Once the exclusive domain of travelling businessman with little time but plenty of money, new escort agencies have been springing up in Bangkok over the past 2 years to meet demand from an ever-increasing number of international visitors eager to spend private time with Thai ladies. While there is an overlap in customers between gogo bars and escort agencies, the ladies working as escorts see themselves as very different to those who dance in a bikini beside a chrome pole.
This week I sat down for a chat with 4 Bangkok escorts from the PureBangkokEscorts agency. They were charming, open and provided a refreshingly honest insight in to the lifestyle of a professional Bangkok escort.
Let me to introduce you to Fiona, Jessica, Candy and Elen.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves – your nickname, your age, where you come from in Thailand, how long you've been doing this sort of work and perhaps one other point of interest about yourself.
Fiona: I'm 20 years old and I come from Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand. I have lived in Bangkok since I finished high school in my hometown. When I have free time I like to go to the movies.
Jessica: I'm 23 and I come from Korat. I studied to be a secretary at university and I have just completed my degree. My hobby is sleeping <lots of laughter from all the girls> and I like fish and dogs.
Candy: I'm 24 and I'm from Sakhon Nakhon. I like singing songs and watching Korean movies and TV series. Sometimes I like Indian movies too. I watched one this morning and I prefer Bollywood over Hollywood.
So you prefer Indian men over Americans too, do you?!
<The other 3 girls laugh as Candy grins awkwardly!>
Elen: I'm 24 and I'm from the north-east of Thailand, Yasothon province. I'd love to have a career in cinema.
From left to right – Fiona, Jessica, Candy and Elen.
So how did you become escorts to start with? I mean, when you were young, I'm sure you never dreamed of this sort of work!
Elen: My friend told me about it. She was working as an escort and making so much money. She said that we could make a lot of money and there was a chance to meet a nice man.
Candy: It's about the money first and the small hope of meeting a nice man
Fiona: My friend introduced me to it. 2 years ago we had bad luck in Chiang Rai. Our family house was destroyed by the floods so I am trying to help my family build a new house. My friend who invited me here knew I wanted to make a lot of money so I could build a new house for my mum. She knew that if I could overcome my fear about this type of work then I could make a lot of money. I used to work with computers and actually I was like you, I was a blogger, but it did not make enough to build a house. I started as an escort at the start of last month and have been an escort for a bit over one month.
Jessica: My friend introduced me to this work too. She was an escort but now she has stopped.
Why did she stop?
Jessica: She found a customer who now takes care of her.
Have any of you ever worked in a bar before you became an escort, or have you ever freelanced? When I say "bar", I mean a naughty bar where women are available.
Candy: I worked in a pub for Thai men.
<I look at the others and there are shakes of the head.>
So being an escort was your first experience working in the sex industry?
Fiona, Jessica and Elen all nod at me.
Candy, to clarify, could a Thai man take you away from the pub? I mean, were you available?
Candy: Yes, sometimes we would get taken out.
So, was anyone ever a gogo dancer? Did any of you work in a gogo bar before becoming an escort?
Jessica: No, I really don't like that!
<I am looked at with puzzlement by all 4, as if this is a question that makes no sense at all, almost like me asking if any had worked as a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer.>
Would you like to work in a gogo bar?
Elen: No, it's completely different to being an escort. You cannot compare the two. That is very different to what we do!
Jessica: When guys go in to a gogo bar, they see the girls as sex objects. We are escorts and we like to think we offer more.
Fiona: We feel that the image of gogo dancers is not good. Gogo dancers really look like, how do you say in English, "working girls." We don't want to be associated with gogo bars.
Candy: Working in a gogo bar you have to fight with the other girls to sell yourself to customers. They have to convince the guy to choose them. There is fighting and bitterness between the girls which makes gogo bars not nice places to work. Everyone is competing against everyone else. As escorts we don't fight amongst ourselves. We get a booking and then we go to the customer. Gogo dancers fight against each other and they bitch and complain. That environment is not nice. We see ladies who work in gogo bars as coarse and hard. Really, they are very different to us. They are hard, rough and they use impolite language all the time. We're not like that. Just listen to the way they speak to each other. Guys in gogo bars can get quite drunk and it's not such a nice environment to be in. Sometimes we may get invited to go to a gogo bar with a client. I am not sure why they take us there. Gogo bars are not nice places to take an escort and we don't really like it there.
Tell me about your daily routine.
Fiona: Normally we are on standby from 10 AM. I wake up and check my messages to see if there are any bookings. If I don't have any customer bookings, I play on the computer, listen to music, maybe go out to see a movie and wait for a job. We are on call so we have to be ready all the time because sometimes we get a booking and the client wants us right away so we need to be ready to go direct to the customer from wherever we are.
