Stickman's Weekly Column October 13th, 2013

Alone in a Room with a Thai Ladyboy


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself alone in a room with a ladyboy? What about being in a room with a ladyboy while you’re absolutely starkers, with but a towel protecting your dignity? Well, that is exactly where I happened to find myself this week. In a room in a massage house, with a ladyboy, me wrapped in nothing but a towel. How did it come to this?

I’ve received all sorts of odd inquiries over the years to check up on Thai bargirls and a good few folks have asked me to look in to the activities of their ladyboy love. I’ve never felt it would be straightforward and, well, it wasn’t like I needed the money. But things haven’t been great recently and my ability to attract readers far exceeds my ability to attract advertisers. With investigations having fallen off the cliff a few years back, well, you take what you can, so when an inquiry came in to check up on a ladyboy I wasn’t as dismissive as I used to be.
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My initial feeling was that this case was a hot potato. I had written the sorry can’t help you email, but had yet to hit send when I thought about what would be involved and saw it would be straightforward. And I had to be honest with myself, I could really use the dough. What clinched it was the simple nature of the task. It was as simple as it gets, a throwback to the days when an investigation took all of an hour or two and for which I’d charge the equivalent of about $75. To a teacher earning less than 40,000 baht a month and the US dollar over 40 baht, $75 seemed like a fair pay day. Ah, those were the good old days, when all the customer wanted to know was whether his girl was still working in the bar and if she was available. She – or is it he – was in Pattaya. That’s a bonus. It means an expense-paid trip to the seaside. Once the task is completed I can meet up with friends and gather the latest gossip in Sin City. I read and reread the client’s emails. He’d been in Pattaya, had been for a massage and had somehow fallen in love with a masseuse. The name of the massage house wasn’t known, but the description of its location was good. The massage house was next to a jeweler’s. To keep costs down I took the bus to Pattaya, 124 baht, excellent value. A motorbike from the bus station across town took me straight to the soi with the massage house. There was the jeweler’s and there was the massage house. Oh no, the jeweler’s is flanked by massage houses on either side. Which is it? Not a good way to get this started! Carrying out an investigation, the idea is to blend in. The want to be totally forgettable. Not rude nor stingy. Not overly polite or particularly generous. No Liverpool or Buriram United football shirt. Basically you don’t want there to be anything by which you will be remembered. Put on your best Scandinavian Winter face, expressionless like life is a bit of a chore. You want to be the invisible man. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself by asking for the person you’re there to check up on. You have photos and what you really want to do is walk in, spot them and then choose them, as if it was all completely natural. The problem was I did not know which of the 2 massage house she worked in! Standing outside a massage house you’ve never stepped in before, one doesn’t usually ask for someone by name. But that’s exactly what I was doing. A few not unpleasant ladies were beaming at me, almost willing me to choose them, yet I was asking for a massage by a masseuse who had been recommended by a friend. There wasn’t a ladyboy in sight. She’s 173 cm tall and gives a strong massage, I said. A quite exquisite looking lady more attractive than those ordinarily found in massage houses was giving me the eye. It’s the low season and they hustle amongst themselves, trying to circumvent the queue system to get you to pick them. She had a beautiful face, a lovely smile and quite stunning eyes. Massages aren’t really my thing, but if I was in to massages, I’d happily choose her. There’s no guarantee of a good massage, but she sure looked the part. But today the choice is not mine. I have to be massaged by Pat. The oldest masseuse barks at me, You know Pat is a ladyboy, right? Right, I say, sheepish, and thankful that no-one who knows me was anywhere near. She looks away from me and in a tone I pick as somewhere between envy and disdain, she says to the other girls, He looks the type. I involuntarily react, my face contorts and it’s not lost on them. Everything had been in English but they spoke amongst themselves in Thai. Now they are wondering if I understood what they were saying. In their faces I see confusion. Does the farang understand Thai? One slowly says sabaidee mai to me and I feign ignorance. The danger quickly passes and they see me as just another ignorant tourist who they can tune out with their local tongue. I’m told that Pat isn’t present. Phew, I have the right massage house. She is at shop number 2. I am asked if I want her to come. I do. A quick call is made and just a couple of minutes later a tall and oh so masculine ladyboy arrives. The massage ladies point at me and Pat grins. She likes what she sees. I inwardly groan. I’m not here because I want to be. I am here to check up on her and verify if she is being faithful. To wit, is she available for more than just a rub down?

