Fed up with the deteriorating attitudes of Thai bargirls, some sex tourists have discovered the pleasure of those Thai women who would never dream of entering, let alone working in a naughty bar. Free of the hang-ups that make casual encounters a challenge in the West, some guys who were once sex tourists continue to visit the country but are increasingly targeting regular girls. For fun, and only fun.
But while they might have left the naughty boy bars behind, they haven't necessarily left their naughty boy habits behind. And this is where the problems begin.
What goes on in naughty bars and some of what customers get up to, and get away with, would shock regular girls. That's not to say they're not up for a bit of fun, but sometimes they get more than they had bargained for…
Sex tourists have discovered that, yes, regular Thai women are easy to meet and, these days are relaxed about intimacy. No guy will say no to an attractive, willing partner away from venues where you need to pay to play. However, I have serious concerns about some of the fallout.
As more and more guys start getting it on with local lasses, these girls' photos are ending up in naughty boy reports on naughty boy websites, replete with photos, details, not of how they met, but of what went on beneath the sheets. Sex tourist trip reports featuring regular girls. Sex tourist behaviour has hit the regular girl arena. The irony is that bargirls are aware of this stuff and what happens to the photos and have become reluctant to let guys take such photos. I am not sure the regular girls are aware of the dangers.
Regular girls' photos are being leered at by sex tourists on sex tourist centric forums. It's not only naughty stuff, recent threads on one sex tourist-centric forum include alluring photos of genuinely attractive Bangkok office workers walking around the city's main commercial district. Attractive women in business attire photographed in a public place – no laws have been broken, but the women would still be aghast. Being featured and turned into sex objects on such forums would horrify them.
It's possible to meet open-minded women in a bar, but the preferred approach seems to be online. Dating sites have reached saturation point and Facebook and other social networking sites are now targeted by hungry guys. Dates are arranged even before a guy leaves his country.
It isn't specifically a Thailand thing. Similar is happening in the Philippines where seemingly millions of Filipinas hunt for Western guys and are willing to put out in a heartbeat. Unlike the Thais, the average Filipina is anxious to score a Western dude and escape.
It's funny watching naughty boys in the regular girl environment, especially if they have been naughty boys for a long time. The tell-tale sign is their use of crude bar talk, or conversing in Pidgin English. The regular girls, some of whom speak decent English, wonder what's going on. But that's not so bad.
Some of these guys take regular girls to whore bars because that is all they know. Some may even have been long term residents of the city, and know where to get the best khao soy or which bookshop will stock the latest Grisham novel first, but to many, Bangkok at night means Sukhumvit or Silom. The following story relayed by a friend of a friend shows that it is not only sex tourists, but also sexpats.
I met a guy online at the Sala Daeng BTS as we both work in the area. He suggested a drink before dinner so we began walking down Silom. He then turns into Patpong. I asked him why he would take me to Patpong for a drink when there are so many decent places in the immediate area. He just said he liked it there and dragged me down the soi. I was just going over the excuse in my head I could use to get away from him when a horrible little Thai man jumped out in front of us and said he wanted to invite us to view a pussy ping pong show! My date pointed at me and said "I have my own ping pong girl right here!"
So it's not just a sex tourist thing. Many Western guys relocate to Thailand specifically for the naughty stuff and go full speed ahead with bargirls. Some discover regular women and change tack. I've even noticed a small, but definite trend of (young) retirees leaving Pattaya for Bangkok because of the perceived availability of regular women.
Regular Thai girls know as much about safe sex as they do about brain surgery. Combine that with many hardcore sex tourists' refusal to wrap up and it's a recipe for disaster. My concerns have precedent. * Several years back a one-legged German boasted of sleeping with hundreds of Thai women in Chaiyaphum province knowing he was HIV+. He was expelled from the country.
Several years ago I wrote an extensive piece on how to meet and how to pick up regular Thai women. I mentioned it to the guy renowned as the nightlife photographer of the day who implored me to kill it. "Write what you want about the bars and sex tourism, no-one cares about that", he said, the no-one referring to the powers that be. "But write about how to bed regular women and they will get upset!" I heeded his advice and that article never saw the light of day.
There's a grey area between money girls and regular girls, nowhere better demonstrated than Khao San Road where many young Thai women flock in the hope of meeting a white guy. Some are motivated by money, others by excitement. Regular girls, working girls and those somewhere in between mingle, even the long term expat resident isn't clear on what's what.
The one commonality I see in relationships between Western guys and Thai women who are truly happy is that he was her first. So many Thai women who have been genuinely broken-hearted by a farang guy struggle to get over it and any future partner has serious baggage to deal with. For things to work between a Western guy and a Thai girl, there's a much better chance of success if he is her first foreign boyfriend. It's a shame if her chances of relationship happiness are dashed by someone who promises the world, but is really just after a night of fun.
In many ways Thailand's naughty bars are like a little slice of Farangland transplanted into Thailand and when you're inside them, it's like you're not even in Thailand. That feeling is reinforced by the fact that Thai males and Thais not connected with the industry almost never enter, making what goes on inside the bars, and with those involved in the industry, discreet. When you get involved with Thai women outside the industry you're in the real Thailand and may need to adjust your behaviour.
Thailand has undergone massive social change over the past 15 years but many young Thai women are still very naive and vulnerable and as such they need to be protected.
*When* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo of Siam Square was taken in 2000. The age of the vehicles on the road was the biggest clue. When was the photo above taken?! 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 WEEK – Not the City of Angels for everyone.
I enjoyed the weekly but some of those photos are bloody sad aren't they? It's one of the reasons I don't like going to the open beer bars with kids selling flowers and wandering through the bars. One of the most pitiful things is those kids that try and wash the windows when you're sitting in a taxi, stuck at red lights at 3 AM. Poor little buggers, their parents need dragging over hot coals. I should be bloody grateful for my lot in life when I see so much abject poverty and how they're fighting to survive. Nothing we can do about it though. We call it the City of Angels but it could quite easily be Hell's Kitchen for many.
Giving to the needy.
I wrote regarding a 'gift' of 5,000 – 6,000 baht I gave to a girl I spotted sleeping under the Asoke-Montri fly-over at Rama 4. I gave the girl this money as she looked as though she was hiding rather than begging. Her infant son can't have been any more than 10 months old and I couldn't see any evidence of a male around. She was fortunate that I was taking a short cut to Queen Sirikit Park early one Sunday morning and I happened to have my ATM card with me. While many of your readers will probably think I need my head examining, I believe if you see someone in need (especially if they look like they are hiding rather than begging), it is well worth trying to help. I chose the sum of money based on what I could afford and let's face it, anyone trying to run or hide can probably get anywhere in the country comfortably, get clean and get fed on 5,000 to 6,000 baht. It certainly felt better giving her that money than it did when I gave Father Joe ten times that amount (although Father Joe probably spent it with more thought).
Sad sight in Washington Square.
A girl has been sleeping rough for the last month in Washington Square. I asked her if she needed help in any way but she wasn't interested. She spoke good English and was obviously in some state of mental breakdown. Her decent English leads me to believe she is from the 'trade'. I wonder if she is the same one you mentioned in your weekly some weeks back. I gave up after a minute or so as she looked scared enough to attack! She can be found sleeping on the northwest corner of the square building which takes up the centre area of the square. She is very vulnerable where she sleeps and I fear for her safety. If you walk out of The Sportsman, turn left towards Soi 22 staying in the square, she is on the first corner. I gave her 300 baht and tried to engage her in conversation but she was too terrified to hold a conversation with. All she kept saying was, "What do you want from me?" Don't get too close as I had the feeling she could pull a knife.
The Thais love anything that is sparkly and new, hence many have been visiting the newly opened Terminal 21. The food halls on the ground floor are packed, but eating sugary high cholesterol filled western foods. Hmmm, not good. Whilst having a lot of lovely quality items, the shops could by price definition, be in any city in the world. Walking up the road I entered Robinsons where there are a lot of staff and a lot of items at very reasonable prices. I couldn't help but feel that this was more like the real Thailand with more of a heart and soul. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to be in Terminal 21 and the facilities are great, as are Paragon and Emporium, but I found all that I wanted to buy in Robinson's.
The licence plate issue.
What I have been told about the delay in getting plates is that at most dealers, new cars are still owned by the manufacturer. The car ownership has to be transferred to the dealer before they can transfer it to the buyer. This means that the dealer must pay the manufacturer for the car – and they would rather hold the cash for a while to pay other expenses. When the dealer finally gets the car in his name, getting the plates is a quick process. The same holds true for motorcycle dealers.
Could it be?
I was intrigued by red plates and struggled to understand the rationale for them. I was eventually told that they were the idea of a former Minister of Transport who deduced that if someone bought a new car they must be a new driver hence they needed time to get used to driving before they could be let loose at night! So I can have driven flawlessly for say 20 years, buy a new car and then not be allowed to drive at night, but can buy a tuned up second-hand BMW and drive it at night the day I pass my test! My wife insists that this is what she terms a non-operative law that even the police don't take note of by and large.
Postcard from Korat.
I've just returned from a short trip to Korat and it has changed a lot. There appeared to be a lot more foreigners there and the night scene was pretty good. If I was at retirement age I would set up home base in Korat. Not too far from Bangkok, plenty of golf courses nearby plus good bars and restaurants. I may even buy some property there next year. You can get a decent house for 50-100K pounds. I did see one odd sight – a foreigner wearing an Angelwitch shirt in The Mall! Personally I wouldn't like to advertise the fact that I frequented a gogo bar, but each to their own. Thankfully there is a bar in The Mall which is open in the daytime so I could catch the rugby with beer served by slightly flirtatious maidens. That's what I miss when I am outside Thailand. The only down side of the trip was driving the road from Bangkok to Korat. It's lethal! We narrowly missed a huge pile up and two other accidents. Thai driving is not getting any better.
Judged by your friends?
I notice you (correctly in my opinion) often mention the dregs of farang society who settle here. You often mention it is difficult to find 'good' friends as an expat. I agree. I wonder how we would be judged if "you can judge a man by his friends" was applied to one and all in Thailand?
Frustration, confusion and a general feeling of being in the dark are the story of the week for Bangkok expats as the mix of information and misinformation about the flooding threatening the city has made it impossible to know what is really going on and what, if anything, one should do. What is disappointing is that information coming out of the likes of the local embassies,particularly the US and Singaporean embassies, is clear and, if anything gives you a better idea of what is going on and what you should do than anything the government has said. And it's not an expat thing. Thais are pulling their hair out and are increasingly displaying their frustration.
As far as farang enclaves go, none have been hit so far, but the mainstream media is reporting that the threat remains. Some say Sukhumvit will be hit, others say it won't. Who knows?! Sukhumvit is not likely to get hit by much. Of all the bar areas, Soi Cowboy and soi 33 are the most prone to flooding. Any bar that has delayed renovations may find the incentive after the water recedes.
Thank goodness that so far no new swimming pools have arrived in central Bangkok. Yes, the flooding in parts of the country, including some of the far flung Bangkok suburbs is terrible, and there has been loss of life and dreadful damage to and loss of property, but as far as the central part of the capital goes, it remains untouched at the time of writing. For visitors to Bangkok, if you are like most and tend to visit or hang out around the areas popular with foreigners – the likes of Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road, Siam Square etc., don't worry about cancelling your holiday for fear of needing a snorkel to get around. As far as expats go, the main concern seems to be protecting one's valuables and across the capital, condoms and Viagra have been moved upstairs or placed on the top shelves of cupboards!
The biggest concern perhaps is the worry many Thais have about what might happen next, and the way essentials are selling out in record time. Try and buy a bottle of water in convenience stores in central Bangkok, for example – all I can say is good luck! If water becomes hard to come by then we have serious problems. The shelves of convenience stores and supermarkets are bare of many, many items.
A number of girls who work at Cowboy have gone home because of the flooding. Many have expressed concern that they may be away for a few weeks as their family needs their help. So if your favourite darling is missing, just remember her first duty is to her family.
With that said the bars have been doing ok. In Cowboy this past Friday night, Tilac was packed but short a few girls with one less dance group than you typically get on Friday nights. But it was still packed with punters and making your way to look through the window took time. Dollhouse was doing ok. Other venues were as you would expect for a Friday night at this time of year and doing ok.
It's October 29th, it's a Halloween party! The Big Mango Bar on a sub soi off Sukhumvit soi 4 will celebrate Halloween with cheap booze from 8 PM, free food and even gogo girls will be in attendance!
Miss Tuk, formerly #95 at Tilac, has returned and retaken the Dirty Doctor's coveted top bottom in Soi Cowboy title. However she is no longer sporting the #95 badge. She has been given the more symmetrical #8. Her popularity remains and she was barfined and out the door before 9 PM on her first night back, as if proof was needed of her superstar status. A few other girls who had wandered off to other bars during the year have returned as well so if you have a favourite Tilac girl you haven't seen in a while, it might be worth sticking your head in Tilac to see if she is back.
Pretty Lady Bar in Nana Plaza will host a special party this coming Friday, October 28, featuring sexy and lesbian shows, a mask changing show, and free snacks. The DJ will take you back to the 70s and 80s. Leo beer is available all night long at just 49 baht a glass. Best of all, proceeds from the party will be donated to the flood victims. Great stuff!
Down in Pattaya, the appointment of Howard Miller, the Pattaya media mogul known to many as the menacing looking (but in fact very affable, likeable and friendly) head of the tourist police on the documentary series, Big Trouble In Tourist Thailand, as Honorary British Consul for Pattaya raised some people's eyebrows but I was always convinced that he was absolutely the right man for the job. It is therefore disappointing to hear that Howard resigned from the position this week. No, there's absolutely no scandal at all! Howard tendered his resignation due to the position going from part-time to full-time – no surprise in that with all the Brits getting themselves into bother in Sin City. As Howard still has his fingers in a number of pies, he didn't think he could commit to it full-time. Whoever replaces Howard has big shoes to fill.
Friends tell me lots of younger women are entering the industry – and they should know as they spend way more time in the bars than me. But to be honest, I have noticed something completely different – many new entrants to the industry in Bangkok are older women who have fallen on tough times and who have fallen into the farang sector of the industry. And I guess with all of the flooding and apparently many lost jobs, there is a chance that we could see an influx of girls of all backgrounds.
My old friend Baron Bonk called it a day on his excellent nightlife column a year or so back but that is not to say that he stopped writing entirely. The Baron has been beavering away on a new project and recently published a novel, "Kelly, The Bargirl Who Would Be President". Available as an EBook and I believe there are copies available in print too, it should appeal to both fans of the nightlife as well as the Baron's legion of fans. You can find out more here.
Buying a ticket at the Asoke skytrain station is a nightmare from 5:00 until 7:30 PM or later on week days. That's when the masses are passing through the station which connects the underground with the skytrain, and 99% enter from the eastern end. Even before the new airport-themed Terminal 21 mall opened there were long queues to buy tickets at the Asoke station and they can go all the way back to the walk bridge over the Asoke intersection. If ever there was an argument to have a pre-paid card for the skytrain to save you from the queues, then this is it! And it is just getting worse with Terminal 21 now open.
Be honest, would Soi Cowboy be as popular if it weren't for all of the pretty neon? If you took the neon away, and it looked from the outside as it did, say 10 years ago, would it have quite the same draw? Sure, the bars are nicer on the inside than they were a decade ago, but I can't help but feel that it's the outside which is the big draw…
Dean Barrett reports 300 people showed for Fight Night up at 2,500 baht per person (most bought tables at the discounted rate) plus the organisers of the charity made lots on raffle tickets etc., and most of the prizes were donated. It was a big financial success for Operation Smile. As for his fight with Colin, he continued his Vietnam War era streak of managing to snatch second place! Dean was overheard saying that the sexy ring girls distracted him! The organisers kept coming back stage saying how over the moon they were with the success of the evening and that many in the audience expressed amazement that it was real boxing; apparently, they thought it was just going to be some half-hearted showy stuff in the ring.
Bangkok's reputation for scams and scammers is, I hate to say, often justified and this week I heard of another long-running scammer operating on the city's streets. The perpetrator is a curiosity, not a Thai at all, but an elderly Singaporean national, said to be around 70 years old, who approaches Singaporeans (exclusively Singaporeans, it is believed) who he tells a sob story of how he has run out of money and how he needs money to get back home. In what sounds like a finely tuned story, he makes it sound entirely plausible and only asks for $SING 100 – about 2,500 baht – which would be enough to get him back to Singapore overland. He doesn't try and hit a home run and ask for enough to cover the airfare. He promises to repay the money if his fellow countryman would be kind enough to lend it to him. You don't need to be a brain surgeon to figure out that he never does. He even goes as far as showing potential victims his Singapore passport and ID card. One reader gave him money and made a point of recording the details of his passport and ID card. After returning to Singapore the money wasn't forthcoming so he visited the address he had been given by the old man, only to be informed by the old man's previous neighbours that he has not been seen in a very long time! So for the Singaporeans in the readership, beware! He is known to hang out in Pratunam and is said to actively look for Singaporean visitors. There is no reason to think he may not be operating in other areas also.
Quote of the week comes from a reader who was banned on a local forum, "Getting banned from SlyGeezer is no different from getting turfed out of a bar – there is always another way back in!"
Reader's story of the week comes from Caveman, "Putting Ladyboys into Perspective".
A man from Northcote in Australia stole a $1 million ring and sold it for $300,000 in Thailand.
Phuket bar staff take to an Italian customer's head with a golf club!
CNNGo took a look inside Terminal 21, Bangkok's newest shopping mall, at the Asoke intersection.
From the UK's Daily Mail, proof that wire transfers are much safer than carrying a bag of Thai baht around with you.
The Bangkok Post looks at flooding in Bangkok the past and flooding today, in an article featuring great photos.
An Irish pervert is arrested after flying in from Thailand with a hard drive of nasty porn.
Bangkok's flooding has knocked out manufacturing capacity for 25% of the world's hard drive production.
More Thailand flooding photos appeared in the Washington Post.
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 have read about various laws that limit the daily time periods when construction of buildings is allowed. These have always referenced Bangkok and I would like to know if there are either national laws or laws that reference condo construction in Chonburi; specifically on Wongamat Beach in Naklua. Must they cease the incessant construction noise by a particular time at night? Who do I telephone to complain if they refuse to stop (police or other)? Can I sue to get a court injunction if they continue to ignore these laws?
Sunbelt Legal responds: You can file a complaint with the police, who may issue a warning at first and then could fine them for noise if they don't obey. Under the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code section 420, you are allowed to ask for damages from the person causing the disturbance. One suggestion is to try negotiations first, if at all possible. Generally, third party negotiations work best so ask a respected local Thai person such as the village headman, to intervene on your behalf.
Question 2: I am a self-employed musician, a lifestyle choice. I have been travelling to Thailand since 1988 and will visit again from December to February. Over the years and performed all over the country, from 5-star hotels to small hole in the walls, wherever I have found myself. Sometimes I am paid, sometimes I am not. It was never a problem in the past but more and more these days I am being asked if I have a work permit. Of course I do not and when aware of that, I am told I cannot perform, even if it is unpaid. WTF?! Is there any way for me to get an open work permit that allows me to perform across the country for the 3 months I will visit?
Sunbelt Legal responds: It may be possible to apply for a free temporary work permit at each Labour Office in the province where you plan to perform. It is valid for 10 days and will require a letter from your employer (or the place you plan on performing). However, this is not policy and approval may depend on the Office or the Officer. Some local officers will require it to be essential and urgent work and others may allow non-urgent and non-essential work.
If you thought this week's column was light, you'd be right. I have to confess that up until Thursday I had no plans to even publish a column this week. I was going to take a week off because the 6:00 PM Bangkok publishing time clashed with the Rugby World Cup Final, the biggest rugby match of the last 4 years in which my beloved All Blacks finally put 20 years of pain to rest, showing courage, discipline, and resilience to take the William Webb Ellis trophy. My condolences go out to all the French readers and supporters of a French team which took the All Blacks right to the wire. My plan was to spend the day building up to the rugby which kicked off at 3:00 PM Bangkok time – which is when I usually do my final edit. I know that many people look forward to the column each week so in the end I relented and put something together. Hopefully this week's edition was up to scratch and there weren't too many typos.
Your Bangkok commentator,