Stickman's Weekly Column February 23rd, 2014, In The Nerve Centre

A bank of computers are against one wall, monitors displaying studio photos of pretty girls, some in their finery, some in, well, not much at all. Strewn over the table in front of us are mobile phones and seldom is there any quiet time when one isn't ringing. Some of the same pretty ladies in the glamour photos are sitting on a sofa beside me. One has a sultry look seemingly permanently etched on her face and whenever I look at her, her eyes glow. If we were in a bar, I'd say she was giving me the glad eye. But we're not in a bar. We're in the outskirts of Bangkok, in a huge studio condo of a few hundred square metres. There is sexual energy in the air. I'm sitting in the nerve centre of, an escort agency that has emerged as perhaps the leading agency of its type in Bangkok. I'm here to see the lady behind and talk to her about what it's like running an escort agency in a city full of naughty bars.

It seems there's still only one talking point in town these days so let me get it out of the way. How has business been affected by the never-ending political problems in Bangkok and the street protests?

Business is down by around 50%, even though there's no problem to come here as a tourist. We have a good customer base of returning clients who are not scared to come to Thailand so we still have them as customers. They know what Thailand is about so they are still with us.

How have the protest sites been a problem with roads and intersections closed? Has it been an issue for your girls?

Not at all. Most of them use the skytrain, underground and sometimes motorbike to go to bookings. Sometimes they might have to pay more to a motorbike rider because he has to take the long way around to get to a hotel due to road closures, but that is about the only problem.

Going back to the very start, where did the idea come from to start an escort agency?

I used to have a small escort agency which was just a fun project. It was nothing serious. Then I met my partner through a friend and we started a new escort agency and website together. That was under a different name to the name we use today. We started quite small with no real plans for it grow in to anything big, but then it started growing through one popular girl, Sophia. And then we advertised on your website and it really took off. We invested heavily in advertising. We started to get a lot of bookings. So you and Sophia helped to push us a lot in the early days.

And in a fairly short space of time you've become the #1 escort agency in Bangkok!

Over time we developed a lot of connections and we got the best girls.

How did you do that?

The girls in this industry know each other and talk to one another. We were getting more business and we could give them the opportunity to make lot of money. Some girls can make 200,000 baht or more a month. When other girls hear this they want to come and work with us.

<My attention is diverted to one of two girls present, Cherry, the most popular girl at at present>

You see her watch? It's an Omega and cost 220,000 baht! A client bought for her recently.

Where was that guy from?

He lives in Canada but is originally from Hong Kong.

Wow, unbelievable!

The bars have real problems getting new girls these days, in fact it's a widespread problem with most businesses struggling to find the right staff. How do you find it recruiting new girls? Another agency told me you poach girls from other agencies – is it true?

It's not a problem to get girls. But it is hard to get good girls, the right girls who will fit in. My name is well-known in the industry so it's easy for me to get new girls. But to get good girls, girls who are suitable, who are easy to work with, don't have dramas and can provide customers good service without any customer complaints, it's not easy.

We don't poach girls from other agencies. It's usually referrals, friends of friends. Most of the time the girls who come to work with us are already with another agency or work in a massage shop. They are usually working somewhere or they have worked overseas, as Sophia did in the UK. She, for example, has referred some girls to us.

We prefer friends of friends. The trust factor is there. Then it's also easier for the girls to do stuff together if a client wants that like lesbian stuff etc.

So the girls are comfortable doing lesbian acts with their friends more so than with girls they are less familiar with?

Yes, they prefer it with their friends! Also, they all go to the government centre for STD checks together and they prefer to do that together too.

Have you ever taken on someone who has never worked in the industry before?

It's very difficult when you do that. In the first two months we took on one girl who was a friend of a friend. She did one job, did a very good job apparently – the customer was impressed and then she stopped. I think she was scared of Western guys.

How is a girl chosen? What do you have in the way of, umm, err, quality control? I mean, is there a casting couch? I'm sure some of my readers would be happy to volunteer their services to help as quality control – and some of them are certainly qualified for the task!

We have our own means of quality control. We have two long-time customers who take most of the girls and who provide feedback.

The main thing we have is a number of small sister sites where the girls start. If they get good reviews and the feedback is good over a period of time then they can be promoted to which is the premier site which we promote and where they can make real money.

When a girl first wants to work with us, I meet her, talk with her, try to get a feel for what she is like and check her body.

What do you mean you check her body?

I look for stretch marks. I look at her boobs. We don't want girls who are super sized.

I can also test her English. This is really important because the girls have to be able to speak English well. They are escorts so that means they need to be comfortable with a customer over dinner and not just in the bedroom.

I need to get a feel for her personality and to be able to understand her style. Some guys want a girl who will be fun in a disco. Others want someone who is suitable for a dinner date. Sometimes a guy requests a girl who can do massage. You need to know what the girl is really like, what she is good at and things like that.

There has been an explosion of escort agencies in Bangkok in the last 18 months. I know many are just a one-man band, one guy with a list of girls, often freelancers' names and phone numbers who acts as a middle man. He takes the call and just calls the girls he has listed on the chance they are available. The girls are often freelancers who could be had for a fraction of what is charged if met at another venue. From your perspective, how common is that?

I think many agencies operate like that. If you notice on my site I do not change girls around. The girls stay with me for a long time. I would say our recruiting methods and the way we take time to get only the top girls in terms of service makes it stable. Our recruiting techniques mean that we end up with the top girls. There have been very few changes with the girls. We have lost about 10 girls over time and fired one.

Why did you fire that girl?

She had a sister who ran a massage house and she would get customers from us and then divert them over there!

So why do girls stop working? What happened to those 10 odd girls who left? Did they go to work for another agency? It seems to me that in the case of escorts they're going to make more money doing this than even if they married a wealthy guy. So why leave? Do they burn out?

Most of the time they leave because a guy offers to take care of them. That has been the case with all of our ladies bar one. They have left because they have had a guy willing to support her. All of these guys were our customers. Some of these couples are now engaged. I'm not sure if any have actually got married yet, but some are engaged.

What about burn out? If a girl is making the money some of these girls do that's a lot of jobs!

We try to limit the number of jobs they do so that they are fresh for the next job. We monitor the booking system and make sure they have time between jobs and not too many jobs each day.

We have a mobile phone app booking system set up for the girls on their phone. There's no need to call them, check where they are etc. It's all fully automated. No other agency has a system like this. I mean, how could they when they don't even meet the girl so how can they load the application on to the girls' phones?!

One of the differences between your girls and girls in gogo bars is that your girls' photos are online for all to see. How do the girls feel about that in an age when it is increasingly difficult to get girls to agree to be photographed for the fear that their photo will appear online?

They love it! They check their photos online all the time. They look for updates of photos of themselves and they almost see it as like being in a celebrity magazine. At first, some were worried that people who knew them would see the photos. But now they have come to understand that the photos are only seen by people looking for this type of website. We don't use the word escort in the Thai language so Thai guys don't end up at the site.

Tell me more about the girls' photos online. Are they heavily Photoshopped?

The girls are the same girls as in the photos, 100%! I choose the costume, what they wear, everything. I've never had a customer complain and then cancel because the girl does not look like she does in the pictures. This is a big problem at some agencies where the girls look nothing like the photos. Every time there is a photo shoot I have to be there. Some agencies make dark girls look fair-skinned. Some girls are made to look slimmer and when she arrives at the customer's room he might think it's a different girl. It's the same girl, but she has been made to look very different. We have never had a customer refuse a girl because the girl did not look like she did in the photo. If the girl has been made to look so much better than she really is in person then the customer thinks he has been cheated from the second he meets her.

The word "escort" seems to have a different meaning in Thailand than the West. In the West it refers to a higher class call girl who could, if need be, accompany a guy to dinner and what not and then go back to his hotel room whereas in Thailand it seems to be a call girl, a sex worker who goes to a guy's room. Are there any truly high-class escorts operating in Bangkok?

Yes, there are genuine high class escorts but they're not openly advertising and are not easily found with an internet search. These women cater to higher society, the local high class and some elite. The really high end escorts don't go with foreigners. Wealthy local guys will pay big, big bucks for a beautiful girl so those girls don't need to work with foreigners.

Are there different tiers of escort agencies in Bangkok? I ask because the prices seem to be much the same across all the escort sites. It seems to me that whoever uses the highest prices might be considered to be offering premium quality.

They might look much the same, but the service levels are different. Many escort agencies promote girls the operator has never even met before.

