Stickman's Weekly Column December 14th, 2008

The Bane Of Modern Day Living


No other single item has had such a profound effect on 21st century lifestyles. It has transformed the way we work and the way we play. Many people have a love affair with it and some would not just feel but be totally lost without it. While we might expect children to constantly play with theirs, it’s not uncommon to see high flying businessman doing just the same. I am of course talking about the mobile phone. But I wonder if I am the only one who thinks they are the bane of modern day living?

The many benefits mobile phones bring to our modern lifestyles are undeniable. As a communication tool in remote places, as an emergency device and just for sheer convenience, it’s hard to argue against it. Even technophobes like my dear old mother rely on her mobile to the extent that she probably wonders how she got by without it.

But none of that changes my opinion. I hate mobile phones. Hate. It’s not a word I used often. Or maybe it is not the mobile that is the problem per se, but telephone etiquette in Thailand?

When I was young the unwritten rule was that you never called anyone before 9 AM or after 9 PM unless it was something urgent or an emergency. Outside of those hours it was considered seriously uncool or even socially unacceptable to call someone unless you really had to. But with mobile phones that all seems to have changed. When I arrive at school each day at 6:30 AM, every other student is chatting away on their mobile. No, they’re not sending messages or playing games but actually talking with someone. Who on earth could they be calling at that time? Who has anything to say at 6:30 AM? It takes me at least two coffees to become coherent, let alone anything even close to remotely interesting to others at that time of day.

I must admit that having been away from the West for so long I really have no idea what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to mobile phones. But mobile phone etiquette in Thailand puzzles me. Why do the blasted things even have an on / off switch when it is truly considered a sin to have your mobile phone turned off – at any time. You’ll be in the doghouse if someone tries to reach you and is unable to do so because your phone is off.

In fact merely failing to answer it is almost a crime in some people’s eyes. Mrs. Stick once tried to call me when I was out for a run. Funnily enough I had the phone on me but didn’t hear it ringing. When I eventually returned home I noticed not only a couple of missed calls from her but a subsequent terse SMS. Never having prescribed to the “Yes, dear” theory of appeasing the Mrs., my response was equally forthright. Never again did she give me grief for failing to answer the phone!

Which brings me to the fact that many Thais almost see their partner’s mobile phone as some sort of tracking device. Failure on their behalf to answer can only mean that their loved one is in someone else’s bed. There can be no other explanation! Many Thais really do take failure to answer a call as a very major issue! In some workplaces the rule is no personal calls and thank God, a few of the high end restaurants have erected notices requesting that mobile phones be turned off. But that doesn’t stop some customers nattering away on their phone while out on a date, more often than not the bird. Is there any worse sight than a Thai bloke sitting there clearly bored in a restaurant as his date is laughing and chatting away to one of her friends on the phone, more often than not totally inane chit chat. It’s a pathetic sight.

Of course the signs and notices requesting that patrons refrain from using their mobile phone are seldom effective. Just go and catch a flick at the cinema in Thailand for proof.

Of course there is one advantage in all of this. For the foreign sponsor of a Thai bird, her phone being off for more than 24 hours means only one thing – she’s not exclusive to you. It is the absolute best way to know if she is up to no good. Thai girls don’t lose their phones. It never happens. Never heard of it! Their mobile is permanently glued to their ear!

That said, while they may not lose them, they are known to destroy them and as I once wrote, try as hard as you might you will never be able to teach your Nokia to fly!

I was thrilled when they passed the law that made using a mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle illegal. I would never answer my phone while driving anyway. You really need to be on the ball at the wheel in Thailand. But that hasn’t stopped the masses and I bet mobile usage has barely dropped, if at all, since that law was passed a year or so ago.

A former boss once chastised me for failing to answer the phone when she called and my explanation that my phone was for my convenience and not hers went straight over her head. In fact she seemed to take the comment as something of a personal affront and relations between us were frosty for some time.

It is my belief that the cost of using a mobile phone in Thailand is just too low. All the service providers seem to have baht a minute calling plans making it is so ridiculously cheap that it is almost free. No-one refrains from using their mobile due to the cost of the call. The net result is that some folks call even when they have nothing to say. It drives me up the wall.

But why oh why do so many Thais insist on calling you, letting the phone ring for a split second and then hanging up? They want to talk with you and the simple fact that they were able to make the call shows they have credit in their phone, yet the idea is that you will then call them back meaning you pay for the call and not them. This drives me wild!

It has got so bad that I only answer my phone about 25% of the time and if a number shows up that I do not recognise, more often than not I will not answer it. I mean, it’s not like it is going to be the lottery office welcoming me to the millionaire’s club. And Thais do have a dreadful habit of entering the wrong number. Why they do it on their mobile phones and never at the ATM machine I will never know.

Another of my pet hates, and God, this seems to be as much a farang thing as a Thai thing nowadays is the one-upmanship people have when it comes to the make and model of their phone. The Dirty Doctor astounded me a few weeks ago when he alluded to the fact that it was time to upgrade my mobile. Upgrade? Why?! My 4-year old phone which cost the grand total of 2,500 baht works just as well today as the day I bought it. And it is smaller than his which cost 10 times the price and besides, didn’t your last 20,000 baht phone die and you couldn’t help yourself but buy the same model for fear of being seen with something cheap and nasty like Stick has!

When expats are sitting around in a pub they often put their mobiles on the table. Watch everyone’s eyes. Most just can’t help themselves but check out what everyone else is using. Oh, so he has a Blackberry and he has an IPhone and he has an N95 and oh my God, what has Stick got!

And don’t even get me started on SMS messages. They’re such a pain to type out – yes, I am slow – and they are murdering our use of the English language. When my students started using mobile phone language in formal essays and exams I knew that we were going through a major cultural change. The mobile phone had become an integral part of our life. Nokia and Ericsson’s influence in my classroom was most unwelcome.

I am not against mobile phones per se and acknowledge that they offer benefits to the modern man. But mobile phone etiquette in Thailand drives me barmy. And it’s not just the Thais. Westerners are just as bad. Whether it is the mobile itself or people's behaviour to blame, I haven't quite worked out. But one thing I know for sure. The mobile phone is, in my opinion, the bane of modern day living.

I am not quite stubborn or narrow-minded enough to believe that I can live without a mobile phone, but that does not mean that I have to like the blasted thing. It does mean however that if you want to get hold of me, email works beautifully and the mobile, well, hope, pray and then pray again that maybe, just maybe I will answer. But then again, I probably won’t.

Rant over.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken in Soi Cowboy during the day, looking at Sheba's. A shallow depth of field meant a blurred background and only a handful of the cleverest readers got it right. 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. The third prize is offered by ThailandFriends.com, an online dating community that boasts over 50,000 members, hosts live events in and around Thailand and allows basic members to send 5 messages a day for free. The prize offered is one month premium membership which adds more to the ThailandFriends' experience with unlimited messaging, detailed member searches, 24 profile pictures, and a whole lot more.

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. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per month. The ThailandFriends prize must be claimed within one week.

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 – Paying a dowry for your wife is the same as purchasing cattle.

Your story of your friend's 500,000 baht sin sot horrified me and only goes to show, once again, what many Thais are all about – greed. I always liken a sin sot to buying a cow. In many cases, I suppose, it could amount to about the same thing! Especially in your friend's case. I am married to a Thai lady from Isaan. I do distinctly remember that when we discussed getting married way back in 2001, the idea of a sin sot was never mentioned; in fact at that time I don't think I'd ever heard of such a thing and I can absolutely confirm that had one been proposed, we wouldn't be married now! Reverting to your friend's story, I just hate all those lies and duplicity – would do my head in, all that. I can safely say about my dear wife, she has NEVER told me a lie, is as straight as a die and frugal to the point of being 'keeneow' – she would rather walk 1 km with heavy shopping than catch a taxi as that involves spending money which could be better utilised buying food to eat. Only goes to show once again they DO exist – good girls, even from bars.

Money or love? Your choice, bitch.

Money first, money first. God how many times I've heard that expression. As soon as the subject of money comes up it's over, right from the first introduction. Short time, long time, forever time, illusion time – you can call it whatever you like, but as soon as you get into any kind financial negotiations over your moment of passion, that moment's lost. The whole concept of this sin sot is a complete anathema to most. Nobody's got any qualms over renting a body for a night, but to extend that into purchasing a wife sets a very dangerous precedent from there on in. So how are you advising prospective grooms today? My advice would be for them to give this subject a lot of thought and consideration, make up your own mind what you feel she is worth (remember I once wrote to you and said sin sot should be traded on the Chicago commodities floor, along with pigs' bellies), set this figure in stone, offer it, and walk away immediately unless it is greeted by a very positive reaction. For the same funds you can make countless further purchases of passion, but just like your proposed wife you will never buy their hearts.

What is the new 15 day visa rule supposed to achieve other than inconvenience?

Thanks for mentioning the new rule limiting an overland visa to 15 days. I don't know who it's aimed at, but I have surgery scheduled in Bangkok in January. I thought, well, if the airports happen to be shut down again I'll fly from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur and take the train to Bangkok. I'll make the best of it. But now, I'll only get a 15 day visa if I do that, which will put me 15 days over when I leave unless I do a visa run which I likely won't feel up for. Thailand spends a fortune promoting tourism, and Bumrungrad Hospital even has an office at Suwarnabhumi, but with the PAD poised to shut down the airport should they again feel aggrieved, and Immigration determined to make things as difficult as possible for visitors, I think tourists may find it increasingly easy to resist Thailand's charms.

Pattaya, high season 2008.

Pattaya is brutally quiet. It is like everyone is in a different world and wondering "where the hell are the tourists?" Most everyone I run into is either here pretty much full time or were here prior to the shutdown. One of the guys at the hotel here has been waiting since 25 November for a flight back to England and one just came through today. He stated this will be his last trip to the realm because as a taxi owner / operator back in the UK, this has cost him dearly. A couple of guys staying here that have been coming here from Australia every year are saying they are rethinking Thailand as an option. They are off to the Philippines and Angeles City. A couple of other younger guys from the UK have similar problems with the 15 day visa nonsense. So they are rethinking next year's plans. They said they always stay the 30 days and then go over to Cambodia for the visa and the second 30 day stay but find that it is hardly worth the trouble. They are now inquiring about Vietnam as a tourist destination.

Enough is enough.

I have lived in Bangkok since 1997 and had a business that employed 22 people for the last 5 years. I closed it in September. The political drama, Aussie dollar / THB exchange rate drop and worsening business situation just made doing business too hard. Plus of course the usual hoop-jumping for visas, work permit etc. The straw that actually broke the camel's back so to speak was the revenue department demanding 8,000 baht from me for additional VAT for a vehicle I had sold the previous year. They said I had not sold it at market price (the second time this had happened to me). This time I had paperwork with offers from car dealers to purchase and copies of similar vehicle prices on the web on file (I sold somewhere in the middle). The Revenue Dept wouldn't accept this. It boggles the mind! I know it's only a pittance but as far as I was concerned it was demand money by menaces and it made me so angry you have no idea. Having run through a million baht or so of additional equity investment over 2008 topping up the cash flow dealing with the business problems I thought bugger them, why keep poking money into Thailand in hard times when we are not wanted and not respected for the FX we earn (my business was around THB 26 million in 2007) and so 22 people were on the street. As far as I am aware, only 3 of them have new jobs.

In love with Miss Eden.

I wrote to you several weeks ago about being involved with an Eden lady. You told me how much traffic those ladies had. I knew they were with many men. Still I liked her and she never asked for anything and called me everyday. It was difficult to say the least. She had told me she was working until April and then would have enough money to build her parents a house and would stop. Don't know if this was true but she never asked for anything so I went along with it. Last week she told me she had stopped working at Eden. She said she had trouble with a customer and couldn't work there anymore. I asked what she was going to do and she said maybe she would go to work in Singapore. The next day she mailed me and said she was going to Singapore for 2 weeks then Hong Kong for 2 weeks or if I would help her by sending her 500 dollars a month she would work back home with her sister in some shops she owns. I mailed Eden to see if she was still there and lo and behold she did not stop working! She exploded when I told her! She said it was a test to see if I really loved her and that we were finished. I did not think an Eden girl was like a typical bargirl but I guess I was wrong. This girl emailed me at least once a day and called sometimes 3 times a day for the last 5 months. Don't know what to believe but once she lied it's hard to trust.

Expats are leaving Thailand, perhaps not quite in droves, but in numbers. I've received both phone calls from friends and emails from long term readers who are saying they have had enough. Most are professionals with the sort of expat packages that Thailand lovers around the world dream of getting. Almost without exception, these guys are saying enough is enough and notwithstanding that they are on a good thing in Thailand, they feel that they can have a better lifestyle in the West.

This week bar trade did pick up as the planes started returning to Suwannaphum but you'd still have to say that bar areas continue to be quieter than you would expect for this time of year. When you look closely, many customers seem to be like me – the low return customers the bar owners don't really care for – there for a quiet drink or two with a mate, buying few or no lady drinks, and with no intention whatsoever of barfining.