That must be a challenge to having a semblance of a normal lifestyle?
Candy: Before we go to a movie or do something that takes time, we tell the agency coordinator what we are doing, be it a movie, shopping, personal business etc. We need to check in first and let them know our schedule so they know we won't be available for a few hours.
Fiona: I was called once by the co-ordinator when I was in the cinema. It was a really good movie but I had to leave and go to see the customer right away. It was a good movie and I never saw the ending!
Candy: 2 days ago I told the coordinator I would eat with some friends and it would take a couple of hours. I also had some other stuff to take care of. I got a call, "Candy, you have a job" 2 hours later. The timing was perfect and I went straight to the job.
I have always wondered what it must be like for you when you knock on the door of a hotel room. On the other side of the door is a guy you have never met before. You don't know him and have no idea what he looks like, yet he is a guy who within 5 minutes you might be having sex with. How do you deal with that? How do you prepare yourself? I ask this because a friend of mine runs another escort service and he told me about a situation recently where one of his most popular girls knocked on the hotel room door of a guy who had booked her and it was opened by a large African American. His appearance freaked her out and she ran. She feared he would hurt her and that he might be big. She thought me might have a monster sausage. Have you ever had an experience like that?
Candy: We need to be patient. This is a big part of the job. I'll tell you the truth. Some guys stink. Some have a filthy mouth and speak impolitely. Some start talking immediately about sex and what they want to do. This is our job and we are well-paid so we have to be patient. We need to make a decision fast if we think he is not someone we can stay with. If the guy's thing is really big then it might be too much and I might not be able to look after him so I have to cancel. But you don't know immediately, do you?
Fiona: So long as he is gentle, it will be ok. I met a guy a couple of week ago, a black American, very tall, big and he looked so scary. I wondered if he would hurt me. We chatted a bit. Before we started, he said he would be gentle with me and he was. Actually he was very ok. For me, so long as the man is gentle, that's all I ask.
Elen: Some guys look scary but actually they are very kind-hearted.
Does your heart beat fast when you're outside the hotel room waiting for your customer to open the door, wondering what he looks like?
Candy: We aren't worried about what he looks like, but we are worried about what he thinks of the way we look! Will he like us? A guy who books us has seen photos of us but will he like us when he sees us? We worry that when a guy sees us he might not want us. We are there because we want to make money. Some customers say that we look different from our pictures. I say, Hey, this is me, look at the picture and look at me. It is me!
What was it like the first time you did this, your first experience as an escort?
Jessica: I was so scared that I thought as soon as the guy saw me he would cancel!
Candy: That first time I did not know what to do when I walked in to the room. What was I supposed to do? I did not know where to put my bag, where to put my shoes. Should I hold his hand? What should I do next?!
Are there any types of customers you refuse to go with?
Candy: I have never refused anyone and there is no type of guy I would refuse. There are certain activities I would refuse to do though. I had an uncircumcised man and it was very hard to perform oral sex on him because even after a shower he was not clean. It is more about activities we won't do rather than a type of man we won't go with. Men must wash. They must be clean. This is so important. They really need to be clean and take a long shower and be really, really clean. Some guys don't want to shower but they want a blowjob. That's not nice for us.
What about Indians? I ask this because I hear a lot about them and some girls not being comfortable with them.
Elen: So long as they are clean, Indian men are fine.
Candy: Indians are fine, but they must accept that they might need to shower.
Jessica: One Indian was so cheap when I was with him. He wouldn't let me eat anything in the room.
Tell me about the different types of customers you meet.
Candy: I like Europeans because they are much more polite than Americans.
Elen: Most of my customers are from Europe. Many Germans. Germans are generous and speak very politely.
Jessica: I don't know where they come from. I only know they are farang. To me, white is farang! I just think they are farang and don't know which country they come from. It doesn't enter my mind. All I think is Indian, Asian or farang!
Elen: Singaporeans always want to talk. They speak English well but they never stop talking.
Fiona: Any country is ok so long as they pay. I am not fussed about their nationality. I don't care. I do it for the money.
Jessica: Just not Thai men!
How about men of different ages?
Candy: I like older men. They are more relaxed and they speak politely.
Elen: I like businessmen! They have a good job which means they are good at what they do and I think that means they will be able to look after us well too.
Miss Fiona, you're young, the youngest here, only 20, do you like young men?
Fiona: It's work, it's not love so I don't even think about their age. They're paying so any age is ok.
Jessica: I don't like young men. I prefer men aged 35 up. I don't like young men because they won't think we're particularly young and men like women much younger than them. Young women get men excited. Older men see us as young women and they get excited. And when older men are done they want to sleep right away. With young men it can be 3 times or 4 times during the night.
I know that business is very good and at least a couple of you are in such demand that you are kept very busy. What do you do to relax? How do you wind down and what things do you do to enjoy yourselves when you have some free time?
Candy: I don't have so many jobs, maybe one every couple of days so it's easy to relax.
Jessica: I am trying to improve myself and am studying Japanese and Chinese. Both are short-term courses.
Elen: I'm studying English.
Elen: I have many jobs, and little time to relax.
Are you concerned about your health? I know from another agency that the number one inquiry from guys is for anal sex. A lot of anal sex can't be good for you and accidents must happen. How do you feel when it comes to your health? What precautions do you take?
Fiona: I take vitamins and supplements and drink a lot of water.
Candy: I try to go to the gym when I have time.
Jessica: I get my blood checked every 3 months.
Candy: For me, I check my blood every 4 months.
Elen: I take some vitamins.
What about guys who don't want to use condoms? I know how bad some guys are about this and how some refuse to use protection so come on, tell me the real story and not the company talk!
Jessica: I tell them I can do it without a condom if they are willing to pay 1 million baht and marry me. Then and only then is it ok.
Candy: I can do other things with them if they really don't want to use a condom. We can do other things and use our imagination but no condom means no penetration.
Elen: The only way to do that would be to take them to a hospital and get a full health check.
Fiona: They must use a condom. There is no alternative. If they want to have sex without a condom, no way! Blowjob or handjob is fine without a condom but not full sex.
Oh come on, tell the truth! We know how it can be…the guy takes you to a nice dinner, you share a couple of bottles of wine later and back in the room you're both not in control. Things happen…
<No, no, no, no from all girls, they're almost chanting, all with a resounding, almost indignant look on their faces.>
Candy: We have to be able to control ourselves in this business. If we don't we are the ones who will have problems later.
OK… So what's the best part of the job?
Fiona: Money. That's the simple and honest answer. We do it for money and the money is really, really good.
Elen: Many people look down on this work so we have to make enough money to make it worthwhile and that means enough to take care of our family.
Candy: If there was another way, a better way, we would not be doing this. No-one wants to do this work. No-one. We do it for the money only.
Elen: We get very tired doing this. It's not easy.
Jessica: Sometimes this work makes me cry. Sometimes I get very sad.
What's the worst part of the job?
Jessica: Customers who don't want to shower.
Candy: Some men refuse to shower even if we offer to shower with them and help. Together in the shower is sexy but they still refuse! It's only a few like that but they smell bad and it is so horrible!
Elen: I have never met a customer who made me feel bad so I guess I am lucky. 2 years and no bad customers.
Fiona: Same with me, I guess I have been very lucky!
Candy: One Singaporean I met would not shower. He wanted me to give him a blowjob without a condom and did not want to use a condom for sex. He stunk. I wanted it to end! I told him if I ever saw him again he would have to shower otherwise I would not agree to meet him.
You make a lot of money from this work, a lot. Do you manage to save it, invest it, buy property or other assets? I ask this because I know that your sisters in the bars blow it all, the money I mean!
Elen: I built 3 houses in my village and a rubber tree farm. When we are old we cannot work so to make money like we are now we should invest it wisely.
How long did it take you to save that much?
Elen: I have worked as an escort for 2 years.
Fiona: I just started last month. All of the money I have earned I have sent to my mum and this is being used for our new family home.
Candy: This is my 3rd year. I have already built a house for my mum and bought her a car. I have also got some savings and I want to be able to buy a farm. I also want to buy a car for myself.
Jessica: I have just stated and I hope to save money.
Do many people outside of the escort industry know what you do for a living? From your family to your friends to your neighbours, who knows?
Fiona: No-one knows. At least no-one knows for sure. Maybe they suspect but actually knowing with certainty, no-one.
Candy: Only the people who promote the business and the people we work with know what we do. Some people will think too much if they know what we do. Some would be jealous if they knew how much money we make and some just wouldn't believe it. We do this to make our family comfortable and if they knew they would be very upset.
What does your family think when you send hundreds of thousands of baht to them? Please don't tell me they believe you work at KFC or 7 Eleven or somewhere like that. They weren't born yesterday. Do they look the other way?
Candy: We tell our family that we are salespeople and we made a lot of money in commissions. I tell them I ran a booth at a product fair and the sales were very good. Sales is a job we can do and it is a plausible story because salespeople can make a lot of money in commission if they are good.
Jessica: I don't send money home yet so they don't know. I will send money home as if I was on the salary of an office worker, the job I trained to do. I will send what I could afford to send on an officer worker's salary. If I want to give them a lot of money, more than I could afford to send on that salary, I will hand the money to them when I visit. I will tell them I won the lottery. They will believe this. Also, I don't want to send too much and then they get used to it and when I stop working I cannot send that amount and they become disappointed.
What do you think will cause you to stop working as an escort?
Candy: I have a plan to stop. If I have set myself up to make money from other sources like a farm then I will stop.
Fiona: I want to make enough money to be able to invest in a business. I want to live in Chiang Rai with my family and my dream is to have a little minimart and / or a restaurant. When I have enough to make that happen, that is when I will stop.
Elen: I have a plan to open a restaurant because I like to cook. I have many years experience cooking and I would like to do that again. I can cook Thai and Italian food.
Do you have any regrets? Would you recommend other girls do this sort of work?
Fiona: My health is already a problem and I have only been doing this for a month and a half. I don't get time to rest. My sleeping patterns are irregular and a lack of sleep makes it hard to stay healthy. This work might look easy but being on standby is tough and the lack of sleep makes it hard on my body.
Elen: Sometimes we have a morning job. Sometimes a night job. We never know what the next day will bring and a lack of sleep is a real problem.
Candy: It's not just sleep. That is a problem for me too but also eating regularly and eating good food. Sometimes I don't eat. I miss meals and that's not good for me.
Do you think that being an escort will have a positive, negative or indifferent effect on you later in life? I mean, do you think you will be able to settle down and enjoy a fulfilling love life after this?
<Silence…. The girls process this question and one by one they avert eye contact, look away from me, and there is a long, long pause. Maybe 30 seconds, maybe longer. This question took them aback, and they didn't like it. They'd been so open and so honest up to this point and now I was putting them on the spot. The rapport had been excellent and now I might have lost them, maybe even upset them.>
Candy: Honestly, I just don't know. If it is someone who never knew what we did, maybe, but if they knew, I just don't know. If it was real love, well, I just don't know. I know it won't be easy.
Fiona: I have never really thought about this. I am young. I only think about making money. I will think about that when the time comes.
Elen: Now all of my focus is on work and later I will focus on love. These two things cannot be done at the same time.
Jessica: It's not something I have given any thought to at all. I'm new to this.
OK, that was to be the last question but I don't want to end on a negative note. Do you have anything you'd like to say to my readers? Any final message for them, perhaps clarify any answers to questions I have asked already or say something to them?
Fiona: We may work as escorts but you should still be decent to us. We are not low society types. We do our best to make you happy so please be nice to us.
Candy: We are grateful for your money but we ask you to treat us as humans. If you treat us well, we will treat you well and we will both be happier for it.
Jessica: If you like the look of me, you can meet me and you will discover that Thai women really are beautiful, so come and see me!
Elen: Thai women are not just beautiful on the outside but beautiful on the inside too. If you meet me you will know!
Where was this photo taken?
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.
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 – Pickup masters.
When it comes to meeting women – Thai or otherwise – I also hold those self-anointed "pickup masters" in rather low-esteem and even more so those who take these ridiculous "pickup classes" advertised all over the net. I wonder what happened to the time-tested method called "being yourself"?! Of course, it's not an option if your "self" is rotten!
The development of the Internet.
Your article describes so well the online "development". I've been at it since BBSs, Telnet etc. The first time I designed a commercial website was back in 1995, so I have logged many hours over the years. Missed are the days when the web was but a part of the whole matrix, when you met so few ranters and crude fools. As for Facebook friends, right, try posting that you are moving house and need a hand with that fridge and washing machine and see what happens. And to all of you who think that you can post / email any insult and idiotic comment and remain anonymous, it's a chance you take unless you really know how to cover your tracks, which few actually do. If you ever have something to say, say it like you would if whomever you were saying it to were in the same room. That would also be the polite thing to do – basic, minimum politeness, and not any advanced complicated etiquette.
The toxic internet.
I thoroughly agree that today's internet seems more toxic, and more people seem to take little responsibility for the things they post, and have no clue about how easy it is to find anyone on the internet. While I work overseas all year and use my Facebook regularly to interact with friends and family back home, I find myself using it less and less as time has gone by. Like you, I've bemoaned the lack of human interaction. Whatever happened to sitting down and having a drink with someone instead of texting or sending email? And while I'd much rather make friends these days, especially when I find myself in places like Thailand, seeing how most of the folks on so many of the forums conduct themselves I have no interest in actually meeting any of them.
Speakers' Corner, in your very own living room!
I'm an avid user of Facebook, but I fully admit that it simply exists as an avenue to express every person's latent narcissism. Put it this way, I could individually tell the people I wish to know about my latest holiday, my new job, my new girlfriend etc. or I could advertise it to the world. The nasty side of course is that the opinion of people whom you would only ever discover if you happened upon them in a dark alley late on a Saturday night are now able to rant and rave from their virtual Speaker's Corner. Freedom of speech is one thing, but flagrant violation of social norms and anti-discrimination laws is another. I've always maintained that the internet has allowed those without the ability to express an intelligent opinion to have a forum to be heard, to many a dire consequence. Be careful, folks, the online community is almost getting more dangerous than the real-life world.
Facebook and Aussie Immigration.
I had to laugh when you talk about Facebook. One on my jobs working for DIAC in Australia is compliance at the airport. You wouldn't believe the amount of working girls who advertise their travel itinerary on their Facebook page. The majority are ladyboys. So one of my tricks is to scan social media like Craigslist, Facebook etc to look for them. It makes my job a lot easier when they deny coming for work when I shove a copy of their Facebook page saying they were coming to Australia to see customers!
Crass commercialism is the enemy.I totally agree with your comments about the Internet going down-hill. But then it's the same story with gogo bars. The enemy is crass commercialism. I would no more inhabit Facebook than I would visit Secrets or Angelwitch. It's the quiet little backstreet bars where you meet the nicest guys and girls. And likewise there are many quiet backwaters on the 'net where you can meet nice people and enjoy yourself. Avoid the glamour and glitter.
Bargirl beauty, an oxymoron?
With the girl of the week this week I think you found girl of the year! Which led me to contemplate a couple of asides. This is the first non-working girl you have featured. Is that why she looks so fresh and clear-skinned? I have seen bargirls go home for a lengthy rest and come back looking years younger. Are we so lazy that we spend our time (me included) hanging around ugly women of easy virtue? I am learning, but what took me so long?
The anti-Isaan bias.
In one of your reader's emails entitled "Any Advice?" the following phrase appears, She came from a farm, but it wasn't Isaan. The writer then goes to complain about the lack of respect shown to his wife. But he has just been disrespectful to the females of a large part of the country. How dare he assume that any girl from Isaan is automatically below the salt, not to be regarded as a decent woman! He later goes on to say, How do we conquer that sort of bias and prejudice? The answer, perhaps, being not to show bias and prejudice against others. And yes, I am married to an Isaan woman, 13 years come Christmas Day.
Soi 11 was my main thoroughfare when I lived in Bangkok so it's especially painful to see what a nightmare it has become. I got to know some of the vendors on that soi. My local coffee lady would make what I wanted – gafae dam boran – and Thais think you're insane to order that, without me saying a word. One day the gafae boran pot was running low and she sliced open a large carton – inside was a plastic bag with 5 kilos of those wonderful dark roasted beans. She was going to hoist it, but I just stepped over and did it for her. She's out in the heat making tea / coffee all day, I'm a regular customer, of course I'm going to help her with something like that! That was the way it was, a decade ago. You'd just help someone out, why not? Nowadays I avoid Soi 11 – among other things, it's so narrow that with the current traffic, it's a hazard.
Girl of the week
Fiona, 20 years old, from Chiang Rai,
is an escort with PureBangkokEscorts.com.
She is a bubbly little number and speaks great English!
Rumours persist about the uncertain future of the long-running Biergarten in Sukhumvit soi 7, the most popular day-time spot for freelance hookers in Bangkok. Some say they have information that it will close in 2014 while others who claim to be in the know say it definitely won't. It can be confirmed that leases for many of the businesses operating at the start of the soi expire at the end of this year and won't be renewed. Buildings on either side of the soi near its mouth are going to be torn down and the area redeveloped – which fuels rumours about the Biergarten. I suspect we'll know more about the future – or otherwise – of the soi 7 house of horrors early in the new year.
It looks like a case of third time lucky in the back left-hand corner of the top floor of Nana Plaza. Las Vegas burst on to the scene but faded and Tokyo Player was a bar the owners didn't push as they concentrated on other businesses. What was Tokyo Player was renamed to Wild Things this week and is doing well. Wild Things is right next to Billboard and worth a drink or two.
Speaking of back left-hand corners, that part of Tilac Bar is known to locals as Alcoholic's Corner. It's where a bunch of the younger, hardcore dancers ignore the world and get smashed most nights on local whiskey which they send service staff out to buy from the minimart opposite. Alcoholic's Corner was evacuated on Wednesday night when the toilet above sprang a leak and water came through the light fittings and soaked the floor, putting 20 odd seats out of commission.
A week-long party started at The Strip in Patpong soi 2 this past Friday. Each night from 6 PM until late it's a Naughty Schoolgirls Party with staff dressed accordingly. Early evening from 6:00 – 7:30 PM it's buy 1, get 1 drink free as well as a free slice of pizza. You can get 2 ladies in a private booth for 600 baht – that might be a tight squeeze – and there are free shots at midnight. There will be shower shows and fire bar dancing.
Checkinn99 will stage another of their popular Blues Brothers Nights next Sunday, November 24th, from 8 PM. The Bangkok Blues Brothers will bash out all the favourite numbers from one of the most iconic Blues comedies of all time. Go dressed as Jake or Elwood, in Country and Western or even as Cab Calloway. You can book online at Checkinn99bkk.
On the subject of CheckInn99, this past week customers have donated 117,000 baht and counting to the Philippines Red Cross cyclone relief fund. CheckInn99 has matched all customer donations baht for baht and each night live on large screens in the venue the money has been sent by Pay Pal to the Philippines Red Cross.
These days the Thermae Coffee Shop is dominated by Japanese and Korean men. For many girls their asking price is 2,500 baht, non-negotiable and is for minimal time. No, I didn't say short-time but the new classification, minimal time. The girls are gone from the Thermae for the minimal time possible and when done they rush back and if they're lucky the process repeats itself. The Japanese and Koreans are lousier than the Thais at English but there's one term they know which the girls don't – long-time. Say that to a girl in the Thermae and she won't have a clue what you're talking about!
Down in Pattaya, Babydolls will host a party to welcome the new management team next Sunday, November 24th. Both Paul and Larry are well known around Pattaya's bar scene. The fun gets underway at 8 PM and throughout the night there will be Babydolls' famous party games, free shots, and lots of friendly baby dolls. A buffet from Palmers will be laid on. Fun, food and friendly girls, what more can you ask for?!
International footballers and gogo bar dancers have a few things in common. Their careers are relatively short and each has a limited time to earn the big bucks. The highest paid are those with the most sponsors. Neither are particularly loyal and they can each be quite mercenary, choosing to work for whomever is the highest bidder. However, whereas international footballers have contracts specifying where they work and restricting they can transfer to another, gogo dancers are free to pursue the best deal and can up and leave at any time – and many do. Bar owners can do little about the dancers' lack of loyalty, a situation that has become an issue now that it is more difficult to hire staff than ever before. Down in Pattaya there could be repercussions with word that a soon to open bar in Soi LK Metro has raided the ranks of an existing bar with unconfirmed talk that as many as a staggering 80% of the dancers could jump ship, along with some other key staff. The issue is complicated by the fact that the owner of the new bar was, up until 2½ years ago, the owner of the old bar. I reckon the owners of the bar which has been raided have every right to be furious.
The girls in the likes of The Pimp and other gentleman's clubs – often referred to as G clubs – are a different breed to what you get in the bars for foreigners. Yes, most of the girls in the G clubs "go", but they don't get anything like the same traffic as the girls in the farang bar areas. In fact some would be horrified at the thought of accommodating every guy who fancied them as gogo girls do. Many G club girls hope to become a kept woman, ideally a mistress to a wealthy businessman where they are set up with a condo, a car and a healthy monthly salary which is often in the range of 50K – 60K baht. That is one of many reasons why the average foreigner looking for a night of passion is better off in the bars for Westerners than in a G club, notwithstanding that those working in G clubs are usually much more attractive.
Half a dozen readers know something I didn't about last week's girl of the week, informing me that she is in fact a he! Kwang, the featured lady – yes, she was born female – is a product promotion girl, what the Thais call a "pretty". The clue that she was a real female and not a man should have been her job. Pretties are attractive girls who are dressed up in beer or other product promotion apparel whose role it is to promote that product in bars and restaurants. In all my time in Thailand I have never seen a ladyboy pretty. Never! The very idea that a pretty would be a ladyboy is like saying the next president of America will be a ladyboy – it ain't gonna happen!
Many Thais have a gambling problem and it's widespread amongst bargirls, especially the more successful girls who can blow everything they make and more on drug-fuelled gambling sessions. Speculation about girls who disappear from the bar (and home) for a few days is usually that they are with a customer and perhaps she has accompanied him out of town, perhaps they have gone to the beach. Plausible. But what is also quite possible is that they're on a methamphetamine-fuelled gambling binge where they don't sleep for 2 or 3 days. Ever noticed a bargirl who is noticeably slimmer than the last time you saw her just a few days away? Odds are that's where she has been – and she didn't eat or had very little to eat, the whole time.
Why does fresh mango juice cost just 20 baht a bottle on the streets of Pattaya and 100 baht a bottle in downtown Bangkok? It's not, as I once thought, because the mangoes juiced in Bangkok are of export quality and those in Pattaya aren't. The market for mango juice in Pattaya is everyone – Thais and visitors alike. In Bangkok I only see mango juice for sale around Sukhumvit sois 3 and 5 and the sole market seems to be Arabs – who are known to pay way over the odds. Case in point, have you ever wondered why some taxis in the Nana area won't take white passengers at certain times of the day? It is often because they can take an Arab family to MBK, just 3 km away, for 500 baht!
Have you been stopped by the so-called litter police? Have you been forced to pay an on-the-spot fine? What are your rights and just who are these people? The litter police are largely misunderstood so it's time to put the record straight. First of all, they are not police officers and they do not have the powers of police. They are municipal officers on duty looking for those who discard litter on the street. They have the power to issue anyone caught littering with a fine. However, they cannot force you to pay a fine on the spot. They CAN issue you with a fine but it is not mandatory to be paid immediately. (With that said, this is a real fine which will have to be paid, and failure to pay it could cause problems later so there is an argument that one should pay straight away.) Despite any claims they may make, they will not take you to the police station if you refuse to pay. You could actually just walk away although that could escalate the situation. What would happen in that case, I do not know but they will almost certainly not get the cops involved. They cannot detain you and they have no powers of arrest. Let me say though that anyone who litters has no right to quibble about the fine so throw your rubbish in a bin.
From time to time the Thai police get in contact with me, sometimes seeking clarification on something written in this column, sometimes to request that I pass on information. This week they asked me to mention an unapproved illegal anabolic steroid branded MaxPro. This unlicensed, non-FDA approved steroid is known in the bodybuilding community as "homebrew" and is making people sick. It is widely available in Pattaya and 2 tourists who have taken it have become extremely ill. It is not made in a factory but in a homemade, sub-standard lab in unsanitary conditions. The photo here shows what it looks like.
The adventures of Christopher G. Moore's Vincent Calvino, the likeable expat private investigator who long ago went native, are eagerly awaited by Bangkok expat fiction fans. The 14th story of Calvino's adventures, "The Marriage Tree", is due for publication on January 8th, 2014. Pre-orders for delivery in Thailand as well as international orders can be placed at Chris's website now! Pre-orders will ship mid-December in time for holiday reading. The price of US$13.95 represents a 14.5% discount on the bookstore price of 495 baht. The first 50 orders will receive a free A4-sized photo of the marriage tree that inspired the title, with each photo signed and dated.
I was told a cracker of a story this week that further fuels the age-old question about whether you must have your passport on you at all times. Please note that the person this happened to is the person who told me the story. I have met him before and while I don't know him well, he is clean-cut, polite, respectable, and a close friend of two friends of mine. I say that because in this city second-hand stories can be a case of Chinese whispers. In this case I have no doubt every detail of this story is 100% accurate. This clean-cut Brit was stone-cold sober and walking through the Arab quarter when he was stopped by police one night, around 10 PM. He was asked to show his passport. He didn't have it on him. It was in his hotel room, nearby, he explained. Next thing he knows he is being put in a police pickup truck and taken to the nearest police station where he is photographed, his details taken and he is then put in a cell with more than a dozen others including a Colombian who had been trapped there for several weeks as Colombia had no embassy or consular representation in Thailand. The old mobile phone he had with him wasn't taken from him when he was placed in the cell but frustratingly, his iPhone was in his hotel room. So while he could make calls, the phone he had did not allow him to search for the phone number of people to call to come and help. It took 500 baht for an officer to get him the phone numbers of the British embassy and his hotel. He called the British Embassy first but the call went unanswered. He then called his hotel and spoke to the night receptionist, explaining what had happened to him. She said she would pass the message on to the morning manager when he arrived the next morning, seemingly not realising the gravity of the situation, and promptly hung up! Feeling there was little more he could do, he stripped down to his Jockeys as it was sweltering in the cell, lay down on the concrete floor using a plastic bottle as a pillow and tried to get some sleep. He hadn't slept a wink when he was surprised to hear someone outside the cell say his name around 5:30 AM. He would learn that the night receptionist had told a security guard at the hotel about the call and the guard had gone to the police station to see if he could help. The situation was explained – the fellow in custody had to prove that he was in the country legally by showing his passport to the police along with a valid visa. When he did so he would be released. He would have to go back to the hotel to get the passport but it was not the responsibility of police to accompany him. The cops said he could go back to the hotel with the security guard, under the condition that he was handcuffed to him! They would take a taxi to the hotel, go to his room, retrieve the passport, go back to the police station and present the passport all while they were handcuffed together. And this is exactly what happened. You could say that this particular hotel never sleeps and even before 6 AM there were plenty of people about. The Brit said he had never felt such shame in his life as he walked through the hotel lobby handcuffed to a security guard, and attracting plenty of stares! When they got back to the cop shop, his identity was verified and it was proven that he was in the country legally. The handcuffs were taken off and he was set free. He was told to wai a senior policeman first, however! There are know-it-alls who say that you don't need your passport on you at all times. This shows what can happen if you don't have it with you. I do maintain, however, that either a photocopy of the main page of your passport along with your current visa stamp, or photos of each in your mobile phone, will suffice most of the time.
Quote of the week comes from a friend of a friend, "I'm 340 pounds, I have a replaced knee and replaced hip and still I walk faster than the Thais!"
From Reuters, the IMF calls on Thailand to ditch its rice price support scheme.
A long-time American resident of Pattaya is caught shoplifting goat's cheese!
From Bloomberg, the ongoing political unrest is predicted to have a negative effect on the Thai economy.
2 novice American divers are abandoned in the ocean after the boat they had been on developed problems and the captain took it ashore!
PhuketWan reports the drowning of a Norwegian and looks at what it has termed Phuket's secret drowning statistics.
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 bought a house from a lady developer at the bottom of a private soi. She also lives in the soi, befriended my Thai wife and even came to our wedding. The plot next to my house was empty when I bought my house and she has since built on it and sold it to her niece or nephew. You pass the front of my house to access their house / driveway. The owner of this house has told me I cannot drive a car in to my drive as she owns the road in front of my house and has told prospective buyers not to buy it as she owns the road in front and they cannot access the driveway of the house. Can the developer sell the road / land in front of my house preventing access to my house? Should my solicitor or the land office have pointed this out at the time of purchase? Do I have any recourse against the developer? My solicitor has spoken to the developer and she replied she doesn't speak to the niece / nephew any more and she has sold the house to me so it does not concern her anymore.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: To gain right of way from the owner you would need to go to Court to ask that the owner donate the land as public access. If there is no other access available to your house then the Courts most likely would rule in your favour but if there are other means of access then they would expect you to pursue that. Sunbelt Asia can assist you in negotiating with the neighbour or taking it to court if necessary.
Question 2: As an Australian, I am used to towing a trailer behind a car, yet in my travels in Thailand I cannot recall seeing any. Perhaps this is due to the Thai love of the pickup with their incredibly high cargo cages. I have a couple of questions. First, is it legal to tow a trailer behind a regular car such as an SUV or pickup? If it is legal, are there any restrictions on where you can tow it and at what times? I have been told that there are restrictions on where and when certain types of vehicles can operate around Bangkok. My need is quite specific. I plan to use the trailer to transport goods from a suburb in the south-east of Bangkok north up highway 1 to Lampang. I hope that this is going to be possible and that it will not attract attention at the many police roadblocks that I encounter in my travels.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: The trailer will need to be registered with the Ministry of Land Transport so that you can get a number plate. You will need to insure the trailer. However, please note that depending on the road laws i.e. weight, speed etc, you may still be stopped by police.
Question 3: I have a 7-year old daughter living in Udon Thani with her grandparents. I'm a Kiwi and my daughter's mum (my ex-wife) is a Thai national living in Melbourne. My daughter entered Thailand aged 18 months on a NZ passport in 2007 and has never left. The passport she entered with has since expired and I have recently got her a new one which is unused.
It is my intention to have her spend 4 months in NZ at the end of this year. The plan is for my ex wife to go to Thailand in December and return to Melbourne with my daughter. I will then fly to Melbourne to collect her and take her to NZ where she will complete a school term. Then in April I plan to take her back to Udon in time for Songkran.
My concerns are potential issues when taking her in and out of Thailand and my questions are as follows:
Will my ex wife have issues taking her out of Thailand given that she has effectively overstayed for 5 years, although we were told this isn't an issue as she is a minor. We have heard that it becomes an issue at age 7, however I had a brief conversation with Immigration at Suvarnabhumi Airport on my way out last month and they indicated it should be ok as she is under 14.
Will I have issues taking her back to Thailand on a one way ticket given she is on a NZ passport?
Any help and advice you can offer is much appreciated.
An overstay fine generally does not cause problems later on with a valid passport and visa. If your wife is a Thai national then your daughter is entitled to a Thai passport. You may wish to consider this option. She can get one in Thailand with her mother. If she had both passports she could enter and leave New Zealand on her New Zealand passport, and enter and leave Thailand on her Thai passport. This would ensure that there are no overstay or visa issues.
If you're in Farangland and regularly read Thailand news websites, you'll be aware of the political protests currently taking place in Bangkok. More than a dozen countries have issued travel warnings for Thailand because of these protests, something I strongly disagree with. I don't see any danger to visitors from these protests which are centred around Democracy Monument, miles from the popular tourist areas of Silom and Sukhumvit – but close to Khao San Road. I've seen plenty of these demonstrations over the years and can confidently say that as things currently stand there is no danger to foreigners! This is nothing like 2010 when swathes of downtown Bangkok were occupied by protestors – and even then at the height of the red shirt protests it was quite safe for foreigners, many of who saw it as adventure tourism and happily strolled through the occupied / protest area to see it for themselves. I often wonder about these travel warnings which are probably issued by petty, politically correct bureaucrats thousands of miles away who have never set foot in Thailand. Don't put off or change your holiday plans. Come to Thailand and enjoy a great holiday!
Your Bangkok commentator,