The ritual was the same every time. Yellow curry for dinner at the restaurant in the Nana Hotel, followed by a few Jack Daniels in Rainbow 1. The next day I was on a train or plane to a neighbouring country.
The days of having to exit Thailand every few months are a distant memory. When I exit the country these days, invariably to take a trip back to my homeland, I don't do anything special before I go.
I like living in Bangkok. In the past I used to love it. Now I just like it. Discovering new places, meeting new people, making progress with the language and that feeling of serendipity, of not knowing what was going to happen next. The buzz can last a long time, maybe even years, but eventually it wears off as your life starts to take more shape and you fall into routines and a lifestyle that are perhaps not that different from what you left behind. You get up early. You go to work. You have bills to pay and commitments to fulfill. The magic doesn't last forever.
Our needs and wants change over time. What is important to us today may be different to what once was.
I arrived in Thailand as a young man and have done what I came here to do – have fun, chase adventure and experiences beyond my wildest dreams. If life is about the accrual of experiences, I filled my quota long ago.
But I'm not such a young man any more. These days there are two things important to me – my health and general happiness. Discipline has kept me healthy and being able to live life my way, something I find easier to do in Thailand than the West, means that for the most part I am happy.
The question I constantly ask myself is whether I could be healthier and happier elsewhere. Could I happier, and healthier, outside Thailand? Would my life be better elsewhere? And the big question – would life be better back in my homeland?
When I think about leaving Thailand, I think about what I would miss most. What I like about the lifestyle in Thailand is the way you can largely do whatever you want, which might be a lot, or it might not – and no-one is on your back about it. The pressure to do something, or to be seen doing things, seems such a big part of the Western lifestyle. In the West if you're not busy doing something, people seem to have this crazy notion that something's not right in your life! The way that your job, and to some extent the house you live in defines you in the West is not something I care for. Foreigners in Thailand can largely live how they please and few give a hoot about what the foreigner is up to. It's this freedom to do as you please that is so invigorating for those of us who choose not to play the conformist game.
But the appeal is also the danger. It's so easy to kick back, enjoy the warm weather, the low cost of living (for those prepared to go native) and the availability of company and then wake up one day and realise that life has passed you by, and perhaps your bank account is empty. Friends and family won't allow that to happen in the West. In Thailand it happens all the time.
The other thing I would miss is people. But would I really miss them? Staying in touch with friends is easy with the Internet.
I sometimes wonder how much I really would miss the people I know here. How many really close mates do I have, or have I had, in my time in Thailand? How many am I really that close with, as opposed to us merely being drinking buddies?
Would I miss the country and Thai ways? How many of us resident in Thailand have a genuine affinity with this country? Do we love the country for what it stands for and what it represents, or is the truth that we love the lifestyle people of means are afforded? With only a little probing, even the most positive expat will reveal a certain amount of disgruntlement or resentment. Can one remain in a country long-term when they feel disgruntled at many of the injustices they see, the lack of rights and the feeling of being a second-class citizen. Money may allow us to do, and enjoy, certain things, but there's plenty that no amount of money will help outsiders to do in Thailand.
When I think about how I used to love it here so much, and how now I merely like it, I really think much of it comes back to learning the language, which is a double-edged sword and the ultimate dichotomy. Speaking Thai well opens up new doors and opportunities to experience things that may not otherwise be possible while at the same time making you aware of things you'd probably rather not know about.
I often wonder if expat life in Thailand today is as good as it will ever be. The world is changing. China and India are growing. Peak oil may become a factor. Thailand is getting more expensive and the exchange rates of today might become the stuff of dreams tomorrow.
When the time comes for me to retire, I doubt Thailand will have quite the advantages it does now and I feel sorry for those whose intention it is to retire here in a decade or two. I am picking things will be very different.
Many long-term expats dread the thought of ever leaving. You'd have to drag them away from the place kicking and screaming. When I arrived I heard stories, true or not I have no idea, of long-term expats whose passport and visa had expired years earlier but who had no intention of ever leaving.
I'm a firm believer that you have to keep moving forward in life, to do new things, seek out new experiences and to be honest with yourself about what you want out of life. You constantly reassess and ask yourself whether what you're doing is helping or hindering your desired lifestyle.
The most fun tends to be had in the early years and as you become settled you tend to lead a fairly normal, not always particularly exciting, lifestyle. One day you realise you're almost back where you started, in much the same situation you were in when you left your homeland, or wherever it was you were before you came to Thailand.
When it comes to my life and time in Thailand, sometimes I wonder if the past is more exciting than the future.
I plan to spend quite a chunk of time outside Thailand late next year. Will I go to the Nana for the last supper, a final bowl of yellow curry before I fly out? Will I make a final stroll down Soi Cowboy? Will that mark the end of my time in Thailand? Or am I a lifer, stuck here forever?
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken on Sukhumvit soi 22 at dusk, looking across at the entrance into Washington Square. Quite a number of clever 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! 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 very 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 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 – Farang bites dog!
This is a variation of the theme man bites dog, which of course is far more newsworthy than dog bites man. Let me start off by saying that the murder of Wanphen Piejai in Phuket by self admitted killer Donald Fanelli was shocking and nothing should be taken away or played down about this tragic event. But by the same token, I think it's only fair to question the amount of coverage that farang deaths / possible murders are given in general. What I'm saying is, in retrospect, the coverage of this Thai murder, for whatever reason, was disproportionate. One could quite easily come to the conclusion that it might well be the farang lemming season with the amount of reported deaths from high-rise condominium developments in Pattaya and Phuket. To the degree that there should be signs displayed in the foyers to wear parachutes at all times. Seriously though, the media and press should follow up some of the farang incidents more thoroughly.
Young + pretty ≠ great wife.
You hit the nail on the head with your observations about gullible, older farangs marrying hot young gogo superstars. The odds of a successful relationship would be maybe one in one thousand. I really think that becoming a bargirl is a conscience career choice for 99% of the attractive, young girls employed there. They can haul in some serious money, do as they please, make whitey tow the line and call the shots in the relationship. It's a sub-culture well-known to the Isaan lasses and the successful ones acquire rock star like status among their peers. Many guys fall for the trap because they are seeking "trophy" wives to one up their buddies.
Who marries bargirls?
Your article on bargirls marrying farang was interesting but basically the same sermon you've been preaching for years, wouldn't you agree? May I suggest a future column devoted to the type of men these girls marry. While it may be inaccurate to indulge in generalities, I'd say they are usually losers from Western countries. Drunks, miscreants, overweight, many under-educated, old geezers. No western woman wanted them on their own turf but they seem to believe they've morphed into Brad Pitt the first time a comely young lady purrs "hello hansum man". As P. T. Barnum observed "There's a sucker born every minute". If "cleaning the clock" of some bozo is a career move out of the cassava patch I say, "sock it to 'em" honey.
What's for dinner?
In the last week, how many times has your Thai wife cooked for you? No, I'm not asking you how many times your wife has made love to you. I use that expression loosely as a lot of us have not only not been down to the amphur for this sacrificial rite, nor jumped the broom or is that the wedge at her local village shindig. But before you rush forward with your mitigating excuses, let me not ask you was this not at least an inferred part of the package? The package of what, the package of support, but she can't cook western food I hear you plead! What about rice? I take it she's got past thrashing the husk stage! It's not as if Thai food wasn't part of the major reasons why you decided to uproot and settle a million miles from home. Ah, but I've married a career woman. Terrific, so that's two careers you're married to, and with all these proceeds I trust she's tipping in for the staff preparing your meal each evening?
How much do you need to survive?
I feel that anyone with less than 12 million baht available after buying their home should not be trying to live here without sufficient income. I think I am pretty much thinking along the lines of the Thai government as their lowest acceptable income for a retirement visa is 65,000 baht per month – equivalent to £15,600 per annum. A respected UK think tank has just announced that £14,400 per year is the minimum a couple can survive on in the UK. Being single might shave a few hundred of that. A full single pension is £5,000 per annum. You work it out! I need £30,000 per annum to support my current lifestyle but I am sure many could manage on less and probably so could I, if I had to.
I have often had difficulty buying goods in Thailand because the staff know nothing about the product and / or, although it is on display, they "no hab." This week I decided to buy a mobile phone with a QWERTY keyboard to replace my old, basic model. After considerable research I chose an HTC but wanted to test the response on its touch screen. The best place to do that, I thought, was the HTC service centre in Bangkok, at Fortune Town. I found the address on their website, but was rather alarmed to discover that the lead item on their home page was related to a fair held last February! Hardly gives you confidence in the company, does it? Not surprising, then, that the so-called service centre staff could not provide any assistance at all, did not have several of the phones on display, and could not even tell me the price of a new model they had on special display! I tried a few stores nearby but found they also could not demonstrate the models (i.e. they could only take your money and, if afterwards you didn't like the phone, tough luck!). One shop could not even unlock their display case! Beyond belief, isn't it?! How do any of these places make money? I eventually found a shop where, incredibly, the assistant knew everything about every model I asked about and demonstrated several. What service should be like. I bought from her, and so did my wife. If you want great service and a wide range of available phones (not only on display), try shop 2B07 at Fortune Town, just up the escalator from the food court. By the way, after the HTC fiasco I bought a Nokia.
The kettle is black!
Seeing some of the stories and emails regarding Western women getting all pretentious on us reminded me of a story I want to share with you and the readers. I was back in the UK one Xmas and one night went out with my mates for a trip down memory lane. They were all pulling my leg that as a long-time resident of Thailand, my "normal" chat up lines of long or short time may not work much on the locals – but it was all in good fun. So as the night wore on, we ended up in a lap dancing place. A mate and I were sitting in chairs while these 2 blondes did their stuff. They made an offer that they could do a "lez act" for 20 quid and being gentlemen eager to support the locals we said yes. Was a good laugh – anyway at the end, they asked my mate why there was a group of us out – was it a stag do or something. He replied that they were having a night out to celebrate me coming back from Thailand for a few weeks – at which point one of the girls gave me an earful along the lines of being a mate of Gary Glitter, a sick and sad pedo etc! I protested that I had a proper job and had no interest in such things but she continued, at which point I told her, for someone to be so quick to denigrate me and my morals, 5 minutes ago you were licking your mate out for a tenner! As my lawyer mate said, case closed!
Mandarin in Nana Plaza has been getting big raps from a number of punters for all the pretty girls in their current line up. Truth be told, I haven't stuck my nose inside Mandarin for some time but I'm not going to be able to remain a stranger forever, so positive is what's being said.
The rumour mill has it that Nanapong is about to get back into the dance contest game, hosting real dance contests, like only Nanapong can organise. Speaking with one of the Nanapong guys who was an integral part of organising their legendary contests at the start of this decade, he said to me, "I might not be that good at many things, but depravity is one of them!" Music to the ears of dance contest aficionados! I'll bring you more as I hear it.
Punters have been keen to check out the happenings in Nana and for sure there's been a noticeable increase in business in the plaza. There are more punters about and two bar owners reported that last week they had their best nights since February. It could also be that deteriorating attitudes and arrogance creeping in at some Soi Cowboy bars is sending locals back up the road to Nana.
Girls standing outside the bars at the Western (Penny Black) end of Soi Cowboy trying to haul customers into their bar are much more aggressive. Outside Country Road and Five Star, hello girls can be found in much greater numbers than ever before. That end of Cowboy is starting to feel more like parts of Patpong, with girls grabbing you as you walk past, even though it should be obvious to them that once you've reached that point you're leaving the soi.
One of the worst kept secrets in Bangkok is now public knowledge. Carlsberg beer is back! After the debacle of a few years back when the local distributor and the Danish principal couldn't agree on terms, Carlsberg is available again in Bangkok at selected outlets. One such venue is the Huntsman, the pub in the basement of the Landmark Hotel, just around the corner from Nana. Carlsberg will set you back 220 baht a pint, but if you are there between 3 and 9 PM it is two for the price of one! Expect to see it roll out in more venues popular with foreigners.
The ground floor of Nana Plaza is still a mess with some remaining debris from the 3 demolished bars still to be removed. I can just imagination the indignation of the bar owners, being told not only that their bars could no longer operate, but that they had to demolish them – and bankroll the clean up! The photos below show how the ground floor of Nana Plaza looked on Friday night.
But the latest rumours coming out of Nana Plaza are absolutely mystifying. It has been mooted that those who were leasing the now empty spaces on the ground floor of Nana Plaza have applied for permission to build new structures in their place – and permission has been granted! If true, it makes a mockery of the demolition and would indicate what some of us thought – that the structures had perhaps been built without building permission in the first place and have finally been ordered to be demolished. Rumour has it that if / when the new structure is built, the walkways on either side have to be wider than they were. In many ways I hope that that the area is NOT redeveloped. The plaza feels a bit more welcoming with the centre area open.
The original Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy was considered by many to be the best bar at that time. Both myself and Baronbonk went out on a limb in our commentary and said it was the best – which the Dollhouse management got much mileage out of. The Cowboy branch was good when it opened but I felt it went through a period where it never seemed to capture the same magic of the original Clinton Plaza branch. Things have turned around and there's a really good selection of lovelies in the Dollhouse in Cowboy at the moment – and good attitudes to boot. There are two different groups of girls, those upstairs and those on the lower dance floor – so check out both floors.
If you're on a tight budget, Washington Square is the place for free nibbles, and even free meals, on Saturday afternoons. The Sportsman Bar does free satay sticks and small burgers on Saturdays from 4 PM. And an institution of free meals for many years, the Texas Lone Staar also does free food on at that time, a full meal which is advertised on the board outside the bar.
I hope you're not fed up with me going on and on about the ills of getting involved with bargirls. Following on from last week's opening piece comes further evidence of the difficulties of making relationships with bargirls work. A mate who is a long-term tenant in a condominium in the Nana area is friendly with the Thai owner of the building who recently revealed to him a most telling statistic. In the past year, of the more than 50 units in the building filled with foreign residents who either live alone, have a Western other half or have a non-bargirl girlfriend, one of these units had a major problem. Just one. Of the 7 units where the tenant had an obvious bargirl live-in, there were 5 major problems. 5 out of 7 guys with bargirls in the building had a *major* problem, quite a percentage! And what was the nature of these "major problems" that the owner talked of? In one case the police had to be called to talk a former bargirl out of jumping from the balcony and in others, items were stolen and units trashed! There's no need to test the theory – it's so often bad news to get involved with this lot! In the very same building, a humorous notice was posted in the lifts, lobby and public areas advising residents that they had to register any "friends" who came to visit them. The used of the word "friends", in quotation marks, was used a number of times in the highly sarcastic announcement!
There has been yet another reported beating in a busy part of Pattaya. Late on Saturday night, a mate who is a long-term resident in Pattaya witnessed security staff from Hooties on Walking Street lay into a foreigner with a piece of 4 by 2! They smashed him on the head a number of times in an event my pal described as sickening, the way he described it made it sound that just one blow would have been enough to inflict major damage – or worse. What is interesting is that the guy was set upon after he had exited a different bar. It seems that the bar's hired thugs had been waiting for him to come out before they set upon hm. There will always be fights and other acts of violence when you have lots of alcohol and guys chasing girls late at night, but the number of reports about violence in Pattaya in recent weeks – this makes four major incidents in the busiest part of Pattaya's nightlife in as many weeks – does seem to be on the increase. Whether it is any worse now or it's just that things are reported more online, I do not know.
There are few bar owners or managers whose words I trust 100% but one of the few I do told me something interesting this week. We were talking about how his opinion of the bar industry, and the girls, had changed since he had gone from being a player to a manager. So I asked him what percentage of the girls in the gogo bar he runs have Thai boyfriends. I have always thought in the gogo sector of the industry that it was about 50%, perhaps the same or more for freelancers, and less for beer bar girls and massage girls. He looked me straight in the eye and said that 95% or more of the girls in his bar had a Thai boyfriend! Not only that, some of them really take the piss. One girl, who no longer works in the bar, has an American militaryman in the Middle East, an officer no less, as her legal husband, 4 other foreign saps sponsoring her as well as her real darling, her Thai boyfriend, who not only enjoys her more than the other 5 combined, he lives the good life on their dime!
I've been a fan of The Londoner for a long time. I like the food and always try to avail myself of their drinks specials, of which there are many, including 2 for 1 cocktails and house beers from 4 – 7 PM every day, 2 for 1 drinks all night long on Wednesdays and 2 for 1 glasses of wine on Thursday nights. I had not tried their roast dinner buffet for years, in fact I had forgotten about it until a mate mentioned it recently – and raved about how good it was. So last Sunday, just after I had put the column up online, we made it to the Sunday buffet at The Londoner. The roast meat was fantastic – lean cuts of meat, cooked perfectly and sliced properly, not hacked apart in chunks that resemble dog meat as a certain Irish pub does at its roast buffet. There were a number of interesting salads, seafood dishes, a dessert trolley and even a cheese board. The quality of the food was very good and the selection was greater than other roast dinner buffets in Bangkok. At 470 baht, it's a great deal, especially when you consider that most British pubs in Bangkok charge almost that much for a single plate roast dinner. The buffet runs from midday until 3 PM and again from 6 PM until 10. We will definitely be back.
Deuk Com, the computer shopping centre on South Pattaya Road, which is a treasure chest for counterfeit software, was raided this week. Following the official visit bent software couldn't be found anywhere. These raids on shopping centres peddling such contraband aren't uncommon and software is usually unavailable for anything from a day to week – but it always returns.
On the subject of software piracy, there's a funny amusing ad currently screening in some cinemas. It shows a number of Thais who have succeeded on the global stage, such as Paradorn Srichapan who reached the world ranking of #9 in men's tennis singles. It then shows Thailand at #3 and says that the country has the third worst software piracy problem in the world. The Prime Minster then comes on and tells the audience not to be naughty by buying copied software. While their attention has been diverted elsewhere in recent months, the current administration has made more of an effort than any previous administration to tackle the software piracy problem.
You have to laugh at the pragmatism of Thai women, but sometimes their actions made you wonder just what it is that is genuinely important to them. A case in point concerns a friend who was caught cheating by his wife. From what I understand, she found out about his philandering some time after it happened, as in weeks, or even months. She had conclusive proof and when confronted about it he didn't deny it. Rather than get nasty about it and make his life a misery, she simply said that it would cost him a laptop. Dumbfounded, he asked her what she meant. She explained that if he bought her a new laptop then she would forget about it altogether and it would be like it had never happened. He bought her a laptop and she has never mentioned it, referred to it or held it against him since!
Popular Bangkok visa run company Jack Golf has changed their visa run timetable. They now do a border run everyday for those who need to activate a new entry on their visa or for those without a visa to get a further 15 days to stay. For those who require a new tourist visa (i.e. permission to stay in the country for 60 days which can be extended in country for a further 30), they now do that 5 times a week, from Sunday to Thursday.
Mother's Day is more than just a public holiday in Thailand, it's also HM the Queen's birthday. Thais often give white flowers to their mum, in-laws or other respected female family members. If you would like to deliver flowers to someone important to you in Thailand this Mother's Day, August 12, you can do so with a Thailand-based, English-owned florist.
Photography columnist BKKSW and I went for a run up to Ayuthaya this week to check out the historic city's newest attraction, the Ayuthaya Floating Market. We held high hopes but I think it would probably be fair to say that we were both a little underwhelmed. An old-style Thai market has been recreated with a few canals, all of which is pretty enough, the problem being that the whole place felt rather "manufactured". We both felt that it made the most famous floating market of all, Damnoen Saduak in Rachaburi, seem authentic! In many ways it felt like it was built for Thai visitors, being all very cute and pretty but with little in the way of substance. And given that the signs leading there are predominantly in Thai only and most of the signs at the attraction itself are only in Thai, I'm guessing that Bangkok Thais are their target market as opposed to foreign visitors. It's worth 20 – 30 minutes of your time and is worth checking out if you find yourself up that way but I wouldn't make a special trip to see it.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand must have had a hernia (again!) over a documentary that screened on the BBC this week which once again shows that there's much about Thailand's tourist infrastructure and services that is sub-standard, and even dangerous. The program inferred that you should take a long, hard look when considering Thailand as a tourist destination, with reasons given from the troubles in the south to the fallout from political problems in Bangkok to the death rate on the roads. Brits can view it online at the BBC website whereas those outside the UK either need to use an English proxy server to view it or download it from a torrents site.
The rainy season is upon us and there were some really heavy falls this week. You would think Thais would know better but every time there's a storm I see entire loads of washing that had been hung out on the balcony flying away! Surely they must know that at this time of year you should only hang your washing out to dry on the balcony when you're at home so you can keep an eye on it! The heavy rains have also affected bar trade with rain keeping many indoors and this trade was down a little on last week.
Quote of the week comes from Dave The Rave, "Marrying a bargirl is like being the character Tom Cruise played in the movie, 'The Firm', once you get in it's really hard to get out."
Reader's story of the week comes from Babooey and is titled, "Bargirls, Relationships Et Al".
Bloomberg reports that Thailand has become Asia's second bull market.
Melbourne's The Age newspaper ran an article yesterday on eating out in Bangkok.
CNN profiles Empower, the organisation that helps Thai bargirls in Patpong, on its 25th anniversary.
A Dane was drugged by a lady of the night in Pattaya.
An English man and his Thai wife commit a double suicide in Pattaya.
Foreign criminals in Pattaya are going to have a tougher time residing in paradise.
The Thai Prime Minister talked to the Wall Street Journal this week.
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: Last year I married a Thai girl and she obtained a visa for New Zealand. She has been here for 4 months and we have been married 9 months in total. Things have not worked
out and I think it's best that she returns to Thailand. Do I have any legal obligation to provide for her when she is in Thailand and does she have any claim to property? Also assuming she does not agree to a divorce, am I able to obtain
this without her consent?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The first point for consideration is whether or not you registered a pre-nuptial agreement when you got married. If so, then the terms and conditions specified in this agreement will determine how the assets will be divided upon termination of the marriage. While you remain legally married, you have no legal obligation to provide for your wife, whether or not she is residing in New Zealand or Thailand. You of course may have in most people's mind a moral obligation; However, once the divorce is finalized then the assets will be divided accordingly and if you have children then child support payment will be determined as well. If you intend to divorce outside of Thailand then this should be done mutually with yourself and your wife through a Thai Embassy. If your wife refuses to divorce then legally you can file for grounds for divorce. In cases where the divorce is not settled amicably, the courts will determine how the assets will be split as well as the guardianship of any children from the marriage. If your intention is to divorce within Thailand then this can be done mutually at an Amphur (District Office).
Question 2: I married a Thai lady in Thailand. I divorced her in the US. (She was not present in the US when the divorce took place and I served her by publication). Am I still considered married in Thailand? AND How can I find out if she divorced me in Thailand?
Sunbelt Legal responds: As you are married in Thailand, the marriage laws that apply are under Thai law. While you registered divorce in the US, the jurisdiction of the divorce only covers US Laws. The general procedure is to mutually register the divorce at the nearest Thai Embassy. Only the Thai Embassy has the authority to dissolve your marriage under the Thai law in cases of divorce outside of Thailand. However, since this is a case of divorce by one party through a court order, the procedures are quite complex: You must take the US divorce decree at the Thai embassy and have it certified there. It must then be translated from English into Thai and consequently certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand. You must obtain a local “court order” from the Family Court in Thailand using the certified translation of the US Court order and submit it to the District Office where you have registered your marriage together with the original marriage certificate which must be given back. The local District Office will then produce an official “Divorce Certificate”. For future references, have this document translated in to English certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I enjoy making the rounds, gathering information and gossip to fill the contents of the weekly rant. Most weeks my rounds are uneventful but this week there was a bit more colour. I had left a bunch of friends in Cowboy early Friday night to zap up to Nana, take photos of the state of the plaza for inclusion in the column before dashing back to rejoin those friends. As I made my way around the middle floor of the plaza, I cringed when I heard "Stickman" being shrieked at maximum volume by a bunch of ladyboys! Before I know it, I had two ladyboys grabbing me, screaming "Stickman, where have you been?! We miss you!" The look on my face must have been frightful until I realised that it was some of the ladyboys I had had lunch with and interviewed a few weeks back. Their shrieking echoed around the plaza and across the way I saw the unmistakable sight of the shiny dome of the gogo guru himself, Dave The Rave, pop through the curtain at Angelwitch with a look of curiosity on his face, wondering what was going on. I swear I saw Dave spotted me with two ladyboys, rolled his eyes, shook his head and went back inside Angelwitch. We're supposed to be mates, Dave, but you abandoned me! But all was well, they just wanted me to snap their pics so I took a few shots and was on my way. The things I subject myself to in order to get this column to you every week…
Your Bangkok commentator,