Business is so bad in some areas that the hello girls outside the Japanese-oriented bars in Soi Thaniya are calling out to Caucasians passing by and inviting them inside, something almost that is unheard of.

The No Name Group (Suzie Wong's, Sheba's, Apache Coyote, Shadow Bar, Joy Bar, Lucky Luke's and Playskool) will be holding a dance contest for charity on Sunday, December 28 at the recently renovated Suzie Wong's A Gogo on Soi Cowboy. There will be a charity raffle for a brand new motorbike as well with all of the proceeds to benefit local charities that support orphans and children with AIDS. Raffle tickets will be available at the Old Dutch and the Queen Victoria Pub as well as at all of the bars mentioned.

Soi Cowboy's Déjà Vu bar seems to have adopted a practice previously found at Angelwitch whereby you have to ask for the waitress to actually bring your change to you. And don't be surprised if she hisses at you! Oh, and if you barfine from there, INSIST on seeing the girl's ID card lest you wish to become vulnerable to the boys in brown for indulging where you shouldn't… It really is a crap bar, one of the worst in the major bar areas in my opinion.

Sisterz in Pattaya will hold the deliciously titled 'Rear of the Year' contest on Thursday December 18 and a Christmas Party on surprise, surprise, December 25. The New Year's Eve Countdown Party on Friday (even greater surprise) – you know when – will no doubt be busy too.

Secrets bar on Soi 14 off Walking Street is in festive mode. The decorations are up and the venue is looking great. The big day that stands out is the 24th, Christmas Eve. Secrets promise a huge blow out with mince pies and festive favorites to be given out during the night with a big midnight countdown to Christmas Day. On Christmas Day itself there will be Christmas dinner and a party which will go right through the night. On New Year's Eve they will hold the Mega New Year's Eve Party. It will kick off early and continue all the way through to 6 AM. There will be party food and party poppers, streamers etc. New Year's Eve parties in the naughty bars tend to see guys congregate in their favourite bar and stay there through until midnight at which point they hit town and check out a few more venues. If I was in Pattaya, it would be a toss up between Secrets and Catz. Tough choice!

It's been a few weeks since I was in Pattaya so this past week I made the journey down to see how it was faring with tourist numbers plummeting. I predicted that despite there being a massive downturn in tourism trade this high season and right throughout 2009 that the beer bellied Singha singlet-wearing tourist for which Pattaya is most known will be the most resilient of all tourists – and to some extent I as right. Driving in along the Beach Road numbers were up. There were more people about than I have seen since last high season.

The first thing I noticed was that while the Russians are back, there is nothing like the numbers of them that we were seeing at this time last year. The Russian stock market was one of the heaviest hit and apparently things aren't going too crash hot up there in KGBLand. Still, there are some Russians around and whereas last year they tended to be young couples, I notice more and more packs of young Russian guys, again, young, the majority seem to be aged under 35.

I don't know what memory remains stronger from my run through Pattaya this week. Was it the girl on Walking Street holding up a sign advertising her bar while fiddling with her mobile phone, realising that few guys were interested in actually going into a bar. Or was it the two Thai boxers who fought it out in the ring in the Peppermint / Dollhouse bar area, one of whom jumped up and down and bowed to a non-existent crowd when he won? (check out the picture below – not one seat was taken!). Or was it the walk back to my hotel, looking up at other hotels, and seeing almost no lights on in any rooms. Pattaya is hurting! Walking Street may appear busy and there's no shortage of sun worshippers, but enter the bars and trade is down.

No-one is watching the Thai boxing on Walking Street.

"I come from Russia" used to be the standard response to get rid of those pesky timeshare sellers on Beach Road. But it no longer works. I said that to one woman and she started jabbering away to me in Russian! You've got to give her full marks for being entrepreneurial. I then leapt into the remains of my schoolboy German and she didn't understand a word so phew, close one there! Maybe next time I should reply to her in Maori?

Chatting with the owner of one Pattaya bar this week – and we're not talking a cheap low end venue here, he said that the girls WERE sympathetic to guys with less money in their pocket perhaps due to tanking exchange rates, lower interest rates, investments gone bad or just the pessimism due to the economic downturn affecting us all. He insisted that many of the prettiest, most popular girls in his bar would be happy with 1,500 baht for an evening's company. He was insistent on it. Of course, the girls know that there are fewer guys around and are happy to get their hands on something, even if it is less than what they are used to.

I heard a great story that in many ways verifies just what the bar boss said. A girl from Secrets was given 4,000 baht by a very happy customer this past week and she returned 2,000 of it back to him saying it was too much! We often give these girls a hard time but there are obviously some gems out there.

I have seen the future of beer bars, and it's called U Too! I bet I am not the only one who finds Pattaya's beer bars generally a motley lot, not just the girls but the venues too. I mean, if you compare the beer bars of Pattaya with what is available in Phuket then Pattaya does a splendid job of embarrassing itself. The beer bars of Bangla Road are generally much more pleasant than what you find in Pattaya where crap sound systems blaring at full ball while the girls laze around looking bored has never been my idea of fun. For me, Pattaya's beer bars have always been a place to start the evening with a few cheap drinks but that's it. Anyway, I was really impressed with U Too Bar on Second Road between sois 4 and 5. Good sound system, nicely laid out and there are even coyote dancers from 8:15 PM, a couple of whose mug shots appear below. It's all sort of like a luxury, "high end" beer bar! Hell, even the girls are pretty in there but be warned, it is a little dearer than other beer bars but not unreasonable. Beer Lao – yes, they have it – will run you 90 baht and you'll still get change from a 100 baht note for my favourite Jack Daniels + Coke. The two pics here are from U Too Bar.

The Immigration Department is getting more heavy handed and is not at all shy dispensing fines to those who commit the heinous crime of failing to report their (usually unchanged) address every 90 days. For those who don't know how it works, it goes something like this. If you are granted an extension of stay in the Kingdom beyond a period of 3 months you are required to report your current address to any branch of the Thai Immigration Department. There is a special form and the cost of notifying them is, amazingly, free. What most people tend to do is do their once yearly visa extension where they complete a form which includes their address and then come back each 90 days (you are given a week's grace which allows you to string it out) and then by the time the next year rolls around they extend their visa for another year and then the 90 days later the 90-day reporting starts again. In the past this has worked just fine. A few weeks ago a good friend's email ran in the emails to Stick section of the column and he outlined that Immigration now does NOT count the visa extension to include reporting your address – even though you do exactly that! What you now have to do – and no-one that I know seems to know about or be doing this – is to not only complete the form to extend your visa but ALSO complete a 90 day reporting format at the same time. Just to really complicate matters every branch of Immigration enforces the rules their own way but this is how things are playing out at Immigration HQ in Soi Suan Plu, Bangkok. Not that it is recommended, but those who have NEVER reported and never start reporting do not seem to have any problem at all! My personal feeling is that this 90-day reporting is nonsensical and the heavy-handed enforcement of it will not win the authorities any friends. They are hassling the very people who live here and support the local economy in MANY ways. The guy who thought this one up has a future in Thai politics.

With the high season proving to be anything but high, The Oriental is continuing their low season luncheon special and has extended it right up until Christmas. That means you can get a multiple course lunch at the hotel's premier restaurant, Le Normandie, for 1,000 baht with NO ++ added to the price AND you can bring a bottle of wine for which there is no corkage charge! 1,000 baht per head is all you pay. Such a superb place for lunch is Le Normandie.

The Grand Hyatt Erawan, one of the city's finest hotels, has a special offer to Thais and expat residents in Thailand with a room for just 2,009 baht per night! It really is the absolute best time to visit Thailand NOW! I don't think it has been this good for a loooooong time! Now, for those of you on holiday here, I reckon you could bluff your way into getting that rate…

Private Dancer author Stephen Leather has joined the ranks of Christopher Moore and Dean Barrett and started his own blog, at http://stephenleather.blogspot.com. He’d just put up the first two chapters of a book he’s writing called Bangkok Bob And The Missing Mormon. Well worth a read, even if it’ll be months before the book is finished!

Normally when something major happens to a foreigner in Thailand, be it arrested for a crime, a victim of a crime or something equally newsworthy, you would expect it to appear in the local press. It should be local news at the very least, if not international news in that person's homeland if nowhere else. But regular readers know that the major English language dailies do not cover the nasty stuff that happens to Westerners here, the speculation being that such negative news could paint Thailand in a bad light and have a negative effect on tourism. The incident that follows was never reported, or if it was, I missed it. On Thursday November 27 a reader was strolling down Sukhumvit Soi 13 back to his hotel in the middle of the afternoon. Just a dozen or so feet ahead of him was a 40ish Caucasian heading in the same direction. A Thai male appeared, walked up beside this farang, pulled out a pistol and shot him in the head at point blank range before dissolving in the direction of Soi 11, around the dog leg that points towards Cheap Charlie's. The guy who witnessed this was so freaked out he didn't even stop but hurried straight to his hotel room (a wise move), packed, and headed to Phuket and eventually to Kuala Lumpur from where he finally got a flight back to his homeland. He was so freaked out he did it all without sleeping for 60 hours. The victim was almost certainly targeted for some or other reason and was not a random victim. But the question must ONCE AGAIN be asked. Why did this relevant story to all foreigners living in Thailand never make it into the press? Once again it seems that when the victim of a crime in a major tourist centre in Thailand is Caucasian that the press covers it up! What the rest of the world – read potential visitors to Thailand – doesn't know won't hurt them, right? Wrong! This is scary shit and I will continue to cover such incidents. Why bother with the local dailies? I haven't bought one for years. What a DREADFUL waste of 30 baht, or whatever they go for nowadays.

Are these two randy Germans the sort of so-called "quality tourists" the TAT is trying to attract?

But those two filthy pigs are outdone by these 4, classic Pattaya walrus beer tyre waists with a proclivity for sweeties in
the wrong age bracket, truly the worst of the West, who were arrested in Pattaya for kiddy fiddling. Feed them to the crocs at the crocodile farm if found guilty.

The Pattaya Flying Club would now appear to have a Singapore chapter.

This Burger King ad on YouTube has a Thai flavour – but I wonder just how effective it is? No disrespect meant to our American readership, but does the average American have a clue where Chiang Mai is?!

The excellent BBC website reports that Thailand is reverting to old-style politics.

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: We live in a village in Nonthaburi and everyday a woman pushes a cart around selling BBQ meat balls with spicy sauce. The Mrs. has developed quite a taste for them and so tends to buy from this woman quite frequently and obviously has a natter with her. I would say she started buying from this woman around one month ago. Yesterday the doorbell rang and it was meat ball woman but with no cart. I didn't hear the conversation but the woman asked if she could borrow one thousand baht because her mother had had a heart attack and was in ICU at the local hospital. Smells of bullshit, doesn't it? Which mother was it this time? Despite being amazed that a stranger would approach the Mrs. for money I pointed out that one thousand baht to pay for the care of a heart attack patient simply did not add up. At least 20,000 baht would be needed surely. I spoke to my neighbour's wife about it and she said that the Mrs. is "just too nice". She told the Mrs. not to be so chatty and friendly to people in the city as they will take advantage, it is not the same as up-country. Do you think this was good advice?

Mrs. Stick says: I don't like to get close to people like this. Actually, my mum used to always tell us not to get close to people who have bad luck or no money because she said they would ask us for help or money later and then never repay us. I told Stickman not to be too friendly with a security guard a few years ago. He used to joke and talk about football with that guy. There are 250+ condos in our building but you can guess who that guy asked for money. <And I said no when that request came! – Stick >

Question 2: I know that this is a trivial question, but enquiring minds want to know. How many hairclips does it really take to secure a schoolgirl's hair? I know that they all primp and preen in front of the mirror trying to get just the right look, but some of my students use a dozen or more! And as long as I'm on the subject of hair, why do some schools allow the girls to have long hair, and others just throw a bowl over heads and clip away in a most unflattering style?

Mrs. Stick says: You know appearance is very important to us. When we go outside, even if it is just to the market we make ourselves look good and presentable. Schools have many rules about girls' hair and the colour of clips and length of hair and even hairstyle. Sometimes we don't want to cut our hair in the style they want so we must use hairclips to keep our hair to the school rules.

Question 3: I have visited numerous countries and never experienced having my nipples pinched savagely! This is not just in the local bar areas but also from a waitress who has never visited a gogo. I am curious to know your thoughts.

Mrs. Stick says: I have been into these bars a few times but what happens in them is not what I know about. I don't know anything about this. This is not normal behaviour in restaurants or pubs. Sorry I cannot help.



The question was raised on one of the local forums whether this column was getting "edgier" and "darker". I would hope that it is! A year or so ago I felt that things were getting a little stale. While the format worked, there was a feeling that I was just going through the motions. Part of that was the fact that I tended to put a slightly more glossy tint on things than perhaps what I really felt. I also wasn't prepared to say certain things. I thought that was holding me back so I made a conscious decision to be more forthright. I know readers want good news but I was not being true to myself by looking at things through rose-tinted glasses. Well now what you read is what I really think. You wouldn't want it any other way, right?



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick