Stickman's Weekly Column July 1st, 2007

Are Massage Parlours A Better Option?


I’ll never forget one of the first reports I read online from a long time resident of Bangkok describing his first experience with a Thai lady of the night.

His report took us back to the post Vietnam era. He had met a young lady in a late night entertainment venue and after indicating that he would like to get to know her better she invited him back to her place, a traditional old Thai teak house in Prakanong.

She had been dressed in traditional Thai silk and despite the fact that they had met under circumstances where she was looking to make money from her body, something that no good Thai woman would ever dream of, she had made herself up to look very traditional and proper. 'Tart' is not a word you would have used to describe her.

He remembers falling asleep in her bedroom with her waiing him at the foot of the bed. His next memory was waking up in the early morning to the sound of chickens squawking. As the sun pierced through cracks in the wall and streamed in through the open shutters, he spied a buffalo in a field next to the dwelling. The lady, and that is the only word you could use to describe her – lady – had met the previous night gave him a wai just as she had the night before and sat up next to him in the bed.

She sat there, topless, slowly brushing her hair as the golden light of the early morning shone through casting a golden glow over her body. What a sight that must have been! The report made it all sound like a quite surreal experience.

She then told him to relax, pushed him back on the bed and after showering and getting dressed she told him to wait before she left. Some time later she returned with bags of meat and vegetables. Camping out in the area that was used for preparing food, she then went about preparing and cooking him what could only be described as a feast. They spent some time together before he finally decided that the dream could last no longer and he left, not before leaving her with 200 baht, for which once again she waied him.

This story demonstrates better than any other I have heard just how Thai women really can make you feel special. And of course this is all the more surprising because the lady in question was doing it in what could best be described as a "commercial relationship". Of course that it happened some 30+ years ago needs to be factored in. This sort of experience simply doesn't exist these days.

Guys coming to Thailand for the naughty nightlife these days should not get their hopes up of experiencing such tender loving care or decadence.

Things have changed so drastically and naughty liaisons in Bangkok are now very much like in the West. Wham, bang, thank you, mam. The dirty deed is done and she is out the door in record time.

Many of the naughty boys who used to come to Thailand for the pleasures of the night are complaining that things have changed and that what they experienced 5 or 10 years ago no longer exists. This was touched on in the column of 29 April 2007.

Guys used to come to Thailand for what is often termed 'the girlfriend experience', where a lady of the night would treat them much the same, or sometimes even better, than a girlfriend would. But many complain that this has changed, and some say that the girlfriend experience may not even exist any more.

Apparently these days the girls are much more ruthless and the idea of spending all night with a customer is the last thing they want. They’re out the door as soon as the business is done. And in what is a rather sneaky move, many agree in the bar to stay all night but then change their mind or suddenly get a (usually pre-arranged) phone call with the caller saying that they have to go and attend to a sick relative or perhaps that their roommate has lost their key and cannot get into their shared room. Of course the truth is that she is either going back to her Thai boyfriend / husband or that she is going back to the bar or one of the freelancer joints to get another customer – and trying to double her income.

Customers of the girls tell me that the pampering so common in the past no longer happens and it is now all about business. The girlfriend experience, while still possible, is much harder to find. (Hint: think Pattaya over Bangkok in your search.)

There used to be certain service standards and it would be fair to say that the girls did not play the same tricks in the past, or perhaps they did, but to a much lesser extent.

Ever the cynic, these days I laugh when I am in bars and see a guy take a certain type of girl with him. There she is, arms wrapped around him saying “I love you”, “you're so handsome” and “I boom boom you all night long” while winking at her friends or signaling to them that she is going to be back in an hour. Some girls brazenly even tell their friends exactly their intentions, in Thai of course because the majority of customers are tourists and know but a handful of words.

So while many guys come to Thailand looking for the girlfriend experience, all they often end up getting is a quick bonk, a quick fix. That's it. To make matters worse they are often paying upwards of 4,000 Thai baht for it! To put that in perspective, it's almost $US 120.

Don’t believe me? Find one of the genuinely pretty girls in Nana Plaza – and I am afraid there are fewer and fewer that meet this description these days. Typically the most attractive girls want at least 3,000 baht for short time. Of course you can get some for less, but the prettiest girls want AND command that. The barfine is 600 baht. You’ve had a drink or two yourself and she’s hand one so that’s another 350 baht. And if you take her to a short time hotel, that is going to be a few hundred baht more. All up, for what may end up being half an hour of passion (if that!), you’re paying 4,000+ baht. What a rip off!

With all of this in mind I am surprised there has not been a shift of customers towards the Thai scene. In the Thai oriented industry, that is the Thai massage parlours, you get superior service from prettier girls, with certain guarantees and often at less than half the price. There is no way in the world a Thai man would pay 4,000 baht for a mediocre experience as many farangs are.

Thai men don’t go to the gogo bars for many reasons, and with prices in the farang scene now reaching ridiculous heights, the Thai massage parlours now offer, I believe, a superior product.

There are many grades of massage parlours, from the el cheapos where everything all in will set you back around 1,000 baht, to the glitzy establishments of Rachadapisek Road and Rama 9 Road where a couple of hours can set you back in excess of 5,000 baht.

The average price in such venues is usually a little south of 2,000 baht, and that is everything, all in. There are many, many venues which charge much less.

And it has to be said that the women in the Thai oriented massage parlours are generally more attractive than the riff raff on Sukhumvit. Even the prettiest girls of Nana and Cowboy simply cannot compete with the truly attractive ladies you find in the Thai scene. We’re not talking personal preference here, we’re talking genuine beauty!

Of course there are many differences between the farang oriented gogo bars of Sukhumvit and the Thai (and to some extent other Asian) oriented massage parlours of Rachada. In the massage parlours it is all about relaxation and a happy ending. The gogo bars and other farang oriented bars are (used to be?) about fun. But with the sort of games going on these days, most bars just don't offer the sort of fun they used to. A few bars still do, but they are the exception as opposed to the rule.

Catz in Pattaya springs to mind as one of the few gogo bars where one can still have a lot of fun. Safari in Patpong is another. Honestly, I can't think of too many others.

Of course there are downsides to the Thai massage parlours. There are stories of some girls being there against their will although my understanding is that that is more likely to be in small upcountry brothels than big Bangkok venues. And of course there is fairly high traffic through the massage parlours, although the same could be said about the farang gogo bars too. And these are not venues where you go with your mates for a few drinks and a laugh. They are strictly speaking commercial sex venues, not partyhouses.

Even though I am not a participant in all this carry on, I can't help but think that many farangs who have an itch that needs scratching would be better off heading to the Thai style outlets than the gogos of Sukhumvit.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was of the Chinese temple located beside the Saphan Taksin BTS station, you know, down near the Chao Praya River. There are four prizes each week and the first four people to identify where the picture above was taken and email me with the answer win a prize. You can choose from a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod OR a 500 baht credit at Lennie's OR a 500 baht credit at Catz Gogo OR a 500 baht credit at Octopussy Bar in Hua Hin. 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. Lennie's – Pattaya. Catz – Pattaya. Octopussy – Hua Hin. This week's picture is back in Bangkok.

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

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Rental deposit returns.

The best way to get over the deposit problem is not to pay the rent for the last two months of one's intended tenancy. However, strictly speaking, this is illegal and landlords (of course) don't like the practice. But there are so many landlords, invariably Thai-Chinese, who hate to pay money back (because they most likely haven't got it at the time since they've spent it long since). What recourse do hapless tenants have? I did hear that in Pattaya some agents hold the security deposits instead of the landlords, which gets over this problem nicely, although I have never heard of it happening in Bangkok I must confess. I have heard of companies in Bangkok who will only put their staff into rented accommodation when landlords agree that the last two months' rent will offset the security deposits, less any adjustments for tenant damage, etc. In this way, the rent payer (the customer in other words) remains in the driving seat. In an ideal world the landlord would lodge that money into a separate bank account and leave it there, the intention being to return to the tenant at the end of the lease, less any monies retained to cover damage or outstanding telephone / utility bills. In practice, however, the landlord pockets the money and then forgets they even had it, so, in one or two year's time, they often cannot rustle up the money. I've heard of countless stories of landlords refusing to return deposits and then inviting the tenants to sue them in the courts – and we all know what a farce that would be; lawyers' fees alone would come to more than the amount in dispute and you are foreigner tackling a Thai citizen in a Thai court! The disreputable landlords know this and, irritatingly, you would even have to pay the police to help you assuming they would even be interested in intervening. Regrettably, it is a jungle out there and we should be grateful that the majority of landlords are fair and honest. That has been my experience in ten years of assisting farangs in finding rented accommodation.

Western women and Thai women much the same?

Australian women and other women with the exception in general terms of Europeans and South Americans are just the same as they are when capitalist’s values are thrown daily at you. In our so called western countries, the same as Thailand or other countries that have joined with up with global capitalism what do you expect when all you see are commercials buy this, buy that, every second. Be honest with yourself when talking about say Sydney, Australia. Do you think they are any less boring here when the reputation of Sydney these days is one of the dullest in the world along with having the most uninformed people in the western world? Is it different in Melbourne?

The British English vs. American English debate.

I'm not a teacher but I do live in Bangkok. I have lived in South East Asia for the last twelve years altogether. I do believe that you dismiss the influence of American TV too lightly. After all, most films and 'comedy' shows aired on local TV are American. Add in the MTV influence and kids will imitate what they see and hear. It irks me no end when I hear Asian teenagers (and adults) laying on thick American accents because they think it sounds good. Personally, I can't listen to CNN for more than a few minutes at a time. I am convinced that one of their female anchors, Kristy Lu Stout, must have practiced for hours thickening up her American accent. I once read a survey carried out in London discovered that something like 20% of fifteen year olds believed that the emergency services telephone number was 911. I met a young woman who worked for JP Morgan in Singapore. This was a business meeting, and she spoke to me in a false American accent. When I asked her why she was talking like that, she immediately reverted back to her Singlish accent and said, "Oh sorry, I thought you were an American". The American penchant for deliberately mispronouncing every bloody thing annoys me hugely and I point it out to them whenever I get the chance. However, I fear English has been battered beyond repair by our transatlantic cousins and all we can do is cling to our standards.

Mr. 3 Star blew it!

I just spent the last two days comforting my ex-girlfriend who just had her heart broken by a cheating farang guy -not the first time either. The thing is, she is a great catch – young, well educated, attractive and fun. She works in a 5 star hotel and pays (almost) all her own way. But the guy? Strictly a 3 star boyfriend – a little over-weight, poor dress sense and the drink-every-night mentality. Really, the guy should have been SO grateful she was with him. The Star Rating for girl and boyfriends is internationally understood and needs little explanation. Everyone understands the hotel system and can apply it to people easily. (particularly my ex who lost her 3 star guy last week, as she worked for the Sukhothai and JW Marriot). I have dated 3 star girls (cheap and basic, but not good for a long stay). I've dated 5 star (very luxurious, but need a lot of maintenance and are very expensive). Ideally I'd like to meet a nice 4 star girl (comfortable and stylish, but I don't feel out of my league). By the way, 1 and 2 star girls are definitely out… (old and shabby) and could do with a good wash and I don't want to follow all the previous guests!

A Bangkok fender bender.

In re: No farang = no accident! on 24 June. This is just plain false in this day and age when everybody is required to carry insurance while driving. I was involved in a minor fender bender two weeks ago where the Thai driver behind me was completely at fault as he ran into my rear end as I slowed down to make a left turn at an intersection. He apologised, admitted fault and we both called our insurance company (happened to be the same one). After an hour of the claims adjuster taking pics and doing paperwork we both left and my car dealership fixed the car on the other guy's policy. My biggest recommendation, although it will cause a major headache and snarl traffic, is to stay at the scene and don't move your car so you have clear evidence of what happened. If someone runs into you from behind, it's usually their fault. The Thai driver that ran into me, by the way, was gentlemanly about it and even though I could tell he didn't have a lot of money, he was honest and courteous.

Actually I am trying to cover a broad range of topics.

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw a story about a katoey bar as a lead in article in your column. What's has happened? Is this the way the site is going?

For those of you who fancy yourself as something equivalent to gambling's high rollers, you might want to check out the Conrad Hotel. The birds in there seem to be into price fixing, with the current rates being asked quoted at 5,000 baht for short time and a very cool 8,000 baht, that's about $US 230, for long time. I'd love to ask just what 500 baht gets!

I had a chance to check out the much hyped Shakerz this week and while I would love to say positive things, there really was little to write about. The venue is hard to find. No signs exist and you literally have to ask for directions to find it even when you're standing right outside. Heading up the stairs the anticipation was building and then in we were, a small bar with loud music….and that was it! No dancing and nothing happening! I’d love to say it has promise, but that just would not be true. I wish this bar every success, but I can honestly say that the location likely means that this is always going to be "a small bar down the soi from Nana".

Bar parties in Bangkok never seem to be the big hit that they are in Pattaya. Down in Fun City the bars excel themselves with a lot of (often very good) food and genuine drinks specials. Well, this week I was very impressed by the party held by David at Metro in Soi 4. There was heaps of great Mexican food provided as well as free Margaritas. The bar was packed and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Easily the best bar party in Bangkok in recent memory.

Bourbon Street's July 4 special this year is a buy one, get one free deal. Buy one plate of Bar-B-Q pork ribs and get a second free.

And Bully's are celebrating July 4th too with a BBQ on Wednesday from 4:00 PM. It will feature Bully's tasty BBQ ribs and chicken from the grill, honey ham carving and silver dollar rolls, corn on the cob, cherry and blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream – all for 190 baht buffet. There will also be 100 baht Margaritas and 100 baht Heineken / Tiger pints. Bring in your passport and the first Budweiser or Margarita is on Bully's – and that is for ANY nationality, not just the Americans!

One name we do not hear much of these days, the fellow who is generally regarded as the head of the Crown Group, is said to finally be realising his dream of purchasing a light aircraft. Rumour has it that said fellow has been Stateside for some time and has a private plane coming soon. Who said there’s no money in the bar business?

And speaking of there being money in the bars, Angelwitch Bangkok is currently listed for sale at 55 million baht. That is more than one and a half million US dollars at the present exchange rate! My feeling is that the bar is not worth that much, but it is worth that much to the present owner hence that is the asking price. I'm not being cryptic here…work it out yourself!

Cathouse has yet another new owner although I have no details of who it is. I guess we can assume that the loopy juice special will continue. Fear not Cheap Charlies! I mean, is there any other bar in Sukhumvit that offers a similar special?

Down in Pattaya where customers are a little thin at the moment there is no shortage of bars for sale. What is interesting is that those with a realistic price ARE selling whereas those which are priced optimistically, for the seller that is, are not.

The price of securing a visa for Thailand has just gone up with Thai missions around the world set to increase the price of all visas. The price increases don't appear to be too steep, but then there is some disparity between the prices charged at the various Thai missions around the world so he prices charged at some missions may be more expensive than at others.

Huge conjecture resulting in serious consternation has surrounded the rumours that True Visions are going to drop Star Sports and ESPN from their line up. This all started when subscribers to Thailand's main cable provider noticed that there were no listings in the monthly guide for either of these channels. The rumour mill had it that these stations would disappear from July 1st but they are still being broadcast for the time being. Let's hope it stays that way as these two channels carry a lot of the major sports.

There absolutely must have been a significant change in the mix of tourists coming to Thailand. While the bars are quiet, you cannot get a ticket from Scandinavia or other parts of Europe to Bangkok at this time.

It’s not only Bangkok where the rain is falling. At the beach resorts the daily rains are no longer a talking point, they are the norm. Down in Phuket at some of the less popular beaches, such as Rawai, many restaurants have closed for a few months. This is to the advantage of the locally based guys as the bars are empty and the staff – for a change – are said to be quite willing and agreeable.

In last week’s column I suggested Sunday was the quietest day in the bars. Wrong! Monday is clearly the quietest day. If you want the bars at their quietest, Monday's the night.

The rights to John Burdett's first Bangkok based novel, "Bangkok 8", have been picked up by Hollywood although only time will tell if the novel ever actually makes it to the screen. I have been waiting patiently for Jake Needham's Big Mango in the cinema as the rights were sold (and I believe resold) for the Bangkok classic. We wait patiently…

This whole visa situation with people flying into Thailand requiring proof of onward travel is starting to get out of hand. Readers are reporting that some travel agents now won't even sell a one way ticket, citing that it is risky in that the airline may refuse them on board the aircraft, lest Immigration turn them away at the Thai border and the airline be forced to repatriate them – presumably at the airline's cost. But the situation has got SO BAD that at least one travel agent has (mistakenly in my opinion) said that even buying an onward ticket out of Bangkok to a neighbouring country on a budget airline might not be enough – and might not be accepted by the airline carrying the passenger to Thailand! The crux of it all is that the Thai Immigration Department's recent (and often inconsistent) enforcement of visa rules is causing many interested parties to enforce upon passengers rules that surely don't even exist – as in, "If you do not buy a return ticket on this airline, we won't sell you the ticket!" I never fathom to be amazed at how certain Thai government departments are inadvertently messing tourists around big time.

An awful story reached me of an aged Brit who was turned away at the airport because of some sort of passport irregularity. In his '70s, the Brit was told that there was a problem with his passport and that Immigration could not reach anyone at the embassy to assist and that he would therefore have to wait at the airport over the weekend (it was a Friday) and they would be in touch with someone at the airport on Monday. He elected to get on a plane and return to London a few hours later having decided that he did not want to spend the entire weekend in what is essentially the Immigration Department's airport detention centre. Fancy that, a 70+ year old guy told he can put his head down on an airport sofa for three nights. Where's the compassion? And they wonder why people are looking at other countries for their holidays! I am 99.9% sure that the British Embassy would have had people available AND willing to help, so I wonder just what efforts were made to contact them?!

A warm welcome goes out to Tatt2Dude.com, a new support of this website. The Tatt2dude site has an interesting blog about life in Thailand worth checking out. The dude behind it is an experienced tattoo artist with an impressive portfolio and is working on a new tattoo studio soon to open in Pattaya which it is hoped will up the bar in the industry. Having met Tatt2dude himself this past week, I'm sure his new parlour will be worth checking out if you’re in the market for some body art.

Andy is looking for a manager to run Club Electric Blue in Patpong. He wants somebody who is or has been living in Thailand for some time, who is not a drunk or just wants to bonk all the girls – and the ability to speak a little Thai is always a good point. Salary is good with bonuses, work permit and holiday pay. Anyone interested can contact Andy at [email protected]

An excellent story appeared on this site this week written by none other than "Mr. 3 Decades" himself, Marc Holt. Marc has been a regular contributor for this site for a long time. This week Marc touched upon the very interesting issue of tenants in rented accommodation in Bangkok getting their deposit back. I personally have seen many struggle to get their deposit back – and this is not just a farang thing. Even when the renter is a Thai there are all sorts of games played when it comes to returning the deposit, from waiting for months to return it, to making all sorts of crazy deductions, to simply refusing to answer the phone or accept calls when the previous lessee telephones to enquire about the status of their deposit! What options are available to guarantee that one gets their deposit back? It would be interesting to hear any thoughts readers may have. Incidentally it should be noted that the trusted method of simply not paying the last two months, while effective, is technically illegal – and some people do find their ass in court over that one.


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

Isn't it frustrating that hard drives and other computer components which are often manufactured in Thailand cost much more here in Thailand than they do in North America? The same could be said about Nikon cameras with much manufacture of Nikon's entry level SLRs done at their Ayuthaya factory.

I stumbled upon this site run by a Thai language school in the Asoke area that I had not heard of before. What is perhaps most interesting is that they claim to offer a means of getting a one year visa. I have a funny feeling that they might just do very well if that claim turns out to be true. Many Westerners are struggling for a way to stay in Thailand and this might be an answer, for a year at least. And the course cost, at a bit under 30,000 baht, which includes a one year visa (with no need for visa runs!) is palatable to most! This is VERY shrewd marketing as many people would happily pay 30,000 baht to be able to stay in Thailand for a year with no visa issues. This is a very real visa option for those who cannot find a way to satisfy the increasingly stringent visa requirements.

Are katoeys (ladyboys / transsexuals) hes, shes or its? I really do not know how to refer to them and often use "she", but, well, that is kind of wrong, isn't it?

In the early days in Thailand I used to eat street food a lot but these days I am loathe to do so. The longer you live here, the more aware you are of the dreadful sanity and total lack of hygiene practiced by so many of the street vendors. And I am not talking about something as basic as them collecting banknotes and coins and then preparing food without washing their hands, but rather more serious issues such as cats and dogs sleeping on the areas where food is prepared, and even climbing over the food preparation areas while food is being prepared. I kid you not! Pay more attention to the areas where street vendors operate from and you too might start to develop a similar reluctance to eat on the street.

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 is always complaining that I am kee-neeow. I hate it and have told her that it is a real insult to call someone cheap, especially when they are actually being generous! We have lived together for approaching a year and hope to get married next year but her constantly berating me about my “low salary” makes me wild. I earn 75,000 baht per month after tax and her monthly income is 26,000 baht after tax. Together we earn over 100,000 baht per month after tax. I really do think that this is plenty to have a nice life in Thailand. Our shared apartment is 20,000 baht per month and with all bills comes to about 25,000 baht per month. I pay for all of this and she contributes nothing, yet she continues to complain about me being poor! Am I missing something? I believe this is a good salary by local standards. Is my girlfriend being fair? I would welcome your thoughts on this.

Miss Udon says: Your girlfriend complains that you are kee-neeow? I think what she means is both of you earn a good salary and with this money it can make both of you live a comfortable life…but you're not spending money freely enough as she thinks you should. That's why she calls you kee-neeow. Has she ever asked you to buy anything or do any things which cost a lot of money and you refused her? In her mind she thinks that there are things you could provide her but you didn't want to pay that much money for such things. So when she can not get what she wants she turns to complain about your salary – which I think is already a good salary. This is her personal emotions. She just never gets enough and she should just be happy for what she has got already.

Apologies that this week's column went up online late and also to a couple of people with whom I missed appointments this weekend. I have spent 12 of the last 36 hours driving upcountry to attend the funeral of someone I both liked and respected. With my mind not on the job at all and me rushing to put it all together at the last minute, this week's column may well be disjointed. I hope you understand that after all I have been through this weekend my concentration and energy levels aren't what they usually are.



Yours,

Stick Mark II