Stickman's Weekly Column March 14th, 2010

Pattaya Memories 2



"Run, boy, run", he bellowed at me and gave me a solid push in the back. And run I did, through the hotel lobby and off down a corridor, unsure of where I was going, a mixture of alcohol and fatigue disorientating me. I stopped perhaps 30 metres away and looked back at what could be best described as a skit from the Benny Hill Show. A lone security guard was standing in the lobby of a beachfront Pattaya hotel, his whistle being blown furiously despite the hour, arms swinging in all directions. A bunch of hotel guests – my colleagues – had returned and most had a friend in tow. Khun Security was waving a laminated card around that stated that there was a surcharge of 500 baht for any late-night guest. People were running in all directions to avoid him or more precisely, the 500 baht heist. It was 4 AM, on my first night in Pattaya.

There had been a briefing by the school's management team earlier that day. "Don't give the songtaew driver more than 5 baht even though he will ask for 10!" "Girls are a thousand baht all night and don't even think about giving them a baht more!" "Be careful walking along the Beach Road late at night because it's full of ladyboys who will think nothing of mugging you if you they cannot get any money out of you for sexual favours." That most overused of sayings in Thailand is so valid – "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

I never did work out if that first trip to Pattaya was supposed to be a seminar or a junket. 45 Western teachers, most of whom had visited Pattaya a fair few times already, were put through a basic workshop before being let loose on Sin City. I don't remember too much about anything, except that Walking Street was an assault on the senses, there was heaps of neon and plenty of ugly girls. I knew Bangkok reasonably well at that time and the girls I saw in Pattaya just didn't come close to what Bangkok had to offer. It's ironic that those first impressions are just as valid today as they were way back then.

I hadn't been oriented on the layout of Pattaya and with the songtaew running along Beach Road, it was the start of Walking Street where I got off and where the entire night was spent. I remember walking along Walking Street and walking and walking, and thinking that there must have been a thousand bars on Walking Street alone.

I was used to Bangkok and I remember thinking that Pattaya was full of aggressive people and that everything was much more open. Where girls would scurry along Sukhumvit in the uniform, tight jeans and a t-shirt, in Pattaya anything went and skimpily-dressed girls could be seen everywhere. Bangkok girls have always been more conservative with their dress, given that the Bangkok bar areas are all in busy downtown areas.

Inside the bars in Pattaya, the music was louder, the girls harder and there was very much an atmosphere of sex for sale. Back then I liked Bangkok because it was fun – you could have a great time without even thinking about taking a woman home. Pattaya seemed to be more about what happens in the bedroom. Pattaya really was Bangkok on steroids.

I can't have liked it too much because I only visited Pattaya once more that year and then didn't visit again for more than 18 months. I really didn't think Pattaya was for me.

After a couple of years I started visiting Pattaya more often. Being a creature of habit, my routine was always the same. I'd take the skytrain to the Ekamai bus station and from there I would wait 3/4 of an hour or so – buses were much less regular back then, perhaps every 30 minutes or so, and it was just 77 baht to get on the Sex Tourist Express. The buses used to take the long way and sometimes I wouldn't reach Pattaya until 9 PM. I'd check in to a cheap hotel on Second Road and would hit sois 7 and 8. The two popular beer bar sois used to be thriving, hundreds and hundreds of happy girls, the atmosphere in that little neighbourhood was all about fun. Today, sois 7 and 8 are a shadow of their former selves.

Soi Pattayaland 2 was another thriving lane whose character has changed immensely. I'd always visit early on the Saturday night, enjoy the happy hours, watch the sun go down and take a few photos. Back then, Soi Pattayaland 2 bars were packed early evening. A bar owner in that soi recently told me that his bar used to take 20,000 baht from mid-afternoon until the happy hour ended at 7 PM. Today he is lucky if he takes 20,000 baht for the entire night. What was once a soi with the best gogo bar neon in the Kingdom, and a genuine rival for Walking Street, is today very much in decline. Gay bars have set up shop, changing the atmosphere and reducing the number of venues. There are many bars which have simply shut up shop, many empty spots that give the soi an almost ghostly feel late at night, bright neon illuminating parts of the lane while a few doors down creepy characters lurk in the shadows where thriving bars once were.

After Soi Pattayaland 2, I'd do the rounds of Walking Street, checking out a few favourite bars, often in Soi Diamond. I'd always check out Super Baby which for a long time had the most attractive girls in town and was a magnet for Asian visitors – a sure sign of pretty girls inside. I'd wander around aimlessly, bouncing up and down Walking Street, checking out anywhere that looked interesting.

Walking Street was not what it is today. There were fewer venues, less neon and not nearly as many visitors. Today it feels much more cosmopolitan. A decade ago it was predominantly Western visitors. Today it's the united nations.

Walking Street had been ground zero since long before I first step foot in Sin City, and Soi Pattayaland 2 was like the second bar area but there have always been satellite bar areas in Pattaya, beer bar complexes with 10 or 20 bars, each with 10 – 15 girls. You'd often hear guys talk about finding a diamond in the rough but the few times I ventured to the distant bar areas they were full of rough trade.

The bar scene is spreading out even further today with not just more satellite bar areas, but more stand alone bars, often in odd areas, sometimes flanked by such innocuous venues as a pharmacy, a convenience store or an apartment block, the nearest naughty bar a motorbike ride away. I wouldn't say things were more centralized in the past but I don't think the bar scene was quite as widespread as it is today.

When I first visited, while there were bars on Second Road, Soi Buakhao (the road that runs parallel to and between Second and Third roads) was nothing like it is today, where there are many bars and restaurants, many of which really are worth going out of your way for. Back then, it was the area for those on a budget, be it sleeping, eating or drinking.

There are far more people visiting Pattaya these days which should come as no surprise given that in 1997, Thailand attracted 5 million international arrivals and this year 15 million + are expected. Inside the bars it might seem like things are quieter, but there are more bars today and many tourists don't come for the bars and don't ever step inside.

Pattaya has always been seedy and it might be wilder today than it used to be, but with so many new and modern bars in Sin City, I can't help but feel that it has lost a little of its sleaze factor, something I am not sure what to make of. With that said, Pattaya is so big that whatever you're looking for you can find it.

I really don't know in which direction Pattaya is moving. There are more bars now than ever, more visitors but it's plainly obvious that a much greater percentage of visitors are not there for the nightlife. How this will shape Pattaya's future I really don't know, but a part of me wonders if Pattaya will mirror Patpong. It's almost as if Pattaya is now going through something similar to what Patpong did in the early '90s, when what was once Bangkok's premier bar area slowly became a mainstream tourism destination. Will nightlife continue to dominate Pattaya like it used to?


Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken of one of the little side allies off Sukhumvit soi 33, next to Music Station. Only a handful of the cleverest readers got it right. The first person to email with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to 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 – Education that belongs in the ice age.

Education and music education in Thailand work pretty much the same way. We are taught to do whatever the music teachers tell us. We're not encouraged to interpret the music differently, or even express what we feel. They tell us what to do and we are not supposed to question them. It's a taboo. It's all in the mindset of every Thai person that you don't question people of some professions. Doctors, government officers and teachers to name a few. That keeps us in a box. When we grow up our box becomes bigger. When we are an adult our box becomes a big cage and eventually a zoo. An open zoo is the best most people ever get to. I make it sound bad, I know. But it's the reality. There are exceptionally talented Thai musicians who make it to study in the West. These people are now back and striving to give the best to our students. Unfortunately we can't make every music teacher good teachers. It's going to take a lot more time, more man power, and more willingness on the part of the students to be better. The most important thing is there have to be more people standing up and saying enough is enough with this ice age education in Thailand! You were a teacher. You know what it's like.

Just say no!

The main news in the Land of Smiles recently has been the build up to the mass rally by the red shirts against the government and their attempt to bring their leader Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand. My wife was listening to the hysterical rantings of some of the red shirt leaders on the radio, the tone of which frankly reminded me of the speeches once made by Hitler, and it occurred to me that the best way they could help Thailand, and cut the purse of many of the super rich, would be – instead of trying to get Thaksin back – to stand on an End Corruption campaign. Just tell the population, over and over and over, as they rant now for hours on end, to just say no every time they are asked to contribute. If everyone did that for a week or two there would be no more corruption because no one would be playing their game. Now that really would help the country, especially the poor they claim they represent.

Reminiscing about the Sin City of old.

A bit over 8 years ago I first visited Thailand and Pattaya and fell in love with the place. I knew that I would retire there. Many of the things that attracted me to Pattaya that were unique and interesting no longer exist. The dollar continues to stay low against the baht and Pattaya looks more and more like main street USA with its fast food establishments. I read yesterday that Tips Restaurant on Beach Road was closed. I have probably eaten over 100 meals there. Always great service and a beach view. About the only old style establishment I know of from my first visit that still exists is an open air shop / bar that operates on soi 3. Cheap Charlies can purchase a beverage and sit unmolested at one of the tables and chairs that are provided much like the old beach front places that were taken over by hotels. Even this place has changed somewhat as there is now a tin roof to protect customers from the rain and sun. Who knows what the place will be like in 2, 5 or 10 years.

A curious business plan.

I hope that the Arab stops expanding his empire. If I want to buy expensive drinks for non-barfineable girls, I'll go to a G Club. Indeed, I think a boycott on buying lady drinks for coyotes is in order – maybe that would lead to a change in policy (or maybe it would simply drive the coyotes away). At any rate, I didn't see any attractive go-go (i.e. non-coyote) dancers at Sahara. What a great business plan – the dogs are the only girls available for take-away.

Charming Patpong.

Earlier this week I stuck my head in the door of the Pussy Collection gogo on the ground floor of Patpong soi 1. I was hoping to spot an attractive girl or two and stay for a drink. Alas, all of the girls dancing on the stage were fat, so I quickly moved on. I had my head in the door for no more than five seconds. I didn't even take a walk around the stage as I often do before deciding to have a drink at a gogo in Cowboy or Nana. The next night, I returned to Patpong soi 1 and tried once more to stick my head in the door of Pussy Collection to see if there were any dancers worth hanging around for. To my surprise, I was blocked from the door by what I can only describe as a crazy and foul-mouthed mamasan. She spoke rapid-fire Thai, but the gist of her remarks was that she would not permit me to come anywhere near the gogo unless I promised to buy a drink. She wouldn't even let me look in the door from outside in order to make a decision. I told her that I had no interest in complying with her bizarre policy, and that I would instead take my business elsewhere. I've never encountered this kind of policy anywhere else, not even at other bars on Patpong. Perhaps her policy is an indication of the dire straits in which the bar finds itself. It goes without saying, however, that her policy is counterproductive.

No more Thailand for me.

I arrived in Thailand for a harried visit in March 1985, one of 40 on a group tour of East and Southeast Asia. Of all the places we visited, Thailand was the one that called out to me for reasons other than the friendly women. I knew I could do Thailand on my own without the local guides, and I did, year after year, with only two interruptions, 1991 and 2009. I didn't return in 1991 because I believed our State Department when they advised us against traveling abroad during the first war in the Persian Gulf. I didn't return last year because I'd been carefully following your columns each week and taking note of the rise in assaults and scams in the city and down by the beach. I was never naive enough to believe that Bangkok was perfectly safe after the sun went down, and I always kept my wits about me. I told myself that traveling to Thailand was "going into the breach", and I kept my head on a swivel. In 1997 the Golden Bar outside the Nana Hotel became my watering hole, perhaps because the Thai women were a bit older there and I had earned the respect of the hotel management before I even stayed there. Even during the chaos of Songkran, I could trust the bar ladies to keep an eye on my things while I used the urinal. Now I'm reading that we can't trust the security guards stationed here and there as we make our way up or down soi 4. So will I return this year? To be honest, the likelihood of another visit is doubtful.

What isn't negotiable?

I tried The New India restaurant last night (which was passable). Bangkok delivered on its promise as always in me seeing something I have never seen before. An Indian looking (but English speaking [to the Indian waitress]) guy asked for a good price on each item on the menu which he was interested in. And guess what, he actually got quoted a lower price on these items!

It's not the comeback of Nana Disco, but the opening of Nana Liquid a week ago in the spot where Nana Disco once was shows that investment in soi 4 refuses to let up, despite Nana Plaza's uncertain future. A good looking bar with lots of neon and lasers, Nana Liquid looks like it will replicate Nana Disco and become a freelance venue. The totally mad policy that brought about Nana Disco's demise – a steep 400 baht cover charge and high drinks prices – is not part of the Nana Liquid set up – local beers run 130 baht and entry is free. Will they be able to turn what was once a landmark venue into something similar? It's too early to comment on how the venue is doing although I will say that the owners have done a brilliant job at keeping its opening a secret. If ever there was a venue that needed a marketing manager, this is it.

Somchai is watching you! Three cameras are mounted at the soi 23 end of Soi Cowboy, across from the Old Dutch. It's a professional looking setup with one camera pointing along soi 23 towards the main Sukhumvit Road, one pointing up the soi up towards the excellent Crossbar and the last one pointing straight down Soi Cowboy. I wonder how long they have been there; I never noticed them before. I also wonder if the Thai nightlife areas get similar attention?

Pretty Lady Bar in Nana Plaza will hold a carnival-themed party weekend next weekend, that is Friday 19th and Saturday 20th. For those of you daring enough to wear carnival wear your efforts will earn you a free drink. There will be the usual sexy shows as well as a magic show. Heineken & Tiger draught will be available for just 85 baht. You can win drinks when the wheel of fortune spins and there will be a free BBQ. All are welcome!

For fans of Guinness in Thailand, enjoy it while you can. Rumour has it that it might soon become out of stock and its disappearance might last for quite some time.

If you're looking for a replacement for Guinness, you might like to try Dwyer's Cream Stout, specially brewed in London for the Thai market – and only available in Thailand. I'm not usually a fan of this style of drink but it has to be said it's a very nice drop.

The most popular bar in soi 33 for at least the last 5 years, The Office, will host a Hawaiian party night this coming Wednesday. Amongst the festivities, there will be free food.

The Arab's newest bar in Soi Neon is called Sahara, not Scala as I wrote last week. I had been told by a girl who would be working there what it would be called but something got lost between her pronunciation and my scribing. It opened this week and I stuck my head in the door. It's another bar in the style The Arab likes, big on presentation, low on atmosphere. There are a bunch of coyote girls, some who are sexy as hell but…they cannot be barfined! A beer will set you back a steep 155 baht and the barfine is 700 baht, a new high – or 900 baht if you wish to pay bar before 9 PM, all of which makes Sahara the most expensive gogo bar around. With pricing like this, I wonder if he even wants to get customers in the door.

Just a few months old, Bada Ding in Patpong's soi 2 is one of the newer gogo bars in town, nicely designed with a central dance floor surrounded by seating plus a mezzanine floor. The venue also happens to have some of the most attractive girls you'll find on stage in Bangkok. But I have to wonder about the viability of the business. Bada Ding is paying their coyote girls 1,000 baht a night. You read that right – 1,000 baht a night AND they don't get barfined. I really don't know about this recipe of jamming a bunch of pretty girls on stage, paying them a ton of cash and then frustrating the customers by not allowing them to be barfined can work! How can the bar recoup that sort of outlay? Would be a hard one for the bean counters to sign off on I would have thought.

This concept of coyote girls – that is girls who can really dance but who are not usually available – dancing in gogo bars is one that raises my eyebrows. Putting pretty girls into the environment with a cannot touch policy seems crazy. Worst of all, this concept seems to have caught in on in a number of venues and seems to be the way things are going. Maybe one day you won't even be able to barfine in the bars!

Why doesn't Sheba's do as well as it could? Checking it out this week, there are a heap of pretty girls, the music is ok and the shows, with the exception of the fireman which I just cannot work out, are decent. Yet on Friday night there weren't that many punters in there. Weird. It's a more than decent bar.

Rumour has it that an Australian-owned, Australian-themed bar is in dire straits and the staff have not been paid for 2 months. Yep, some venues are struggling. February was great for many venues – bars, restaurants and pubs, but March takings have fallen off a cliff.

Windmill in Pattaya was sold recently, some time in the last week or two. One of the former owners ruffled more than a few feathers and his departure will no doubt be celebrated by some. I wonder how much he got for it?

It was quieter than ever in the Thermae this week (check out the photo here, taken on Tuesday night around 1:30 AM to see what I mean!) with just a small number of customers, an even split of Westerners and Asians and not that many girls. Most of the girls hanging out in the Thermae these days prefer Asian men but with business slower than I have ever seen it, they were much more open-minded to those with fairer skin and a long nose. Memories of the Thermae being the late night spot, absolutely jam-packed, wall to wall, seem like a lifetime ago.

I thought the local thieves had done a number on The Strip when I stopped by this week and saw that 6 of their distinctive booths had gone. But no, it wasn't the work of some unscrupulous characters, rather the venue is undergoing renovations and after looking like a building site for a few days the management decided to close it down completely for a couple of weeks so the renovations could be quickly completed. But don't be too concerned about their signature booths disappearing, while some have gone, at least 4 will remain. Like jumping off a tall building to which you are attached by just an elastic band, getting into the booth is an experience you have to try at least once! Figure The Strip to reopen before the end of the month…with a new name!

