Stickman's Weekly Column September 11th, 2011

Jealousy, Envy, Feeling Slighted And Revenge In The Land Of Smiles


Pissing off the locals anywhere in the world isn't a good idea, and in Thailand it can take on serious consequences. The Thais aren't shy in responding when they feel they have been hard done, or merely slighted, and often do so in a brutal manner.

The way Thais deal with those who have wronged them, or those they may be jealous of, or merely envious of, is to treat them the same way they would a snake in their house. If the snake is big, poisonous or dangerous, it is gently ushered out of the house without annoying or upsetting it. If it is small, weak or poses little or no danger, it is killed! It isn't hurt or wounded but deliberately killed! At the very least, it is hurt so badly, maimed or disfigured, that it will never come back to bother again. Snakes, so some Thais tell me, are just like humans. Their memory is good and if you don't deal with them effectively the first time, they will come back for you! Applying this logic to people, if you are jealous, envious or slighted by someone who is strong, powerful or considered to be a formidable foe, you gently extricate yourself away from them. But if they are weak, vulnerable or pose no harm to you, you might just go after them.

Thais are relaxed and easy-going on the surface, but it isn't difficult to inadvertently upset or annoy them by doing very little, or even just by being yourself. In a land where many locals are poor and many foreigners are rich, envy and jealousy can turn a Thai against you.

If a local feels slighted, or even merely envious or jealous of an outsider's perceived success in their country, they may feel an almost involuntary need to rectify things. If something triggers a Thai to become genuinely aggrieved, there may be no limit to how they respond.

When they feel slighted, or that they have suffered, been disrespected, cheated or hard done by in some way, they may have an overwhelming urge to get even. Merely witnessing what they perceive as uncouth, rude or disrespectful outsiders behaving badly in their backyard, perhaps enjoying things that they can only dream about, can bring on feelings of discontent or anger. And if it is rubbed in their face, they might feel the need to do something about it, perhaps even administer some sort of revenge.

Revenge can take a number of forms from physical violence, to notifying the authorities of alleged improprieties to using their influence to see that the person they despise is somehow disadvantaged. The higher their social status, the more finesse.

Years ago in the Thermae Coffee Shop, way back when customers were mostly Caucasian, fights weren't uncommon. Occasionally it was customer on customer, sometimes even girl on customer, but often a few of the male staff retaliated against a drunk, abusive customer. When the punches stopped and the foreigner was a bloodied mess on the ground, a staff member would bark a barrage of coarse Thai that showed the disdain they held some customers in.

The case of a Thai woman who successfully sued the New Zealand government for wrongful detention after she was held in a South Auckland police station and denied sanitary supplies for 3 days was widely reported in the Thai press. Thais were shocked that a country's courts would rule in a foreigner's favour, irrespective of the treatment that person received, and aghast that $50,000 in damages was awarded! When a Thai responds to what they may consider or perceive as wrongful actions, words or behaviour of a foreigner in their country, they often feel they can act with total impunity.

Revenge by Thais against foreigners is usually because of foolhardy actions. But don't let me be alarmist. It's not difficult to placate jealous, envious or vengeful locals.

Sometimes it is worthwhile yielding, even when you know you're in the right. In Phnom Penh a couple of months back and out and about with a local expat resident, he explained that, for example, if he was in the Heart of Darkness (a popular disco that attracts an eclectic mix of hookers, Western expats, sex tourists, NGO workers and repatriated Cambodians) he would apologise to a Khmer if they bumped into him. His logic was – and to me this is spot on – by doing so you immediately diffuse any situation and there is almost zero chance it will escalate. A different guy with a few drinks in him might respond differently.

Having a go at a local in this part of the world – even if that person is totally in the wrong – can be hazardous. It could be someone driving dangerously or someone who tried to rip you off. Your response may seem reasonable and justified – and quite acceptable in Farangland – but it might cause things to escalate in the blink of an eye.

Living a low-key life and not revealing much about yourself and your income is prudent anywhere, especially so in Thailand. Thais who struggle on less than 10,000 baht a month cannot comprehend how foreigners who can't speak their language and who behave in a way that offends local customs pull monthly salaries that look like a telephone number.

Being generous can help. A bottle of Red Bull for the security guard at your condo from time to time, and a few bottles of Chang at Christmas will not only endear him to you, they will likely tell others you're ok, a stamp of approval of sorts.

