Stickman's Weekly Column September 16th, 2007

Did Miss Udon Push Your Button?




Every Sunday night I sit in front of the computer, eager to read the feedback from the first readers who have read my weekly missive. And I am seldom disappointed. Feedback starts coming in within minutes of the column going live. And what I like the most is that Stickman readers are not shy to say what they think. Last week saw some heated responses to part of the column. In fact heated doesn't nearly describe it. Total outrage would perhaps be more fitting! And to make matters even more complicated, the outrage was not at what I had written, but at Miss Udon's response to one question. Today, I am going to talk about her response to that question and the realities of living in Thailand.

If you didn't read last week's column, or didn't make it down to Miss Udon's responses to her weekly questions, let me recap. Miss Udon was asked under which circumstances a Thai woman would cut off her partner's penis, an issue which is not uncommon in Thailand. Her initial response was very brief so I asked her to expand on it, and frankly, I thought she answered the question well insomuch that she clearly explained a Thai woman's thinking. She stated that when they're in love, a Thai woman gives 100% to a relationship. Total love, commitment and devotion to her husband. If a man then goes and cheats on her, she feels dreadfully betrayed, and as we know, some Thai women then feel a fair response is mutilating their man over this, for what was, in their mind, the ultimate betrayal.

Before I continue, let me point out a few things. First of all, Miss Udon herself would never ever do this. She was simply answering a question that was put to her, attempting to explain a Thai woman's thinking. Just because she explained the way some women think does not mean that she would do it herself. While I do not influence her in her answers to the questions in the column – in fact she answers the questions quite some distance from me, I do encourage her to answer in detail – and with attitude.

Miss Udon may hail from Udon, but she lives and works in Bangkok. The Udon in her nickname may be misleading in so much that she is not a country bumpkin. She was educated in the big smoke and earns a salary similar to many farang teachers. The point being, by Thai standards, she has done well for herself. While I may tidy up her English for the answers in the column, I try to do so in such a way as not to actually rewrite them, so that they retain her flavour. In reality her English is pretty decent. At the Big Mango party, one of Bangkok's top authors graciously commented on the quality of her English.

I'm rambling so let's move on. Let's not beat about the bush. The phenomenon of Thai women cutting off their partner's penis is far from uncommon. This is a well-documented fact and reports of the dirty deed appear often in the Thai language press – though like much of the juice in Thailand, you never read of them in The Nation or The Bangkok Post. If you can read Thai you may well be shocked at some of the stuff that is reported! As was written in last week's column, there were a number of cases of penis choppings reported last week. Not one, but a number! Not only were these tools hacked off, in at least one case it was disposed of in a way that would make it difficult, or even impossible, to find it. Re-attachment in many cases is not an option.

Reading comments on some internet discussion forums, posters were outraged at what Miss Udon had written and I had to chuckle. Was the reason many guys were outraged because Miss Udon had hit home? She had explained that this phenomenon occurred when a devoted wife felt she had been horribly betrayed in the worst possible manner. Let's face it, this is Bangkok and many guys cheat on their wife. That's what happens here. I am not looking down on anyone or passing judgment, just stating the facts. Were some of these guys concerned about the integrity of their own manhood based on their own indiscretions?

Now don't misunderstand me. The punishment for such straying from the nest is totally unacceptable and I am not saying that it is acceptable for Thai women to try their hand at amateur surgery by commencing with an amputation in their husband's nether regions. Mutilation is the only word for it and any woman who even tries to attack their husband's penis should be shot. Simply, what I am saying is that it does happen – and therefore we need to be aware of it. Given that a good percentage of married Western men living in Thailand play around, we need to be aware that in a worst case scenario, this is what can happen. Surely readers want to know the very real dangers associated with screwing around in Thailand? If you want a reality check, you just got one.

What needs to be understood about Thailand, and the Thai psyche, is the idea of taking revenge when Thais feel aggrieved, ripped off or hard done by. The Thai word for revenge is "gear ken" which translates literally as "fixing bitterness".

I think the whole penis chopping issue is explained by understanding the way Thais think. When a Thai feels hard done by, they may appear to let it go, but there is a real possibility that they will later take what they see as corrective action, or seek revenge. It may be subtle. In the case of an aggrieved employee in a workplace, they might subtly provide less assistance to someone who had previously pissed them off, or perhaps caused them to lose face. When the person who had pissed them off needs their assistance, they will be busy, unavailable or simply unable to help. The person requesting their help involved might not even realise that they are actually suffering because of an earlier action or indiscretion. It's the same in the case of a woman who has been cheated on. If she feels hard enough done by, she might reach for a knife.

Teaching young women, and society in general, that sexual mutilation of males is unacceptable just won't work. It is so deeply ingrained in the psyche.

Many of the guys I know or have known in Thailand have had issues with their Thai girlfriend or wife that escalated to a dangerous level. Many guys I know have been threatened by their teeruk brandishing a knife, or even actually attacking them with one! I don't know anyone who has had this happen in the West. I'm sure it does happen, occasionally, but the propensity for it to happen in Thailand is so much higher.

I remember clearly one such case a few years back. I swung by Blackie's apartment one day. (Blackie was a very popular Aussie expat who was always a gracious host and his pad was a popular venue to hang out at Sunday afternoon and evening.) One weekend I was there and a long-term English expat was camped out on Blackie's sofa. He had been caught cheating by his Mrs. I can't remember the exact details, but the expat awoke one night and his Mrs was sitting right beside him, staring at him with a deranged look in her eyes, and a huge, sharp knife in her hand. She threatened to slice off his manhood if he fell asleep. He was too scared to go back to sleep and suffered extreme sleep depravation for a couple of days before moving in with Blackie temporarily.

Thailand's murder rate, per capita, is 14th highest in the world – and I bet a good number of these were revenge killings. One often reads reports of people being murdered over ridiculous issues. I remember one case where someone was owed a debt of 1,200 baht and as it wasn't forthcoming, they brutally murdered!

The Thais practice heavy handed punishment. While the fines for many crimes are remarkably low – by Western standards at least – prison sentences are extremely harsh. And if you're prosecuted for a second offence, jail – and a lengthy sentence – becomes increasingly likely. When the Thais dish out punishment – in any part of society – they can be extremely unforgiving. When Thais fight, they don't stop when one person goes down. That is the point when things begin. Witnessing a fight in Thailand is a harsh reality lesson for Westerners because once the opponent goes down that's a chance to hurt that person so bad, even maim them – so that they cannot be a bother again.

As awful as it sounds, that's the way it is here. And don't go thinking that the issue is limited to bargirls. It's not. It is society wide! It's pointless complaining about it. You'll get nowhere and nothing will change. Being aware of the danger is the best way of avoiding it. Now that Miss Udon has made us aware of the Thai way of thinking, hopefully we won't be talking in this column about the first farang to have his todger sliced off in Thailand (if it hasn't happened already).

There are two parts of our body we men are most concerned about, our ticker and our todger, not necessarily in that order. Attacking the penis of their partner in an act of revenge for his philandering is a genuine threat in Thailand. When you cheat on your wife, you hurt her heart. She may then decide to hurt your you-know-what.

I asked Miss Udon about the question again today. She knows that her response got many people talking and I asked her what she thought about the commotion. She said that she felt that guys who cheat wouldn't like what she said and guys who wouldn't cheat would be less concerned. It was typically Thai matter of fact.

Of course she simply could have written a warm, fluffy reply, masking the issue, or I could have omitted the question altogether. But is that what the Stickman site is about? Surely you want the bottom line? Surely you want to know what really happens in Thailand? – what could happen to you!

So, are you going to slip down to Soi Cowboy when in fact you told the Mrs. that you were just popping out to 7 Eleven?!

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken of the Thai style building opposite the Nonthaburi pier, on the Chao Praya River. Not one person got it right! This week's picture is difficult for sure. The first person to email me with the correct answer wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod and the second wins a free jug of margarita, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, a well-established, popular restaurant, offering authentic Tex-Mex Cuisine and delicious margaritas. Charley Brown's is located in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11 and is a firm favourite with many expats and their families. They're offering a jug, that's six big glasses, so it definitely needs sharing.

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 – No have!

My friend needed to purchase a new refrigerator. He and his girl went to a large shopping mall on Rama 4. Naturally, as soon as they reached the appliance department, a salesman was in their face. They compared different models with the salesman dutifully stalking their every step. Finally, after nearly an hour, a decision was reached. My friend turns to the salesman and says "OK, we'll take that one". To which he responded "NO HAVE". My friend was stunned but didn't lose it. He and his girl spoke again and decided to settle for their second choice. He says to the salesman "OK then, we'll take THAT one, to which he responded "NO HAVE". My pal bit his lip and muttered a few 4 letter words under his breath. To his credit he didn't scream "WHY didn't you tell us this an hour ago"? His girlfriend DID lose it however. As Trink used to say, another case of T.I.T.

DTAC speaks English, taxi drivers – well, maybe!

The "I Love Farang, We can speak English" signs on many taxis do not mean that the taxi driver can speak English (as we all know). It's simply a DTAC Happy advertisement for their English speaking call centre. If you have a translation problem with the driver, or any translation problem whatsoever, you can call their call centre to get help. Of course, they write this in small Thai font at the bottom right, which most people who need help cannot read! The sign is definitely quite misleading.

I can't hide the bitterness.

Your piece was interesting and very well-written, as usual. I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but you sound quite bitter about Bangkok and Thailand in general. You only pointed out negative things in your essay. It's understandable why you might feel that way, but why do you bother to live somewhere that you've become quite bitter about and unhappy with? The problems you mention do exist, but perhaps exaggerated. If you spend much time in any big American city, believe me, there are just as many repulsive and off-putting things. With the first world wealth, you get bad attitudes and rules to regulate everything. Have you really been accosted by ladyboys in Lumpini park? Any tourist dumb enough to take a strange looking girl (boy) with a deep voice and an Adam's apple back to their hotel room almost deserves to be ripped off. In Brazil, the ladyboys actually could, and would kick your ass. Actually, many of them are just prostitutes and not necessarily looking to rip someone off…but of course it happens.

Call the "snake boys"! They will come and take it away – for free! Any Thai will know how to contact them.

I am an American living in Pattaya for the last four years. I live on the south side, across Sukhumvit from Tesco, in a group of about 70 houses. There has been a black snake about 2 meters long sighted in at least 6 of my close neighbour's as well as my own home. My question is, what do I do? I bought a shovel and given the opportunity, am going to kill it. At least 3 of my neighbours could have caught or killed the snake, but chose to chase it off. I can tolerate just about anything, but not snakes. Any advice?

Vegans are shocked!

This morning I received some disturbing information from a friend of mine who lives in Chumphon. This information affects everyone, especially vegans, and as a public service I want to alert as many people as possible. It appears that the contractors that pump out the waste from septic tanks in the region immediately sell it to farmers to fertilize their fruit and vegetable crops. This untreated waste still contains everything good and bad that humans expel and I’m not sure if certain cells can leach into the crops that evidentially end up in the produce we buy at our markets. Hopefully someone will investigate and let us know if the untreated human waste fertilization process is totally safe. At the very least this cannot be good news for the vegans among us.

He won't lose face, but you might lose your life!

You are spot on when you say that goods and services in Thailand are not comparable to western standards, and that Thailand is a third world country. Thailand seems to have all the latest technological advances but most of its people are peasants. Improving the country's educational system is the key but like all Southeast Asian countries, the government is more concerned with enriching themselves. Thanks to you, I will never go to a Thai hospital for major medical treatment. I will take my chances here in the west. I don't want a Thai doctor to cut me open and pretend to know what he is doing because he doesn't want to lose face.

Pattaya Addiction, the newest mental health syndrome?

I have a problem that I hope you can provide some insight too. I have been to Pattaya 3 times in the last 2 years for about five months total. Every time I come too Pattaya I tend to lose control of myself sexually and financially. I figure in 5 months I’ve spent about 25,000 US dollars, roughly 1 million baht. When I come home I find myself longing to be in Pattaya everyday. Do you think this is common amongst farang or is a problem for me? I am supposed to be coming to Pattaya now until December but I cancelled for financial reasons. I knew that if I came again I would blow more money than I should. My friends here have never been to Pattaya they do not understand. If you could comment on this I would appreciate it very much.

Sisterz, that's the Ricky-managed bar in Pattaya, opened Thursday before last to what can only be described as total chaos, but things have settled down nicely since and every night seems to get better. The official grand opening will be held Friday this week from 9 PM, that is Friday 21st. They have more than 50 dancers and the numbers are swelling. Do pop along!

It sounds like Pattaya is going to have a great Friday night because I also hear Catz a gogo (Soi 16, Walking Street) is another place to be on Friday 21st. Callum and Derek are holding a joint birthday party with a pig roast, Bob Palmer's cottage / steak and kidney pies, coleslaw, home-made potato salad and garlic bread. The same event last year was an unforgettable night – the details of which are best not repeated here! The party starts at 8:00 PM with the free food served around 8:30 PM. If you are in the neighbourhood a visit is recommended.

Mandarin, one of my favourite spots in Nana, is utilising the upstairs area again, you know, with the glass dance floor. They’ve sent a bunch of the prettiest girls up there, including the awfully pretty number 11. Despite what the girls might have you believe, they are not knicker-less. In this day and age, the risk of being closed for such an infraction is just too great…at Nana at least.

Down the road in Cowboy it is altogether a different story. Everything’s on display up and down the soi for all to see. This has changed the atmosphere of the city’s two major bar areas, as I have previously talked about. Nana is the place to go with a bunch of mates, to have a few beers, and a laugh, where you’re less interested in what is happening on stage. Cowboy is more the place to go for action, where the girls are the centre of your attention, or at least that’s the way I see it.

But some would argue that Cowboy does not have a bar like Rainbow 4, where there are wall to wall pretty girls from early on in the evening until late in the night. Well, Baccarra, hardly one of my favourite bars (same can be said about Rainbow 4, mind you), might just pass muster. Wall to wall girls is about the only way I could describe that bar.

Is there anything worse than punters who dance in gogo bars? There was a clown doing such in Angelwitch on Friday night, swinging his arms all over the place and generally making a complete nuisance of himself. I have never figured it out, but these clowns seem to do it in such a way as to make themselves the centre of attention, sort of like a referee in a game of football who gets whistle happy.

Apache Bar in Cowboy has been renamed to Coyote. They really should have named it Stars Bar. You'll know what I mean when you venture down there next…

For a laugh, check out the female’s toilet in Our Place. I was desperate to take a leak the other night and with the unusual situation of there being a queue for the men's, I slipped into the ladies. My God, can anyone actually squeeze into the tiny booth in the ladies?

Bourbon Street turns 21 this weekend and is celebrating tonight with a fantastic buffet from 5 PM until late, at just 221 baht ++. There are 40 odd dishes including all sorts of the goodies for which Bourbon Street is famous. It has to be said that this represents a really good deal – so if you're feeling hungry, check it out tonight!

Guess Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 1 will be holding a pool tournament soon, Bangkok ladyboys versus Pattaya ladyboys. The bar has been recently expanded (there are now 21 ladyboys working there) and they've added pool tables (just one for now, but another coming). The date for the pool competition has been set – Wednesday, 26 September.

Some bars attempt to impose a "fee" of 10,000 baht on a customer who wishes to take a girl out of the bar for good. The reason for the "fee" is often stated that if the fee is paid, the girl can return to the bar in the future, without a problem. The truth is however that almost all bars will be delighted if a former employee wishes to return, irrespective of her reason for leaving, unless of course she had done something illegal, or had her hands in the till. And of course, many bars split the 10,000 baht fee with the girl – in some bars the mamasans are known to pocket the bulk of it. One bar which has an unusual bar leaving policy is is Long Gun. If the girl goes to Angelwitch, she cannot return. Now that is weird!

The initial excitement and celebration that the entire rugby world cup tournament would be screened live on True Visions has subsided, replaced with the disappointment that is so common with Thailand’s national cable TV provider. Some scheduled matches have not been shown at all, instead other live sport was shown. And then there have been some matches featuring the top teams in the tournament which they never even scheduled to show in the first place. Of course, we’re talking here about True Visions so no explanation or apology has been forthcoming, nor was it expected.

There have been a number of key staff changes at the New Zealand Immigration office in Bangkok and there are currently NO staff handling residence applications under Family Category (partners, kids, parents, siblings) and the processing time for kids has gone from 1 month to 1 year! Not good at all for the Kiwis looking at relocating their Thai family back to NZ. In fact the ramifications are much wider than that in that the Bangkok office of the New Zealand Immigration Service processes visa applications not just for Thais but for nationals of many other countries in the region, going all the way over to and including much of the Middle East.

The next time you’re in Korat and need a place to stay, check out the Siri Hotel located next to the VFW. It is by far the best deal in Korat. 390 baht gets a fresh, clean room with hot water, cold air, big TV, carpeted floors, etc. The place has been totally renovated…and if you fancy a massage, just tell the bellboy what you want and he’ll…well, go in and see for yourself.

But it’s not all rosy red in Korat these days. The owner of Passinee’s Lebanese Restaurant, a venue I am rather fond of, has disappeared. Now that in itself is not a crime, but given that he has just taken a large chunk of change from a gentleman whom he was about to go into business with, it raises eyebrows. This issue is causing much distress and consternation amongst the growing expat crowd in Korat.

The 4th issue of After Dark magazine is out now and is easily the best issue to date. There's some decent photography of some mighty pretty girls as well as some interesting articles, including some written by known local authors.

For anyone looking for PJ, he can be found on Soi 31 in his own place, called PJ's, funnily enough. Always keeping himself busy, he can often be found at the Old Dutch too.

I like Pattaya but funnily enough, during the day, I get turned off by the place. When I was last down there I had a great time and it has taken me a while to work out just why. I never went out during the day! I stayed in the hotel during the day time, reading a book and relaxing after a Beach Road stroll. I went out about 6:30 PM, just as the sun was going down. I saw little of Pattaya during the day and you know what, that's not a bad thing! At night, with your beer goggles on, it's just fine. During the day, I find it can be a bit depressing!

Isn’t it great that most cinemas in Bangkok show English language versions of Hollywood movies with Thai subtitles for the locals? The subtitles are small, clear and largely non-intrusive and they do not detract from the enjoyment of the movie. But when it comes to movies made in other countries, particularly Chinese, French or Japanese movies, the state of the subtitles is awful. They use a much larger font and there are usually two sets of subtitles, one in English and one in Thai. The English translations frequently contain spelling or grammatical errors and the quality of the "imprinting" of the subtitles is awful, so bad in fact that it almost likes like it is etched into the film! I quite like French cinema – and we get a lot of good French cinema shown in the Siam Square movie houses, but the quality of the subtitles is so bad that it really does detract from one's enjoyment.

Is it just me or is it tiresome reading Thailand discussion forums where someone raises a (usually total valid) point only to have their comments drowned out but the Jungle Jim crowd who always say something to the effect of "if you don't like it then you know where the airport is". It is perfectly reasonable to talk about stuff you don't like, nor agree with. But to respond that you should accept or piss off is plain dumb. I find most Thailand discussion forums are a waste of time these days, with the notable exception of Thai360.com.

Using this link you can watch Thai TV online from anywhere in the world.

Here's a video made by a European documentary maker about the naughty nightlife in Thailand. It is about half an hour long, but is worth checking out.

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: In the column of September 9 2007, a reader asked you under what circumstances a Thai woman would cut off a man's penis – rightly mentioning that this would be every farang man's worst nightmare. In your response, you mentioned that you "think it is good because this idea will make men too scared to cheat because they will be scared about what might happen if they do! If a guy cheats then I think it is fair". Do you think it would be fair if a farang man were to mutilate a Thai girl's genitals to the extent that she'd never again be able to have sex, if he were to find out that she was cheating on him? If you don't think this would be fair, can you explain why?

Miss Udon says: I think it depends on the feeling and how much you love that girl. If you love her so much and feel like it will be the end of the world because she cheated on you and you want to do something then nobody can stop you. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard about a western guy cutting a Thai girl’s genitals because she cheated on him. But I don’t think you would do it as the way guys and girls think is different. Guys would not waste time thinking about what they should do about it. Mostly they will just leave the girl, move on and not care about her. If I were the girl who got cheated on I would not throw my future away by doing a stupid thing such as cutting a guy’s penis. As I said, it depends on personal ideas and how much disappointment and hurt they feel.

Question 2: I have been happily married to a Surin girl for over 15 years. Below, still raises a question in my mind.
I read about sin-sot. Before marrying, we had sex: and she was a virgin. Before marriage, I asked her about dowry.
She asked her mother. Her mother said that as she had already slept with me that there was no sin-sot. Is this normal, unusual? (I gave 25,000 baht anyway, and have since happily paid for house renovations, school for some of the family: all well after we were married).

Miss Udon says: Actually the culture about marriage upcountry was like that and maybe still is in some places. When the daughter has sex with a guy before getting married the parents will rush to get them married because they want to "make it right" before the girl gets pregnant. So what the parents do is try to get the daughter a husband rather than thinking about sin sot as they don’t know when / if the guy will disappear and leave the daughter as a single mum – and then there will be a big problem!

Question 3: I am married to a Thai and for the first 3 years of our life together we lived in Bangkok. After the birth of our second child we moved back to my home country. My wife is very conservative by western standards and when out in public in Thailand she would conduct herself accordingly. However since moving to the West she has become the opposite. A few months after the birth of our second child she had worked hard to get herself back into shape. In fact pregnancy has done wonders for her looks. She went from a skinny 42 kg to a perfect 54 kg with "hips & cleavage". She now wears very sexy clothes, short skirts, low tops etc. and that's just to go to the supermarket. She also likes to be affectionate in public. She tells me that she now feels free to wear what she likes and is proud of her new look and that she is not single and has a husband. In a nice way she will say to me to stop being an old fart and be proud of her. There is a 16 year age difference between us. I feel that it's not a good look and worry what people think. How do I get her to tone it down? Or do you think this is just a phase she is going through after being pregnant? Your male readers might says "Yep, you’re such an old fart, just enjoy it!"

Miss Udon says: I guess your wife is now between 25 – 35 years old, right? If I am right, this is normal for a lady this age, especially if we used to work hard when we were young. The feeling of freedom and being able to do many things is what we have been waiting for, for a long time. Your wife is now happy with you and you don’t have to worry about her. She is still young so please understand her and I’d like to suggest you be more active. Make your self fresh as she does. She is not planning to leave you. I can say just let her do what she wants, enjoy her life and you can be her adviser if she goes too far and forgets about her duty being a mother for your kids. Don’t worry about age. It’s just numbers. You can be younger than your age if you want to. It depends on your feelings.

This September has been the most unusual month for weather in all the years I have been living in Thailand. In the past, you could pretty much count on it raining in September in the capital. Pretty much every day. In fact I would go as far to say that you could safely bet on it raining 25 out of 30 days – and you just know that every second day you're going to get stuck in awful rain related traffic jams on the way home. But the rain that we have had this September has been in the middle of the night. It really is rather peculiar. I'm not complaining, mind you!



Yours,

Stick Mark II