Candidography

Pat leads me inside, with a huge grin from ear to ear. A not entirely unpleasant looking and not particularly old fellow has requested her, preferring her to the ladies, at least one of whom most customers would find attractive. She asks why I have chosen her and I tell her she was recommended by a friend. She asks me who and I say Barry from England. Oh, I remember he, Pat says, he bald and have hairy back. Well, he is bald, I lie, but I have no idea about his back. If she’d asked me if he had 4 eyes and a tail and I would have said yeah, that’s the guy. Inside it was one of the nicer massage houses, the operation much more professional than the hellholes of Soi Honey. Thank God. Upstairs it was decorated very tastefully and done out in the style of a ruen Thai, a traditional old teak Thai house. Imitation teak was everywhere, orchid flowers were placed throughout and soft music played. The lighting was dim and despite the low pricing – 300 baht an hour – it was, I had to admit, nice. I was shown to a tiny room with a massage table in the middle. In retrospect that was something of a relief. Had it been just a mattress on the floor, I don’t know what I would have done. A towel was thrown on to the table and the words “You take off” were all that was said in the huskiest of husky voices. The door closed and she disappeared. I was laying on the table face-down with the towel firmly over me when she re-entered the room. She dimmed the lights and in a voice where she was trying to be sexy without letting on that she was trying to be sexy, she asked, “You like music or not?” Whatever, was all I could muster, a feeble response as I started to feel just a wee bit vulnerable…

It’s probably as good a time as any to pause the story, and for me to explain my attitude on and thoughts of ladyboys. Back in my corner of Farangland, you don’t see many ladyboys at all, and in fact that word is almost never used. The preferred word is transgendered and those you see most are the fa’afafine, a word from the Samoan language used for Samoan transsexuals which literally translates as “in the manner of a woman”. I don’t doubt that there are friendly and pleasant fa’afafine but their appearance is dramatic and unnerving. At the top of downtown Auckland is Karangahape Road, an area known for street-walking prostitutes. Samoans are big people and passing through after dark you might spot the odd fa’afafine who in heels are about 6’6”. Imagine a well-built, black basketball player in heels and drag. It’s not pretty. My first memory of someone who didn’t quite fit the mould was as a youngster on a family holiday in Sydney. My parents being particularly open-minded and liberal would often take us for a wander through Kings Cross after dark – Australia’s most famous commercial sex area (where probably the seeds for this column were subconsciously sewn). I remember we came across a large woman of late middle-age with hair up like a Thai hi-so, layer upon layer of makeup and, I vividly recall, garish eye shadow. She was sitting outside a club inviting passersby inside. Her physical appearance was quite dramatic on a young and very naive Stick. But it was when she opened her mouth that I got the fright of my life. What came out was clearly the voice of a man, yet her appearance was very much that of a woman. But what got me was that as soon as she saw my parents she addressed them by their first names with the sort of familiarity that it was clear they knew each other! There in the heart of Australia’s commercial sex industry, we were in the presence of one of its grand dames. This was perhaps the most famous transgender in all of Australasia at that time, Carmen. With her Maori looks and Kiwi accent she was unmistakably an expat New Zealander. Despite her dramatic appearance, there was a certain calmness about her, and I remember thinking that she seemed kind, if very, very strange. In an area where touts were every bit as pushy as those in Patpong, Carmen had an aura of calmness about her. My initial alarm was eased. Carmen was, I guess you could say, my first experience of a transgender and seeing the comfort with which my parents had with her, I guess ever since I have never really had any issue with transgendered / ladyboys either, not that I have ever really known any. Fast forwarding more than a decade, in the early days here in Thailand I was always wary of ladyboys. Back when Sukhumvit was not nearly as well lit at night as it is now, packs of ladyboys would accost those out late. Trink wrote about it frequently and warned us to be careful. From the Nana intersection down to soi 9 they preyed on the drunk and the unaware. The reputation of ladyboys back then was much worse than it is today. As this site has developed, otherwise straight readers have submitted reports about their first time with a ladyboy. Adverts for ladyboy bars and ladyboy escort services appeared. I have interviewed some ladyboys and done photo shoots in ladyboy venues. I have come to know the odd ladyboy as they have moved around bars which I have taken photos in. For the most part I’ve found ladyboys to be smarter, more open and much more engaging than the girls. But while I am quite comfortable admitting that some look good, I’ve never felt an iota of attraction towards them. I guess I am somewhat homophobic, for while I am happy enough to be around ladyboys, just like with gay guys I don’t like them to get too close nor to be around them for too long. I would not be that comfortable, for example, to have a gay guy or a ladyboy squeezed next to me on the small seat on the bus to Pattaya.

ladyboys

So, back to Pattaya and the private room upstairs in a small massage house in Pattaya. I’m lying front down on a massage table, covered in a towel. The door is closed. There’s Pat, the ladyboy, and there’s me. The lights dim and she gets to work. The discomfort factor ratcheted up the moment she touched me. I maintain that there’s the smallest chance in all of us – even the staunchest homophobes – that we might somehow be aroused by the touch of a ladyboy and end up like the retired soldier who was Kevin Spacey’s neighbour in the closing scenes of “American Beauty”. I wasn’t repulsed but I was very, very uncomfortable. After massaging my legs – and let’s be fair, she gave a good, strong massage – she went to massage my backside. A quick no thanks was not enough to put her off. “Oh, I see naked man many times in a day, I not shy, you not worry about me”, she said, as if it what she wanted to do was as innocuous as walking in to 7 Eleven. “You don’t understand”, I said, “I only want a leg, back and shoulder massage. That’s it.” I knew what was coming. “Oh, you not want extra?” Certainly not, I almost blurted out. “Oh, but no extra, no tip! I do extra good. Do anything. What you want?!” I don’t want anything, thank you! Don’t worry, I will tip you….give me a good shoulder massage and you’ll get a plenty good tip. That perked her up. And she did deliver a decent massage. From then on there was no undue pressure or further effort to convince me of extras. She – that’s how Thai ladyboys prefer to be addressed – had the strength to give a really good shoulder massage and I would eventually walk out of the massage house feeling a little less stiff. Ooops, maybe not the best choice of words! But I was there not for a massage. I had to find out if Pat was up for it. And she was. She had already offered. Pat was remarkably frank when I asked her what was available. Everything. She started to go in to detail before I quickly put a stop to that. When I asked if she had anyone special in her life, she named the fellow who had sent me along to check up on her. I’ve no idea how ladyboys are generally in relationships, but she was very matter of fact. She had a boyfriend in England who had what can be described as the most masculine of jobs. She told me all about him and when he was coming back to see her. The point I was dreading was getting near. When Pat told me it was time to roll over, I told her that I was done. Surprise doesn’t even start to describe her reaction. We were barely 30 minutes in to a 1-hour massage. Why would I specifically request her, cause her to traipse from one massage house to another when all I wanted was a leg, shoulder and back massage? Why would a guy who was obviously straight and uncomfortable throughout the massage request a ladyboy in the first place? Pat didn’t say anything, but her confusion was obvious. So much for me not wanting to draw attention to myself or be memorable in any way; I guess extreme discomfort trumps being the invisible man! I guess I now have a better idea of just how a bargirl feels with a customer and why they try to get out as soon as they can! Back downstairs I paid the 300 baht massage fee and the cashier asked Pat in Thai if she had been tipped well, the inference being had anything happened in the room. They had no idea I understood every word. Pat responded that I wasn’t in the mood. She added that I was strange. Very strange. A transgender thinks a straight guy is strange. Only in Thailand! They’re all strange the cashier said to Pat, even if it wasn’t clear who she was referring to. All customers? All foreigners? Or just those who request a ladyboy? Despite finishing early – that really doesn’t sound too good in this context, does it?! – I tipped Pat well and we chatted. Outside the massage house she logged in to her Facebook account on her mobile phone and showed me photos taken with her European boyfriend. I looked at him, and then looked at this tall, masculine ladyboy who wouldn’t fool anyone. Some ladyboys are attractive; Pat wasn’t. I read the most recent message to Pat from the customer, “I want you to know that I love you so much”. I’ve interviewed, photographed and been around enough ladyboys to admit that the odd one looks good. But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever felt anything towards them. At a distance the odd ladyboy can look good. But it’s different up close. The voice can’t be disguised. The size of the hands is a giveaway. And as hard as they may try, they never manage to successfully imitate a female’s mannerisms. Ladyboys are men in women’s clothes with long hair, plastic surgery and lipstick. They are much more boy than girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, I now firmly believe that guys who go for ladyboys are just that, gay.

Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week’s photo was taken of the pedestrian overbridge just south of the Asoke intersection, near Benjasiri Park and The Lakes condominium. There are two prizes each week, a 500 baht voucher for Bully’s, on Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4, and a 300 baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos, Bangkok’s original Mexican grill with several branches. Terms and conditions: The 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 and ONLY the first answer emailed counts! You MUST specify which prize you would prefer and failure to specify a prize will disqualify you from being eligible to claim one.

Sunrise Tacos

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– Huff and puff.

About the Girl Of The Week controversy, the featured ladies look acceptable to me. Many guys huff and puff about how selective they are when choosing women; however, my visual observations here in Pattaya make me believe otherwise. Some of the dogs I see guys proudly escorting around Pattaya make me think, “Beam me up, Scotty!”

What of the future?

I am not a believer in the continuing prosperity of Thailand. They are so self-destructive as a society that I can see the golden age of the bars returning in 10 years, not disappearing. When Vietnam has the infrastructure and power to support industry and when Cambodia begins to emerge, Thailand will lose its position. You have been to both countries, as have I, and there does not seem to be the same stifling attitude about respect, saving face, and refusing to acknowledge mistakes. If the new generation of Thais coming in to management, the civil service, education, and politics cannot get over themselves there will be major problems. The funny thing will be who they blame, like the way they blamed Soros for the ’97 crash.

The ASEAN challenge.

Thailand is in trouble once the new ASEAN agreements are in place and Thais have to compete regionally (and internationally) with other ASEAN member countries. The level of English in Vietnam already surpasses Thailand and that’s after schools muddled their way through French and Russian language classes. Cambodia was until recently a complete basket case of a country, yet the level of English in Cambodia (at least amongst the younger generation) already surpasses that of most Thais.

Aspiration inflation.

The increased interaction with cops here may be a simple matter of inflation. A baht isn’t what it used to be. Look at skytrain fares. My tip of 20 baht for a massage is now treated with derision. The take from an area has, like everything else, gone up, and the most visible result is the cops squeeze customers more. Then there’s the other inflation, aspiration inflation. Whereas before it was enough for a big cheese to have a high-end Merc, now his underlings expect the same thing. The big cheese needs more, and there’s so much more these days to spend your money on – a condo in Hua Hin, a bolt-hole in Singapore, cosmetic surgery, weekends at spas. You can’t count every penny your underlings make, but you can up the cost of them running their franchise, and they need to recoup that money somehow.

Sukhumvit isn’t representative of the rest of the country.

Following advice from you, I enrolled in a Thai class 6 months ago. Not primarily to learn how to speak, but to be able to write messages in Thai to girls on Facebook. I now set aside a few hours at weekends to do just this. It is hard work and I still have to use an online translator to understand the replies. Some have not been very nice, while mostly I am totally ignored or even blocked but I have struck up a nice rapport with 2 or 3. I have learnt that most young Thai women are not in the least interested in hooking up with a farang old enough to be their father. I think this is a myth which comes from spending too much time in Sukhumvit.

Bigger isn’t always better.

It seems I’m not the only one who has noticed that Thai girls are getting fat. Last week I was in Crazy House, the new gogo bar near Soi Cowboy and could not believe what I saw, many girls far too fat. How can all those young girls be overweight? Do they eat ONLY at KFC and Dunkin Donut and sleep 15 hours a day? Is there really some guy who wants to pay for fatties like them? I realised recently that in maybe 2 years I haven’t touched a girl under 25, and that the ones I go with are aged between 35 and 45 (or more). They are slim and some are really pretty for their age. Most of their customers have no clue how old they actually are. Yes, it means that sometimes I go with a Thai lady 10 years older than me (and still pretty), but I would rather do this than go with a fat 20-year old with big, fat, hairy legs and a beer belly!

Better employment prospects = fewer bargirls.

The subject of chunky girls in bars seems to be the flavour of the month. I’d agree – I’ve only been to the naughty boy areas three times in the last two years, but each time there were plenty of large girls. What is strikingly different is the reality in Korat. There are chunky girls here, but the vast majority are slim, and a staggering number very pretty. I think it shows the changing economic reality of Thailand: there is no shortage of jobs in Korat. On the industrial estate where we are based there are factories employing tens of thousands of Thais. In the morning, swarms of scooters make their way in, many carrying very pretty girls dressed in plain work clothes. I’m sure their earnings are tiny compared to bar work, but their overheads are lower too. And they are working with eligible men their own age. They can go home with their heads held high, and a good chance they will marry a suitable Thai man. In contrast, the few expats tend to be fat Europeans clearly married to ex-bargirls. The local girls wouldn’t give them a second look. Even when the US holds its annual military exercises, the locals couldn’t be less interested. I think anyone coming to Thailand with the view that beautiful local girls will throw themselves at their feet is deluded. The odd guy might get lucky. If the expat is youngish, decent looking, and prepared to engage with locals outside the bars they might find a lovely girl. Otherwise I think the bar areas will see the tonnage continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Not a lotta love for Farangland.

I lack words to express how much I concur with your closing commentary in today’s column. It’s amazing how so many Westerners instead of being proud of their home countries keep bashing them day and night. Maybe karma will get them eventually and spare them the dreadful fate of being born in the UK or the US or NZ or Oz or Germany, etc in their next life and put them in Thailand or Cuba or Kenya instead. After all, their women are so much better than in the West, right?

Girl of the week

Gail, 20, Bangkok-born and bred, is the latest in a long line of attractive dancers at Club Electric Blue.

Bangkok gogo dancer Bangkok gogo dancer

Bangkok gogo dancer

Who was the first bar owner to put the price of standard drinks up to the psychological barrier of 200 baht? Take one guess. Yep, it was The Arab! How long will it take others to follow? I don’t know how much of a correlation there is between the price of drinks and customer numbers, but I imagine there must be to some extent. Speaking only for myself, I won’t pay 200 baht for a drink in a strip bar. To me, it’s just not worth it, especially when you can go somewhere like Oskar or The Londoner and pay about half that for a drink in a nicer venue, albeit without dancing girls. It does seem that Bangkok is going the way of much of the rest of the world where the price of drinks in strip bars is significantly higher than what you find in more mainstream bars. It didn’t use to be this way. And speaking of The Arab, he is getting sneaky in his efforts to acquire every bar on Soi Cowboy and was cursed this week by a couple of the other foreign bar owners on the soi. Aware that he is hardly the most popular figure in Cowboy, rather than approach other owners who he knows won’t sell to him, he now goes directly to the landlord behind the bar owner’s back and makes an offer to rent the property way above what the current tenant is paying. The outcome of such actions distorts the market value. Either The Arab manages to secure the lease or the current tenant ends up with a massive increase on the rent which ultimately means price increases in the bars and customers paying more. Suzy Wong’s happy hour price has increased again, meaning it and has gone from 90 to 95 to 100 baht in quick succession. If you’re buying in crazy house, be careful or you might end up in the monkey house. Best I say no more. The reawakening of Patpong continues with popular late-night spot Lucifer’s due to reopen in 2 weeks and a few weeks later it will be followed by the reopening of Radio City. The Strip A Gogo in Patpong has announced plans to open an hour earlier to begin what they are calling the Early Bird Hour. Instead of opening the curtains at 7 PM, they will be flung open at 6, perfect timing for expats in the Silom area keen for an after work drink. Prior to the dancers getting on stage, this first hour or so will be limited to drinks served by sexy servers who later shed their threads and dance. During the promotion period, all customers buying 2 alcoholic drinks get a free slice of pizza from Pizza Hut. The music will be played at a lower volume so the ambience will be more conducive to conversation. The owner believes demand exists for a place to have a few drinks or a bite before hitting the gogos later in the evening. If successful, the hours may be expanded as may the food selection. The Early Bird Hour will commence on November 1st.

The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok

There is a feeling of unease from some customers in bars with an all-male service staff – as can be found in a few gogo bars in Pattaya. But what I think is much worse is what you find outside some Nana Plaza bars where the welcome crew comprises rough, young, Thai males whose personal presentation is like something the dog dragged in. Being grabbed while walking along Soi Cowboy by girls keen to drag you inside might be annoying – at least they are girls! In Nana Plaza – and particularly at the top of the escalator, the way the welcome crew bark does the complete opposite of what it is supposed to and puts potential customers off. Construction has been taking place in the left-hand corner of Strikers Sports Bar in the Raja Hotel car park in Soi Nana for the last month, sectioning off a piece of the decking and creating an enclosed space. Signage has gone up and it will be a small branch of Subway – which should do very well in that location. In the same vicinity, builders are working on one of the spots down the side of the Raja Hotel. Another beer bar, perhaps? Pattaya experienced torrential downpours last weekend with the rain so strong flooding the streets and leaving customers trapped inside bars and restaurants. If you were going to be trapped somewhere, a gogo bar is hardly the worst place, is it? The upside of the heavy rain is knowing that the cops won’t pay the bar an impromptu visit which gives the girls licence to do as they please. As it was pelting down outside one bar last weekend and customers unwilling to exit the bar and wade through several inches of water, things got wild in one bar. The owner looked around the bar, looked at his manager, and made the observation that they were about the only two guys in the bar not getting blown at that particular moment! By the time rumours reach Bangkok from Pattaya it’s a case of Chinese whispers. You don’t know how distorted it has become – and that’s assuming that there was truth in what was said in the first place. Whispers reached Bangkok this week that the vacant manager’s position at Secrets is going to be filled by a popular foreigner currently managing another Pattaya bar. The name is best not mentioned at this stage, lest I have it wrong and get egg on my face. The wearing of a bra under a bikini top by girls in the bars is a relatively recent thing. I don’t seem to recall it in the past, but then I don’t trust my memory completely when it comes to details. It seems to be mainly a coyote girl thing and I guess that some coyotes aren’t really keen to flash any more flesh than they absolutely have to.

Bangkok gogo

The flooding in the eastern part of the country near the border with Cambodia had an effect on some expats in Bangkok this week. Visa run companies take those in need of a new stamp to one of the border crossings with Cambodia as they are the easiest to reach from the capital. The border crossing at Ban Nam Pu Ron in Kanchanaburi with Myanmar is actually a shorter distance away, but takes much longer to get to due to the lack of a major highway heading west along with all the back roads and mountain roads near the border. Anyway, one visa run company set off earlier this week but never made it to the border. The border crossing they go to at Aranya Prathet was completely cut off due to flooding. The minivan got to within 10 km of the border but had to turn around and go all the way back to Bangkok. The visa runners eventually got back to Bangkok after midday, without the much needed stamp in their passport. For those who make such border runs, it’s a reminder not to leave it to the last day. Give yourself a cushion of a day or two in case something like this happens. Another visa run company got bad raps this week after a disastrous border run. The company’s bus departs from Ekamai a few times a week and in fairness, until now this outfit has had a decent enough reputation. With roads in the east of the country flooded and the current situation on which roads were passable and which weren’t – no pun intended – fluid, instead of going to the Cambodian border, they went to the remote border crossing at Ban Nam Pu Ro in Kanchanaburi which, yes, is open to all nationalities and not restricted only to Thais and Burmese. Reports from visa runners have it that the driver got lost more than once and the trip turned in to a 13-hour nightmare. No food was provided despite the company’s website stating that lunch is put on and at least 4 out of the estimated 30+ visa runners ended up with the wrong stamp in their passport – although whether that is the fault of the visa run company or not, I don’t know. The APEC card is available to New Zealand and Australian passport holders and entitles the holder to a 90-day stay in each of the countries in the ASEAN region with no requirement to apply for a visa in advance. This makes it particularly useful for travel to Vietnam which requires a visa to be applied for in advance but perhaps of more relevance to readers of this column, it means Aussies and Kiwis eligible for the card and resident in Thailand don’t have to go through the visa rigmarole that others do. However, where once Thai Immigration used to give APEC card holders permission to stay for 90 days, now, at the airport at least, some officers ask how long you’re going to stay and getting a stamp for 90 days is not the sure thing it was. Some have reported getting 30 days only. Is this another loophole exploited by foreigners staying long-term in Thailand being plugged? If you don’t watch Thai TV or read Thai newspapers, you may be unaware of the many reports of vicious acts of revenge that take place here when love goes bad. A shocking video clip did the rounds this week of a Thai guy caught on CCTV walking up to his ex-girlfriend at a coffee shop in Tesco Lotus in Chumphon. He pulled out a gun and shot her from perhaps 3 metres. The coward backed away out of shot and then returned a few seconds later and walks right up to her slumped figure and puts a round in her head at point blank! The video clip is brutal – don’t watch it if you get queasy easily. Perhaps even more common is the splashing of acid on the face of their ex by jilted lovers. Usually it is male on female, but occasionally female on male. Fortunately you seldom hear of foreigners getting caught up in this sort of thing, but it is food for thought.

Bangkok Bob, a proud Englishman – which immediately qualifies him as an expert on Indian food, tells me that the best inexpensive chicken biryani on Sukhumvit can be found at the satellite branch of Mrs. Balbir’s in the basement food court at Robinson’s at soi 19. As nice as it is, there’s not much chicken. I wonder if anyone can recommend anywhere downtown for a good, quick and inexpensive chicken biryani? Yeah, I know, chicken biryani is hardly that exciting but it is more interesting than your standard Thai chicken fried rice. While we’re on the subject of Indians, I notice a Thai escort has an interesting statement on the first page of her website, “No take appointment Indians, Arabians, Russians” and on the next page she includes Thais and Muslims as well. With the way the tourism industry is going, she might be excluding most of the market! In the old days I’d get maybe two emails a month from Indians – you know they’re Indians because their name is not the standard Anglo names of most correspondents and besides, Indians often start their email stating that they are Indian. These days I receive at least one email a day from an Indian, just another sign that the number of Indians visiting Thailand is on the up. I am asked a great variety of questions by email, but Indians predominately want to know about the nightlife, and without meaning to give them a bad rap, some are rather direct, asking really creepy questions. No wonder some girls refuse them. And still on the subject of Indians, I notice that what is probably the most respected newspaper in Thailand – reported that two Indians were robbed after getting in to a car with a Thai lady with whom they had agreed to pay for sex. Nothing unusual about that and it’s good to see the paper covering such stories when in the past they seemed to almost eschew them. But what I found to be rather a surprise was printing the said victims’ names along with their ages. Those names will forever appear in Google and anyone carrying out a search for them could see this article. Was it necessary to publish their names? Surely the point of the story was the robbery and publishing the victims’ names was not necessary. In the long run the publishing of their names in an article which shows them as users of low-end prostitutes could potentially damage their reputation and be worse than the loss suffered in the robbery!

Bangkok fetish house

Quote of the week comes from P Roger “As far as your readers criticising the girls’ attractiveness or alleged lack of, I say, buddy, stand in front of a mirror and take a good look at yourself!Reader’s story of the week is a wonderfully written piece from Professor, “Improving The Gene Pool“. The Telegraph reports on older British retired couples enjoying retirement in Pattaya. Bangkok’s main airport will see the installation of a glass wall in the departure terminal to stop people jumping to their death. An American is campaigning for Thais riding motorbikes to wear a helmet. A Finn beds a Finnish bird in Pattaya after which they have a falling out over a Thai woman, leading to a nasty fight.

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:Can Sunbelt Legal please confirm whether Thai firearms laws have any regulation on BB guns? Are BB guns illegal outright (as is the case in Australia where they are required to be registered and it is virtually impossible to get one registered), or is there a requirement that BB guns must be registered? What about paintball guns? I ask because myself and team members frequently travel to Asia for paintball tournaments and we often bring our own gear so if there is a legal issue, I would like to know ahead of time (so that I can arrange the appropriate paperwork) rather than risk getting busted for possessing an illegal firearm. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: A BB gun is not classified as a firearm under the Firearms Act of 2490 after a decision by the Supreme Court (case number 5793/2544) but it is considered as an Equivalent Firearm. This means that according to the Equivalent Firearms section you cannot order or import or trade unless it is licensed by the local registrar. To import you would need the necessary licenses and these would be valid for one year. However, it is not required to have a license for a BB gun. Given that the importation is strictly governed we would recommend simply purchasing a BB gun that is being sold locally. Question 2: In 2004 Australia and Thailand signed an agreement for increased trade etc. One of the items was allowing Australian businesses to hold 60% to 100% shares in a Thai company when working in certain industries. I’ve not heard it mentioned anywhere except press releases around that time. Does Thailand currently recognise and implement this agreement? Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and Australia is in effect but the criteria for owning certain businesses is quite detailed and specific. The percentage of ownership ranges from industry to industry and there are different criteria for each industry as to trade and ownership. The real benefits of the FTA have to do with lowering tariffs on imported goods. You can view some of it on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs And Trade site. If you wish to explore if your business is eligible or not, please feel free to contact us and we can help you determine if your business model qualifies.

Patpong gogo bar

Some of the current lineup of coyote dancers at The Strip, Patpong.

This column continues due in no small part to the support of advertisers. If the advertisers no longer supported the site, the column would be doomed. By supporting the advertisers, you are indirectly supporting this column. If any advertisers have a product or service that interests you, do consider them. That said, I only encourage you to look at products or services that interest you. I would not expect a vegan, for example, to even click on an ad for hamburgers just as I wouldn’t expect the majority of readers to look at sites promoting ladyboys. If you do use the services of any advertisers, don’t be shy to let them know how you found out about them. Readers often tell me of how they have utilised the services of advertisers – and that’s great – but if at all possible, let the advertiser know too. It will contribute to the longevity of this column.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick
Firehouse  

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