Stickman's Weekly Column June 20th, 2010

The Farang Explosion Continues



Glancing at a thread on Thailand's most popular message board recently, there was a discussion that the farang population explosion Thailand has experienced in recent times is reversing. Like so any topics raised on that forum, what was said was not what I see with my eyes and I did not agree at all.

When I stroll around my neighbourhood I see more and more Westerners, many obviously new faces. I am receiving more email inquiries than ever from Westerners planning on moving to Thailand in the not too distant future. A number of friends in the West tell me that they plan to move here soon.

If you were to ask me the simple question, whether the Western population of Bangkok (I cannot answer for other parts of the country) is increasing, decreasing or staying about the same, I would emphatically say that it is increasing. For every resident foreigner who leaves, I would say that 5 – 10 arrive!



The numbers can be broken down into groups making it easy to analyse. There are a few long-term English teachers moving on, but there still seem to be many moving here. As far as Western teachers go, there seems to be a much greater trend to move from higher paying countries such as north Asia to Thailand where the money may be lower but the quality of life is perceived to be better.

More and more retirees are relocating here, especially to the islands and beaches, and the few who leave seem to do so involuntarily, via the local crematorium. In fairness, there has been an exodus of some of the poorer Brit retirees in Pattaya who have found life to become much less pleasant with local price increases made worse by their pound getting far less baht than it used to.

You hear mixed stories amongst those on local expat packages but I think it would be fair to say that that is one group which may have shrunk a little as companies tighten their belt and choose not to renew old contracts and certainly not recruit from abroad unless it is absolutely necessary. The interesting thing though is while the number of expat positions *may* have decreased, I have a sneaky feeling that those who were once on an expat package but are now out of work might have remained in the country. Of course more than a few have departed.

Companies offering professional services (company registrations, work permits etc.) continue to see growth as more and more Westerners eschew employment with a Thai company and go it alone. Even with the business outlook in Thailand uncertain, still more and more Westerners seem to be buying existing businesses or setting something up.

In the farang-dominated neighbourhoods of Sukhumvit there are more and more white faces, about that there is no doubt. In fact all over Bangkok, even in some of the most far flung and least convenient and less farang-friendly areas you find cheap condo buildings with rooms in the 4,000 – 5,000 baht month a range with a number of Western residents!

There are many areas where there has been a real farang explosion. The Narathiwat soi 24 area is a foreign enclave, home to high-end condos and serviced apartments, there seems to be more and more Westerners in the area as well as more businesses which attract Western customers. Starbucks and Subway both have branches there, there's an Italian pizzeria and even a BNH Hospital-run clinic which as Mrs. Stick says is a "hospital for farangs".

And it's not just the high-end areas but also the low end. I had the misfortune to spend time in the Onut area this past week, around Tesco Lotus. The area makes Pattaya look positively upmarket. I have never seen so many feral foreigners in one part of Thailand. Yep, Onut is even worse than rural Isaan for scummy Westerners. With much low-income housing in the area and access to the skytrain, making it a favourite for migrant workers it is not overrun with feral foreigners, many of whom appear to have shacked up with some of the roughest Thai birds you'll find. Strolling around the slums off Gluaynamthai doing a photo shoot this week, I was shocked to see as many foreigners pounding the pavement as I did Thais.

The last decade has seen an explosion of Thai language schools for foreigners, some of which have many branches. There are more and more expat websites and established sites, such as this one, are breaking traffic records.

Not they are necessarily doing that well, there has been an explosion of bars and restaurants which target Westerners with English speaking staff and menus that cater to our Western tastes. Many of these venues don't expect any Thai customers at all.

Over the last 15 years the number of international visitors to Thailand has almost tripled and while there has been a dip in tourist numbers recently, I don't see this as having a major effect on the number of foreigners relocating here. Many who have visited or continue to visit Thailand hope to move here, some planning to make the move at retirement age, which may still be many years away. They have not changed their plans.

Throughout Isaan there has been an explosion of Westerners, hardly surprising given that thousands refuse to listen to conventional wisdom and marry off Pattaya bargirls and move to her village in the middle of nowhere.

