Stickman's Weekly Column May 24th, 2009

Bangkok, Where A Spade Is Not A Spade


Bangkok is known the world over as a wild and at times, crazy place and you don’t have to live here long to see, or even experience, some really bizarre stuff.

There is often however a misconception about who is involved with all the crazy stuff. It’s easy to think that it is the locals when in fact Westerners in Bangkok are just as likely, perhaps even more likely, to be involved in some plain downright weird and even questionable activity.

Two expats who spend most nights out together in the bars fall out. One knows that the other has a regular in a certain Nana Plaza bar. He also happens to know that his friend barebacks regularly, as does he. He has recently caught a dose, the dreaded drippy dick. There’s discharge and a stinging sensation when he takes a leak. He is really pissed off with his former friend so he visits his friend’s girlfriend and offers to pay her barfine. She knows that the two have fallen out but the offer of a thousand baht is enough to convince her to go behind her boyfriend's back. Off they trot to the local love hotel. He makes a point of doing the business sans rubber bag. A week later his friend now has the drippy dick too – just as he intended. He sends a message to his friend suggesting that partying without a party hat is a bad idea.

The first section of the Bangkok Post was prized this particular day. The entire front page showcased the ever vigilant boys in brown and their first rate sleuthing which had resulted in the arrest of 87 foreigners who had been involved in the calculated separation of Australians with their hard-earned. Native English speakers, predominantly Brits, they had been telephoning Joe Public in Australia while posing as stockbrokers offering a once in a lifetime deal. They fleeced millions from innocent Aussies and could be seen living it large in Bangkok, hitting the British pubs mid to late afternoon and the flesh spots at night. It was but the tip of the iceberg and there were many firms around town running the same con, reportedly with spectacular success. Nobodies become millionaires overnight.

A young Kiwi new to Thailand bumps into an older Westerner in the lobby of his apartment building. They make the 5-minute walk from their respective residence to the skytrain together. After trading pleasantries they quickly discover that they are both English teachers. The older, overweight fellow asks the young Kiwi why on earth he is working where he does. “They’re hi-so princesses in that language school. What are you doing there? You’ve got no chance with those girls. Oh, I guess you’ve got teaching credentials? You don’t actually think you’re going to teach them anything, do you? That’s not why anyone comes to teach here! Come and join me at <language institute’s name omitted>. At the end of every course the students will do anything to get top grades. We make them earn it. No, we don’t look at what they did in the classroom but what they do outside the classroom, outside the school in fact!” He chortles loudly and proudly says, “We call it the 'teacher’s bonus'!”

One of the great things about living in Bangkok is the people you meet. Rather than working with, mixing with and socialising predominantly with people of the same nationality – as well as those of about the same age as is typical in the West – here in Bangkok you meet folks from every country of the Western world and find that age really is less important. You get to learn about other countries, other cultures and make friends from all around the world. This is one of the great things about being an expat in Bangkok, or for that matter I guess, anywhere in Thailand. You learn about different aspects of different societies, the sports they like, the food, what it was like to grow up in other lands, the social problems, the whole gamut.

I’ve got many mates in Bangkok and a good few more across the country. They come from a variety of countries, few from my homeland. As the friendship develops you learn not just about them, but of their life back home. I can tell you about the best sports teams in Georgia, what it’s like to grow up in Luxembourg, all about the Thai community in London and how Canadians cross the border from the States back into their country with a car full of goodies. Living in a foreign land, you learn not just about your host country, its people, culture and customs, but also about the countries of the people you work and socialise with.

Unfortunately there are some downsides too, not so much with being an expat, but with the expats who are attracted to Bangkok. The city is a magnet. It’s a magnet for men from all over the world. It’s a magnet for cheap living and let's be honest, cheap and easy sex. This attracts some interesting people.

As the three short, 100% genuine stories of interesting Westerners show, there are some pretty questionable people here, or at least some people doing questionable things. But there's a question that has to be asked. Is it the men who are attracted to Bangkok which are the problem, or is it Bangkok itself? Is this a case of bad guys? Or is it perhaps a case of good guys gone bad?

But just how do you know who is decent…and who is not? Is a decent person someone who goes to church every Sunday? Someone on an expat package earning a lot of money? Or someone who helps an old lady across the road? It’s subjective, but for sure, Bangkok has a lot of very interesting characters – and I use these words very liberally indeed.

Personally, I have a few measures which I subconsciously apply to Westerners I meet. When I was new to Bangkok and had not yet made a circle of good, trusted friends, I would be happy to not just talk with anyone, but to hang out with them too. I’d meet them for a drink, explore the city, whatever… These days I am much more select.

The first question I ask myself is whether I would you want them around at our place. Hell, would you even be comfortable with them just knowing where you live? What would the Mrs. think of them?

Which raises the next question. Would this person be someone you would find yourself socialising with in Farangland? Would they be accepted by your mates back home into your group of friends? In my first year in Bangkok I had a few friends that I now look back on and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Well, it wasn’t what I was thinking, more that one craves decent conversation, something easier to find with your fellow countrymen or other Westerners. As I have written in the past, few Westerners have close, meaningful friendships with Thai guys.

The final one is the acid test. Would they behave at home as they do in Thailand? It's not what you do – I think most pretty much don't care what others do – but it's when people try and cover it up. Some people just do things in Thailand that they would never dream of doing in their homeland.

I've heard more total BS in Thailand than one should have to hear in a lifetime and yeah, much is from Westerners. So many had no life in Farangland – there's no shame in that – but they feel this crazy need to reinvent themselves in Thailand to be something they are not. Some of the utter nonsense that rolls off some people’s lips is laughable. Playing themselves up to be someone they are not makes them look like a complete idiot. The frequently-heard stories of being ex-SAS are amusing as are those who have run various missions in the region. Facts aren't facts if they continually change and some people telling these porkies have dreadful memories. They trip themselves up in no time.

Where things get most interesting is when you call them on it. Simply raising the issue, in a gentle way, often results in a highly unpredictable reaction. Finger pointing, justification, possibly even threats and an almost certain end to what you could hardly say was a friendship in the first place.

In my first year here I had a couple of weirdoes get too close. Jim and I met at the tailor’s shop around the corner from where I lived, where I used to help out with the computer network. Jim was likeable enough but as I later found out, he had money problems. Simply being polite to Jim was enough for him to ask to borrow my credit card. Yes, you read that right, borrow my credit card! “I need it to check into a hotel”, he said. From that moment on I avoided him at all costs. I would bump into him around the traps and heard story after story of him scamming people. He was good at it because a year ago I bumped into him in Angelwitch, 10 years on, and he tried to hit me up for money or at the minimum, to pay for his drinks. He couldn't remember me.

And then there was the Australian, Mark, who I ended up with at Soi Cowboy late one night in mid 1998. I'd only recently arrived in Bangkok and he was showing me around, having arrived a few months earlier. We were chatting with a ladyboy in a bar – this is back when most bars had a ladyboy or two amongst their ranks- and he decided to barfine him. I didn’t say anything because, well, I was new to Bangkok and hey, if that was what rocked his boat, then so be it. It was not my place to judge who he shared his bed with. I later received an outraged phone call. What was funny was that Mark was a non-drinker so he couldn't blame it on the booze. I told him that I knew all along – and suddenly it was my fault. A funny way to end a friendship!

I have to admit that while expat life – and I mean simply socialising with people of different countries rather than living a high society lifestyle as is often associated with the word “expat” – holds much appeal, you have to be very careful who you choose to mix with. It took me years to realise that the bulk of my friends here in Thailand were much older than me. Most are around 50, or a little more. While we tend to settle down in our mid to late 20s in the West, Western guys in Thailand seemingly don't settle down, or at least don't bear any real semblance of a settled stable life until much older. Over 50 and people tend to be a bit more settled and stable. I have few friends around my own age and almost no-one younger.

Life in Bangkok is easy. That attracts a certain element and on top of that, the ease with which one can do certain things and the way in which certain things are readily available sees many give in to temptation.

Even more weird stuff seems to go on down in Pattaya than in Bangkok (although that could simply be because the reporting of farang affairs is far superior in Pattaya than it is in Bangkok).

I believe much of the farang craziness in Thailand is a case of good guys gone bad. There are some bad apples here, but it seems to me that many pick up bad habits while here.

There are many, many good Westerners in Thailand. That can’t be denied. But there are a lot of ratbags as well. Bangkok does not get the best of the West. Far from it. With many you just can’t broach the subject. They clam up and your friendship is on shaky ground, suggesting that there was little to it in the first place. It’s like forcing them to sit in front of a mirror. It seems that in Bangkok, a spade is not a spade.

Where was this picture taken?


Last week's picture was of the Tuktuk Cafe on Sukhumvit soi 33. Many people thought it was Gulliver's at Khao San Road which also features a tuktuk above the entrance. Nice try, but not right! Only one person got it right. 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! 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, that makes SIX PRIZES EACH WEEK!

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 within Thailand. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per month.

FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – When in Rome, not when in Paris!

Why was the French guy walking around with his shirt off? Perhaps you should explain to readers that Jungceylon is a shopping mall containing Robinson's, Carrefour and a cinema. It is marketed as a high-end establishment and is located at least 2 km from the beach. Then you might ask the French guy why on earth he needed to walk around without his shirt on? It looks ill-mannered to walk around a shopping centre without wearing a shirt. I live and work in Jungceylon and the shirtless shoppers are an embarrassment. There's a very simple way to know if your behaviour is acceptable in Thailand – look at what the Thais are doing. If they're not walking around shirtless, neither should you.

Not France's best export.

I would be interested in what your readership thinks of the "shirtless frog". For myself, I am disgusted with the increasingly low class of Westerner that visits Thailand. Few attempt to respect local customs at all. I realize it was Phuket but even a beach resort has some standard of decorum. I live in Sarasota, FL, which has probably the best beach in all of Florida, but when I leave the immediate beach area to go to my car, I put a shirt on. Thumbs up for that Thai policeman. In 1995, when I began going to Thailand, farang were treated with much more respect than now. I think that was because most of us were older and tried to respect Thai ways. As Western economies flourished and air travel became more discounted, a new breed began coming to Thailand. They were younger and trashier. With them came the end of a good thing. I doubt I'll make any more trips to Thailand. It just isn't fun anymore.

Definition of a nightmare: a Thai cop who doesn't take bribes!

Some tourists aren't the brightest. I was walking to Nana Plaza from the Sukhumvit corner when I saw 2 guys sharing a joint not 20 metres from the police box! The guy holding the joint next to his lips lowered his hand when he saw me looking at him with stunned disbelief. This happened at around 10 PM so there was a lot of foot traffic. A couple of days earlier, I saw one of the policeman from the corner box stop a truck with 2 Thai guys sitting inside, presumably for a traffic violation. The driver tried to give a 100 baht note to the policeman but the cop shook his head and motioned for them to pull over to the sidewalk. I didn't stick around to see what happened next but I was surprised the cop didn't take the bribe. I think that for a tourist caught with a joint in his hand, the only thing worse than a cop that took bribes would be a cop that didn't take bribes.

To serve and protect who?

Have just heard from the wife who's friend has just gone from calling her. The friend's room in a down-market block has been completely stripped of everything while she was out working on her stall on Lad Prao Road. The TV has gone, all her clothes in the wardrobe, her cash (about 4K) she had hidden away – the bloody lot. The security guard claims nobody has taken a TV out of the building, indicating that the scum who did it are other residents in the same building. She went to the police but they were not interested as in her current condition she cannot give them any money! What a sad indictment on the way it is here at times. Words fail me and the wife is speechless.

The Aussie Sheila and other Western visitors.

I can only presume that this Australian lady gave some serious abuse to the members of the Phuket police. I cannot see why else they would be so bloody minded. Travelling as much as I do I'm constantly amazed at the conduct of Westerners abroad, especially Aussies and Brits. Once they have a few bevies under their belt the common sense goes out the window. I see it mainly at airport immigration where they have drunk the plane dry on the way over or are still affected by the night before's adventures when departing. The queues at some Immigration counters do not help but usually it takes very little to set these people off and they treat the officials like idiots with only one outcome. The other thing that strikes me about this report and several others recently is how little embassies do or can do to help. Most people seem to be under the impression that their government can wave a magic wand and spring them from jail. This is not just the Australian Embassy but others as well. I refer here to the Australian author who was held in jail for Lese Majeste and the British woman held on drug possession in Laos. There are many more examples where governments are being subject to complaints for not doing enough to help their citizens when they find themselves in trouble. If the Aussie lady were to do the same here in Saudi Arabia she would think her treatment in Thailand was not so bad after all.

No point working in Thailand.

The Thai wife of a friend of mine spent a few years in the UK and worked packing boxes or something in a factory. She earned around 250 pounds a week (around 50,000 baht a month). Recently they returned to Thailand and after a few months she wanted to work again. For a similar type of job at Tesco Lotus she was offered 5,000 baht a month. In her words, “there is no point working in Thailand”.

Base camp Bangkok. (But soi 5 really is for tourists, locals often prefer soi 16).

Three words Took Lae Dee, in fact only two as everyone refers to this restaurant as Foodland. When I first got off the plane 29 years ago that's all everybody talked about was Foodland, land of food sounded good but I'd be damned if I could find it. Foodland per say is a supermarket, and my rationality didn't extend far enough to consider that yes, this restaurant is in fact situated in a supermarket. The concept is an American long bar, a diner that you see in all those movies with the Thai cooking staff constantly cooking behind it, to the extent that the staff are so busy that they don't have time to be friendly or cater for service with a smile. For sure this establishment has its detractors, but it excels in four areas that cannot be denied. First and foremost by its consistency of offering an excellent quality of dishes, especially its Asian selection. Next it sets a benchmark standard that all other air-conditioned establishments can be compared against for cost and value. This is closely followed by the hygiene factor, the turnover in this restaurant that's open 24 hours a day, never closes, is so fast that the food simply doesn't have time to go bad. Finally it's location on Soi 5, just a few metres up the road from Sukhumvit is second to none. In fact in the event you could afford it, you couldn't go wrong by staying across the road in the Amari Boulevard, falling out of bed, just walking across the street and eating your way through their menu. To appease its detractors, the seating arrangements can best be described as adequate rather than generous, sometimes even engaging eye contact can be a major achievement. That the whole experience can become a means to an end if you eat there frequently, but for me you couldn't set up a better base camp here than in the whole of Bangkok.

The Strip in Patpong's soi 2 will host a party this coming Friday, May 29. Themed "back to the 80s", it promises to be a fun night.

Hell Club, Pattaya's copy of Bangkok's super popular Eden Club, is open again for business having been closed down for more than a month for naughtiness.

If you cannot find your favourite Apache Coyote girls, wander down the soi to Sheba's to where the prettiest girls, minus M, have been relocated – and happy they seem to be with trade at Sheba's better than their previous workplace.

But with that said, the (s)low season slips into a deeper recession than ever before. I was reminded of when I first came to Bangkok whilst wandering along Cowboy this week. To qualify this, Sheba's is one of the best bars in Cowboy, up there with the likes of Tilac, Long Gun and Baccarra. The doctor and I entered Sheba's, having arrived early, and at a little after 8 PM we were, so the staff told us, the first two customers of the evening. We left perhaps 20 minutes later and in that time no other customers had popped in and neither had the curtain been pushed aside by lecherous eyes peering in to see if the prey was to their liking. Quiet, quiet, quiet, just like a decade ago.

Spanky's in Nana Plaza offers Archa beer 70 baht all night long. They market is as draft but strictly speaking, it isn't; poured from a can into a glass. There are some good deals to be had on drinks in Nana Plaza and the rest of soi 4 area these days, the Nana area is not quite the pricey area it once was as bar owners desperate to return to the halcyon days of yore reduce their prices.

And the Nana area, of which Sukhumvit Soi 4 is a big part, is home to a number of interesting characters, many of whom float around the area and roam in and out of bars. They are as much a part of Nana as is Angelwitch's Daeng and Rainbow 4's Pet. They sell various knick knacks but for the most part they are harmless. Sadly one fellow who has been doing the rounds for many years is looking a little worse for wear. The fellow pictured here who sells various bits and pieces and is perhaps best known for the large (cancerous?) growth on the side of his face is looking very, very skinny and is not moving with the same ease as he used to. Here's hoping it's nothing serious.

Thank God for the Old Dutch! With the pesky weather and heavy rains we have been experiencing for the last fortnight, the eastern end of Soi Cowboy is prone to flooding with several inches or more of filthy water sitting there for an hour or so after the rain stops, preventing access into the soi unless you're prepared to soldier on with soaked footwear. What you can do is enter the Old Dutch via its entrance on soi 23 and exit via the doorway that leads to Cowboy, circumventing the flooded area and remaining dry. Blow manager PJ a kiss as you pass through!

A new brew has hit the market. Tiger Crystal Light, the new light beer from Tiger, can be found at Tilac Bar in Cowboy amongst others. It is marketed as a low calorie, light beer and contains 20% less calories than regular Tiger (which really is bugger all less) and clocks in at 4.1% alcohol volume which is not really that low. Perhaps they should have called this Tiger In-limbo? I mean, come on, both the calories and the alcohol content is only down a little. I've yet to sample it so no comments on the taste.

On Pattaya's Walking Street, Sisterz is having a school girl party this Thursday, May 28. You can expect stockings, suspenders and girls behaving badly plus a few surprises and giveaways. As part of their May madness, they are offering early evening short-time barfines – meaning before 9 PM – at just 250 baht. A good deal for sure, but customers barfining later in the evening may well be wondering if they're getting sloppy seconds.

Now admittedly I haven't been to Pattaya myself in several weeks or more, but what everyone is telling me – and I am talking Bangkok locals here as well as tourists visiting both Bangkok and Pattaya – is that Bangkok's nightlife is more fun at this point in time. Many Bangkok-based Westerners who used to venture down to Pattaya are talking of depressed girls in Pattaya with an attitude that, I hate to say, sounds much like the atmosphere was in Nana Plaza for a while. Like I say, I have not experienced this myself and I am not talking from personal experience. This is simply what I am hearing from people. I hope to make it down to Pattaya to check it out myself soon.

As bar and restaurant owners realise that yes, customers are looking at the prices on the menu, the price of a beer is dropping citywide. Out in the Khao San Road area, popular fish and chips restaurant Oh My Cod has joined the fray with beer specials. All small bottles of Singha, Heineken, Leo, Tiger and Chang are going at just 40 baht and large bottles 60 baht. The promotion runs until the end of May.

Tax increases on alcohol in the past have often seen a knee jerk reaction from bar owners and became an excuse to ramp up prices. There was an increase in the tax on beer recently and this was immediately seen on supermarket shelves but this time around bar owners did not move with their usual speed. Clear in the knowledge that times are tough and many customers are more price conscious than ever, I am not aware of one bar in the farang areas that has hiked the price of a beer. In the past they really did take the piss. I'll never forget when the bars in Nana put prices up from 90 to 110 baht for most regular drinks after a tax increase that probably saw their costs go up by 2 baht a bottle.

I was going to ask whatever happened to the kebab lady, pictured here, who had been a fixture on Cowboy most nights for the past two years before, perhaps a month or two ago, she just disappeared. I had not seen here anywhere, including her previous spot selling on Soi 23, out in front of the Subway branch – I bet Subway just loved that! Anyway, she has resurfaced and has obviously been away studying Thai Economics 101. As Cowboy is quieter than ever, her snack-sized kebabs once priced at 50 baht now go for 60 ensuring that less customers does not result in less income. No worries, she's a nice lady and her kebabs hit the spot after a few drinks.

As if proof was needed that the locals are getting desperate, a reader was physically attacked and mugged in Chiang Mai. What makes this particular incident interesting is that the Aussie victim towers over most Thais. You would think they would choose someone other than a 6 foot 2 fit-looking farang! Nope, he was fair game and was knocked to the ground, roughed up with a few blows and relieved of 5,000 baht.

Down Pattaya way, a lady of the night went to a local clinic to get an STD check up and was given the grim news that she had contracted HIV. Rather than being distraught as you might expect, she simply asked the doc if that meant she had to stop working. "Not at all", he replied. "Just make sure your customers wear a condom." That's a true story from this past week.

There I was, wiling away a few hours in the Golden Beer Bar earlier this week, observing the comings and goings. I could not help but notice the generosity of many customers towards some of the beggars, particularly an amputee beggar. The poor fellow had had a leg annexed above the knee and many customers were giving generously, a red-coloured banknote in many cases. I could be totally wrong on this but people seem to be more generous to beggars during daylight hours than after dark.

BNH Hospital on Soi Convent are doing flu vaccination shots at half price, meaning 450 baht instead of 900. This special runs until the end of June. Just walk in the main entrance on the ground floor, ask at reception and a lovely English speaking nurse gives you the shot. You'll be in and out in 10 minutes.

Inspired by the readers' submissions section of this website, a British filmmaker has produced a documentary that will surely appeal to this site's readership, Thailand: Torn Between Two Worlds. Having visited Thailand 9 times in 3 years, he found himself back home and feeling low and wasn’t sure why. He set out to look closely as to why this happens to people and capture the stages one goes through. He found his subject, Adam, who had had a shitty life in the UK and offered to pay for a trip to Thailand to see if it had any long lasting effects on him and to see if he could see what our filmmaker could see. They went, shot the film and had a great time. Adam came back and bang, it all went tits up for him! The filmmaker stayed close to Adam, filming everything through those low times. He funded the bulk of the project himself although he did receive a grant from the UK Film Council and Northern Film & Media which was a bonus. The whole film was shot in HD and is available for purchase now.

Mekong Kurt has done a totally lousy job of letting us know that he is back on the web so I'll help him out and point you in the right direction. He seems to be posting both here, on the Mekong Kurt page, and here on the Squaronians page and it is the latter link seems to be updated more frequently. It's good to see you back, Kurt.

The weakening Thai baht is starting to have an effect on the price of consumer electronics here in Bangkok. I noticed this week that the price of many cameras and lenses, particularly the high end stuff, had shot up between 10 – 12%. Don't think that because the Thai currency is increasing against the dollar that the baht is getting stronger. The baht is in fact weakening against pretty much all major currencies with some up 15% against the baht in the last 3 months.

The talking point amongst expats in Thailand this week has been the arrest of the Aussie bird in Phuket. We'll never know the facts 100% for sure, but the most commonly accepted version is that it seems one of her friends played a prank on her and put a bar mat into her handbag. When she left the bar she was approached by police who wanted to have a word with her about it at which point she legged it. The cops caught her and it is then suggested that she was abusive to them. True or not, we will never know. But if she was abusive towards the Thai cops, that was a monumental mistake! NEVER BE RUDE OR ABUSIVE TO THAI POLICEMEN! Dealings with the police can almost always be worked though and the situation resolved but you MUST remain calm and polite. Don't even so much as raise your voice. It is mooted that at the police station she – and remember she had apparently had a fair bit to drink – abused police including the police station chief! MASSIVE MISTAKE! That is probably where things started to get out of control and at which point they could not be easily deescalated. I feel sorry for her and the situation she found herself in but while being abusive to cops might be acceptable in Australia (you see it on the Aussie cop shows all the time), that sort of carry on does not go down well here. I cannot reiterate strongly enough that if you are rude or, worse still, threatening, with a Thai official, you are asking for big trouble. YOU WILL LOSE! Don't do it. It's just downright disrespectful. Don't get me wrong, I am not in favour of the police being heavy handed as they can be at times, but living here, it is important to be respectful to men in a brown uniform. Frankly, I feel sorry for the owner of the bar. He never pushed charges yet his bar is likely to suffer a backlash, with some people avoiding it – and perhaps worse. Whatever happens, the poor guy is going to be made to look bad when in fact he is an innocent victim in this case!

Stickman reader's story of the week comes from the peerless Dana. "Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 210" is an hilarious piece about a fictitious bar called Dana's Delight.

Quote of the week comes from a friend who was explaining his preference for short time. "If you want to sleep with her, you don't have to sleep with her."

We will never know the full details of what really happened in that high profile case this week when a Melbourne mum was arrested and detained in jail for 4 days after a bar prank in Phuket.

The Aussie Bar in Phuket gets a terrible rap here in another case eerily similar to the high profile case this week.

More Australian-based folks report a holiday from hell in Phuket!

The Australian reports that a 200kg Aussie loses 75% of his assets in divorce to his Thai wife of 10 years. (What is it with you Aussies this week?!)

This Chinese sex theme park sounds interesting, not that we will get to see it.

This *highly disturbing* story shows that violent crime of an extreme nature is taking place in Thailand.

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: "By nai, by nai!" That's all I heard doing my rounds the other night walking around the bars. What gives with this clarion call, that the girls want to follow you where you are going, that they have no idea where to go themselves, that they are afraid to go somewhere on their own, that they have some kind of right to enquire of this information? It just seems a complete obsession to be coming out with this inane expression, like pieces of eight, pieces of eight?

Mrs. Stick says: This is a simple greeting and in this situation it means the same as hello. There are many ways to say hello in my language, the same as yours. Why do you say it is inane? Don't you respect Thai culture or language? When does a Thai person say "what's up is stupid" or something like that about your language? You know, English is much more difficult than Thai but I never heard a Thai person say stupid things about English like you do.

