Stickman's Weekly Column April 27th, 2008

She Isn’t Different


When you get involved with a woman you don't know where you stand. You don't know what she really thinks of you or even what the rules of engagement are. It can be both nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. You find yourself enamoured with her but can't for the life of you work out what she thinks of you. You don't know whether the relationship has got legs. Did she say yes to the first date because you mentioned the name of the best restaurant in town? Whatever, there is a chance that this could develop into something special even though right now you really don't know what is going to happen next.

There is only one type of woman where the rules of the game are well and truly known beforehand. Prostitutes. A prostitute sleeps with a guy for money. He sleeps with her to get his end away. There is not supposed to be any future. It's a one time deal. Everyone knows that. So why oh why do so many guys try to redefine the rules of the game?

It's no secret that many Western guys married Thai women who were once employed as bargirls. Or the term these guys don't like to use, prostitutes. Women who sold their body for money. We can be cute and call them bargirls, a word which does not evoke the same consternation, but whatever we call them, these are women who didn't have wonderful options in life and ended up selling their body for money.

I've always said that guys shouldn't get involved with bargirls. I believe that the poor girls slowly become damaged by the industry and the relationships in their life become very much based on what someone else can do for them, hardly ideal marriage material.

The girls should not be chastised for entering the industry. Like I said, they were not dealt the best hand in life. There are primarily two reasons the girls enter the industry. First and foremost, they enter the industry to make money to support their family. The Thai rural landscape is improving but there are still many desperately poor families and many of the girls running their hands up and down chrome poles in Bangkok and Pattaya come from poor rural Isaan. Many families also have significant debts. Daughters enter the industry to make money for the family.

Improving her family's lot in life perhaps gives her more satisfaction than anything else and just how she goes about doing that is irrelevant; that she does it is what is most important! I don't want to justify what they do but it has to be said that hauling an entire family out of poverty surely must be considered a good thing.

But any girl who sells her body for money for long enough starts to see sex not as an activity to be enjoyed with someone she loves, but very simply as a way to make money. That's what happens to the bargirls. They see sex as a way to make money, or if not money placed directly into their paws, a way to a better lifestyle.

The problem is that no guy wants to marry a woman who espouses this. It just does not fit with our Western idea of a committed, loving relationship though. But for many girls who have been in the industry a long time, this is the way they now see their body. A way to make money. But actually, I don't think this is so bad…

Many guys involved with bargirls worry incessantly if their lady is still involved with others or is cheating. What a miserable existence that must be. If your mind is always wondering just what she is up to it has to greatly affect your chances of enjoying the relationship – and that can affect your whole life. If you ask these questions to yourself over a period of time, it's time to get out. Life's too short to worry like that. What good is her love if it doesn't make you feel loved by her? But actually, I don't think this is so bad either…

It is my observation that those who have a successful relationship with a bargirl are those who have no shortage of money. That is not to say that he is paying her all the time, but he is providing her a lifestyle that is better than she could most likely get elsewhere – so she is satisfied.

All guys involved with an ex-bargirl will say she is different. When he says that, what he really means is that she has an effect on him. The truth is she is not different. She, like most of her bargirl sisters is most likely a woman of no accomplishments, a modest education, little to no ambition and is simply making the most of a bad situation by offering her body for a price to a man in need of it.

Here lies the rub. It is often said that guys go with bargirls for the sex. That's not right! The guys go with bargirls because they are lonely and they fall into the oh so common trap of thinking that good sex will cure the loneliness. It doesn't. These girls will, in the early days, provide the most wonderful companionship. The way they run their fingers up and down a guy's arm for hours at a time does much more for him than 30 minutes sweating it out in a bed ever will. Loneliness is the issue – and these actions cure it. She will happily stay with him by his side 24/7 and he will be happier than he has been in a long time.

In the early days the loneliness is cured and he thinks he is in heaven, and professes his love to her. Over time however, as he begins to realise that despite her being angelic in many ways, that lack of accomplishments, the lack of horse power upstairs, zero ambition and the accompanying disinterest in what is happening outside of her own little bubble will send him spiraling back into the loneliness void. Even if she performs like a porn star in bed on queue, the loneliness will return…and the relationship will be doomed. Good sex helps, but it alone is not enough.

Some guys will tell you that their bargirl girlfriend treats him like no woman ever has before, loved him like no other woman ever could. To think a hooker could love you and dote on you like your mother did is insulting to the most important woman in your life. No woman will ever love you like your mother, not one.

Over the years many friends of mine have been involved with bargirls, and not a small number married a lady of the night. Colleagues too have been involved with and married bargirls. And then there are the hundreds and hundreds of readers who have emailed me about their relationships with bargirls. I really have had a ringside seat.

The success rate is very, very low. There are two common factors in those few relationships which last. First, he either has plenty of money and spends a good chunk on their lifestyle, or he is prepared to spend a lot of his not so great salary on her – and she sees that. The money flows in her direction. Secondly, he has a life of his own, usually a job that keeps him busy and he also has many good friends. He is not dependent on her for companionship. These are the two key factors I have seen in relationships between Western guys and former Thai working girls that are successful.

Funny really, these are the same factors I have seen that are prevalent in relationships between Western blokes and Thai girls who didn't work the bar.

Does this mean it irrelevant whether she worked the bar or not? Well of course it's relevant, especially to those guys who are not entirely up front with friends and family back home. The fact that she could always play the "Oh, you not know Tom meet me in Happy Man Gogo Bar in Pattaya where I work many year before he meet me" card to your mother over a Sunday afternoon tea doesn't bear thinking about. Does honesty with one's friends or families play a part in the relationship's success too?

I still maintain that getting involved with these girls for long-term relationships is a bad idea and I refer to what I said at the start. Prostitutes are the one type of woman where both parties know the rules from the start. Don't try and change the rules!

Where was this picture taken?


I was very surprised that last week's picture was only correctly guessed by a handful of people. Surely it was easy! It was of course the first soi at Siam Square if you're coming from Mahboonkrong, the soi were you find the Scala cinema, that old style cinema with the wonderful foyer. 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 – The nuances of Thais and Thai women.

I have dated Chinese and Korean girls and didn't find the culture barrier a big deal, but with the Thais they're on a whole other plain, I am not from your average western (American) background either I grew up in several different countries, come from a very strict Orthodox Christian background and trust me the Greeks and Southern Italians have as many weird traditions as the Thais. I did my degree in Ancient Roman / Greek history and in fact the modern Thais have more in common with the Ancient Romans than they do with modern farangs. They both worship the same way, politic gods, ghosts, they have a elite class that rules both business, military and politics, they also seem to have the same mob mentality down to their reactions to situations, a real fatalistic society where strength is right and the weak are wrong whatever the argument.

Nothing wrong with white women!

I agree with your estimation of western women. Everyone I ever dated in 45 years in the USA was okay and fun in the sack, too! I am not sure what happened to most of the western guys here that they hate white women so much, but at some times the hatred gets to a level that I am concerned over the safety of western women here. I have one friend that intentionally bumps into them when walking on Sukhumvit, is rude to them if he gets the chance to converse with them. All without knowing one thing about that particular western woman except she is in Bangkok and is white! Ignorance, intolerance, prejudice to an almost pathological degree. Long winded way to say that something is very wrong with the level of hatred that farang men in Thailand have for farang women from ANYWHERE! So they had an intolerable wife. Divorce her and get on with your life. Easy for me to say as I never married. But why carry around the hatred?

Somchai's Sukhumvit obstacle course.

Living in Sukhumvit, I have seen and felt the footpath change on the even number side over the past 6 weeks. “Somebody” dug up a trench approximately 3 paving stones wide for whole length of the road. Every 100 metres or so they also dug up a drain cover or manhole area. They replaced the pavers in a haphazard fashion which makes one incur a certain amount of danger when walking along Sukhumvit from Soi 4 to Thong Lor. Could this be a ploy from the Thai Family Planning unit? If one was taking a Thai lady from Nana (Soi 4) and had the misfortune to twist an ankle, strain a knee, break a foot, fall and graze your head or shoulder, etc, then one could not copulate / populate the country that night. I wonder if anyone else could tell us a reason why anyone could be allowed to dig up so much footpath length for 4 km and then not have to replace in the fashion it was before they started to dig? Has anybody else another theory?

100 baht will get your teeruk upstairs.