The heavyweights of expat fiction – Christopher Moore, Stephen Leather and Dean Barrett will hold a joint book signing at the Texas Lonestaar Saloon in Washington Square on Saturday March 20 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM. There will be books available at discount prices and a free lunch will be served around 3:00 PM. Discounted books, free food – it sounds like it's aimed at the Cheap Charlie sector of the market – that's me!

Sweetheart A Gogo on Walking Street is one of those gogo bars we've all walked past but I bet many, like me, have never been inside. A mate swung by this weekend, ordered a drink – priced at a fair 90 baht – and in something of a hurry, gulped it down and paid with a 100 baht note and added a 20 baht note, as a tip. He stood up and made for the door but was caught before he left, the service girl handing him 900 odd baht change. He had inadvertently given her a one thousand baht note, thinking it was a 100. He made a point of mentioning this girl's honesty to the manager who stated that he would not allow any of his staff to rip off a guest for even 1 baht – and anyone caught doing so would be fired on the spot. In an industry where the staff can get a lot of grief, I thought this was just marvellous – and I for one will drop by for a beer on my next visit to Sin City.

The very pretty girls pictured right can be found at Toxic, the club on the ground floor of Town Lodge, which is located at the end of Sukhumvit soi 18. There's a happy hour that runs until 10 PM with all local beers a reasonable 70 baht and house spirits at 100 baht.

I used to like quiz night at a certain Sukhumvit Road pub until they increased the fee per head from 100 to 200 baht and the quizmaster started making blunders. There are quite a few pubs running quiz nights in Bangkok these days and one that is becoming more and more popular is that held at the Robin Hood, on Sukhumvit Road, on Mondays, at O'Reilly's, on Silom Road, on Tuesdays and at Hanrahan's, on Soi Nana, on Wednesdays. There is no entry fee and the jackpot accumulates – I understand that there was a 10,000 baht jackpot one night this past week. San Mig sponsors it and offers their fine product for just 90 baht.

I had the best cheeseburger in Bangkok this week, twice. On Tuesday lunch was at O'Reilly's where I had the superb cheeseburger which was good as any burger I had had in Bangkok, and for a short period I reckoned it to be the best burger in the city until…the next day when I had lunch at Duke's Express in the new food hall on the 5th floor at Emporium. WOW! The venue looks modest but the food is exceptional. This is some of the best honest, pub-style farang food in the city with fantastic dishes for not a lot of money. The Duke's burger, pictured right, is in my mind, the best burger in Bangkok. Bacon, mushrooms and cheese on a 1/2 pound sirloin patty and a mound of fries (or onion rings, or coleslaw) makes a filling meal. What I liked about Duke's was that the portions were large, the quality excellent and the prices reasonable – that's all the bases covered. Duke's is an institution in Chiang Mai and its arrival in Bangkok is very welcome indeed. I'll be visiting again real soon. In fact I can see myself becoming a regular.

I also note that there is a new branch of Royal India restaurant in the same food court in Emporium, directly opposite Duke's Express. The long-running Royal India is my favourite Indian restaurant in all of Bangkok, the only problem being that the original branch is very much out of the way, down in the Indian enclave of Pahurat.

And there is a new Indian restaurant on the corner of Sukhumvit Road and soi 9 (?) which has very nice food indeed. If Indian rocks your boat, check it out.

The roof of Hanrahan's makes a nice spot if you're looking for somewhere a little different. The top floor of the custom-built bar has a large TV for sports, massive umbrellas to keep the elements at bay. The whole area can also be hired out for private functions.

A Brit recently found himself in the oncology department in Bumrungrad. The cost of treatment kept increasing and eventually reached a point when he could no longer pay the bills. The hospital contacted the British Embassy to liaise with him and they explained to the patient that failure to pay the bills would see treatment ceased and he would be forced to go to another (most likely inferior) hospital for further treatment. With the patient's finances running out, the British Embassy contacted his family in the UK who transferred £10,000 to the guy's Thai wife's bank account so that treatment could continue at what is widely regarded as Thailand's best hospital. Unfortunately that isn't quite what happened. She saw the half million baht arrive in her account as a rather nice windfall and did a runner, disappearing when he needed her most. He died a week later. With some of these women their heart is as black as their arse.


If you're interested in teaching in Thailand, there's a program running in Bangkok that leads to a Masters in Education in International Teaching. The program is offered by Framingham State College, a college located in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is taught at various locations in Bangkok by Framingham College professors flown out here. It consists of 9 modules, each lasting a week, with 2 courses running every April, 2 every July and 1 online course. With Thailand tightening regulations and scrutinizing foreign teachers more closely, this program may give you a competitive edge in obtaining positions at the higher-end, higher-paying schools in Thailand, where holding bona fide credentials is essential. Each module costs $500 USD and there is a $100 USD application fee, meaning it will set you back a total of $4,600 USD. You pay as they go. Students may enroll in up to 2 modules before being formally admitted to the college. The next courses will be held 6 – 10 April, 2010 and 13 – 17 April, 2010. The offerings in April will be "Language Development and Communication" and "Issues and Strategies in Reading & Literacy Instruction" and in July, "Supervision: Staff Development & Collaborative Leadership" and "Curriculum: Theory & Practice". Students may start with any of the modules. To complete the course you simply need to complete all 9. By starting in April, it's possible to complete the program in as few as 16 months. Courses may also be taken at one of the many other international locations around the world. For more information, contact Stephen at [email protected] or see the Framingham State College website at www.framingham.edu. What would be good to know is what value the international schools place on this course and whether the Ministry of Education accepts it in lieu of some of the crazy courses they are asking foreign teachers to do these days to get a teaching licence.

More and more tables have been set up on Sukhumvit openly selling Viagra and other ED drugs. I would like to say the openness with which these drugs are peddled makes me think that they are originals, not copies, but then the same logic could be applied to the DVDs and clothes and other items which most definitely are not genuine. Thais are usually open about whether a product is the genuine article or not – but you do have to ask. That said, with drugs, there does seem to be much duplicity. I notice some vendors are also selling toys – which I always thought were illegal to offer for sale in Thailand.

The webmaster of what was once a high profile but now defunct Bangkok website was seen in Tilac last Sunday night with what can only be described as one of the ugliest girls in the bar. It would be unfair to name him, but oh my goodness, it would appear he needs to take a trip to the optician. Too many mangoes obviously does nothing for your eye sight!

For American readers in search of a fine beer, Beer Lao is now available in Las Vegas. I am informed that it is currently available at a big national chain called Whole Foods.

Even a moron would realise that all of the red shirts protests, rallies and threats would inevitably lead to some sort of drop off in tourist arrivals. Chatting with the owner of one of the hotels which advertises on this site, he said that they had been beset by both no-shows and cancellations, all of which he felt could be attributed to the nonsense that is playing itself out this weekend. What is amusing is that someone within the TAT tried to reassure everyone by saying, "So far we have not received any cancellations." Really?!

Reader's story of the week comes from Yards, is called Double Fantasy and is about a Bangkok expat who tries something a little spicier than usual.

CNN highlights some of Bangkok's best and worst toilets.

CNN covers what it's like for the spouses of Western expats in Bangkok.

Yahoo News reports that Asia is said to be missing 96 million women.

I cannot work out this YouTube video of a farang seemingly sending a message in Thai to his girlfriend.

From YouTube, is this a he or a she?

Melbourne's The Age ran a piece this week on Ko Rang Nok.

From MSNBC, the Thai government has put in place a free insurance scheme for any foreign visitors harmed in riots and demonstrations 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: In almost all Thai music videos and TV dramas I've watched, the theme is similar. Broken heart, undying love, mia nois and so on. However, as you know being married yourself to a farang, many Thai women are married to foreign men. Why do you not see the Thai media portray love between a Thai woman and a foreigner in regular music videos or soaps? I know they have made movies on this subject, but I am talking day to day television. Are Thai people afraid of facing reality that a beautiful Thai woman can fall in love with a farang? Does this subject make the general public uncomfortable?

Mrs. Stick says: I think you misunderstand Thai women who marry farangs. Actually, the number is very small if you look at our whole country. Also, it is the same style and background people who get married and not many exceptions. So if you think of all of our society, actually not many Thai ladies marry with farangs. Sometimes you see 100% farangs on soap operas but usually they are half farang / half Thai that we call luke-krung. People can talk about this subject no problem. It is not taboo. Actually Thai people talk about farang often and it is no problem.



Last week's column really was a disaster. No opening piece, more types and grammatical errors than I have made in a long, long time and not a great deal of interesting news. I was embarrassed when I looked back at it a few days later and saw just how bad it was. That's what happens when I have little time and just quickly collate things and put them together, without trying to write things up in an engaging and organised way. I am sure this week's is a much better effort. The busy patch has passed so everything should be back to normal now.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick