Stickman's Weekly Column January 18th, 2009

The Icky Issue Of Underage


At a distance of a few metres I couldn't help but admire her classical features. Big, round eyes, a wide mouth and a narrow, feminine jaw. Sophisticated, no, but made up better than most, yes. She was easy on the eyes, nicely done up and her warm smile had me intrigued.

A little bolder than the average girl, she saw me ogling her and could sense that I found her appealing and so she strode over to where me and a mate from Pattaya were perching, just opposite the jukebox. The Thermae isn't as dark as it once was and as she got closer to me, the smile on my face slowly faded. She didn’t look nearly as good up close.

She had a few wrinkles and other tell tale signs of ageing. She just had to be older than me. I didn't even ask her name. “How old are you?”

“27” was her response. My involuntary reaction to that number wasn't lost on her and she went scrambling into her handbag for her driver's licence. Pulling it out, she thrust it towards me while moronically covering up her date of birth!

Still unable to verify her age, when she asked me how old I was, there could be only one response. “I’m younger than you.”

“No, you're not”, she said.

“So let me see your damned driver's licence so I can see your age!” I retorted.

Up close it was clear that she was about 40, which indeed would make her older than me. Seeing that I didn’t believe her ridiculous claim of being 27 and not willing to reveal her real age, she slinked off back into the shadows, leaving me and my mate to joke about just how old she really was.

Thai prostitutes aren’t shy lying about their age. Some make out that they are younger than they are while others will say that they are older than they really are.

Now why oh why would a girl say that she is older than she is?

Think about it. Look at the single noun in the question – that’s your clue. Got it? Girl. Not woman. Not lady. Girl. They lie about their age and make out they are older than they really are because….they are of an age at which it is not legal to sell their body!

Goings on in both Pattaya and Bangkok this past week lead me to believe that the issue of underage women working in the sector of the naughty nightlife industry for foreigners is either getting worse and / or, somewhat dangerously, is being more and more talked about.

There has always been a problem with women underage – read *girls* – working in the industry and the phenomenon is nothing new. Many Western men falsely believe that the sector of the industry specifically for them is free of the evils of the sector for Thai men, that is that the women are there of their own accord, they are disease free and everyone is of legal age. Sadly, only one of those three holds true.

Over the years I have touched on this touchiest of subject a handful of times. But just how bad is it?

The problem of underage women working as prostitutes in Thailand and servicing Western men is, sadly, widespread. Rumours abound that local men visit rural brothels with an appetite for women of high school age. True or not I have no idea but these rumours seem to be perpetuated amongst Westerners who are either trying to divert attention away from themselves – or just don't realise that there are underage women in the likes of Cowboy and Pattaya too.

The worst situation I am aware of was Midnite Bar in Soi Cowboy in mid – late 2000, then American-owned and English-managed. There were a bunch of young girls, some seriously young. I had a go at the American owner whose response was simply that “If I don’t hire them they will just go to another bar so what does it matter?” To make things worse, these girls weren’t borderline but were seriously underage with one just 13 years of age. About a quarter of the dancing girls in that bar at that time were underage.

As a reminder, the age of consent in Thailand is 15 with parental consent. From age 18 onwards parental consent isn't required. But for women working as prostitutes or in any venue where sex is sold, it is 18. Given that Thai women often look younger than they actually are, I can't understand why customers don't stick with women in their 20s. Besides, the older the woman, generally the better she is in bed!

In Bangkok, for whatever reason, the problem always seems to have been much, much worse in Cowboy than in Nana or Patpong. I have no idea how widespread the issue is in Pattaya – but for sure it is a problem.

But things aren't any different today than they were 9 years ago. A few months back I mentioned that there was a bar in Cowboy that had 10, you read that right, TEN girls aged under 18, one of whom was just 14. It was sickening because she looked her age. There could be no mistaking it. There is no way she looked even close to 18.

How is it that this is allowed to happen? Bars are supposed to make a copy of the girls’ ID cards which are kept on the premises and made available to the boys in brown should they wish to inspect. Any girl under 18 should not be there. One can only speculate that either the bar turns a blind eye to the girls' ages or that the IDs are fake. When you hear the term “fake ID” in Thailand it is more often than not wrongly used. “Fake ID” tends to be an ID borrowed from a relative i.e. someone else’s real ID card than a counterfeit document as such. Surely the bar owner or manager can see that?!

Checks in the bars are carried out from time to time. Bars know about these in advance and any girls not of legal age are given the night off.

Why does it happen? Why do bar owners allow underage women to work in the bars? I hate to say it, but young girls appear to be not just in demand but sought after. Many customers seem to like the fresh-faced, innocent look. Maybe it is not that they like "young" per, more they don't care for the hardened looks and attitudes that develop in any women after a few months in the industry.

So what’s the problem? Well, first of all it is illegal. But that's not the big one. These girls aren’t adults. They’re kids! Many Thai women in their 20s have the maturity of a foreign woman many years younger – so how mature is a Thai woman in her teens? Not very, I would suggest. 16 or 17 is something of a moot point if we think of sex only, not prostitution. But 15 and younger? That's getting really young. And with a man who may be 4 times her age? Hmmm….

The problem is so widespread that the question has to be asked about how long it will be before there's an exposé in the likes of the Sunday Sport or The News Of The World. All they need is a Western connection – names and mug shots of Westerners involved and they have a story that will sell thousands of extra copies – and ruin the life of the guy(s) involved.

Stories circulate of high profile Westerners resident in Thailand involved with women who once worked bar the below legal age. Can you imagine the splash on the front page of the newspaper? "Brit / American / Aussie shacked up in the Far East with child bride", their mug shot on the front page of a tabloid know for the racy and the salacious. Of course it wouldn’t end there. Local newspapers would follow up with stories for days and days of how so and so was such a nice kid when he was young and how he used to be the local paperboy and how he only ever seemed to care about all things Manchester United…and so on. A modern day Gary Glitter, ruinous doesn’t even start to describe it! Within hours of the mug shot appearing in the press it would be all around the world – and the Thai constabulary would be forced to take action.

Do bar owners care if they have underage girls? Some do, some don't. When was the last time a bar owner got in trouble for having underage girls on the premises? It seldom happens. When an underage woman is discovered working, resolution seems to be found without it ever becoming official.

And when was the last time a foreigner was busted for partaking in underage sex in Thailand? Ok, that does happen all the time with stories of pedos arrested in Pattaya for what tends to be liaisons with dreadfully young boys appearing in the press often enough. But when was the last time anyone was busted for being naughty with a woman not of legal age he met in a bar? You know what, I don't know if I can ever remember that happening!

Interestingly, I very seldom hear of underage woman extorting their customers either, kind of surprising really in an industry where the attitude seems to be "anything for a few more baht".

And then there are the authorities. Do they really care? Or are the laws regarding underage sex merely a mechanism used to extort those who break them, rather than to protect and to punish?

I wonder if anyone even cares about this issue?


Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was taken of the tourist police volunteers and their van at the start of Walking Street in Pattaya. 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 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. This is the last week we have a special prize with Private Dancer author Steve Leather donating a copy of his newest novel, Live Fire, a big chunk of which is set in Pattaya. If you're not the lucky winner, this fantastic novel is on Asia Books' shelves now!

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The winner of the Steve Leather book must provide an address in Thailand for the book to be sent to. 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 – Praying for food poisoning!

Last night we were in Gulliver's and one sight made me chuckle. A large group of Brits walked in and took up about three tables. The women were obese but their boyfriends (how the hell did they get guys) were trim. The group was approached by four waitresses and two beer promotion girls. The waitresses were pretty with slim figures and you can guess how good the promotion girls looked. Needless to say the guys were enthralled by the display and had trouble ordering, much to the displeasure of the blobs sat around them. I bet there were a few arguments back in the hotel rooms later. Welcome to Thailand, boys! I bet they are currently praying for their girlfriends to get food poisoning so they can go out unhindered and get some ‘cultural experiences’.

Suffering Brits.

Don't go thinking it is just the exchange rate! For UK guys like me who have sold the farm and are trying to live here on the interest it stinks. Only a few months ago, if I put 20 pounds in a UK bank for a year the bank would reward me with around 1 pound. When I brought my pounds here, Thailand would give me 65 baht for each pound, enough for a beer in a cheap Charlie bar with change for the loo. Now my bank, for the same 20 pounds, gives me 18 pence, for which Thailand gives me 9 baht, not even enough for a pee in some bar sois. To drink my usual 12 beers a night, in a not so grungy bar, alone would require a deposit in a UK savings account of 876,000 pounds. Add in the luxuries, like shelter, food and love, and two and a half million might just about cover it.

Spiking in the lady drinks pays dividends.

I love it that most lady drinks are the same price whether you buy a coke or a whisky coke. So I'll always ask them to have a whisky coke or similar to help them 'relax'. The Bacardi Breezers and cocktails though are more expensive and I'd be a bit put out if they didn't ask first. If they won't drink alcohol I'll usually move on as that suggests they might be 'conservative' in other areas too. What I've found on several occasions is that a few drinks will also result in the girl speaking English more readily. I guess they might not be very confident in that field, but a few drinks help them relax and they go for it. So a few drinks can make for a much better experience in more ways than one.

Who said the AIDS message had got through in Thailand?!

I spoke about this situation of the HIV-infected girl you wrote about with some guys who live in Bangkok. They believe it, and they told me that it's quite common for prostitutes to allow middle to older aged men or in fact any "clean looking" men to ejaculate inside them (unprotected). They usually shower shortly after that, believing that they can stay "clean" in this way. The thinking behind this is that they do it to allow the men to feel they are special ("I only let you do this etc."), and the men may then be willing to be more generous in financially supporting these girls as "real girlfriends", the logic being that they must be real girlfriends as they are having unprotected sex, and therefore trust each other etc. And the girls in turn think that these older European men are unlikely to actually have HIV, and that it is more likely to be carried by black men or Indian men (who they refuse to have sex with). Scary stuff.


Message Thai women for free at ThaiFriendly.com

The sponsorship scam.

The concept of Thai girl sponsorship is more widespread than many think. I know dozens of girls that have nothing to do but drink 300 baht cocktails in high end bars every night and sleep all day. The neighbour in my apartment has 2 sponsors and drinks with her friends until early morning every day. These girls are lonely, bored, and horny. They take home any cute guy of their choosing regardless of whether he pays them or not. One time a girl gave my money back once she realised she actually liked me! Now she invites me to the condo she bought with her sponsor’s money. Another girl I date doesn’t work because her sister’s sponsor gets enough money to pay for both of them. So, Mr. Sponsor, do you think your girl is different? Go on. She will be with me tonight spending your money. Guys like me who live in Thailand will take care of your girl while you are gone. Oh, and send more money. She’s taking me to Pattaya this weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll be quiet when she is on the phone with you. These are the girls that say “Thai men no good”. Do you think so? I work in an office with lots of high quality, middle class, good Thai men that have good families and educated wives. They know the Thai system and they know the consequences of dating a lazy uneducated Thai girl from outside their social class level. Good Thai men don’t want them and they know it!

The huge power of the male ego.

Unfortunately I've learned over the years that the guys who could benefit most from your sage advice are the least likely to take it seriously. The blind spots that allow farang men to fall for all the scams and obvious hustles of Thai women seem to be unencroachable, no matter how convincingly the evidence is presented and how obvious it is that a guy is being scammed. Until they hit bottom it's always the "other guy" who has the bad one. I have just stopped giving advice and warnings about Thai women and figure every guy has to learn for himself. I write it off to the huge power of the male ego. It's always the other guy who's the fool being played by his woman. I'm a man and I've got mine under control! I think that is one of the most difficult things to endure for those of us who have lived in Thailand for a long time, watching so many seemingly good men make total asses of themselves and going down at the mercy of what amounts to a low-grade, easily-spotted con woman, knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Mai pen rai. I agree that the root of this problem is that Western men have gradually gone weak and become a bunch of overly sensitive wusses in response to the "liberation" of the Western woman. Just the fact that there is now a socially acceptable type of man called metrosexual, a man that looks and acts gay as hell but is really hetero kind of says it all.

Avoiding the coppers.

Last Wednesday I had to drive to Bangkok to get a letter from the US Embassy. I figured if I left Korat at 3 AM, I'd avoid the numerous Police road blocks. Wrong! I counted THREE on the way to Bangkok between 3 -5 AM. I did get stopped at one of them and was accused of driving with my lights on high. Initially, I was told to fork out 500 baht, but when I started to speak Thai to the Police officer, the fine was reduced to only 200 baht. Amazing. On the way back to Korat at 2 PM the same day, I counted SIX, yep, SIX! Luckily I didn’t get stopped at any. One police officer did try to signal me to pull over, but I just ignored him. Funny, the police here don’t give in to chases. Instead they stand in the middle of the road and try to get you to stop. This is bloody dangerous as hell. I was lucky because this guy was chatting with his mate. When he saw me coming he tried to make a dash to the highway. I could see he was motioning with his hand while he we running to try and get in the middle of the road. As I passed him I could see he was like, “Ah screw it.” Seems if you can get pass them before they get to the middle of the road, you’re safe.

The unseasonably cold weather in Thailand – only Xmas New Year '99 was colder than it has been this past week – reminds me that it is mid-January but wandering around the nightlife areas you would think it was October, traditionally one of the quietest months. Bars in Bangkok were just dead some nights this week, quite unbelievable for January.

One positive effect of the cold snap that is that the girls in nothing more than a bikini in the gogos are cold. Why would that be a positive you may wonder. Well, instead if getting up on stage and merely shuffling, as is the norm, they are dancing with a renewed vigour. Of course it's all about keeping themselves warm but it sure is a lot better to look at!

Another side effect of there being fewer customers around is that in a number of bars the girls are drifting in rather late. Many bars are totally dead early on. Angelwitch in Nana, for example, had ZERO customers a little before 9 PM on Thursday, about the same tally as many second and third floor bars in the plaza at that time.

In last week's column I mentioned the newest member of the Bangkok Flying Club. All is not as it seems with the newest inductee. The guy found dead was believed to have been that way for two days! He was discovered around 5 PM on Saturday which led to many people flocking to the area. He fell from the 12th floor, landed on the roof of the out-of-use ballroom, went through the roof and came to rest on the floor. Foul play is suspected. He is believed to be a 34 year old Brit.

The plight of the Hollywood bars on the top floor of Nana has been well documented in this column and the management has decided to throw caution to the wind with birthday suits the order of the day.

Frenchie, aka Thomas and wife Mimi of Absolute, New Wave and Nomad on Soi 12 appear to have fled the country. Represented by an attorney in their absence, Boss Hogg was advised that due to the borrowings of Thomas all the assets had been seized. Another Thai creditor was also in court and stated that equipment in Nomad had never been paid for and that Thomas had sold shares in the business exceeding 300%. The Indian money lenders must be furious! Boss Hogg is pursuing criminal claims against Thomas and Mimi meaning there will be an outstanding criminal arrest warrant which will stand for 10 years if granted. Boss Hogg thinks that losing the money owed is a small price to pay to keep these two out of Thailand.

Frenchie left the staff of Absolute Bar in Soi 7/1 without pay and he owes the bands that perform there money too. Just who the new owner is, I am not sure but it is reported that he has told the bands that one of them will have to go.

Economic theory has finally arrived in Bangkok with the girls lowering their date rate. Where silly numbers were being thrown around only a few months ago, 1,000 for short time and 2,000 for long time are typical opening offers and it would seem to me as a casual observer to be a fair price for both parties.

The secretary look is all the rage in Tilac with that tall, slim lass with glasses and a real nerdy look being barfined most nights. The Dirty Doctor requests that the next man to barfine her introduces her to the fine range of Gillette products.

Speaking of Tilac Bar, they are less a couple of girls who were given their marching orders as well as a 10,000 baht fine each! On January 3rd they took some customers upstairs for a "photo show". One of the managers just found out about it this week after several pictures surfaced.

The Dollhouse in Cowboy is worth stopping by. They probably have the lowest ratio of mothers on the dance floor of any bar in Bangkok. You can find a map of the world if you look hard, but it's not nearly the common sight seen in so many other bars. Big Boss Darryl is obviously a little more discerning when it comes to hiring.

Oh how the tables have turned. Enjoying a few drinks one night this week with a mate from Pattaya, we both agreed that the ladies in the Thermae are more attractive than what you find in the likes of Cowboy or Nana. It never used to be like that with the Thermae being once known as the chicken farm. Either side of the jukebox every night you'll fine many extremely pretty ladies.

Pattaya's Heavens Above has introduced a new incentive program and you can purchase a “Heavens Above Drink Card” for 850 baht which entitles you to 10 standard drinks (house spirits and bottles beers) representing a 25% discount on the regular price. There's also an incentive system for barfines. Pay 6 barfines and the 7th is free! So every time you pay a bar fine, please ask for one of these cards as you will be entitled to a free bar fine when you have used the card on six occasions. The happy hour runs 7:30 – 9.:30 PM with most drinks at a very reasonable 50 baht.

Another English pub has opened in Korat called The Ram. It’s right next to the Sabai Hotel, near Makro and has the usual assortment of drinks and a nice pool table.

I became aware of an interesting anomaly in the way a big and in recent times successful Cowboy bar goes about its business. They request that the girls get an STD check every three months. If the girl is dirty she has to get herself cleaned up before she can resume working. If she doesn't get tested or doesn't provide the results of the test to the bar she is docked 1,000 baht. The girls are quite funny in that they refer to the HIV test as a DNA test! It seems to be that the bar actually does not care if the girls get tested or not because if she doesn't, the bar fines the girl 1,000 baht per month meaning a lower salary bill! To me, this is a questionable system and not what I'd expect in a foreign owned bar.

Raw Hide in Cowboy is getting a much needed full refurb after the fire a couple of weeks ago and looks to be at least a month away from reopening. All the Raw Hide girls can be found in Long Gun which is positively pumping, full to the brim with pretty ladies. If you make it down to Cowboy, make a point of putting Long Gun on your to visit list.

One of the backdoors to staying long-term in Thailand was membership of the "Thailand Elite" program which was essentially the payment of 1.5 million baht – it used to be just a million baht – for a renewable 5 year visa. There is more to the program than this but I think it would be fair to say that that is how most saw it. Some 2,500 people joined thinking that they could stay long-term in Thailand indefinitely but the rumour has it that the issuance of long-term visas to members of this program has been "suspended". I hate to say it but this was always going to happen… When (if) this debacle is sorted out, would you happily part with that sort of sum when the program could face further problems at any time?!

Petrol went from $40 to $48 a barrel a couple of weeks ago and the local price at the pumps of 91 octane went from 20.79 baht per litre to 21.39 baht a litre. Fair enough. The price of a barrel of oil then fell from $48 a barrel all the way down to $35. This corresponded with an increased at the local pumps as the price of a litre went from 21.39 to 22.19 baht! I was always a star at economics but I guess I have forgotten all I learnt…

A reader asks about driving out of the country. <Email me and I will pass on responses to the reader.>

Can you ask your readers for some help? I am planning to drive in my car from Thailand into Laos over the "new" bridge at Mukdahan and then drive north along the river into Vientiane. Then come back into Thailand via the "old" friendship bridge at Nongkhai. I wanted to know if anyone has done this and what the procedures are for taking a car into Laos and coming back. The car is registered in my name and I have the blue ownership book and full insurance etc.

It has been reported that all visa fees will be waived for three months in an effort to increase tourism. Hmm, this is a nice gesture but will it have any real effect on tourism numbers? I doubt it. The waiver is supposed to come into effect on January 20. Whether the fee waiver is for only new tourist visas or visa extensions, just who knows?

Many foreigners wax about the delights of the Took Lae Dee restaurant at the front of Foodland on Sukhumvit soi 5. I have to admit in the early days I quite enjoyed eating there but now I find the freak show that is guaranteed to be assembled there all a bit much. If you're a Tuk Lae Dee fan and can't stand the state of the humanity there, try the branch just down from Asoke. It's about 4 times the size and never seems to be busy making it a much more pleasant affair. And if you're really clever, tell me what branch Took Lae Dee the picture here was taken. No prizes, mind you!

A friend in Lampang, an hour's drive south of Chiang Mai, generally has positive things to say about his frequent trips to the Chiang Mai branch of Immigration. But with that said, the Chiang Mai office seems to have created a new policy with new requirements for the 90-day reporting up there. They are demanding photocopies of various pages of one's passport – the picture page, the latest entry and the entry / exit document page. They started asking for this a few months ago and it is still in place now. I have never been asked for this when reporting in Bangkok, nor has anyone else I know which goes to show that every branch is a little different. In all fairness the young lovelies who assist with translation and information running around in their university uniform more than make up for any extra documentation requests!

Quote of the week. "My Thai wife here in England talks in Thai to our cat, who is a) deaf, and b) English!"

It happens often enough but this horny Welshman was unlucky to get caught bonking a ho on Pattaya Beach. What an absolute embarrassment!

The IHT confirms this past week has been the coldest in Thailand in a decade.

Thailand has been accused of mistreating unwanted Immigrants. The Age also covered the issue.

Reuters reports that there is less demand from foreigners for condos in Thailand.

Revenge of the Thai woman! After two Thai women were stabbed by foreigners in Pattaya last week, now Thai women strike back!

Local ingenuity at its best as a Thai village is printing their own money.

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: My father is coming from the UK next week to spend a couple of weeks with me and my girlfriend of 6 months who now lives with me. I expect my girlfriend will be with us for the vast majority of his holiday and I was hoping to meet him at the airport without my girlfriend present to allow time for a chat and catch up on things 'back home' on the way from the airport. My girlfriend is insisting that she comes to the airport and she says this is normal and any Thai female would insist on being at the airport when Papa arrives. As my father is getting on, I was hoping to give him a slow and easy arrival after two long flights. I am not sure he will be very comfortable meeting my girlfriend in a tired and weary state. Does Mrs. S think my girlfriend should be at the airport?

Mrs. Stick says: It is nice that she wants to accompany you to the airport to meet your father. If you don't want her to go then just explain to her the reason and I think it will be no problem. I am sure she will understand you.

Question 2: My 22 year old Thai girlfriend will be working at a family restaurant in USA during the summer. I want to bring her here to the UK for a 3 week holiday en-route to the USA. It will cost her nothing and she is very excited at the prospect however we are unsure how to approach her father about this. He knows she has farang friends but she has never told him that I'm her boyfriend. Should I write an email explaining the travel arrangements and that she will stay with my mother and perhaps include photos of her room and my mother and the house? Also, should I explain that any expenses will be covered solely and happily by me? My girlfriend was thinking to go ahead and simply get the UK visa then speak to her Dad telling him the arrangements. I keep asking her what's best but then she asks me back! Being English I have little concept what the correct action should be and I really don't want to lie.

Mrs. Stick says: If your girlfriend comes from a good family then I think they won't accept her travel plans. It is not normal for a lady Thai to travel to UK or USA to be with a man that she is not married to. I know this is normal for you but please understand for us it is 100% not normal and for most families not acceptable. This might be a big shock for them! I think if it is a good family they will want you to be engaged with her at least. But of course if it is not a good family then I think they will worry about her safety but can accept it. Your girlfriend knows her parents so I think it is up to her to manage it with her parents.

Question 3: I have been married four years and live in Bangkok. Before marriage my (non sex worker) wife assured me her family would not be asking for money as they did not need anything. There was a large amount of sin sot money left after the wedding expenses (about 50k baht at least) which I was happy to let them have as they are poor. I believed that would be that. Starting a year ago, that is a few months after I came here to live, there seems to be one thing after another every few months. First her step parents were desperate for 10,000 baht to pay for a son’s accident; the father told my wife if we did not pay she would not be welcome again causing her a lot of upset – so I paid. Then my wife suggested we help pay for the same son's living expenses while he is in Bangkok attending an educational course. I reluctantly agreed. Then this week another phone call came explaining how they needed 10,000 baht (that number again!) which they need to finish improvements to their house. I said no this time so my wife said she would pay – and then asked to borrow the money which I again refused. Then she said she intended to borrow the money elsewhere. Either way it would leave her short and I would pay indirectly anyway, so I lent her the money. I have had enough of this but although my wife is no pushover she just cannot ever say no to them. The only thing I can think of doing as I do not speak Thai well enough is to either get someone to call them, or write a letter explaining my financial situation and asking them not to phone the next time they need money for anything. My wife would never agree to this and would be furious about it, so I would do so without telling her and ask them not to tell her about what had been said. What do you think of this and how would be the best way of wording it? They live in Isaan; have four other kids all working (low waged) as well as the one still at college. Our situation is I am retired on an ever decreasing amount each month due to decreasing value of the UK pound. My wife earns about 10,000 a month but is paid irregularly as self employed, and is just pregnant, even more reason to stop this nonsense now.

Mrs. Stick says: The family is poor and I think you are the richest man in the family. The family is asking you for help because they think you are in a position to help. Maybe they think you are richer than you really are? Maybe you need to explain your situation to them clearly. Writing a letter will not help. We don't solve problems like that. Please explain your situation to your wife and show her how much money / income you have. She wants you and her to be comfortable but she also wants her parents to be comfortable too. If you are unable to help the family I think your wife needs to understand that because now she doesn't agree with you. She thinks you have the ability to help. You have to understand that in Thai culture if we have the means to help someone in our family we are expected to do so. If you cannot accept that then I think you will have big problems in the future. Maybe already the family feels bad because you do not help. If you have the means to help and you do not, soon your wife will be angry at you and after that it is bad!

Mr. Stick says: Don't listen to the Mrs. That is a classically Thai-slanted response. I have very serious concerns about this situation and to be blunt, the family that you have married into. You stipulated from that outset that you weren't willing to entertain the family's requests for hand outs to which your wife agreed. Now that has been reneged on. My personal feeling is that this problem will be very difficult to solve. Notwithstanding what had been originally agreed, if you do not pay, you will be seen in a very negative light. You cannot win! Congratulations on your soon to be addition to the family. The new member of your family is going to put more pressure on your finances and send your outgoings into the stratosphere! If you have a dwindling retirement income, you need to prioritise. Your own family, being wife and soon to be born child need your support. How you can get these deadbeats to see that I do not know. I think something needs to change because this family sound like they will have their hands out forever. The key is with your wife…but how you convince her you're just not in a position to help, I do not know… I would like to think that showing her a budget of your income and outgoings should be enough but sometimes even that is not enough. Good luck.



You couldn't say Bangkok is cold at the moment per se but long-term residents sure are feeling the chill. We have not had a fan on since Saturday of last week, let alone the air-con. For sure, this has been the coldest it has been in Bangkok since that really cold snap at the end of 1999. That was perhaps a few degrees colder still. Of course, up in the north and northeast of the country it is genuinely cold so we should not grizzle too much here in Bangkok. Besides, come the end of next month it'll be back in the mid to high 30s…



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick