Stickman's Weekly Column September 23rd, 2007

Three Of The Best


Bangkok is fascinating during the day but it really comes to life at night, especially if you find yourself in an area with neon lit bars full of scantily clad women. Over the years I have accumulated more than a few memories in such places, the things that would just never happen in the West. When I reminisce about the so called good old days, there are a few stories that often come to mind.

Miss 50K

It was late at night, some time in late 1999, and we'd had far too much to drink. Two locals, myself and a friend, were showing a newbie from the States around Bangkok’s premier nightlife venue of the day, Nana Plaza.

We’d started in Woodstock where we’d stocked up with one of their famous burgers, and availed ourselves of the happy hour beer prices, sneakily making a large order just before 7:00 PM, paying the bill, but requesting the beers to be brought to our table over the next couple of hours.

We’d then visited a few of the most popular bars, exactly which bars they were, I can't remember. Rainbow 1, Pretty Lady and Voodoo perhaps would be my best guess. While I don’t know exactly where we had been, I knew where we were then.

Playskool. We were sitting in Playskool and there was a line up of beautiful women in their birthday suit, each and every one vying for our attention.

I remember that I’d had so much to drink that my head started to droop. I must have had way too much because that's a bad sign. Just at that point I notice a bunch of girls off to my left leaping in joy. They were standing off to the side of the dance floor and were jumping around and screaming. This was more than your basic Thai sanuk. Something was going on.

One girl was standing in front of the rest and she made all the girls form an orderly queue, with her standing at the front.

It was then that I noticed that this lady at the front had a wad of cash. She was holding a wedge of 500 baht notes, one hundred of them at a guess. That’s 50,000 baht. Each of the girls in the queue was given one 500 baht note and waied the lady who was handing them out.

Mayhem ensued as girls who were dancing leapt off the stage to join the queue. Even the mamasan got in on the act. If you think the bars are a happening place on a normal night, wait until you see what happens when someone is handing out free cash. The girls in the queue tried to wait patiently for their 500 baht and after waiing their benefactor they leapt in the air and squealed with joy in the way only a Thai woman can.

A little later we were told by one of the staff that the lady at the front of the queue had just been given her monthly allowance by her boyfriend back in Farangland – which she had then decided to share with all of her colleagues!

The Texan With The Drawl

I’d had a long day at work and had not walked out of the office until after 9:00 at night. It had been a long, hard day and I had a feeling I seldom have. I desperately wanted a drink.

There was a light, but constant drizzle falling as I made my way to the nearest bus stop. We’re talking the rainy season of '98, well before the skytrain had been completed. I jumped on board the number 38 bus, which was white in colour, denoting that it had fans installed, for which you paid a premium price of 5 baht – over the standard 3.5 baht of the day for a non air-con bus.

But it was the rainy season and it was night time, so the fans were turned off. They still charged you 5 baht though.

I was new to Bangkok and everything was an adventure. I had taken this bus route once before with an Australian colleague but he was not with me so I would have to try and remember exactly where to get off.

It took 45 or so minutes for the bus to wind its way from Victory Monument over towards Asoke and it was almost 10 PM as I leapt off at the last stop on Asoke, just before the bus makes a left turn on to Sukhumvit. I saw the murky, tired neon of Soi Cowboy and with the rain still falling, I was pleased to see that I had got off at the right place.

Still in my work clothes, my trademark white shirt, black trousers and colourful tie, I skipped down the soi to Pam’s Bar, chosen because they had Singha at 60 baht all night, a full 10 baht cheaper than anywhere else.

The air-conditioning was on full blast, rather strange for there was only one other customer in the narrow bar. The girls, dressed in a mix of skimpy bikinis and regular street clothes, sat shivering, but they didn't dare request that the air-con be turned off. That would be considered not just rude, but disrespectful. They were working girls and they were used to grinning and taking whatever life threw at them. An icon of Soi Cowboy, Pam sat at her little workstation with desktop lamp beside the cash register, wrapped up in a garment that you’re never sure is a dress or her pyjamas.

Pam greeted me in her usual cheerful way, the way she greeted everyone, addressing me by my first name and making me feel not just comfortable, but welcome. And important. Pam was an old-fashioned host, gracious and you got the feeling that she really cared that you had a good time.