Sometimes girls call to apply for work and they tell us that they have called other places that have accepted them but we won't accept anyone until we have to met and gotten to know them.

Some girls bounce around different agencies and you hear some bad stories about girls like that.

There was that story you wrote where a guy's money was stolen when he showered and the girl disappeared.

Oftentimes the girl does not provide the services which are listed in her profile.

Sometimes a different girl turns up to the one who was booked! Maybe the girl was not available so the mamasan sent a different girl and hoped the guy would not know!

You say that some girls don't offer the services they are said to offer. I know that escort agencies are quite explicit about the services each girl offers and, honestly, the acronyms on escort websites can make the girls sound like sex machines which goes against the idea that escorts are classier. What say you?

I agree completely. But over time I would say that the word escort has evolved and the expectation is about sex and not about companionship. I think most customers who regularly use escorts as opposed to going to a bar to find a lady are specifically looking for a high level of service. A beautiful girl who provides a guaranteed high level of service.

If I had it my way, I would not use these acronyms. The thing is that if I don't it puts doubt in to customers' minds. They don't know what they're going to get. By being upfront about what each girl can and cannot do wins customers' trust.

Why do you think guys use the services of escorts here in Bangkok, a city in which women are available everywhere, where bell boys in many hotels can make arrangements for the horny guy? Who are your customers and why do you think they use escorts as opposed to going the bars? You see, one thing I don't really understand is that most escorts in Bangkok aren't high-class, and naughty bars are everywhere – so what's the appeal of an escort? I can understand a guy getting a ladyboy escort because he doesn't want to make the walk of shame with a ladyboy through his hotel lobby etc, but with a girl that isn't an issue unless she is rang as you say in Thai!

The main thing is that they know exactly what they are getting, a guaranteed service standard with the girl arriving at a certain time and staying for a prearranged duration. If you book with a good agency you will get exactly what you were hoping to get without surprises.

It's totally safe. If there is any problem at all, you can call me.

You can also hang out with our girls – they dress well and have style. They don't wear cut-off jean shorts or clothes that make you embarrassed to be with them in public or in a nice place. With a girl from the bars you don't know what you're going to get unless you take her for a period of time. Maybe you have to buy her nice clothes because she does not know what is suitable. Just look at our girls! <I look at two beautifully made up ladies> Expensive dress, brand name shoes, they're beautiful but easy going and friendly!

<The owner / mamasan defaults in to Thai and asks them how much money they spend on outfitting themselves and the numbers are boggling. The dresses, handbags, even the makeup cost what I consider silly money.>

So your girls are expensive?

I think the price for 2 hours is fair. It's 5,000 baht. When you consider a girl from a bar's fee and add in short-time hotel, taxi, drinks, barfines etc it might be about the same price.

You must be happy when you hear of some gogo dancers quoting about the same price these days.

<No comment, just a big grin from ear to ear.>

How discerning are customers and do they understand the difference between gogo girls, freelancer and escorts?

Honestly, I don't know. All I do know is that some of our customers have high expectations.

Can you tell me about some of the things that have gone wrong and where you've had to step in to solve problems, perhaps both when there's been a problem with a customer, or a problem with a girl?

One guy got really aggressive and bit a girl's pussy. When she screamed and asked him to stop he threw her out of the room!

We haven't had too many problems. We tend to send girls to the better hotels and we have the client's name and room number so this greatly eliminates the chance of things going wrong.

Do you have any funny, interesting or positive stories to tell me about the girls 'experience?

Cherry's watch was amazing. The customer who paid so much for the watch complained about being asked to pay 800 baht to be picked up from the airport. That was surprising given his generosity in buying her that watch!

I never buy perfume or any cosmetics any more. Customers always buy it for me. They buy thank you gifts which is really nice. They give gifts to the girls which are passed on to me, and in the odd case I actually meet the guy myself.

Are there any hotels where it's hard to get in for the girls?

No, it's not a problem. The big name hotels, the 5-stars, are easy and they are very respectful of the girls. The 5-star hotels handle things professionally. They are very discreet. They respect both the girls and the clients and treat the girls like a customer of the hotel. 4 and 5 star hotels are better to deal with. Lower end hotels don't treat the girls as a hotel client and staff are not as nice to the girls.

What do you attribute the massive rise in the number of escort services to?

I think actually many of the new services actually have the same owner. Some start many new services and create new brands. In some cases the old brand has a bad name so they create a new one. They have many different websites and they hope to catch a guy at one of their websites.

How many genuine agencies are there, where the girls are exclusive to the agency and not actually freelancers or girls with no connection to a bar?

There are other genuine agencies which provide good service and where the girls are exclusive to that agency.

Our girls are exclusive and you can only book them through us.

Some girls call to say they want to work with us but I tell them we only do exclusive. It becomes too difficult to organise if they work elsewhere. How can we accept a booking for someone if we don't know where she is, or when she will be available? That's not good service. Also, we don't know the girl's history. If she works with other agencies that have different service standards and she appears on our website then people might get confused and our brand could be damaged. We don't want that.

Most escort services charge around 5,000 or 6,000 baht for a short-time experience which is about double what girls working in the bars charge. Do you ever get customers trying to negotiate the price or being resistant to this level of price?

Sure, it happens. Some customers ask how much for short-time and when I say 5,000, they might offer 3,000 baht. Some customers also ask for happy hour and they will say something like, "It's 11 AM, you don't have any customers at this time so why not give me a good price!" Some guys just call to joke around and I don't think they ever intend to make a booking.

Is it a problem people making crank calls?

It was a problem in the past. When we were a small agency some people called and liked to try and have phone sex and talk dirty. The domain name we have sounds official and since we changed to this web domain name we have not had these calls.


Is there a typical profile of customers or does it run the full gamut?

It's a mix but actually it's hard to know because I don't usually see the customers. In the past there were many Indians but now it's all mixed and I really don't know.

What are the challenges in running an escort agency?

The hardest part is organising and controlling the girls, and handling the phone calls. Some guys want to meet the girl immediately, they want it now. We set up an app system so that everything is smooth and efficient. Once the girls understand the system it works well. It's one reason why I don't like to change girls because it takes time for them to understand the system. Once they do it is easier for everyone.

Despite so many escort services popping up, most don't last that long. Without giving away any trade secrets, why do you think some thrive while others struggle to survive?

If I tell you then it won't be a secret any longer! Seriously, we have a few things we do differently to everyone else and I am just not willing to tell you on the record. <We talk off the record for a few minutes.>

The escort business is all about promoting in the right places. Escort business doesn't exist on the street so you cannot walk past it, see it and walk inside. I am not so good with computers. When I met my partner we discovered we have complementary skills. I am good with the girls and I understand them, their needs, what is ok, what makes them tick etc. She is good with the systems and advertising. With our respective skills things work well. It's like a perfect match.

We are organised and have proper systems. We are in contact with the girls all the time and they tell us exactly where they are and what they are doing at any given time. The girls work hard and they need to relax so they might go for a massage. They tell us so we know if someone wants to book them where they are and approximately when they will be available. We have regular meetings with the girls. We try to get them all together at the same time but that can be difficult because inevitably someone has a booking. Before we had a chat room, like a WhatsApp group, and we could chat there but it's better to all meet in person.

What about the future?

I am happy doing this because the girls are happy working with us and so are the customers. We are responsible for the girls and they are good to us too. I don't know what the future holds. Of course we have the political situation and many people have cancelled their visit. Let's see what happens in Bangkok…

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken from inside the classic Madrid, looking out on to the main Patpong soi. There
are two prizes each week, a 500 baht voucher to use at Bully's, on Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4 and a 300 baht voucher to use at Sunrise Tacos, Bangkok's original Mexican grill with several branches in Bangkok.

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

(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 – Low prices a thing of the past.

Debate about the cost for bargirls noted on the site recently. The prices the girls charge boils down to simple supply and demand economics. The girls will charge exactly what is supportable by the market: whatever the market will bear. She will charge as much as she possibly can. I would argue that it's ALWAYS been this way. (However, it does seem that they had better attitudes and were more fun in years gone by). The only difference is that in the past there were fewer customers and many more girls, meaning it was a buyer's market. The girls simply could not get away with charging 5,000 baht because nobody would pay it. Now they will. Hence the girls will demand it. If some day the buyers (punters) wise up and collectively started refusing to pay such high fees, the market would change. Fat chance of that happening. Nothing ever lasts forever. The day of the cheap Thai bargirl lay has come and gone.

Can both parties be happy?

The debate over the price for pleasure fails to take in to consideration the cost of living. Saying girls should charge amounts equal to Paris or Tokyo is like saying hotels should also base their rates on cities such as New York or London. The girls' standard of living would be far above a girl working in Hong Kong. It's no different with the customer: an accountant in New York will be paid more than one in Pittsburgh. Companies buy products from places with lower costs; many tourists choose destinations with lower costs for activities of their preference, be it shopping, snorkeling, or spas. Capitalism will determine rates in the long run and girls in Bangkok will continue to charge more than those in Chiang Mai. I hope they earn enough for a decent standard of living but not charge so much that only the rich can afford their attention.

Indian hospitality vs. Thai hospitality.

I will share one observation in comparison between Thais and Indians in terms of being a guest of locals who are at the lower-end of the economic scale. Thais, as you know, will take great effort to ensure your comfort and good time with them. They will also ensure that you pay the cost connected to that good time and hospitality to the maximum extent. However the Indian version is quite different. Where you will again find great hospitality and genuine smiles as their heads bobble back and forth, as the VIP guest that they cherish, it is not your money that they are after. It is your company, your esteemed presence! And in many if not most such cases you will spend nary a single rupee as your hosts wouldn't think of it to have you worry about such matters. It is literally their pleasure and sense of pride to be able to roll out the red carpet and give you the royal treatment and there is literally no "cost-that-fiendishly-comes-later" type of thing going on.

Back in time in Bangladesh.

Before I retired, I did a 14-month contract in Bangladesh, formerly part of Bengal, which of course includes Calcutta. I get along where ever I am but with 90% of the population being Muslim, I left the country every chance I had – and that's how I discovered Thailand. Anyway, the grinding poverty of Bangladesh prepared me well to live in other developing countries; even the poor areas of rural Isaan are well to do by comparison. I too found the locals friendly and often embarrassingly deferential to me, all because I was a white-skinned foreigner. If there was a line, some self-appointed local would push the others out of the way, begging me to cut to the front. I travelled a lot for work and in some of the villages a few braver people would touch my skin, to see if I used powder to whiten my skin. The meek would run away, fearing that I was a ghost. Funny story – Bangladesh cuts apart old ships and recycles many of the parts and I used to enjoy browsing some of the shops selling brass fixtures, compasses etc. The clerks would make their best sales pitch and I once demurred that I did not have enough money with me. Boss – they often refer to foreign males this way – take the item and pay tomorrow – foreigners are honest and never lie! Oh my poor fellow, do I have news for you…

The ATM is out of order!

Things must be bad in the bars as my Thai phone number has been buzzing this week. I have given it out to ladies of the night. Both calls went like this, Hello, you remember me, it's Noi or Add. When you come Bangkok? Can you help me? I not have customer! Can't pay my room, need 5,000 baht or I get locked out, nowhere can sleep. Can you send Western Union? Sorry, girls, this ATM is out of order! Nether girl has ever asked for money before. Times are tough. The moral of this story is always leave your Thai SIM card at the airport on departure.

The badge of a vacuous mind.

Of course there are many ways to view tattoos and many reasons why they are applied and no view will encompass them all, but I thought I would add my penny's worth to the debate. I believe I have a unique perspective. While an increasing percentage of society willingly brands themselves with tattoos, I was chosen by nature to be branded across the face with a red birthmark. So why is it that when it is self-inflicted it becomes 'cool' but a trick of nature is shunned? After all, both have the same remedy; removal by laser, so they are not so different. So why the palpable difference on the street? My answer: The vain obsession of modern society with image above content; and that is why for me a tattoo is always the badge of a vacuous mind.

Needless deaths.

The anti-government protesters voluntarily closed down some sites. Other sites are known to have dwindling crowds, so much so that they are almost non-existent during the daytime. Yet when officers seek to reclaim certain areas and get Bangkok back to a measure of normalcy the protesters fight as if their ancestral home was about to be wiped out forever. Was their resistance in holding on to a piece of property worth the cost of personal injuries and death, with 4 people dying? Absolutely not. It would have made no difference in the grand scheme of things. The anti-government's best weapon was and still is the failed rice scheme and the criminal charges filed against Yingluck. That achieves the objective morally and legally…not holding on to a piece of property. Importantly, it also follows the rule of law. If a leader or governing party is suspected of malfeasance then impeachment and / or criminal indictment is the proper and most effective way to achieve change.

Girl of the week

Cherry, #1 girl at Bangkok's #1 escort agency,

25 years old, Cherry comes from Phichit in Thailand's north.

She loves to smile, is charming and good-natured.

She is 100% natural, with no surgery whatsoever.

Bangkok escort

Bangkok escort

Bangkok escort

Bangkok escort

A casualty of the downturn in trade or is there another reason for the failure of Zen Bar, the beer bar in the prime location just to the right of the main entrance to Nana Plaza? Truth be told, Zen has never been a commercial success and the previous owner was desperate to get rid of it. There is speculation from within the industry that its limited floor space makes it tough to turn a profit given the whopping monthly rent for that space which is believed to be in excess of half a million baht per month. Whatever the case, Zen Bar has closed and we can but wait to see what happens to that space. Given how bad trade is 5 nights of the week, don't be surprised if it remains empty for some time.

Nana Plaza had a good night on Friday and it almost felt like high season. Almost, which I guess means not quite. The outside beer bars were pumping and many were actually full with no seats available. When I mentioned to a bar boss that evening that things had picked up, he looked glum and pointed out to me that Fridays and Saturdays are the only nights of the week when trade is decent. On Mondays and Tuesdays many bars may as well not bother to open, so bad is it some weeks.

A common feature in the Thermae and other freelancer bars when I first arrived in Thailand, it's not often that you see deaf / mute girls in the bars these days. This week I was perched at the balcony of Soi Nana's best beer bar, Stumble Inn, and spotted a number of girls using sign language amongst themselves in the car park out front of the Nana Hotel. As best as I could make out from 20 odd metres away they weren't the most attractive girls loitering in the area but they were hit on by curious guys. Obviously there is something to be said for being a little different. Maybe other girls could feign being mute and they might become more interesting to punters?

Despite the downturn in business, some bar groups are doing their bit for the industry and are actually spending money. In previous weeks I've mentioned that The Nana Group has brought in some lovely coyote dancers. Presently they can be found in Angelwitch 2 and Wild Thing although they might be moved around to other bars too. The dancers in the photo below can all be found at Angelwitch 2 now.


The Valentine's 2.0 party will be held at Billboard on Nana's top floor, this coming Thursday, February 27th. The date was changed from Valentine's Day because unlike Soi Cowboy and Patpong, Nana Plaza didn't open on Valentine's Day. There will be special sexy shows and lucky draws with a chance to win large bottles of Bacardi. There are sexy stickers and you can stick a love heart on your favourite girl.

Since being flattened, nothing much has happened at the area once known as Washington Square. It has sat dormant for what seems like a year or so, with weeds and plants starting to take over as they do in the tropics. A fence has gone up around the area which looks like it is going to be sealed off from Sukhumvit. Whether that means redevelopment of the area will start soon or whether the land owners just want to keep people out, no-one seems to know.

The victim of an alleged assault and theft at The Corner Bar at Soi Cowboy in the early hours of Sunday morning last week is doing all he can so that the foreigner who is accused of nicking his IPhone and beating him up does not get away with it. A complaint was made to police and after witness reports corroborated his report, an arrest warrant is said to have been issued. What I find interesting though, and something I am surprised we don't see more of in these days of digital media, is that the victim has posted a report of the incident online complete with video in the hope Bangkok expats and regular visitors might help him track down the perpetrator. The time stamp in the video is 3:30 AM. Wile it can be fun to party long in to the night, that is when problems often happen…

One scratches their head at many of the antics of working girls in Thailand. From a new escort agency – not the agency featured in today's column – comes an amusing story from the exasperated foreign owner about one of his girls. These girls will happily go to an appointment in a hotel room to meet a guy sight unseen. Goodness only knows what he may look like, what he may be in to and whether he is even alone. None of that would seem to faze the girls. But what does bother them is having to walk even just a short distance to reach the hotel. The ongoing protests have caused many roads in downtown Bangkok to be closed and some hotels cannot be reached by cab. Some escorts have told the agency boss that if they can't get to the door of the hotel where their appointment is by taxi, they won't go! Even if they only have to walk a couple of hundred metres, forget it. Talk about prima donnas!

There are fewer naughty boy trip reports posted on the forums these days, the Bangkok forums virtually devoid of them and even the Pattaya forums don't have anything like the number they used to. That's a good thing in my mind for nothing good comes of posting photos of naked Thai girls online without their consent. These girls would never strip off for the camera if they knew the photos were going to be posted online and seen by all and sundry. In some naughty boy reports posted to a forum recently, what struck me was the looks on some girls' faces. Smiles were absent for the most part and it was clear some didn't want to be there. One girl looked downright miserable. It made me wonder about a guy who posts photos of a working girl to a forum where she was clearly not at all happy being with him.

In the ongoing debate about the increasing prices charged by Thai bargirls, expat residents – and it is mostly expats as opposed to visitors – get annoyed when visitors compare prices in Thailand to prices for service back home. And when they realise that the price compares favourably and pay more for a lady's company than they were asked to pay, some expats' blood pressure goes dangerously high. It is natural to compare prices in Thailand with home, and be happy if you paid less than you would at home, even if it may be possible to have paid less still. As Thai bargirls quote higher prices, the argument by those against the girls maximising their income is that it is questionable for a girl to ask for what is effectively many times what a 7 Eleven worker earns. This is what so many say – they compare what a working girl earns to what 7 eleven staff earn. In Thailand, 7 Eleven staff earn around 300 baht a day and many Thai prostitutes ask for and get 10x that for an hour or so's work. To the Thai working girl, what 7 Eleven staff earn is as relevant to her as what a New York lawyer charges, or what an engineer in Stuttgart earns. To the Thai bargirl it's totally irrelevant! Let's not forget that the farang sector of the Bangkok bar industry is a false economy where many consumers earn in the West and travel to and consume in the East while on holiday.
Many look forward to those couple of weeks away from Sunderland or Atlanta or Kalgoorlie or wherever and will pay almost whatever price they are quoted. If they receive good service, they even might tip the lady well. This is great for the girls!
If you have so much as an iota of feeling for these girls, isn't it nice when a guy pays her extra because she made him happy?! While expats might have a superior understanding of how products and services are priced in Thailand and what
the local price may be, for visitors to any country it's natural to compare prices with back home, and many spend up large while on holiday. To those expats who continue to complain about what visitors pay working girls, divert your energy
elsewhere because people will pay what they're going to pay and nothing you say will change it!

First a bar owner friend said it to me, and then later the very same day a friend who recently relocated to Angeles City emailed almost the same words. The business owner said that he felt the biggest change with Thai bargirls is that up until around 2004 – he could not be sure of exactly when, but felt it was around 10 years ago, or so – that Thai bargirls entered the industry because they were hoping to meet a man to be with long-term. Becoming a bargirl, he explains, was the only way many Thai women from a poor background knew of to meet a foreign man who could provide for them long-term. Back then there were fewer Westerners in Thailand so it was harder to meet someone in regular society. Computers were expensive and few bargirls had an email address so there was less chance to meet someone online. That left the bars. From another friend, who recently left Pattaya to live in Angeles City in the Philippines, he says that he feels the difference between Thai bargirls and Filipino bargirls is that the Filipinos treat every customer like an audition for a life partner, whereas Thai women in the bars today just look at guys as a way of making money.

For residents of Bangkok who require a fast internet connection, check out 3BB's offerings. 3BB offers a 30 MBps connection for just 1,200 baht per month. A friend who has this deal says the connection at times exceeds the advertised speeds and can go up to a scorching 60 MBps. If f you were downloading a file that means a transfer rate of about 6 megabytes a second! More details about the deal can be found here.

Town Lodge Hotel on Suhkumvit soi 18 has completed its renovations and will be renamed to Journey@18 in the next couple of weeks. All rooms have been fully redecorated and include wall-mounted, flat-screen TVs and DVD players. Despite the general decline in tourist numbers over the past few weeks, the hotel has been doing decent trade. Town Lodge is offering Stickman readers a special standard room rate of 1,000 baht per night, from now through until the end of October. Discounts are also available for superior and deluxe rooms as well as the Jacuzzi suites. You must mention Stickman to get this rate!

The Thais call the groups of protesters "the mob", a term that I first thought was a little harsh and painted the protesters in a negative light. The way I feel now, I think the term is perfect!

Have you noticed that mobile phones have replaced cartoons? It used to be that on the skytrain you'd see office girls – some well in to their 30s – engrossed in cartoons on the skytrain. With smartphones so popular these days I can't remember the last time I saw an office girl reading cartoons in public.

Long-time Bangkok expat Canadian Dave Walker has gone missing in Cambodia. Dave was last seen at his guesthouse in Siem Reap on the afternoon of Friday, February 14th. Dave co-authored the classic compilation of Thai bargirl letters, "Hello My Big Big Honey". Dave's good friend and co-author of the book, Richard Ehrlich, is providing updates on the search for Dave. Dave had been working on a project and interviewing those who had experienced life in Cambodia through the Khmer Rouge period. Some fear that old wounds may have been opened and someone has become spooked by the line of questions and done something rash to shut Dave up. You can find out more at the Help Find Dave Walker
Facebook page.

Dave Walker missing


Billboard Nana Plaza

The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok

Quote of the week comes from Dave Oliver on Twitter, "Anyone serious about Thai politics at this point should probably be committed to a mental hospital."

Reader's story of the week comes from Professor, "Hotels, Bar Girls and Thai Economics".

A foreigner pretending to be deaf is arrested after soliciting
donations from restaurant customers in Phuket.

One of the authors of the popular classic Thai bargirl book, "Hello My Big Big Honey", has gone missing in Cambodia.

Someone thinks Bitcoin payment technology is about to go mainstream in Thailand.

Brawling Chinese tourists are thrown off a plane at Phuket Airport.

The Daily Telegraph estimates huge losses from damage to the Thai tourism industry
due to the Bangkok protests.

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 have conflicting answers about whether one can set up a trust account in Thailand for the purpose of distributing assets to heirs. One person recently informed me that in 2014, Thailand will allow these types of accounts.
Perhaps your law firm has some answers.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Thailand does not recognise trusts set up by individuals. The only law in Thailand regarding trusts is Trust for Transactions in the Capital Market Act B.E. 2550 (2007). Under Section 4, a trust may be created for the benefit of transactions in the capital market as specified in the notification of the SEC in relation to the following transactions:

(1) the issuance of securities under the Securities and Exchange Act;

(2) the securitization under the Royal Enactment on Special Purpose Juristic Persons for Securitization;

(3) other transactions which are supportive or beneficial to capital market development.

However, it is not possible to set up a trust outside these parameters. The Thai system requires an executor to distribute the assets of a will to heirs. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist you in drafting a will to cover your Thai assets.

Question 2: I've often wondered if Thai law requires abandoned or incomplete buildings to be razed after a period. Is there any specific law about this with so many uncompleted buildings
from the '90s standing dormant?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: While there are specific laws that govern these dormant building, how they are handled would depend on what grounds it was abandoned. The Department of Public Works would be the authority to determine those reasons.

Even if an incomplete building was abandoned due to a lack of funds, it is still considered as private property. Therefore an official could not intervene unless such building could cause harm to the neighborhood.

However, if the incomplete building was abandoned due to improper construction and / or is not in accordance to the granted building permit, then most likely the owner would be instructed to tear down the building. Failure to oblige to this order would result in a penalty fine. However most owners would prefer to pay fines than knock down the whole building.

Bangkok protest

This week there was something of a realisation amongst expats, especially amongst business owners, that the Bangkok protest situation could go on for some time to come. After the courts ruled that the authorities cannot use force to shut down the protest sites, the protesters have become more confident. It's impossible to say how long this will all go on, but the damage to business is getting worse. Bar business remains in the doldrums, hotel occupancy rates low and businesses located near protest sites are hurting. MBK is far from my favourite place but I had reason to venture there earlier today and was amazed at how quiet it was. MBK on a Sunday is usually one of the busiest places in Bangkok; today it was dead. I notice that in Siam Square some businesses have closed with signs up showing shop spaces for rent. MBK and Siam Square especially have been popular with middle-class Thai teenagers for a couple of generations but many have been banned from venturing there by their parents who don't want their kids anywhere near a protest site for fear that they could get caught up in something nasty. Businesses in downtown Bangkok are hurting, some have gone to the wall and others can't be far away from putting up the closed sign. Downtown Bangkok is safe for the most part – but make sure you avoid the protest areas completely…and with a bit of luck you should be ok.

Your Bangkok commentator,