The naughty bar area industry is quieter and those who live their lives in the naughty bar areas may falsely believe that because there are fewer punters in the bars that the number of Western residents is dropping, a really narrow-minded way to look at things. No-one learnt much about Thailand sitting in the front row of a gogo bar night after night.

I am not entirely sure what is happening down in Pattaya, but I would be surprised if the numbers of foreign residents is not increasing, notwithstanding that that in certain parts, such as the wrong side of Sukhumvit, there seems to have been a bit of a clean out in some areas, or perhaps more succinctly of some in the lower income bracket.

With property prices having soared in recent times in Western countries, doubling over the past decade in many places, some Thailand fans have made a fortune simply by buying property at the right time. Anyone who can cash in that property and come out of it with say half a million dollars could probably retire to Thailand if they have the discipline to invest wisely and the self-control to watch their spending. That's not to say that they won't run out of money or could live a life of luxury, but for the average Joe, half a million dollars, at current exchange rates of around 16 million baht, could last a lifetime if conservatively invested.

Of course there are foreign residents leaving Thailand. The brighter teachers unfortunate to miss out on an international school contract tend to move on. Long-term expats may find they don't like the way some things are developing and relocate. Indications are that some of the low-end retirees, those guys who were scraping by before the baht made significant gains against most major currencies, especially English retirees in Pattaya who were living on the cheap, appear to have been forced home.

As far as other countries in the region go, all have their relative advantages but I think it's fair to say that unless you're willing to spend more money, in some cases a lot more – in the likes of Singapore – you're just not going to get the same sort of lifestyle you get in Thailand. And if you're in provincial or rural Thailand then you would need vastly more money to survive in other countries, unless the likes of rural Cambodia, admittedly extremely cheap, appeal.

I'm not saying that Thailand is the best place to be. Not at all. By almost any measure, my homeland offers a vastly superior lifestyle to Thailand, but like many foreigners in Thailand, my situation is complicated hence I remain here, for the time being at least.

There are lots of random stories and reports of Westerners leaving Thailand. Some have found new opportunities while others have fed up. Of course the really sensible parents take their kids to the West to get a quality education.

If you have money, the West has many advantages. Thailand remains a poor man's paradise.

Undeniably Thailand has problems and some who had planned to retire here at some point have decided against it, or at the very least, have put their plans on hold, but the appeal of the Kingdom to Westerners remains. I expect the farang explosion to continue.

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken in the car park of the Raja Hotel, a couple of hundred metres into soi 4, near Annie's Massage. The first person to email 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! The third person to get the photo correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the very best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok.

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. To claim the book prize you must provide a current postal address within Thailand. 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 – A ladyboy success story.

Hopefully your interview will enlighten some about what makes up a Thai ladyboy. I am married and have a home in Surin. My wife is a ladyboy and we have been married for nearly 4 years. I first met my wife when she was working in Cascade Bar in 2003. I dated her exclusively for 2 years before I knew that I wanted to be with her, marry her and take care of her. I sold my home in the United States and moved to Thailand in September of 2006. When we first started dating, she had not had her boobs done nor had she had the operation. She had saved enough money to have her boobs done and I told her that if we stayed together I would pay for her operation. She was adamant from the beginning that she wanted to become more a real lady, that it was her dream. It did not matter to me one way or the other, she was going to be my wife. I kept my promise and in January of 2008 she finally had the operation. I made sure she went to one of the best doctors. I did not want her to have problems due to a botched job. It was 4 months before she was able to have sex as she took a long time to heal. She now loves to show off her new "pussy" as she calls it. I don't mean she just flashes it about, she shows her former bar friends when they come to visit or when we visit them in Bangkok. Of course she had to share it with her Mama and her sisters. She also continues to ask me if it looks the same as a real "pussy" and does having sex with her now feel the same as with a real lady. There was a minor problem in early 2010 that required a visit back to the clinic for some surgery but everything is 100% now. In addition, for her birthday I gave her a "minor nose job" as a present. She has entered ladyboy pageants and done well, never finishing worse than third. Her goal was the Miss Tiffany Pageant in Pattaya. Our life together is no different than that of a "normal" married couple. We have our problems at times. I am still learning a lot about Thai culture and what it means to be married to a Thai lady. We take pride in our home, we do the things that make up a marriage and I am very happy. There are no regrets and I can say that I am looking forward to a long and lasting marriage. I think that if you love a person and take the time to really get to know them your chances for success are very good.

At least we have the memories.

A country cannot descend into near chaos and expect its tourist orientated business sector to continue as though nothing happened! Add to that the simple fact that for many the Thai bar scene is something of a mere curiosity at best, with more and more turning their collective backs on bars and gogo joints the result of bad customer service, bad attitudes and belief with some of the females that the world owes them a living. Without any doubt, save for a handful of bars in Pattaya perhaps, the entire "industry" is near collapse in my opinion for the reasons stated. The so-called "girlfriend experience", well known to many of us prior to the turn of the century, is all but non-existent, being a distant memory of a bygone era replaced with mercenary and cunning beasts who see only short term gain. I think we are in the middle of a giant shake out of the bar industry in Thailand and it will be interesting to see what replaces those establishments that cannot cut the mustard, not to mention farang bar owners and managers who, by any measure, must be feeling the pain. Not only are many farangs in Thailand disillusioned with the once famed pay for play industry, many have also been severely hurt economically by the global financial crisis. Once, during the earlier part of the last decade, a person could invest their hard earned, or not so hard earned, into the share market and reap double digit returns – but no more. Some have lost everything and those who do are left with only memories of their days of fun in the land of smiles.

It is depressing!

Bernard Trink never had such cause to worry. His pages, of which I have a small collection, were always upbeat because it was onwards and upwards in his day with cheap prices, happy punters, packed bars and a packed Thermae. It must be hard to report on such dramatic downward changes in the night scene.

Success is having a farang manager on the premises.

I was chatting to Gerry from Finnegan's on Sukhumvit soi 4 about how our respective businesses are doing. Both of us are quite upbeat and happy with the level of business. In fact, based on the first half, this month could be one of Charley Brown's best ever. Despite the differences in our establishments and Gerry's and my different backgrounds, I think there are several common factors. Customer service – my staff (and Gerry's) all speak English and know the menu inside out. They get trained regularly and incentivised to provide good service. They know we never let a guest leave with a complaint unresolved. On my (rare) days off, staff are capable of discounting an item or providing a 'freebie' to placate someone or encourage a good customer to return. Farangs are a petty bunch – I know, because I'm the worst – we might visit the same place every week for years…but if we feel slighted by the staff ONE time, we will leave and never return, no matter how much we love that place. Too often in Bangkok, a complaining customer is treated like a scam artist or a trouble maker. A free beer goes a long way to smoothing out little problems. Both Gerry and I are usually to be found on the premises, chatting to guests and solving little problems. Left to their own devices, Thai staff often forget to do the little things – topping up drinks, leveling wobbly tables etc. With someone on hand to remind them, customers get an altogether better experience. I don't think F and B is that difficult. If the location, product and service are good and fairly priced, people will always find their way there and return.

Economics 101, not applicable to Thailand.

You know business is down when wannabe hi-so prostitutes start to leave their nest at Spasso's. I was chatting one up at Bangkok Beat the other day. Her confidence was amusing with her 42-year old body and map of the world stomach. When she told me she can get 3K – 5K baht short time, I almost laughed. I said there must be a lot of stupid business travellers in town. Just outside the door one can get a hot 23-year old with no baby for 1K baht short time. She took my insults well, but the look on her face was priceless when I walked away from her at the end of the night. What? Did she think I would actually pay her? The concept of supply and demand hasn't registered well with some Thai girls.

The millionaires' club.

In the past I talked two working girls here in Thailand out of joining the 'millionaires club' in Hong Kong or Australia. In the first case I was thanked by the Aussie embassy, where the staff confirmed that the girls of such rings are often not paid a penny Down Under and / or have to 'work' much more than advertised. In the second I was thanked by the girl in person who, on my advice, didn't travel to the working girls' paradise of Hong Kong, but whose friend did and shortly after returned to Thailand without a penny!



I did the rounds on soi 33 earlier this week and, hardly unexpected, the area was dead. One thing that stood out on this visit – and which won't do anything for any revival in the soi – was that the girls seemed rough, a bit on the coarse side for bars which try to position themselves at the higher end of the market. Those lasses sitting outside bars which target Japanese were pretty enough but other than that, of the bars we stopped by for a drink – Monet, Dali, Wall Street and Christie's, all had what I think could be reasonably described as a rough bunch of slappers dressed up in finery.

Business has picked up in venues popular with expats, almost entirely attributable to the World Cup. Games are being screened in many venues from British pubs to gogo bars to restaurants to shops – but the coverage has not been without hiccups. Some venues have managed to secure a satellite feed from AstroSport in Malaysia – which has the commentary in English. The problem with the AstroSport coverage is that it drops out quite often, at least in some venues. Other venues have installed a slingshot system, where they show the local video but get the audio from the UK via the Internet. It works well enough except that the audio is about 6 seconds behind the video!

As per usual when a match is being played featuring the more popular teams, Thais will stand outside venues with TVs and watch. There have been plenty of Thais, particularly motorbike taxi riders, milling around outside venues broadcasting the matches on Sukhumvit soi 23, like Bradman's and the Old Dutch.

Pretty Lady Bar on the ground floor of Nana Plaza was my first favourite gogo bar and if I remember right, the first gogo I ever walked into on that first ever visit to Nana. Pretty Lady will host a Full Moon party this coming Saturday, the 26th. There will be sexy shows, free snacks and chances to win drinks and barfines. New TVs have been installed outside and inside so you won't miss any of the World Cup. All are welcome!

Soi 8 bar in Sukhumvit soi 8 changed ownership not so long ago. I used to like the food in there but always felt the portions were on the small side. Things seem to have turned around and when I was in there this past week the portions are noticeably larger. If you're up for a bite, give their steak sandwich a go – very good it is.

With England taking on Slovenia on Wednesday – and what a disaster that hopeless team is proving to be – England I mean, not Slovenia, popular English pub The Londoner is postponing its usual 2 for 1 Wednesday special until Friday. If you haven't taken advantage of it, this long running special – it must be 8 or 9 years since they started it – is one of the best deals in town – 2 for 1 drinks all night long.

With little in the way of any sort of organised happy hours amongst the bar owners, and rather just a few random venues offering cheap drinks early evening, Nana Plaza doesn't seem to be getting the same sort of World Cup trade that Cowboy is. There are crowds outside Cowboy bars, many of which have TV screens outside, as punters flock to catch the 6:30 PM kick off of the first match.

That said, business picked up in Nana this week, as it has everywhere, a by product of the World Cup with more punters out and about I reckon.

Number 33 in the Dollhouse in the long since defunct Clinton Plaza was the hottest thing 10 years ago when her magnificent (silicon) mammaries were the talk of the internet. The first Bangkok gogo Internet queen, she can be found in a Soi Cowboy bar where the odd guy who was around back then recognises her. That begs the question. What is sadder: that she is still around….or that we are?!

Lately it seems that the only time the police get called to Soi Cowboy is to visit one of the Arab's bars, and this week was no exception. In Déjà Vu on Thursday night a Japanese customer discovered the marvelous hospitality of the Arab. There was no bloody beating, possibly because of a lack of common language, but there was plenty of pushing and shoving. Apparently the Japanese customer had insufficient Thai and English to contest the amount of his checkbin and as a result the police were called to help sort things out. I wonder if any boys in brown can speak Nippon?

Tilac Bar seems to have a new play list, or possibly there's a new DJ.

More than a few punters, me included, have been calling for bar owners to cut prices to make their bar a more attractive place to drink in. One bar owner sent some comments about discounting drinks. "If you cut your price by 30% which is the lion's share of the gross profit, are you going to do 3 times the business to profit the same amount? Absolutely not, it's a death bed. Remember gross increase does not equate to profit rising if you have lowered the price to get there."

A neon sign has been erected amongst the neon outside Kiss Bar on Cowboy stating "Visa World Consulting". I chuckle when a seemingly serious business advertises itself amongst all of the nonsense of the nightlife. If you had visa issues, presumably what this company deals in, would you trust a company that was located on Soi Cowboy to handle that most sensitive of issues for you? Now they may be an ethical company providing professional services, but the location of the sign doesn't inspire confidence.

Don't let the photo below fool you. Trade really has picked up markedly in some venues with the World Cup attracting punters keen to watch the matches with mates, and of course find venues where the commentary is in English – something the main cable TV provider True Visions has been unable to provide.

If you're not a football fan, you might find it hard to escape the football madness that envelops Thailand whenever there is a major tournament with matches screened in farang and Thai venues alike. As a certain nightlife columnist and regular at The Londoner said to me in the Emporium last night, "The only places I can escape the blasted football are Bar Bar and Demonia" – which if you didn't know are Bangkok's fetish venues!

The other half and I were waiting for two motorbike taxis the other day to run us down to the skytrain but only one was available. After a few minutes waiting the rider said that we could both jump on board and given that we only had to go a short distance we went with it. When we reached the destination I paid him the usual fare plus a small tip. He said that this was not enough and two people equaled double fare! I have never heard of this before. It was only a small amount of money and the money didn't bother me, but I wonder, is this the norm?

Starbucks LungSuan has a special on at the moment – buy two drinks and the third is free. I don't know if this same special is on at all Starbucks branches or not – I have not noticed signs advertising this deal at any other branches. The LangSuan branch is one of the nicest Starbucks branches, a great place to spend some quiet time, read the newspapers and just kick back and relax.

I find this phenomenon fascinating and have heard from many over the years – submission writers, guys emailing me and even friends – close friends too – that when they bonk a girl without a rubber they fall in love with her! You REALLY do not want to get a Thai girl you're not involved with pregnant and I doubt anyone ever wants to catch an STD. Who would have ever thought that 100% condom use won't just help prevent the transmission of STDs as well as pregnancy, but might also help you from not falling in love. I wonder if the inventors of condoms ever had that in mind?!

Asia Books is running a special with 15% discount off books for members and 10% for non-members in their "welcome back sale". Seems that just like everyone else, bookstores are hurting too.

Speaking of bookshops, if you ever thought Thais were big on reading, think again. It really seems as if the largest bookstores in Bangkok all stock books in English!

The Arab gets plenty of grief from me and others for the way he runs his bars, but in addition to being the guy who brought the neon battle to Cowboy, he does seem to be making a greater effort to promote his bars by getting girls from his bars to linger around outside in skimpy clothes, as per Sahara pictured here. It's a GREAT look!

I have become addicted to a documentary that screens on Channel 7 every Thursday night at 11 PM. It's a Thai version of these crime shows where the police highlight and talk about unsolved crimes. Often there is video footage from CCTV cameras of the crime, many of which are more heinous than I have seen on similar shows from other countries. One of the items on this week's episode was particularly nasty and highlighted how a young woman fell out with a guy she had met on a dating website and how he would not let go. Eventually he ended up throwing acid in her face, horribly disfiguring what had once been a truly beautiful young lady. You don't need to be able to understand Thai to catch the gist but be warned, if you think Thailand is a safe, peaceful country, this programme will change that forever.

There are various ways to add credit to your pre-paid mobile phone. If buying credit from a retail store, you may be offered a scratch card with a code to enter or you may be given a small slip of paper which is supposed to be freshly printed at the time of purchase with a one time use code. There is a growing problem with sales assistants reselling the codes printed on discarded slips of paper, codes that have already been used. To get around this, makes sure the code is freshly printed and enter your code in the shop right away and wait for confirmation of the credit to come through.

Times are tough for many these days and most of us could do with a few extra baht in our pockets. If you want to make some *really* easy money – it won't make you rich but it will be beer money for the night – go and see the manager of the Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy and have a bet with him on the rugby. It's like taking candy from a baby!

Some characters get around the region and one such guy is Kiwi Cleve. A native of the farming region of Taranaki, the rugby-loving Kiwi bounces around South-East Asia like a ball spinning around a pinball table. I first met Cleve in some skanky bar in Phnom Penh some 9 or 10 years ago after hearing him chat away in what sounded like a familiar accent. At the time he was manager of the Walkabout Hotel in the Cambodian capital if I remember right. A few years back he made it over this side of the border where he managed Roxy A Gogo on Walking Street for a while. After a stint working in the Philippines and then in Cambodia again, he has been back in Pattaya for about 6 months. His current job sees him running a small boutique hotel in Jomtien, the Nirvana Boutique Hotel. Like most hotels in Pattaya, times are tough and tourist numbers are lower than in recent low seasons. To promote the hotel they are offering a stay 3 nights, pay 2 nights deal. Drop Cleve an email to take advantage of it.

Popular local expat Dean Barrett's latest novel, the sequel to Skytrain To Murder, which happens to be my favourite of all Dean's Bangkok-based titles, is titled Permanent Damage and should be available in bookstores in Bangkok by mid-July. Permanent Damage features Scott Sterling as the protagonist. Again, Sterling lives above the Boots and Saddle bar in Washington Square which is based on the Texas Lone Star Saloon. For fans of Bangkok expat fiction, I reckon this one will be well worth picking up.

In a certain Sukhumvit Road Irish pub there is mention on a blackboard that customers should ask waitresses about the bucket beer special. I reckon whoever put that message up was rather optimistic. I asked a waitress in the said bar and got the expected response – "alai na!"

Why does it take 7 days for a letter sent from one part of central Bangkok to reach another part of central Bangkok? I have sent the odd thing from Bangkok to the West and it has arrived faster. The Thai post office seems to take forever on standard delivery within the country.

Reader's story of the week comes from Korski and is titled, "Dreaded Indifference and the Girlfriend Experience".

Drummond reports that the Thai authorities are finally getting rid of Western paedophiles in Thailand.

An Aussie killer released from Thailand claims psychological problems.

A 20-year old Aussie is charged with insurance fraud in Phuket.

The UK's Daily Mail runs an article on Pattaya, the perversion of paradise, an article only a Western female could pen.

From the Phuket Gazette, a British woman survives a monkey attack in Phuket.

From CNN, why Thailand's football team doesn't make the World Cup finals.

From The Nation newspaper comes comment that the Thai tourism industry will recover within 6 months.

Ask Mr. Stick

If I receive any interesting emails to which I think the answer could benefit other readers, I may include the question, and my response, here.

Question 1: After many visits to Thailand I finally made the move and now call Bangkok home. I moved into a modest apartment and have signed a 6 month contract. The building is secure and a key card is required to get in but it is not a high-end property and there is neither a security guard nor a reception area. My unit is 4,400 baht a month and I believe it is the most expensive in the building. In addition to the lock on the door, I bought a large, solid padlock and use that whenever I go out. I notice tenants in other rooms use similar. I was surprised when the landlord requested a key for my padlock. I refused and he got nasty, saying that it was a requirement. He said that if I forgot the key then it would be a problem to get in. I explained to him that it was my problem and not his. He then said that I had to give him a key or else. Exactly what he meant by "or else", I do not know. So my question is this: Am I required by law to submit to him a key for the external padlock I use, thus allowing him access to my room at any time?

Mr. Stick says: This is a good question and one which I do not know the answer to, at least with regards to the law. I would be VERY surprised if there is any law that states that you must surrender a key to the landlord. My STRONG recommendation would be that you absolutely do not surrender a key to him. It is my understanding that assuming you have a legal lease agreement then he cannot enter the condo without your permission. Given that theft from condos is a real problem in Thailand, and Westerners in cheaper buildings are ay target, I would absolutely not give him the key. If he bothers you more about it, go and get a key cut that will *not* fit the lock. That will probably appease him and is something of a Thai-style solution. If he later tries to enter the room without your permission then I would do two things – lodge a complaint with the police and move out immediately.



Today's closing comment is not about Thailand, nor about this website, but about the football World Cup. I have watched a good number of the matches so far, watching at least one, and sometimes two matches every night. And for the most part they have been boring! Yesterday I went out to watch New Zealand play Wales in a rugby international. It was a magnificent match, action packed all the way, seldom a dull moment. There were many good tries scored and some scintillating strength, speed and skill displayed by both teams. I guess I also enjoyed it because the good guys won! Last night I watched two World Cup matches. The World Cup is supposed to be the showpiece of the world's most popular sport but yet again many of the matches themselves have been a bit of a bore. Unless you have one of the really attractive teams playing, which usually means Brazil or Argentina, I find it a real yawn. In fact I would MUCH rather watch a top Premier League billing like Liverpool take on Manchester United. What I think is needed is a result to really set the World Cup alight. The world champions losing tonight would be a good start!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick