Stickman's Weekly Column January 3rd, 2010

When The Bar Scene and Regular Life Intersect



He told me she had sat at the head of the table, right next to the company Chairman. He told me that she had charmed the Chairman along with the other senior executives, all of whom where presumably well-to-do Thais. He told me that wherever she went, Thai women commented on how beautiful she was. Society women, beauticians, Emporium and Paragon sales girls. He told me that his ex-bargirl wife whose skin was like sandpaper, hair like straw and who insisted on wearing slutwear a year after she had left the bar had assimilated well into Bangkok society. I looked him in the eye and told him that it was all bullshit and reminded him that not long after that function his contract was terminated. He hasn't spoken to me since.

It's the question you never ask in Bangkok. Where did you meet your wife? No other question is anywhere near as cringe worthy. The problem is that not only is it a perfectly fair and legitimate question, it is one that a married man will inevitably be asked.

In Thailand, a man's choice of wife says much about him. You have to choose very carefully.

Thailand is no egalitarian society. It doesn't even make the vaguest attempt to lean that way. And in Thailand your image and reputation count for everything. Every effort is made to make yourself look as good as possible. It's not what you do or have done, it's what others think of you and how they perceive you. To this end you never let on that you know what the Eden Club is famous for, that Midnite is a not just a time of day and you most certainly don't admit that you wait patiently online every Sunday for 6 PM to roll around.

If you wish to mix in certain circles in Thai society, your image has to be squeaky clean. It's not that you can't have fun. Au contraire, you can. But there's a time to mention it, and plenty of time not to.

The bar scene is easy to fall into and many newbie residents get sucked in. I was. You meet guys who have lived in Thailand for years who spend night after night there. They hold down decent jobs. If it's ok for them, it must be ok for you. You fall into the pattern. Being from the West you're programmed to believe that everyone is equal. What harm can come from admitting where you hang out and where your girlfriend used to work? She's human, after all, a real person. What does it matter?

Most Thais don't see it that way.

The bar scene becomes such a big part of some people's lives that in time it becomes clear that they don't know much about anything else. Their life evolves around the bar scene. That's all they know, all they care about and all they talk about. Sexpats. There's nothing wrong with that, but they haven't learnt the art – and the importance – of compartmentalising the various aspects of their life.

It can get out of hand. Newbie sexpats popping into Subway on soi 7/1 asking where the Eden Club is, saying they want a sandwich and making crude hand gestures at the staff to get their point across just isn't funny. Some just don't know when to turn it off.

I have been chastised by the Mrs. for spending time with friends who bring their bargirlfriends along when we meet up. She doesn't mind me in the bars – and understands the need for research for the column – but she doesn't want anything to do with them. She refuses to attend events if certain people will be there. Her argument is that the conversation will inevitably drift around to the bars and she just isn't interested in that part of Bangkok life.

Spend enough time in the bar industry and you can form a really distorted view of Thai society. It's not ok to touch a Thai woman in public, not cool to use phrases only heard in the bar industry in common society and telling those you hardly know all about your night-time adventures is just crass.

Those seriously addicted to the bar scene who meet a non-bargirl have been known to take her into the naughty bars for a date! I kid you not. Sure, the odd girl might be intrigued by the industry and wonders what all the fuss is about, but that's a very small minority.

Some guys see the bigger picture. They know that their girlfriend / wife may never really fit in. So they manage it. They go out without her. They attend parties or events or work functions alone, oftentimes when a wife would be expected to accompany them. Essentially he and she lead almost separate lives. Dragging her down to The Londoner for a few pints and bite with the boys won't hurt, but dinner parties, formal functions or workplace events, where at some point the spotlight may go on her, are off the menu. Too risky and too embarrassing. For everyone.

So she stays home. She is domiciled to rear and raise the kids and keep the house. He's careful where they go together. She doesn't see his friends often and may never meet his colleagues. You could say he has her in hiding.

She understands how Thai society works. She knows the potential damage that could be done. Her place is in the home.

Working girls understand. Most make sure your reputation is not harmed by association with them. Treat them well and all will be ok. They could really drop you in it, if they chose to. If you spurned them.

I remember walking through Mahboonkrong with my first Thai girlfriend. We passed a lady of the night who I had known. She saw me and ignored me. Lucky me. By ignoring me, my reputation wasn't compromised. She knew the lady I was with would think ill of me simply for knowing her.

There's a very good reason many are quick to point out that their latest squeeze is a regular girl i.e. was never a bargirl, particularly if she hails from the northeast. Sadly that's a cross Isaan girls have to live with.

Much is made of the difficulty of making a long-term relationship with a former bargirl work, the blame often put on her perceived failings as a person and her questionable morality. That's being harsh.

My long-time observations of sweeties who were once experts on the merits of the Nana Hotel or Asoke Place lead me to believe that despite their best efforts, many struggle to overcome the impact the bar has had on them. Just like a tramp stamp which is lasered off, remnants remain. Temporarily concealed is about the best you can hope for.

In this increasingly puritanical world where a squeaky clean image and unblemished reputation is becoming more and more important, the mere association with an environment where whoring is not just practiced, but celebrated, is tantamount to the vilification of one's character. Presenting a lady who once worked at your workplace or in society circles is playing a high risk game. Your confidence and honesty will be applauded, your wisdom questioned. Colleagues will wonder about the decision you made with your wife and how that will correspond to decisions you make in business and in the workplace.

I'm not saying you shouldn't get involved with bargirls and am certainly not saying they are bad people. You should lead your life as you please. Many bargirls are the sweetest girls you could meet, girls who just happened to be born on the wrong side of the tracks. It's difficult just making things work with her, but throw everything else into the mix and it becomes a minefield.

It's not pretty when the bar industry and regular life intersect.

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken outside Angelwitch in Nana Plaza. A few readers thought it was taken outside Cathouse which was 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 correctly guess the photo wins a signed copy of Stephen Leather's superb Private Dancer, which many refer to as "the bible". It's widely regarded as the best novel set in Thailand's bar scene!

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. To claim the book prize you must provide a postal address within Thailand now. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!

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 – Why you shouldn't stop at traffic accidents.

I read with interest your piece about the mate of yours who was run into by two boys not even old enough to legally drive. The actions of the police did not surprise me. I was driving on a road in Phuket, making a left turn with my directional signals blinking. Halfway into the turn, a 15-year old boy on a Honda 100 with a girl on board tried to pass me on the left. They clipped my front bumper and went down. I called my insurance lady, a smart Thai lady. She arrived within 5 minutes and said "We no call police." She called for an ambulance to take the boy and girl to the local hospital. They were just fine. My insurance lady said if we called the police, I would be cited. I said I was completely in the right. She said I would have been cited for three reasons: (1) You are farang and he is Thai. (2) You have a car and he has a motorbike. (3) If you hadn't been making the turn, the accident would not have happened! My insurance paid for the damage to the boy's motorbike, the damage to my car and for the medical visit to check out the boy & girl. When I told this story to my associates at school, my principal said that he had a story even more incredible. He came upon the scene of two motorbikes in an accident. He took the hurt people to the hospital. The investigating police decided that the accident was the fault of my principal and he had to pay the medical bills and for the damage to the motorbikes! He no longer stops for accidents.

Thugs employed in the transport business in Phuket and Pattaya.

I just read about a family in Phuket, that included the elderly and children, who were attacked by a tuktuk driver wielding a beach umbrella pole. One person received a broken arm and an elderly man was also hurt. This prompted me to write you about an experience I had in Pattaya, not long ago. It was rather late and I hailed a mini-bus for a ride to Mike's Mall. Everything seemed alright when we turned down an isolated soi and the mini-bus stopped. I got out to asked the driver why we were stopped since this was not where I wanted to go. He said "Mike's Mall, 200 baht!" I told him, "No way." He then got out of the mini-bus, pulled the seat back and withdrew a 4-foot long iron club that looked like the handle of a jack. He picked the wrong guy to threaten. I've had many years of martial arts training and that club was not going to work on me, and by then I was really pissed off! When he realised that I wasn't going to back down, he got in his truck and drove away. I wonder how often this stunt gets pulled on tourists in Pattaya?

Ko Samui hell.

On Ko Samui in March of this year, I walked down the beach road, past Soi Green Mango. Standing on the main road were three of the ugliest ladyboys I have ever seen and that includes an Afro-American ladyboy that accosted me once in Tijuana. They were frisking the people standing in line to get into the Green Mango. There were very few girls sitting in the beer bars. All together a place to avoid in my opinion.

The pursuit of angels in Angeles.

I refer to the email of the week in your latest column about Angeles City which is full of utter nonsense and probably written by someone involved in the local industry. You should know that many bars in Angeles lack customers and some seem to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The so called all-inclusive barfine seems to be cheaper but the barfines varies a lot, from 1,200 – 3,000 pesos. At the bigger clubs, all the really sexy girls are on a 3,000 pesos sticker and the others expect a tip in the morning of at least 200 – 300 pesos. A lot of Koreans and Japanese and some stupid farangs pay much more and have spoilt too many girls. Many of them just expect short time and more girls are now willing to go only short-time. I have no problems getting nice and sexy girls in Pattaya for 1,000 baht for a nice long-time, most of the time even without any kind of barfine. Many girls in Angeles have a Jollibee belly – Jollibee is the local version of McDonald's. And quite a few are underage, using fake birth certificates or those from older relatives to get the 'licence' from corrupt officials! Some bars look like a kindergarten. And what about all those so called cherry girls (=virgins) – some might be, but many are not. And my personal experience is that the performance of the girls in Pattaya is, on average, much better than in Angeles! And as the girls in Thailand are not paid in advance I had no problems at all with runners in Pattaya but I did in Angeles! All the guys I talked to had this problem too, on a regular basis! Hotels are definitely more expensive in Angeles, around 30 – 40% more. And the food is cheaper and better in Thailand! There is no beach, the place is much smaller so, beside the bar hopping there's nothing else to do. The place is much dirtier than Pattaya. Oh, I almost forgot, a few days ago a tourist was beaten up so badly by security guys at the Dollhouse that he is still in a coma! Angeles as a visa trip is fine – but not more than that!

Technology defeats the Thai DJ.

I have the perfect solution for any bar owner / manager who has difficulty controlling their DJ’s music selection. There are now many DJ software programs that allow a DJ to play straight off a computer and I would suggest removing all CD players from the venue and only allowing a computer to play straight through to the sound system with no option for a DJ to plug in any other type of mp3 player or CD player. The computer can only play what is on the hard drive so you load the computer up with the music you want and then you remove all connections from the computer that allows the DJ to upload his own music on the computer. If you want to go one further, you can use software that only plays its own format of music and will not play mp3 or WAV files which means even if the DJ somehow managed to upload his own music on the hard drive, he still couldn’t play it! Technology can always beat the disobedient Thai gogo bar DJ.

No fan of farang women.

I enjoy going to Thailand with the pleasure of NOT seeing farang females at nightspots. Sure, their money is as good as mine and on rare occasions one encounters a Caucasian woman with a nice disposition but I do believe most of them regard the Thai night spots as zoos. I can live and let live but the second I see one of them haul their thunder thighs up on the bar in a sad and drunken effort to copy the Thai entertainers I invariably settle my checkbin and I'm outta there! Like the unwitting visitor who ventures behind the bar to fix themselves a beer, surely this is in breach of local labour laws methinks.

The new owner of Lolita's in Pattaya has spent a pretty penny on the premises of what is primarily known as a venue of oral relief but is now being promoted as a bar in its own right, a venue where passers by are welcome to have a drink, relax and maybe shoot some pool. If you find yourself in Soi LK Metro (the L-shaped soi connecting Soi Diana and Soi Buakhao), then swing by Lolita's for a mosey. And if you're in the mood early, there're birds on the premises from 10 AM.

One Pattaya gogo bar which shall remain nameless – a small bar – was asking 4,000 baht for the barfine on New Year's Eve. That's got to be a record.

Business in Nana Plaza picked up this week and I put it down entirely to what was reported here last week – the return of birthday suits to the plaza. With that said, Bangkok isn't really that busy. Cowboy is a little busier, but not *that* busy. It's high season in name only in the capital.

It's a little different down the road with word out of Pattaya that Walking Street is a human traffic jam for hours each night and many bars are bursting at the seams. At long last the high season has arrived in Sin City. Christmas started out fairly slow but then someone hit the turbo and things really turned around on Boxing Day. Many gogos were standing room only. On the 29th Shark and Tiger had close to 100 barfines. Many girls did 2 and and even 3 offs that night.

In Living Dolls Showcase it was so busy that they had to turn away customers some nights!

The mob scenes in Pattaya continued with many bars charging 2,000 baht barfines – and getting it!

But it wasn't a time to be merry for all the bar owners. The street level bars on Soi Diamond did ok but didn't break any records. And word on the street is that the Diamond Hotel, which is the landlord for those bars on Soi Diamond, intends to raise rents. Should be interesting to see what happens.

We're seeing more casualties of a particularly bad low season. On the Secrets board is a blind ad that many think is Sakura on soi 15 off Walking Street which was bought less than 6 months ago. Adding to their problems is that their manager, who was a former manager at Shark, bailed out right before Christmas.

On another board, there was another blind ad running that many feel might be a gogo on Soi Diamond that was once associated with a very popular disco named after people who have a hard time sleeping. Rumour has it that the boss / manager is showing up less and less and does not seem as into the place as when he bought it last year.

Further south along Walking Street, X Zone is on the block. It will be interesting to see what happens between now and Songkran. The bars will do fine in January and probably ok in February. Beyond that, who knows?!

After a brief closure, Joe's in Cowboy is open again. Not sure what the brief closure was all about – never been a fan of that bar so didn't make even the slightest effort to find out why – but would be interested to know what the reason was nonetheless if any readers are aware.

Pattaya's promised new uber bar, Pleasure Dome, is facing delay after delay. It was supposed to open a month ago but is now scheduled to open mid February but with all the delays we've seen so far I don't think anyone is counting on it. There are numerous similarities between Pleasure Dome and Cascade in Nana Plaza which several years back promised to be a new breakthrough in gogo bars with an exotic design and a laser machine which the Crown Group spent $100,000 on. Pleasure Dome promises ground-breaking design and hundreds of girls as well as the piece de resistance, a water slide snaking its way around the bar. Cascade ended up with no laser machine (it fell off the container at the airport having been brought in from Taiwan where it has been manufactured and was FBR) and when the bar eventually got going the focus shifted and it became a cave full of katoeys! Let's hope that Pleasure Dome doesn't go the same way. The hype has been so great that they've created a burden for themselves with a lot to live up to.

Angelwitch has not stopped playing rock music as I wrote last week. The word from the head honcho to the DJs was simply to play more pop. Rock remains on the menu.

The dire situation at what was once the jewel in the crown of Bangkok's naughty boy nightlife areas continues. The bars located around the middle of Patpong Soi 1, which always used to have the prettiest girls in the industry, are down to just a handful of dancing girls – and for many of the lasses, "porker" is the only word I can think of that accurately describes them. Patpong soi 1 has reached the point where, quite frankly, it is to be avoided. Don't even bother visiting for old time's sake. All it will do is taint, perhaps even ruin, what were once good memories. Do make sure you differentiate between Patpong sois 1 and 2. Patpong soi 2 with Club Electric Blue, Cosmos and The Strip, amongst others, is very much worth visiting.

But hey, if you want free wi-fi internet access, Patpong is the place. Crown Royal in Patpong 2 now has free wi-fi. Madrid in Patpong 1 has free wi-fi too. In each of these bars you need to ask staff for the password. I believe that Club Electric Blue in Patpong 2 has free wi-fi but…the staff cannot remember the password!

With many bars charging extortionately high rates for barfines in the period between Christmas Eve and New Year's day, many girls were resigned to the fact that they were not going to get barfined unless she came across a desperate or minted up punter. Pushing for lady drinks was the name of the game. Regular barfines are back, thank goodness.

The odd numbered soi side of Sukhumvit between the Nana and Asoke BTS stations remains a pickpocket haven and you should take care, especially after dark. Pickpockets prey in that area because they are successful. If you are travelling between Nana to Cowboy, it might be best to take a taxi. The fare is a measly 40 baht or so and you avoid the pickpockets altogether. Taxis are especially recommended if you've had a few to drink.

AfterDark magazine volume 13 went on sale this week. Up until this latest issue, the girls featured in AfterDark – which really is the ultimate bargirl catalogue – have been mainly Pattaya girls. Volume 13 is devoted to the girls of Nana Plaza. Nana Book Shop, Big Mango and RJ Pharmacy on Sukhumvit between sois 2 and 4 are just a few of the places where you can find it for sale in the capital. The latest issue even has articles written by two old Asia hands, Khun Leather and Khun Barrett.

Dollhouse and Cowboy 2, both of which seemed to allow smoking until recently, seem to have fallen in line with the laws of the land. Nana Plaza has been smokefree for a while although in a couple of the show bars friends of the owners are allowed to smoke, as is anyone running up a large bill in which case the dek serves are instructed to look the other way. In Soi Cowboy it is Dundee, Cactus and the upstairs part of Baccarra that remain smokers' bars. Cactus is a bar for locals – according to owner John, 95% of his customers are locals. Dundee and Cactus are two of the smaller bars that have not entered the neon war. Both could do with some baht spent on a spruce up. In Bangkok, venues where smoking is allowed are becoming relics of the past. Next month marks the second anniversary of the smoking ban. Of course down in Pattaya you can smoke in most places. Laws of the land are seldom enforced down that way.

Don't think some girls' economy with the truth causes problems and misunderstandings just for their customers. Some panic issues arose for a Cowboy 2 lass this week who was keeping a pal of mine warm when her mother called at 5 AM and announced she was down from Isaan to visit her favourite daughter and was waiting at MoChit bus station to be collected. That Rama 3 apartment that she had told her mother about does not exist and she sleeps over the bar every night. It must have been a very interesting day for her.

I heard a funny one this week, a variant on a common story. A Western bloke had been with this Thai girlfriend for 6 or 7 months, all was going well and she had moved in with him. They both seemed to be happy together. One day the girl says that her Dad has lost his house and has nowhere to live and would it be ok if he stays with them for a few weeks until he gets a new place sorted. The boyfriend agrees. He meets Papa who is about the same age as he is, 50 ish, but there's no conversation as the boyfriend speaks no Thai and Papa speaks no English. A few weeks go by and Papa is still there. One day the Westerner comes home from work early, goes upstairs and you guessed it, Papa is giving his daughter a good seeing to! He freaks out and shouts, "God damn, you're bonking your dad!" Of course it wasn't her Dad but it just shows the lies some tell.

Bangkok Beat is giving away a brand new car! Yep, my favourite bar, located in Sukhumvit soi 7/1, is giving away a brand spanking new Honda Jazz. For every 1,000 baht spent you get one ticket in the draw and for every bottle of top shelf purchased you get two tickets in the draw. The draw will be held at the end of the year, a while from now admittedly, but hey, that's a prize worth waiting for!

In last week's column I passed on a question from a reader who required a visa for Uganda and wondered what his options were for procuring a visa for a country which has no diplomatic representation in Thailand. The word is that to get a visa for a country which does not have an embassy or consulate in Thailand, you *must* exit the country yourself. Sending your passport outside the country while you remain here is not just frowned upon, it is illegal. And as one reader pointed out, who would trust the staff in the embassies of some countries to even return a passport of a Westerner sent by post from another country half a world away. For many countries, it is perfectly legal to hold two passports, issued by the same government. A second passport can generally be obtained for one of two reasons – for those who are frequent travelers who need to apply for visas while traveling and for anyone visiting certain countries in the Middle East which refuse visas if the passport shows any stamps from Israel. Finally, it has since merged that any Westerner travelling to Uganda does NOT need to apply for a visa in advance. 50 greenbacks gets you one on arrival and you can later apply for a work permit in country.

I'm impressed by the Thai police's hard line approach against the scourge of drink driving and hope that what is being reported in the mainstream press is what actually happens. A surprisingly large number of foreigners aren't shy to drive drunk in Thailand – and not just when drunk, but sometimes when totally wasted – and I would not be sad to see some locked up for a week – as is being reported will happen to anyone caught. Drink driving is a massive social problem in Thailand that the local coppers seem not to have paid much attention to and is a local habit which, sadly, many Westerners have adopted. Will there be any high profile casualties?

The booze booths on Sukhumvit are not my thing, mostly because I'm seldom out that late. On the odd occasions I have sat down, we have been joined by an opportunistic lady passing by who joined us for a drink. But things are changing and these days I see more and more booze booths have their own girls. I therefore wonder if there is a barfine payable for those girls? Dumb question. I absolutely bet there is. How much is it, I wonder.

Have you ever had trouble getting a seat on a flight to Thailand? A friend had exactly this problem and was told by his travel agent that the flight he wanted to get on was full, something he found hard to believe because he was hearing from friends flying the same route that flights were 2/3 full at most. As a last ditch effort he went into the Thai Airways office where he had no problem getting a seat on the flight which, as it turned out, was only half full. It would seem that the airlines don't release all the available seats to the market but hold some back for themselves so if you have trouble getting a seat through an agent, try the offices of the airline itself.

It's easy to see how people are getting more desperate and it should not come as any surprise that they may take a shining to your belongings and decide they would like those belongings to be their belongings. With this in mind, it's worth taking precautions such as using a safety deposit box. Many banks offer safety deposit boxes but if you do the rounds you'll be hard-pressed to find any banks with safety deposit boxes available and if they are, the bank will press you to take out some other services too, like insurance and other services you may neither want nor need. But there's an alternative, a safe deposit facility on Silom Road called Swiss Safe Deposit which funnily enough is owned and operated by an American. There are four different sized boxes, the prices are reasonable and you have access 6 days a week. They can be found on the 5th floor of the United Centre at 323 Silom Road which is opposite the Bangkok Christian Hospital. Phone 0804593841. The Stickman millions are safely – I hope – stowed there.

The "LOS" moniker that is often used for Thailand stands for the Land of Smiles, of course. But if you were visiting Pattaya for the first time, particularly at this time of year, you could be forgiven for thinking that it stood for the Land of Soviets, such is the domination of Sin City by the Ruskies these days.

The psyche of Thai women and Western women is oh so very different. We often give Western women grief in this column – and I think more often that not it *is* justified – but there is another side to Western women. I was chatting with one of my few female Western friends earlier this week and she said something that really surprised me. She said that her biggest fear is marrying a guy who she thought was her soulmate, only to find out that she was wrong and that her real soulmate came along later, after she had already got married. It would put her in a situation where she may consider leaving her current beau – and breaking his heart. To her, that would be an unforgiveable thing to do. Leaving a married partner for another man would be something she would really struggle to do and which, in fairness, some of her friends said they would hate to do too. Someone should tell some of the local women this…

What happened to the so-called cool season? It's much warmer now than I would expect at this time of year. The high season eventually arrived…but when is the cool season coming?

If you're going from Pattaya to Suwannaphum Airport, there's a service operated by Bell Travel Service which uses full size buses that run from the regular Pattaya bus terminal direct to the airport with tickets priced at 200 baht. That is admittedly 50% more than you will pay for the Sex Tourist Express (the Pattaya to Ekamai run) – and if you're going to Ekamai and then taking a taxi to the airport this will save money, and, depending on the schedule, maybe time too. It's not a particularly frequent service though. One must ask the question as to why the regular buses plying from Pattaya to Bangkok which invariably use that motorway now don't take the shortest of detours off the motorway, and drop off passengers at the airport as an adjunct to their service. What's the bet that the airport mafia operating out of Pattaya won't allow that to happen?



Quote of the week comes from submission writer Frank West. "In the Orient, you have to keep peeling off layers of disinformation before you get anywhere near the truth."

Reader's story of the week, "My Sad Story", is for those with a penchant for schadenfreude.

A very interesting article from a Japanese news site about the so-called lost generation of Japanese in Bangkok.

CNN takes a brutally honest and less than positive look at how Phuket has changed since the tsunami, 5 years ago.

A tuktuk driver breaks a foreign visitor's arm in Phuket.

Over the border in Cambodia, an Aussie is clubbed to death at a beach resort, so Melbourne's Age newspaper reports.

Dodgy Thai wiring results in a tourist perishing when a live cable falls into the pool he was swimming in.

To prove that dodgy wiring is common in Thailand, a young German is electrocuted in Phuket.

The Bangkok Post reports foreign prostitutes are being extorted in the Thai capital.

The Wall Street Journal is critical of Thailand's decision to repatriate Hmong refugees to Laos.

From Yahoo News, a new form of malaria threatens the Thai / Cambodia border.

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 am trying to woo my Thai girlfriend. I was hoping you may know of any stories of how a man may show his love to a girl. One that may incorporate Thai customs or religion. Sort of like, "I love you so much I would swim the largest ocean, climb the highest mountain." Something romantic so I may ham up my love letters. Are there any Thai stories or legends, fictional or historical that you may know where a God or man has performed a deed to show his love. I am indebted to your for your advice.

Mrs. Stick says: You do not need to think about our tales from the past. I think you can be the modern man. If you are like a Thai guy you will do everything for her. You can call her often and make sure she is ok and if she is not then you can fix the problem for her, even if it is not something to do with you. You can pick her up if she works late and take her home and maybe take her for nice dinner. And you can buy her some nice gifts. If you do these things I think she will like you a lot.

Question 2: I have a question regarding immigration blacklists. My current Thai girlfriend has told me she cannot get a passport or leave Thailand because she is on a blacklist due to a police investigation. Can you shed some light on this for me and what options are available to me to check if she is in fact on a blacklist. Obviously a lawyer would be the first call, but do you have any idea of costs etc for finding out this type of information.

Mr. Stick says: I don't know anything about such so-called blacklists. There are definitely blacklists for people coming IN to the country but as for people exiting, I am not sure how that works. I would imagine the only situation in which your girlfriend would be prohibited from travelling out of the country would be if she was wanted for a crime and / or there was an arrest warrant out in her name. Being prohibited from travelling simply because you're under investigation doesn't sound right, although this is Thailand and little surprises me. Yeah, I think getting in contact with a lawyer would be prudent although you might want to find out more information from your girlfriend first. It could be that she simply doesn't want to leave Thailand and is making this up as an excuse not to travel or it could be that she has been misled or is simply mistaken.

I would like to appeal to more bar and other business owners to provide news of promotions and other reasons to visit your place. There are a few bars and businesses which provide me with news, promotions and events which I include in the column. I am happy to include whatever news and promotions any venue owners send in so please do get them into me. I cannot be everywhere every week so there is no way I can include everything that's going on without your help.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick