A Thai girl freezes and gasps. I'd love to think it was my youthful handsomeness that stopped her in her tracks but the truth is she is taken by the striking appearance of the fellow walking alongside to me. We wander through the local supermarket and I start to feel invisible as his appearance attracts looks, staring and nervous comment. He picks up various items, filling a small trolley with enough items to last me a couple of days. It'll do him for one meal.
I'm with Shark, or Sharky, one of the most recognizable figures in Pattaya, a fellow known in these parts for his dramatic appearance.
The Shark has led a colourful life, having been elegantly successful in what is widely regarded as a dirty business. He's big on self-promotion and has been something of a Pattaya celebrity online where he has chronicled his life in Sin City. So what's the man with the distinctive looks actually like? I sat down with Shark this week and we had an open chat about his in Pattaya.
How did you get into such impressive shape?
I just went to a gym when I was 16 years old and kept going. I was a street kid so that had a lot to do with it. I grew up on the streets. I never had parents. That was a big part of it. I was picked on when I was a kid. A boy brought me home with him and his parents pulled him inside and slammed the door. I was that kid.
Was that in New Zealand?
New Zealand, yeah.
When did you leave New Zealand?
I left New Zealand about 1990 and went to Australia. I came to Thailand in 2009.
Where does the nickname "Shark" come from?
I am a loan shark. Look, you can see the tattoo here – a shark holding the money. <He twists his torso and shows me a huge shoulder with the tattoo.> Actually, it's quite ironic. When I used to play pool for money as a kid, I was a pool shark so that's where it originally comes from. From back in New Zealand. But then I developed from a pool shark to a loan shark. When I was a kid I used to live in pool halls.
Where in Kiwland do you hail from?
From Waitara, in Taranaki. I used to spend the day in pool halls. Every cent I had, I hustled. I would play pool or snooker.
You're a decent player?
As a kid I was. I couldn't play like that now. As a young kid I could beat 25-year old men. It's all I used to do. Hang out in pool halls. Pool halls were big back then. I don't even know if they have them now.
And then you hit the big time in Oz yeah, and became a self-made man?
You have to make it when no-one is going to give it to you. No mummy and daddy to run to so you gotta do what you gotta do. I was given up for adoption at birth. No mummy and daddy.
What is your daily diet and workout regimen? And, forgive me for asking, but what about, ummm, errr, supplements?
I have a high protein, low fat diet. Chicken, lots of chicken. Lots of protein powder. And some testosterone and growth hormone.
That must cost a lot.
Not at all. Anyone who says food in Thailand is not cheap is just poor.
So it's steroids that make you so big?
You can take all the steroids in the world and you won't look great. All steroids do is enhance the genetics you have.
How long have you been bodybuilding?
I am not, and do not think of myself as a bodybuilder. I just work out because it goes with the job. That's part of being a loan shark.
How often do you work out?
Every day. I've got animals to feed at the gym so I have to go every day.
What's this feeding animals thing?
Cats and dogs, soi dogs and stray cats.
You're an animal lover?
I love animals.
A mutual friend said words to the effect that you're a big softy – you have an imposing, perhaps even intimidating look, but are in fact very gentle. I also read on one of your social networking profiles that you're a cat lover and despise people who are cruel to animals.
I guess it's from when I was vulnerable as a child. When I was a young adult I was very vulnerable and I know what it's like to be vulnerable. Animals are vulnerable. They cannot always take care of themselves so they need us. Animals and kids need us to take care of them because they cannot take care of themselves.
I guess you know that you're famous in Pattaya for your appearance as much as anything. Is there anyone else you know of here who is famous for their appearance?
I am also famous in Australia. In Australia I own nightclubs. I had a yellow Lamborghini and a red Ferrari. At one time I had a yellow Lamborghini, a white Lamborghini and an orange Lamborghini. I am more recognizable in Australia than here.
Gold Coast. I suppose people know me best for my appearance here. I don't even have a car here.
I gather you split your time between Australia and Pattaya. Have you turned your back on New Zealand?
I haven't been back to New Zealand in a long time. Most of the time I am here. I still have property in Australia and pay bills and rates and tax and that sort of stuff back there.
But you like it here!
I go back to Australia about 6 times a year now.
What do you make of this place? I mean Pattaya. To me it's crazy and while I used to be fascinated by it, these days I tend to get in and out quickly, do a hit and run – come down to do what I have to do and then get the hell out! I know many people like the place and it's first class for photography, but for longer than necessary it's not for me these days.
It's a lie. Everything here is a lie. Everything here is a lie and if you believe it you are a fool.
That's the best way to put it. You play the game and don't let the game play you, and if you do, you can have the time of your life.
So you play the game?
I try to. I try to play game and I try not to let it play me. That's the secret to staying free and staying happy here.
What is the main attraction of Pattaya to you? What do you do in Pattaya? How do you keep yourself busy?
I'm free. I can say, "Fxxx you" to the world. I don't have to wear a shirt. I don't have to abide by the rules and if I do break the rules I just pay. It is one of the only places in the world where I really do feel free. I fxxx up all the time but I pay. It beats going to jail. In Australia I would be in jail.
I could throw you off my balcony and pay my way out of it. Bullshit my way out of it somehow. You know that. <I'd like to say that I could throw him off the balcony too, but there's about as much chance of that as there is of finding a virgin on Beach Road at midnight.> You know how this place works…
You see the Aussie guy who got bashed down south and the authorities say he crashed his motorbike. The motorbike has two mirrors broken off and that's it. He's got no scratches, no gravel rash. All he has is blunt trauma. It's all about money! Once you understand that everything here is about money then you'll be fine. I won't leave home without 20,000 baht because for most of my stupid shit that is enough to get me out of trouble. You know what I mean? You gotta walk around with 10,000 – 20,000 baht in your pocket because that will get you out of most situations. <I couldn't help but notice when we met earlier in the shopping centre he had a wad of cash on him, even though he had only gone out to the gym.>
The women here in Pattaya, what do you make of them? I know you like to play around so you must have some thoughts on them.
Very simple, very simplistic. In Pattaya, money is first. Take it for what it is, not for what you want it to be and enjoy the moment. But let the moment go. I have a theory. Catch and release. Catch and release. You've gotta release. If you don't release, it is going to turn into a disaster. I don't collect phone numbers because that's emotional. Never collect phone numbers. I tell them I found you once, I will find you again. I never let them sleep with me overnight. They never stay in my bed. I have not slept with a woman for 3 years. It's too emotional. Those are the safeguards I put in place so I don't get into the game playing me. Once you start hugging them and embracing and sleeping overnight with them then the game is playing you.
I had girlfriends in the beginning and it did my head in. I knew when my girl went down to the beach guys were asking her for short time because that is the environment we live in. My girl would go to 7 Eleven and 10 guys would hit on her while she was out. Why? Because she's a bargirl and they know it. Ex-bargirl and bargirl? Same thing! You can take the girl out of the bar, but you can't take the bar out of the girl. It's always going to be that way. You can try but it is foolish. It's always going to be that way! Do this <he leans over, extends his hand and we shake hands>. That's how they see sleeping with a guy. It's so impersonal! They can do it in such a way they feel there is nothing wrong with it. They have detached themselves so far from emotion that it means nothing to them.
A Thai girl once told me a lie is not a lie if it is told in English. Only if it is spoken in Thai is it considered a lie. English means nothing to them and they see us as weak.
A number of mainstream Thai women have told me that they're scared of bulky, muscled up guys, basically guys who look like you. What has been your experience with the women here? Does your size appeal to them or put them off?
I say to people that I am going out for "the hunt". You try being 130 kg and covered in tattoos and see how hard it is to pick these girls up. I have had girls kick off their shoes and run when they see me! I struggle, man, I really struggle! Some guys say it is like shooting fish in a barrel. Man, I struggle!
What is it? The size, the tats or both?
They think they are going to get smashed. They think they are not only going to get smashed, they think they might not get paid and they will be thrown out.
I have got a mate who is a black man. He's a 6 foot 3 black man. He said that women are more scared of him than me. We tested this out. They are more scared of me than they are of him! What they are concerned of with him is a big cock. With me, it's a maniac thing. I have the Charles Manson thing going. They don't want to come anywhere near me!
Guys on the local Pattaya forums would look at my Facebook page when I had it and they saw the end product. They don't know what I went through to get that. I can walk for hours and hours and find nothing. And the rejection. Fxxx! I'd love to take you for a walk one night and show you how hard it is for me to get something. That's why I call it "the hunt".
It used to get me down. I would see a girl and I would say "I go with you." She would say "I no go with you!" OK, fair enough. 10 minutes later I would see her walking hand in hand with a 60-something year old dude. That fxxxed with my brain, man. You would go with a 60-year old dude but not me! But then a girl said something to me one day. I always try and get into their head and understand why they don't want to go with me but they will go with an old dude. She said 3, 3, 3. You know the rule!
This goes back to being emotionally detached. They do not care if it is a 60-, 65- or 70-year old because they are so emotionally detached. They want the best result for the least time and effort. They are not going with us to have multiple orgasms. That might beat a lot of guys' egos up but it's true. These girls are not going with anyone for multiple orgasms or sexual pleasure. They want the easiest possible result for the least possible effort. The best possible result for the least possible effort. And that's what it's really about. They can emotionally detach themselves so much that they can go with 75-year old men. It used to really bug me when a girl wouldn't go with me but she would go with an old, fat man. It's hard. At first it was hard but now I accept how it is. I came to understand how the girls think then you come to accept it.
If you and me went out hunting more than 90% of the girls would go for you before they go with me. You're not going to fxxx them around, not going to beat them, and chances are that if you do get rough they will be more confident of getting away or being able to repel you. These things all play into the mind of the girls.
What if you flash them the cash? This business is all about money.
The more money you pay, the more the girl hates you.
You think so? Tell me more.
I absolutely believe it. If you are going to pay 5,000 baht to short time a girl she despises you. There is nothing but hate for you. I got girls that I get on well with and I take them for 300 baht. These are my 300 baht girls. We are more like mates now.
Little bitches raid my fridge. Eat my food. They treat this place like it's their second home.
I keep a few beers and some Thai whisky here for them. Cool chicks and we have a great time. I have a better experience with a 300 baht girl than I would with a 5,000 baht girl. No girl is worth 5,000 baht.
That's just insane. Damn! I never pay more than 1,000 baht. Never ever! That includes barfine. I'll pay 300 baht barfine and 700 baht short time. If that's not acceptable I walk away. There are plenty more.
When I was in jail those 300 baht girls brought me food and water. When you're in jail here, no-one helps you. There was one white guy visited me, our mutual friend. Just one. Those beach girls are the most special girls. Every morning at 8 AM they were there for me with fried rice, eggs, water and chocolate milk.
When they see this lovely condo, does it raise their expectations of a bigger pay day?
My number 1 rule is to negotiate everything before we start the walk home. Can I do this? Can I do that? Never ever negotiate in your room. I would say this to everyone. I always pinky them when we have done it <and he mimics shaking hands with his little finger.> Some girls will try and get out of something. Remember, they want the easiest possible result for the least possible effort. You establish everything beforehand to avoid disappointment later.
I guess this approach keeps things purely physical and kills the chance of emotional attachment.
Yes, that's it. Once in the room, you each already know what is going to happen. Everything you want, establish it before you get to the room. A lot of guys try and do it in the room and do the shifty, with no condom. That's not fair on the girl. That should have been said at the start which gives her a chance to say no. You know some guys will be behind her and whip it off without her seeing it. That's just wrong and not fair on the girls.
Nothing surprises me here. This town gives me the creeps at times with some of the guys here.
Pattaya is full of weirdoes. Many people would say you or I are weirdoes. It' just how this place is. I don't mind being perceived as a weirdo. I have never been normal.
You know a lot of guys want to meet you? You've got a fan club online and there are posts on the forums from people wondering how they can meet you. Have you met many?
I'm at a stage of life when I make acquaintances, not friends. Friendship membership closed years ago. People I meet now I look at as acquaintances. I always give them the time of day and will be happy to have a chat. I will probably never make another friend in my life.
Is this what happens with age?
I have been raided by cops, I have been done over by so many people, been ratted on so many times that the friendship thing closed for me about 10 years ago. There are good friends who will be friends forever. The friendship door closed a long time ago. It think it's more about experience than age.
Is that symptomatic of being a loan shark or being part of that industry?
Yeah, sure, that's part of that. I think it's part of life.
You don't make good friends sitting in a bar. These guys sitting in a bar thinking they are all best mates have nothing. The only thing they have common is that they are sitting in the same bar together continuously.
You're not on the local forums any more.
The reason I got off the Pattaya forums is that they know nothing. They spend 2 weeks a year here, the two-week millionaires and then they go home and they know nothing. I have been in Pattaya 3 years.
When I arrived they ALL told me I would lose my gold. It was the hot topic on all the forums. They all said it would go. I got sick of it. I used to post and tell the guys to give up on talking about the gold. The fxxxen gold shitted me. You tell those pricks that I spent a week in a Thai jail and I wore my fxxxen gold in there! They wanted to take if off me. They said it would be safer with the police! There was no way my way my gold was leaving my body! I wore my gold in a jail with 100 Thai men and I still have my fxxxen gold! Look at it! Take a photo and show them!
The gold thing was the very reason I left the Addicts forum. They just would not give up on going on about the gold. You see it. It's still on me and I wear it everywhere I go, including jail! That's why I can't do the forums any more.
I have to find a few new haters because some of the old ones are starting to like me!
Ha, you watch. When they read this some will get on their forums and start bitching and crying about the stuff I said. Yet in 3 years not a single one has stepped up and said it to my face. Weak people do weak things. I'm the easiest guy in Pattaya to find. If you don't like me or how I think, step up and say it to my face.
It's jealousy, that's the reason. You're living in Pattaya, living the life, doing what you want and these forum haters are just jealous. The more people go on about you, the more you realise that they are miserable. They don't seem to understand that it is they who are making fools of themselves.
When I'm not here, I don't cry! When I go to Australia I do what I have to do.
So where's home? Thailand or Australia.
This is home. Pattaya will be home until someone shows me something better. Until you come to me and say "Tim, I seriously think there's a better place. We're going to Cambodia" or wherever else. I'll be there with you!
I hope one day we do find a better place. One of the things I hear is they want to develop soi 6 and they want to pull down what's there now. That is such a huge part of what Pattaya was. The beach is being raided every night. The Russians and all that, they want to make this place family-friendly. Bureaucracy is slowly strangling Pattaya, choking the life out of it. I think we're going to need somewhere new one day.
I give the naughty nightlife in Bangkok another 5 – 10 years, here maybe not much longer. It'll go because the country doesn't need it. Thailand is way past the days of tuna, pineapples and bargirls. Today the economy is diverse, sophisticated and seeing real growth. And all of the growth in tourism is away from the nightlife. It's going to get squeezed out. All these guys who want to retire in Pattaya 10+ years from now are going to find a very different and much more sophisticated, to say nothing of more expensive place.
It's just evolution I guess. The Russians have discovered it and they want soi 6 to be developed in to condos. Soi 2 and 3, the bars have gone. The life is slowly being choked out of it. Progress, they call it.
Now, Stick, stop wasting time sitting here with me and get out there and find us the new Pattaya because we need it. Sadly this Pattaya is slowly turning to shit!
*Where* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at the end of Khao San Road, in front of the temple and opposite the police station. So where was this week's mystery photo taken?! And yes, it was taken in Bangkok and not the countryside! All you have to do is tell me where the photo was taken. There is one prize this week – a voucher to use at Sunrise Tacos. Next week I hope to announce what I'm sure will prove to be a popular new prize.
Terms and conditions: The prize is only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and is not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Living for tomorrow (and forgetting about enjoying today).
I'm sure you remember the Nanapong forum on Delphi. I was on there for awhile, and was gobsmacked with the number of guys who would say "35 weeks and counting" especially in the States, where 2 weeks' vacation is standard. These guys would trade tips on how to get cheap tickets / good flight times from places like Houston, real long trips in economy class. They didn't care. They would endure (and of course tap into Nanapong) their lives for that two weeks and every once in awhile someone would ask if it was possible to get a job in Bangkok. How many are teaching English now? Of course it's the girls, maybe one "special" girl. It's the fantasy, the neon, the buzz. I hit it in 1990, hadn't had a drink in years but it was so alluring and yes, the girls were cuter, the effort was there. That's one thing I think your readers who remember those times can relate to. No dancer would do that two-step shuffle unless they were drop-dead gorgeous. I remember girls on the back-poles who would dive simultaneously during each song, such a simple thing, but they cared about creating excitement. There weren't crowds of customers, there was enough. But if there weren't shows, or wasn't any effort, well, there was a strip club next door. I had an interesting chat with a Hong Kong expat, a guy who lived / worked in Bangkok for years. His comment was that white-collar workers get a position in Hong Kong, move there, then figure out how to live, where to buy breakfast cereal, whatever. They might be interested in professional services of an intimate nature, but it's not their raison d'être. But, he said, in Bangkok the guys want to live there, and they look for any means possible to do so. The means of living is just a means to an end. Often, necessities are Mekong, a place in On Nut without too many cockroaches and whatever Noi is screaming for. Luxuries: health/dental care, decent meals, presentable clothes, everything else. I think that's a great perspective. Hong Kong is a good work environment and other things are secondary. Bangkok is Shangri-La: where no sacrifice is too great as long as you can skate by Immigration and afford the essentials.
Visiting Vietnam less than a generation ago.
I visited Vietnam in 1993, a year before the US normalized relations. I applied for a visa at the embassy in Bangkok, where they gave me a visa on a separate piece of paper so it wouldn't appear in my US passport. The museums are great, the war museum was then called "The Museum Of American War Crimes", plenty of anti-US propaganda, yet in the courtyard they had a guillotine the French used to execute Viet Minh sympathizers. I didn't encounter any overt anti-US sentiment at the time. I avoided the Cu Chi tunnels – crawling in dirt isn't my idea of a holiday. I loved the architecture and the food. You had to bargain for everything, even bottled water. Cyclos would follow you for blocks, only stopping when you reached your hotel. The nightlife scene was lamentable: lots of paranoia, darkened establishments and a feeling that nothing was really on offer. And while the few travellers there quickly banded together (it was inevitable, and I met some good people from different countries), we all got gastro-distress which makes adventuring less than fun. We publicly lamented the lack of a fast-food chain as being able to eat something we knew wouldn't make us sicker would have been wonderful. Saigon was mysterious and interesting, but it was third-world grime and disease, hard travel and while the people were great, you knew life was hard. You'd walk away from the table and watch a woman with a baby scoop up your uneaten rice with her hand and eat it directly. Sympathy was inevitable, but how much could you really help? When I returned to Bangkok, I sat on the steps of Siam Centre, watching the hip kids of the Thai capital meet, greet, check out each others' clothes and gossip. Vietnam was my first trip to anything further down the development chain than rural Thailand, my intestines were in chaos, I hadn't seen anything really clean until I got on the Air France flight at Tan Son Nhut and the air-steward handed me a writing-pad, pure white, it blew my mind. I looked at those Thai kids and thought, "Some idiots in the US military once thought that where I AM wanted to become like where I JUST WAS." I sat for maybe an hour trying to fit those jagged mental pieces together. Then I got up and went to McDonalds as I had a craving for mustard I've never had before or since. I made them put some in a cup so I could dip whatever I was eating into it. The counter staff thought I was nuts. I didn't care.
Dare you dive in Vietnam?
I would like to add my experiences in Vietnam and I completely agree with you about visitor safety. I spent some wonderful time in Hoi An and Na Trang. I booked a scuba outing in Na Trang. It was wonderfully inexpensive ($45, including tanks for two dives, boat ride and lunch) by Thailand standards. Perhaps I should have said it was cheap by Thailand standards as the equipment was shoddy, there was no pre-dive instruction (as there always is in Thailand) and while I was diving there were motorboats buzzing the surface! Since the depth was only about 10 meters, the poor equipment was not an issue. The waters where we were diving were murky and there was a distinct lack of spectacular underwater views – again, compared to diving in the Andaman. Even diving the Gulf of Thailand, say Kao Tao, with its murky waters, was much better than the Na Trang dives. If it sounds like I am complaining about Vietnam visit, I am not. There are some things that are much better in Thailand.
HIV transmission and the facts.
When I was first in Thailand I thought the Thai condoms were better so I used them more. When I was back there in March they had switched to an American brand which I hate. But my point is a lot HIV transmission is from two primary sources – intravenous drug use and anal sex (gay or straight), two things I don't participate in. You had pointed out at the bottom of the article about the 'real truth behind the HIV point of infection' and you're right. I have watched a lot of Americans die here in the States, people that I have known personally, pass away from AIDS. It's a horrible way to go! You will eventually die a horrible death, it's not just taking the drugs! Unless you're a millionaire that can afford to have all kinds of work done to keep you alive, i.e. Magic Johnson. I volunteered at a hospice and almost always it was drug abusers, gay, or the unsuspecting wife of a gay man! People need to realise HIV isn't the like getting the flu. I wish we were a little bit clearer on the facts.
Partying and party hats.
A common theme among all the HIV stories over the years from guys who either caught the disease or thought they did is the God awful angst they all suffered. Why put yourself through that? Put on a rubber! It takes 10 seconds. Who cares about statistics? You're with a whore for God's sake! She's been shagging God knows who, from God knows where and you're going dip your crank into that unprotected? What monger hasn't woken up the following morning sober and starts shitting his shreddies realising he shagged unprotected that whoreriffic looking skank lying in his bed? I'd be lying if I said I haven't been in that situation. It's horrible when your mind starts convincing yourself you got HIV. I can honestly recall being in that situation maybe a couple of times and that was 20 some odd years ago. Older and wiser now. Clean as a whistle and never saddle up without my rain gear.
The big changeover happens next weekend and the Nana Group will finally take control of the new master lease for Nana Plaza. It's a huge deal worth millions of dollars. The rumour mill has been in overdrive this week with talk of contracts being done outside the main lease by some bar owners between them and the new land owners, not the leaseholder, rumours of some bars struggling to come up with key money and there's the ongoing situation with the shophouses on soi 4 out front of the plaza up for rent with a steep asking price that no-one is showing any interest in. Behind the scenes, there's plenty of anxiety. If your favourite Nana bar managers or owners seem a little frazzled this week, that's why.
A reminder that one of the bars on soi 4 out front of the plaza, Stumble Inn, will turn off the lights for the final time next Saturday night. Swing by for the final night's shenanigans.
Speaking of soi 4, there was a humorous scene around 11:00 or 11:30 PM on Thursday when a swarm of older women carrying young babies ran up the soi and out on to the main Sukhumvit Road. No doubt they had been alerted that the local constabulary were on their way and they were not ready for a free ride to the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint. Many of the beggars with babies on Sukhumvit Road are Cambodian and when caught they are shipped out.
The classic old sign out front of Nana Plaza dates back to the early 80s and is like a crippled mule, ready to be put out of its misery. It won't be repaired because it won't be there for much longer. Mock ups of the new sign have been presented and the new gate to Nana plaza will feature a much more modern look.
Sexy Night, the ONLY original bar left in the plaza, is here to stay. The rent for the narrow little bar including key money has tripled. A gin and tonic is now 140 baht. Considering Angelwitch next door is only 150 baht I think we will see price adjustments sooner rather than later.
What happened in Baccara on Friday night? The venue was full of smoke around 11 PM and a crowd was standing around outside. It looked like smoke but didn't smell like smoke…and was almost like fog. The girls were still dancing but staff seemed to be throwing sand on something. The doors were open and there was a big crowd outside. Anyone know?
Remember Mama Noi? Next Saturday, July 7, from 8:30 PM until late, Mama Noi's bar, Checkinn99, will hold a Casablanca Night. Not much decorating is necessary as Checkinn already looks like Rick's Café. It promises to be a fun night for fans of the 1942 classic. Guests are invited to dress in period white shirts, bowties etc. with ladies in Oriental, Arabian or Moroccan dress. An extra special discount for Stickman readers (outside happy hour) with Heineken jugs 175 baht, possibly the cheapest in town. The night will feature Music of the Heart Band with high energy music, dancing and a few surprises. Please don't everyone be asking Mama Noi for a dance!
It was quite apparent that business in many bar areas started to fall away a week or so back. Fewer customers around, overall takings are down and a couple of farang restaurateurs tell me they are looking at unexpectedly bad figures for June. May was quite good in the bars so I'm not sure why the drop has been quite so dramatic.
It was also real quiet on a brief run through Pattaya this week. Nothing unusual for June, but when you hear of beer bars that have gone an entire night without a single customer and not a baht passing through the till, it's worse than you'd expect.
Of course part of the reason for the downturn in trade might be the rain. When it rains, girls may go to work later, hours later. Or they might not go out at all.
Pattaya's Soi LK Metro has been building nicely over the past two years and while you wouldn't call it bustling, operators in the soi are happy with the soi's emergence as a genuine destination. It should be noted that a few of the bars in Soi LK Metro are part of groups which also have bars (by a different name) in Walking Street – and some are shifting girls between the branches. Some will tell you that the prettiest girls are to be found on Walking Street, but this is not necessarily the case.
Turnstiles have been installed on the top floor at the airport near where taxis drop off departing passengers in what seems to be a move to prevent the long-used means of arriving passengers heading to the top floor to get a taxi which just dropped someone off. Doing so avoids both the 50 baht surcharge and the need to queue. I always go to the top floor and grab a cab which has just dropped someone off. The driver is usually delighted as he immediately gets another good fare. Whether the turnstiles will be effective in stopping this practice, I don't know. There is a sign that states "no climbing" but no-one seems to be policing it.
Duke's Express in the Emporium has closed down. A new branch will open in Suhkumvit soi 31, probably in August. I'll let you know the exact location when the doors open.
Bully's has long been one of Bangkok's hot spots come American Independence Day and this year will be no exception. To celebrate, they will have a BBQ of ribs, chicken, Bully's burgers and hot dogs along with a buffet of side dishes and salads on July 4th, from 4 PM – 8 PM. All the meat, salads and sides you can eat will set you back just 399 baht, and they will also throw in strawberry shortcake. A bargain! The coldest Budweiser beer and hottest chili will be waiting for you at Bully's, which can be found on the main Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4. Bully's will also be serving Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 90 baht and popping Budweiser for 125 baht all day, both American classics.
For July 4th, Bourbon Street is offering buy one order of their famous BBQ pork ribs and get an order of their famous (Doug's word, not mine!) buffalo wings free.
Starting on July 4th and running until the end of July, Sunrise Tacos will have a "Taste of USA" promotion with specials on BBQ chicken, chicken wings, hamburgers and pizza. They will also have stars and stripes margaritas with strawberry, lime and blueberry fruit. A 12-ounce glass will run 130 baht and pitchers go for 450 baht. The original branch of Sunrise Tacos also has a special on bottled Carlsberg – buy one bottle at 80 baht, get another bottle free. That special runs from noon till 8 PM.
Also on the 7th of July, Sunrise Tacos will be at the Independence Day celebration at KIS (Knowledge Inspiration School) which is located in Huay Kwang, on Pracha-Utit Road. Particularly amongst American expats, this is one of THE social events of the year. It's also one of the few times a year when a certain Mr. Trink can be seen in public.
Heaven Above on Pattaya's Soi Diamond, just off Walking Street, will celebrate American Independence Day on Wednesday. Doors open at 7:30 PM with their happy 2 hours when draught beers and house spirits are 50 baht. A free BBQ with hot dogs and burgers will get going around 9. There will be lucky door prizes and drink specials throughout the evening.
There's an argument that Thai women are some of the most beautiful on the planet with that mix of physical beauty and feminine grace so hard to find elsewhere. But there's a question that I think needs to be asked. Are modern, upper middle class (and up) Thai women overdoing it? Are they starting to resemble plastic? Wander through the likes of Siam Paragon or Central World or any of the other top-end shopping malls and there's an argument that some women are overdoing it. More and more Thai women are wearing these fake, ultra-long eye lashes which when combined with bright unnatural coloured contact lenses can make them look cute, but also like some sort of cartoon character. The number of local women who dye their hair seems to be on the rise, a travesty in my mind given that Thai women have incredibly nice hair, possibly their best feature. And there are more and more going under the knife with boob jobs (often less obvious) and nose jobs – which often change an Asian woman's looks for the worse in my opinion. When it comes to plastic surgery it's not quite South Korea, yet. As Thailand gets wealthier, here's hoping the Thais shirk the temptation to go under the knife more.
In last week's column I included a link to a news item about 3 young Brits in a Sukhumvit soi 26 apartment who were arrested by police after allegedly being involved in a boiler room operation. I can report that sad news that one of them, Richard Cook, died of a suspected heart attack in police custody this week.
Why is it that the average Thai drives so fast yet walks so slow?
Many properties comprise a small room in a big building which can be a little impersonal. If you're looking for space to really relax, a large area in the middle of Bangkok which is something of an oasis, with a pool and high-speed wi-fi throughout the complex that is Western-managed, consider Livingstone's Boutique Lodge in Sukhumvit soi 33. The owner is doing a special of 1,600++ for a superior room. To get this rate, you must email [email protected] and specify "Stickman special promotion".
Webmasters and website owners have the right to run their site as they wish. This column is mine and I call things as I see them. I have always stressed that the content of this column is one man's opinion. While I allow comments in the form of email feedback, ultimately I still control everything. One of the most popular expat sites in Thailand is SlyGeezer, a site perceived by some as being there to help the wider farang community. Being a forum, the content is user-generated. The site's owners are often accused of being heavy handed in controlling the content notwithstanding that it is user-generated and are known to frequently remove posts which go against the rules or aren't considered to be in the site's (as opposed to the community's) best interests. A long-time member of the forum who was once a paid supporter of the site and who provided expert assistance in one of the sub-forums had his account banned this week. His crime? He responded to a post about a cat and dog rescue centre in Chiang Mai with this line, "I am sure they would love it if anyone wanted to drop off some food”. Seems innocuous enough to me, a nice gesture for a worthy cause. The post was deleted and the reason given that the forum does not allow posts calling for "donations". I can't believe it! What sort of people deprive stray, starving animals of food?! Like I say, people can run their site as they wish, but at the same time it is my opinion that a site which is often seen as a having the greatest influence over foreigners in Thailand is setting a questionable tone for the expat community.
Quote of the week comes from Pattaya's Shark, "Bargirls and ex-bargirls, there's no difference!"
Reader's story of the week comes from Napster, "Three Weeks Of Online Dating".
The Thai Police did a marvellous job catching those behind the murderer of the Aussie tourist on Phuket last week.
From the Toronto Sun, the Dad of the two Canadian women who died on Phi Phi suggests things are being covered up.
A Brit was stabbed near Bangkok during a quarrel with a bus worker over valuables missing from his wallet left on a bus.
From The Nation, money disappears from Thailand bank accounts in what is suspected to be some sort of cyber crime.
What is being called a draconian new law could see foreigners holding land in foreign nominee ownership deported!
An angry farang spits the dummy at the True Customer Service office in Fortune Town, and makes himself look like a twat!
The Australian government has called on the Thais to take better care of tourists to Phuket.
From the Bangkok Post, two Pattaya-based Brits are caught trying to rob ATM machines in Chonburi province.
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.
Question 1 : 1. I am a US citizen teaching at a government university in Bangkok, employed as a permanent employee. My contract is subject to all Thai labour laws and employee protection regulations. It expires October 2013.
2. My Non-Immigrant "B" visa expires June 30, 2012. Although the university has applied for its extension in the past, this time it is essentially refusing to do so, hoping that with the expiration of my visa, their contractual obligations will be discharged. It appears that I will have to leave Thailand and come back on a tourist visa.
A. Will expiration of my Non-Immigrant visa invalidate my contract?
B. Is there a way to enforce the renewal of my visa, given that there is an outstanding contract, valid for another 15 months?
Sunbelt responds: A: The university (employer) has a duty to do the visa extension or provide documents for its employee. The employment contract between the employer and the employee does not expire or become invalid because of the expiration of the visa of the employee. The termination of contract can occur when it falls under Section 119 of the Labour Protection Act or both parties mutually agree to terminate the contract.
B: You should inform the Labour Office of the breach of contract and ask them for assistance in this matter by negotiating with the employer. The Labour Office is generally very employee friendly regardless of the nationality of the employee.
Question 2: My Thai wife to whom I legally married beats me. This has been an ongoing problem since before we were married but since we got married (almost 2 years ago) it has gotten much worse, more frequent and more severe. Despite being much larger than her and physically fit, I have never once laid a finger on her. She has also smashed up property such as our flat-screen TV, various ornaments and even smashed a window in our home. She is violent and now I fear for my safety. What do I need to do to divorce her?
Sunbelt responds: In the legal aspect, Section 1516 (2) and(3) of the Civil and Commercial Code which provides the causes for divorce.
(2) one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offence or not, if it causes the other:
(a) to be seriously ashamed;
(b) to be insulted of hated or account of continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or
(c) to sustain excessive injury or trouble where the condition, position and cohabitation as husband and wife are taken into consideration; the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
(3) one spouse has caused serious harm or torture to the body or mind of the other, or has seriously insulted the other or his or her ascendants, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
While the opening piece, readers' emails and legal section take care of themselves, the news and views section of the column develops over the course of the week. I made more of an effort than usual to find out what was going on this week, and come yesterday I had precious little. Bad weather and in being in the lull of the tourist season probably accounted for that. I put the word out amongst owners, managers and barflies but little came back. I thought it was going to be a real quiet week news-wise until this morning when my email started going mad as bar owners and other venues informed me about Independence Day specials and other comings and goings. So much for me completing the column by Saturday and taking most of Sunday off. While yes, I will squeeze stuff in if venue owners send it in at the last minute, it would be really nice if you could get it to me just a little earlier. If there's one thing I look forward to each week, it's a lazy Sunday!
Your Bangkok commentator,