Online dating took off in Thailand around the turn of the century and these days it's all the rage as foreigners increasingly eschew relationships with bargirls and attempt to meet women outside of the bar industry.
Conventional wisdom has it that online girls are free of the problems that plague women in the bar industry, from the lies about their relationship status to their very motivation for looking for a Western guy.
I spent much time fooling around with Thai birds online. I always thought it was a great place to meet regular women – and it is. But it is not without its challenges. Just because a woman does not work in the bar industry doesn't mean she is necessarily honest, single and motivated by a relationship with a Western guy for what could be termed the "right" reasons.
I've met some great women online, but I have met a few weirdoes too and had some strange experiences.
The Self-Made Girl
My interest was piqued the moment I saw her profile. She had posted a stunning photo of herself, taken by a pro in the gardens of an English manor. It was a beautiful summer's day and she was captured magnificently. She happened to be online at that time I was checking out her profile and after making contact and some quick chit chat via the dating site's live chat feature, we soon reverted to the Thai-girl friendly MSN Messenger.
Shelly was a very impressive woman. She didn't come from a rich family but her parents had saved for years to send her abroad to study for a Master's Degree. At 32 years of age, she had already bought and paid for a house and a car, less than 10 years after joining the workforce. She had a dual engineering and sales position for a large American company that earned her a whopping 170,000 baht a month plus an end of year bonus. She had a great work ethic and put in the hours. The company got its pound of flesh.
Her English was excellent, not quite fluent, but it was no obstacle to communication and we could talk about anything.
Online dating in Thailand is often very much wham, bam, thank you 'mam. You chat briefly, meet, hit it off and move on to the next. It's almost like the bar industry in that respect, except instead of paying a barfine and leaving some money on the pillow, you take her to Starbucks or buy her Japanese.
But Shelly was different. She was choosy about who she chatted with and admitted most guys she chatted with she had to block because they were blunt about what they were after. We chatted online for a month before we met – and when we did it was always outside, with no suggestion of a trip back to my place.
Shelly was fun to be with and we liked doing much the same things. There was a mutual attraction and I think we both felt that there was a chance this could develop into something. We took our time and did not rush into anything.
There was one thing that bothered me about Shelly and that was her teeth. The state of them was appalling. It wasn't that she didn't look after them – she did – but that they were horribly crooked. Such things as bad teeth wouldn't normally bother me but hers really were that bad. Now in her 30s, it was pretty obvious that she was not going to get them fixed. It wasn't enough to put me off her, especially as everything else about her was great, but I couldn't help thinking that it might have been something she would have had seen to as a teenager.
We took day trips out of Bangkok together, dined in some of the city's best restaurants and just enjoyed being together. A number of people commented that we looked good together.
Perhaps a month after we'd first met, we'd been out all day and ended up back at my place. I pulled out the best bottle of wine from the collection, ordered some food in and we just kicked back and relaxed. The first bottle of wine was devoured and we started a second. Two bottles of wine later and she was a bit tiddly, not drunk, but neither was she comfortable with the idea of driving home. Making out as if it would be some sort of burden to me, she asked if it would be ok to stay over.
One thing led to another and you can guess the rest. Well, not quite…
The lights were out but as my hands were roaming, as they do, I discovered something that didn't feel right, something I had never felt on a woman before. Oh my God, what is that! Rock hard! As she rolled on top of me, taking the lead, there was a mild pain on my chest as two rock hard breasts were pounding on top of me. So this is what breast implants feel like. I had never experienced a woman with false breasts and as I don't grope women in bars I had no idea what they felt like. It was a feeling I really didn't like. They were rock hard and horribly unnatural. I was able to conceal my feelings but they really did mar the whole experience.
The next morning I just could not look at her the same. Up until ending up in bed together everything between us had been great, but now I found that I could not get t out of my head how she would choose to go under the knife and get breast implants when she had such bad teeth that she had chosen to do nothing about! The combination of the rock hard fake breasts and the decision to put her breasts over her teeth made me quickly lose interest in her.
As guilty as I felt about my reasons for not wanting to see her again, I never did explain it to her. I mean, what could you say?
I never did see her again.
The Office Manager
The profiles I created on dating sites I used were really specific about what I was looking for, clearly stating that the women I was interested in meeting would be aged 27 up, well-educated, have a good job, a non-smoker and be free of tattoos. I made it clear that while I was somewhat flexible, these last two were absolute deal breakers. Even the loveliest girl with the smallest tattoo was not someone I was interested in meeting. It's best to be upfront about these things so as not to be disappointed later, right? And hey, this is Thailand where you CAN afford to be choosy!
