Stickman's Weekly Column October 22nd, 2006

Stickman Bargirl Investigations



For a number of years now I have offered assistance to guys who want to know what their bargirl girlfriend is up to while they are back in their homelands. It really has been quite an adventure and I have a lot of tales to tell. While I cannot talk about specific cases as confidentiality is assured, I can give a few insights into what it is like and some of the patterns I see.

The main types of investigation inquiries I receive concern verifying if a lady is still working in the bar and whether she can be barfined. This is fairly straightforward to perform, although it must be done in such a way that the lady has no idea that she has been looked into. Further, there is the verification of certain details, which can range from establishing whether she is prepared to tell a potential customer that she has a boyfriend, to whether she is wearing certain items of jewellery, and whether she is dancing or not or just serving. Other common inquiries concern whether the lady in question is pregnant as well as missing person's searches.

I am often asked how I have been able to get away with doing the investigations for such a period of time, and why the girls aren't aware of what I am up to. It is actually something of a silly question. There are thousands of guys who go out drinking often, many of whom hang around the same bars. The girls don't usually suspect that a guy is there to check up on them, although that said, there is growing awareness amongst the girls there they may be checked up on by their boyfriend. I guess this has come about from the fact that when a girl is caught, often her boyfriend will tell her that he retained someone to check up on her…and she was caught out.

One of the biggest problems I had came about through exactly that happening. It was 5 or 6 years ago and I did a job for a Dutchman in one of the bars in Soi 33. I went along with a very simple objective – check to see if the lady was still available for take out. She was working there and indeed she was still available. I got all of the information the fellow needed. After completing the job, I went straight home, typed up the report and emailed it to him. The report included a fair amount of detail, outlining exactly what his lady friend was wearing, including her jewellery, make up style as well as pretty much everything she said to me over the time we chatted. Within minutes of sending the email to him I had a reply from him, thanking me for the report. I never did hear from him again.

A few months later I popped into that bar for a drink, having completely forgotten about that job. I went to the bar and ordered a drink. Within seconds the lady that I had investigated came over and accused me outright of checking up on her. She was not happy at all. I had given her boyfriend so much detail and he called her to confront her as soon as he had received the report. She absolutely knew that it was me who had done the job for him and she was furious. I downed my drink in one gulp, put the cash on the bar and got out of there. I never did return to that bar and I was forced to change the way I reported jobs to avoid experiencing anything similar to that happening gain.

But that was not the worst situation I faced. I did a job on a lady who used to work in the since demolished Soi Zero. It was a fairly standard job and I was able to confirm that this lady continued to work and that while a lot of what she had told him was true – he wanted certain things about her lifestyle verified – she was still available for short-time liaisons. I sent the report and he was not happy with the result. He came back to me, disappointed with the bad news. He had hoped for proof of her playing up but as she had not been barfined that night, photographic proof of her leaving the bar with another guy had not been obtained. He eventually accepted that she was up to no good. About a month later I was wandering around Sukhumvit late at night taking some low light photos. As luck would have it, I saw her walk past, hand in hand with a customer. She stopped at the lights to cross the road from Soi 4 over towards Soi 3, and I managed to take a photo of her without using the flash. I did not realise it at the time, but she saw me take the shot. Even though the case had been closed, I sent the shot to the customer simply as a bit of further proof. He seemed happy with that. However, he did as the Dutch fellow did and he sent this to the lady and used it as proof that she had lied to him. Once again, this came back to bite me…

A few weeks later I was in a gogo bar on the ground floor of Nana checking up on a different lady when the lady I had photographed walked up to me and sat down beside me. She had relocated to that particular bar. She had a look of fire in her eyes and started accusing me of taking a photo of her and sending it to her boyfriend. I played dumb and asked her where her boyfriend was from. When she said that he was American, I said that it was impossible and that I was Australian (I'm always an Aussie when I'm on the job) so how could I possibly know him? She went on and on and said that he had a copy of this photo and she knew that I took it and that I must be his friend! A bit of quick thinking and I told her that I take lots of photos of Bangkok which I put up online on my website (hardly a lie!). I pleaded ignorance saying that I could not remember this photo, but he must have seen the website and seen this photo. At that point I told her how lovely she looked and how I would love to buy her a drink. Amazingly she warmed to this and the photo was quickly forgotten. She hadn't finished half of her drink and I was out of there!