Question 2: I read your answer to a reader a couple of weeks ago about how he wanted to split up with his girlfriend and was less than impressed. I have recently met a woman and on the second date we slept together. I did not initiate this at all. The sex was fantastic and she quickly fell in love with me. By date number three I could see she was coming on way too strong, so strong that it makes me feel very uncomfortable. I don't want to hurt her feelings but she is scaring me to the point that now I want to get rid of her. She is telling me that I was sent to her from God. What the fxxx?! I am just an average guy. I treated her nicely and with respect but did not make any promises about the future, nor did I tell her any lies. So, Mrs. Stick, just how do I get rid of her? I can see that she is not going to take this well. I feel she has been totally unreasonable by falling in love with me so fast.

Mrs. Stick says: I have a friend who is in love with a married man and they had an affair. Actually, it still continues today. She knows that she cannot be with this man but she still wants to see him. When he can't see her or things aren't good she cries and gets very upset. When it ends it will end badly and she will be even more upset. She is being unreasonable. I think your girlfriend is the same. She is also being unreasonable. I am sorry, I know you did not do anything wrong.

Question 3: I am hoping you might be able to clarify something for me. I have been in Thailand for just over a year now and love the lifestyle it offers i.e. great food, climate and friendly people. My wife (Thai) and I retired here, and we have settled in to a routine that sees us each doing different things to fill in our days. Sometimes we do things together e.g. golf, and at other times not. At 58 my body is not what it used to be, after a lifetime of outdoor work, and despite the warmer climate I sometimes awaken to aching joints and muscles. At such times massage can be helpful, so now and again I treat myself to either a Thai or oil massage to ease the aches and pains. This I do openly, my wife knows I go along to have this done and sometimes it is at her suggestion that I go. To date all has been above board and nothing but a straight massage has taken place. However, on the odd occasion and it may have been accidental some brushing of more sensitive parts has occurred. Call me a cynic, but I suspect it was probably not so ‘accidental’ as made out to be, and was actually designed to see what sort of reaction might be forthcoming. I just let things slide, no point in making a big deal as it may well be just my imagination running away with me. Anyway I digress, to get to the reason for my writing to you. I was wondering if one day I should weaken and succumb to more than just a straight massage. Is there any sort of protocol that exists? Would for example anything that might transpire between the lady and myself stay between us. Or would any fall from grace that I might have be the subject of gossip for anyone and everyone who might want to listen?

Mr. Stick says: I really think I can answer this question better than the Mrs. The first thing is that there is no such thing as "accidental" brushing up against you in a massage. These women are professionals, massaging a number of people every day and most have had some sort of training. Brushing up against you is no mistake but rather a very clear intention to arouse you so that you become more interested in a more intimate option – and they have a chance to make a bit more money. As to whether you allow that next step to take place raises a number of questions. I am well-known for being in the "cheating is wrong camp" although I realise that puts me in a minority amongst Westerners in Thailand. I believe that if you cross that line, there is a chance that other lines may be crossed in the future. That's a decision only you can make. Then you have the issue of being able to look into your wife's eyes and say you have never cheated on her. Some can do this and have no compunction about it. Then there is the issue of whether your wife might find out through other means. If she goes to the massage centre herself, word might get back to her. If it is in the neighbourhood, word might somehow get back to her. If at some point in the future you piss off ANY girl in the massage centre, they might let it leak that you have been a naughty boy. My personal feeling is that you're skating on thin ice. If you really must have a naughty massage, consider going to some place across town that your wife doesn't even know exists.

I'd like to ask a favour of the readership, namely advice on how to deal with dogs that mistaken my legs for their next meal. I run most days and in central Bangkok there are many obstacles, none more so than the dogs which not just chase me, but try to bite me. I had a nasty incident recently when a really vicious beast came at me. I swing the big Stickman number 10 and hit the bastard flush on the nose. It was a more than decent swing of the boot, one Dan Carter or Steve Gerard would have been well proud of. The problem was that it stopped the beast for all of about 2 seconds before he came snarling back at me again! This was as good a kick as I could give and it was useless! If it had not been for a courageous scavenger nearby who came to my assistance, well, who knows what might have happened. So my question is this: What options do I have to repel these foul beasts. I am looking for something that I can hold or put in my pocket while I run. Spray? Whistle? What's the best means of keeping these disgusting pests out of my way? I'm specifically looking for something I can buy in Bangkok. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick