Stickman's Weekly Column May 13th, 2007

Their Stock Is Up – And They Know It!


Western men have long been drawn to Thailand by the image of passive, submissive pretty women.

Before the age of jet travel, Western men in Thailand found conservative, yet curious locals shy to try the forbidden fruit. It wasn't easy to get to know a local lady at all and anything more than friendship was going to take a lot of time along with genuine signs of commitment.

35 years ago, that is during the period of the Vietnam War, a Thai woman seen walking arm in arm with a Western man may well have been referred to as mia chow (literally a rented wife, a common local euphemism for a prostitute).

After the end of the war the influx of Western tourists slowly gained momentum and that coincided with Thailand’s conservative social values slowly, ever so slowly, loosening up.

But progress was slow. Even less than one generation ago, Thai women retained much of their traditional, conservative values. With that said, a Western man with charm (and blonde hair and blue eyes sure helped) could find himself a nice Thai lady for a relationship. But it would be time consuming and thoughts of jumping her on the first date were unrealistic.

Around the mid to late ‘90s when the number of tourists visiting Thailand really started to increase, Western men found they were no longer forced to venture into the naughty bar areas to meet a lady. They found themselves seemingly sought after by a growing group of Thai women who either wanted to try a Westerner or perhaps even genuinely preferred Westerners.

From the late ‘90s until recently, Western men were not just admired by Thai women, they were sought after. There was a real sense of kudos for Thai women who paraded a Western guy on their arm. And if he was good looking and well dressed, all the better. But you know, that didn’t actually seem to be that important to them. So long as he was a bona fide farang, that was enough. Western guys were a fashion item. We were the in thing.

And when it came to Western men, Thai women were not always that discerning or sophisticated. Many guys found they needed no more than white skin and a long nose to meet the new class of farang hungry Thai women.

These farang hungry women would stake out the bars of Khao San Road as well as other areas and venues they knew Western guys hung out in, all in the hope of meeting a Western guy.

And as the internet became more popular – and more affordable (in the late '90s you were still paying 50 baht an hour for a dial up connection, a considerable amount even for a middle-class Thai family), many Thai women started to use the Internet to meet Western guys. Not only could they seek out guys who were in Thailand at that time, they could also hunt for guys visiting in the future.

Some of these woman were so keen that they would "book" the guy so to speak, going to great lengths to pick him up at the airport and check him into a conveniently located hotel. Conveniently located for her.

The early days of Internet dating in Thailand were wild. Western guys who played the internet game at that time talk of huge numbers of Thai women hitting on them, actively chasing them. And let's qualify it. These were ladies with a good education, good jobs and who often spoke excellent English.

The golden age of internet dating in Thailand did not last long. While the number of Thai women playing the internet game increased at a furious pace, the number of guys around the world, not just Western guys but Arabs, Indians, Chinese, basically the entire male world, were suddenly all hitting on Thai women online. The net effect was that the moment a Thai woman got online, be it via a real time messaging service or to check her email, she was inundated with communication from guys. She could afford to be choosy for she had literally hundreds of guys interested in her.

It was around the same time the attitude of bargirls started to really change. Change means deteriorate. And it was about the same time that regular Thai women, those who had never worked in a bar, seemed to start to lose interest in Western men. The novelty factor seemed to fade away and Western guys were no longer in fashion!

What happened? Why did we go out of fashion? Was it increasing xenophobia, suppressed for a period, that has made us less fashionable? Is it the fact that there are simply so many of us, and that scoring a farang is not difficult at all, that we have simply lost out appeal? Is it the increase in Western trash washing up on these shores, many of whom have no qualms about parading a certain class of women in public that has damaged our reputation?

Or is it that Thai women are sick of being pursued by guys who want nothing more than a notch on their belt? Ironically, Western guys don't have the best reputation amongst Thai women for honesty in relationships. Chat with a bunch of middle-class Bangkok girls who know a bit about, or have had relationships with, Western guys, and they will tell you of how they get hit on all the time by guys who clearly are looking for one thing only.

Chatting with Mr. Thai-Farang Relationships himself, Lawrence Lynch, confirmed one of my theories. More and more Thai women are turning their back on Westerners whose appearance could be described as shabby, unkempt, or even guys who they just consider plain dull. They're aiming higher.

Lawrence, who owns and runs Thai Professional Introductions, tells of customers who were heavy smokers or overweight heavy drinkers and of the troubles he would have in finding a Thai woman interested in getting involved with them. The woman's attitude was "Why should I, a pretty, polite and well-mannered woman put up with a man who is seriously overweight, a heavy smoker, or just doesn't look after himself?!"

Only 5 years ago virtually any Western guy could get a date with an attractive, educated Thai woman in her mid 20s, a highly desirable woman.

But today, in Bangkok at least, many Western guys are finding that getting a date with such a lady is much more difficult.

On the streets of Bangkok we see more and more decent looking, well-dressed Western guys arm in arm with a Thai woman who I would have thought was, with all due respect to her, not amongst the most desirable of the local ladies.

Despite all of this doom and gloom, decent Thai women are still out there and there is no shortage who would love to meet a decent Western man for a serious relationship. It’s just not as easy as it used to be. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

Well-dressed and genuinely polite guys will always do well in Thailand. Being handsome makes a big difference, but really, being well dressed and groomed is usually enough. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being polite.

Of course the guys who are truly successful in their career and financially well off get the pick of the bunch.

It might be harder for Western guys to meet decent women in Bangkok but out in the provinces there are many Thai women who would love to meet a decent Western guy.

To say it is difficult to meet a Thai woman nowadays would be misleading. It isn't difficult but rather not as easy as it used to be.

Thai women's stock is up, and more than ever, they know it.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's showed Rachadamnoen Nok Road. The first person to identify where the picture above was taken and email me with the answer wins their choice of four prizes. You can choose from a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod OR a giant burrito at Sunrisetacos OR a 500 baht credit at Lennie's OR a 500 baht credit at Catz Gogo. Each of the prize providers is in a different area so please specify which prize you would prefer. Oh My Cod – Khao San Road area. Sunrisetacos – Sukhumvit Road. Lennie's – Pattaya. Catz – Pattaya.

FROM STICK MARK II'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick Mark II)

Dramatic Thai women.

In response to your piece on why Thai women are so dramatic, I believe you left out one important piece. I think that it is just a cultural thing. If you manage to expose yourself to only a few minutes of Thai music, television, and movies, you will notice how dramatic it all is. Almost every single Thai pop song is about heartbreak – not about love, but about heartbreak. Music videos show nasty dramatic break ups, some even depicting post break up knifings. The TV and movies are not much better. The culture shows that drama is an essential part of a relationship. This explains quite easily why young Thai women seem to create drama out of nothing or why Thai women become attracted to you when you offer the potential for drama. I should also mention that these problems are nowhere near exclusive to foreign guys. In fact, I would even say that my Thai brothers have it worse – we've all heard some nasty stories from Thai friends. My foreign friends and I have learned how to create and maintain drama levels in order to pick up girls and maintain gig style relationships. Almost in a scientific manner. Unfortunately, I do not know of anyone who can manage the hell that a Thai woman can unleash when ending a boyfriend / girlfriend style relationship. That is other than the obvious of assuming all blame – you're mental if you will even think of criticizing a Thai girl after dumping her. To sum it all up in words we all hear way too much: "Thai Culture".

The not so positive influences of TV.

With reference to your discussion about why getting rid of the girlfriend is such a problem, I can maybe offer two pointers. 1. We are dealing with physically mature adults but emotionally immature kids. 2. They are fed a constant diet of utter rubbish on the TV, with ranting and raving females being portrayed as normal (come to think of it, I haven't seen a ghost on TV for a while, maybe that genre has been dropped in favour of the rich bitch?)

Maybe he was a bad dude?

Your comments on dumped Thai girls had me thinking. It's probably true when you say that people from her village will look down on her and ask why she wasn't good enough to keep the guy. But why do they not consider that he might have been bad in some way himself – violent or over-demanding or a butterfly – and that she had done the dumping in order to find someone better. As we'd say in the west, good riddance to bad rubbish.

Homicidal, not suicidal.

While I agree with much of what you said about Thai women in your most recent column I don't believe you'll see many Thai ladies doing a Brody over the balcony. When it comes down to it, they are much more homicidal than suicidal. There are broken hearted Farang flying off balconies in Pattaya with great regularity. One almost has to watch carefully to avoid falling bodies. I never read about suicidal Thai women. Nope, in affairs of the heart gone sour, it's us we should be looking out for. They'll be just fine.

Thai men abuse us because…

In regards to article about negative attitudes against farangs, I discussed it with some of my Thai friends. While they don't see it as a growing trend, they seemed to agree when it does happen it's caused by several factors: 1) Lesser educated Thais speaking English words they may not understand very well. 2) Many times when learning a language, the swear words are learned first. 3) In some cases there is the perception that farangs are more promiscuous, and they are throwing out some words while being open to the possibility of some sexual encounter coming from it. (I don't accept this explanation) 4) The mis-conception that all farangs are rich, which makes a less educated Thai jealous. This is quite plausible when you consider all the farangs they encounter everyday seem to have an endless supply of money.

1,000 baht is not an insult!

I'm shocked that you thought paying 1,000 THB was insulting for a bargirl. Considering the strength of the THB and also factoring in what an educated Bangkok office professional makes, in my opinion, it's quite reasonable. But it's a mere pittance compared to what they make when a foolish farang tries to sponsor a girl. There are a shocking number of girls collecting an easy 80,000 to 250,000 THB each month. Some of these girls also have beach view condos given to them. It's mind-boggling the amount of money available to even an average looking girl. And yes, as you have mentioned, most of them spend it all and have nothing in savings.

Bar licensing fees.

Re: the bar licensing piece in your article this week. You’re off on this one. First of all, it’s the law and all (serious) businesses should know about the fact they have to pay for playing music (local or international). Secondly, a lot of businesses do not pay ANY licenses (surprise surprise…). I agree that it’s not really the best way of dealing with it, especially on removing the sound system…BUT, that seems to be the only way to get paid. Other than in western countries, there are 3 so called collecting societies (Grammy, RS and JV / MCT Phonorights for the international and non Grammy / RS music). That’s weird, but again everybody knows about this! Oh, in the western countries they can (and will!) actually close down businesses for not paying the license fees. What’s better, no music, or no business?

Your mug shot online?

I agree that cameras should not be allowed inside the bars, or even outside. With the internet these photos can be published to the world at large, and specifically your wife, girlfriend, boss or whoever. Also I believe that the girls have a right to privacy too. How many readers want to see themselves on the internet, photographed in a bar, semi drunk and behaving badly?

The Irish Xchange will close and re-open as Molly Malone's Bangkok. Not sure what the change of name is all about and frankly I hope the name is all they change. Did The Irish Xchange even need any renovating? I would have thought not.

Established in 1991, TQ2 located on Soi BJ just off Walking Street, is 16 years old. To celebrate on Sunday 20th May 2007 they will be celebrating the only way they know how. With rock music, cold beers, free food, sexy ladies and shows, and much more. So if you are in town you are welcome to join the gang at TQ2 who will do their utmost to make sure you have a great time. Doors open 8 PM.

Despite the 1 – 2 AM closing time here's no shortage of seemingly unlicensed "bars" lining Sukhumvit Road in the early hours of the morning. Now there's one that sets up right slap in the middle of Soi Cowboy itself. After all the other bars surrounding it have been forced closed, this liquor cart continues trading as long as there are customers, right through to daybreak. To make matters even more interesting, the young fellow serving the drinks looks to be all of about 15 years old.

Metro Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 4 has just taken on three real cute girls from Hollywood bar. Apparently they (and their friends) had had enough of the Thai manager and so have moved on to a bar with a Western manager, the friendly and erudite Dave (not the Rave!). Back to the boss at Hollywood, apparently he used to be the DJ and now he's the boss. Some girls have complained that he arrives late, sometimes in quite a state. To make matters worse, the girls claim that they have been left waiting for their salaries which have been paid late. Such is music to the ears of other bar owners who know that the girls won't last long under such a regime. Metro Bar is still open until 2 AM unlike most of the rest of Soi 4. Perhaps their set-back location helps them to avoid official scrutiny?

And still at Metro Bar, they will have a promotion this coming Wednesday night with Jack Daniel's at 60 baht a shot all night or 1,000 baht for a whole bottle. There will be a free buffet and of course the very cute Metro girls to take care of everyone.

But it is not all rosy red in Sukhumvit Soi 4. The pleasant Sin Bar is getting closed early, sometimes as early as midnight! They do a good deal of their trade later in the evening so they are suffering. This is a real blow to Sin Bar which is in danger of losing customers to another late night venue, Spice Club.

Down in Patpong there's a new joint. Sisters can be found on the fourth floor opposite Foodland on Patpong Soi 2. From the look of it they are an Eden club wannabe – the joint is very Eden like in its pricing and err, conditions. Does Marc have some competition?

Last night's FLB Bar party with the 70 baht John Smith's all night long was well attended and a resounding success. The surprise of the night was a very attractive Thai female judge, a local businesswoman, who decided that she had to get up on stage as close to the action as possible to ensure her score card for the dance contest was correct.

While prices of many different types of electronic goods have come down in Thailand over the past few years, don't go kidding yourself that Thailand can compete with the other Asian electronics Meccas. For a *far* greater range of goods, availability of goods, as well as the best prices, Hong Kong is still very hard to beat, with Singapore a close second. Bangkok is better than it used to be, but it still can't compete with Hong Kong. And the more expensive your purchase, the more you'll save.

Some bars are fining the girls 2,000 baht for giving their phone number out to punters. TWO THOUSAND BAHT! And this is a big bar in Pattaya, a very big bar. Maybe we can come up with a list of new things by which the bars can fine the girls on? Nah, impossible, they're doing them all already.


The best Thai dating experience

The cops are at it again on the expressway leading put of the city, just past the Don Meuang Airport. Be careful at the 20 baht toll booth, the second to last toll booth as you are heading north. The cops are hitting up all and sundry on what I believe is a fake speeding charge. Aware of the dangers of breaking the speed limit on that stretch of road, I drive extremely slowly, below the speed limit, only to be pulled over at the toll booth and told I was speeding. NONSENSE! The coppers are way more aggressive than they were in the past, pulling over a high percentage of the vehicles. Talking my way out it was much more difficult than it ever was. It should be noted that they are saying that the speed limit on the expressway is just 80(!) km/h, as per the flashing light which blinks 80. What is the point of having such a ridiculously low speed limit on the expressway? 120 would be much more realistic. Madness.

The British Embassy appears to have changed some visa application rules again recently. It is now insisting on ORIGINAL documents for everything. It would appear that things like bank account books, ID cards etc. are given back immediately but they will check them against the copies before accepting the application. Also they are now stopping anyone going into the new visa application centre unless they are the actual person applying for the visa. As the door security staff don’t speak any English and most of the information notice boards are inside the new visa centre, the place is already beginning to resemble the chaos that use to ensue at the old embassy visa section.

And to make matters worse, a British pal sent a long term Thai friend to the embassy to apply for a visa. A middle-aged successful self-employed woman who completed her university study in the States where she has a 10 year visa was turned down by the British embassy for a tourist visa. Why?

Supansa Wichananant, a karaoke singer in Angthong province, recently had her arm chopped off by a policeman whose advances she avoided. While riding her motorcycle home, he and another co-worker drove beside her and cut her arm off. A long term reader is raising funds to assist her. She is mother to one boy and her own mother has cancer. A large number of small donations add up and make a tremendous difference in her life. Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated. Please contact him at [email protected] and he will provide her full name and banking details.

A Thai student in the UK is conducting a research on interactive features provided by four major Thai online news websites, namely The Nation, Bangkok Post, Manager, and Bangkokbiznews. She has a short online survey and asks any interested readers to complete it online here.

And another online survey can be found here. The survey is led by ESSEC Business School to provide expatriated professionals or anyone interested in the subject with relevant information. It is completely anonymous since they are only interested in the aggregate results, and it is open from now until July 31 2007.

There is a great little Lebanese restaurant in the first sub soi of Sukhumvit Soi 5, on the right, just up past Foodland. It is the second place on the right, slap bang between two massage outlets. There are no signs in English, but there is an English menu. This place has some of the best Middle Eastern food I have had in Bangkok and while it may appear to be less of an authentic experience than the open air places on Soi 3/1, I thought the food was better. 500 baht easily fills up two people. For me, the best spot is up on the balcony overlooking the comings and goings in that little alley. The place is usually full of Middle Easterners and I have yet to see another Westerner there.

Bangkok's taxi drivers do a tough job reasonably well. Some do it very well and a few, well, you wish you'd never got in the cab to begin with. One of the biggest complaints about the cabbies after their errant driving, their nose picking, their titching, their spitting out the window, their foul smelling cabs and again, their bad driving, is the fact that sometimes they do not want to take you where you want to go. There is usually one of two reasons for this. They are sat outside a hotel or major tourist attraction / area and they want to get a tourist who will accept their negotiated price without the use of the meter – meaning they get more than they would had they turned on the meter. The other, and in my experience even more common, is that the driver won't take you where you want to go because it is not convenient. You see, the drivers usually work a 12 hour shift and they have to drop the cab off to a certain place at a certain time when their buddy will take over the driving for the next 12 hour shift. If they are late, their buddy will give them more than a hard time. Now let's just say it is getting close to drop off time and you want to go in the exact opposite direction to where they need to drop off the cab AND the area to which you wish to go is known for bad traffic jams. Of course it is quite reasonable for them to decline the ride. Sometimes there IS a valid reason why the cabbies turn down your ride. Some are cowboys, sure, but when they turn down your request to go somewhere there may be a perfectly fair reason for it!

It is generally true that the further you get from Bangkok the friendlier the people get. However, that is not the case when you compare the friendliness of the locals in say Udon Thani and Nongkhai. Udon has to be home to some of the friendliest and most farang friendly locals around. The locals are so polite and gracious and just so God damned nice. But go 60 clicks up the road to Nongkhai and the people are nowhere near as friendly, smiles are a lot harder to find and they just do not have the same charm as the Udon locals. Just why is that?

If you want to watch the FA Cup Final live next week, you can see it on the big screen as well as all of the other smaller TVs at FLB Bar on Walking Street. Of course it will feature commentary in English. FLB will cater to the English lads with their national dish, a full on Indian curry supper, served at half time. Kick off is at 9 PM but you may want to get there well before then to get a good seat.

Wouldn't it be nice if at the breakfast buffet at hotels in Thailand they actually gave you real orange juice and not that awful packet stuff that is oh so sickly sweet. Ok, I know, at the better hotels the orange juice is the real thing, but at many of the thousand baht a night places where the rate includes breakfast, the orange juice is awful. Funnily enough, the pineapple juice is usually fine. I have never worked that one out. It is not like orange juice costs much more than pineapple juice in Thailand.

The phenomenon of some Thai families taking their dogs into shopping malls and sometimes even restaurants never fails to surprise me. But do they have to take them into restaurants? That is downright perturbing.

I was once told that the price of a new tuktuk in Thailand was around 60,000 baht. I don't know if this was true, but it was what I heard. What I can confirm though is the price of one of the colourful traps on the back of a motorbike style contraptions brand spanking new, is a mere 53,000 Thai baht. That's all you need, 53K baht, or around $US 1,500 and you can be a tuktuk driver in rural Isaan! Yeah, baby!

After a long exodus from Thailand, Timberland stores, and merchandise, are back – in fact they have been back for a fair few months now. You can find a branch in Siam Discovery Centre and a branch in Royal Shopping Centre in Pattaya.

Thais in touch with foreigners and aware of foreigners' feelings about the Foreign Business Act have been known to comment that foreigners needn't be overly concerned about it as it will not necessarily be enforced and that by paying off the right people you may be able to get around it. What Thais don't necessarily understand about foreigners is that the loss of confidence and the very real fear that they are vulnerable is a big deal indeed. Just another difference between Westerners and Thais.

Quote of the week comes from a bloke who was chatting to a freelancer. "How much?! 3000 baht? I want to bonk you, not pay your 'sin sot'!"

There's a shortage of teachers in Thailand according to this.

Miss Udon is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Feel free to send questions in for her to answer and get the perspective of a Thai female. You and I may well disagree with what she says. The purpose of this section is to provide a Thai woman's perspective!

Question 1: My girlfriend (in Pattaya) comes from Udon and I will be visiting her next month and we plan to go and meet her family in Udon and discuss with them our upcoming marriage. I know what to expect. Can you please tell me a little bit about Udon Thani and how it is different from the parts of Thailand I know, Bangkok and Pattaya. Are there interesting places to visit or anywhere you can recommend?

Miss Udon says: Udon Thani is a small province. In the main town there are many places including a shopping mall, cinema, hotels, bars, restaurants etc. But outside the town there are some interesting places like Phu Phrabat Historical Park. In Amphur Gumphawabe there is a park in the centre of the city that has many monkeys. About 30 km east of the main town is Ban Chiang where you can find fossils and artifacts from the past. You can get a bus from the main town to Ban Chiang or hire a car and drive there.

Question 2: A good girl / service girl is always flirting with me at my frequent vacation place in Pattaya. We have been to the cinema and shopping just a few times. She introduced me to her friends who are all people with a job or a business. We went together at a Thai night-restaurant and her friends are joking about us being boyfriend / girlfriend. But that is my question: She looked at me and tapped several times with her finger to her left shoulder and asked if I know the meaning of this gesture. She does this many times now and asks me if I know what she tells me. Her friend told me that this gesture means she wants me as a boyfriend but he is not sure if she is serious or just kidding. Can you tell me the meaning of this gesture?

Miss Udon says: She looks at you and taps her left shoulder with her finger? It has a meaning! The left shoulder you mention I think she means her heart. Looking at you and tapping her heart means she likes you and she wants you to know that. If she does it again, this time I would like you to do the same thing as she does. You will understand the meaning by her reaction. If she laughs and asks "really?" then yes!, my guess is right.

Question 3: Have been a regular visitor to Thailand for the last 9 years and usually with my farang partner in tow. Have always admired the ladies of Thailand but being in a relationship with a farang thought little about it. Last year my partner and I separated amicably and I found myself back on the single scene again after 10 years. While in Melbourne, Australia I met a nice Thai girl who is doing her Master's here and have been seeing her for the last month or so. In that time we have been on maybe 8 to 10 dates with not much progress. Handholding after date number 6 and a good night kiss after the last date. I do not want to push her and respect her for this but it is starting to drive me crazy. Is this the norm when dating Thai women? I am not after just sex and by my actions I think she knows this but need a little more than I am currently getting! I have been the complete gentleman but my patience is wearing thin. She is 27 years old and has had a previous boyfriend from Hong Kong so guess she is not a virgin? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Miss Udon says: Sounds like she has been dating a nice guy. For a girl like us if we meet a nice guy of course we want a guy to think we are a good girl. We won't do any thing which makes a guy think we are an easy girl. And also we want to know about a guy we are dating, to know that he is a good, a gentleman or not? You already showed her that you are a good guy. She let you hold her hand at the 6th date, a good night kiss on the 8th date all means she trusts you and will soon be ready to move to the next step. Let me make it clear, I would like you to read from her reaction when you hold her hand. Does she hold yours tighter? When you give her a good night kiss, does she get her face close to you or stay where she is? If she does as I mention that means you can move on towards the way you want. She is just waiting for you to start otherwise you will have to wait longer. Good luck!

The inclement weather in Thailand continues and it's been another week which we could have mistaken for the rainy season. Cloudy skies day after day, cooler temperatures and frequent downpours, some of them heavy. The one upside is that visibility in the city has been greatly increased. I couldn't believe it when earlier in the week I was way out in the outskirts and I could actually see the Baiyoke Tower clearly, along with many of the other skyscrapers in the city centre. If nothing else, the air is cleaner.



Yours,

Stick Mark II