Pam’s Bar was a pokey little joint and it wasn’t known for the prettiest girls in the soi, but on this particular night there was a little number from Chantaburi present called Peung. That means "bee" in English. Peung joined me and we tried to chat. I say tried because her English was almost non-existent and my Thai was still developing.

Peung was an attractive girl and hailing from Chantaburi had a different look to most of the girls who were natives of Isaan. Peung wasn't representative of most of the girls found in the bars. She had a different look. And she was beautiful. She had the classic features of beauty – large, dark eyes, full wide lips and a smallish, but not flat – like her Isaan sisters – nose.

Looking at our reflection in the bar’s mirrors, we looked good together. We really did. We were both young and while communication was a problem, we were each enjoying ourselves, chatting and trying to get to know each other. We had chatted for perhaps 20 or 25 minutes when the heavens really opened. The wind started howling, the sky started roaring and rain lashed down against the window that looked out on to the soi.

We were in the middle of a real Bangkok storm and there was a right storm going on outside.

It was quiet in the bar, and one of the many great things about her, Pam wasn't known for blasting music at an offensive volume. With the storm blowing outside and the chance of the soi soon flooding, it was going to be a long night. No problem, little Peung and I could sit, chat and get to know each other better.

Peung looked at me, took my hand in hers, her large almond eyes looking deep into mine and said, in a sweeter than sweet whisper as only a Thai girl can, “I like you.” There was a soft smile, and my heart just about melted.

I don’t know if she was about to say anything more because just at that very moment the sound of the elements was turned up to maximum as the door to Pam’s opened, and a third customer entered. He stood there like a drowned rat, standing in the entrance, with what I mistook for a glare on his face.

He was a Cowboy, resplendent in dirty, old jeans, a checked shirt, a goatee and of course, his cowboy hat. Words came out of his mouth though for the life of me I couldn’t understand a thing he said, so thick was his Texan drawl.

For a few moments it was like a Western movie, as all eyes in the bar were glued on the cowboy. He sat down at the bar and ordered a Mekhong. Sitting a few seats away from me, he looked up at Peung, this little angel who had been mine, all mine. The cowboy looked her straight in the eye, looked down at his glass and tapped his glass twice.

She leapt out of my lap and straight into his!

30 seconds later she was nursing a lady drink and as far as she was concerned, he was the only guy in the bar.

A few years later I got to know the Texan with the drawl. My Peung had been stolen by Mekhong Kurt!

The Checkbin Is His!

It was mid 2000 and we were sitting in one of the upstairs bars in Patpong, one of the performance bars with an elevated stage where the antics performed can be seen from anywhere in the bar.

There were three of us in attendance, myself, a teacher friend, and a writer who I had just recently got to know. We were in the bar because my teacher pal had known a few of the girls previously and it was his round which also meant his choice of bar. That's how we ended up there.

But the writer and I were bored. We didn’t like the bar. It was dark, the music was crap, the girls – as is generally the case in the upstairs bars of Patpong – weren't the prettiest. Frankly there was little to redeem the place. To make matters worse, my teaching pal had moved over to the other side of the stage where he was getting re-acquainted with an old friend. He sat there for ages, nursing a single drink, as myself and the author downed libations at a somewhat brisker pace.

It is hard to sit in such a bar without being set upon by an army of girls and us two handsome men were soon approached by a bunch of girls keen to earn some money. I mentioned that perhaps we shouldn’t order any lady drinks as it wasn’t our round, but my new friend wouldn’t hear anything of it. Before I knew it we were clinking glasses with half a dozen smiling girls, all of whom were jostling to sit on our laps. The boring bar started to become more fun.

My teaching buddy remained on the other side of the bar, engrossed in conversation with his friend, still nursing his original drink, and oblivious that he had even come to the bar with a couple of mates.

Myself and the writer must have been on drink number 3 or 4 by then. I was not a big earner, and neither was my teaching pal, but I knew the total bill for this round was going to be well over a thousand, perhaps two, a considerable amount of money to low income earners back then.

I mentioned that we should perhaps slow down but he had a better idea. He suggested that we should sneak out of the bar and leave my teaching pal the bill. Normally I wouldn't dream of it, but I’d had a few drinks by that stage and when my pal got down on his hands and knees and started to crawl towards the stairs below the line of the stage, completely hidden from view, I knew this was going to be fun.

We whispered to the girls that our friend would take care of the bill and they didn’t blink when us two pranksters made it to the stairs at which point we positively bounded out of there with a huge laugh.

