My sincerest apologies to readers for the delay in the publication of this week's column and the absence of an opening piece. I left the condo to run a couple of errands at 1:45 PM, expecting to be gone no more than an hour. I eventually arrived home some 10 hours later… It is now very late, well after midnight and the opening piece is incomplete so I will publish without an opener this week.
Where was this picture taken?
Last week's picture was taken between Sukhumvit sois 2 and 4, right outside the popular Bully's pub. 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. The second person to get it right wins a free jug of margarita, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant, offering authentic cuisine and delicious margaritas. Charley Brown's is located in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11.
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Charley Brown's prize MUST be claimed within 7 days. For the Love Entrepreneurs prize, you must be able to provide a postal address in Thailand. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per month.
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Can the West ever compare?
I seriously doubt that you could reintegrate into a routine working life anywhere in the "western" world (including Arab countries). After more than a decade in one of the most humming places for a single male…no chance. Unless maybe if you become self-employed or get a job where you travel a lot. But nearly all the factors that made your life in Bangkok as exciting as it was will be missing in everyday life. For me there is only one reason to hold out another few months here and it's called money. But if like me you are not interested in starting a family, raising kids, building a home and impressing your friends with a new BMW then it will be hard to enjoy life in the first world. Sure, one can have fun here. But if an evening out here (merely providing the chance to meet uptight and prejudicing girls / people) costs me more than a week of fun in Thailand where screaming girls and genuine good vibes are nearly everywhere. Then (the opportunistic, economic person I am) I start asking why I should partake in this overvalued BS at all. That's why I regret not a single baht I have spent in my travels. It has been the best investment of my life and opened up ways of thinking which makes life so much more relaxed! If my boss starts asking too much of me I will simply quit and leave for another SEA stint. No bad feelings. Whereas before I would always have been tempted to work overly hard on a career that was never fulfilling to meet expectations of friends and family as 90% of the guys here do and you only have to start talking with them to know that they never even came close to experiencing the freedom and excitement that guys like us can have in the LOS! Similarly you should not start calculating how much money you would have put aside had you worked all those years in the west. At the end of the day all you can take to the grave with you are those experiences. Not the millions in the bank – they will go to your teeruk anyway)!
Lampang versus Lamphun.
I have never heard of Lampang Province being famous for beautiful women. You are right to speculate that it might be Lamphun Province. More specifically, Basang village, about 10 km west of Lamphun town, is famous for having the most beautiful women in the North. I made a pilgrimage there 25 years ago. I didn’t see a single beauty. I think they all get “recruited” very young for the brothels and massage parlours in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and elsewhere. But there are pretty girls to be seen in Lamphun town. Tour guides in Chiang Mai often tell tour groups that Bawsang, the “Umbrella Village”, is famous for its beautiful women. That is not true. It is actually Basang.
KFC's ghastly food explained.
I can shed some light on why you might find Bangkok KFC chicken less than palatable. In her youth my wife was floor manager at the factory outside Bangkok that produces chicken products for KFC, McDonald's and a few others. She said a lot of chicken that ends up in Thailand's fast food industry is very well travelled – having been exported to the US, Australia, the U.K., etc. and, failing border inspections, sent back to Thailand. And regarding conditions at the factory, she just shuddered and said, "Not clean".
Why I am against the odious practice of bars forcing girls to drink.
I was in a favourite bar of yours in Pattaya. I fell in love for the evening with a very attractive dancer. I pay the barfine and take her back to my room. I noticed on the baht bus she went quiet and some of the energy started to fade. Well, we get back to the room and things get interesting for me. Turns out she is starting to feel the effects of all the drinks she's had that evening. So instead of a night of romance I'm holding her head out of the toilet as she vomits up her lungs. I clean her up and put her into my bed since she is obviously just spent from vomiting violently and drunk out of her skull. The next morning she is looking like death warmed over and not doing too hot. So I asked her what the deal was. She said that mamasan gave shots before each of the girls dance shifts. She was new at the bar with that being day two or three so the alcohol hit her like a freight train.
The profession of writing sick buffalo letters.
My wife has a friend at university who has part-time work at an internet shop on Soi 4, Soi Nana. Her job? She gets paid 8,000 baht a month to reply to emails sent to the local bargirls by their farang boyfriends. Yes, she is actually employed by the shop to do this. If the webcam is operating, the bargirl even pretends to be typing, but it's all a sham. The actual writing is done later by my wife's friend. My wife didn't know if the girl has to ask the farang to send 40,000 baht for the sick buffalo / mother's heart operation / brother's new motorcycle after his latest accident, etc.
Not my brother's keeper.
By definition it's not the wilting wallflowers that get on their bikes and take the decision to relocate to the other side of the world, Thailand. There are in my mind three groups who consider such a proposition. The first do their diligent homework and more or less immediately discard this fantasy for what it's truly worth. The second through their lack of success at home through their work, relationships and general lack of any kind of social success feel that they have all to gain and nothing to lose, and finally the last group who seem to be on a fast track hell for leather early demise. Little do they know that stepping off the boarding bridge on to their departure flight is a point of no return, that even the ones who are able to return their lives will never be the same again. One of the first things that hit me on my arrival was that there was such an air impermanence, as everybody seemed to be passing through, nobody would make the commitment of seeing anybody again solely due to the fact that they didn't know if they'd still be around themselves. Those that intended to remain were all grasping onto to the slim threads of existence that were rapidly sliding out of their fingers. Everybody seemed to be on a downward spiral, or on a carousel that was going so fast that you had no chance of staying on. Your best buddy from the beer bar the night before once sobered up would soon be relating his tales of woe, with every intention of taking you down with him. Sleeping on the beach, eating handouts along with the dogs at the temple, finally being arrested for an altercation with no visa, work permit and out of date passport are all par the course on this slippery slope. The odds of being able to make a successful go of it if weren't easy before I would say are bordering on nigh on impossible now. For every 100 previously successful Donald Trumps wannabes who land on these shores, I would say only 1% can cut it here with these Thais. There's a very good reason why you are referred to as aliens from the moment you arrive till the moment you depart in a puff of smoke. Your last port of call will be the Cross Keys Hotel, earning a daily credit of baht that will eventually pay off your outstanding fines, before you are ceremonially kicked out of the country. It's at this stage if not way before that I will declare that I'm not my brother's keeper.
Just when we thought normality had returned and just when we thought that the bars were back into a steady routine come reports that another closing time crackdown has begun. Nana Plaza is back on the lights out by 1 AM regimen. Soi Cowboy remains 2 AM although one night earlier this week it was closed at midnight. Sigh, just when we thought all of this nonsense was behind us…it returns.
The rumour mill has it that Voodoo in Nana is going mud. Yes, it might just become the first Bangkok mud wrestling bar. If this happens, the Crown Group will deserve a huge pat on the back for doing what other bar owners refuse to do – introducing something new and giving punters a reason to go to a bar. Despite being barred from the Crown Group properties years and years ago, I think I will sneak in for a nosey… But, for the time being, mud hasn't made it to the menu. Shower shows are the order of the day and the center of the stage has a pool of water filled with balloons. In the newly re-opened Voodoo, beer will set you back 135 baht.
I regret to report that a well-known character in Washington Square, George Pipas, proprietor of the Texas Lone Staar, has passed away. George had been a resident in Bangkok for an awfully long time, with one Washington Square regular mentioning that George was not that many years short of 50 in Bangkok! George had been ill for some time. May he rest in peace.
The police are doing ID checks of the girls in Cowboy and paying extra attention to those who are not of legal age. If one of your favourite young dancers is mysteriously absent from the pole, that could be the reason. The ranks of some Cowboy bars were obliterated on Friday night with at least one bar hiding 40% of its girls up in the attic. And you thought the bars were all above board?!
And speaking of police checks, the boys in brown launched a crackdown on fake CDs at Khao Sarn Road. While you can find dodgy CDs and DVDs all over Bangkok, they're presently absent at Khao Sarn. Offers of uploads onto iPods remain however, a service that seems to be increasingly popular.
The sign at the start of Pattaya's Walking Street is coming along and it looks like it is going to be a real whopper with work going ahead feverishly. With the speed that construction projects go up here one can assume it can't be too far away from completion.
Speaking of Pattaya, I made a flying visit this week and could not help but notice that many of the trees on Beach Road directly opposite Royal Garden Shopping Centre have been trimmed right back resulting in less places for those lingering in the shadows to hide. I allows a better view of the sea and it may well make the midnight stroll along Beach Road a little safer.
Like I say, it was only a flying visit to Pattaya but there did seem to be me more folks in town than there had been in recent visits. But it must be said, they were not the typical Stickman reader but rather Chinese and other Asian tour groups.
Hollywood Carousel's lofty pricing has backfired and business seems to be down even further. This should not be unexpected given that they charge a massive 220 for a lady drink. Apparently a Tequila is 'only' 130. Could this be the start of a new strategy by the owner to effectively charge for the girl's time i.e. if you want her to actually sit and chat with you then you have to pay a "premium price" for a drink. I will be interested to see how this pans out because 220 baht for a standard lady drink in Nana Plaza is way, way over the asking price and is effectively a 60% premium on most other bars.
Cowboy's Black & White is finally undergoing renovations and looks like it will join the glass ceiling club. Despite the work in progress the bar remains open and the new price structure seems to have been scrapped for 70 baht happy hour, 125 baht all night beer and lady drinks at 120 baht – fair by Bangkok 2008 standards. For the time being there are barely a dozen dancers so it might pay to wait for new recruitments before checking it out.
Despite some readers telling me that taxis have not put their fares up, I can assure you that many have. It is simply taking time for all of the taxis to get their meters switched off to the new rates.
Coyote’s new sign is finally complete after a nearly 2 months of being absent. The front of Jungle Jim’s and Moonshine Joint have a new look too. Many bars in Soi Cowboy have put on a new face in the last 18 months, the rest must be feeling the pressure to upgrade. Needless to Say Cowboy is looking good, easily the most attractive looking of all of Bangkok's bar areas.
There don't appear to be so many Russians in Pattaya at the moment. They seem to be spreading their wings as more and more reports coming in from Samui suggest that plenty of Russians are choosing the southern island for their holidays.
If you're looking to satisfy a three sisters in bed fantasy, get down to Tilac in Cowboy. With more than 200 girls on the books there's a good chance of there being some sisters amongst them and so from one family in Chiayaphum comes three sisters. Yes, not sisters as in friends, but real biological sisters and yes, they all look very, very similar. #6 is 23 years old, #52 is 20 years old and #78 is 26 years old. Barfine all three at the same time? You might just go to hell for that sin!
In last week's column I had a moan about the much advertised free wi-fi service from True and the fact that no-one seems to know just how we can avail ourselves of it. This is rather a good deal because True states that they have 15,000+ wi-fi hot spots – which means pretty much wherever you are you should be able to pick up a signal. Even here at Stickman HQ I can pick up two different True wi-fi signals. Anyway, my complaint was that there were no details as to how you access the free service. Well, it seems that True are giving out free cards, bright green in colour, with a username and password. They were promoting the service last week in the park beside Emporium handing out a few free "Green Bangkok Wi-Fi" cards with PINs and serial numbers. So, keep an eye out for the hotties in True uniform and grab some login cards. I also think a trip to the nearest True office is in order.
So there was a Nanapong reunion and dance contest held last night in the Dollhouse and I was informed about it, oh, about 4 hours before kick off. Yep, that makes it rather hard to promote! I am sure a good time was had by all…
When economic times are less fruitful, so the scams start up. Friday's Thai Rath (the top selling Thai language newspaper) front page reported that a gang of Nigerians were busted in Bangkok for the famed 419 scam. The gang of 28 included 2 Thai women, 11 of whom have been arrested with the rest on the run. This came about after a victim in Malaysia complained to the Thai police that he had been ripped off for $2,500.
And I received a report of a dreadful scam that was successfully effected against a first time visitor this week. A long-time Stickman reader showed his friend from the UK, a first time visitor to Thailand, around the naughty bars. The fellow took a liking to a girl and after his friend, a local resident, decided to return home, he doubled back to pay bar for the new love of his life. After getting her back to the most infamous of naughty hotels, he was ready for the main event. There she was, on the bed…..and he was primed and ready to go. But then disaster struck! She wanted to delay the act, saying she wanted to talk a bit first. For a long-timer that would have set the alarm bells off. The next thing the guy knows there is hammering on the door and someone shouting out the girl's name! Mr. First Time Visitor opens the door and a Thai guy bursts in screaming threats and saying that he is going to go to the police! He was told that if he paid 6,000 baht to the intruder all would be ok and the guy would forget he was in bed with his wife. Mr. First Time Visitor paid up quickly and the couple disappeared. Clearly the girl had called her husband when the customer was in the shower and told him the name of the hotel and the room number in what was a well-orchestrated scam. Of course the fellow should have gone back to the bar the next day and screamed and yelled but he just wanted to forget it. It doesn't take much analysis to conclude that this scam was performed because the guy had admitted that he was new to Thailand. If this rogue couple pull this just once a week it's money for old rope. Don't ever let on that it's your first trip! While this sort of carry on is clearly not endorsed by the bar's management, it doesn't do anything for the reputation of the bar. Sometimes you would be better off at home, playing a French game of cards than going to the bars.
Horn dogs will be happy to know that that a new flight now runs from Angeles City (Clark Air-force base) in the Philippines to Bangkok. The service started on July 22 with one way tickets running around $160. I can't help but think that it might have been better to actually schedule the flights between Pattaya (Utapao Airport) and Angeles City. These flights are scheduled to fly three times a week and this new service is, at this stage, running through until August 30.
The dirty doctor has established a network of fake monk spotters. The girls outside the bars advise the doctor if they spot the fake monks. The fake monks were spotted moving through Soi Cowboy at greatly accelerated speeds as the men in brown entered the soi. It would seem that the dirty doctor is not the only one on the trail of the fake monks. With Buddhist Lent underway and real monks temple-bound for 3 months, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind about the monks being fake. On Saturday night the doctor was promptly notified the fakes were working Soi Cowboy and once again the chase was on. However there was a new twist, Thai taxi drivers were also taking the doctor's lead and joined the pursuit! The fake monks were in full sprint running across Asoke and ascending the skytrain stairs 3 steps at a time with the doctor's enormous 145 kg frame in hot pursuit! It was later reported by some girls working one of the massage shops on the even side of Sukhumvit that the fake monks were still in full sprint heading in the direction of Nana. Later the dirty doctor went to Nana but there was no sign of the fake monks.
Rumours reach Stickman HQ from within the walls of power. They are not confirmed and may turn out to be false, but the source is generally reliable. It is mooted that the overstay fine, which presently maxes out at 20,000 baht, will increase to 50,000 baht. Overstaying is seriously uncool and not recommended under any circumstances. The next rumour is that the cost of a work permit is going to soar several hundred percent! This one has been talked about before and I expect it to happen. Bad news for the self-employed as well as teachers employed at schools which refuse to pick up the costs. The last rumour is an interesting one with it mooted that visa extensions of up to two months will be allowed. This would be welcome by many. Anyway, these are all rumours only do don't read too much into them…yet!
A reader asks a question. "I have a friend from Wellington, NZ, who I know is living in Chiang Mai with his wife and child. I heard recently he had got involved in real estate up there. In Wellington he used to be one of the best window cleaners in town. My intentions are just to meet him and have a coffee with him. His name is Gerry Lambert." Send the details to me and I can forward them to the reader.
An Australian retiree is trying to contact any Australian pensioners resident in Thailand. He has some questions about collecting the pension while living abroad. If you can help, please drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quote of the week comes from the Dirty Doctor. "Men won't go into a bar unless other men are there" after he and I were about to enter a bar early in the evening, saw no customers, and walked straight out!
Soi Arab was featured in the New York Times.
Is this justice, Thai style, from The Australian.
Did you know that if you have two or more children already, you can get a free vasectomy in Bangkok, regardless of your nationality?!
Ask Mrs. Stick
Mrs. Stick is happy to answer any questions regarding inter-racial relationships as well as cultural peculiarities that may be confusing or baffling you.
Question 1: On my return to Thailand in 2 weeks I'll be spending time with my girlfriend who is a middle class 21 year old uni student and also some time with my English friends visiting bars which she accepts in moderation as she rightly trusts me. However, part of my holiday will include trips to Krabi and Chiang Mai / Pai and two of my friends will accompany us. The only problem is that they will bring bargirls! She says outside Bangkok she won't get seen by friends / family and so finds it acceptable although I know she is just being polite. Do you think interaction will be possible? I can't imagine girls as different as her and her view of the world and bargirls. I think she'll find them amusing at least. Do you foresee a problem?
Mrs. Stick says: You know that bargirls are not like other Thai people. They do not behave and they are very impolite. I cannot talk about your girlfriend but can talk about myself. For me, if I go into a bar they can do what they like. I don't care. But if Mr. Stick said we were going on holiday with his friend and a bargirl, I would not go. NO WAY! It might make people think that I am a bargirl. What can I talk with them about? I know about their lifestyle and their tricks and I can't accept it. I don't mind poor people but going on holiday with bargirls I could not accept.
Question 2: I am what you might call "poor". I have little in the way of savings and I don't earn a large income. I have my own home and it will be paid off and all mine in less than 3 years. I am a long time reader of this website and one of the common themes is that if a foreign guy does not have a lot of money and a willingness to part with it, he should not look at Thai women. Is this presumption fair?
Mrs. Stick says: Some Thai women are motivated by money. I think you cannot have a long term relationship with them. But most Thai women are not like this. We want a man who is honest and is committed to us and a family man. We like a man who is a leader and who has enough money to provide for the family. He does not have to be rich, but he does have to "lee-ung doo" us. I think it means in English that he can take care of us and the family's needs. I think even poor foreigners are not poor in Thailand. So maybe you can move here. It is cheaper and you will not be poor here like in your country.
Business seems to have picked up around the traps in the last week or two and my feeling is that there are more tourists in town. July and August are busier months than May / June and September / August as much of the northern hemisphere takes its holidays and many choose Thailand. Business should be reasonable for a few weeks….but don't be surprised to see it drop right off again come late August.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Disaster…an incomplete column!