I was very close to not publishing a column this week. In the end I decided to publish something although this week's edition is shorter and less polished than usual. I've been super busy, haven't been out around the traps and haven't checked out what's happened on Sukhumvit this week. Fortunately however a few bits and pieces fell in to my lap during the week, enough for a light column.
I have said before and certainly maintain that one of the mistakes I made – and a mistake I think a number of expat residents make – is not going home for a visit every so often. It's a mistake I have long since corrected. Frequent visits home help you to keep in touch with what's going on back home, help to maintain important relationships and allow a better perspective on life in Thailand. But just as it's important to make it back home, or at the very least, spend some time away from Thailand, I think another mistake I have made is not taking a week off from producing this column from time to time. In the future I plan to take a week off every few months. The importance of staying fresh when you're trying to produce something interesting and engaging week in and week out took me too long to realise.
I know people look forward to reading my wrap up each Sunday so my apologies that this week's is light. Hopefully this week's column is not too bad! Expect a full column next week.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the Saen Saeb Canal and the interchange for the boats from the Pratunam Bridge, not far from Central World and the Platinum shopping mall. There are two prizes this week, a 300-baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.
Terms and conditions: The prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Past prize winners cannot claim a prize within a month of their last win. You only have one guess per week! You MUST specify which prize you would like and failure to do so will result in the prize going to the next person to get the photo correct.
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 – Do you have a patron?
History teaches us that nationalist pride has been a fertile breeding ground for violence against various minority groups, especially those perceived as “foreigners.” I have always felt that anti-farang sentiment has always been just under the surface here in Thailand; it is just being expressed more openly now. So many farangs buy in to the fantasy of Thailand being a paradise and that we are really liked and accepted here. Good luck with that! Unless a farang has lived in Thailand from a very young age (or perhaps most of Asia) we just don't get the cultural nuances that allow the locals to avoid –or at least mitigate- serious conflicts. By the time they realise a problem is coming, it's too late and they are probably the victim of a vicious reprisal. I forget where I heard this but two locals were having a dispute, albeit non-violent and the loser walks away, only to give a sleeping soi dog a brutal kicking. Why? Well, he perceived that his antagonist was of a higher status or that his “patron” was more powerfully connected and nothing good could result from escalating the situation. But the soi dog was fair game: no status, no patron and certainly unable to launch a meaningful reprisal. Truth be told, even most long-term expats here really don't have the juice to come out on top in a dispute with a local, even one in a low or modest social standing. A tourist? Ha!
I believe that the true cost of a night of fun probably doesn't hit most people until they sit down the next morning and work it out. The price creeps up on you, one drink at a time for you and her, then the fee for the bar, then the room and finally the compensation for the girl. That's not to say value for money can't be had. You just have to make a wise choice and sniff out a girl who isn't obviously a mercenary. That goes for any business transaction, surely. Choose carefully and you'll get a good deal.
Rewarding bad behaviour guarantees more of the same.
The advent of the internet kicked off the inevitable downturn in the quality of the naughty-boy scene. Followed directly by the arrival of the lame-stream, sex hobby tourist who wouldn't otherwise have been able to find his way to the nearest airport let alone figure out how to get a passport / visa, find a hotel, take a bus / taxi etc. He was given step by step instructions and directions that he could just barely manage to stumble along with. In 1997 I was sitting on a Soi Diamond bar stool next to a Los Angeles newbie tourist of 3 days. He told me he was having a great time. I asked him how he liked the girls. He replied with deadly seriousness, that he hadn't yet figured out how to ask one back to his room. With pockets full of cash, empty craniums, no bargaining skills whatsoever, and low self-confidence from lifetimes of being beaten into submission by the feminization of the west, these fools were literally throwing wads of cash at girls in return for the slightest of affection and levels of service that were not commensurate. As we all know and are fond of lamenting, this situation has continued unceasingly since the 90s. The results could be summed up this way: Rewarding bad behaviour guarantees more of the same. I thank God I had the good fortune to pre-date the onset of this downward slide, that I still know the less beaten paths where quality, service and value are less affected, and that I have grown old enough that my needs do not coincide with each gentle breeze as was the case in my youth.
Escorts the way of the future?
The quality in the naughty areas of Bangkok has been a talking point for some time now. Personally I don't see the point in going to these areas anymore when there is now so much other nightlife where maybe there wasn't so much when I first came here in 2004. I think beer bar girls are a much better option if you want to have some fun these days. The ones I've met are genuine party girls who just wanna have fun. They will often spend all night going round bars having fun with you and sometimes even seem genuinely surprised when you insist on giving them some baht for the 'taxi' the next morning. Will escorting ever replace gogo bars in Bangkok? The going rate for an independent escort who speaks almost fluent English seems to be about 8,000 baht for the night these days. When you compare spending a night with a classy lady who knows how to please a man and speaks good English with the price for an uninterested bargirl and all the extras it doesn't sound that much, does it?
A touch of home to liven the girls up.
I can't be alone in saying that I don't go to gogo bars for the music, but it would be nice to enjoy what is playing while admiring the scenery. I admit I'm not in the blossom of youth, but to me most of the music is garbage and it goes in one ear and out the other. Tim's in Pattaya is different and plays rock with accompanying videos but the girls haven't a clue how to dance to it. What I'd love to see some enterprising bar owner do is play Isaan dance music. The girls all love it, they will do more than a zombie shuffle to it, and have much more fun. Some bars put a few songs on just before closing and it's wonderful to see how the girls light up.
Thailand becomes a habit.
While on holiday, we tend to spend more and more freely than at home. And the whole "openness" around the pay-for-play (for farangs) business and the wide availability makes it so easy for any old fart (like me) to hop in and partake. Many of us are return visitors, many have been for a number of years. Thailand becomes a habit and like a super tanker at sea, to make a turn is slow. But if the whole Thailand scene keeps adding shallows, many might just look yonder. What will be left for the average punter? Baht bus scammers, easy access to McD burgers and the wonderful beaches of Pattaya. For all of us Indochina enthusiasts, it will be interesting to see what may become of an opening Burma, in addition to developments in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos.
What happens in Nana should stay in Nana.
After reading about some guy's experience in Nana Plaza, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I fell for the charms of a particular working girl there and I couldn't get her out of my head. I know that falling in love with her was a mistake but after spending a couple of nights with such beauty, I was hooked big time. I'm in my 40s and for the short time I spent in her arms, I completely forgot about my wife and kids, something I never thought would happen. I was so mesmerized with her that I could drop anything just to be with her. Now I understand why these things happen to many men even with strong character, the romantic feeling just takes over and it's like being taken back in time when you were young and in love. The funny thing is the number one thing we had in common was we both love to talk about our dogs and then talking about everything else seemed so natural. It is obvious the sex was great but when someone like her touches your heart, the world just looked brighter and stress just disappears. I started singing love tunes and the excitement of seeing her is just too much to handle. So to all the men who venture out to Nana Plaza, don't ever follow your heart, but only your dick and remember to keep your feelings to yourself. Give the ladies their due respect and whatever happens in Nana should remain there forever.
More surveillance cameras are being installed in the lane with Bangkok's busiest naughty farang bar area. The photo here shows a workman installing cameras so authorities can monitor the comings and goings in Sukhumvit soi 4. Surveillance cameras have been popping up all over the city for the past couple of years as Bangkok seems hell-bent on catching up to London as the world's most monitored city. There has even been a pledge that one million surveillance cameras will be installed city-wide to facilitate security and crime prevention. A couple of years back I mentioned the dozens of cameras that had recently been installed monitoring every angle of the Asoke intersection. Similar can be found all over the city today.
The rumour that The Dubliner might be relocating to Sukhumvit soi 33/1 has turned out to be accurate. The new location of the popular Irish pub will be on soi 33/1, between the Royal Oak and the Robin Hood at the mouth of the soi. The new Dubliner will take up three floors of a 3-shophouse wide venue meaning it could be double the size of the original venue. With The Londoner at the mouth of soi 33, that makes 4 expat pubs within a stone's throw of each other. I bet they all wished they had the location of the Robin Hood though, which seems to do the best trade of them all, which I put down almost entirely to its location.
Speaking of bars relocating, a notice at the location of the new Sportsman bar in Sukhumvit soi 13 states that version 2 will open on the 22nd of this month. That seems a little optimistic to me but who knows?
And what's happening with Hemingway's, the eagerly anticipated new expat pub in Sukhumvit soi 14 that was being touted as a "vintage pub?" It can't be too far away from completion and there was talk that it would open a couple of months back. That deadline has long passed. A number of expats are looking forward to it simply because it sounds like those with the vision have put plenty of thought into it.
The cost of a drink in a bunch of bars in Soi Cowboy crept up a little more with the one known as The Arab increasing the price of a standard drink from an already lofty 180 baht to an even more cheeky 190 baht. Why he would choose to do this when business hasn't been great (for most bars), I do not know.
The mess that was all of the motorcycles parked just inside the entranceway at Nana has been sorted out and is a thing of the past. But some bright spark at Soi Cowboy has decided that the eastern end of Soi Cowboy should become a motorbike parking lot and this week there have been heaps of motorbikes parked right there. Dumb!
Nana Plaza looks a little better each week with various improvements being undertaken by the landowner. The latest work appears to be an upgrade to the wiring and the electric system throughout the plaza.Eden Club would like you to know that they have introduced theme costumes. Wednesday is air hostess fantasy with the girls dollied up to look like flight hostesses who are no doubt willing to do the mile high thing. Thursday sees a lingerie party from 12 noon until midnight. Fridays is the after work party and Saturdays black dress night.
The next party at Nana Liquid will be held this coming Wednesday – details on the poster below.
Something happened a bit over a week ago that I have been unable to get to the bottom of. It has been mooted that there was a shooting either at, or involving, staff from a venue at Soi Cowboy. What makes it scary is that every time I hear this story I am told that someone was killed. However, all of the foreigners involved in Cowboy are denying it – and whether that is because they are unaware or they have all closed up shop as a group to try and protect the image of Cowboy, I just do not know.
The Strip will host a party next Saturday to celebrate the manager's birthday with free Tequila shots to help you get in to the mood.
Larry of Secrets bar in Pattaya is known for his love of technology. He has a collection of mobile phones and almost always has the newest top-range models and is something of an expert on mobiles. But Larry also loves spending time online and his favourite site is the Secrets forum of which he is a moderator and administrator as well as the most prolific poster. At the time of writing this column, Larry has posted around 99,000 posts and is bearing down on the quite incredible milestone of 100,000 discussion forum posts to one forum. Amazing Larry!
Some customers complain about the barfine prices in some venues. 600 baht seems to be the norm these days and anything over that can get some punters up in arms. I heard an amusing complaint from the other party in the barfine equation this week when a young lass working in MASH in Soi LK Metro found customer after customer complaining that the 800 baht barfine being asked for was not just higher than many other venues, but was more than they were willing to pay and as much as they wanted to get to know her better, they refused to pay the extra 200 baht. The girl came to realise that due to the bar's pricing she was missing out on a number of potential customers – and no girl will take that lying down! She quit the bar and went to work in a venue in Walking Street where the barfine is only 600 baht.
While there is much speculation and conjecture about the changing bar scene and the changing attitudes of the service providers, how much of the deterioration can be attributed to customers' attitudes and behaviour? It seems to me these days more and more guys out in the bars are focused on sex. It's all about getting their end away and not about going out to have a good time. So many seem to be goal-driven – and that goal is sex. Guys being so focused on sex come across not dis-similar to guys who are desperate. Desperation is horribly unattractive and when girls see this in a guy it really turns them off and I reckon probably results in a lower level of service. What do you think? Are desperate guys a contributing factor to the decline in service standards.
It's easy to think that the local populace is all out to scam foreigners but this would be both unfair and incorrect. It's simply that foreigners seem to lower their guard and are an easy mark. Some of the scams perpetrated by local women against local men are a little less sophisticated and I heard a funny one this week. A well-to-do and sophisticated Thai guy was following around on CamFrog, an application popular with naughty Thais which allows people to use their webcams to communicate. Anyway, this fellow was rather taken with the very attractive Thai lady he was chatting with and she asked if he would like her to take off her top. Of course he did! She said she would do it if he added 500 baht credit to her mobile phone. He agreed. He dashed to the nearest 7 Eleven and using the handy system added 500 baht to the number she had provided. He rushed back home and got online ready to get an eyeful and needless to say she had gone…and hasn't been seen since! Amusing!
A reader asked me to explain the basic rules of walking on the footpath in Thailand but to be honest, I don't know if there is a right answer. The unwritten rule in his country, Australia, is that you walk on the footpath the same side as people drive on the road; in other words, people walk on the left-hand side of the footpath. In Thailand driving is also on the left so it follows logic that you'd use the same rules in Thailand as you would in Kangarooland, right? Put logic and Thailand in the same sentence at your peril! In Thailand people just seem to walk wherever they fancy and there doesn't seem to be any clear rule except…where you find stairs in busy pedestrian areas in Bangkok there are often arrows instructing you to walk on the *right-hand side* of the staircase! Ask a Thai about this and you get a look which would best translate as something like, "What a silly question!"
I haven't been to Pattaya in months and the few tidbits about the place that make it into the column are courtesy of trusted friends living down there or Bangkok-based friends who hit Sin City for a night or two away. But it might just be time for me to venture to Pattaya to check out Queen in Soi LK Metro. Everyone seems to be raving about it, saying it's the best gogo bar in Sin City at this time. Apparently it is full of pretties and has some amazing shows including acrobatics. That aside, it's said to be very much in the same fashion as the bars were in the '90s – slim girls with a good attitude. That's a simple formula which works as well today as it did in the past and it's a shame too many bars have tried to reinvent the wheel.
There's been a layer of pollution sitting over the city for much of the past week. I wouldn't say the rainy season is over as it's still only mid-October, but the rain seems to have abated this week and been replaced by this awful layer of pollution which seems to be content hovering over the capital.
Quote of the week comes from a friend and fellow animal lover, "I far more enjoy the company of my animals over most people here in Thailand as I have zero tolerance and time for rogues, charlatans and scumbags."
Reader's story of the week comes from Mega, "Stranger In A Strange Land (A Land Of Opportunists)", a submission which has been getting rave reviews from readers!
Yet another foreigner is murdered by a Thai woman, this time the victim was a Finn in Pattaya.
A Thai woman is arrested and charged with human trafficking charges after running Thai women into Japan.
A Thai murder suspect who escaped from Japan in 1993 was arrested on Sunday 5 months before the statue of limitations kicked in.
A Quebec coroner challenges the findings of Thai pathologists who say the deaths of Canadian sisters in Thailand were accidental.
A Pattaya resident is in deep pooh pooh, arrested for allegedly posting nude photos of a Thai girl online.
Ask Sunbelt Asia 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've been overstay for three years (long story) and I have no excuse except I lost my passport and never went to the embassy to get it replaced. I did replace it last week as I want to see my parents who are getting old. Do I just pay the fine at the airport of 20,000 baht? I'm a bit worried and want to know my next steps are to get home?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Since you have no entry stamps in your new passport it is a bit more complicated than simply paying the fine and going home. The entry stamp must be transferred into the passport by an Immigration officer, oftentimes going to Immigration without a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf can result in arrest, deportation and blacklisting. Sunbelt Asia Legal offers a service whereby one of our legal staff goes with you to negotiate on your behalf. We at Sunbelt Legal highly recommend to all of our overstay clients that need to go to Immigration to get the entry stamp and have overstayed or who had used an illegal visa company with illegal stamps that they follow this route, having a lawyer with them.
Question 2: I am fed up with recent behaviour from my girlfriend. I think it is time to be single. We aren't married, but we have been together for 3½ years. I like the companionship, but it is wearing thin. She cleans the house – maybe an hour a day max – and she cooks some, but mostly she watches TV. The sex is getting worse every year. Of course I pay for everything. She has no interest in doing things or going anywhere. I want to go places and do things, but I don't because I am too domesticated to just leave her at home – so I stay home too. I have to make a change for my best interests. She is getting very emotional about her "future" after reading a Thai magazine article about a farang who bought a big farm for his girlfriend. He did all the work. The entire property is in her name, of course. I find it easy to say NO to any crazy ideas like that, but that is what she is angling for now. And I see little good from her in my future. I did buy a condo last year but it's not in her name. We have no bank account together – I'm not a crazy farang! LOL. My question is what, if any obligations, do I owe her when we split up? Hopefully I can get an opinion quickly because our relationship went south two days ago and I might need to take drastic measures.
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: As you are not legally married by law you do not owe her anything with respect to alimony or sharing of personal belongings. However, Section 1472 of the Civil and Commercial code states that if you had bought a condo and use this property to live together a case could then be made that she is entitled to half of the purchased condo. This would only be pertaining to Real Property. A case by a life partner was upheld by the Thai Supreme Courts on this as well last year.
For further reference, we had a similar case of one of our foreign clients, an unwed Thai-Foreign couple. A property was bought where the source of funds was provided by the Foreign partner and the ownership was in the Thai partner's name. When they split up, the foreign partner wanted to reclaim his investment on the property. He pursued his court case through Civil Court (since they weren't married, but if they were, they would have to proceed with their legal actions through Family Court). The Civil court made the ruling that property had to be sold and the money from the transaction would then be equally shared by the couple. Even though both were not legally married but were living together as one. Therefore, they had to be treated as Life Partners. If you would like us to be present (as a witness) during the splitting up, we at Sunbelt Asia Legal do have legal staff who could liaise at the rate of 3,000 baht per hour excluding traveling expenses.
It's bad enough when I only produce 2/3 of a column like today, but getting the balance of the column right is also a tricky business. It does seem to me that there's more interest in what is happening away from the bar industry these days and my good pal Dave The Rave mentioned that when he publishes photos of food on his site he gets more feedback and comments than when he posts photos from the nightlife industry. I guess it's just another indicator that Bangkok, and particularly the expat community, really is changing…
Your Bangkok commentator,