Just as I was exiting I had glanced up at my teaching pal to see that he was still sitting with his private dancer.

We headed to another bar to continue our drinking. Exiting that bar perhaps 20 or 30 minutes later my teaching pal caught up with us out in the main Patpong soi and he was furious! You'd think one of us had taken his girlfriend for a test drive, he was that mad.

But it was all merely a practical joke and we coughed up our share of the bar bill. With his wallet healthy again, he was a happy camper again and we continued our journey around the bars.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken from the southern side of Memorial Bridge, looking at a couple making out on the northern side, with Wat Arun illuminated in the background. Not one person got it right, at least not with the precision I was looking for! Hopeless! There are two prizes each week – a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod and a free jug of margarita to the winner of the competition, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant with 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 – The Boss Hogg fan club.

I've never read anything in depth about the bar industry in Thailand. It is an interesting stew of alcohol and sex and business and corruption and no-one who is knowledgeable has written this book. Boss Hogg would have been the ideal person to write about running bars in red light districts in Thailand but he had no interest. In all businesses you do not know the business unless you know how to follow the money. He knew how to follow the money and he succeeded against intolerably absurd odds in a ridiculously hostile arena. There is a story there that will never be told. How did he swim with sharks and how much blood is on his hands? I saw him once on the second floor of Nana outside Angelwitch and I almost went over to say hello. I didn't. A waste of time. We were not equal.

Nana now more expensive than Singapore.

Yesterday I was in Nana. All the bars were dead, except for the Rainbow bars, full of Japanese men. A girl asked me 2500 baht for ST, saying that she would get more from any Japanese customer. Plus 600 baht barfine, plus 300 baht for the drinks, that's 3,400 baht without the room. Last week I was in Singapore. In the red light district of Geylang you can have a ST with a stunning Thai girl from a fishbowl for 80 S$ (1760 baht), room included. That is half the price of a Nana girl. Or you can choose one of the beautiful Chinese freelancers for 70 S$ (1,540 baht). There are hundreds of girls there. So no wonder Nana is dead. Now I wont stop anymore in Bangkok. I prefer to go directly to Pattaya, or better prefer to go to Phnom Penh or Manila. Lovely girls, cheap and without an attitude.

The return of an old scam.

Last weekend I was eating dinner at a restaurant at The Mall in Pakkred. In walked a Russian looking farang. He was maybe 25, pleasant looking and had a well kept appearance. He quietly walked to each table and put down a laminated card and a keychain. The laminated card was written entirely in Thai (no English) and read something like: "I am deaf and mute. Please keep this key chain in exchange for a donation of 60 baht. Thank you." He quickly circled around to all the tables and collected the card and the keychain or money. The whole process took less than 30 seconds. Three things struck me as odd:
1) This was the same "scam" that was popular 7 years ago in the Newark, New Jersey Airport in the States. In that case, a gang of men forced homeless kids to gather money for them in this exact way.
2) The Thai people's reaction to this was of shock and sympathy. Some whispered how sorry they felt for him. Others wondered how a farang could be in Thailand doing this and where was he from?
3) I saw 2 tables donate money (120 baht for 30 seconds of "work" is not a bad income!) Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I was tempted to sneak up behind him and yell really loud in his ear to see he really was deaf. But I fear that if I had all the Thai people who donated money would have attacked me!

Who's psycho?

The reason Thai women slice off their man's ding dong is because (face the truth) Thai women are psycho. I should know, I'm married to one. My sweetie has kicked objects until her legs are black and blue and banged her head into the wall. I've a friend in San Francisco who left his Thai wife for a much younger American blond. The old Thai lady pulled a 45 (not a nine) on him and threatened to blow his shit away during a three hour harangue. He promised to go back with her and when the blond dumped him, did just that. Fact is, they're totally nuts but we love them anyway. Least that's how I see it. Oh Yeah, after one violent argument in Shanghai a few years ago my honey announced she was going to drown herself in the river outside our hotel. She split and after a few minutes thought I started packing. I figured she was going to do it and I wanted to leave China on the first plane to anywhere. I'm just about to walk out and head for the airport when I hear a tap! tap! at the door. I open it and there she is. "I thought you were going to drown yourself" I said. "The water was too dirty" she replied. I never read about Thai women suicides only homicides. Get the picture?

Dating Thai women, don't get burned!

Yesterday I was eating lunch at the office with my Thai co-workers. As usual, the topic of relationships and cheating came up. The women were explaining how awful it was that some men have a second girlfriend. The girls were really vocal about this until one of the male co-workers spoke up and announced "a second girlfriend was normal". In response to that all the girls shrieked in terror while all the men laughed. I asked how common it was for a girl to cut "it" off. One girl said it happens but that she would never do that. She then reached for a kitchen lighter, lit it, and waved it around while proclaiming: if her boyfriend cheated she would she would just burn it off!

Precision electronics shoot out shock: Thailand 1 Germany 0.

Well, after ten years and a lot of searching I have finally found it. I knew it had to be out there though it is as mythical as the Yeti, Bigfoot and Nessy! Some of you had faith and believed in its existence though most of the people I have spoken to (including myself) were a Doubting Thomas of the first degree. I'm talking about something that Thailand has invented (or significantly improved upon beyond anything created by other countries or cultures). Where did I come across such a phenomenon? In Carrefour, believe it or not. I was looking for a new sound system to replace my Phillips boogie box when the salesman steered me towards a Thai made brand – Soken. This was post exploration of the Sherman rig on sale for 4,000 baht. I'd heard of the name, Sherman, and heard it was of high quality, so given the fact that its made in Germany and the price I thought it a deal and a half. However, also given the fact that many of the DVDs I pick up are copies, I needed to establish whether the Sherman could handle it. The salesman explained that if there were any nicks etc the answer is no. This is when it happened! He showed me the most degraded CD I have ever seen in my life. I mean the coating was pitted all over and there were parts where you could see through the plastic. No problem for the Soken. She whistled out the music with less cares in the world than 'W' at a 'Good Ol Boys' cook-out! Though I was out of time and needed to press on, I will be back with a few dodgy CDs and DVDs of my own to put it through its paces but my strong advice to you all is to check out the Soken brand – and at a couple of thousand baht for a decent rig which accepts USB and media discs, you know (Thailand finally) makes sense!

Things have picked up in the bars although one should not think that we have hit high season yet – that's another 2 – 3 months away. But there was a noticeable increase in the number of customers in Nana this week, and three bar managers all confirmed what my eyes were telling me – more money went through the till this week than last.

Electric Blue Patpong is running a Jack Lives Here promotion on Saturday 29th September. Buy a glass of Jack Daniels and get a second free.

The shutters are down at The Farang Connection, next to Cathouse in Nana, and rumour is that it may not open again any time soon. The bar has NOT been closed due to a police order…

The Kiwi Cafe in Sukhumvit Soi 22 did not last long and there is now an empty space next to Larry's Dive where the Kiwi Cafe once occupied.

Baccarra in Soi Cowboy shouldn't be your first choice to barfine a girl from unless you visited the ATM machine beforehand. Baccarra has a policy where you have to buy the girl a minimum of two lady drinks before you can pay the barfine! With the pricing of lady drinks already steep and the barfine running 600 baht, you could be up for the best part of 900 baht just to walk out of the bar holding her hand. Umm, would someone tell the bar owners that the reason many people came to Thailand in the first place was because things were supposed to be cheap?!

The girls in the Nana Hotel car park (that's the parking lot for the Yanks) are getting awfully optimistic. The word is out from some of the old hands that the requested rates should be 1,500 and 4,000 baht, depending on the length of service requested. I happened to be strolling through on the way to the restaurant on the hotel's ground floor (they do a good hamburger, by the way) and I could not help but overhear the instructions going out.

Poor old Metro Bar in Sukhumvit Soi 4 just doesn't seem to have the same numbers coming through the door as it used to. What could possibly be the reason for that? And what happened to all of the great parties and events they had there? Damn, it has gone from reasonably popular to positively quiet!

There was another fracas on the ground floor of Nana on Friday night, this time involving a couple of Thais. It was broken up before it got out of hand.

I bet the farang victim of the actions of the G Spot bar staff wished that the fracas he was caught up in had been broken up before that bottle was unceremoniously smashed on his head. The rumour mill is going crazy and the latest has it that the guy was blinded in at least one eye. Speculation has it that he tried to exit the bar without paying although I must re-iterate that this is purely speculation. Some of the heavies hanging around the bars are not the nicest folk, but then it is not normal for them to start a rumble over nothing. There's two sides to every story and there's more to this one than meets the eye.

The grand opening of Sisterz in Pattaya was a blast this past Friday night. Things really got going as the clock ticked later into the night. Ricky's bevy of beauties (60 strong at last count) on stage and off left little for the imagination and lots for the eye to enjoy. Like all evenings at the newest Walking Street a gogo, the festivities began with crazy hour from 8 to 9 – when 35 baht buys you Singha, Chang or Tiger draught. It's also enough for any number of mixed drinks, well drinks (house brands) and soft drinks. By 9 PM it was standing room only in the well-appointed and very friendly club.

That's when Ricky's girls brought out a huge buffet of farang and Thai foods, side dishes and appetizers. Everything from juicy chicken to plump sausages, from egg rolls to potato salad, from a tasty pasta salad to ham and cheese and a dozen other selections to feast on while eyes feasted the lovely ladies almost wearing remnants of a costume on stage and off. It was still early, but equally undressed girls wandered the spacious nightclub and entertained customers at their tables. It was a friendly lot that kept the excitement levels high Friday night, and Ricky intends to keep it at a fever pitch every night! Ricky is enjoying himself although he admits with the job security of having your own bar comes the headaches and ulcers of extremely competitive Pattaya.

Catz also drew an SRO crowd for an annual party. It was so crowded, that some customers found there was no room to stand, let alone sit so they did a U-turn and left immediately. Perhaps it's time for the owners to expand their wonderful bar?

Still in Pattaya, it has been suggested that some bars are feeling the squeeze as the men in brown tend to be turning the other way when it comes to Thai owned bars.

Electric Blue in Soi Diamond remains closed after more than a month. Club 69 in Soi 15 is also still closed, reportedly because they can't find enough dancing girls.

Walking Street itself was crowded over the weekend. Most bars, however, did not benefit from the strollers.

One of the more interesting bars on Pattaya's Walking Street, Roxy's, has finally managed to get their website online. They are having a party with new shows, free food and 65 baht drinks (bottled Chang, Thai whisky, gin, vodka and soft drinks) all night on Saturday 29th of September. The opening time as usual will be 9 PM. Showtime starts at 10 PM and lasts until 2 AM. Their new manager Harry is looking forward to welcoming you.

For the trendsetters and those who just have to have the latest gadget, a number of outlets in MBK are selling the much hyped Apple IPhone. One has to wonder just what the demand is for it at the price they're charging, a cool 50,000 baht! It retails for about a third of that in the States.

There's a lot of piss taking in the bars these days when it comes to lady drinks. Buy a girl a lady a drink and there's a chance she'll order a Tequila shot, down it in 10 seconds, ask for another and disappear if you decline! There's a very simple solution, but for best results you need to be a beer drinker. When she asks for a drink, tell her you'll happily buy her a drink – the same as you're drinking. Invariably she'll say yes. Thai women generally don't throw back the amber ale that fast and the cost of a bottle of beer as a lady drink generally isn't inflated like that of other drinks – although it depends where you drink.

Sunrise Tacos in the Price Leader complex is doing a roaring trade – and that is hardly surprising because they do great Mexican food – and Mexican goes down well when you've had a beer or two too many. Queues in the store at 3 AM are not uncommon. The management is aware of the demand for their fine product and another branch is due to open in the SAME COMPLEX! Soon there will be two branches of Sunrise Tacos, each open 24/7, just 20 or so metres from each other!

One of the first pieces of advice any foreign entrepreneur setting his sights on going into business in Thailand gets is that he is best advised to avoid the bar industry. And it's generally good advice. There is another side to the coin and that is that those who do well tend to do extremely well. Stories of bar owners buying their other half a brand new top-end Mercedes or buying themselves a plane are not urban legends – they're facts! So if I was to ask you which gogo bar in Bangkok does the best trade, which would you think? I would have thought Rainbow 4 would be the most profitable, followed by Angelwitch, Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 2 all of which do a very reasonable trade and ensure the owners' rice bowls are full. I have been told that there is a bar that does better than any of these. Try these for numbers? The mamasan of this bar claims to be on a bonus system that nets her 200,000 baht a month. (I have to say that it sounds like a load of bollocks but it *could* be true.) She claims the bar does 250,000 baht a night on average which is partially made up by the steep barfines, of which 90 – 95 are paid each night on average. This bar recently bought out a hole in the wall bar next door for what was said to be an 11 digit figure. It's French owned and while it's in one of the farang areas, it tends to get a lot of Japanese customers. I am of course talking about Baccarra. The mamasan claims – with a great deal of confidence – that this bar does a better trade than any other bar in Bangkok. I personally doubt the figures mentioned – the mamasan is insistent they're true. It has to be said that Baccarra is busy every night of the week. All power to them if they are pulling in that sort of money.

Some months ago a nasty story appeared on this site and others regarding an American who had a nasty run in with the Apple Store in the Siam Discovery Centre. To recap, the gent had gone in to buy a computer and after deciding he wanted to cancel the sale – there were some problems – a store employee assaulted him. To make matters worse, when the cops were called the store wanted to press charges for assault against the American customer! The story featured on various websites and I was appalled at some of the comments made, many of which suggested that the American was in the wrong, even though it was him who had been attacked. I was convinced he was in the right as I know him and always considered him someone of high moral standards. So what was the outcome? When the store realised that the security video showed a store employee assaulting the customers, the charges were “dropped”. The cops had threatened to lock the customer up but with the charges dropped, that was the end of it. They realised he was not going to bend over, and they let it go.

Many an expat favours Beer Lao over the locally brewed piss. Beer Lao is not only a damn fine tasting lager, it is more forgiving the next day – especially when compared to the likes of Chang and Singha. It had been mooted that Beer Lao, which is presently only available at a limited number of farang-oriented venues in Bangkok and other major tourist centres, would be widely available in Thailand come next year. Bad news I am afraid and that has been put off until 2011. The explanation given was that beer was too sensitive a product to be tariff-free. Can't say I understand the thinking in that. Are the Thais trying to protect their market? Are they aware that Beer Lao is a fabulous drop, better than anything brewed in Thailand – and the fact that it will be cheaper than anything brewed locally must be a real concern. Have no fears, while it might not be available at the local 7 Eleven or supermarket, all of your favourite venues currently stocking it will continue to do so.

The plane crash in Phuket last week was a dreadful tragedy and our thoughts go out to the friends and families of the victims. I was rather perturbed at the way certain aspects of the tragedy were handled. Within hours of the tragedy, the passenger manifest was available online, along with lists of the injured and those receiving treatment in hospitals. It didn’t take an expert to realise that if a name appeared on the passenger manifest but was not found on the list at one of the hospitals then in all likelihood that person had perished. Given that we’re talking about the Internet here, and given that many bodies would not have been identified right away, it would have been quite possible for friends or family of the victims to find out what had happened to their loved ones this way. I thought that aspect of it was handled very poorly indeed.

After strong recommendations from a couple of friends I picked up, but have yet to read "Escape", the story of the only foreigner to successfully escape a Thai prison. Anyway, check out this link for a bit more info about the colourful author of the book.

It’s good to see a bar offering a reason to visit, something a little different from other venues. Roadhouse, that awkwardly located bar & grill on the corner of Rama 4 and Suriwong Roads, has a neat special for English football fans. They are offering free chicken wings at half time in all of the English Premier League games. Given that chicken wings are so ridiculously cheap in the supermarkets locally, the cost is minimal, but it's enough to make customers choose Roadhouse over other venues in the neighbourhood.

An article in the Pattaya Daily News this week reported of a German charged with rape for having sex with a 16 year old girl. According to the article, the fact that she was aged less than 18 makes it a big no no. There has always been much conjecture about just what the legal age of consent is in Thailand. I have always said that sticking with 20 up is the safest. But for sure, if you go below 18, you're playing with fire.

The blog by the Thai escort in London that has everyone talking scored a massive scoop this week when it featured private photos taken at former PM Thaksin's house in London! Check it out here.

Quote of the week comes from a friend of mine who sent an SMS message this past Friday night, the ultimate Freudian slip. "Where are you? I am in Rain Boy 4."

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 recently visited an old friend in Buriram. She used to work bar for a short time before realising it wasn’t for her, and I’ve not seen her for many months. She was pleased to meet me and arrived at my hotel with her brother-in-law, her brother-in-law’s best friend, her brother-in-law’s best friend’s daughter, and her brother-in-law’s best friend’s daughter’s best friend – and I was expected to take them out for dinner. After several years in Thailand I was not surprised by this experience but I was very disappointed that, after they had all scoffed as if not having eaten for a week (and these were not poor people!), and each departed for home, not one of them thanked me, nor even said good night – whatever happened to the famous Thai politeness? And please don’t tell me these people were shy – it’s a tired excuse, and these same people are constantly telling their children to greet and thank visitors… Farangs find this behaviour insulting – a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in all countries.

Miss Udon says: I don’t know how close you are with this girl but what I feel from this story is that this girl doesn’t feel that you are her friend. She thinks that you are just a guy who she knows offering her a free dinner so why should she say no. Instead of refusing the offer she then brought her cousins to eat as much good quality food as they could. She might think that she won’t have any future contact with you again unless you contact her and it seems doesn’t care much about you. The politeness of Thai culture is still here and I hope you don’t judge all of us as not being polite because of the way your friend and her friends acted.

Question 2: I have been 6 times since I am travelling to Thailand now since four years. At first I came here just to have some fun with the ladies. Going to gogos soapy massage bar ladies it was all fun for me till I met her. I saw her first in the lobby of Nana Hotel and fell in love. She was so loving and caring for me. We spend days and nights with her in my hotel room and I was really surprised that she didn't ask for any money from me because I was thinking that she is a working lady. Indeed she was a nurse earning her own money and I think supporting her parents at her homeland. Her boss sends her abroad two or three times every year to different countries. I started to visit Thailand just to visit her now. But there is something that really troubles my mind now, Miss Udon. She wants to marry me and have a child from me immediately. But since I am not be able to live and work in Thailand and since she is for sure not be able to live in my country, how can she want such a thing from me? Why does she want that? What are the consequences if I marry her in Thailand? Please help me!

Stick Mark II says: Miss Udon did not know how to answer this question so I'll give it my best shot. For this relationship to continue, one of you is going to have to move to the other's country. You need to work out if this is practical, and if it is, put the wheels in motion. My best guess is that you would have a better shot at finding decent paying work in Thailand than your teeruk would in Turkey, so why not pursue employment options in Thailand? Failing that, you could look at buying a small business in Thailand and one of the column's sponsors, Sunbelt Asia, would be a good place to start.

Question 3: My fiancée is 24, does not work in a bar, lives at home and works both as a receptionist and at the market with her family. We've been serious for over one year. I'm able to visit every 2 – 3 months and she and I talk / Skype daily. I know her family, extended family, village, town, etc. I've always been treated very well by her family and we often stay at her parents' house when I visit. They live in an Isaan village of a few thousand people. It's not a tiny moo-baan although her family is "big" there, they are very much as Isaan middle class as you get – selling food at the market and growing rice. We've set a date for the ceremony next month and the wedding planning is underway. I'm told to expect a band, lots of food and 300 people! I want to do it right and give enough gold and sin sot so she and her family get lots of face but not so that I am taken advantage of. Her family is definitely not rich, although living very comfortably in Isaan. My fiancée is a 'good girl' but I am most definitely not her first. I'm only making this point to the extent that it is relevant to the sin sot / wedding stuff. My question is not a new one. How much gold and sin sot would be fair and reasonable? Her parents are taking an active role in the wedding planning and have told her that they will give us back most of the sin sot. Ok, that's good and makes a big difference. I don't want to be cheap – and for everyone to get lots of face – just not a farang who is taken advantage of. Please help!

Miss Udon says: First of all, I would like to thank you for trusting me to answer this sensitive question. But I have to say that I don't know how much the sin sot should be. Some people may happy with a 5 digit amount but some may ask for more. So I shouldn't say how much is fair for any one. I am not a person who is supposed to say how much, as I am not involved. You had better talk to your fiancée about this. The wedding party with 300 guests is a big event and will cost a lot of money. Just make sure that you are clear and happy to do as they plan to do. Do what you feel comfortable to do if any things you want to know your fiancée will be the only one who can answer your questions. Wish you a good luck.

I enjoyed writing the opening piece of this week's column – and I hope you enjoyed reading it. The main reason for writing it was feedback from two pals this past week who said that the column had lost some of its passion and that there was a little too much cynicism for their liking. I thought writing about some of the fun times in the bars would overcome that. And there're plenty more such tales. Stories of the characters I've met over the years, of the unusual events I've seen and experienced and some of the "It only happens in Bangkok" stories.

I'm sure you have plenty of fun stories too. Why not write them up and send them in? If they're short, they can feature in the column, but if they're longer, they can be run as full readers' stories in the readers' submissions section. Now come on, don't tell me that you haven't had any odd or humorous experiences in Bangkok's bars!



Yours,

Stick Mark II