But on the other hand, it pays to be careful who you get close to.

Be legal. Any vulnerability, such as remaining in the Kingdom on an expired visa, opens you up to problems. If someone has it in for you and is aware of your situation, you might not just be the victim of an act of revenge, blackmail or extortion may come on the radar.

Over the years I have seen some foreigners make some really bad decisions, opening themselves up and potentially becoming the target of serious acts of revenge. I still wonder what happened to a fellow from Luxembourg who became involved with a local lass and introduced her to the world of intimacy. Some months later he decided that she was not the girl for him and cut her loose. Shit happens. The problem was her father was not impressed. And her father was a cop, a senior cop. Cops and those in senior government positions have the power to make your life difficult if they so choose.

Acts of revenge are common with matters of the heart in Thailand. Both Thai women and Thai men have been known to become infantile in retaliation to a loved one who loses interest in them.

Foreigners are seldom the victims of random acts of violence in Thailand. News reports of foreigners beaten up or attacked should be read between the lines. It often transpires in follow up reports that the foreigner had pissed someone off.

There are things I do to avoid these problems, some of which I admit are a little defensive.

I am very careful of letting any Thais get close to me. I don't enter into commercial relationships or business dealings with Thais, ever. If a Thai ever contacts me about advertising on this site, for example, the delete button comes into action. I know that down the road there will be problems so I don't even bother going there.

Like my friend in Phnom Penh, at the first sign of trouble or accusation from a local, I apologise and smile, even if I know I've done nothing wrong. Misunderstandings can usually be settled quickly and every long-term Thailand expat knows the importance of resolving problems here quickly. Let them fester and small problems become big problems.

To be sure, envy, jealousy and revenge is not a Thai / farang thing. Thais can be just as ruthless, perhaps even more so, when they feel slighted, cheated or hard done by, by their own.

*When* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken inside the popular Robin Hood pub, on the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Sukhumvit soi 33/1. Following a suggestion from the dirty doctor, a revised photo competition will run for a few weeks. Instead of identifying the location of the photo, contestants must say WHEN this photo was taken. The location is obvious. All you have to do is tell me the year the photo was taken. The first person to email me with the correct year wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the fish and chips restaurant. The second person correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the 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 Duke's Express voucher MUST be redeemed by June 2012. The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. 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 – failure to do so results in the prize going to the next person to get the photo right.

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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 WEEKBrazen unlicensed cabbie!

A contractor flew over from Canada for a job at one of our oil rigs here a couple of weeks back. All arrangements were made and he had contact numbers and names, the pickup driver's name and vice versa. He arrives at Bangkok's airport and the driver finds him no problem. The driver then escorts him to the pavement and asks him to wait, explaining that will go and get the car, all done with the best intention to prevent they guy from having to walk to the car park. So the driver goes to the car park, and two minutes later a car comes round, stops and tells the guy to get in. He does so and they take off! A couple of minutes later the driver comes around and can't see the guy! He searches everywhere then starts to get worried and calls a contact at the company who in turn calls the guy's mobile. He eventually answers and says that he is in the car with the driver. Oh no you're not! The company person asked to talk to the driver who said he was talking the guy to Pattaya – and laid down the phone. The guy was supposed to be heading to Phitsanulok! Police were informed and we managed to get back in touch with the driver and explained that he was in serious trouble unless he returned the guy to the airport which eventually he did. Instead of dropping him off at the drop off zone, he was let out at the bus terminal as he knew the Police would be waiting for him! Anyway, all's well that ends well. The guy said, "I did think something was not quite correct when after two minutes he driver asked me for money for petrol." Anyway, a warning to guys visiting Thailand, make sure you get in the correct car and have all the contact details!

The pearl of the Andaman.

I've just spent a week in Phuket with my family. I have been there many times before and all I really wanted for the break was a decent resort with a pool. Lucky for me as it became apparent that there is nothing to do in Phuket for your typical family. OK, you can fill up a couple of days with boat trips to Phi Phi etc. but most families go there for two weeks. What a dull trip. I hired a car as I can't stand the local taxis and when you drive around the island it is a very ugly sight. Even the beaches are nothing to write home about. My wife (Thai) was very disappointed with the Thais we came in contact with. None of them friendly, just money grabbing, miserable people. The food was nothing special, even the seafood was 50/50. The most disturbing thing was the prices. Of course I expected the prices to be higher in Phuket but the cost of some things was extortionate. I fancied a couple of rounds of golf. Loch Palm cost just over 4,000 baht and Red Mountain was 6,500 baht a round. That is serious money for a game of golf – over 130 pounds! I'm pretty sure you could play at some of the best courses in Europe and the US for that. The wife, being Thai, insisted on seeing Soi Bangla and the bar scene. Personally I hate the place but gave in. What a dump! The ugliest bargirls I've ever seen and with such a crap attitude and the ladyboys make the place like a zoo. My wife fancied some noodle soup at one of those stalls on the street and was soon joined at the table by a hooker who proceeded to tell her about the previous night and the customers she serviced. WTF! The good thing about the trip was that we found an excellent resort on Kata Noi beach. However the wife was obsessed by ghosts and the possibility of another tsunami for the entire week. I think I will stick to Indonesia for future trips. Better food, nice people, interesting places to see and not a rip-off. I'm amazed how Phuket has stayed so popular for so long when there is so much more out there in South-East Asia.

The label fell off!

I started Friday night at a bar on soi 4 down past Nana Plaza. I ordered a Beer Lao. The waitress returned with a beer that had no label on it. I looked at her and asked what beer it was and she said that it was indeed Beer Lao and that the label had been rubbed off due to transporting it from Laos. Really? I drank it and it didn't taste right. Afterwards, I went to The Big Mango. I ordered a Beer Lao. Now that's a Beer Lao. I don't know what the beer was that I had at the other bar. I hope that it wasn't filled with backwash from other beer bottles!

Pattaya jet ski scammers go high tech!

Regarding the jet ski scam, only 2 months ago 2 young Canadians came into my local bar on the dark side where they had removed themselves to before leaving for Malaysia the next day, having had 20,000 baht extorted from them by the jet ski crooks. The jet ski people were getting people to pose for photos on the jet ski before going off on it, but then whilst the skiers were skiing, the operator was getting a computer, and using Photoshop or whatever to airbrush out the damage on the ski visible on the original photo and then giving the returning skier the what have you done to my jet ski routine, along with look at the photo of you on it only an hour ago with no damage, pay up or off we go to the police!

No need to visit the embassy!

I just did my 90 day reporting at Immigration here in Hua Hin. I always renew my retirement visa on income verification, via the embassy, and not savings in a bank. The lady at Immigration told me that for 4,000 baht they would verify my income without me having to go to the embassy. No need to take the 450 km round trip to BKK, pay the 1,000+ baht notary fee at the embassy to say nothing of all the time it takes. It may well be worth that fee and is a better deal yet for those farther away from BKK.

The 2-week millionaire is being replaced by the 2-week Cheap Charlie.

Indians want something for nothing and you would think Thais could appreciate this since bartering is part of Asian culture. However, Indians have trumped the Thais in Cheap Charlie-ness and the Thais don't know how to deal with it. The 2-week millionaire being replaced by the 2-week Cheap Charlie can't be good for the long-term business outlook in Thailand. Thank God the dot-heads haven't discovered Angeles City. The Flips would rather fold up their tents and go home than cater to Indians.

Indian pays 1/5 of what farang pays!

Do you think working girls are raising prices for light-skinned Farangs and Japanese tourists to make up for the steep discounts they are giving Indians and Middle Easterners? I saw plenty of girls with 2 to 5 Indians in tow when I visited Pattaya in July. I tried to listen in to some bargaining on Beach Road but did not fully grasp what they were saying. Perhaps on a future visit to Pattaya you can do a bit of research and get the inside scoop. It would be of great interest to readers, I think. Who would want to pay 500 baht for something that costs an Indian 100 baht?

The newest entry into Bangkok's expanding expat pub sector opened this past week in the spot previously occupied by the Bulls Head – about 75 metres down soi 33/1 from the main Sukhumvit Road. The Royal Oak is being run by the same group that operates the nearby Robin Hood and managed by a Brit called Simon. It's a bit smaller than the Bull's Head, offers a good selection of local draft and bottled beers, including a very good Irish India Pale Ale, Ohara's IPA. There are a bunch of flat screen TVs so it looks like they are aiming to be something of a sports bar and are already doing a good trade for the Rugby World Cup. They have a typical pub menu and while I have yet to eat there myself, a friend says the food is pretty good. The official opening is this coming Thursday, September 15, but like I say, the venue is, in fact, already open.

