Stickman's Weekly Column July 22nd, 2007

Resort Caroline Udon Thani


When It All Goes Horribly Wrong

This article contains a number of links. Reading these links at the point they appear in the article should help you to understand and enjoy the article better.

Tony is a Brit. 4 years ago he went through a nasty divorce. He needed to get away from the UK and Thailand seemed like a good choice. He made the big move to the Land of Smiles, burning his bridges in the process.

Tony met Ning, a lovely native of Udon Thani and they got married and settled into a pleasant life in the north-eastern province.

Needing to make money to support his family, Tony and Ning opened up Resort Caroline, which could best be described as a specialist resort with appeal to alternative lifestyle people. This was a beautiful resort where swingers could relax…and do their thing.

But Tony’s life was soon to change. In March of this year the resort was descended on by men in tight brown uniforms, men with cameras and men and women with notebooks and pencils. It was a police raid and media frenzy in unison!

When The Mail on Sunday, along with much of the local media, reported that according to Udon's chief of police, these British swingers were giving Thailand a bad name, Tony was no longer able to run the resort as he had originally planned. <The original article from the Mail on Sunday is hereStick>

Unfortunately much of what was printed in the tabloid was factually incorrect, some of it downright libelous. It was stated that the resort had been open for 4 years and that 6,000 British couples had been to the resort on holiday! Such claims are quite ludicrous given that the main house was not even a finished building 4 years ago and that they only have 5 rooms available to guests. The domain name of the original website promoting the resort was not even registered until 15 January of last year. Clearly many of the claims made were complete lies, not that that has ever bothered the British tabloid press.

The resort itself started shortly after a house telephone was installed. The internet site came shortly afterwards. In fact they opened after getting a website designed and made for them by a friend in London. That was one year and three months before the police came and closed them down.

As was usual, they were empty at the time of that huge raid, 30 cops and 35 media men and women.

Despite claims that this was a swingers’ resort on a huge scale (the opening time, the number of rooms and the claimed number of couples just do not add up mathematically), the resort was not a commercial success. The truth is that they had a very small number of guests in the one year and three months that they were open. The claims from Tony and Ning are that they had less than 50 couples stay.

Unfortunately the local press turned this mole hill into a mountain and the resulting scandal has changed the lives of not just Tony and Ning, but their three year old, Caroline.

The resort is in a tiny village near Nong Saeng, Udon Thani. Like all such villages, there is a village headman. The village headman started to ask Ning for money on a weekly basis after they had opened – but she ignored him. It is believed that he started to report them to the police for making too much noise and it is then that their problems most likely started.

But the problems of noise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, if not complete lies, as the main house is 200 metres from the nearest village house! This was not a major party spot with huge numbers of guests and loud music was never a feature of the operation. Whenever music was played it was always softly at a low volume. Tony and Ning had even tested this out, walking to the village at night to see if they could hear anything. There was nothing but the eerie silence of rural Thailand.

Let’s make no bones about it. This business was intended as a swingers resort. But business was not going well and Tony realised that they needed to diversify, at least until they got established.

They started a small thatched bar in the village. It was very popular with the villagers. Again the headman complained about the noise and this time they were closed down – even before the paint was dry! Having lost money that they could ill afford to lose they realised that the headman had the power to hurt them.

Tony had a Harley Davidson, but not for long. The village headman saw him ride it through the village one afternoon and complained. Ning told him to get rid of it, reiterating the fact that this man could hurt them.

It was soon after that Tony and Ning received their first visit from the local police and, as usual, they were empty at the time. The police told them that the village headman was complaining about them at every “council meeting” and that rumours about them and their operation were allegedly being spread by him and his cohorts. There was also mention of drugs and even porn flicks being made!

The police were friendly and they knew of the many good deeds Tony and his wife had done in the village and surrounding area. Tony had taught in the school as a volunteer and given money for the construction of a school toilet blockhouse. They had helped out various people and had made donations to the local people. Ning has also helped the aged and even been awarded certificates of merit for these good deeds. These were good, community-minded people who were more than pulling their weight in the poor community.

No secret was made about the resort, perhaps an error of judgment in hindsight, and soon Ning’s friends were coming by for a swim, free drinks and perhaps the chance to meet a wealthy farang.

Tony and Ning both believed that they were not breaking any laws. According to them, there are no laws against swinging in Thailand. Tony claims that there is no shortage of Thai couples registered on the Internet looking for other swinging couples and there is a known swinging scene operating in Pattaya. Surprise, surprise! But my investigation as to the legality of the business revealed different findings. One friend told of a farang who ran a similar operation for swingers in Bangkok in the mid '90s. He was caught and sent to the monkey house for 5 years.

The women that attended the parties invited friends and they in turn invited their friends. Tony and Ning soon began to realise that these women were eating and drinking far more than they were making so they had to limit the number of women.

One guest asked if any ladyboys ever joined the parties. The first 5 ladyboys arrived that night and in gruff voices they asked where the free whiskey was. In what must have looked like a scene from a slapstick comedy, it was some lads from the village dressed in mum's clothes! They were said to look like a rugby team in drag! They were given a case of beer and told to beat it.

Tony felt that Thailand seemed such a liberated place with more freedom much than the West. Even in the provincial capital of Udon there is no shortage of naughty bars including a bunch of bars catering to Western men right in the heart of the city. You cannot walk in the area around the Charoensri Grand Hotel without being told what a handsome man you are and invited inside a dubious looking bar for a drink…and more.

But looks are deceiving and Thailand is socially conservative. While there may be all manner of naughty stuff available nationwide, it tends to be in unmarked buildings, in the basement of hotels, or largely out of sight. It is really only the farang bar areas that dare to be more open – and for many Thais, these bar areas are very much a blight on their pure, innocent and wholesome landscape.

I am not aware of any other swingers resorts advertising in Thailand – and a search came up empty. One friend who has indulged in the swingers’ scene in Pattaya refused to provide any information at all. It’s out there, but it's hidden. This is a very discreet scene with participants in clear understanding of the dangers of being caught. In a country where your reputation is everything, being caught on camera in what could be perceived as an orgy would mean ruin. The sight of a camera at one of these events would have couples running in all directions, probably not too different to what you see when the boys in brown raid the Nana Hotel car park.

According to Tony, not a lot of swinging occurred at the resort. What is ironic is that Tony says that this upset the Thai couples far more than the philosophical European guests!

The website apparently advertised for soft swingers only, that is those who just like being in a liberated atmosphere. Tony offers that Thai swingers didn’t seem to grasp this concept. Some got quite upset and even walked out without paying!

So why did it all go horribly wrong? Was it the fact that they were advertising a swinging resort in rural Thailand, or was it that the purported demands for money from a local headman were not met? Or was it another reason, perhaps a complaint from a disgruntled customer or petty jealousy at the building of Palace Farang in the barn nok?

As already mentioned, the police told reporters that 6,000 mainly British couples had spent a week of hedonism there, something that is, as already mentioned, a mathematical impossibility.

Is there anything more embarrassing than a police raid in Thailand, when not only do the police arrive in the sort of numbers needed to start a mini war, but that they do so with just as many in number of the press. As the cops traipsed through their castle the whole affair took on a carnival feel as they were followed, room by room, by a bunch of hungry media. It was like a shark’s feeding frenzy.

When asked what it was all about, one plain clothes policeman said they were looking for "Drugs, pornographic manufacturing equipment or materials, anything."

The search took many hours with everything examined in great detail. Nothing was overlooked and no stone was left unturned. It was discovered that the resort’s license had not been issued properly and that a bird kept in a cage was also not issued with a proper license. Tony claims that they did in fact go to the right people for the licenses.

All of this commotion and what was found? Basic licensing irregularities! This was supposed to be a big bust, a huge media sensation and that is all that was found!

One of the policemen touched a computer and the swingers’ website appeared. The smile on Khun Dumruat’s face was shark like. He started shouting with joy and the media circus descended on to that computer, jostling to get the best pictures!

Tony and Ning were thrown into the local monkey house. A Thai style prison, there was no toilet privacy, no bed, no chair. Just a shit stained floor.

Tony and Ning foolishly signed papers. The police told them that they would be released and could then go and find a lawyer if they just signed the papers, "A mere formality" they were assured. Foolishly they signed the papers, Tony totally unaware of just what he had signed. As soon as the papers had been signed they were thrown back into the stinking cells which faced a TV that was turned up loud and left on all night long.

The provincial capital of Udon Thani is a nice town with very friendly people. It may not have a wealth of tourist attractions but the people are first class and it is a nice spot to spend a relaxing day or two, with the option of a day trip up to Nongkhai. Tony and Ning just wanted to run a fair business, but it seems they had chosen the wrong type of business and had run foul of the wrong people.

The day after the police raid they were taken to another media frenzy at the central Udon police station. Before a roomful of cameras, a senior policeman talked to Ning. The kindly senior copper told them that they had a beautiful resort and they should never have needed to sully the pure environment with the awful swingers and swinging scene. The TV cameras and the media got everything they wanted.

Tony and Ning were then taken to the bank where the police were more than a little surprised to find that they only had 300,000 baht in their joint account. They weren’t rich at all, far from it in fact.

Now this represented a problem as bail was set at 300,000 baht each. They were able to borrow extra from a friend. Now they were not just poor, they were as good as bankrupt.

It crossed Tony’s mind of selling the house but the land registry told them that they had not issued any titles to land in that village! Stickman Living in Thailand 101 – rent, don’t buy!

Money was borrowed from friends but after a while their friends changed email addresses and telephone numbers. They could not reach any friends and now they were on their own.

You often hear Westerners in Thailand saying what a great country it is – and it is. But only if you have money. When things go wrong in Thailand, you can find yourself on your own. And now Tony and Ning are very much on their own

Without any finances, Tony and Ning hit rock bottom. ROCK BOTTOM. They have no money at all. To eat they have resorted to hitting trees with long bamboo poles to gather bugs. This is their food.

Working in the dark, Ning and their three year old daughter gather the bugs that land in the torch light and with rice taken from the poor, ironically the very poor they used to help feed, they now have something to eat.

The bugs are said to taste like cellophane and rat tastes like diced shoes. Frog is all tiny bones and grasshoppers have spines that stick in one's tongue. The locals find it hard to believe that Tony can drink their lao khao (Thai style rice whiskey) and eat dung beetles.

The Internet site or Resort Caroline has been edited and changed to the chief of police's specifications.

Despite complying with his wishes, the licensing authorities have refused to issue a license. They won't even issue a license for a bar or a restaurant.

And the financial difficulties are starting to hurt in other ways.

Their daughter wishes to start school. She's a bright kid and from all accounts would thrive in a school environment. Not only is she being denied the chance to learn, she is being denied the social interaction so important to her personal development.

But lurking in the background is the great uncertainty. Not sure what they have been charged with, and what the documents they signed were, the police have started that they could be looking at up to 15 years incarceration. What future would any period in the monkey house give to their child? The thought of their little girl growing up as an impoverished Isaan village girl punishes them every moment of every day.

Without knowing what crimes they have been charged with, it is hard to comment. But the question has to be asked. Have they harmed anyone? Did anyone ever enter the resort without knowing what is was and wanting to be a part of it? Prostitutes were never employed. Sex for sale was never available on the premises. Porn movies weren’t made. Drugs weren’t consumed.

Of course the conservatives could argue that Thailand’s pure image has been harmed. But pure image in whose minds? Thailand’s reputation around the world has suffered as foreign tourists are accosted in central areas of the capital, Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road, in many of the country's flashest islands and resorts and offered services and shows that they never imagined possible. I’m sorry. Thailand’s reputation is not as pure as some locals believe.

The family is essentially being starved to death. They have no money at all. This is almost number five month and it could go on for another two years. Will they survive?

I do find it a little perturbing that Ning's family has not stepped in to help. This is peculiar, to say the least. It is also weird that the village headman seemed to be against the couple. These people are usually there to keep everything running smooth, and everyone happy. Village life in Thailand is all about harmony and community spirit.

Tiny Ning is a trembling wreck. She's lost weight and is down to 35 kg. Like most skinny women she cannot afford to lose that weight. Hollow-eyed, she runs and hides every time a car pulls up in the car park.

The family state that the British Embassy won’t help but in all fairness, it is not the British Embassy’s responsibility to help. Embassies serve a quite different function.

Tony, Ning and Caroline feel very much on their own. They are stuck. What can they do?

When things go bad in Thailand, and you have no money, it can be an almost unbearable situation you find yourself in.

Tony’s final words to me were, “Thailand, forgive us, please. We are begging you.”

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken beside the Dusit Resort on Beach Road, Pattaya. 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 – The smiles don't start at the airport.

Despite claims that immigration staff at Bangkok airport has been trained how to smile and be nice to people coming to Thailand to spend their money, nothing appears to have changed. I personally received the usual blank stare after saying 'Good afternoon' when I arrived, and as usual had my passport thrown back at me. A letter to the Bangkok Post this week also told of one person's experience, with him claiming that the immigration lady mouthed 'F*** you' at him when he challenged her on her rudeness. By the way, there is a sign requesting you to produce not only your passport and immigration card, but boarding pass (why?) and onward ticket (Welcome to Thailand – when are you leaving?). But in typical Thai style, when I offered neither they were not asked for. I have spent several weeks in Europe recently, and Thailand's reputation is in the gutter. I was told by some it was no longer cheap compared to some other countries closer to home in Eastern Europe (cheap flights available and cheap when they get there) and also in Asia. Others complained of Thailand's 'early closing' when at home they can party until dawn if they want to (although that might be changing, at least for this month until the next internal police war), and treating foreigners as open wallets. Of course, Thailand is not known for taking any notice of the outside world, so it is little wonder they don't know of the better value and better manners and attitude shown elsewhere.

Exchange rates….they change.

I think that the currency exchange rates at the present are fairly okay – but I am a Brit and for 1 pound Sterling, I can now get topside of 2 USD and topside of 70 THB. My brother, who has lived on the Kailua Kona Coast of Hawaii for many years, is currently in the UK doing his periodic family visits and I know he is suffering with the exchange rate, especially with the horrific First World prices. Having visited the USA many times over the last 30 years, with exchange rates for the GBP at USD 1.10, USD 2.40 and all points between, I know that the one certainty about exchange rates is that they will soon get better…or worse. Anyway, I really do feel for those suffering Americans.

A cautionary tale (remember the mention in last week's column!)

A Brit enjoyed a smoke so he bought some cartons of ciggies and more when he landed at Suvarnabhumi, nothing too excessive. No attempt to conceal them. Cleared customs OK and when he was waiting for the car to collect them an official spotted the ciggies. Anyway he was taken away and had to pay a fine of some 30,000 baht. YES 30K no negotiations. This was a law abiding, not wealthy, cafe owner from East London unaware of the strict limits and he lost half his pending money before he arrived.

Weaker baht good for Thailand?

I do believe a weaker baht is better for the Thai economy. Not only for tourist reasons (though tourism is Thailand's main industry – aside from farming) but also for exports. If you recall, a garment factory just tried to close, putting 5000 people out of work. (It has since reopened, from what I know). But if it is cheaper for businesses to relocate to a different country, they will do so. Much like the US companies outsourcing overseas or into Mexico. A weaker baht is more attractive to companies doing business in SE Asia. I'm not sure, but I believe you'd still be paying the same pay to the Thai people, so their cost of living would remain the same (I'm not an economist, so maybe I'm wrong).

Fancy walking back to the hotel frustrated in Thailand!

It was interesting hearing that Lolita's in Patpong had gone out of business. I for one am not surprised. As a married man who doesn't play the field I would occasionally pop into some of these places when I'm getting a lack of "it" at home. I've always gone to Lolita's on Sukhumvit as there are the odd reasonable looking women, however at Patpong they really were atrocious – I just couldn't do it! I know you're not there to kiss them but even so, some of these girls looked as though they had been set on fire and put out with a baseball bat! The story is similar in Pattaya – went there about 2 in the afternoon and there were only 3 birds sitting outside. Similar story to the above – walked back to the hotel frustrated.

Ladyboys are….boys!

Ladyboys are not women. Never were, never will be. You can refer to them as women if you want to make them feel good, but they are men that act like women, dressing and / or having surgery to look more like women. If having surgery or changing clothes makes them a different gender then I can become Asian. If I wear traditional Asian clothes, do I become Asian? If I have surgery on my eyes, change the color of my skin a little, dye my hair black, and talk with an Asian accent, do I become Asian?

Thailand, Mexico, same same.

Unfortunately, I won't be going to Thailand this year due two important factors. The low USA dollar and bad Thai attitudes. Maybe if there are less people that go there they might start treating us folks a little better. Same here in Mexico – service sucks for the most part because there is too much tourism big $$ coming here to ruin things. Building is going on everywhere with foreign money with no respect to the environment or anything or anyone else. It's happening too fast without enough organisation.

Next Saturday is Keith's 41st birthday party. Keith's a popular guy so everyone is welcome to celebrate with him. I'm going to make a point to go along, meet him and have a good chin wag. It's a Western themed party and the excellent chefs at Bully's will be doing the food (think hotdogs and hamburgers). There'll be specials on the drinks and of course lots of freebies. The Metro girls have already started getting their outfits ready (Daisy Duke denim hot pants, tied off shirts, boots and cowboy hats). The party will be held at Metro Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 4 where Keith is the owner of Metro.

Sunday and Monday next week are Buddhist holidays so there is a chance that many bars will be closed as the sale of alcohol is usually prohibited in the bars on these days. There has been no official word yet as to whether the bars will be closed for sure or not, so you should have a word with the manager or mamasan in your favourite bar.

Matt, the amiable co-owner of Angelwitch (middle floor, Nana Plaza), will be celebrating his birthday on Wednesday, July 25th. Matt is a popular figure in Bangkok so go along and enjoy his birthday bash.

Confirmation has come through that Tenderloins in Soi 33 has been sold and is now under new ownership. Sadly, established F&B manager John Bell's services were no longer required. This will be a big blow to the Tenderloins regulars. Currently John Bell is seeking new employment and would be an ideal F&B manager for any establishment. If anyone is looking to place someone in such a position, email me and I will pass it on to John.

Titanium has re-opened its doors and like Tenderloins it is now under new ownership.

Anna's Cafe has gone! Many a Bangkok resident's favourite spot for their birthday dinner, that is all of the branches, seem to have disappeared. I have to admit a great deal of surprise as most branches were usually busy and I would not have thought a lack of patronage would have been a problem. It's a sad loss.

The widening of the road to Pattaya is coming along well and in parts it is 4 lanes. Going down to the seaside city of sin this weekend took just two hours to get there and a little less to get back. Once this road is finished, driving to Pattaya is going to be a breeze. Now you would think that this brand new road would allow drivers the opportunity to put their foot down, and you'd be right – but of course you can guess what that means. The boys in brown are patrolling on some of the "high speed sections". So be very careful if you take advantage of this great new race track, oops, I mean road. Also, the lack of speed limit signs is disconcerting. It used to be 120 on that section before but what it is now, I have no idea – for there are no signs!

One of the big name bars in Pattaya is offering an amazing special with 30 baht drinks from 8 – 10 PM each and every night. Such ridiculously cheap drink prices are usually found in the lesser bars, but we're talking one of the big bars here, Living Doll Showcase, which is offering these prices. Another bar, close by on Walking street, was going to run a similar promotion – 35 baht drinks but they have cancelled their promotion. Now that said, I was in there early last night and even a little before 9 there were less than 10 customers. A shame really, as the eye candy in there was absolutely outstanding.

Living Dolls 1 has been closed for a period and there seems to be a good deal of conjecture as to why. Some say the bar has been ordered closed due to licensing irregularities while others say it is a temporary closure due to the owner recently thaiing the knot. Whatever the case, it remains closed.

Bob's BBQ and Mexican Grill has opened a new outlet on the ground floor of Carrefour in Pattaya so that makes, I believe, three spots where you can get Bob's tasty offerings.

One of the spots offering Bob's BBQ is Shooters in Soi Diamond. Shooters has undergone renovations and how has a special room, a small room with a large flat screen TV. It is available for punters to use – just ask the manager – and I believe that, yes, the door can be locked!

As always, Catz in Pattaya is right up there with the best of Sin City's bars. Nothing had changed since my last visit and the bar still has great music, great service as well as a new selection of pretty dancers.

There is a leaving party for Ricky at FLB Bar on Saturday 28th July. It's the usual drill with plenty of food and fun – and all friends, new and old, are welcome.

A lot of girls previously domiciled in various bars in Pattaya have gone freelance. There has been a definite movement away from the bars by a number of the girls. As Ricky said to me, it is the discos which are doing the best business and in some of them you wouldn't know it was slow season! I found this most surprising because a lot of the bigger bars were paying girls a competitive salary, although obviously that was contingent upon certain quotas being met. Many of the girls who have gone freelance have said that they like the lack of pressure, with no-one telling them what to do. The other bonus is that the guys who go to the discos are invariably younger – although these guys are often known for spending less.

I notice that signs state free wi-fi is available at the Royal Garden branch of Coffee World. Starbucks branches in Thailand really ought to offer free wi-fi here too. I wonder if all branches of Coffee World will soon have free wi-fi? I hope so!

Word from the Immigration Department suggests that foreigners applying for a one-year retirement visa and those applying to renew their visas MUST secure a NEW embassy letter guaranteeing their income. Then that embassy letter MUST be taken to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok for a confirmation stamp! That stamped letter must then be taken to the local Immigration Office where you begin the process of applying for your visa or renewal. Just when we thought things were getting easier… The new rule is said to go into effect from October 1, 2007. The embassy letter must be an original and must have been issued within the preceding 12 months from date of application which means that virtually all retired expats and those with Thai wives will need to make the trip to Bangkok to visit their embassies and to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What a big hassle that will be if you live a long way from the capital. The good news is that this only need be done once – not annually. The letter is expected to remain valid until your passport expires. Also, just to really confuse matters, those with 800,000 baht in a Thai bank will neither need an embassy letter nor to register with the Ministry.

Pacific Palace, near Nana Station, has finished remodeling. The entire footpath is very well lit now with bright halogen lights. Was the new lighting installed as part of a security effort to keep political bombers at bay? Perhaps there are some new security cameras that have yet to be spotted as part of the city wide effort announced in the news recently?

Rungsang Travel is operating a new visa run service. I have heard that they are well organised although just what makes a good visa run company, I don't know. Timeliness, reliability and awareness of the latest visa regulations would be a good start. You can find out more about them here. They seem to offer a few different visa run options.

A new act of law of interest was passed this week, the Computer-Related Crimes Act. What was rather amusing is that within 24 hours of the act becoming law a hacker hacked the local ICT Ministry's website and placed a message there regarding a return to democracy! But in all seriousness, the act would seem to target people sending spam, people using keyloggers or other devices to extract passwords, account information etc. and it also covers pornography. The act makes sending pornographic images as well as misrepresentations about others via email illegal (this was previously covered by the libel laws of Thailand which are rather harsh). Perhaps the most perturbing thing is that the act gives police the power to enter private premises and take a computer away WITHOUT A SEARCH WARRANT. If ever there was something to be concerned about, this is it! For anyone who has questionable material on their computer, or simply wishes their data to be secure from the prying eyes of others, TrueCrypt is worth downloading and installing. Just take the time to read the instructions about how it works first.


Thai dating at ThaiFriendly.com

Risk takers who cannot find a better visa option have been known to overstay their visa for rather a long time, deluding themselves that they will face but a 20,000 baht fine when they leave the country. This may be true if they exit the country via the airport but some border points have been told to call the police who will come and arrest anyone whose overstay exceeds 40 days (500 baht x 40 days = 20,000 baht). Overstaying is NEVER a good idea!

Based on the drop in the value of the US dollar and inflation in the farang infested areas of Bangkok, my feeling is that for food, drinks and entertainment, parts of Thailand, particularly those popular with tourists, are approximately twice the price for Americans now as compared to five years ago. This might sound extreme, but that is how rampant price hikes and inflation have been in the farang ghettos, particularly Sukhumvit. I personally believe that inflation in the farang areas of Sukhumvit is running 10%+. With that said, the US dollar increased in value against the baht by about 1% this past week.

I heard a fascinating theory this week from a 36 year visitor to Thailand, one I had never heard before. He felt that things are generally better now than they were in the past. Going into further detail though, he felt that there were turning points. He said that in the years approaching '97, or at least in his mind, up to the end of '96, things were not so good. Thailand had been going through a sustained boom period and many people had become quite arrogant. After the major bust he felt the arrogance quickly disappeared. He now feels the same arrogance is back again, stimulated by a certain Mr. T, and is waiting for another bust and with it people becoming more friendly again!

Quote of the week, "Thailand – a country where a smile can mean so much but at the same time mean so little."

The link of the week is here.

Readers thinking about heading to Cambodia should think about this the next time they consider going to a brothel.

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: I have been reading this site for a long time and have much admiration for Mr. Stick's views, most of which I follow to the letter. In the early days he was against relationships with bargirls and I was with him on that. Then he was a big proponent of learning Thai to a high level and I am all for that too. He is clearly in favour of renting property instead of buying and again I agree. But over the last year I have seen many negative comments from him, both in the column and his readers' stories where he warns of dangers meeting Thai women online. I have found rich pickings in the virtual world and am hopeful of finding my future wife there. But my guru is telling me to look elsewhere. What is your take on that? Are Thai women we meet online a good bet for marriage, or are they trouble as Mr. Stick intimates?

Miss Udon says: The Internet it is not a different place from other places to meet and date people. For me, I think the Internet is useful for people who have a lot of work but don't have free time to go out and also good for people who live on the other side of the world can get together. We Thai girls like to use the Internet to find a man to date, especially western man. We meet many kinds of guy, some bad, some nice, same as you meet Thais. We are a good bet for marriage if you know how to handle us. The best way to save your feelings is to talk to us openly and if you can use a webcam it would be a good idea. Basic personal information is preferred. We like to see a real picture rather than use our imagination because sometimes we may think that your look is good. So make sure that your girl from the Internet doesn't imagine you to be different from who you really are.

Not a lot of news from Bangkok this week. I'm just one of many who has got one of the nasty bugs going around and didn't get a chance to do my rounds. I hope that the news from Pattaya makes up for the lack of Bangkok news.



Yours,

Stick Mark II