The office manager, as was her job, and I, chatted on and off over a period of time. Despite having short hair which I find disappointing on Thai woman, she was attractive, spoke good English and I found it curious how she managed 50-odd farangs at work. She would often tell me about the problems she had managing the Western staff and how she resented being their manager while earning less than each and every one of them. What I liked about her most was her refreshingly frank attitude. She said what she thought and didn't beat about the bush – as Thais tend to. She reiterated over and over again that she hated lies and detested liars. Many women you meet online talk all sorts of nonsense so finding a straight shooter was refreshing.
She was quite forward and eventually it was her who asked me out. We met up at The Londoner, a public holiday, and it was very quiet. It happened to be 2 for 1 night and we ended up having more than a few. One thing led to another and we ended up back at my place.
We were both just laying back, enjoying the moment when I noticed her making awkward movements. It was like she had hurt herself or was somehow injured. No, I hadn't been that vigorous! I checked to make sure she was ok and she confirmed she was just fine. It was then that I realised that she wasn't hurt at all but rather that she was concealing something from me. Can you imagine my horror, and yes, that's the word, horror, when I eventually spotted her shoulder in the mirror and saw one of those traditional protective tattoos. I hate tattoos and she knew that so she had been hiding it from me! The mood had been killed. That she knew I hated tattoos, and that she had told me how much she hated liars, yet had lied to me about having a tattoo herself really put me off her.
I later explained why I didn't want to see her again. She laughed about it, thought I was a bit weird but accepted it.
I never did see her again.
The banker and I initially met after chatting on the original version of BangkokChat. We never met that often but when we did it was like we were boyfriend and girlfriend, seeing movies, grabbing a bite and just enjoying being together. She was from Isaan, the region from which I tend to avoid the local ladies, but she was educated, had a great job at an international bank, spoke excellent English, and more than anything she was just fun to be with.
We would meet up from time to time but then when I met Mrs. Stick we eventually stopped seeing each other and lost contact.
I had forgotten all about her until about a month ago when my phone rang one afternoon with a number I don't recognise. I don't usually answer calls from unknown numbers but in this occasion I did and to my surprise it was her. We had not seen each other or spoken for 8 years but she had kept my number.
She had seen me walking outside the bank in Sathorn earlier that day with the Mrs. and called me to say that she was shocked and didn't know what to do. She asked me why I would do that to her! Why had I been so cruel?!
Do what, I asked?
Why would you walk past my place of work with another woman, she asked. What about us, she asked?
What "us", I thought!
I thought she was joking but it became apparent she wasn't. She asked me if I wanted to meet her which I thought was quite ridiculous, given that I clearly had someone already. I am glad things never did develop between us way back when I first knew her.
I never did see her again.
In a city of 12 million or more, you don't expect to start chatting online with someone who lives just around the corner, barely a 5-minute walk from your condo. But that is where she lived, just 5 minutes away.
I should have smelled a rat when right from the outset she said that she was keen to come to my place. If they do that with you, they will do it with anyone – and a woman who is not discerning holds little interest for me. No, the local shopping centre would be better, I said.
No more than an hour after we had started chatting online, we met in person. She didn't want to eat, gulped her coffee in record time and then suggested that we repair to my place. She was pretty, had made a real effort to do herself up and had told me that she was an employee at one of the city's 5-star hotels. Knowing that such places are quite picky about who they recruit, I figured what the hell, let's go!
I remember sitting on the bed with her, looking out across the Bangkok skyline at the height of rainy season as the heavens opened. The sky was illuminated by lightning strikes and we just sat there, enjoying a ringside view of Mother Nature's latest performance.
Her first post-coital words I remember clearly, "Do you speak German?" I responded that I had studied the language many years earlier and that at one time I could speak the language to some degree but non-use meant that when I tried to speak German a mix of Thai and German came out. It was a curious question but I didn't think anything more of it at the time.
I walked her back to her place for she had an early start the next day.
She was employed as a butler in a 5-star hotel, one that I could see clearly from my balcony. I got online the next day and within seconds a chat window opened and it was her saying hello. She explained that it was a quiet day and she was lounging in one of the suites on a floor which she and another girl looked after. A horny little number, she invited me to go and visit her at work. She intimated that she would like a repeat performance of the previous night right there in her workplace but as exciting as that sounded, I did not want to be the cause of her losing her job.
With MSN Messenger, which is what we were using to chat, there is an option to view the other person's profile which may contain information they have the option to complete about themselves. There's general information, photos and there may even be exchanges between them and other users, all kind of like what you get on Facebook.
I clicked on her profile not expecting anything much.
Miss 5-Star had been busy filling out her profile which she seemed to almost maintain as some sort of diary. And it would seem that by meeting me she had been unfaithful. There were photos from less than two weeks earlier of her and a German guy at their engagement party! There were also numerous public messages between the two of them declaring their love for each other, right up to and including the previous day! She had recently become engaged yet she was still seeing other guys. I guess she didn't realise that anyone could access this info.
I didn't confront her about it as it was her business, but neither did I want to be a party to it. I blocked her so she could not contact me.
I never did see her again.
Miss Chiang Mai
We had chatted on and off for months but with her in Chiang Mai and me in Bangkok I never did think we would meet. Some guys do travel around the country to meet girls they've met online, in fact some guys travel from their homeland all the way to Thailand to meet someone they have met online. Not me. If it was going to take more than 30 minutes to get somewhere, I just couldn't be bothered. The choices for a guy in Bangkok really are so great that you can afford to be choosy.
One Saturday afternoon Miss Chiang Mai calls me and tells me that she is in Bangkok, and that she is actually sitting in Swenson's at the local shopping centre. I had no idea that she was coming to Bangkok and it caught me out of the blue. The alarm bells should have started screaming at that point but hey, she was keen to meet up and she was in Bangkok and had made the effort to come to my part of town so I put my skates on and made it to the shopping centre in record time.
We had traded photos so I knew what she looked like and I spotted her at a distance. Like most northern girls she was fair-skinned and a bit taller than the average Thai which made her attractive and very easy on the eye. I noticed that there was some stuff with her, or to be more accurate, she had luggage with her!
After exchanging pleasantries followed by a few minutes of chit chat, there was an awkward silence on her part. She had something on her mind and it was then that she said the 4 words I dread from a woman. "I have a problem!" Really, are there 4 worse words that can come out of a woman's mouth?
"I don't have anywhere to stay! Can I stay with you?"
It was totally unexpected. I didn't need to answer for the look on my face said it all!
Hell no! No way could she stay with me! I value my time, my space, my privacy and my independence. I hate waking up next to a woman I am not involved with. I wouldn't want her to be there because she would interfere with my life and my lifestyle and most importantly my freedom. I would have been happy enough to spend some time with her, but to arrive out of the blue like that and expect to be able to check in to the Stick residence like it was a hotel, well, that was not going to happen!
The conversation deteriorated quickly, with her claiming that I had promised that she could come to Bangkok any time and stay with me. That suitcase was large enough that it may have had clothes and supplies for a month!
I made my excuses and returned home. One thing I never do with these girls is makes promises I have no intention of keeping. While I was sure I had never said nor suggested anything that could be interpreted as an invitation to stay, I checked our chat history. There was absolutely nothing there to that effect. She was simply being manipulative. Some guys might like the idea a woman turning up out of the blue. She would most likely clean your condo until it was spotless and bonk your brains out. But she's a stranger, someone you've never met before and they want to move in right from the outset?! Any woman who plays that sort of manipulative game holds no interest for me. Forget it!
I never did see her again.
Orange was typical of the Thai women you chat with online – a girl from the provinces who had graduated with a degree from a no name university and come to Bangkok seeking not just a job, but a new life. She was on the treadmill, otherwise known as the accounting department, the treadmill to nowhere.
We met a few times. She thought it was getting serious. I didn't.
One day we were chatting online and she asked if she could come over. I said no as I had things to do and she would just have got in the way. She pressed and was ever so keen to come by. I stood firm. She made out that she would be going away and that if we didn't meet that day, it would be some time before we could meet again. Sensing a manipulative technique to get me to cave in, I made my excuses and changed my status on MSN to appear offline. The conversation ended at that point.
A week or so later I saw Orange online. I initiated chat and as I had no plans that day I asked her if she wanted to come over. She said she couldn't. Curious as to her change in attitude from the last time we had chatted, I asked her why not. She replied that she couldn't because she was in Kenya!
Now I have never heard of a Thai woman going to Kenya and knowing the propensity of some local woman to tell porkies, I told her that I thought she was making up silly excuses and that she was probably at home in Lad Prao. She replied that she was not in Thailand, but in Kenya, in Nairobi to be exact. Mildly surprised that she even knew a city in Africa, let alone in Kenya – this girl was educated insomuch that she had a degree but really was not that bright – I asked her the name of the hotel. She replied immediately with a name and then gave a brief description of it! While chatting I Googled the name of the hotel – and it was exactly as she had described! I called her mobile phone number and it was turned off.
I asked her what she was doing in Kenya and she said that she had gone there with a workmate for a holiday. Bollocks, I thought, very few Thais would list Kenya as somewhere they would like to visit. She then went on to volunteer the airline she had taken, the fight number and the arrival time. Again I Googled it and again it checked out. I asked her the local time and she replied immediately. I checked online and discovered that she had got that right too!
I wished her a nice time in Kenya and even though I still wasn't convinced that she really was in Africa, I left it at that. I wasn't that keen on her and I had no real right to know where she was. I was curious nonetheless, as well as a little worried. Africa is no place for a timid Thai girl.
A week or so later we chatted online and she said that she was back in Thailand. She turned on her webcam and I recognised her room. She held up some crafts and a T-shirt she had bought in Kenya that clearly said Kenya on the front! It looked like she really had been to Kenya!
So just what had Orange been up to? What was she doing in Kenya of all places? In all likelihood, she was with a Western guy who had reason to be there on business and had taken her with him. If he was an offshore oil industry worker who was in and out of Thailand then things would add up. I was never really that keen on her so I didn't press it.
I never did see her again.
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken on Sukhumvit Road from soi 8, looking across at soi 11. The first person to email me with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to get the 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. The third person to get the photo right wins a 700 baht gift certificate from Lolita's in Pattaya.
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011. You have 90 days to claim the Lolita's prize. Prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week! If you wish to claim a prize, you must state a preference for the prize you prefer, or list the prizes you would like in order of preference – fail to do so and I will award the prize to the next person to get the photo right.
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 – Shit together or shitty life?
After living and working here for 10 years now, it is quite evident that most (not all) of the expats here in Thailand who on the surface appear to have their shit squared away in fact have some kind of issue. We all know a guy or two who appears to really have his personal and / or professional life in order here in Thailand and we think, "This guy has his shit together." But when you get to know most guys here, almost all have some kind of personal, relationship, employment, emotional, or money issue. Just my observation, but very few guys here are really living the perfect life that the rest of us might envy.
Becoming the playground of the moneyed expat.
These days I try to cut down on time in Bangkok due to the expense and dare I say it, the less edgy feel of the place. Pattaya is better for the party scene although it is slightly one-dimensional in a way that Bangkok is not. On the other hand the upscale dining and entertainment options only seem to get better but increasingly I think Bangkok is more enjoyable for the cashed-up corporate expat, or the cashed-up visitor.
A BJ bar aficionado speaks.
Working in a BJ bar is just a job. They all have husbands or boyfriends. You, as a customer, are not in their real lives. You're a cow to be milked, processed and then it's "Next please!" You're out the door and out of their minds. That's how they like it. I've listened in on many conversations between Lolita's girls in Bangkok and they never mention 50-year old farang customers going down on them as a source of fun. Instead they love customers who finish really quickly and who give big tips. They can get sex at home, or any place. Money is what they like. That's what's "fun". If you really want them to have fun, tip them more and they can choose what to spend that extra money on. And somehow, given the choice, I doubt they'd rush to spend it on paying a 50-year old farang guy to go down on them. Out of the 700 baht fee, a Lolita's girl gets a 300 baht cut. The house gets the rest. So 200 baht is not such a good tip. 300 is more the standard. And plenty of guys pay more to get better service. The cuter ones, especially, are used to being given bigger tips. 500 is common, 1,000 happens quite a lot too. Some guys give tips of 2,000. And, guess what? They get more for the money. I've even heard of one guy giving a 6,000 baht tip for a BJ with a condom. And so, with the volume of customers they have, the cute ones aren't wetting their pants when they see the 200 baht tip guy who's going to waste their time with his idea of fun. They want the customer to finish as quickly as possible so they can get on to the next. At rush hour she could be doing 4 in an hour. Time is money. I've seen you say many times that working in a blowjob bar is the lowest rung of the sex industry ladder. The ladies don't see it that way. They look down on freelancers who have no fixed place of work. They sometimes even look down on gogo dancers who have to show their bodies. In Lolita's, they go to work and no Thais know what they do. It's not in Nana. Even the husbands and boyfriends don't know that the girls give BJs. Hard to believe for some farangs, but it's true. Ever wondered why any cute ones work at BJ bars when they're cute enough to make it in a gogo? It's because they make more money there. It's like you mentioned with Pattaya's Soi 6 – they make much more money than in a gogo because of the sheer volume of customers. Personally, I think the Lolita's girls deserve much more than a 200 baht tip. For example, consider the cost and level of service you'd get in an oily if you wanted just a blowjob. 400 baht at least for the massage / room. Then 1,000 baht to the girl. That's your 1,400 baht down and oily girls are usually crap at BJs. So I usually go with 500 baht, if the girl's done a decent job and is quite cute.
The downside of understanding Thai.
I now understand why you say it might be better not to learn Thai. I have lived here since March and I have been taking it seriously to learn Thai. After you learn a little you forget how nice everyone is. I've brought 2 girls back to my apartment and they were both serious girlfriends. I haven't been to the naughty bars since I moved here for work. I finished dating the first girl 6 weeks ago. I only started bringing my new girl around this week, a Chinese-Thai. Today the moto taxi guys outside my apartment that I always use yelled out to me and my girl in Thai that I had many girlfriends. If I was in the US there would have been a fight but I kept a cool head because I knew where I was. As a true southern gentleman I am very protective of my girlfriends. Thank goodness she believed me more than them. I don't have a clue why they would insult her or me like this. I have always been very nice to them. I give them 20 – 30 baht a day in business. They can forget it now! I have no problem walking over to another soi to find a moto taxi.
White skin, the path to riches!
I'm an Anglo-Saxon living in Thailand, married to a Thai, have a Thai daughter and my profession is Muay Thai. I mean my only profession, so you can imagine I'm poor in terms of whites in Thailand. My house was given to me by my father in law and he built a new one. You can imagine his old house – houses built 40 years ago by a lower class Thai are not that flash. Nonetheless, fighting in Samui and Phuket from my base in Nakhon, I can bring in 15,000 baht a month if I want, more than any local Thai. Yet regardless that I make more money than them, this classifies me as khi-nok. We can safely assume this arises from the preconception that all white folk are rich. They're baffled as to how I managed to acquire such little wealth with my white skin, as if it's the only skill of merit a person requires! And in a country where social status is everything, they're even more confused I can turn down an English teaching job that pays 40,000 baht a month, having never realised that some people value things beyond money and status. Maybe I just enjoy boxing and the occasional beer Chang on my small porch next to 2 roosters and a mongrel dog!
Bangkok taxi nightmare.
One morning this week I needed three taxis to reach my destination just five kilometres away. The first had a driver who overtook a car that was indicating right. Okay, normal. Then he almost ran down a pedestrian using a crossing. Again, to be expected in Thailand. But I wasn't prepared to accept him then driving down the wrong side of the road causing other vehicles to swerve to avoid him. I decided to abandon ship. I hailed another taxi, and should have been alarmed when I saw he was wearing his jacket backwards i.e. with the zipper at the back and slumping over the wheel. He soon proceeded to hit and mount the divide in the middle of the road! Out of that taxi and into a third. While on the subject of taxis and the recent writings about 'modified' meters, I was recently in one taxi that showed 35 minutes stopping time for a journey that only took 25. It clocked up the minutes even while we were sailing along at 60 km/h. As is so often the case, the photo ID of the driver did not match the actual driver.
Will there be a mass exodus from Thailand this time next year with word out that the world's most exciting sporting event, the Rugby World Cup, may not be broadcast live in Thailand? Yep, there is a very real chance that not only might the tournament be absent from all local networks, we might not be able to get to view it by satellite either. The only nationwide pay per view TV provider in Thailand, True Visions, has virtually no rugby coverage – and there's no reason to think this will change. Rugby (and cricket) lovers survived for a long time on South African cable TV which was broadcast in most of the British pubs but it is not longer available. That leaves just one network left carrying live international rugby, the Australia Network. However, the Aussies have said that as of 2011, there is no certainty that they will broadcast any rugby union matches because SANZAR (the South African, New Zealand and Australia rugby unions) has licensed the Super 15, Northern Hemisphere tours and Tri Nations series to another broadcaster! Could the thousands of die-hard rugby fans in Thailand be forced to leave the country if they want to watch the 2011 Rugby World Cup?!
I thought it was 1998 all over again when myself and a pal stuck our heads in Baccarra this week. There must have been 70 or more girls jammed on the downstairs dance floor – and more than a few were real lookers! At first I thought all of the girls in the entire venue were up on stage but looking around the bar I saw that just as many girls were lounging around – and only half the girls were on stage. And there must have been another 40 or more girls upstairs! For a short time it was like the good old days, when there were that many girls on stage that you couldn't even see some! It didn't take long for the illusion to be shattered and reality to set in. Engaging the girls in conversation revealed business-like attitudes and lofty expectations.
A 30-something-year old American joined the Bangkok Flying Club last Sunday, falling, or was it leaping, from a bar / restaurant some 25 floors up in the Asoke area. There's a glass barrier / wall about waist height in certain places from where he departed.
Progress remains slow on the ground floor in Nana Plaza. Is there some sort of weird plan to ensure that construction is NOT finished until the end of the rainy season, several weeks from now? I cannot understand why progress is so slow.
Upstairs in Nana, the small glass-fronted unit on the top floor next to Hollywood which looked like it would be developed into a hair salon is the temporary home for a number of red lounge style seats which one can guess will probably go into Hollywood. The same affliction is being suffered in Hollywood as the ground floor area, progress is moving at a snail's pace.
The mezzanine floor of the Dollhouse makes for a refreshing change from the rest of Cowboy. Of the upstairs crew, #26 would have to be the pick of the bunch. Downstairs is good too where there's a fabulous selection and downstairs #8 really should be wearing the #1 disc, for she seems to be everyone's favourite, including both the manager's and the owner's! Management have had the downstairs troop don the skimpiest of denim jeans, a good look with so many cuties in the bar and a throw back to the original Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza. You'll only see this treat on Thursday night so if you needed a reason to stick your head in The Dollhouse, swing by on Thursday.
Bangkok Beat has a deal on a few of America's better exports, with Maker's Mark, so difficult to find in Bangkok, at 140 baht a glass or 2,200 baht for the entire bottle.
I have really tried to enjoy myself in Cowboy's Suzy Wong's which once upon a time it was a fun venue, but I'm sorry, there's little fun to be found in there these days. The first problem is the music. Given that the average gogo bar punter is a middle-aged white Westerner, why is the play list dominated by (c)rap?! Few middle-aged white guys care for it and many can't tolerate it! The mix of Black music and Oriental paintings and decorations in the bar as well as the Chinese shrine at the back make a really odd mix. Admittedly it is great to see the girls full of bounce and almost boundless energy but it's so over the top that you wonder whether it's natural or not. With the he-used-to-be-a-she mamasan yahooing around the bar and the girls running amok, it feels disorganised and without structure, like the girls are in their own little world. Frankly, if, ever there was a venue desperately in need of a farang manager to turn it around, it is Suzy Wong's.
Doing a run through Soi 33 this week, there's not a lot going on. The Office, Livingstone's and Mojos all seemed to be doing a reasonable trade – by soi 33 standards – while most other venues were quiet. There were some pretty enough girls standing outside a number of bars so you can't say the soi is quiet due to a lack of lovelies.
If you weren't aware, everything the dancing girls wear in gogo bars from the bikini to the boots and even their numbered disc have to be paid for before they commence work in that venue. Some venues pass these items on to the girls at cost, but the odd venue doesn't – and chooses to profit from the girls. It should come as no surprise that on the top of the list for ripping off the girls are bars owned by The Arab! Not only is The Arab known for a myriad of dodgy practices, girls in some of his bars have to pay a princely 800 baht just for their bikini! The girls are also fined 200 baht if their shoes are not exactly the colour that they have been told to wear – even if the difference in shade of colour is so slight that one cannot make it out in what are ultimately poorly lit venues. If a girl misses a night of work, rather than being fined the equivalent of one night's barfine as is customary in the bar industry, but I believe illegal, they are docked two barfines at 700 baht per night = 1400 baht! Yep, as unbelievable as it is, this tyrant is as unpopular with the girls as he is with many Bangkok locals! You may think that there is a very simple way around this for the girls – head for the venues where girls dance fully nude and then there's no need for a bikini! That won't work unfortunately because while the girls may dance naked, they still have to wear something when they're not dancing.
But in fairness to The Arab, his rules are not as strict as those at the Bangkok branch of Lolita's. Please note that this is the Bangkok branch only, and not the Pattaya or Hua Hun branches. Who would believe that the barfine for one of the Lolita's girls is a whopping 4,000 baht from Monday to Thursday and an astonishing 5,000 baht for the busy days – Friday through to Sunday! OK, so this is not actually treating the girls badly, but rather a mechanism to ensure the girls remain in the venue. And as far as timeliness goes, the venue takes things to ridiculous lengths. Once upon a time the girls were docked an outrageous 20 baht a minute. Not any more. That was kind! Nowadays, if the girl is just a minute late, she gets hit with a 2,000 baht salary deduction! And if she arrives more than an hour late, it's 4,000 baht There are actually a bunch more totally odious regulations that I won't outline, all of which make me wonder why the girls would want to work there in the first place. I guess they really must be making serious money to put up with all that crap.
When walking along the busiest stretch of Sukhumvit, from Nana to Asoke, I prefer the even numbered-soi side where there are less vendors and the pavement is wider. That said, it has become a bit of a pain recently, especially just east of soi 8 where a bunch of pesky Indian tailors grab passers by. And to make it worse, for the past couple of weeks between sois 8 and 10 there have been a bunch of young Thais who claim to be conducting tourist surveys but who are in fact using the survey as a ruse to get your name and contact details for a call the next day which will result in a high pressure timeshare sales pitch. Naughty, naughty, they wear TAT logo-emblazoned shirts which suggest that they're part of an official government department which they are not.
That proud Brit, the Landlord of the very English Crossbar, has wilted to the Aussies – just like his fellow countrymen always do in the cricket – and will be showing the AFL grand final on Saturday, September 25. Crossbar will open around 9 AM that day. Be quick because some have already booked their tables. Snacks will be provided.
The Silver Dollar in Washington Square *is* still doing its free Sunday meal and *does* still have free wireless Internet, contrary to what I wrote in this column a few weeks back. That information was based on what was said by a waitress in the venue, who clearly was very confused that day.
Back in the hay day of the new Thermae in the late '90s, you'd often see a bunch of deaf and dumb girls. They would have a pen and paper handy and communicate with guys by writing messages; their written English was remarkably good. I was reminded of them this week when a mate was out late on Sukhumvit and came across a couple of deaf and dumb girls who were looking for a customer. Another mate once claimed to have taken two mute girls back to his hotel room. They were constantly communicating to each other with hand language and largely ignoring him so he flicked the lights. From then on he reckoned it was the threesome from heaven! Apparently in threesomes with Thai girls they often talk together in Thai and take the piss out of the guy – but with deaf and dumb girls, once the lights go out they have no means of communicating so they just get on and enjoy it!
I love a good Indian curry and my favourite Indian restaurant in Bangkok has long been the original branch of the Royal India which has the magic combination of great food and very reasonable prices. Many long-term residents swear by it and Thailand Tattler magazine has named it the best Indian restaurant in the country a number of times. It's located in Pahurat, the area behind Chinatown that is sometimes referred to as Little India. With the awful traffic in the area as well as the confusing one way streets, it can be difficult to get to. So when Royal India opened a new branch in the Emporium, directly opposite Duke's Express, I was pleased. No longer would I have to venture all the way out to Pahurat. I checked out the menu in the new branch and noticed that prices were about double those at the original branch. Knowing we would save a couple of cab fares, we decided to give the new branch a go. When the food arrived, it looked totally different to what you get at the original branch and I couldn't believe how small the portions were. It's one thing to put the prices up to cover the rent, but taking the piss with tiny portions is just wrong! Two of the curry dishes we ordered had precisely 4 small pieces of meat. Yes, just 4 small strips of meat. What a bloody rip off! The quality may have been good and the taste excellent but the tiny portions were like some sort of sick joke. 900 baht later and were still a little hungry. No way will you see me in the Emporium branch of Royal India again!
Meeting up with an owner of one of the big online hotel reservations companies this week, amongst other things we talked about how hotel bookings were looking for the upcoming high season. According to him, bookings in Thailand aren't looking great whereas down in Bali rooms are selling fast. This is just one company, of course, but how does this bode for the coming high season? We'll just have to wait and see…
24 years ago Doug Harrison opened the doors on what was to become a favourite hangout and eatery for Westerners in Bangkok. Bourbon Street in Washington Square has long been THE farang restaurant and if this weekend is anything to go by, its popularity is as strong as ever. Bourbon Street is celebrating its 24th anniversary with a weekend long buffet extravaganza with a truckload of dishes on offer, for just 324 baht. We got there early last night and managed to get one of the last empty seats. Shortly afterwards the large venue was packed, and I mean that, packed, with the restaurant full of people standing around, waiting for a table. Congratulations are in order for Bourbon Street, having managed to remain so popular despite the huge competition it faces from other farang food eateries all over town.
Why are there security checkpoints when entering any underground station, but none when going up to any on the skytrain stations? Is the underground a target while the skytrain is not? Curiously, the skytrain currently has armed soldiers on patrol on the platforms whereas the underground stations do not. It has to be said that the security checkpoints at underground stations are nothing more than a cursory check and give a false sense of security.
There's a lot of nonsense written on Thailand-centric forums about Internet connections in Thailand and if you were to believe most of the nonsense, downloading anything more than small files just isn't possible. Things have changed markedly over the past couple of years and unless you require ridiculously fast speeds, Internet speeds in Thailand are just fine these days, especially if you have your own direct connection (as opposed to a shared connection as is often the case in cheaper rented digs). Those who complain seem to be either seeking the sort of service levels that I'm not sure exist in the West or are perhaps one of the unlucky ones in an area where speeds are slow because of the distance they are from the local telephone exchange – and there's not much you can do about that anywhere in the world.
When looking for a hotel in Thailand I prefer something that is Western-owned and managed, reasonably priced and includes wireless Internet throughout. If this is the criteria you seek, here are a few hotels to consider – and if you're looking at booking for Christmas / New Year or the high season, it would probably pay to book soon because all of these properties are relatively small in size, yet popular! In Bangkok there is the very reasonably priced Town Lodge in Sukhumvit soi 18 and the more spacious, yet still very reasonably priced Livingstone's Boutique Hotel in Sukhumvit soi 33. In Pattaya I recommend Pattaya Bay Resort and in Phuket I'd go for Summer Breeze Hotel. All are fine properties – foreign-managed, well-located and have free wi-fi!
Quote of the week comes from the new signage on the Lolita's window in Hua Hin, "Where customers always come first!"
Reader's story of the week is titled "Apocalypse Sukhumvit" by Mega describes the writer's inability to pull himself away from the nightlife industry even though he knows his participation in it is doing him no good at all.
Check out YouTube for the latest Western media propaganda about Western men getting involved with Thai Women. Bride Trafficking Unveiled, a British documentary fronted by a female who loves to overuse and indeed misuse the term "mail order bride" grates. The whole thing contains a lot of BS, so beware!
The Wall Street Journal featured Thai water buffaloes this week.
Dreadful driving by a Thai kills an innocent Westerner.
A New York Times correspondent was a long way from home when he penned Pattaya cleaning up its image.
An infamous Dutch property mogul is arrested again in Pattaya.
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: I'm in the market to buy a car and want to put it in my name. If I don't have a work permit and am here on a marriage visa, what's the procedure to get that done?
Sunbelt Legal responds: As a foreigner, if you intend to purchase a car in Thailand and put it in your name, you will need to have a non-immigrant visa and either a work permit or a proof of address form, which is available from the local Immigration Office. You cannot own a vehicle in your own name if you are in Thailand on a tourist visa.
When you buy a car at a dealership they will normally arrange the paperwork for you and register the vehicle. You will have to provide signed copies of your Passport, Visa and Work Permit or Proof of Address Form. However, certain Vehicle
Registration Offices of the Department of Transport will want to see your original passport and work permit. Rather than leaving your passport and work permit with the dealership, you can take copies and the originals to the Registration Office,
where they will stamp and certify the copies. These certified copies will be sufficient for the motor dealer to complete the registration and it protects you by keeping your passport / work permit with you during the process. The annual vehicle
registration fee is governed by the engine size and the type / age of vehicle. It is important to note that the vehicle registration sticker issued by the vehicle registration office (which shows the year of expiry in large figures) must be
displayed on the left hand side of the windscreen. When a new car is registered, you will be given red license plates until your registration is complete, which will usually take a maximum of two months. According to the law, you may not drive
at night or outside your home province on temporary red plates. Once the registration has been completed you can return to the dealer to have the permanent plates fitted and collect the registration book. If you're buying a car and taking
out a loan, the lender will hold the registration book until you complete the repayment of the loan, at which time they'll transfer it into your name. If you do not hold a work permit then it can be difficult to obtain financing for the
purchase of a car. There are some instances where foreigners have been able to obtain financing for a vehicle without the need for a work permit. However, this will depend upon which car dealership you chose. As a general rule, foreigners
will need to place at put down at least 30% when applying for financing. This percentage will vary depending upon the dealership and the model of car that you intend to purchase. Finally, a Thai Guarantor may also be requested when a foreigner
is applying for financing. If you have not purchased a vehicle previously then a Thai Guarantor is usually requested in order to get the loan approved.
Question 2: What is the law regarding child support in Thailand? My ex-girlfriend looks after our child, a child I did not want and the ultimate reminder of the importance of using protection. My ex does a lousy job of supporting
him and at present I support her to the tune of 5,000 baht – some of which I don't doubt goes on her yaba habit. What is the law regarding child support? We are both living in Thailand and I have no plans to return to
the bastion of 21st century control, the USA.
Sunbelt Legal responds: If your ex-girlfriend and you are not legally married, the custody of the child shall lie with the mother in accordance to Section 1546, of Civil and Commercial Code under Book 5 (Family), Title 2 (Parent and Child), Chapter 1 (Parentage) “A child born of a woman who is not married to a man is deemed to be the legitimate child of such woman.” In reference to your question with respect to the child support issue, according to Section 1565 “the applications for maintenance of children or for any other form of maintenance to be given to children, it may be taken up by the father or the mother except the case to be taken up by the Public Prosecutor according to Section 1562.” She (your ex-girlfriend) could file a lawsuit against you for child support. The amount would have to be determined by the mutual agreement of the mother and you or the court would decide. If it was an agreement between the two of you, it would have to be reasonable. Prior to any case going to court for support, she would have to obtain a judgment of the court in appointing / recognising you as the legitimate father.
* This does not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for direct legal consultation with a licensed attorney. The information is provided for educational purposes only and it may not account for the specific facts and up-to-date laws that may be applicable to each individual's situation. It does not take the place of consultations with a licensed lawyer and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between readers of the information and Sunbelt Asia, Co. Ltd. or any of its employees.
Every type of news media likes to be the first to break a story. Be the first consistently and you will attract more readers, viewers or listeners. I'm pleased to say that I have broken some stories before major news sources recently. The Nana Plaza ground floor beer bar demolition and the following redevelopment made it on to the front page of The Bangkok Post's premier Sunday edition – a full 3 weeks after I started covering it. And this past week I netted another scoop, beating the New York Times to a story about the changing Pattaya, my article running on Sunday and theirs the following Wednesday. It's not a bad week when you beat the New York Times to a story! When I covered the Bangkok protests earlier this year feedback was hugely positive, some preferring it to the mainstream media's coverage. While admittedly some of the topics I cover don't tend to be reported in the mainstream media, it's nice to know that when they do cover these stories it is they who are playing catch up!
Your Bangkok commentator,