Pretty Lady bar, on the ground floor of Nana Plaza, is throwing a birthday party for manageress Tukata next Saturday, September 17. The night will feature the bar's new mask changing show (WTF?), lesbian show as well as chances to win drinks and barfines. Pretty Lady bar has the cheapest draft beer in the plaza at just 49 baht – all night long – and for the party next Saturday night FREE pasta will be served. All are welcome!

Also on the ground floor of Nana Plaza, on the right-hand side by the steps that lead up to the middle floor, a bunch of Thai males, possibly bargirls' boyfriends, possibly security or hired help from bars, are openly playing games of chance for money most nightsBangkok right out in the open, which is amusing given the supposed crackdown on such activity. There was a high profile report just a few days ago of police station chiefs relieved of their post due to such carry on in their respective districts.

Hanrahan's on Sukhumvit soi 4 is dipping its toe into muddy waters, in my opinion. Hanrahan's is a lovely bar, nicely done out and the staff are probably the most professional of any bar on soi 4. The bar is, at least so I have always felt, almost out of place on Sukhumvit soi 4. So when I see that their happy hour pints promotion has returned, I wonder what they're up to. Day time drinkers on soi 4 can be a funny bunch and I would have thought Hanrahan's would want to separate themselves from the typical soi 4 patron and aim for the top end of the market. Soi 4 is full of inexpensive drinking options and I wonder if Hanrahans' competing on price is wise.

Spanky's in Nana Plaza has been kicking ass and is so busy some nights that they have had to turn punters away! New girls are coming in almost every day. No doubt the owner wishes the bar was bigger!

On the main road on Buddha Hill in Pattaya, almost across from Tara Court Hotel, is a sign announcing a new gentleman's club to open in September, Exotica Gentleman's Club. Will it lure customers away from the popular Kinaree Bar? Still on Buddha Hill, 2 new bars recently opened beside the custom bike shop. They may be a little off the beaten track but they seem to be doing well and the owner is planning a 3rd establishment in the same area soon. Each has a different feel. One is a very nice bar with a great selection of whisky and an employee with impressive natural nom! The other is a coyote style bar and the 3rd will have water features. The owner comes across as a nice guy who knows what he's doing.

Snooker fans can see and even play a frame against 2 legends of the game, Jimmy White and Tony Knowles, on Sukhumvit soi 4 this coming Saturday. For more details, check the poster below. And if you can't make it to soi 4 on Saturday, the dynamic duo will also perform the next day, Sunday September 18, at Roadhouse on the corner of Suriwong and Rama 4 Roads.

Jimmy White

Following on from the mention in last week's column about a Pattaya gogo bar in Soi LK Metro which will finance their girls getting their knockers filled with silicone comes word of two more Pattaya gogos which cater predominantly to Asian customers that will also pay for a boob job for their girls. Apparently the bar pays the medical bill and then the mamasan makes deductions from the girl's salary each month until it is paid off. Knowing the way the industry works, and assuming that the girl never even sees the invoice for the work done, I wonder if the total amount she ends up paying is like her new chest i.e. padded.

It's a good time to be a burger fan in Bangkok, especially if you have a healthy appetite. Home Run, the baseball-themed American food outlet with premium quality food at Western prices has been doing 2 burgers for the price of 1 on Mondays for some time. You get an excellent burger made with high quality ingredients. If you don't know Home Run, it's probably because of its location way down Sukhumvit soi 31 – and I mean WAY down! The Clubhouse on Sukhumvit soi 23 has got in on the act, offering half price burgers on Tuesday nights. And now True Fitness in Exchange Tower (southeast corner of the Asoke intersection) is doing 2 burgers for 159 baht, a good deal.

Indians have been getting a hard time in this column recently, both from me and readers. The way cheap Indians seem to be (mis-)treating working girls in Pattaya has got some up in arms. But are Indians laughing at white guys? There's an argument that the Indians have the right idea with the way they treat the girls. They don't kowtow to the girls but simply tell them what they want and what they are willing to pay. They do not tolerate the girls' theatrics.

The scourge of Sukhumvit, child porn, is back and the situation is worse than before. This dreadful material was out on a table openly on display by at least one vendor this week. In the past I believe you had to ask for it but now it is right there for everyone to see, including the thousands of tourists who wander along that busy stretch of central Bangkok every day.

Filipino scam artists have been entering some Bangkok expat bars with a guitar and playing a couple of chords before the staff realise what's going on at which point they start bothering customers by asking for money! One expat bar boss reports that they have been doing this for some months. Western bar bosses kick their sorry asses out as soon as they see them but like beggars and those peddling junk who enter bars, often the Thai staff don't know how to deal with them, or aren't confident enough to tell them to hit the road.Sukhumvit 22

Long-term readers may remember a few years back the frequent mentions here of the local constabulary stopping and searching foreigners – read white Western males – who were walking, driving or riding along Sukhumvit soi 22 or near the Asoke intersection. I have finally found out what that was all about. Apparently down and out foreigners were being used to transport drugs from Klong Toey Market over to the wealthy neighbourhoods of Sukhumvit – Thonglor and Ekamai. When the cops became aware, they started stopping foreigners who fit the profile – said to be white foreign males carrying a satchel.

Messing with drugs in Thailand or anywhere in the region is just plain dumb. I hear from police contacts here in Bangkok that the crackdown on drugs is a major focus again and the cops are doing everything they can to catch those in the drug trade. It is said that you have more chance of buying yourself out of a murder rap in Bangkok than you do if you are caught with drugs on your person!

The rainy season has been dumping rain almost every night at different times and in varying amounts and as such trade has been noticeably down. It seems that most nights for the past 2 or maybe even 3 weeks have been wet. The lovely pictured below with the umbrella was standing outside Livingstone's in Sukhumvit soi 33, looking across at the small sub-soi opposite leading down to The Office and wondering whether any customers would be visiting her bar. It rained so heavily that night recently that up the road in Soi Cowboy some punters daringly removed their shoes and socks at the end of the soi and waded through foot-deep water to get to their favourite bar. The things some we do for pussy, or a drink, or both!

Sukhumvit soi 33

There was an hilarious scene when we were walking out of MBK yesterday with a queue at one of the security checkpoints leading inside. At the security desk were two young farang birds who appeared to have voluntarily emptied the entire contents of their handbags for the security guards to check. It seems that they thought the security check are actually for real. There was a queue of perhaps 30 – 40 metres of exasperated Thais behind them, trying to see what was going on as two young farang Sheilas had come between them and the cool air-conditioning inside the shopping centre!

I dined at Pomodoro on the 5th floor of Emporium earlier this week with a friend and the food was, as always, excellent. I had the snow fish pasta and my pal had the pasta and scallops. We had one fruit drink each and shared a bottle of water. Complimentary bread and dips were included. It was very nice but so it should be at 1,350 baht, pretty much Western prices. Absolutely worth going to if you're craving good pasta but, like I say, not cheap!

Are you looking for a teaching position in Thailand working with the Thai military? An American with a bachelor's degree and preferably a TEFL certificate is sought. The ideal candidate will be a team player who can use technology in a language learning environment. The one-year contract comes with a work permit and health insurance. I am told it is a great working atmosphere in a gorgeous location. It is hoped the contract will commence in October. For more details, contact : [email protected].

Quote of the week comes from a reader, "

It takes the nerves of a river-boat gambler to pull up your roots completely and move to Thailand."

Reader's story of the week is another frank, must-read piece by Bangkok Barry, "Trapped In Thailand".

Thailand's Tourist Authority hopes to double the number of tourists Thailand receives within the next 3 years!

The boys in brown have arrested two Thais exporting dogs to Vietnam for consumption, the Washington Post reports.

A Brit on the run from coppers in the UK is caught by Phuket police after complaints he conned a fellow expat.

Phuketwan talks with an innocent Aussie tourist who witnessed Phuket tuktuk drivers dishing out a savage beating.

Phuketwan uncovers massive corruption in Phuket's tourism industry.

A Canadian is extradited from his homeland to Pattaya to face charges for a murder he is accused of 15 years ago.

CNNGo reports on Nok Air's fine policy of hiring young, pretty flight attendants!

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: My pet peeve is the human flotsam that washes ashore in Thailand, impregnates a young lady, and then skips town. Maybe you can give me some advice and point me in the right direction. A friend of a friend (honest!) fell in love with a British subject living in Thailand. She moved into his condo. Everything was fine until she got pregnant. When he found out, he tossed her on to the street, bag and baggage. Locked her out. Then proceeded to sell his condo and skip town. She delivered a baby boy by C-section earlier this week. She's been out of work for a month now, and for probably another month for recuperation. My questions are these: What legal recourse does she have for obtaining child support and, perhaps, reimbursement for medical costs, if the man is still resident in Thailand? She knows his name, passport number and date of birth. To whom should she speak? And, if he has returned home, is there a mechanism to obtain child support from a foreign national? Perhaps by filing papers at the British Consulate? Any advice you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Sunbelt Legal responds:

If the parents are unmarried, Thai law does not recognise the father, even if named on the birth certificate, unless legitimized by the Court or the child declares him as the father at the age of 7 and it is upheld by the Courts. The only option is to go to Court to get him recognised as the father of the child which may require a DNA test. The British Embassy cannot help if the father is not recognised as legitimate under Thai law. Once she can get him declared as the father, the Courts will order child support.

Question 2: I live in Pattaya and support myself as an internet affiliate marketer. I use a software program called WordPress to compose websites on various products. I then monetize these sites using Google Adsense and numerous other affiliate programs. I do not work for a Thai company, a US company, or have Thai employees. I am from the United States and have been using double-entry tourist visas from Laos to remain in Thailand these past three years. I earn about $17,000 per year and pay a small portion of this to the US government for taxes. I do not pay the government of Thailand any taxes because I consider myself self-employed. Is my visa status (double-entry tourist visas every 6 months) and tax status legal in Thailand? Do I need to apply for a work visa or business visa even though I am self-employed?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Working online is a grey area. Thai law states that you must have a work permit to work in Thailand but as it is difficult to tell that you are working, they may not actually enforce it. The tax code says that if you live in Thailand more than 6 months a year then you must pay tax but it is rarely enforced and difficult to do. The local tax people may reject the payment as there is no work permit.

Question 3:

Can a farang sell stuff on eBay in Thailand without having to register a company in Thailand? I am thinking of selling stuff made in Thailand on the internet especially on eBay while on vacation, but not sure if it can be done without setting up a Thai company with 51% Thai and 49 % farang.

Sunbelt Legal responds: If you are selling from your home country, then you do not need a work permit but even online work is considered to be work in Thailand and a work permit may be required by law. This is different than the question above as it is not strictly online. As a example, were someone to file a complaint and then the Labor Department or Immigration were to investigate and came into your house and found boxes and boxes of stuff to be shipped out, then it would be obvious you have your own little retail business. Generally the only way to obtain a work permit for your own business is to set up a Thai Limited Company with 2 million baht in capital and 4 Thai employees (the Labor Office may allow 2 the first year) in order to obtain a work permit.

Asoke

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the most heinous terrorist attack in the history of the world. There are a few events in our life which we remember clearly and I guess the two big ones for me are the death of Princess Diana and the September 11 terrorist attack on New York's twin towers. I clearly remember where I was on the evening of September 11 in Bangkok, as all hell was breaking loose in New York. I was carrying out an investigation at Asoke Square, the short-lived ramshackle bunch of beer bars that sat, quite literally, on a pile of dirt on the northeastern corner of the Asoke intersection which Interchange and Citibank call home today. Despite being merely a stone's throw from Soi Cowboy, the ramshackle bunch of perhaps a dozen open air bars were out of place in downtown Bangkok. I'd been there a couple of hours as light drizzle had been falling and remember how at one point I noticed there was not a single soul in any of the bars. It took me a while to realise that all of the beer bars were empty but one, the only air-conditioned venue in the area. That's funny I thought to myself, it was not so hot that you had to escape the heat. When I looked closely, I saw customers glued to a wall-mounted TV watching what appeared to be an action movie I had never seen. That was until I saw the CNN logo, and the pain on some viewers' faces registered that this was no Hollywood flick. I wandered inside and once I realised what was going on was as shell-shocked as those already there, glued to the TV. All around the world we were glued to TVs, witnessing live the most cowardly act imaginable. If you include Americans resident in Thailand who read this column, the total readership of this website is about 30% American. Browsing the names in my mobile phone shows that I have more American friends here in Thailand than any other nationality. My thoughts go out to my many American friends, to all of the American readers and contributors to this site, and all who lost friends, colleagues or loved ones in that most cowardly attack.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick