Stick Is Making A Slow Recovery
I am slowly recovering from illness but remain far from 100%. With this in mind, this week's column is light. I had a go at a light opening piece as I just don't have the concentration span or energy to put together anything heavier. This week's offering might be a bit sloppy and / or contain typos simply because I am nowhere near on top of my game. I thank you in advance for your understanding.
The Importance Of The Mainstream Western Media
Since before my very first trip to Thailand, I was warned by a friend who had previously visited of the various and prevalent scams. He carefully explained to me how the scams happened, where they took place and what to be aware of. A lot of what he told
me was also printed in the Lonely Planet so I was well prepared on that first trip and managed to avoid being a victim.
After moving to Thailand and becoming more aware of how society worked and more skilled in the language, I learned of more and more scams. What I found so sad was that many of these scams had been going on not for years, but for decades, and that the perpetrators were the very same people, running these scams against innocent foreigners, day after day after day.
Just why these scams were allowed to flourish to is conjecture. Were authorities being paid off? Was it that the authorities did not like to rule in the case of a foreigner when in a dispute with a local? Or was it, as I so often feel, that the authorities simply felt that the foreigner was only here for a short time and as soon as they were gone, so too was the problem, which was invariably swept under the carpet.
I thought the development of the internet and sites like this one and others which are set up for the sole purpose of highlighting scams would help to break the cycle. I thought the internet would put an end to it. It didn't.
As powerful as the internet is, and as powerful as some individual sites are, the reality is that no Western-run Thailand-centric sites can compete with the mainstream Western media. Sites like this which have a massive targeted audience can highlight questionable goings on and keep the readership aware of what is happening and what to be aware of. But despite such a large following, this site – and all others like it – is not taken seriously by anyone in power in Thailand. The most profound things could be published and no-one in power would so much as blink. But if such profound words were to make it into the hallowed pages of The Times, or be splashed across the BBC the alarm bells would start ringing.
And that is just what has been happening these past few months. After decades of ripping off tourists, some Thai tourism operators' dodgy dealings are, at long last, being highlighted in the Western press. And this had not gone unnoticed in Thailand.
It started with the Aussie Bar incident in Phuket where an Aussie Sheila was arrested under suspicion of stealing a bar mat in an incident where it was alleged there was unnecessary heavy handed police treatment. This was a difficult situation as it really was not clear what happened – but there's no doubt the way it was handled painted Thailand in a bad light.
The incident became headline news in Thailand and Australia and appeared in newspapers across the globe which elevated the incident beyond Phuket and all the way to Bangkok. In the end it became so high profile that the Governor of Phuket got involved and personally paid the fine of the Aussie bird.
Next was the King Power Duty Free shoplifting debacle, an affair which was handled incredibly badly by all parties and which again showed the plight suffered by foreigners who fall intro trouble in Thailand. I think it is fair to say that the evidence presented was inconclusive but the extortion tactics used by those with connections to the local authorities must have put thousands off ever visiting Thailand.
Since then there have been a multitude of issues involving foreigners in Thailand, with quite frankly, stories coming in faster than I can keep up with them (some are linked to in the news links section further down). There was case of the poor Scottish woman who died as a result of injuries sustained in a mugging on Sukhumvit soi 22. There was the case this week of British marine in Phuket who was extorted from when he returned a rented jet ski with the operator saying it was returned in a damaged state (it wasn't) which is a long-running scam. And then there was Singaporean group which was charged 10 times what they'd been told the would be charged in an upstairs Patpong bar. They were threatened with a beating if they did not pay in what was perhaps the longest running scam of all.
We have also had word from the authorities that the full moon party on Ko Phangnan will be no longer as it is rife with illegal drugs.
Thailand's tourism industry is dirty. You cannot walk through the airport without being hassled for an illegal taxi. You cannot walk down the main street of Bangkok or Phuket or Pattaya without being offered sex or porno movies or drugs or all of the above. The image many foreigners have of Thailand's tourism industry is based on these experiences, yet the authorities seem unwilling or unable to clean them up.
Issues have been swept under the carpet by the authorities and complaints handled in a dreadful manner. Tourists return to their country and tell their friends and slowly word makes it into the guidebooks as well as the internet. Still the scams did not
stop. In fact if anything, more and more people got involved as they see the potential to profit more in a single scam than they could in a month's honest work.
If you have problems in Thailand, it is clear what you need to do. Go straight to the biggest news source in your country, be it TV or newspaper. Get them to cover the issue and watch the Thais scramble. As much as it pains me to say it, you can bleed your heart out as much as you want online, and no-one in power in Thailand will take any notice. Get your story on the BBC or in The Times and you'll see action quick smart.
The local Bangkok English language newspapers seem not interested in covering the issue of ongoing scams perpetrated against tourists, even when they result in death. The reporting of such news events is sporadic at best and most incidents never make it to print. Once can only speculate that publishers have relationships that they must nurture and publishing such stories could cause damage to those relationships. Even then, local coverage of such events has limited effect.
The Thais hate to have their dirty laundry hung out outside the country. Suddenly it's completely out of their control and they are forced to do something about it. With this in mind, the mainstream media in the West is your best bet if you have any genuine, serious and unresolved problems in Thailand. Don't be shy to contact them. If more people succeed in having their negative experiences published in the Western press, hopefully one day some of the scams that should have been stamped out years ago but which instead have become as much a part of the Thai tourist experience as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun will finally come to an end.
Where was this photo taken?
The photo in the last column was taken inside Gulliver's in Sukhumvit soi 5. 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! 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…
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 – What does $350 get you?
I just want to share the bad experience I had at Galaxy in Walking Street. I have been visiting this club for 4 years. Just recently I visited and liked a girl too much. She said if I wanted to talk I need to take her to a private room for 1,000 baht. Then in the private room she just danced for 4 minutes and the 1,000 baht was gone! She said that's how it is! I said I wanted her to come to my room and she said $350 and for 2 hours I can do what I want! I agreed, and paid the money at the club counter. She came out after changing her dress. I confirmed again that she said the time starts after I enter your room. She then said she needs to have food, then we can go to the hotel. Ok, I took her to get food, reconfirmed the time and she said don't worry, the time starts when we enter your room. Then new story. She said she wanted to go to a disco! I refused but she said she must go! I said no money in my pocket as all my money was paid in your food and $350 at the bar! She said I need not worry as her friend would pay for drinks. We go to a disco but I keep pushing please come hotel. She just said please wait and let me finish my drink. After almost 2 hours we walk out. I said ok now you finish food, finish disco so now let's go. The answer was…your time is over! I said you said it starts when I enter your room! She said I lied and the rules changed and she must return to the bar after 2 hours! I complained at the bar that I paid $350 and the girl didn't go anywhere. They said they were not concerned! The girl was with me for 2 hours and where I go is between me and her. In short I was cheated in a well planned way. $350 for nothing!
"What we do today?"
After 10 weeks I'm returning to Australia and I'm looking forward to it. On ThaiLoveLinks I arranged to meet a lady in front of Robinsons at 2 PM Saturday. I am sitting there and a lady comes up and sits with me, says hello, "What we like to do?" Now I can not remember what the TLL lady looks like. So we hope in a cab off to the Grand Palace. Then she says I got your message SMS this morning…but I have no phone! Anyway, it works out she was to meet an American called John. We have a laugh, go back to Robinson's, John turns up but my lady did not.
Farang pays 100, Thai pays 40!
My wife has come down in our pick-up truck from Isaan this morning, her older brother driving. They were stopped near Korat for allegedly speeding when, of course, they were doing nothing of the sort. But here is the good bit. They managed to get away with a 40 baht 'fine'. I always reckoned the minimum ever, was 100!
Why Indians aren't welcome.
As for Indian customers getting the cold shoulder in bars, I was in one beer bar and a group of 6 Indians came in with their own bottle of whiskey. The owner told them it was OK if they paid 400 baht for mixers. They got up and left for another bar. The owner told me that the girls don't like to deal with them as one will pay a barfine and then the whole group expects to be serviced. If you read the various news sites you will regularly see where one girl or katoey will drug and rob a couple of men. Cheap Charlies? These guys for the most part are paupers.
When 1+1≠2, get out of there!
For me personally, just walking up to a lovely who is minding her own business and hitting her up is not my style. Too crass and a bit lowlife like in my opinion. Now, if a girl eyes me with a smile, that's different. Dress smart and look like you have a bit class and the girls will come to you. Reminds me of a story. There was this girl who used to come regularly by herself to Bully's. She was 37 and absolutely beautiful. No tats, very nicely dressed. A real stunner. I was drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Of course, the red flag: why is this girl hanging around lower Sukhumvit by herself, was waving. Freelancer instantly came to mind. So, one Saturday afternoon I approached her and we had a pitcher of beer and some games of pool together. She definitely was not a freelancer but in conversing with her, her mind was a bit off centre. I couldn't quite make her out. I ran from her like OJ runs from a murder scene.
Singing Jakarta's praises.
Although I'm certainly not an old Asian hand, I have been to Jakarta a few times and really liked the place. Not the Blok M area, I never understood the attraction. But some of the malls can be great places to meet local females. Also, the northern area of Kota, which is quite rough, can be very rewarding. The discos can also be fun, but there's a lot of drug use. It's hard to explain, but the place is kind of an acquired taste. There are some neighbourhoods, right on the canals, which late in the day and with the calls to prayer and the smell of kretek are extremely atmospheric. The women are much nicer than the Thais, although rather more shy.
"Hi, my name is Somchai!"
I always use my second name, Adrian, when introducing myself to somebody with no presumed knowledge of French (like most Americans) to make it easy. However the bargirls in Thailand will then just call me "Alien" which is not really any better. Next time I should probably use "Somchai" as a bar name…
The Tilac debate.
I must say, to add to the discussion re: the merits or otherwise of Tilac, I didn't see one girl I wanted to buy a drink for last time I was there. I bought #95 one because I'd wanted to for ages, but that was short-lived. She gets the benefit of the doubt from me though, because I did call her over when she came off stage when she was obviously on her way somewhere else, and that somewhere else happened to be another customer. But she was too polite to refuse me, stayed for a few minutes, and then resumed her proper position. What she should have done was tell me she already had a customer, but okay. Her teeth aren't that great, by the way. And #4 looked fierce with her hair pulled back.
I found the info in your last column re: TLL interesting and want to share my experiences. I have been using TLL almost since it started and for most of that time it worked fine. In the past year or so I have noticed more scams. In the past there were some that were obvious and some not so obvious – but they have increased 10 times. The last one was a photo of a pretty Thai lady with the usual bio info. I made contact, gave her my personal email and next thing I know I get a long email from "her" saying something to effect that her father is from Ghana, mother Thai etc. Also Nigeria on one. Needless to say I deleted that contact. Another thing that is noticeable is the big increase in bargirls. Some come right out and say they are but most don't. Many list home as Chonburi or even Pattaya. These spike around 3 to 4 AM Thai time! One can still find legitimate ladies but between the above and young girls simply playing immature games it is harder and harder to make contact with regular people. Some have even passed my email address off to goodness knows who so now I check before handing out my address. That, and the usual things like "older" ladies lying about their age or younger ladies saying they are older have resulted in letting my current membership expire rather than renew. It's a pity because it was a really good site for so long.
My spies tell me Cowboy has been showing a bit more life in the last week. Apparently – and I say apparently because I have not set foot there for a while – there seems to be more people about and a few more faces of the tourist type. The bars that are popular were packed to the rafters over the weekend, and even some of the smaller, less popular bars there was a good showing and that may have come from overflow from other bars. Even bars like Moonshine Joint had their hands full with customers.
In Nana Plaza, my spies tell me that the show bars did a roaring trade on Friday and Saturday nights. Angelwitch, Spankys and Hollywood Carousel were very busy. It made a significant difference that there was no heavy rain on Friday or Saturday evening.
With more 'showing' emerging in a few gogo bars in Nana Plaza, the show bars are attracting a good crowd at weekends.
At Tilac there was a bit of an unexpected show last night with 2 girls that would make Sheba's and Suzy Wong blush. That was all thanks to a bit too much Tequila and just being in the mood.
There's a new place to get late night snacks in Soi Cowboy. A takeaway area at the @Corner bar, directly opposite The Old Dutch, now serves homemade pure beef burgers as well as hot dogs and french fries. Both the burgers and dogs can come with fried onions and salad of your choice. Food will be available nightly from around 6ish until late and prices are reasonable.
At Pretty Lady on the ground floor in Nana Plaza, manageress Khun Tukata will host her birthday party on Friday, September 18th, offering free food, exciting shows and all beers go at 100 baht all night long. All are welcome!
Legends Bar on soi 33 (down the Wall Street Soi) is having a football derby day next Sunday, 20th September. First it's Man City vs. Man United which starts at 7:30pm, followed by Chelsea vs. Spurs at 10pm. There will be free food on for everyone, and a free drink for anyone who turns up wearing their favourite football shirt! I wonder what anyone wearing a sexy All Blacks shirt will get? A free waitress for the night?!
Staff in Coyote's in Pattaya are talking about the number 800,000 a lot. I could not possibly know what that is all about.
In a special month-long promotion, Patpong's fetish venue, Bar Bar, is serving Johnny Walker's exclusive "Green Label", as standard house pouring whiskey. This promotion runs September, all month long, from the 1st – 30th. So now you have another reason to swing by and enjoy an evening of spicy decadence.
It has to be said that one of the reasons why Cowboy prospers is because it is geared for locals and not tourists. Patpong gets some tourist trade because of name recognition. When you read an article in the mainstream press about tourism in Thailand written by an outsider or a section in a guide book, invariably it is Patpong that is mentioned, much less likely to be Nana or Cowboy.
I can remember from that very first visit to Thailand that one of the things that struck me about the country was the lack of graffiti. I remember thinking that while Thailand seemed poor, it was not like the poor areas in my country where graffiti was out of control. Sadly, things have changed and graffiti has become a real issue in Thailand and is totally out of control in some areas. A lot of the graffiti even features profanity in English. Sigh.
Arguably Bangkok's best second hand books shop, Dasa Books, has completed the move to their new building and are open for business again. The new location is only a few buildings away from the old shop, on the same block of Sukhumvit between Soi 26 and Soi 28. Walking east, past Soi 26, the new shop is between Peterson Piano Gallery and Sabai Thai Massage.
I went to the loo in a gogo bar this week and as I entered there was a fellow carefully checking in the mirror that every hair was in place. I was in the cubicle quite some time and when I came out he was still at the mirror, still doing his hair. Totally unnecessary in this environment. You need to check your wallet, not your hair.
Visa run firms are offering to take your passport for a holiday again. Don't do it! It's illegal! They're advertising in Pattaya in shop windows of some of these outfits that offer visa services that you can stay at home and they will do the visa run for you, all for 1,000 baht over and above all the usual fees. For those of you who may be relatively new to Thailand, these was a massive scandal about 4 years ago that saw hundreds, possibly even thousands, of people who had used these visa services caught. The Immigration Department was able to determine which stamps in the passport had been gained illegally and those with such visas in their passports faced legal action. I think most people with illegal stamps were prosecuted and then deported but ultimately allowed to return to Thailand but it could be worse. For that sort of crime, one could very possibly be black-listed and barred from ever returning to Thailand. IT IS ILLEGAL TO GIVE YOUR PASSPORT TO ANOTHER PERSON FOR THEM TO TAKE OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY ON YOUR BEHALF. DO NOT DO IT! You have been warned!
I was therefore very disappointed to hear that the biggest name in visa runs in Bangkok, that firm with a name which suggests it's more about a certain sport dominated by a black man than getting new visas, is also in on the sending your passport on holiday game. This firm is offering a deal where for 38,000 baht your visa for a year is taken care of – and I believe that is everything and does not require you to leave the country at any time during the year. The same warning as above applies. This is all very naughty. Don't do it.
In regards to the 150 ATM fee, amazingly the pink, Government Savings bank's ATMs do not charge the fee for transactions on a foreign account. That said, there are not many of them around. There is a Government Savings Bank ATM across from Emporium, and at the top of the escalator at Asoke BTS going to MTR as well as in the back sois of Siam Square. Ever the cynic, if there was one bank that would have charged the fees from the outset I thought it would have been this bank! Further, the HSBC ATM on Rama IV Road does not charge a fee for using a non-HSBC foreign card. As far as I know there is only one HSBC, on Rama IV Road, so if you aren't near Rama IV, you're either out of luck or in for a journey.
A friend employed in Thailand re-entered the country this week at Suwannaphum. He has a work permit and a multiple entry re-entry permit. He's not had any problems in the past but this week was detained in a room at the airport for an hour and told his visa was fake and that things were not in order. Despite holding a very senior position in a massive company, having much experience in Thailand and being a very respectable and well-presented type, he was told he was not allowed to use his mobile to call his company! Eventually, he got fed up and made the call to one of his company's counsel who very quickly sorted it out and he was allowed to proceed. Unbelievable.
I often eat at Sunrise Tacos. Every week they introduce new and interesting salsas at the Sukhumvit Soi 12 location. This week it's roasted tomato salsa, fresh tomatillo salsa, Jalapeno salsa along with the line-up of Pico Gallo (Fresh tomato salsa), Sunrise (roasted bell peppers and onions), Johns Hot, Johns Super Hot, Mucho Mango and Lalo's salsa. All of the salsas are free at the salsa bar when eating at the Soi 12 branch. When you are at Sunrise Tacos, you must try their tortilla chips with these salsas. The secret to why the tortilla chips taste so good and have an intense corn taste is because they make it homemade from ears of corn. They in fact have 10 rai of food safe Pioneer dent corn being grown by a local farmer exclusively for Sunrise Tacos. Many steps are involved such as soaking the corn in a safe grade lime, grinding the corn afterwards, then pressing it flat, cooking the tortilla, cutting it into wedges to make chips, drying the chips and then frying the tortilla chips in rice bran oil that has NO cholesterol and NO trans fatty acids. No wonder Sunrise Tacos is making tortilla chips 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand. I'm not normally big on corn chips but Sunrise's are so much better than what you get elsewhere.
If you've spent much time in Bangkok you've probably had reason to visit the Immigration Department at some point. The location in Soi Suanplu, just off Sathorn Road, was fairly handy, it being in downtown Bangkok and not that far from the underground. The Immigration staff did their best in what really was just too small for the numbers of visitors. For some time now we have known that Immigration was going to move out to Jang Wattana but now it is official. From October 1st, the convenience of Immigration being located downtown will be no longer and unless you happen to live in the north / northwest of the city, it is going to be a bit of a journey out to the new Immigration bureau.
In the last column I ran an email about a fellow who had been ripped off by a woman he met on ThaiLoveLinks. He took her back to his palace and before leaving in a scene that would have made a local actress proud, she lifted some of his possessions. I ran the email and included masked details of the lady. Sometimes this site works really well and this was one such occasion when another reader came back with information about her so we're now in a position where we can set up a sting and catch the bitch!
A recently divorced Brit has a house for sale in Pattaya. It looks like a fabulous property but at 25 million baht, I wonder how big the market for such a property is?! And can a foreigner buy it?!
Quote of the week is as they said in the movie Goodfellas, "Don't trust anyone with a nickname" – even in a country filled with 65 million people with a nickname.
Don't ever hire a jetski in Thailand!
A 33 year-old Brit checks out in Chiang Mai.
The title of this amusing video, "Badly Dressed Sex Tourists in Soi Cowboy" says it all.
Stickman reader's story of the week comes from the ever popular Phet who updates us on the trials and tribulations that are his life with Thai women in " The Brokenman Back Under Repair".
Singaporeans are being intimidated into paying more in Patpong.
The New York Times ran a piece this week on the problems in Thailand's south.
Remember in the last column I mentioned that a Western woman was the victim of a motorbike Bangkok snatch and grab on Sukhumvit soi 22? Well, I am sorry to say that this looks like it is going to end in the worst possible way and it is expected that the poor woman will die from her injuries, as reported in a UK newspaper. Devastating. Drummond covered it too.
Thailand free trips for the internet savvy.
More Aussies die in Thailand than in anywhere else in the world. 105 bit the dust last year.
It looks like this drug-dealing Brit is off to the big house.
More bad news for the farang volunteer police with an ex member of the Pattaya Foreign Police Volunteers arrested for drug dealing!
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: I have met a few Thai girls online, initially chatting only as friends. These girls are educated, professional women who speak good English. One is even a business owner with international operations. When I am in Thailand I enjoy going to Nana and Cowboy and Pattaya. I don't partake in the naughty business but I enjoy socialising and watching all the fun times at the gogos and beer bars. Kinda like Mr. Stick I think; look but don't touch. I am coming to Thailand again for a week and a couple of the girls want to meet for a drink. So my questions are: What would educated, professional Thai women think of me going to these places? Would they believe me that I look but don't touch? Should I tell them the truth about where I have been? If I tell them will they be disgusted with me and think of me as another sex-monger?
Mrs. Stick says: No one likes a man who goes to these places. Stickman kept it secret from me for a long time, I think about 6 months and then he told me and took me at the same time. I don't like it. My first impression was why were so many nice and well-dressed men in there. They were guys who can meet ladies so why do they go there? What I remember most were guys wearing nice suits and it confused me so much.
Question 2: I'll be heading to Thailand for a month at the end of the year. I've visited Thailand a few times now and I have a love of the place and yes the women but I'm not into the girly bar scene. I've dated a few Thai women from restaurants and through friends. I love their spirit and I can see myself forming a long-term relationship with a Thai lady. When I come to Thailand I'd like to take some middle class girls out on dates and see if anything 'clicks'. In light of the article in the Bangkok Post about Asian women complaining about farangs approaching them in the street, how do you think Thai women would react to an early 30's attractive male starting a conversation with them? and where do middle class Thai girls go to meet farangs?
Mrs. Stick says: We are all different. If we speak English and we have an open mind, maybe we can accept a farang approaching us. If you approach us and say hello in a public place everyone will watch us. If we are too friendly, maybe they think we are a bargirl or a bad woman. It's not good for us. Can you understand that middle class women do not "hunt" for farang. You cannot go to a place that has many middle class women hunting for you. I think maybe you can try Khao San Road. It's the only place I think of where some ladies might go who are not prostitutes and be happy to be approached by farang.
Question 3: I have had a 10-year friendship with an educated, high earning, responsible "good girl," age 33, that has stretched across four continents. Although at one time or another we each have broached the topic of marriage the actual relationship has never gone beyond trust, loyalty, respect and a sympathetic ear. In other words, look but don't touch. We have decided this is as far as the relationship will go, but we do not want to end it. Now her female friends have introduced me to another "good girl," age 30. She is also educated, responsible, earns a good living and is close to her family. We have been seeing each other for a few months and are in daily contact. I think she's fantastic and she wants me to move to Thailand. We have each hinted at long-term possibilities after we get to know each other better. My problem is that she, too, doesn't believe in pre-marital hand holding. It's not that a girl jumping into bed with you proves her love, but it seems inhuman to deny a loved one all forms of physical closeness. How can you forecast a loving, compatible marriage from someone who exhibits no strong emotions for her future partner? What am I missing here, how do I deal with it and what is to be expected when marrying a "good girl"?
Mrs. Stick says: I know for farang this can be a problem. Please understand for some women this is normal. I don't know what to say. If she wants to wait until marriage then you must wait until marriage. If she accepts you and then you leave her she will be devastated. A Thai man admires this. Can you understand that she only wants one man in her whole life? Actually, I think if you choose a lady like this you will have a good chance for a long happy marriage.
This week's column is admittedly light. I had the worst case of the flu I've ever had and it has lingered for well beyond a week. Not the swine flu, mind you, but still bad. I just didn't have the energy to get out and about. I'm still feeling a bit rough but hopefully it will pass and next week's column will be a bit more interesting. I thank you for your patience and also to all of the readers who sent well wishes which were very kindly received.
Your Bangkok commentator,