One of the hardest things about doing investigations is simply finding the lady in question. Sometimes you don't have a picture of her, but just a description to go on. Shortish with dark brown skin, long black hair and a killer smile is about the most common. How many Thai women does that describe? Even with photos, these girls can be difficult to find. The best photos are those which are actually taken in the bar environment because the way a lady looks in the bar and a way she looks when she is gallivanting around at the beach with her beau are quite different.

But why is it important to know what she looks like? Well, if you simply enter a bar and ask for a girl you have never talked with before by name, it immediately raises alarm bells. Guys simply don't approach girls like that in the naughty bars. You have to make out that you have spotted her and that you find her attractive – that is the natural approach in that environment. Asking for a girl by name means you have to have a very good reason to be asking for her and many girls simply don't buy the "My friend met you a month ago and said you were cute" or "I read about you online" – in fact that one actually gets the girls quite upset. Often you have to examine the photos you are sent of them for details such as a mole on their face, the jewellery they're wearing, or any other distinguishing features. Needless to say, in the bigger bars, it can be difficult to find the girls.

The other problem is that the girls don't always go into work. On any given night, especially from Sunday through to Thursday, a third or more of the girls might not be in the bar. If it rains heavily, particularly in Bangkok, you might have less than half the girls go to work that night! This is a real pain as you can only return to the bar so many times. Funnily enough, investigations in Pattaya are much easier as the girls seem to go to work most nights. Whether it is because Pattaya is much smaller and it is easier to get around, I do not know.

In fact conducting investigations in Pattaya has always been much easier than in Bangkok. The girls are friendlier, less suspicious and invariably they go to work most of the time. Seldom is not being able to find the girl a problem down there.

It took me a long time to realise that not a small number of guys who use the services of a Bangkok based PI actually want proof that she is up to no good so that he can get out of the relationship. The proof gives them a valid reason for leaving. I cannot fathom why a guy who lives thousands of miles away thinks he needs proof to call things off. A lot of guys requesting investigations are married. Again this detail is often volunteered at a much later date. It's not my business at all, but I find it kind of strange.

One thing I have discovered over time is that there is almost no correlation between the amount of money a guy sends a girl, and whether she is faithful to him or not. I had a case recently where the guy was sending his lady £100 a month, that is less than 7,000 baht – and she left the bar as promised, got a decent job, and remains committed to him and faithful. Compare that with the girl I looked into at Sheba's at the start of the year who was getting $US 2,000 a month, every month, and was still up to no good. In fact she gloated about it. A young, successful New Yorker was sending her the equivalent of 80,000 Thai baht a month and she proudly told me that she was the highest paid girl in the bar, that she had the highest number of barfines every month, and according to her, she was the best in bed. Mercenary to the extreme.

If there is one trend I notice in terms of faithful women, it is that those women aged north of 33 seem to be more likely to leave the bar and be faithful. That seems to be the turning point. Right up to 33, they seem capable of turning down incredible offers, large sums of cash and an easy life in some of the most glamorous places on the planet. London, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, you name it. Young women just can't seem to help themselves, but once they get north of 33, the chances of success seem to increase dramatically.

I very seldom feel guilty when I catch someone out, but for some reason, I felt guilty on one particular job a year or two back. The task was simple. An American customer had been sending his former Cowboy dancer a thousand greenbacks a month and she knew that he would be flying in on a certain date. He was actually flying in two days earlier with the intention of checking whether she was being faithful or not. The task was simple. Call her and pose as a customer from the past and then ask to meet her in the lobby of a 5 star hotel. She was to be told in no uncertain terms that we would eat first and then go up to the room for a naughty night's fun. She was up for it. The arrangements were made and at 7 PM, she was waiting in the lobby for mystery man. She must have got the fright of her life when her American boyfriend bowled in, approached her, told her that it had all been a set up and that she was now no longer on his payroll and that she should get her ass back down to Cowboy because that was the only way she would be getting any money. Now what is quite ironic about this job was that at the very time that she was meeting him, Mrs. Stick and I were enjoying the buffet at the very same hotel, and were sitting no more than a stone's throw from where they were. I did not see it happen – hotel lobbies are busy places and frankly, I did not know what either of them looked like. But what hit me was that she called me later, howling on the phone, saying how she had dreamed of going to America and that what I had done was mean. I DID feel guilty about that one, but then again, she was just plain stupid. The agreement she had with him was that if she agreed to meet anyone, it was over – and she broke it.

The investigation services requested have changed a bit over the years. In the old days, 90%+ of job requests were to establish if the subject was still working in the bar, and whether she could be barfined. That was it. There were also a number of character assessments, guys interested in marrying a girl and simply wanting a second opinion on her. While verification of whether she is working and is barfineable remains the most popular type of request, many guys want to know whether they are the only guy in her life. This is a bit trickier. You could tail the subject for a week which would almost certainly reveal the existence of a local boyfriend, but it would be time consuming, costly and simply wouldn't verify whether there were other guys overseas who she was in regular contact with and waiting for. I have established a tried and trusted method for establishing the existence of overseas boyfriends but sorry, that is one trade secret I am not going to let you in on!

The "I'm pregnant" scam is still alive and well in Bangkok and I have looked into a number of them. The case that springs to mind is one I did about 5 years ago for an Aussie who thought he may have knocked up a Khao Sarn Road girl. At the time he finally contacted me she should have been 7 months pregnant – so it would have been clear for all to see and a visual check would have been enough – especially given that she was a small framed girl. We came up with the plan that he would tell her that I was a mate of his based in Bangkok and that he would send some money to me and that I would meet her and give it to her. He had not sent any money to me for her because first and foremost he wanted to know if she was pregnant. If she was, then he would need to look at DNA testing later. So, I called her and we agreed to meet at MBK where I would give her the money. She arrived and she was slim and trim. I asked her where the baby was and she said she had just been to the abortion clinic, had had the abortion 30 minutes earlier and that she was now here to collect the money for the abortion. I asked her how the abortion had been conducted and she said she had received an injection in the leg, the baby had come out and now she wasn't pregnant! I couldn't help but myself and burst out laughing! I took a photo of her not pregnant and then walked off. She pursued me so I got around the corner and legged it. She obviously wasn't pregnant and Mr. Melbourne was a happy camper.

I'll let you in on one of my trade secrets, the most common approach I use in determining if someone is pregnant. Once I have found the girl, I will simply be myself. I'll tell them that I live in Thailand and that I am married. I then tell them that my wife is pregnant and give the period of her pregnancy at exactly the same time that this lady would be, if she was pregnant to the gentleman who had hired me. I'll then tell her that when my wife and I went to the hospital for a check up that the doctor said we absolutely cannot have sex from now until when the baby is born otherwise the baby will be damaged and will have all sorts of problems. I take my time to explain this very slowly, ensuring that it is clearly understood by them. I then tell them that I am as horny as hell and I am out to have some fun with someone else – as I cannot with my wife. I tell them that I love my wife, but I just want to have some fun. If she is still prepared to do the dirty after you have built up the situation, the odds are that she isn't pregnant. If she suddenly back outs and says that they cannot go with you then odds are that she is pregnant. It's obviously not a foolproof method, but it works fairly well. So long as you spend the time building up a rapport with the lady in question then you usually get a result. In the case of the "pregnancy scams", it is my experience that a small number of them are genuine pregnancies – but just who the father is, who knows.

I don't like to investigate Western guys despite the fact that I get many inquiries to do so. I don't know why, but I am just not comfortable doing it. The one time I investigated a Western guy, it was for his Indonesian wife. They lived in Indonesia together and he was flying back to his home country via Bangkok where he had one night booked. As soon as she gave me the details of the case, I knew what the outcome would be. He was staying at the Nana Hotel! That was an easy job. His flight flew in early evening and it was a case of sitting in the lobby and waiting for him to come downstairs. He went over to Nana, up to Hollywood, took two girls and went straight back across the road. The poor wife was very upset with the report.

A note for married Western guys out there. I get A LOT of requests to look into what you guys are up to. It is obvious in most cases that these guys are up to no good as what the wife tells me about her husband's plans and what she tells me about his itinerary just do not add up! I don't take on these cases but I know others do! You've been warned!

I believe there are a number of skills you need to be a good farang investigator locally. (Remember, a Thai cannot enter most of the bars so for many cases it has to be a farang.) First of all you need to be able to come up with a ruse and play a role – and often you do not have time to prepare it. The personality of the lady you're looking into needs to be summed up quickly and you need to come up with a role that you feel will be the most effective with her. Do you play a tourist or do you play a local? Do you speak English, or speak Thai? What's the best day to investigate? Certain times of the month are, shall we say, more revealing. There are many, many things to consider.

One also needs to be able to speak very good Thai. The number of cases that have required strong Thai language skills to crack is not insignificant. Just observing someone from a distance is not a good approach when you are looking into bargirls and it won't always reveal a lot. One also needs to have a fairly good knowledge of Thailand, Thai ways and Thai culture. With a decent understanding of life here, you can add the facts together and come up with certain conclusions. For example, a bargirl who claims that she has to go home early because she has language lessons at 8 AM the next day is almost certainly lying, because almost no language schools are open at that time!

Doing the investigations has been an interesting sideline and there have been a heap of fascinating cases over the years. It is however not always the most enjoyable thing to do. You're often giving people bad news. The number of ladies who do not pass muster is not small. Then there are the cases where the lady has simply disappeared and cannot be found meaning no result, which is frustrating for everyone.

Finally, to anyone who is considering having a girl looked into, I would suggest the following. Be honest with her and tell her EXACTLY what the plans are for the two of you in the future. You need to be together permanently as soon as possible as Thais do not like being alone. Get her away from the bar environment. If she stays there, it is as good as doomed. For that matter, get her out of Pattaya or Bangkok. Not a lot of good comes from staying near her old place of work. And do bear in mind that the younger she is, the more fun she is likely having in the industry, and the harder it will for her to leave it, irrespective of what you can offer her.


Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?

It was The Dubliner.

Where is that?!

Last week's picture was taken inside the Dubliner which has for me, the best breakfast in Bangkok. Damned filling, but I fear it is a heart attack on a plate. This week's picture is easier than it looks and most of you have walked past this at some time or another. A clue: it is on your right as you walk in and on your left as you walk 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. 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

200k baht IS a lot of money.

200,000 baht per month is a lot, even here in the West. Sometimes I feel that some people don't know the value of money and to spend such amounts in for example the Philippines is almost impossible, even with a new girl every day. I have a friend who had lived on the island of Mindanao for 5 years and he leads a nice life at $US 1,000 per month, paid as a pension from the Swedish government.

You need 33 million baht to retire.

Regarding "the amount of money needed to retire", I think your numbers might hold for few years, but there are some very big factors which will devastate this portfolio in the long run. First, I am talking about inflation. You may be able to live on 55K today, but at 6% inflation, your buying power will be cut in half in 12 years. In 12 years, you might still be getting 55K from your portfolio, but 55k will only have the buying power that 27.5K has in today's baht. You probably wouldn't be very happy living on 27.5K per month. Secondly, I don't think it is possible that you will get 7.7% forever. That rate will change. And if inflation goes up to an amount higher than the interest rate, you never recover from it. Exchange rate fluctuations seem to be a problem because we see them on a daily basis, but they are not the worst problem by any means. Exchange rate fluctuations do not compound exponentially, but inflation does. That is why inflation reduces the value of your portfolio by 50% in 12 years (at 6% inflation, which we experience in Thailand). To put it another way, imagine that the baht increases in strength against the dollar by 6% a year. That means it would go from 37 baht per US dollar to 36.25 baht per dollar. But, it did this every year. That is exactly the affect of inflation. Inflation is relentless, it shows no mercy, it feels no compassion, empathy or concern or any kind, and it absolutely will not stop…until you are dead. Finally, if you are going to retire, you need to purchase medical insurance. And, there will be many changes in a person's life over a 40 year period. It's difficult to predict what emergencies will arise, but there will be more than a few. My conclusion is this: You can safely withdraw about 2% from a well designed portfolio per year. If you want to live on 55K baht per month adjusted for today's buying power, then you need 33 million baht to retire (2% of 33 million is 660,000 baht per year which comes to 55k).

Same amount needed to retire as in the West.

The amount of money needed to retire (happily) in Thailand is roughly the same as the amount needed to retire (comfortably) at home in the West. There are two reasons for this assertion. First, if you have enough money to be comfortable at home it will almost certainly be enough to live the good life in Thailand. But secondly, if things go belly up in Thailand, it's important to have enough to go home. Beach Road in Pattaya is littered with blokes who came to Thailand with just enough to get by in Thailand, only to run into a bit of trouble and now are stuck. No way to make a decent living in LOS and no funds to go home and start over.

A flawed concept.

The video streaming from a bar wouldn't be the one under The Penthouse, would it? Apparently you have a video feed into your room, and if you can't be arsed to go out, you can ring down and give the number(s) of the girl(s) you want, and get "delivery"! Nice concept, but a lot of people complaining about padded bills and problems getting change in said venue…

Belgian the best?

Since you are such a beer aficionado I wanted to tell you that Belgium beer is not "right up there", but simply the best in the world. They just don't know how to market their product. The Belgians are amazed that their Dutch neighbours can put piss in a fancy green bottle and get the world to think it is some kind of premium product.

Stickman readers everywhere!

I travel a lot in my job, these days mostly in the UK and my Thai girlfriend of 2 years travels with me. Whenever we go on a new contract the first thing we do is seek out the local Thai restaurant so that my girl can make friends and have something to do while I am at work. Over the past couple of years she has made many friends and increasingly I find myself in a house or restaurant with a bunch of Thai girls and their farang boyfriends who I don't know. The Thai girls chat amongst themselves and the easiest way to break the ice with the guys is "Do you read Stickman's column on the net?" Instantly opening up a host of topics and I have even met a couple of submission writers. So based on my experience, walk into a town in the UK, seek out the local Thai girls and you can be fairly sure that their male partners are regular readers of the Stickman column. If this applies to the USA, NZ, Australia etc. then I guess you have quite a large base of readers.

We often hear of people who drop silly amounts of money living in Thailand. Hundreds of thousands of baht a month, every month! Where does that money go?! Well it seems the naughty bars might be a big recipient of a lot of it if a bar bill at Angelwitch Bangkok this past week is anything to go by. One punter's bill for one night was 35,000 baht. That is more than a lot of bars do in a night. 35k baht! That bar does seem to be ground zero for some real high rollers who are not shy to enjoy their hard earned and bills north of 10,000 baht are far from unusual.

Tomorrow is Chulalongkorn Day, a public holiday, but don't let that keep you away from your favourite bar. Word is that all of the bars will remain open and that alcohol will be available.

It would seem that Kloster beer is no longer available in Thailand. Oh, what a dreadful loss that is….NOT! That was one brew I never got into. The reason for its demise is unknown and the best I could gather was that the suppliers had run out of it.

Veteran gogo bar manager Ricky has been partying nightly at FLB (Walking Street). Following stints at Diamond A Gogo (Soi Diamond) and Babewatch, Ricky seems to have made Pattaya his home and FLB his home away from home.

Soi Cowboy was doing a good trade this week. Early in the week it was quiet but from Wednesday onwards it was very good indeed. The couple of Nana bars I visited weren't so busy, though admittedly that was early in the week.

Heavens Above in Soi Diamond is having their annual Halloween Party at the end of the month. They have decided to celebrate over two days, 30 & 31 October. There will be prizes for best costume, lucky door prizes and drinks specials.

Electric Blue Junior in Soi Diamond has been re-modelled and is worth another look.

From the Thai press this week (I didn't see it anywhere in the English language press) was the story of an Aussie who was attacked by a machete wielding gang as he left Patpong with his date for the night. Said Aussie was lucky to escape with his life. But what raised my eyebrows somewhat was that the Thai police caught the perpetrators quickly. Well done. It's a reminder though that late at night in Bangkok, even in the most central areas, one does have to exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings.

Following on from last week's column, Baccara is not the only Soi Cowboy bar selling Belgian beers. Cactus Club also offers at least two kinds, maybe three or four. I can't force myself to drop the silly prices they are asking for it to sample it myself.

To whomever it is in Nana Plaza that owns the camera that points down on the main entrance area, under section 34 of Thai constitution law he could be liable for prosecution because it states: "A person's family rights, dignity, reputation or his right to privacy shall be protected. The assertion or circulation of a statement or picture in any manner whatsoever to the public, which violates or affects a person's family rights, dignity, reputation or the right of privacy, shall not be made except for the case which is beneficial to the public." Obviously this also applies to taking pictures of ladies of the night in compromising situations or dress. Not my business of course, but you have to laugh at sites which have photos of girls of the night with the gent's face Photoshopped out.

Taboo, Pattaya’s newest night spot, is the latest incarnation and vast improvement on Babewatch, which formerly – if briefly – occupied that space adjacent to Catz and Club Boesche. Unlike those two popular a gogos which dominate the year-old Covent Garden playground on Soi 16, Taboo features coyote-style dancers on four satellite stages scattered about the club. No shows, no showing, no cheap booze. Well-drinks are all brand labels at 130 baht; Heineken is available at 110 baht. Thursday’s soft opening with only a couple dozen dancers immediately generated undeserved criticism of everything coming and going – literally from the entryway to the toilet. But Taboo is a work in progress, and its onsite partner, Kevin, promises changes, more innovations, price adjustments, and any number of improvements. Granted, the club is different, but it’s nonetheless appealing with its stark interior design, innovative lighting, contoured bar, quality sound system, and unisex washroom. Many Pattaya nightspots have only a single WC available for either sex, but Taboo’s gender-blending facility is modern, spacious and reminiscent of Ally McBeal’s co-ed loo. And perhaps the Japanese-style bridge at the entry is a bit steep for over-imbibers, but credit must be given for putting the door on the proper side of the building this time. Attractive dancers, comfortable lounge seating along the walls as well as seats at the bar and at cocktail tables, and generally pleasant atmosphere. It’s worth a look.

While Walking Street numbers appeared healthy over the weekend, they were thin during the week and continue to show little improvement in most watering holes elsewhere in Pattaya. But lack of customers has not stopped new establishments from opening citywide. One of the newest is Paradise on Soi Buakao near South Pattaya Road. The unlikely location is free of competition and may lure some of the many locals relocating to that booming section of town. Paradise is a run-of-the-mill gogo bar with some attractive maidens – some not so attractive – in various modes of undress.

Looking ahead, Secrets Bar and Nightclub (Soi 14 off of Walking Street) plans a gala Halloween Event Tuesday, Oct. 31. Locals, tourists and balloon chasers are invited for free fun and faire beginning at 8 PM. Costumes are optional for customers but the Secret’s staff will be decked out and the club’s score of lovely hostesses are hoping to shock and amaze all party goers.

Tiffany hosts the Miss International Queen contest next Saturday. Competing for the title and prizes will be cross-dressers from around the world.

Pattaya now has a hotline for tourists. Dial 1337 with any questions or problems. The hotline centre offers round-the-clock assistance in English, German, Chinese, Japanese and – of course – Thai.

On Wednesday of this week a documentary was shown on local TV discussing prostitution in general and sex tourism in particular. It was stated that the Thai Government intend to abolish the use of beer bars as a means of accessing prostitutes. I personally did not see it but heard about it. Interesting stuff. If you're a beer bar fan I wouldn't be concerned though as we hear about things like this all the time and seldom does anything ever eventuate.

It looks like the rainy season may have just about finished. The "rainy season proper" as I refer to it usually runs from Queen's Birthday weekend until Chulalongkorn Day, which is tomorrow. After that, the capital at least (and I think we can include Pattaya too), is free of downpours. But for most of the south, you have probably got a few more weeks' rain to look forward to…

One of the many tricks locals had at the old airport was on arrival to go straight upstairs to where cabs had just dropped off departing passengers. You could get a cab right away – no need to join the awful queues outside – and neither did you have to pay the 50 baht surcharge. It has been said that taxis dropping off passengers at the new airport cannot collect a new fare without doing a big loop and joining the queue of waiting cabs already waiting. There is a 1,000 baht fine payable if they collect a passenger from the arrivals area. A couple of cabbies have told me this but I have to admit I have yet to go out to the new airport. I'm putting that off as long as I possibly can!

And a reminder that cops don't just use the "Estimate your speed based on 20 years in the brown uniform approach" to the enforcement of traffic speed laws, they also use technology to catch speeders. Just north of that large toll booth area on the Chaeng Wattana expressway, cops can be seen frequently and this past week they nabbed at least a couple of readers. Drivers can and do drive at break neck speeds all over Thailand, but the expressways of Bangkok are one area where speeding is policed more than most.

A writing competition is being held by the Boathouse Phuket. The competition will be judged by Jake Needham with three winners to be announced around 18 December. The winners will receive a stay for two at the Boathouse – with a dinner plus a bottle of wine as well as a spa treatment at Mom Tri’s Spa Royale and a copy of Killing Plato. The winning entry will be published in Phuket Magazine. The contest is open to all and the following words must appear in the story: "Mom Tri’s Boathouse", "Plato" and "Champagne". It should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. Writings must be original and should not have been published before. Entries must be submitted by e-mail to [email protected] and include your name, address and telephone number. Entries will receive a confirmation upon receipt. The deadline is Monday, 11 December 2006. The organiser mentioned to me that someone from Rolling Stone magazine had sent in the first entry. No idea what that is, must be some obscure publication.

The visa issue is no clearer now than it was when pandemonium set in when the new visa regulations were first announced. A long-termer who has been making runs to the border every 30 days for years just completed his latest visa run. He asked officers at this border point with Malaysia if there would be any problems with him continuing to update his visa in this fashion and he was told that no, there wouldn't! So, the information he was given is that 30 day visa runs can continue perpetually without problem as they have done, at that particular border point – at least with that particular immigration officer. Now that is not to say that the regulations will be interpreted and enforced the same way at other border points…


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

The Thai consulate in Hull, England, advised one reader who was a little concerned about what visa would be best for him that he could apply for a Multiple Entry O type visa. Like many, he wasn't sure he could meet all the criteria so he rang them up and was told that all that is needed is to fill in the application form and sign a "self certification guarantee form" on which you state you have enough money to support yourself during your stay. This negates the need to own property or have funds in a Thai bank! You can either apply through the post which takes two days to process or go to the consulate with the form, a passport-sized photo and your passport plus the £90.00 fee. Visit in person and you will have the visa in 30 minutes! The visa is valid for one year from the date of issue and allows 90 days on each entry. This would effectively give you a full year in country with a quick nip over the nearest border 3 times. The forms and guarantee certificate are available from their website.

A new free magazine, the Bangkok Trader, will be launched on November 18th. With a print run of 15,000 copies, the publishers are intent upon making this the most widely distributed free monthly magazine in Bangkok. A main feature of Bangkok Trader is its FREE CLASSIFIED AD section which they hope will become a popular resource for hiring, buying, renting, selling, personal ads, announcements, or anything else people use classified advertising for. You are welcome to email your ads to [email protected] and they will be printed at no charge.

A lot of Thais truly believe that in a dispute between a Thai and a farang, irrespective of who is right or wrong, that the Thai should not be shown to be wrong, and even if the Thai is wrong, no way in the world will they be required to pay any compensation or damages to the other, foreign party. I was chatting with one of the local motorcycle boys the other day who observed some fool on a motorbike almost crash into me. "You were lucky", he said. "He crash into you and you have to pay him because you are farang." He truly believes that Thais do not have to pay when the victim is a farang – and he said that everyone he knows thinks the same. I asked him if he would ever pay up if he crashed into a farang and it was his fault. "No way!"

You often hear foreigners talking about Thais criticising Westerners and saying that we are "bird shit farangs". I laugh when I hear this. They say that Thai people say that farangs are "farang kee nok" which would translate to something like "farang bird shit" – but that is not what the Thais are actually saying! It is kee ngok which means people like to keep their money and not spend it. You've got to laugh.

Quote of the week comes from the friend of a reader regarding Isaan girls. "I like my women like I like my coffee, hand picked from a field."

In the link of the week, a student is on a mission to expose Thailand's sex trade. Read it here. I'll warn you though, there are some really inaccurate statements made. Other Thailand related links from around the world this week include a piece on bending the elbow in Bangkok from the LA Times and an article about schooling in Thailand from the Herald Tribune.

Late update 10:40 PM Bangkok time: Late news into the column a few hours after it originally went up online suggests that one of Thailand's largest and most popular discussion forums which has always been free to access is about to start charging. True or not, I have yet to confirm. If true, it would appear to be a mistake as there are so many free discussion forums that everyone would just switch over to another.

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 a very serious relationship with a Thai lady. We have been on the web for over a year now. She was married but is divorced. I have visited her In Thailand 3 times and she has been to my home in Canada. We are thinking of getting married on my next visit. She is very devoted to her religion [Buddhism] she has just told me she is going away for a week to be ordained. I am not sure what this means. I have heard a few not so good stories about monks and I am worried that she may be asked to have sex with them. I know this may sound crazy but with the tales I have heard and read in your column I am not really comfortable with her going. I don't want to tell her not to go as her faith is very strong and I want to respect her wishes.

Mrs. Stick says: This is not unusual at all. She has probably gone to "thamma". You say that she is devoted to her religion so do not be concerned at all.

Question 2: I don't know who this question is aimed at Mr. or Mrs. but here goes. A couple of weeks ago you mentioned in the column about Thai girls wanting farang men. Well I think I have to disagree or I am doing something wrong? I am 24 and fairly good looking and get attention in Farangland from girls so what is wrong here? In Bangkok, in MBK I try to talk to the girls in the shops ask them where they come from but they get all shy? In Buriram I went to a nightclub and got no attention from the girls. I try to look at them in the street for more than one second not stare, to let them know I am interested but they get shy and look away. So please tell me how to go about it since I doubt it's my looks or dress and I am not too pushy either. I would say I am shy by farang standards. To me they all seem so scared of farangs…

Mr. Stick says: I actually think I can answer this better than the Mrs. Thai women ARE interested in meeting decent Western guys. First of all, you should be well dressed, but as the Thais say, POLITELY dressed. Trousers and a nice collared shirt always goes down well. Secondly, do not be too pushy. I just get the feeling that you might be giving them the impression that you are a walking hormone – and that will put them off for sure. Also, at 24, most women will probably (rightly) get the impression that you are after a quick bit of fun – and that is not always what they want. You also need to be aware of who is around them when you approach them. If they are out with or being watched by friends, colleagues, or family, your chances of "success" are greatly diminished. Speak politely, don't be too forward, smile a lot and you should have some luck. Of course, there is always a chance that you are not the type Thai women go for and you might be forced to dig into your wallet. I'm not joking when I say that there are some guys who have tremendous success with women in the West yet experience the complete opposite in Thailand.


Question 3: I am in the midst of getting my betrothed a visa to come to the States. We have had more then a few problems along the way, mostly dealing with distrust and the like of which is to be expected from a long distance engagement. I think we think the worst of them, but the last and most unusual request of my wife to be just came out. She wants to get married in Thailand. She doesn’t want a wedding, or sin sot for her family (I have already put my foot down in those areas) but it seems that if we just go to Bangkok and sign the paperwork, she will be happy. The question in my mind, why is this so important for her? The marriage will not count in the States, and she has no sin sot to gain from it. I have no land or even a bank account in Thailand. Is she trying to make a statement to her family? When I press her on why, she really can not tell me anything, and being ever the cynic, I think something is up.

Mrs. Stick says: Your girlfriend wants to make sure you two do actually get married and doing it in Thailand before she goes to the States. For her to go to another country is a very big deal and she wants to be sure that you're going to get married for real. For her family, it is important that she gets married first, so that they can tell everyone that you have gone to the US with a man as a married woman. If she went unmarried, it could cause serious face loss for her family.

Mr. Stick says: You need to be aware that actually the US does recognise marriages in Thailand!

Question 4: One of my friends is getting married next month and I believe I should give money as a present. They are a mixed couple (he Farang, she Thai) and they are already moneyed. How much should I give? Would 7,000 baht be a suitable amount or more?

Mrs. Stick says: At farang weddings it is safe to give 1,000 baht for each person who attends, so if it is you and your wife, giving 2,000 baht would be acceptable. Of course 7,000 baht would be very nice, but usually this amount is given by older, senior people.

I had plans to write a few opening pieces on the nightlife industry recently but have found it really hard to motivate myself to actually go out and research them. I had planned to do a follow up to the most popular column ever, the evening when a friend and I ventured out into the night in an adjascent province to Bangkok to check out the Thai nightlife venues. I had also planned to check out a couple of areas popular with Thai men in Bangkok and write about that too. Neither of these happened (yet?). The reason is, you just get bored of the nightlife side of things in Thailand, you really do! While it is fun to check out nightspots from time to time, and gathering news for the column is always fun, planning an entire night out primarily to write a column around it isn't always appealing. I know a lot of guys retire to Thailand with the idea of spending night after night in the bars. The bars are great to spend time in during your holidays and for a night or two out a week, but more than that, believe me, they really do get a bit much.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


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