feel in my soul when everything is so unknown. I’ll never belong to the culture, and I don’t care.

And the driver fled the scene.

I was driving my girlfriend's car a few weeks ago, and a motorcycle crashed into the side of the car. He was ejected from his seat and rolled onto the bonnet / hood of the car. He did a not insignificant amount of damage to the driver's side door, front wing / guard, and bonnet. I was obviously shaken up by this and consequently I was slow to react to the situation. He picked himself up, and rode off at maximum speed, leaving me to cover the repair costs! The only saving grace was that it wasn't MY car that the idiot rode into.

Catz A Gogo (Covent Garden, Walking Street) will be holding their 1st anniversary party tomorrow, Monday 30th October. There will be a sacrificial pig on a spit in addition to trays of Bob Palmer's excellent pies, salads etc. Despite some of the opinions of the prophets of doom that said this location would never get off the ground, this bar goes from strength to strength. I was in there last Thursday night and had a great time. There are a lot of pretty dancers, as well as being about the friendliest bunch around. They have undoubtedly the best service staff in town and when you add attentive management to the mix you can see why this bar does well. The party starts at 8 PM – well worth a look if you are around. Thank the lord that this bar is in Pattaya, and not Bangkok, otherwise I would be in really big trouble…

The imaginatively titled "First Trip To LOS Party" will be held tonight, that is Sunday 29th, by 3 PattayaTalk.com members – Casper-uk, Talen & Chrisbrewer. The party will be held at the FLB Bar on Walking Street to celebrate that they have made it to Thailand at long last. The fun starts about 7:30 PM and there will be food supplied by Don Joe's Italian Restaurant. All are welcome.

If you are looking for a special place to enjoy Halloween then look no further than Angelwitch. Both Angelwitch bars are hosting a big party night and already Angelwitch in Nana Plaza is elaborately decorated for the big night. With a name like Angelwitch they really go to town, and they promise special shows and of course lots of Angelwitches.

Following on from the piece in last week's column about that 35K bar bill, a Tokyo based farang reports that when he was in town a little earlier this year he dropped over 100K baht at various bars around Nana Plaza on his last, absolutely insane night out. That must have been some night! Even at 130 baht a drink, that is several hundred drinks (and a lot of barfines too!).

Rumour has it that Angelwitch Bangkok are soon going to be taking reservations for punters. Well, not really, but that bar does such a roaring trade and appears to be the most popular gogo bar in Bangkok. The only thing I do wonder about is the shows. As good as they are, it seems to be the same shows, in the same order, every night. I guess it is a winning formula and there is no need to change it. Ideal for tourists, but for locals, the same old same old gets a bit boring.

Down at Cowboy, a few weeks back a bunch of the prettiest girls from Long Gun were moved over to Raw Hide – both bars share the same owner. The idea was to try and draw the Long Gun crowds into Raw Hide. Long Gun has been popular for at least a decade, and it is often hard to get a seat in there. I am not sure if you could say the plan has backfired, but Raw Hide now seems to be as good as Long Gun, but it still doesn't have the crowds. I guess there is a perception thing there and people just keep going to Long Gun.

Always a bad sign in a bar, a fight broke out in the troubled X Zone in Pattaya this week. Exactly what it was all about, who knows. There are fewer dancers there – which means fewer customers. And rumours are flying around that there is a 13 million baht price tag on it, which would seem to me to be rather on the steep side!

Still in the Covent Garden area, the just opened Taboo might be about to change format. It would be wise to do it soon, before people get too confused! This promising bar has a number of pretty ladies, although something needs to be done about the lighting because it isn't easy to see them.

The music at Lennie's in Soi Diamond gets the serious thumbs up, that is if like me you like a lot of the older stuff. Though that is not to say that I am that old.

With Electric Blue Junior open again, it's worth checking out if you're in the area. They only have a dozen or so girls at the moment but some are very easy on the eyes. And they have 45 baht draft beer on offer – you can't complain at that price! They hope to increase the number of girls in there, though it's a small bar so don't expect to see huge numbers in there.

There are plenty of fine restroom facilities in some of the newer Pattaya gogo bars. Angelwitch springs to mind, as does Catz, but as good as each of them are, neither can compete with the new Taboo which had toilets that would not be out of place in a 5 star hotel. Hell, there's even a wall mounted TV in there!


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

Still down Pattaya way, tourist numbers appear to be climbing. But while Walking Street feels more and more crowded with each passing weekend, those crowds are not spilling over into gogo bars. From Silver Star at the head of Walking Street to Catz at the foot, few punters filled bar stools. Traditionally popular gogos (Happy, Peppermint, Super Baby) drew sizeable numbers Friday and Saturday nights, but most others couldn’t attract patrons – even those offering free beer or two-for-one coupons.

Three Soi Diamond nightspots that have garnered little notice are Tiger, Shark Club and Shark Gogo – all owned by the same Frenchman. It must be said that each bar has an ample number of attractive gogo girls, each stages periodic shows, and each provides comfortable and attractive surroundings. Based on a brief visit to all three Saturday night, it appeared dancers outnumbered patrons five to one. Granted, it was a slow night for most Walking Street venues, but the Tiger and two Shark clubs gave new definition to the word doldrums. The problem might well be that all three are on the second level and few punters are willing to climb a flight of stairs to check them out. Why then do so many make the climb to visit the always happening, always fun Heaven Above?

Two Walking Street hostess bars will throw three theme parties this coming week. Secrets Bar (Soi 14) launches festivities Tuesday with a Haunting Halloween bash, followed Friday by a Naughty Cheerleader Party. Both events get under way at 8 PM featuring fun, frolic, food and females. For those who fancy nurses, Lennie’s Bar (Soi Diamond at the 2nd Road end plans to help satisfy your fantasies. In contrast with its Student Nurses Party last week, the hostess bar next Saturday presents a Sexy Nurses Party. Nurses uniforms will be shortened, unbuttoned, and otherwise abbreviated to reveal the attributes of Lennie’s girls. Shows and shooters are on the menu, along with the traditional sacrificial pig and a full buffet that includes steak and kidney pie, cottage pie, sausage and onions, salad and Thai food. Treatments begin at 8PM.

People walking Beach Road after dark have been shocked to learn that prostitutes work in that area. SHOCKED! Tourists and residents alike have flooded city hall with their complaints, according to the city’s deputy mayor, who did not release the names of complainants. The city is responding by allocating 1.5 million baht (more than US $40,000!) to better patrol Beach Road and clear it of working girls and thieves. It was suggested that notices be posted to warn the public of the dangers, but such signs would admit that the problem exists, so it was rejected.

Not to worry, a new police commissioner for the region promises to reduce crime in Pattaya by 20% before high season is upon Fun Town. His definition of crime includes obscene shows and CDs, child prostitution, beggars, and foreign mafia (Thai mafia can breath easy). For its part, Pattaya has installed more than 100 closed circuit TV cameras to keep an eye out for illicit activities. Unfortunately, no one is on hand to monitor the cameras. As Trink was fond of saying, "TIT".

Further to recent comments about Patpong being quiet, a number of bars are calling October the quietest month for three years at the Pong – and the coup is largely blamed for it. While the coup never posed any real danger to tourists, there was a definite slump in visitor numbers, with at least one of the major online hotel reservation services reporting a big drop in the number of hotel reservations they received for Thailand.

For the Aussies, The Office Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 33 will host a Melbourne Cup party on Tuesday November 7th. Kick off will be early at 9 AM and the ticket price of 1,600 baht includes champagne, a Bloody Mary, a buffet breakfast and a buffet lunch. It also includes all the draught beer, wine, gin, vodka and whiskey you can drink! There will be a sweep and lucky draws and live music after the race. Tickets are on sale now.

Things seem to be settling down at the new airport and passengers passing through seem to be more and more positive about it. The most recent concern expressed about the airport is to do with venturing out there at night. For females travelling alone it can be a long ride – and being alone in a cab with a taxi driver is not something a lot of Thai women are comfortable with.

If you find yourself hungry in Pattaya on a Sunday morning and willing to spend a few baht, don't be afraid to check out the Casa Pascal brunch deal. This used to be one of the best deals in town at less than 500 baht for true fine dining quality tucker AND a glass of bubbly. The price is a bit more these days at 650 baht, but the spectacular quality remains.

Gulliver's has four branches (that I know of) but I often wonder how well they do. The original Gulliver's on Khao Sarn Road is an absolute goldmine, seemingly always teaming with revellers. But I personally like that particular branch the least. Then there is Gulliver's 2 which is around the corner from the original which has a nice atmosphere, but whenever I have been there, admittedly only a couple of times, it's never that busy. The Sukhumvit Soi 5 branch does well some days and is quiet others. And the Pattaya branch, well, what can I say? It is dead, just dead. If you didn't know where the Pattaya branch is, it is on the Beach Road, just a stone's throw from Henry J Beans. Each branch of Gulliver's is large and no small amount of money went into each of them, the Soi 5 branch estimated to cost well in excess of a million US dollars. Can we assume that the original branch on Khao Sarn Road is effectively bankrolling the other branches?

Sometimes I get some odd emails. One this week suggested various means of changing the stamps in their passport so as to extend their visa. Whatever you do, DON'T DO THIS! It is highly illegal and you could get in all sorts of trouble.

And while I am sure I do not need to mention it, a reminder that anything to do with drugs in Thailand is just plain dumb. I heard two stories recently concerning farangs in the vicinity of drugs. Really, you just don't want ANYTHING to do with that sort of thing in Thailand. The penalties are extremely harsh.

A long time reader with knowledge of the laws locally pointed out a piece in the local that would apply to the use of keyboard loggers. Under Thai constitution law, Section 37, (which has actually been rescinded) it is said that "Persons have the freedom to communicate with one another by lawful means. Search, detention or exposure of lawful communication materials between persons, as well as actions by other means so as to snoop into the contents of the communications materials between persons, is prohibited unless it is done by virtue of the power vested in a provision of the law specifically for the purpose of maintaining national security or for the purpose of maintaining peace and order or good public morality."

There is heaps of confusion at the moment for holders of O visas married to a Thai lady. A long time reader went to the Immigration Department at Suan Plu to extend the visa. Married to a Thai lady, he has had no problem extending the visa previously, but this time he was told that they no longer issue extensions to O class marriage visas and he would have to do a visa run, that is leave the country, and leave his wife, every 90 days! Whether this is a new policy or he got a cranky officer having a bad day is unclear.

An apartment building in Sukhumvit Soi 4 had a major refurbishment planned until very recently, when around 30% of the foreign tenants indicated that they would most likely be leaving – forced to leave due to the recent visa changes. As a direct result of this the Thai owner of the building has cancelled the 10 million improvement plan. He is actually quite worried about the visa situation – the first time I have heard of a Thai person actually saying anything like this.

I've still not been to the new airport to see it for myself yet, but this site has a number of pictures of Bangkok's new Suvarnubhumi Airport, both from the inside and the outside.

But the link of the week has to be this story from The Nation about Empower training gogo dancers at Patpong to be better dancers!

A variant on last week's quote of the week. "I like my women like I like my coffee, hot, dark, and sweet'.

And for this week: "In many countries laws are used to regulate behaviour but here in LOS they are simply a way to raise money for those that either write them or for those that enforce them."

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: I have been dating this good girl for almost 5 months. She was a great girl for a while. I mean, she is very pretty, cooks for me everyday, has a lot of money, never asks me to pay for anything, speaks fluent English, and was good in bed. However, she has an unbelievable temper, and has threatened to kill me a couple of times. This, along with the fact that I am heading back home to finish my Masters, next April, has put me in a situation where I need to end the relationship. I cannot be with a woman that threatens or scares me. Unfortunately, when I tried to end it with her, she said that we need to either be together, or my life would be miserable. She has threatened to have her friends beat me up, tell my boss at work all the terrible things I have said about him, follow me everywhere, and break into my room. I have comprehended just leaving Thailand, but there is such a good bonus at the end of my contract, plus a housing deposit I would like to get back in full, in addition to the experience at my current job. Could you or Mrs. Stick give me any suggestions at all?

Mrs. Stick says: I'm sorry to hear about your relationship troubles. Unfortunately the relationship cannot continue. We have the right to live our life free from threats and blackmail and what you're girlfriend is doing is unacceptable. I don't know how you are going to exit the relationship, but you have to. No-one can stay in a relationship like that. If you are really worried then you might want to speak to any older influential Thai friends you have. If things get really bad you might have to go the police. She cannot do what she is doing.

Question 2: I was in Bangkok a few months ago with my friends where I met this girl from a bar and the following day she came down to Pattaya with me and my friends. This girl came down from Bangkok with me to Pattaya in just the clothes she had on in Bangkok that night when I met her. The morning after the night in Pattaya we went looking for my friends. We walked along Beach Road where every single person was staring with dirty looks at this girl, not at me but at the girl. The girl didn't look at them just strolled along very slowly in the hot weather. Now why was she getting so many dirty looks? It was mostly the Thai women sat on the wall on the beach giving her the looks and I mean everyone was giving her the stare (very nastily). She had jeans on, a pair of sandal shoes and a black top. Were they staring at her because it was hot and she had jeans on? I don't know. Were they staring at her because she was from Isaan and they could see she was and didn't like that sort down there? Or was it because she had 2 gold rings and a gold chain on and they were jealous? I don't know why they gave her so dirty looks very nastily. It was as if she was in a world of her own and not noticing she was being stared at. I never confronted her and asked her about there behaviour. It even put me at ease a bit. I just found all of this very puzzling and very ignorant. Maybe you have some thoughts on this?

Mr. Stick says: We would love to offer you some thoughts on this but there is no apparent reason why she would have got such looks. I can only speculate that perhaps she was known down there and that she had done something bad in the past and as such was getting nasty looks, but even then, that is very unlikely. The Beach Road attracts a colourful crowd, some of them a bit rough, many with real problems – be it alcohol, drugs, abusive boyfriends, whatever – but they seem to co-exist happily enough. I am sure there are problems between some of the ladies but you get that anywhere. Sorry, there really is no obvious reason why the lady you were with was getting odd looks!

Question 3: I have been with my girlfriend for just over 2 years now and we recently had a beautiful baby boy. We have a wonderful relationship and we are both young at 24. I am in a well paid job as a consultant engineer. Everything seems perfect! However, we recently returned from Chumpon to meet the family (they visited Phuket previously) and it was almost like I didn't exist. People came from over the hills and far away just to stare and laugh at me. Two things that I thought were rude in Asia. I provide well for my girlfriend and son. Is this all due to the fact that I haven't married her yet? If we do marry does the dowry have to reflect my earnings?

Mrs. Stick says: The relatives of your girlfriend probably couldn't speak English and were perhaps a little nervous in your company. I'm sure no harm was meant by staring and laughing! If they are country people, they might not have been so close to a farang before and you would have been quite unusual to them! On the subject of the dowry, yes, your earnings reflect how much is paid. If you are wealthy and you pay a very small dowry then people will gossip.

Question 4: What is the most "farang" thing your husband does that gets on your last nerves and you just want to beat the hell out of him for doing it?

Mrs. Stick says: I don't like the way farangs worship the truth. Farangs always want to know every last detail of what has happened, when it happened, why it happened etc. I can't understand this. The way that some people always insist on knowing the truth can be damaging, and can hurt people's feelings, both when people keep asking question after question, and then when they eventually find something out, and then use it against that person.

As mentioned in this week's column (and last week too), we are hitting the party season in many of the country's farang-dominated bars. There are Halloween parties this coming week, there will be Loy Kratong parties soon, and there are a number of other parties, anniversaries and the like. Thais love a chance to party, irrespective of the event. If you haven't been out to he bars for a while, party time is usually a lot of fun. My personal favourite is Loy Kratong when many of the ladies get decked out in lovely, traditional costumes. It's a fun time of year!



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


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