Stickman's Weekly Column December 30th, 2007

Stickman Plays “MorDoo”


The Thais love to go and see the MorDoo. He or she can tell them what the future has in store for them. Many Thais pay a princely sum to go and visit some of the more famous and notable MorDoos. MorDoo is Thai for fortune teller and in the eyes of many Thais, the MorDoo is never, ever wrong. (Retrospective comparison between what actually happened and what the MorDoo had previously predicted doesn't seem to be common practice.)

This week I play MorDoo and make a few predictions about the future, or to be more precise, 2008 in the Land of Smiles.

Business in Thailand

Are the locals in for a nasty surprise? Is this going to the year that they finally figure out what every farang already knows? (That Thailand is slipping further and further behind not just the rest of the world, but most other countries in the region with the exception of the basket cases?) And when they do finally figure it out, will they, once again, choose that tried and trusted method of apportioning blame on foreigners? Is it conceivable that, shock, horror, they might actually make life even more difficult for Westerners in Thailand by implementing more nationalistic policy that effectively creates further barriers to foreigners wishing to work and / or invest in the country?

I'm not being alarmist here, the fear is very real and one which all foreigners should factor in when making investment decisions in Thailand. Of course the country has a lot going for it and it would not take much to really give the economy a kick up the ass. But will that happen under the newly elected government? My thoughts are that most likely it will not. If only the Democrats had been elected…

Will puppeteer Thaksin and the coup leaders be looking for revenge against the army head honchos who were behind last year's coup? Will Thaksin come back to Thailand? If that happens what will the army do? Will we see tanks rolling back into Bangkok? And if that does happen, will we see blood on the streets this time? Many aren't asking if the tanks will roll back into Bangkok. Not if, but when!

Without wanting to dwell on the negative, things have got more difficult for foreigners in Thailand in recent times and it is hard to see this changing.

Visas / Government Policy

As far as the visa situation goes, I personally doubt there will be any major changes. We'll continue to see a lack of consistency on the application of visa regulations between different border posts, and different officers at the same border post. This is Thailand and it is therefore not unexpected. But as for further tightening of visas, it is hard to see any reason for that to happen.

One commentator I respect made a comment that would hurt many if what he predicted eventuated. He felt that the government might decide to bring in a 7 years and you're out rule i.e. you could live and work in Thailand for 7 years but if after that period of time you did not have your own business or had not married nor retired, then you would be kicked out. It sounds outlandish, but when you think about it and consider some of the things that have happened over the past few years you realise that it can't be dismissed.

The English Teaching Industry

One day a hi-so Thai parent is going to wake up and say "My darling little Somchai has studied parsar angrit with ajarn farang for the last 12 years and he still can't string a single grammatically correct sentence together, let along make himself understood to foreigners nor understand what they say." And when that happens, the huge cracks that are already visible in the English teaching industry are going to come under the microscope. And then things might just get interesting.

Thailand simply doesn't know what a good teacher is. Many teachers are here for a laugh and who can blame them? Many find their efforts stifled by the school management and administration and some are just not up to scratch. I could go on and on and talk about the worksheet kings and those who are only doing it for the next pay check (a pet peeve of mine, teaching is not a job you do for the money). The result is that a percentage of Thai kids are being short-changed by their foreign ajarn. In fact the word ajarn is a misnomer. I'd like to see the industry turned on its head but it won't happen. Until Thailand actually pays English teachers what they're worth, they'll have to stick with what they've got. It looks like things will continue as they have been and the Thais will continue to speak mediocre English despite the fact that the country must have close to 10,000 native speaking English teachers.

Tourism Numbers

I am sure that the future of tourism in Thailand remains very positive. This is not necessarily a Thailand thing but a worldwide thing with more and more people travelling these days. With many countries experiencing significant economic growth and a growing middle class emerging in many countries where previously there was only rich and poor, more and more people have the means to see beyond their own front door. My prediction is that while Thailand’s total tourism numbers will increase, much of the increases will be made up of tourists from emerging economies like China, India and Eastern Europe. There may also be increases from other Asian countries.

But as far as farangs go, that is Westerners from developed countries, I think the numbers will remain about the same. It cannot be denied that there is a large number of Westerners who visited Thailand a number of times, perhaps even made it their annual holiday destination, but have since chosen to go elsewhere. Disillusioned for whatever reason or simply searching for a change of scenery, a drop in Western tourists as a percentage of the total may have an effect on the tourism industry. The Thais may start to cater their services to the needs of those from other nations, more than farangs. We shall have to wait and see.

The Bar Business and The Naughty Girls

The price of drinks in the naughty bars moved this year but will we see more price movements next year? They are already at the levels at which locals will walk away and choose a cheaper option so I think any bars pushing up prices further might face a backlash.

With that said I would not be surprised to see price rises in soi 33 where drinks prices have been at their current levels for around a decade. Patpong may see price rises and I am certain Nana will. Cowboy seems to attract those who are more budget conscious so I would be surprised to see much movement there, especially in the small bars.

This year those bar owners who invested in their bars saw increased patronage and presumably increased profits – so let's hope that we see more investment in certain bar areas. Cowboy has seen a good deal of renovation in 2007 but there is much room for some of the older bars to get a lick of paint, or perhaps more precisely, new seating, new lights and a whole new look. No bars could do with it more than Raw Hide and Long Gun. The owners have been raking it in for years and it's sad that they have neglected the state of these two bars for so long. I'd expect to see more new bars in Pattaya too. With Nana now assured of another 5 years there is no reason why some bars cannot make an effort to upgrade the premises. A coordinated effort amongst the owners would be good for the plaza as a whole but then I don't hold out much hope of that happening.

2007 was the year that many long term nightlife oriented visitors to Thailand finally called it quits. Some chose the Philippines or Cambodia as an alternative destination whereas some just got bored of it. Sharing your bed with lots of women gets boring eventually. Some simply wanted to go somewhere new and some, after much reflection, perhaps felt that there was more to life than their two weeks a year in Pattaya. I think we will see no shortage of newcomers replacing them and the girls will relish this, charging them more and more and pulling all the same old tricks. I see little change to the girls' attitudes and behaviour.

Pattaya

There is no secret recipe to Pattaya's success. Sun, sand, and sex. The three "S"s. Pattaya is very much like good old-fashioned home cooking. Keep it simple and it works like a charm. Try and make it fancy and the more you mess with it, the worse it gets.

There are plans to spruce Pattaya up and that has got to be a good thing. New shopping centres, new hotels, upgraded infrastructure. But does Pattaya need to change radically? Will, for example, the introduction of new, large shopping centres be a good thing? Will 5,000 cars of hi-so Thais from the surrounding districts driving into downtown Pattaya each day cause major traffic congestion, which will increase pollution, make it that little bit more difficult to get around which in turn makes it that little bit less fun. Will these hi-so types who seldom venture into Pattaya decide that the sight of older foreign guys and younger local girls walking hand in hand are an eyesore? Will these hi-so types with no shortage of baht (and therefore power and influence) lobby the governor to target a new crowd and steer Pattaya's thriving tourism market more towards something they find more palatable – Asian tourists who frequent katoey shows, dine at overpriced seafood restaurants, visit souvenir shops selling silly plastic trinkets and spend large at export quality fruit markets?

Pattaya is the world's leading sex tourism resort. The plans to improve the infrastructure and make it go more "upmarket" won't bring smiles to many mongers' faces. Will the city planners tinker with the formula?

2008 is going to be another interesting year in Thailand. There is enough uncertainty that those of us writing about it are relishing the chance to report on what happens next.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken of The Dome at Thammasat University. You can see this sight if cruising up and down the river. I thought many would get it right, but I was wrong… The first person to email me with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British Fish And Chips restaurant 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.

FROM STICK MARK II'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick Mark II.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Disputing the dollar's destiny.

I trade in currencies and equities every day. I do it for myself and I run millions of dollars for clients. I have also made a lot of money betting against the US dollar for several years. I am lucky to have access, through intermediaries, to some of the most influential and smartest players in this industry. Most of the people that I talk to, and are the real large money players in this industry, think the US dollar has seen most of its damage. You don't have to believe me as you can google Goldman Sachs etc. yourself. The reason I am writing this is that the writer of the email about the dollar going to 25 baht might actually influence people to do something inappropriate and quite possibly very wrong. Their statement "a short US dollar position is the closest thing to guaranteed free money that you are likely to find in this lifetime" is laughable and clearly the writings of an amateur. I have never heard of a professional talking nonsense like that no matter what they think. I am not saying that the US dollar will strengthen. Markets have a mind of their own and will often move contrary to conventional wisdom. However, I have heard these sorts of opinions from clients for years. Typically it is an amateur that has made a lucky strike with a stock or something and they misconstrue this into thinking they can outsmart the professionals. Whenever I hear this, I congratulate them on their success, take their money from my fees, and think about how a broken clock is right 2 times every day. If I am right and the dollar stabilizes, or even strengthens, you can think about that clock analogy with my writings as well.

Politics, Thai style.

I cannot believe that the military will stand down and give Mr. T a full honours homecoming, and then let him reinstate all his cronies, rewrite the constitution, retaliate against the military, possibly using his old mates in the police and carry on where he left off; an untouchable dictator. The best scenario I can conceive is that the King fully supports BOTH the military and all their "work" AND the new PPP Party, leaving the PPP no room to absolve Mr. T and his bunch of mobsters. So all of the court cases against Mr. T & co are still processed and the PPP will have to rule without Mr. T & co. Anything else doesn't bear thinking about…

The poor have the say.

My wife is a native of Buriram. She came to the US with me a little over 5 years ago, got herself a US high school diploma, and has always found worldly affairs, science, and the like fascinating, unlike many Thais. I was talking to her about the whole election deal, and that it looked like a Thaksin clone was going to be taking the PM seat. We agreed that most upper / middle class, military, politicians, and Bangkokians in general would not be happy. But then she made a very simple but true observation. If the simple majority of Thais (read poor northerners) vote to elect a Thai clone of Thaksin despite heavy opposition from those who wield a great deal of power, then democracy is actually progressing in Thailand. It really puts those who supported or took place in the coup in a precarious position – what do they do, have another coup? It really wouldn't do any good unless they then changed the constitution to somehow not allow re-election of another Thaksin supporter – which would definitely not look good in the eyes of the international community – which plays a big part in all of this.

A brave man writes.

Gee, you know what? I bought a bicycle! It's the ultimate thrill to ride a bicycle in Bangkok. Seriously! The funny thing is that it is very appreciated by the Thais. Many people say hello and smile, even some cops I passed. For a while I felt like I was back in Burma. My theory is that they like to see a farang on a bicycle because they get a feeling of superiority out of it. They don't understand stoicism anyway. Is it dangerous? Yes and no. You have to be a bit aggressive and mark your space otherwise they'll probably run you over. I had a race with a motorbike driver from Central Chidlom to Robinson Rachada and he was only 4 minutes faster. I recommend trying it. It's only scary on the first day.

More thumbs up for Hollywood.

You were spot on when you said that Hollywood on the third floor of Nana Plaza is much improved. I have lived in Bangkok 6 years and party mostly with friends who have tired of the gogo bars. However, I went to Hollywood this week with 2 local friends and all 3 of us thought it was the most fun we have had in a gogo bar in years. Great shows, pretty girls with smiles on their faces and stunning service gals.

A good argument for paid sex without commitment.

In the western world, many men are simply fed up with "normal" relationships. They more than often end in tears and with child support laws such as they are, more than a little lighter in the finance department. Add to that the way the Family Court deals with such "relationship breakdowns" with men losing the home, the car, their children etc (the norm here in Australia) and one is left wondering why the hell they got involved with this creature in the first place. Many men are wising up to the reality of any relationship with a woman. Even the one night stand can land the man, now father with the obligation of making a financial contribution to the child's welfare for at least 18 years, more if Uni is involved. Not that that is in itself a bad thing, but very often many of these same fathers can not even get to see the child / children or have anything near that which may resemble a caring and loving relationship. Add to that the emotional requirement of having to put up with a completely irrational creature, particularly come that time every month, and many men would say, why not have paid sex without commitment responsibility or emotional attachment and all the associated crap. And appeasement of the toughly modern western woman is much easier said than done. In our wonderful western democracies, we have not only made women equal, the fact is that many now believe they own the world with all and sundry bowing to them and their every whim. In their mind, they are the centre of the universe. Just think about it. Name two areas in life where men in the western world have it better than women. Hard, isn't it?

Angelwitch decided to give punters a gift on Christmas night when at precisely 11:40 PM Angelwitch Nana started to resemble its Pattaya sister branch and the girls on stage became topless! It was all very tastefully done and the act was accompanied by the rock song "It’s been a long time" perfectly underscoring the significance of the event. Punters could see that a fair number of sponsors have paid for the girls to have boob jobs. If they defy gravity, they probably aren't real! And what makes it even better is that the girls are topless in many of the shows. I can tell you that the Thai classical dancing routine performed topless is now not just a show, it's now the stuff of pure fantasy! Yeah, with Hollywood also on top form, Nana is on the comeback path.

But with that said, the vacant spots left by The Big Mango and Farang Connection remain empty in Nana Plaza, a little less neon shining out over the Nana Plaza jungle. Let's hope they are replaced by new bars soon. New bars and renovated bars bring excitement and interest to the bar areas.

And the drinks prices increases in Nana seem to have little impact on customers' choices of venue. Playskool continues to do ok with their beer price now at 140 baht. Not sure when it reached that level.

Tilac girls have all been given new, skimpy, two-piece 'uniforms' to wear which look much better than the previous, somewhat boring bikinis. Tilac girls cannot now wear underwear whilst dancing although they are allowed license to cover when the red flag is flying – thus, there are an inordinate amount of females on their monthly at any one time!

Hillary Bar in Soi 4 is advertising a dual New Year's Eve party and 8th anniversary party on 31st December. I don't know what they have planned, but I would imagine free food is part of it.

If you are stuck for somewhere to go on New Year's Eve, swinging by Secrets in Pattaya could be fun. They have food, games and prizes planned. Now, if I can get a room in Pattaya I might just swing by myself…

But without a doubt the best deal in town is potentially at the Fun House, on Sukhumvit Soi 11, which will be ringing in the new year with happy hour prices and games all night. All drinks are 70 baht or you can elect to roll two dice to make your drink price (Roll a 2, pay 20 baht…roll a 10, pay 100 baht etc). Boy oh boy, the management there sound like they must be a bunch of gamblers! There will be free champagne flowing at midnight to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Sounds like it's an aptly named venue and it'll be a fun place to be!

But then Big Andy's party at Club Electric Blue in Patpong is going to be hard to beat. There's free bubbly at midnight as well as party favours (not sure what that means but when your imagination is as wild as mine and we're talking Bangkok, goodness only knows!). There will also be free margaritas all night long. Sounds like it'll be fun!

There was a fire last night that completely gutted the second building on the right side from the corner of soi 11.

McDonald's at Robinsons on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 19 has joined the 24 hour club along with Subway on 23 and Sunrise Tacos. I would not want to be in any of those places late at night, let alone have to work there, as they seem to attract a certain element that is not always on its best behaviour.

Long Gun has expanded their shows. They now include full show table top dancing as part of some of the shows, so every seat in the house has become a front row seat.

Cowboy was very quiet this weekend and there were fewer girls than usual with many headed home for the holiday. Some bars had more customers than girls. The bars with sane pricing were doing very good trade while the others were for the most part, vacant.

The most cringing reminder that it is tourist season is the increased number of guys who walk into a gogo bar and wai the staff. Please, please, please do not do this. It is a quite hideous sight. The dirty doctor and I saw a fair few guys doing this in the plaza on Friday night, one tourist proving his naivety by doing it in at least two bars.

And still on the subject of newbies, a group of obvious newcomers to Thailand’s nightlife was seen walking down Sukhumvit with what they obviously thought were ladies. I can only imagine the outcome as they most likely made the discovery at exactly the same time that the expected flower has a thorn in place of the nectar. Chances are they were probably in the same hotel with rooms in close proximity. Oh to have been a fly on the wall!

A place to really watch yourself late at night is the odd side of Sukhumvit between the Asoke and Nana stations. For years it has been infested with pickpockets and other unsavoury cretins. If you plan to walk that part of Sukhumvit heading to or from a late night venue, take extra care. One of the typical ploys is a ladyboy coming up and holding your arm suggesting an encounter while the other hand is busy exploring your pockets. Fortunately their English is good enough to clearly understand the meaning of "fxxx off". You'll probably get an "Oh you rude man" in return!

If you're one of the growing number of Bangkok's Internet studs, you'll know that this is the very best weekend of the year in terms of chasing girls online. There is simply no weekend like it. Bangkok's army of single women dive online in a last ditch effort to get themselves a date for the holiday weekend. This phenomenon is nothing new and has been going on since the late '90s. Back then ICQ was all the rage and you could literally have your pick of any one of many extremely attractive lasses. So, if you're playing the online game, you'll know the best place to be is….ah, now that would be telling!

Using the expressways sure saves a lot of time getting around the big city and I use them whenever possible. It is therefore disappointing to see that the tolls have increased, and not just by a few baht. Some of the increases are steep percentage wise. I'll still use them because you save a huge amount of time, but I have to admit surprise at the amount by which they have increased.

A new food delivery service has opened in Bangkok. Truth be told, I do not use the major food delivery companies because the mark up on many of the dishes along with the delivery fee makes them, in my mind, prohibitively priced. Thank goodness a new operator has entered the market which refuses to mark up the prices charged at the various restaurants. The company is called ChefsXpress and you can order food from their website or their call centre at 02-2042001. You can see a price comparison here. I would support them but to be honest, the only food I ever order by phone is pizza. If I want a restaurant meal, I prefer to go out, and get the meal piping hot. Even with delivery by motorbike, you're unlikely to get it on to a plate in your apartment quicker than about 15 minutes, and in the cases of some dishes, say pasta or steak, it has already passed its optimum eating temperature.

It's all happening at the Erawan Shrine where a long time Stickman reader – and a friend – is doing his bit where the regular police, tourist police and other tourism officials have failed miserably – to crack the gem scam operators who prey on innocent tourists on a daily basis. You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that a friend had photographed the thieves in the area. He took a lot of pictures and posted them online with warnings that anyone in the area should beware of the scoundrels operating there. This scam buster went as far as to send multiple emails to the tourist police, outlining exactly what was going on, and how the scam was played out. In any developed country the police would have acted on it. He had in fact done their work for them. But not here, this is Thailand, known to some as the land of smiles and to others as the land of scams. Rather than act in the best interests of 14 million international visitors, the tourist police instead appear to have tipped off the scammers that they had been under surveillance. They then must have checked out the photos online and delved a bit more deeply into the gallery where found some self-portraits of the photographer. That is the only way to explain why the person who took the pictures found himself set upon and chased by the scammers when he returned to the area. It must have looked like a cross between a slapstick comedy and a police reality show when our hero was chased by a number of the scammers. As soon as he arrived at the BTS skywalk he saw them going for their mobile phones and within moments he was attacked by two of them. Heaving in the putrid Bangkok air, he used his long, lanky legs to good effect and legged it into the nearby Central World, screaming out for the staff to call for the police at the top of his lungs. But the scammers reached him, grabbed him and tried to part him from his camera, a very expensive recently-released Nikon. While being manhandled he pleaded with the manager of the Zen department store to call security but she replied that they did not have any security! She finally relented. He also asked her to call the Central World Security as the attack must be on video. She said there was no video! He then demanded that she call the police. All this time, several more of the Erawan scammers, some of whom looked VERY much like policeman in mufti, were circling our hero inside ZEN. It was like a scene right out of Africa, a pride of lions circling their pray. But our hero refused to be a victim. There was no way he was going to lay down. They were all on their phones communicating his location to others and yet more rushed to the scene. He was hopelessly outnumbered and began to realise that he was in real danger, perhaps even mortal danger. After what seemed like an eternity, finally, ever so finally, the boys in brown waddled on to the scene. You have to wonder what took them so long for the national police headquarters is all of 200 metres away! And you know what? The police treated him like a criminal. After much toeing and froing, now about an hour after the original attack, the police said no crime had been committed and left! But the story doesn't end there. Oh no, it's not even close! The Erawan shrine mafia crew were still like lions licking their lips. They were all over that shopping centre waiting for him to exit. He jostled for an exit but wherever he went he spotted them lurking. And they spotted him and immediately communicated his position to others. He had inadvertently brought the scam to a temporary halt as all members were guarding the shopping centre exits, waiting for their prey to exit, and the chance to attack! It took some convincing but the Central World finally showed him the video – by which time the cops had long gone. A fat lot of good evidence of a crime is when the police are totally disinterested. The staff at Central were eventually convinced to escort him to a side entrance and usher him safely into a taxi. A report of this incident was posted on a certain popular forum but the moderators deleted it. It was rather too spicy for them… In summary, the attack started on the BTS skywalk, continued on to the escalator and into the Central World atrium and then into the Zen store. There is no doubt in the victim's mind that video from all three locations would have provided ample evidence of what happened and that a crime had been committed but this is Thailand and if the victim is a foreigner and the perpetrators are Thai nationals then we must conclude that nothing is done. Why do they even have security cameras I wonder? Of course this story does re-iterate that one should never mess with a Thai's rice bowl. It also reinforces the impression that many have that the Thai police are not nearly as responsive as they could be and they are not necessarily sympathetic if the victim is a foreign national. Sad.

There is only one thing I can say about this ad (pictured right) from the Hollywood bars. Are those things real?! Oh, and the silver stars seem to be absent in the bar itself.

Reports have it that the Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia, may reject visa applications by those who have two or more visas from consulates in the region in the last 12 months. This does not appear to be an official policy as such, but what is being done down there.

Despite the fact that the government elect says that last week's election was clean and transparent, word from the countryside was that this time around the hand out for voting for a certain party was two red banknotes. This disappointed some because at the previous elections it was a purple note instead of two red.

The net in Thailand appears to have miraculously sped up! They never announced it but sure, there was a bandwidth bottle neck somewhere which has been fixed and transfer rates are well up on what they were.

A few months back the opening piece in the column concerned Tony, an expat Brit, and his local wife, Ning, who had run foul of the authorities for running a swingers resort in the tranquility of the Udon countryside. Tony told us how they were on the bones of their ass, had no money for food for their cute kid blah blah blah. We soaked it up. Tony said that he would no longer be involved in the industry and that he was turning his back on it. Well, it seems he has had an about face if this is anything to go by. The site was registered just last month.

A quite hilarious parody site has been launched which takes an irreverent poke at not just The Nation, but at Thai politics and life in Thailand in general. My first inclination was that this was the handiwork of none other than David of Mangosauce fame, but he denies any involvement. Whoever is behind it should be given a pat on the back for the huge amount of work they have put into creating an extremely funny site.

Quote of the week comes from Bob, the guy behind After Dark magazine. "Buy a bar instead of going in the mag biz -less work and more profitable!" Issue #5 is due out this week.



Ask Mrs. Stick

Mrs. Stick returns after a lengthy sojourn to help you with your relationship and culture questions and the things that baffle you about life in Thailand. She accepts questions on matters of the heart or cultural misunderstandings. Her answers are entirely her own without any influence or editing by me. She looks forward to reading and answering your questions, so please give her a big welcome by sending in some thought-provoking things.

Question 1: I married to a woman from the south of Thailand (Nakhon Si Thammarat). She was working at a bar in Pattaya. Many times she commented that the people of the South are more hot (more prone to violence) than people from other parts of Thailand, and that divorce is looked at as an extreme loss of face for her and her family…more so than divorce in Isaan. (She said that only one woman in her village was divorced). She has threatened suicide and threatened to kill me also. We are now separated and I hope to obtain a divorce. My concern is my safety. Are southern girls (and their families) more revengeful and will time fix the problem for me. (I have been coming back to Thailand for a month at a time but I have safety concerns.) Will I always have to worry about my safety?

Mrs. Stick says: Culture is strong in the south and people from the south have the reputation for being more hot-tempered than other Thai people. But everyone is different and it's not fair to say that everyone is more hot-tempered. You are married to this woman so you should know her well enough to know how she feels. Think about her as an individual and not only as a southerner. I don't think anyone will pursue revenge because of divorce only. But if you did something else to her or her family which was bad or nasty then you might need to protect yourself or try and settle it as part of the divorce. Can you get a senior / older Thai friend to liaise with your wife and the family?

Question 2: Do you know of any women tailors that make clothes? I don't like the Indian tailors and / or is there an area famous for making clothes in Thailand?

Mrs. Stick says: I used to get dresses cut at the women's tailor's shops in Sogo Tower. They specialise in evening dresses and Thai style dresses and outfits made with Thai silk.

Question 3: I married a Thai lady residing in Yala with three children. She is however from Sakhon Nakon. I have visited families many times up North, but never met the children. At first she kept the relationship from the children and asked me up front if this would be ok as she did not want them to know until she was sure. They are coming to the US in April. The oldest daughter (16) wishes to visit and then return to Thailand to finish at boarding school, which she has been going to since we got married. BTW, my wife has not done any of the things that raise flags and actually has been very reasonable on everything. Is it normal for child to remain behind with family and finish school? What is my position for making decisions or dealing with the children once they come to US?

Mrs. Stick says: You and your wife are recently married and moving to America is a big move for her. So much will change for her and although she will be excited about it, she will be very scared and nervous too. If she brought her kids it would be even more for her (and you) to deal with. Her family will be sad to see her leave and for the kids to go too would be very hard for them. The family will be happy to look after the kids and send them through school. Also, every Thai woman who goes overseas to live with a new husband is scared and every single one is ready to come home if it doesn't go well. Actually many Thai women are happy to live overseas but most want to return home later on. I think it is easier if the kids stay in Thailand now. If the children do go to America, I think you have to talk openly with her about what your role will be. Actually, this is something I don't know much about. Sorry.

Some weeks the column is forced and I'll be the first to admit that from time to time I write utter crap – and readers aren't shy to point that out. Other times the Gods look a bit more favourably upon me and the column provides food for thought and serious discussion with forums picking up the opening piece of the column resulting in subsequent discussion involving hundreds of people bringing many interesting perspectives. That's always nice.

It's that time of year when I feel it is appropriate to thank each and every one of you for continuing to check in each week, and for your continued support. Here's hoping that 2008 will be even better than 2007.

It's that time to do all the things we enjoy so go out, sit in the sun, sink some Beer Lao with your mates, perve at some pretty girls – basically do all of the things they say aren't good for us! Happy New Year to all readers and best wishes for 2008.



Yours,

Stick Mark II