Patpong has fallen off the nightlife map. Years of neglect, decades of rip offs and some of the rudest, most aggressive touts and vendors you can find in the Kingdom have all contributed to turning away even the most die-hard Patpong fans, those with fond memories of the area in its prime.
But Patpong hasn't always been the shambles it is today. It was once Bangkok's premier nightlife area, a jewel in the crown of the tourism industry and the magnet which drew so many international wanderers to the city. Patpong was once home to the liveliest bars, the prettiest ladies and many a visitor spent almost all their time there.
Despite its current state of disrepair and personnel problems, the Patpong area is still a must visit for the first-time visitor and so the Patpong brand name lives on. Many still automatically think of Patpong when they think of nightlife in Bangkok and many who have never stepped foot in Thailand have heard of and are familiar with what goes on at Patpong. Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy are really only known to those who have visited the city and actively sought out nightlife options. It's undeniable that the Patpong brand name remains the biggest of them all.
Not everyone thinks Patpong is yesterday's news. Some think Patpong's time will come again and they're putting their money where their mouth is. There are a few new gogo bars being built in the Patpong area and this week one such venue opened, Black Pagoda.
Black Pagoda is the brainchild of two Americans and an Austrian, the latter with much experience in the bar industry and a number of successful venues behind him.
Black Pagoda can be found in the spot that was home to the ill-fated Park Bridge and is located above Patpong soi 2 in what was once an overheard footbridge connecting the car park above Foodland with the building opposite. Park Bridge, the small hi-so club, was once located there but that concept was always going to struggle in that area. I mean it was always a big ask that the hi-so set would get excited about the prospect of a night out at a venue in Patpong. There's no bragging rights amongst their hi-so friends there.
Black Pagoda could be described as cozy. It's not that big, at a guess about 100 square metres or so. Each side is glass meaning that you can look down on to Patpong soi 2, below. There are very thin curtains in place although if they could be removed, the advertising potential for the venue with those below seeing sexy girls dancing around poles would be priceless. Sadly it seems that the men in tight brown uniforms are unconvinced and the curtains will remain, at least for the time being.
Chrome poles are found at one end of the venue and more will be added to the sides. The venue is in fact not quite complete and its opening this past Wednesday was very much a soft opening.
There's no gogo stage so the girls are wriggling around the pole at ground level, so to speak. With no gogo stages and the girls adorned in bikini and light negligee, the venue has more of a club-like feel than that of a traditional Bangkok gogo bar.
There's a small mezzanine floor area above the main bar area which may well get the nickname, "Heaven". Exactly how that part of the bar will be used remains unclear.
The bar still needs work. The neon advertising is not yet in place, there are no signs advertising the bar at all and the only way I even knew the name of the venue is that I was told what it was!
Access to the venue is a problem, and I predict the biggest barrier the success of the venue faces. It is two floors up and you currently have to make your way up a pretty nasty staircase to get there, dimly lit, grimy and covered in graffiti. You could also take the age old lift but it feels like something out of a horror flick. The venue is targeting the higher end of the market but getting there sees you pass through some dodgy walkways – not a good fit.
The venue needs a big push just to let people know it is there and some large advertising hoardings will need to be erected. Once it is known, I am sure it will become popular – but they need to get the word out.
Black Pagoda is not competing at the lower end of the market and the drinks prices reflect this with 150 baht the going rate for standard drinks, making it just a little more expensive than the likes of Bangkok's most expensive gogos, Baccarra and Angelwitch. It'll set you back 250 baht for a premium drink (gold labels, special beers, Breezers etc.) which makes it one of the dearer venues in Patpong although its setting up in the clouds is unique. Lady drinks run 150 baht.
Black Pagoda features a unique "gentlemen guests only" policy – and no female guests may enter the bar. There are plenty of establishments where couples are very welcome. Black Pagoda wishes to provide an atmosphere where customers can be safe in the knowledge that all females inside the Black Pagoda are either dancers or hostesses who can be barfined.
There were a little less than 20 girls this week, which isn't bad for a bar opening. Being in Patpong, there will be no recruitment issues with the area attracting a steady stream of job applicants. The venue could probably do with about 25 – 30 girls. It's not a monster sized bar so don't go expecting Rainbow 4 or Tilac numbers.
The venue features a flat rate barfine system that includes the barfine as well as the girl's fee so you can leave your negotiating skills at home. 2,500 baht releases the lady from the bar and gets you 3 hours of her time. Alternatively, 4,500 baht gets you 2 women for the same period.
Whether Black Pagoda will be the start of the revival of Patpong remains to be seen. On the positive side, Patpong is easily the largest of Bangkok's bar areas and dwarfs Nana and Cowboy by any measure, be it the size of the area or the number of venues. Even if you only measure the area as the two main sois – when it could be argued that the area is in fact spread over a much wider expanse. There's also more variety in the area from gogo bars, to live show venues, to soi 33-style hostess clubs, to BJ bars, to discos, to live music venues to fetish clubs and the list goes on…
But Patpong carries a lot of baggage and the stigma of the upstairs rip off bars is something which those investing money into the area really need to do something about.
Still, with new venues being built, it only needs 3 or 4 interesting venues to convince bar flies to check the area out. And if just one of those venues hits the spot, it could be the start of a slow drift back towards Patpong.
I hope Black Pagoda does well. I applaud owners who try to do something a little different, especially at a time when the industry is really hurting and customer numbers are so low.
But what of the future of Patpong? Not everyone is confident of a revival at Patpong. Speaking with one of the real characters of the industry and a stalwart of Sukhumvit, my old friend Marc of Eden Club fame had this to say about Patpong, "Zere ees too much damage at Patpong. Eets time has passed." And who would argue with someone who has been so remarkably successful in the industry?
Time will tell whether Black Pagoda is a success and whether Patpong can make a serious challenge to rise from the ashes and seriously compete for the title it once held, that of Bangkok's premier bar area.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the small sub soi connecting soi 3/1 with soi 5. Many readers thought it was the soi connecting sois 5 and 7 – wrong! 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!
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod and Molly Malone's prizes MUST be claimed within 14 days. 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 – Corruption, the police and farang.
Of course we all know that a valuable source of revenue for the Thai police is the monies gleaned from farangs. Be that from the proprietors / owners of the various establishments that make up the naughty nightlife industry in Thailand or errant farangs who break Thai law. The truth is of course that one does not necessarily need to be guilty; one only needs to be accused of wrongdoing for the games to begin. The only way of having any chance of diminishing this practice – because it will never stop completely of course – is to offer proper remuneration to Thai police. I wrote a letter to the Bangkok Post which was published around 15 years ago in this regard however little has changed. You'll never do away with corruption in Thailand. It is endemic throughout the society. However by paying the Thai police and equipping them properly it will start the long journey toward a clean service. They have to start somewhere. Sadly Thai society is drowning in corruption. In the public service, politics, the authorities, and at almost every level of business, corruption reigns supreme. From the service girl who short changes the hapless farang in the gogo bar to the military requiring a 10% "service fee" for foreign business wanting to start up in Thailand, to the lowly street cop, first day out of Thai police academy, they are all in on it. Some would say; "Look at it as a valued added tax", a fee that must be paid in order to remain in a place that, if the truth be known, you really are not welcome. Only your money is. Thailand is slowly cooking the goose that laid the golden egg. In true Thai style however, never mind the future. Today is the important thing. Get stuck into the trough that is the foreign cash cow now i.e. farangs and tomorrow will take care of itself.
The day Thailand lost face.
It had to happen, it was inevitable, so many fingers in the dyke that that there was barely any room left for the cement. Just a question of time before the edifice of such an artificial, insincere image came crashing down. Although in a country where it seems that every man and his dog choose to turn a blind eye as to what is going on, there was no banking on allowing for technology that would expose a warts and all reality. Overnight it seems the acronym of LOS has changed from the Land of the Smiles to the Land of the Scams. To the degree that the first thought process on mentioning the word Thailand abroad could be seriously challenged, with scam replacing sex. Of course the Thai fore fathers have tried to legislate in the past that such exposes remain firmly behind closed doors. Articles 34 and 23 of the motion picture face saving act have been dusted down and resurrected. But had they really envisaged an army of tourists, with hand held mobiles, instantly beaming up live feeds of reality news as it happens? If the current clips of scams on You Tube were staged the authorities should count their blessings, as what kind of reaction would there have been if truly violent encounters had been televised all around the world?
I was spending some quality time with a young lady when I felt a small lump on her breast around her nipple. I have no clue what a self-examination consists of for ladies other than some brochures I have seen in the doctor's office. I took the lady back to the mamasan, who in turn went and felt for the lump. She showed concern. Fast-forward to last night. I have not seen the lady, nor had I given it much thought over the last eight weeks. I was in the bar and she appears, hugging me. I am mobbed by everyone. It seems she had returned from a short hiatus. She went to a doctor and had blood work and a biopsy done. I could not understand if it was a simple cyst or tumour (I think in her mind they are one-and-the-same.) She proudly showed me her scar where it was removed, and an overwhelming amount of medicine in a bag (Thai doctor of course.) I was anointed "jai dee" for life and fun was had by all. In conclusion I realise that breast cancer awareness is not widely publicised as it is in the western media (cannot compete with skin whitening cream). However, as customers, if you noticed something isn't quite right when you're fondling a lady, don't ignore it. Bring it to her attention.
One country that has never been on my travel plans was Turkey until my nephew decided to get married there to save on the ridiculous expense of a ceremony in the UK. So, two weeks ago, off to Turkey it was. My only images of the country were based on the film Midnight Express – hardly the best impression to travel with, is it? So, Lonely Planet guide packed to improve my knowledge of the country, I arrived on the Med coast to meet the family. I hate sitting around the pool so I hired a car to have a look around. Away from the 5-star resorts and tourist areas there was real poverty around, probably worse than I have seen in Thailand. How many 30-year old cars do we see on the roads in Thailand? Not many. One thing really hit me after a while. Despite the poverty, wherever I visited, including Istanbul, there were no hookers and I only saw one beggar. I got the impression talking to the locals that they are a very proud race and would not lower themselves to such acts. Thankfully I never saw one ladyboy either. So why do so many women (and men) fall so easily into the sex for sale trade in Thailand, more than anywhere else in the world? It is as if they would do almost anything for a few baht and values and pride are just thrown out of the window. I am perplexed. Is it just the laziness we all observe on a daily basis and the sex trade is just the easy way out? Finally, whilst we all have different tastes, the Turkish girls are the most astonishingly beautiful girls I have ever seen. It really is where the East meets the West. Well worth checking out if you happen to venture out that way. By the way, I found the Sultanhamed prison (Midnight Express). It is now the 6-star Four Seasons Hotel, number one in Istanbul. One local saw me taking photos and remarked "before they were crying to get out, now they are crying and paying to get in."
The family jewels are burning!
Having just returned from a brief, but very enjoyable trip, there's one thing I thought I should mention. I'm quite surprised I've not discovered it before. As we know, the locals like to eat at street vendors. I don't mind it myself but here's the thing. Having met a couple of ladies, we (my friend and I) were quite prepared for the midnight scoff and sat down at the food hall on Sukhumvit soi 7 looking forward to the activities about to befall us after the feeding frenzy was concluded. My friend and I enjoyed some chicken and rice, the ladies chose a dish called (please excuse my spelling) som tam, a particularly potent dish that I understand has crab in it. My advice to anybody that finds themselves in this situation is this: Get the girls to rinse out their mouths before performing certain pleasurable acts if som tam was their midnight snack of choice. We both thought our family jewels were on bloody fire! I thought I'd give you a laugh at the expense of a stupid farang that should know better.
Spice Club located in the Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 11 has changed name to Climax and will hold a launch party on September 29. There will be live music, international DJs, a coyote show and the first drink is on the house. Apart from the launch party, every Wednesday international DJs will play and Thursday / Friday there will be various coyote shows on the stage. A daily happy hour has now started which consists of a FREE bottle of Red Label every day from 9 – 11 PM (mixers not included). You can party at Climax until late.
Molly Malone's on Walking Street closed its doors for the last time Tuesday this past week and will soon be home to what promises to be another massive Walking Street development which is rumoured to be the work of Patrick from Soi Cowboy's Baccarra, the owners of Happy, Peppermint and Tim from Dollhouse in Bangkok. This will be a major bar in the Baccarra style. It won't be open for a while as they need to build a second floor, but from all accounts it will be worth waiting for.
Walking Street was as quiet as I have seen it when I did a run through it this week. It reminded me of the low season in Walking Street ca. 2002 or 2003, which is probably about right, business wise.
Needless to say, many Pattaya businesses continue to hurt. The more honest bar owners come straight out and tell you that at the end of the month they are putting their hand into their pocket and taking money out to pay the salaries. Other bar owners tell you that if you had been in their bar just 20 minutes earlier it was packed – and miraculously is totally dead now for no reason, all the customers who were supposedly there have scurried off… Some of the big name bars continue to do well and in the likes of Happy and Peppermint you wouldn't know tourism numbers were way down.
Work continues on the other new monster Walking Street gogo development, Pleasure Dome, at a feverish pace to get it open by November 1. This venue is going to be something else and amongst the features will be a water slide that snakes its way around the entire bar, in and out of customers. Girls will slide down it into a large Jacuzzi.
Another new gogo is open for business in Pattaya with a name that I assume is a misprint. Should Ron(?) Wild Girls be Run Wild Girls? It can be found between Airport and Hammer and is said to be backed by the same people behind What's Up.
And the spending plans on Walking Street don't end yet. Plans are underway to open a high end (read: expensive) gogo under Goodfellows on Walking Street. Said to be similar in style to the farang babe-dominated Galaxy but having well-known Thai models and stunning Thai women (I assume stunning to the Thai taste meaning fair skin and a bit more meat on the bone than your average Isaan farmer's daughter) dancing. This might add new meaning to what we used to, many years ago, call the girls at Long Gun – SWA (stunners with attitude).
And yet another Pattaya gogo is taking shape, on the left of the steps going up to Polo / Galaxy. It used to be a restaurant called Bartimes. The restaurant has retained their back half on the water, but in the front a small gogo is being worked on.
Shenanigans Jomtien is having an AFL Grand Final day on Saturday September 26 and it should get going around 10:30 AM. Free pies at half time, handball & pick the winning score competitions. For all you Ockers in Bangkok, all the usual Aussie haunts will show the final of this weird sport, that being The Office in soi 33, Bradman's in soi 23 and Down Under in Soi 7/1.
It's all go at the Music Station in Sukhumvit soi 33 with affable French manager Christophe doing everything he can to attract customers and keep them happy. There are 2 bands, the first of which starts at 9.30 PM and is called Bangkok 70. The guitarist is really good and the singer is a real entertainer. They play on Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday. The other band is Degree of Freedom who are young and very enthusiastic. They play on Monday and Thursday. They also have new original cocktails and some interesting shooters – monkey brain shooter, orgasm cocktail and caipirinha cocktail. The current promotion is buy 1 get 1 free draft beer, from 5 – 9 PM, pool is only 25 baht (which is cheap for the soi) but free from noon to 5 PM. There is free wi-fi available.
After months of procrastinating, I finally made it to Bangkok Beat. I always thought it was going to be a freelancer dominated venue but upon visiting I was very pleasantly surprised. The first venue on the right hand side in soi 7/1, Bangkok Beat attracts a mix of Western guys, Thai women and I would venture to say that most of the lasses are NOT of the working variety i.e. they work, but in regular jobs. The venue features two bands each night and the vibe is great. This is not one of your upscale high society venues with a lofty cover charge and high-priced drinks. Owner Marc knows how to satisfy the customers and his philosophy is simple – good music, good atmosphere and real drinks at decent prices. A beer, for example, will set you back a reasonable 130 baht. Bangkok Beat has the sort of energy missing from the likes of Gulliver's and The Huntsman but does not have the stilted, poseur attitudes found in Bed and Q Bar. I was really impressed and am kicking myself for taking so long to visit. I am going to try to make it there more often. For those of you on the hunt, bring your game as opposed to your wallet. I can see great potential to meet some interesting ladies at Bangkok Beat.
AfterDark, which has built up quite a reputation for its quality gogo dancer catalogues, ooops, I mean magazines, is branching out in a new direction and commencing VIP tours of Bangkok and Pattaya. Check out the latest edition of the magazine for details. The minimum price is $5,000 excluding airfare for 3 days, 2 nights. The prices made me raise my eyebrows, but this is very much for the high rollers and everything offered is top end. There is a licensed Thai tour guide behind it so it's all above board.
The boys at After Dark are also working on their 2010 After Dark Calendar. It will come out before the end of October and the price remains the same as last year, 300 baht. Stayed tuned for some pics.
Why are colds and the flu so much worse in Thailand than the West? It has taken me an eternity to recover from a nasty bout of the flu, perhaps the worst case I've ever suffered. But in some ways this is nothing new. It always seems that the flu is that much worse in these parts than in Farangland. Why is that?
It would seem the Government Savings Bank has joined the group of banks which charges the holders of foreign-issued ATM cards at their ATM machines. 150 baht will de deducted from your account if you use a Government Savings Bank ATM.
A reader reports that AeonThailand does not charge the ATM fee. They even have a notice on their ATMs saying that they do not charge the fee like other banks do! It seems that the non-Thai banks don't charge i.e. UBS, HSBC and Citibank whereas all of the locally Thai-owned banks do. Funny that.
What's the deal with the broadcast of UEFA Champions League matches this season? The first round of matches were played this past week and were broadcast only on Thai TV (which is not so bad) but only in Thai language (which is a real nuisance) and completely hampers one's enjoyment of the big matches. There really seems to be no reason to have True Visions (the local cable TV provider) installed these days if you're a sports fan.
Ever wondered what it would cost to take a taxi from downtown to Bangkok to Pattaya if the driver was willing to turn on the meter? Apparently the going rate from downtown to Pattaya these days is 1,500 baht, so people tell me – and that
is the price on the schedule of rates to provincial destinations in most taxis. If the driver was to turn on the meter, the meter would in fact come to a little under 1,200 baht. So if you try and negotiate a fare of less than 1,200 baht, you
are attempting to negotiate a rate below what the metered fare would be…
At the heart of Washington Square, Bourbon Street's 23 anniversary is this weekend with a massive buffet on offer featuring all of the Bourbon Street favourites for a mere 323++ baht. I would have told you earlier i.e. in last week's column, but Doug was hopeless letting me know…
But it's not all fun and games at Washington Square with the rumour mill having it that a bar was sold without the owner's knowledge by the landowners! Goodness only knows how that can happen. Apparently the leaseholder, a foreigner, received what could be described as a pittance in financial compensation. Apparently many bars there saw their leases expire in January but are still operating because few are lining up to develop the area during these tough times. I hear that another bar is also likely to be sold by the landowner.
There were some menaces entering soi 33 bars this week, a fool and his banjo along with two wenches. The fool played some stupid song and the girls had some dodgy looking laminated begging cards made up, making out they were represented some charity. It all looked very questionable to me. Luckily the bar I was in took their intrusion seriously and ushered them back out on to the street quick smart. I think it is fair to say that reputable charities do not proactively seek money from Western tourists in naughty bars, hence this was probably a con. There really are more and more cons and scams these days in Thailand. It's getting quite ridiculous.
Some foreigners leave Thailand because something bad happened or something went wrong. Maybe they lost their money, or their business or their house or as is often the case, their love. It seems to me that few who leave Thailand actually leave totally unscathed, or in profit, so to speak. A New Zealander spent 4 years in Thailand and got through his time in the country without issue. Almost. He had enjoyed himself in Thailand and when the day came to leave, the sky opened and heavy rain fell on Bangkok. He struggled out on to the main Sukhumvit Road with 4 years worth of possessions and tried to hail a cab to the airport. With the rain teeming down, most of the cabs were occupied and it was difficult to find one with the red available light turned on. He was holed up in a bus stop, with all of his worldly possessions placed there on the seat and he would venture out from the shelter and on to the road and try to hail a passing cab. Finally he managed to get a cab that was available to take him to the airport. As he loaded his possessions into the cab, he discovered that he was not going to be leaving Thailand without incident. In the last couple of hours of his last day in Thailand, while he went out on to the road to hail down a cab, the bag containing his laptop was lifted. Only a couple of hours from safety, he was unable to make it through the 4 years without being a victim. And it was too late to do anything about it. There was no time to go to the police and report the crime, for he had a plane to catch. He became yet another victim.
Gavin Randall is hoping you might be able to help him find a friend he believes is living in Thailand. He is looking for Jonathan Marshall who is about 22 years old and originally from the Leeds area of the UK. He has been out here for about 3 – 4 months now and is married to a local lady and has a young daughter. The picture here is a few years old now but may help. Gavin can be contacted at : email@example.com.
Thailand has been a popular destination for the Taiwanese for a long time, but it seems Thailand is no longer on the menu for the Taiwanese. Demand is so low that it is cheaper now for the Taiwanese to fly to Bangkok than take an internal flight inside their 300-km long island. A news report in Taiwan this week said that tourists from Taiwan had had such bad experiences in Thailand over the past 18 months that it is nearly impossible to give away tickets from Taiwan to Bangkok! One can get such a ticket today return for less than 4,000 NTD which is roughly 4,000 baht and included in that are 3 nights accommodation! It really is getting ridiculous and there needs to be an inquiry into what is going wrong with the tourism industry in Thailand. Or maybe an inquiry is not needed? Scamming, aggressive sales pitches, a failure to look after tourists and assist them when they have problems, rudeness and of course for many Asian visitors, a fear of catching something are the main reasons. The Taiwanese might venture to different places and do different things than your typical Stickman reader, but they are (were?) an important sector of the tourism market. Taiwanese tourists are always big spenders on vacation. Another nation decides not to visit and there are going to be lots more empty hotel rooms in Thailand.
Stickman reader's story of the week is a hard-hitting look at the local culture by Bangkok Barry.
The ladyboy crime wave that's been a Sukhumvit Road fixture for years has hit Phuket.
6 foreigners, including 4 Brits, were arrested for their part in a dodgy investment scheme in a well-to-do Bangkok suburb. Why is it always Brits involved in these schemes?
What was once known as Hell Club in Pattaya is raided by police, again.
Confessions of a Bangkok farang body snatcher sounds like it will be a good read.
From The New York Times comes an article on Thailand's airport woes.
The New York Times profile a farang successful in business in Thailand.
The Thai film festival bribery case is news in entertainment central, LA.
The Economist ran a piece this week on political power 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: A few weeks ago I was on holiday in Chiang Mai and was visiting my friend who runs a nice bar and restaurant in that city. One of the waitresses let it be known that her birthday was to be in a few days. I have known this waitress for several years and although I certainly would call her an acquaintance, she is hardly a close friend. I suppose that I might see her at work possibly for 2 weeks in a year. I went out and bought her a birthday card and put inside 120 baht with a message to 'have a nice birthday and have a drink on me'. A few days later I mentioned to my friend (the bar owner) that I was surprised that I had not even received a 'thank you'. He said to me that it would have been better for me to do nothing rather than give that amount. He said that farangs would be expected to put 1,000 baht in an envelope at birthdays. Can this really be true? Would she really rather receive nothing in future because I will not be putting 1,000 baht into an envelope? Do Thais really expect people that they hardly know to dish out 1,000 baht notes? I clearly do not understand the culture or is it a case of bad manners on the part of the waitress. Your thoughts please.
Mrs. Stick says: We often give money as a gift at a wedding. When we give money at an event like a wedding ceremony a register is kept of how much money each person gave. If someone gives a very small amount of money and we think they could have given more it is looked at badly. I think your friend was insulted because you gave her a very small amount. She did not think of it as money for a drink, but just the money. I think you are better to organise someone to buy her a drink and just give her a card rather than give her a small amount like that.
Question 2: I want to buy my Thai lady a gold necklace but the price is at record levels. 20,000 baht doesn’t provide much. Is it acceptable to purchase a necklace of 14 carat gold? Or gold plate? Or should I get something with 23 carat that will be much smaller?
Mrs. Stick says: You should buy gold from any gold shop in Thailand and then you will get the right quality and style of gold. If you buy in your country then I do not know about the quality and style. Thai women expect Thai style gold and if you buy in your country I think your girlfriend might be disappointed.
It has been hard to be positive lately with all the crap going on in Thailand, much of it in the tourism industry meaning a direct effect on Westerners in Thailand. At any point in time I am working on a number of possible opening pieces for the column. If nothing interesting or newsworthy happens during the week then rather than write something fresh, I will choose one of the pieces I am working on and get it ready for publication. The problem I have is that most of the pieces I am working on are quite negative – but I don't want to be negative if at all possible. It isn't easy though, because most of the news coming out of Thailand these days is negative and if you scan the radio, TV or newspapers, there is much negativity and bad news. I really didn't want to put out something negative today so instead profiled a new bar which makes for a positive piece. I am trying to be positive in this column, I really am, but with so much bad stuff going on around us these days it's not easy. I'll do my best to put a positive slant on things although that does ask the question of whether I am being accurate in my reporting of what is going on out there…
Your Bangkok commentator,