Stickman's Weekly Column April 19th, 2009

Tilac, Simply The Best

Gogo bars are the epitome of the foreigner-oriented nightlife industry in Thailand. You can find them all over the country from Phuket and Samui in the south to Chiang Mai in the north but the largest concentrations are of course found on Pattaya's Walking Street and in Bangkok's three major nightlife areas, Patpong, Nana Plaza and the resurgent Soi Cowboy. But just what is the best gogo bar? Amongst the 200 or so gogo bars nationwide, which one stands out amongst the rest?

Determining the best gogo bar in all of Thailand is hardly simple because what makes a good bar to one person may be entirely different to another. Some guys like good music, while others like pretty girls. There are those who are price sensitive and those who want to see a show. Added to that, under the umbrella of gogo bars there are various different types of gogo bars as well as a few niches.

There are show bars where for much of the evening choreographed and practiced shows are performed on stage, perhaps by the gogo girls themselves or perhaps by girls brought in from outside. The most popular bar of this type would be the two Angelwitch bars.

Then you have what I call the smut bars. These are bars that feature all manner of props – often phallic-shaped items from bananas to sex toys and various other interesting devices as well as Jacuzzis, all of which tend to be used in an imaginative manner by the girls. These bars tend to be found in Pattaya which is much wilder than Bangkok. Examples of this genre would include What's Up and Baby Dolls.

Then there are the naught boy bars, sometimes referred to as diddling bars. They tend to be smaller bars, feature a gogo stage and are differentiated from other bars by what happens not just on the premises, but often right out in the open, in view of everyone. There are a few such venues in Soi Cowboy including AfterSkool and Toy Bar.

To me, there are various aspects that should be looked at when evaluating just which venue is the best bar. A clean, modern, well-maintained and comfortable venue where you are not forced to sit on a stool and where the seating is comfortable enough that you would be happy to stay a few hours. It's amazing the number of venues with uncomfortable seating – and that can be enough to make you leave even if everything else about the venue is great. Of course a venue should have not just a lot of women dancing, but pretty dancers and friendly staff. The music should be good music although that means different things to different people. A DJ is preferable to a computerised playlist and of a good lighting system and well-decorated bar makes a big difference. The bar should be good value and free of rip-offs. It's almost inevitable that it will be Western-managed because try as they may, I just don't think the Thais really know what Westerners want – and they are not always on the ball in ensuring that a venue eschews dodgy practices. While it's not a gogo bar and as such has not been considered here, Pattaya's Secrets is so well-managed by its Western owners and manager that the girls are specifically told that they are NOT to tell a customer they will go long-time and then later come up with an excuse to change it to short-time. I cannot imagine a Thai-owned bar ever having such a customer-oriented policy.

When I think about just which is the best bar, it really should be Angelwitch in Pattaya but I'm sorry, it's not. The Pattaya branch of Angelwitch is the flashest, most expensive gogo bar in Thailand, designed by its German owner and built to Western standards. No-one can deny it's an impressive venue. But with management issues and prices that are at the very top end of Pattaya gogo bar pricing, Angelwitch Pattaya might be the most successful bar financially – but that doesn't make it the best bar to visit. A must visit, of course, but not the best gogo bar in Thailand, not even in Pattaya for that matter – although it is surely the most impressive venue.

Which brings us to Angelwitch Bangkok. Despite Dave The Rave's best efforts, Angelwitch Bangkok suffers from dancers in serious need of attitude reassignment and the formula that was a winner for so long has become stale. It's still an excellent bar, probably the best in Nana and still one of the best in Bangkok, but it survives on its reputation and past laurels and is in desperate need of reinventing itself.

Baby Dolls won the vote for the best gogo bar in Pattaya on the Pattaya Secrets forum recently but with all due respect, it didn't get my vote. This very well-managed venue is a magnet for naughty boys but frankly, the goings on in there make me positively blush – and I'm no prude. A classic case of a bar that thrives in Pattaya but just wouldn't be allowed in the capital, at least not Bangkok 2009.

Still in Pattaya, Peppermint has been a goldmine for its owners for years and years, all of whom are surely now dollar millionaires from this gigantic bar's massive success. There are always heaps of pretty girls but Peppermint's success could prove to be its downfall as the bar is packed every night with minted up punters willing to pay silly money. Not unexpectedly many of the girls have developed a "My shit doesn't stink" attitude. Service from the male waiters can be aggressive and some of the girls aren't much different. A great bar, about that there is no doubt, but its best days are behind it.

Still in Pattaya, Happy is another venue that you just have to visit. It always has heaps of hot dancers but some of them are really hardcore. If you're a hardcore sex tourist, Happy is for you. If tattoos turn you off, then you may well be less than impressed. Because it does so well, it can be a little cramped and just is not that comfortable.

I've always had a soft spot for Catz. Well managed, well-kept, inexpensive (all drinks are 85 baht), comfortable – you can spend all night there and I have, a few times – and always a fun atmosphere, despite being an excellent bar and a personal favourite of mine for a long time, its size counts against it in the grand scheme of things. As good as it is – and it is great – it would be tough to call a bar which seldom has more than 30 dancers the best. Again, it's a must visit and for those who don't like large jam-packed venues then Catz is for you.

Back in Bangkok, Rainbow 4 deserves a mention. It has perhaps more dancers than any other bar of this type and most are easy on the eye. If you could transplant this bar to New York, you'd be on the Forbes rich list in no time. However, the venue is not really that comfortable to sit and enjoy a few drinks, the service staff can be aggressive and it exhibits all of the hallmarks of a Thai-owned and managed bar i.e. make as much money as you can today with no consideration of winning the customer for tomorrow.

Soi Cowboy's Baccarra is a superb venue with almost everything going for it. The two-storey venue with a glass ceiling is well laid out and has very comfortable seats along with some of the prettiest women you'll find in one venue. The sound system is superb, the choice of music good but the girls… Ah, the problem is with the girls. Baccarra suffers from having a large number of Japanese customers who contribute to splitting the venue in two – those who will only go with Japanese and those who will go with anyone. You've also got high drinks prices and this crazy system whereby you must buy two lady drinks before you can pay her barfine! And if you do pay bar, be ready for a shock when it comes to talk compensation for her time with 4,000 – 5,000 baht requests common, surely a by product of being a favourite amongst Bangkok's salarymen. In the grand scheme of things, Baccarra comes in at a close second, verification as if it was needed that Nana Plaza's dominance is history and all roads to lead Soi Cowboy.

There is no single gogo bar in Patpong that can compete for the crown of best gogo. Not one stands out.

A few notable mentions go to Living Dolls, Living Dolls Showcase and Misty's in Pattaya as well as Long Gun and Sheba's in Cowboy, all of which are worthy of your baht.

So that leaves Soi Cowboy's Tilac.

Tilac Bar in Soi Cowboy is in my mind, the best gogo bar in Thailand. Pretty much everyone I know likes it. It's busy every night, often packed from 9 PM onwards and however you measure it, Tilac is the act by which others follow.

But why am I coming out so strongly in favour of this particular bar? Tilac's success can be relatively easily explained. Much of it comes back to good management.

The bar is large, comfortable and very well-maintained. Just check out the mirrors in the venue which are always spotlessly clean. The seats are very comfortable and you can happily sit there all night long. The fact that the bar is square-shaped, and not long, like a rectangle, means that wherever you sit you can see almost all of the bar. Contrast this with some bars where much of the venue is obscured from view. Tilac was renovated perhaps a year or so ago and the improvements are great. Bars cannot go without a refurbishment forever. Remember what dumps Raw Hide and Long Gun had become before recent renovations?

Tilac kicks off early. Staff are required to arrive at the bar early and there's a constant stream of girls clocking in from 6 PM or so onwards. Tilac kicks off at 7 PM or just a little later with A LOT of girls on stage. There are perhaps 20 – 25 girls dancing at that time and at least as many milling around. By 8 PM there can be over 100 girls in the venue and from around 8:30 PM the bar is in full swing all the way through to closing time.

There are heaps of girls in the bar. HEAPS! I don't know how many, but on a busy night there must be more than 100 dancers. Small bars have their place but I don't think a bar with a small number can ever claim to be the best.

There are also very few fatties. A few girls could do with shedding a few pounds but I am being pedantic here. Interestingly, Tilac is not the place for the largest selection of genuinely pretty girls although there are plenty of lookers. I am of the opinion that while really hot girls will obviously be a major draw, the sight of dreadfully overweight girls is an equally major turn off. As callous as it may sound, girls with a bit too much meat on the bone should not be hired in the first place in a gogo bar. Walk into a gogo for the first time and see a big girl on the stage and you'll be straight back out the door!

Tilac has regular staff meetings where the girls are kept up to date with what is happening in the bar and are constantly reminded certain policy such as not to pester customers for a drink. I can attest to this as I have crashed a couple of these meetings and most interesting they are too! Plenty of tit bits sneak through into the column from being an uninvited guest!

Unlike so many venues, girls do not linger around in a state of undress before the bar opens and engaging in that customer-dispersing practice of eating foul smelling food on the premises. And neither does the bar ever look like a changing shed early on, as many do with the girls getting changed out in the open either before they get on stage or at the end of the night. It gives a bar a really unprofessional feel. That's what the changing room is for.

Tilac Bar runs a decent happy hour from start until 9 PM. Most drinks, including bottled beers and premium top shelf like Jack Daniels and Johnny Black run 70 baht at happy hour. Unlike some of the other Cowboy bars (read The Arab's venues), Tilac does not limit happy hour to all the cheap and nasty stuff.

After happy hour, the price goes up to 130 baht for standard drinks. Not cheap, but no more expensive than other such venues in Bangkok and firmly at the lower end of pricing for drinks in a Bangkok naughty bar. Compare it with Baccarra or Angelwitch, for example, where standard drinks are priced at 145 – 150 baht.

Where other bars could REALLY learn from Tilac is their lady drink pricing which at just 100 baht may well be the cheapest of any gogo in Bangkok. Do any other venues of this type in Bangkok charge so little for a lady drink? Quite simply, Tilac's prices are customer friendly and the bar does not gouge you. It's seriously taking the piss when a bar charges 140 baht or more for a lady drink, especially with the dreadful behaviour of some ladies who down it and are gone in 60 seconds.

To make matters even better, the ladies are constantly reminded by the mamasans to refrain from pestering customers for a lady drink – and it works. Any decent guy will buy a lady a drink if she sits with him but it is nice to have a moment to chat with a lady without the incredibly annoying "you buy Cola for me" within 30 seconds and before you've had a chance to establish if she is someone you'd like to get to know more.

Tilac has excellent mamasans who keep on top of things and are there in the background, going about their duties, liaising with the girls, making sure the customers are happy – but you seldom see them. Many a bar owner will verify that much of the success of a bar, which often stems from happy girls keeping the customers happy, is possible because of the work and atmosphere that is ultimately set by the mamasans. The mamasans are *critical* to a gogo bar's success.

The current management has been in place for a long time, get this, 24 years. That must be some sort of record in the industry!

There's a strict no smoking ruling in Tilac which, at the end of the day, suits the majority of punters. For some, of course, this will be a reason to avoid it. Apart from the upstairs section of Baccarra, AKA the Japanese Consulate, pretty much all of Soi Cowboy has been smoke free for over a year.

While I may not be a naughty boy, plenty of my mates are and it seems that many of the ladies in Tilac are realistic when it comes to compensation with their requests more akin to what is sought in Pattaya than in Bangkok. Many ladies apparently are quite content with 1,000 baht for an hour of their time in private quarters and a 500 – 1,000 baht supplement will see that you wake up next to her the following morning. There are of course some who will have lofty expectations but apparently not that many.

And at the end of the day it's all very subjective and I am sure that there are readers who can't stand Tilac and will be aghast that their favourite bar didn't so much as warrant a mention. Hey, if all other arguments fail, Tilac has the famous Miss #95 and Miss #211!

In my humble opinion, Soi Cowboy is Bangkok's best nightlife area and Tilac is the best gogo bar.

Where was this picture taken?


I thought last week's picture was easy but again, only a few people got it right! Last week's photo featured Nana Burger, the grease stand at the entrance to Nana Plaza with the Golden Beer Bar in the background. The first person to email 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 the picture right wins a fantastic roast buffet at Molly Malone's on Bangkok's Soi Convent. The buffet runs every Sunday from midday until 7 PM and the winner gets one buffet free! I like the buffet and partake of it myself often! ThailandFriends.com is 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. TF, as it is also known, offers a one month premium membership to the third person to get the picture right which adds more to the ThailandFriends' experience with unlimited messaging, detailed member searches, 24 profile pictures, and a whole lot more. Bodyguard Condoms also provide large condoms as prizes. So, for the forth, fifth and sixth people to get the picture right, I will send you a few packs of Bodyguard's high quality, extra large-sized condoms to try out. The Strip in Patpong's soi 2 is offering a FREE BOOTH. That means that you and one of the ladies enter the booth and the curtain is closed for 30 minutes. This prize has a value of 550 baht, the cost of closing the booth. It should be noted that if you wish to do anything more with the lady than chat then a tip will be expected… In total, we now have SEVEN PRIZES EACH WEEK! Please tell me your preference of prize!

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod and Molly Malone's prizes MUST be claimed within 14 days. Winners of the Bodyguard Condoms must provide a postal address in Thailand. The TF prize winner can be anywhere in the world. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar 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 – A tragic dream?

I hope the international media will expose the contrast in military action against the red shirts in Thailand from how they treated the yellow shirts because the Thai media is not. There were videos of yellow shirts shooting at people on Sukhumvit Road broadcast to Hong Kong, Singapore and around the world when they were making their final stand, occupying and vandalising Government House for 3 months and finally hijacking the international airport while the military did nothing when called on by the elected government. The courts then ruled the democratically elected government party unconstitutional by the coup constitution and the leaders of the yellow shirts who terrorised Bangkok and whose mob killed opponents, are now walking around completely free with one of their supporters who urged them on at their occupation of the airport, becoming foreign minister! I have no issues with the current military actions restoring order but I hope questions are raised at the double standards applied and how the military decided not to apply the rule of law to the government that they did not favour but had been democratically elected. I think Thailand as a country is finished for a long time. The majority of Thais hail from the North and North East which is Thailand's bread basket and where most of the labour comes from. If they do not see justice and see the contrast in military action against them compared to those of the urban elite, they will make their regions ungovernable similar to the South. Thailand as perpetuated by the current government and the Thai media will be in name only, and in reality be no more than greater Bangkok, Chonburi and the central provinces. This will also have consequences to the military long term, as most of their soldiers come from the North and North-East so future recruitment will collapse and militias will form to defend their regions from military rule. The current prime minister favoured by the Bangkok elite was always a puppet and out of his depth – calling the red shirts "enemies of the state" while not taking action against the yellow shirts when he was appointed has destroyed any credibility he had to unify the country and seek legitimacy to his rule. Given that supporters or sympathisers of the red shirts make up the voting majority, I somehow doubt that the current prime minister and the Bangkok elite will dare to hold elections for a long time, leading to what will have become in effect a silent coup, engineered by the military due to their inaction against the yellow shirts. The whole of Asia given the fiasco of the ASEAN summit is completely aware that Thailand is now a lawless country where the security forces will only selectively apply the rule of law if it suits their interests. I know that a lot of the Bangkok middle class were in denial as to the severe damage the hijacking of the international airport would have on foreign investment but the ASEAN summit fiasco combined with the worldwide exposure of only selective action by the military in upholding the rule of law will mean no company will invest in Thailand as a regional industrial and manufacturing hub and no international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions will select Thailand as its preferred choice. The good news for foreigners is that Thailand will become and remain a cheap place to live for a long time but the sad news for Thais is that its potential to become an affluent and modern country will remain nothing but a tragic dream.

The pick-pocketing problem shows no sign of stopping.

The pickpockets are everywhere now. I actually got ‘done'. First time ever for an incident like this in BKK. Was walking from Soi 8 back to Soi 10 last night about 10:30 PM, when out of the shadows as I was passing that bus stop, this lady (who was probably a ladyboy) jumped out. She grabbed by crotch and stated that “she wanted to go with me”. I pushed her away, then as I walked on realised my phone was gone. The funny part is that I keep the crappiest oldest mobile you can imagine – 4 years old, and so crappy that the on / off button is about to stop working and it would have to be changed anyway. So the bitch won't even be able to sell it to a second hand shop, and the 90 baht on the pre-paid card is hardly a windfall. So ‘she' really picked the wrong guy to pickpocket a phone. Just lucky my wallet with almost 10K baht was still there. Clearly you have to be super careful these days. I recommend all items in one pocket, with your hand in this pocket. Then the other hand is available to fend off unwanted advances without it needing to protect any belongings.


Message Thai women for free at ThaiFriendly.com

We're a crazy species.

The real tragedy here and in the west is the same. The world's attention focused on the political upheaval which resulted in maybe 5 or 10 dead in Thailand while on the road during Songkran there were 220 deaths and 2,658 injured and nobody seemed to notice. Maybe the yellow and red shirts should start protests to push for random breath testing and severer penalties for drunk drivers. According to the Post, most were due to drunken drivers. This is the same in the West. If there were the same amount of deaths from any other reason there would be an uproar and massive action. We humans are a crazy animal species.

Will the fall out be that bad?

Thailand has set a precedent to be governed by mob rule, and believe me I really don't think this administration has got the moral, or just the plain consensus of the country as a whole to carry on acting on their behalf. Whilst this administration remains in power I'm sure the violence will continue. The country it now seems is completely divided down the middle. It's a class warfare struggle, between the haves and the have nots, and it's only Buddhism that has kept a lid on all of this inequality to date. I'm not a socialist, but I can easily understand how the likes of Thaksin has been able to step in and represent the under class. So how is it all going to end? The army and forces don't want to know. Gone are the days that they can make a respectable business enterprise by being in power and carrying the can. Meanwhile the country is sinking at an alarming rate, just the lack of world media coverage over the past few days tells you that all that is going on is no longer newsworthy. Coups, uprisings, changes of administrations have just become the norm, par for the course, what appears to be an acceptable way of life here, to the extent that Thailand is now being referred to as the basket case of South East Asia. Going ahead with the showcase premier event of the ASEAN summit meeting, to only have to cancel it due to lack of security for its members will haunt Thailand for years, if not generations, to come. Even the Philippines and Indonesia now appear politically and financially stable in comparison with Thailand. Thailand even before this latest flare up was fighting either a war or an explosive situation on two fronts already, 3,600 deaths to date down in the Muslim south, and the possibility of a war with Cambodia regarding its eastern border. The country seems completely directionless and rudderless at the moment, an administration without a mandate from the people is in practice nothing more than a political vacuum. The direct and indirect impact all this will have on the Thai economy will be immense.

Still no resolution in sight…

For what it's worth, I am convinced that we will see a civil war in Thailand. Maybe not now, but sooner or later it will happen. Thank God I don't live there. Thank God I did not buy property there. And I will thank god when my wife is out of there and back in Singapore.

A very quiet week in the bars this week, hardly unexpected as it was Songkran – and adding the political unrest to the equation made for the quietest Songkran I can remember. Fewer girls, fewer guys and a general feeling of malaise. What will be interesting now is how busy the bars are in a couple of weeks from now. How many girls simply won't return from up country? We are now, post-Songkran, officially into the low season. Will the industry bounce back from its current lows? We can but wait and see.

Songkran was a riot at Soi Cowboy with all and sundry getting involved in the festivities with good-natured water fights taking place over a few days. All the bars less a handful were actively participating in the festival. The Arab-owned bars were closed up with uniformed security in place chasing away anyone who thought they may be able to use the outside area to celebrate. Needless to say it appears fun is not allowed in those bars any time. So besides beating up customers without reason, the Arab seems to have put a prohibition on sanuk.

The Thai Bankers' Association sees us as a nice means of filling their coffers and any withdrawal made at an ATM in Thailand from a foreign bank account will now incur a 150 baht fee, which is presumably over and above whatever your bank back in Farangland charges you!

It might be the most popular bar, but why is the barfine rate is so low at Tilac? At the end of the night, the pretty girls tend to still be there!

The girls who work at Soi Cowboy work at many different bars with many different owners but for the most part they hail from the same region of the country and are sisters at heart. Aside from the occasional personality conflict, they see each other in the hours before the bars get going and the hours after the bars have closed. They might meet at street stalls for a meal, in the neighbourhood net cafes while communicating with their teeruk(s) or perhaps pass each other in one of many short time hotels in the area. So when one of their sisters falls they feel the loss. This past Monday the body of one of Tilac's bartenders was found in her apartment. The news spread like wildfire and by 10 PM all of Soi Cowboy had heard of the tragedy. The lady in question was only 38 years old and from all accounts was popular. She tended the small bar in the corner of Tilac Bar, near Déjà Vu. Apparently she was bitten by a dog several days earlier and did not seek medical attention. At least that is rumoured to be the reason she died. Sad.

For my money Bangkok's best bakery is La Boulange on Soi Convent but it is either being torn down or undergoing a major renovation. Time will tell which it is, but I fear that as the sign with the venue's name has been removed that it might have been sold or the lease has ended. That would be a great shame.

I saw the weirdest sight on Friday night going down Sukhumvit with my Friday night drinking buddy and research pal, the Dirty Doctor. Two motorbikes, each with two foreigners on board, a guy at the handle bars and a female pillion passenger, were cruising down Sukhumvit. They were all well-dressed and everyone had donned a helmet. What surprised me was the registration plates on each motorbike which were, get this, diplomatic plates – meaning that these were official embassy vehicles. I don't know that I have ever seen a motorbike with diplomatic plates before. If nothing else, the cops can't touch them! The driver of the taxi we were in thought it would be just marvellous to get a set of such plates and attach them to his vehicle. No amount of explanation could get it through to him that I just don't think the coppers would allow that!

I was bemused by a dancer in Sheba's on Friday night who was walking around the bar, quite laid back, rubbing some sort of oil or cream over her bare chest. She was the only one doing it and I couldn't work out what it was all about. It was way too early for one of the shows so it had me most perplexed. Asking her about it revealed that it was breast enlargement cream! And yeah, she really believed that it would work. My suggestion was that she should get some silly punter to cough up 60K baht and take her over to Yanhee. At least that method really does work (not that I care for falsies, mind you.)

The mamasan at Spanky's needs a pat on the back for her attentiveness and willingness to try and keep customers in the bar. It was a very quiet evening and when she saw the doctor and I calling for the checkbin, she asked why we were leaving. I told her straight that the music was not to our taste and she offered to change it. A nice touch indeed, but one which could well have backfired and pissed off other punters. It was after all something entirely subjective. Still, full marks for trying to keep the punters happy. Other mamasans could learn something from that.

One of the aspects about life in Thailand that took me a while to come to grips with, years in fact, is that you're more likely to come a cropper in your dealings with your fellow Westerners than you are with Thais. Sure, in this column and on other websites as well as in guide books you will read much about various rips offs and scams perpetrated by locals against Westerners. Just due to the fact that they look different and sound different, we tend to be on our guard in dealings with them. What really needs to be understood is that you are, in my opinion, much more likely to have a problem, at least a big problem, with a fellow Westerner. I have received many reports about an English scammer who has conned a number of Westerners living in Bangkok – including a few I know. Married with 2 kids in the UK, he got involved with a Thai bargirl from a popular bar in the Nana area and went on to marry her and have 2 kids with her – while he is still legally married in the UK. He promised her the world and lived the high life with promises of gold, cars and houses. All and sundry realised that living beyond one's means soon catches up with you but he ignored advice from everyone. He was sacked in the UK for running up a massive mobile phone and company credit card bills and taking too much time off to visit his Thai bride. Financial difficulties started to bite and he began borrowing off friends and family all the while refusing to downgrade his lifestyle. Of course he promised to pay people back because he had supposedly secured a new, decent paying job. He left the UK, leaving his wife and kids in the lurch, Reggie Perrin style, and stole all their savings including the kids' (!) and left them with no financial means to meet the mortgage payments or even pay for day to day living expenses. Inevitably the house was repossessed and it is said that back in the UK a lot of people are looking for him, wondering when he will be able to repay his debts. His family in the UK washed their hands of him and with that he seems to have put the UK in the rear view mirror, preferring the tropical climate, low cost of living and easy way of life that Thailand offers. He is known to have lived in or around Sukhumvit sois 19, 10, 62 (in that order) and has also been linked to soi 1/1 where it is believed his Thai wife is currently holed up. He is also a frequent visitor to Pattaya. He lied to both wives about his marital status and made up so many stories about how his Thai wife can't get a visa to the UK you could write a book. As smooth as glass, he goes around wearing suits claiming to be an executive for a number of companies including GM Thailand. He has a shaven head, is of medium build and has a North-East England accent. He is currently rumoured to be in Bangkok and is still stealing and hitting people (strangers and mutual friends) up for money with no intention – or means – to pay it back. If you know of or have spotted this individual then his UK wife would love to hear about it as she's still trying to serve divorce papers on this rat so she can get on with her and the kids' lives without the shadow of him hanging over their heads. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Be very careful who you get involved with in Bangkok. There are others like him.

When I interviewed Gordon Sharpless recently he made an interesting point that expats in Thailand are heavy Internet users – with particular emphasis about their internet used on local forums and sites, like this one. It got me thinking. It's not that the local sites and forums are spectacular and it is not like it is hard to meet other Westerners and make new friends in Thailand. Wherever you are, even in some of the most far flung corners of the country, you can find other Westerners. I have a funny feeling that the high internet usage amongst Thailand-based Westerners is due to of all things, boredom. Thailand is a great country, don't get me wrong, but many Westerners tend to lead a one-dimensional life and thus find themselves turning to the Internet to wile away the time.

Do you live in The Philippines? Dr. Robert Howard at the University of New South Wales in Australia is carrying out a study of foreign residents in the Philippines. The study aims to get some notion of the motives for moving there, experiences in-country, and how well the move works out. If you have been a resident of the Philippines for at least six months and you are not of Filipino descent, you are invited to fill out an anonymous online survey. It will take about 10 minutes and all responses are confidential. A summary and analysis of the responses will be posted when the study is complete. For any queries, you can contact Dr. Howard at: [email protected].

It seems that almost everyone is predicting that the baht will fall and even after all of the political unrest and mayhem we saw this past week the baht remains rock solid against the US dollar, barely moving. I watched with baited breath to see what would happen when the markets re-opened after Songkran and there was….no change!

In last week's column I made a recommendation to readers on where and how they could meet Thai women online over the holiday period as well as weekends, a piece of genuine and sincere advice to which I received quite a backlash, some readers questioning my reasons as being hardly altruistic and disingenuous. I present to you evidence in the form of the picture here from a friend who is no David Beckham yet followed the simple advice. This is real! It doesn't bother me if you take the advice or not, but believe me, if you had, the outcome would have been just as I predicted. I wonder who got the most toothbrushes this Songkran?

The idea of Mexican for breakfast is a little unusual to me, not in small part because I come from a country where the few Mexican restaurants tend to open only in the evening. Sunrise Tacos was picked by BKK magazine as having the best fast food breakfast. In the magazine it had a star by their name with "Best BKK Pick". By Burger King it had "Yuck" but I don't see the same comments on the website. Sunrise serves breakfast from midnight till 5 PM at their Sukhumvit Road outlets at Soi 12 while at Emporium and Siam Paragon it's 10 AM – 5 PM.

A reader would like to know if it's possible to take a motorbike on a train in Thailand. Any responses from readers would be welcome.

Mike Callahan is trying to locate Bob Wilde, a Brit, whom he worked with from 1973 – 1975, teaching English at DTEC on Krung Kasem Road in Bangkok. Mike is only in town until 21 April. 02-682-7888 or email: [email protected]

Stickman reader's story of the week is Living and Working In Thailand by A Happy Camper and goes to show that you CAN make a success of things in Thailand.

Quote of the week comes from a friend who was inquiring as to how much one of the hottest girls in a particular bar made each month, speculating that she must do well for she sure is pretty. Her response brought a smile – "My pussy is not turbo charged!"

An explanation of what the yellow and red shirts are all about.

The political unrest in Thailand may have a negative impact on neighbouring countries.

The BBC suggests that nobody won in the madness of the political unrest this week.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Thailand's credit rating was lowered this week.

With Senor Thaksin's passport revoked, can he stay away from Thailand much longer?

The Age reports that someone tried to make Swiss cheese out of Sondhi Limthongkul.

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 but she did not receive any questions this week…

There will be plenty of doom and gloom about Thailand's future, what will happen to the economy, how the tourism industry will be affected and of course, just what this all means for the common man. If I had not already been through a coup d'état and major disruptions I would also be suggesting that the future is indeed grim – in fact I said that when the previous round of protests took place. But what experience tells me is that despite all of the problems Thailand has faced in recent years – and there have been many – the country has an uncanny knack of bouncing back. What's the bet that in no time it will be business as usual? In fact some may argue that it is already! Sure, confidence has been dented in some quarters. There are investors who will never sink a single baht here and travellers who will never visit, but for the most part I think it will be business as usual, at least until all this crap kicks off again. And yes, it will, because at the end of the day the underlying problems remain. It's just a matter of time.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

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