About the Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok, I kind of like the idea that there is at least one hotel and restaurant where one does not have to watch older white guys pawing over young Thai girls – a place where your Aunt Helen might stay that would not cost a fortune. Think of the Atlanta as a place to get away from it all, to relax in the real garden by the pool and escape the pressures and scenes of Bangkok. I don't know if the Atlanta would be disturbed by any article that you would write about them as they are quite 'up front' about their no 'girl policy' with signs on stands in the lobby and on the menus. Also on the menu is a story about the history of the Atlanta that is quite interesting. The restaurant is reasonable and the food is good and they play a free movie every night. I had the pleasure of living in the Atlanta for six months and saw many photo shoots there due to the art deco interior. If you have never been there a trip might be in order; the place has a certain charm to it and some of the rooms have balconies and the prices are right. All that said, I found that I could have a guest in my room if she left her ID at the front desk and I paid a hundred baht fee, a reasonable request I thought, although they probably would not want this fact advertised and I can't say for certain if they still do this. It is still one of my favourite places in all of Bangkok.

The Atlanta revisited.

The Atlanta. I stayed there once. Nice staff, totally run down facilities. Maybe they have renovated? I had a look at their webpage. "Bastion of wholesome, culturally sensitive & eco-aware tourism sex tourists not welcome" (copied from that site). Too silly to believe. Coming to Bangkok, with or without wife or girlfriend, your first communications with locals will often be with the taxi driver – where you have to make a real effort to get it through that you do not want to "go massage". Then you stroll down Sukhumvit, again with girlfriend or wife, and you have to fend off offers on every corner, "have good lady take care u – can make nice you both – cheap price no problem". It's tempting to suggest to the folks at the Atlanta that the problem originates locally and has to be solved locally. There are plenty of tourists actually NOT coming to buy company – and if some of these tourists can actually manage to fend off all offers and make it all the way down to the end of the soi – voila, you have your politically correct guests. How about the hotel offering a taxi service where the drivers will actually not be desperate to sell tourists "immoral" pleasures. It would be something new, something novel in Bangkok and might land them a mention in the Lonely Planet guide. The warnings on the Atlanta website should be in the Thai language, not English.

The increased difficulty of getting a cab.

I started working here in 1999. Maybe my memory is not what it used to be but I don't recall people discussing their destination with the driver before getting into the taxi IF the trip was accepted. I really don't remember any problems getting a taxi back then. Now it takes an average of four rejections by drivers before one is willing to take the fare. I usually get in before divulging my destination foolishly thinking that the driver would find it too rude to say no leaving me any choice but to get out. Admittedly I live in Nonthaburi which is quite a trek but it is a decent fare and surely better than curb crawling around Sukhumvit for hours burning up fuel searching for a 35 baht fare. Also it is quite easy for taxis to get another fare around where I live covering the cost of the return trip back into town. Have we now reached the stage were the passenger has to ask the taxi driver where he wants to go?

The Mango boys are still shooting for June 1st for the grand opening of the Big(ger) Mango Bar. The cat is out of the bag on the location which if you don't already know is the sub soi by Jools, just off Sukhumvit Soi 4.

Bangkok's other bar area, Washington Square, has been subject to much rumour this past week with news that business owners in the square received a letter that their leases would be pulled as early as January 2009 but word on the street is that the land owning brothers don't actually have any specific plans for re-development of the prime real estate area. Rumour has it that they are sending these letters out because they want to get the present management out so they can collect the rent themselves. To further complicate matters, a map of the land is divided up shows that there are in fact 4 owners, two brothers and two nieces. And the way it is divided up, all 4 of them would have to agree if there was to be anything rebuilt. What are the chances of that? The best guess is that Washington Square will remain for the foreseeable future and it will be business as usual.

Early closing times are still in place with Nana closing at 1 AM sharp. In some bars quite a show is made up of it with girls who had been rocking backwards and forwards listlessly on stage suddenly finding a new lease of life and leaping off the stage and into the changing sheds the moment the house lights come on. It is a little different down at Cowboy with the bars closing anywhere between 1 AM and 2 AM, seemingly very much depending on when the boys in brown decide to saunter up and down the lane.

It is perhaps one of the crudest terms out there and one I am not at all comfortable using, but at the end of the day it does describe them well, so I will make an exception and use it myself. There are presently some farm fresh girls in Angelwitch, a bar which more often than not seems to recruit staff with industry experience as opposed to industry newcomers. One or two are, it has to be said, rather cute.

Whether the laws will be enforced or not, who knows, but the local plod now have the power to fine those riding a bike without a helmet 500 baht AND the passenger 500 baht if he / she too fails to wear a hard hat. In the past it was generally a 200 baht fine for a rider riding without a helmet while the passenger escaped without penalty. Given the number of fatalities suffered by motorcycle riders nationwide it's probably a step in the right direction although the enforcement of the use of real helmets and not these plastic trinkets most wear would be a better step.

Charley Brown's is hosting a non-stop Mexican feast and free flow Margaritas night, all night for 1,000 baht per person on Ma 3, kicking off at 5:30 PM. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican festival celebrating their victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It's celebrated more in America than in Mexico, but it's a good excuse for a piss-up and that's what they're arranging! Charley Brown's, located in the small sub soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11 where Cheap Charlies is located, on 3rd May from 5:30 PM. It sounds like a good deal.

Coyotes have moved their happy hour prices from 60 baht to 65 baht. A few doors along, Black and White moved their happy hour prices from 60 baht to 95 baht. That's a bit of a difference!

You see some wild stuff in Bangkok but this latest episode from Friday night has me scratching my head. A farang drove his car into Soi Cowboy early in the evening and stopped right outside Joe's Bar where, while still in the car, he proceeded to remove all of his clothes. Then, while sitting in the driver's seat, he decided to pleasure himself. After he had finished, he put the car into gear and drove off. Was this some sort of dare, or a bet or perhaps some sort of crude fantasy? You've never seen it all in Bangkok!

I don't recall Bourbon Street having live music in the past, but they do now. Previously performing at the Soi 8 Bar, Richie Walker can now be found at Bourbon Street kicking off around 8:30 – 8:45 PM on Friday and Saturday nights. Bourbon Street also has oysters available, imported form the US I believe. They have this kind of cool slogan, "fish is for long life and oysters are for long love". I bet that has sold a fair few!

Former world snooker champion Steve Hendy will be in Thailand next month for a bunch of promotional performances. I wonder if he has similar taste to Jimmy White who is known to have been a frequent visitor to Thailand. More details on his schedule nearer the time.

Dave The Rave turns 45 on Wednesday. Swing by and say hello to the good man in Angelwitch if you're in town. There's no big party or event being held but Dave will now doubt be in a merry mood.

So I was right about those rogues at True. They are hijacking people's home accounts if you use the wi-fi routers which True provide. They come with public access enabled and a password you cannot change! The only way to change it is by buying a new router! A very dodgy practice indeed…

And the knives are out for True, Thailand's largest ISP, which clearly has some infrastructure problems and is simply not open with its paying customers. Is True trying to hide a problem with their infrastructure? I bet if you're using True you would have seen this error frequently recently when browsing – "The page cannot found/Error 404". What True is doing is make it seem as though there is an error at the site you're trying to reach when in fact the problem is with them! And who ever could not even get the grammar right for that page should be shot! Cannot found? Naughty, naughty!

And speaking of internet access locally, net speed really sucked this week. Goodness only knows what the problem was but for sure, accessing many sites was a tedious affair.

I never used to like Guru magazine, the free lifestyle supplement that comes with the Bangkok Post on a Friday – but then neither should I have liked it for its target market appeared to be Thai women aged about 18 – 30 odd with good English. My best guess is that the Bangkok Post realised that under 30 Thai females make up a very small percentage of their readership and the focus and topics of Guru have since been changed and, to me at least, it seems to be a little more male oriented. Now that's not to say it is entirely male-oriented, just that it seems to have moved in that direction – and there seem to be more articles of interest to your average farang. The editorials, while short, have been very subtle… One editorial from a few weeks ago generated a lot of emails to me – and clearly a percentage of the Stickman readership enjoy the editorials as much as I do. I make a point of reading Guru each week.

If there is one thing that irritates me about Bangkok it is that the power always seems to cut out in heavy rain. And what did we have this week a couple of times? Very heavy rain. And what happened to the power? It cut out again…

A month or so ago the Zen chain of Japanese restaurants put up food prices by about 5% across the board, something I applaud. Now why would I be pleased that they put their prices up? Well, many restaurants have been hiking their prices by silly percentages and it has got to the point that some establishments which once represented good value are now downright expensive. A farang chef here explained to me that often the key to pricing dishes in restaurants is to ensure that cost of the food, that is the raw ingredients, to the restaurant, makes up a certain percentage cost of the price charged. So if the cost of food goes up the prices on the menu go up, irrespective of what happens to other expenses / costs. Like all eateries and restaurants, Zen has had to pay more for food at the markets but has kept the price increases to a reasonable 5%. Good on them. I always knew there were many reasons why Zen is much more to my liking than Fuji.

An interesting new title is due for release in a couple of weeks, "Love Entrepreneurs, Cross-Culture Relationship Deals in Thailand". I will try and get my hands on a copy and review it ASAP. (Yes, Andrew, the review of your book is coming soon too!)

And yet another book looks interesting – and it is one I will definitely pick up. Speak like a Thai – Volume 5 covers the Isaan / Northeastern dialect. It contains 500 Isaan words and phrases chosen from real life situations. They are recorded on the audio CD and explained in the booklet with an English translation and a central Thai equivalent. Given that many Westerners involved with local women are involved with a lady from the northeast, this book could have real appeal to Stickman readers.

I had a heated exchange with a Thai this week about the concept of earning something and how what we work hard for is a reward we cherish. The concept was lost on them. They felt that whatever you get / make legally is good enough, whether you worked hard for it or not. I tried to convey the concept of earning something to them but was unable to. Does the word "earn" exist in Thai? There are many close such as ทำเงิน (tum ngern – make money), เลี้ยงชีพ (lee-ing cheep – support yourself or make money to live) and ประกอบอาชีพ (bra-gop ar-cheep – make a living) but I don't think any of these convey the idea of earning as the word earn does in English, you know, to do something to such a standard that you deserved the reward given or paid. I have asked a bunch of Thais with good English and not one has been able to give me an equivalent. I think there is something there. Does the idea of "earning" as it is in the English language have an equivalent in Thai?

Good luck if you wanted to get a motorcycle taxi from Sukhumvit Soi 23 last night. The curtain raiser before the big game of the night, Birmingham vs. Liverpool was proceeded by a match between Chelsea and Manchester United which attracted hoards of motorcycle taxi dudes. Scenes like this from outside the excellent Down Under bar where screens showed the match can be seen all over the city when big sports matches are played. Of course when the main event of the evening took place, Birmingham vs. the almighty Liverpool, the photographer, the Dirty Doctor, could not get anywhere even near the screens to take a photo, such was the congestion and love that the Thais have for Liverpool.

Another YouTube Pattaya Beer Bar classic!

This lecturer from a top Thai university was trying a unique approach to improve his students.

The BBC ran this article about Thais up to no good in the UK.

The Economist ran this report about the Thai police.

Ask Mrs. Stick

Mrs. Stick fights to live another day…

Question 1: My Thai lady has told me that she was the biggest butterfly in Pattaya! Her job included gogo dancing and pulling lots of strokes in that town by her own admission again for the last 8 / 9 years! Nowadays however she has taken to her religion, Buddhism, and also to doing everything in life by the principles of doing the right thing in her world i.e. not working in the gogos at all, praying 2 – 3 times a day and staying in a temple for days on end, the last time being a 9 day stay. She's saying that she's in contact with the dead and the other side e.g. ghosts and no I have never seen her take drugs! This has now been going on for the last 6 months, and since meeting me! I personally have never seen anything like it by a bargirl or is it a scam? Normal or strange for this kind of phenomena to happen to a hardened bar worker or Thai. Have you ever heard this from a Thai lady's point?

Mrs. Stick says: Ghosts are very real for us. I heard many stories of foreign guys teasing Thai girlfriends about ghosts but for us it is not funny. For us ghosts are very real even though I know for foreigners they are not. This is no scam and I think your girlfriend is telling you what she really sees. I know some women get very, very sacred of ghosts especially older women and women in the countryside.

There is no shortage of things concerning Thailand, Thai people and those with Thai connections reported in the press around the world. Where I read a story or report that I think is interesting or relevant I include links to those articles towards the end of the column. Sometimes I come across interesting stories on the sites I read on a daily basis like the Sydney Morning Herald and the BBC. Also, some readers send me links when articles appear in their local press with a Thai twist. The links are included without attribution of where they come from or who sent them from me. Somehow I do not think Joe Bloggs from Smithtown feels the need to read that he supplied a link run in the column. This week I was accused of lifting links from another site, something I found rather amusing as it concerned a site I had never visited before. I never lift information from other sites. It is a completely unreliable way to cover what is happening and much of what is written online needs be taken with a grain of salt. The *only* weekly Thailand related column I read is that written by my pal DaveTheRave. That's it. A number of Thailand blogs exist but I do not have the time to read them. And as the legend himself, Trink, once said to me, if you read all the other sites you can get confused about what is going on; you don't know what you found out yourself and what you read elsewhere.



Yours,

Stick Mark II