Once the other half decided to follow me to New Zealand, we were flooded with advice from friends who had already been through the process of taking their darling to Farangland. Things have worked out well for her but we made quite a few mistakes along the way. While all the advice we received was well-meaning, some of it was just plain wrong.
I am crystal clear in my mind on the most important thing when moving your Thai Mrs. to your homeland: take her there for a holiday first. Show her your hometown. Give her an idea of the sort of house and neighbourhood you would live. Introduce her to your family and friends. Show her some of the country. And then take her back to Thailand and let her stew on it. Hollywood has put some funny ideas in Thai women’s minds about what Farangland is all about and I think the best thing to do is to take her for a visit first.
We spoke in Thai the day we met and we still speak Thai today. I told her that we should use English in New Zealand. She agreed. She seemed eager. Seemed. Any problems or frustrations or in the case of an emergency, go straight in to Thai, I suggested. The plan was good, but it never happened. Her English has improved but it’s nowhere near where it should be and even today, here in provincial Kiwiland, this is a Thai language household. That said, we speak to the cats in English. Both of us. I’ve never thought too much about why that is, but we do. I should have refused to speak Thai with her but deep down I am a bit of a softy and wanted to make it easy for her. In retrospect that was a mistake.
Odds are she won’t know anyone in your country so you need to do everything you can to get her confident there. Familiairise her with stuff she needs to know and take the time to explain why things are the way they are.
What should she do in an emergency? How do you contact emergency services? It took a while to get the idea through to her that not only are the police there to help you, they don’t want anything from you. Tell them it’s an emergency and you’ll have a red and blue neon show outside the house in minutes.
Get her to know the neighbours. You won’t always be home. Getting the idea across to her that most everyone will help you if you are distressed or facing an emergency – and again, they won’t expect anything in return, takes time with Thais. It is not that way in Thailand. Build her confidence and make her feel that no matter what, she is not alone.
Getting back to the language thing, it’s not just about learning new vocabulary and improving pronunciation, I had to literally train her to say ‘thank you’ when we’re out and about. Many Thais don’t say anything when at the cashier in a supermarket, for example. They just plonk money down and take the change without so much as making eye contact, let along actually saying anything. Seriously uncool to do that here, and it took a while to get that through to her.
Of course before you even make it to your country, there’s all the visa stuff to work through. Shield her from it and do it all yourself! Her only responsibility should be getting hold of any documents needed. If the process seems difficult, hire an immigration lawyer. Unless your other half is highly educated and fluent in your country’s language, the visa process will be daunting for her. Do it yourself so you understand the whole process. There can be various steps between getting her first visa all the way through to citizenship. Understand the process and what needs to be done in future. The first visa is not the last. It can be stressful so look after it all and just tell her what, if anything, she needs to do in terms of meeting Immigration officials.
Get her a work permit or a visa with work rights as soon as possible. She needn’t work if she doesn’t want to / have to but it’s a good idea to be able to work if she wishes.
The biggest mistake I made was trying to introduce her to fellow Thais. This was one piece of advice pretty much everyone gave me – introduce her to the Thai community. In retrospect it was the worst advice we received.
I have written about the Thai community in New Zealand already so I won’t go over that again, save to say that many Thais in New Zealand are crooks. Many will do anything for a dollar and see new arrivals as targets to exploit.
My other half was very clear: These are not people I would spend time with in Thailand so why would I want to hang around them here? We don’t have anything to do with the Thai community here and have zero interest in visiting the local Thai temple.
In fairness, some of my closest friends in Auckland and Wellington have a Thai wife / partner and they’re all great. It’s the Thais you don’t know that it pays to be wary of.
Don’t underestimate just how cold and painful Winter might be for her. Winter here is fairly mild and seldom do I need more than the uniform – jeans, a t-shirt and a jersey. She needed a whole new wardrobe. And the cold might cause her to suffer from afflictions you’d never heard of. Chilblains was a new one to me. In New Zealand we tend to laugh that sort of thing off and tell people to harden up. That doesn’t work with Thais and the moment they have an ailment or affliction, get it sorted.
I made the mistake of encouraging her to work in a job she didn’t really want. I thought it would be a chance to meet new people, make some friends and earn some money, all while improving her English. She was offered the first job she interviewed for and I was so proud. It was basic work with a big company / decent employer. $16.50 / hour was ok, but she hated it from the outset. She’d had a good job in Thailand and starting at the bottom again wasn’t for her. A few weeks later she quit, started up her own venture, it took off and the rest is history. The lesson learned? Don’t push her in to something she doesn’t want to do.
Getting her a local driving licence is the easy part. Getting her to drive like a Kiwi and not a Thai has been a challenge. Many years of bad habits are not easily forgotten. Traffic infringements can count against you being granted citizenship so now whenever she drives fast or does something silly I simply say, “If a cop stops you and writes a ticket you might not get a Kiwi passport”. Immediately she’s driving like a model citizen!
The importance of Thai food to Thais cannot be overestimated. She enjoys a good steak, and knows a good pizza from a bad one but even as someone who enjoys good farang food, she still craves Thai food – real Thai food.
Getting real Thai food in this part of the country is a problem. There is not one good, authentic Thai restaurant in the area. The availability of Thai food products is good at the local Asian Grocery which is run by a nice Thai family, but many of vegetables, herbs and spices that are needed to make authentic Thai food don’t grow here. We make it up to Auckland or down to Wellington often enough and one of the highlights for her when visiting either place is getting an authentic Thai meal.
As much as she likes New Zealand and as much as she sees all the positives and the benefits of living here, she still misses a lot about Thailand. So that means at least a couple of trips back to Bangkok every year. When the day comes and I say I am bored of Thailand and would rather we visited Turkey or South Africa or the USA or wherever, I foresee a problem. But for now things are good and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Last week’s mystery photo was taken at the top of Soi Nana. This week’s photo was kindly provided by a reader and is not that far away from last week’s photo i.e. it is somewhere in downtown Bangkok….but exactly where?
Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.
Where to find the bargain bonk.
I read your column about the Bargain Bonk and my own experiences the last few weeks indicate there are plenty of bargains around without having to try too hard. Last night I met an old mate outside Rainbow 1 in Nana Plaza. We had a few ฿120 beers and then moved on to Butterflies and Twister on the top floor. An attractive young girl took my liking and I asked how much for short-time. She initially said ฿3,000. I said ‘Pang makk‘. She then asked how much I wanted to pay. I said ฿2,000 and she accepted straight away (the barfine was another ฿1,000). She was also happy to hang around while my buddy and me had a few more beers. Last week in Dollhouse I was enjoying their happy hour beers where one of the high-quality dancers opened the bid at ฿2,000, which I happily accepted (barfine was ฿700). In King’s Castle in Patpong 2 two weeks ago it got even better. I was talking to a dancer I’ve known for a while, and promised I would come back after I’ve had a few more beers (I bet she’s heard that a few tines). When I did return, to my complete surprise, the barfine was only ฿400 (apparently it halves after 11 PM). So, I paid her ฿2,500 since I felt I’d made money. Just to add, all three of these wonderful ladies were happy to come back to my condo and there were no lazy attempts to get me to go to a short-time room. Even though all my income comes from the UK and the pound is weak, I find the quality of women and the good times are still relatively cheap. To put it in perspective, when I lived in New Zealand I remember taking a date to a restaurant down by the Viaduct. It cost me $330 and I didn’t even get to shag her! (Kiwi girls are all class and don’t shag on the first date – Stick>
Other bargain bonk possibilities.
In Bargain Bonk you neglected to mention that Thermae is full of women and there is the occasional diamond in the rough to be found in the Biergarten. Don’t know the asking prices but I do know it comes without a barfine tacked on. There is also the Lumpini line-up out in force every night on Withayu Road.
Getting the pineapple.
A recurring theme seems to be the charge for a double lady’s drink. My own experience takes me back over 8 years to a gogo bar on 2nd Road in Pattaya that thinks it’s a beer bar. I was not a regular customer but on this occasion found myself in there plying a young lady with coloured water. After several drinks she asked for another and my comments must have insinuated that this was the last as I was about to leave. The result? She returns with a glass of orange juice in a hollowed out pineapple and a double drink tab. It leads me to whisper to myself every time I feel scammed in this country, “Oh my God, I’ve got the pineapple.”
Give Patpong another go.
A pal told me one of the bars in Patpong was kick-ass. Patpong? Really? I was down there a while back and figured it was King’s Castle 1 he was talking about. It’s been remodeled and the dance floor now has the capacity for many more girls. About 40 girls per set. The best part is that they’re young with tight bods and some even danced, smiled and flirted. Good vibe, decent energy, even the music was tolerable; I felt like Scotty had beamed me back to the ‘Pong in the ’90s! The downside is that beers are 170 baht and lady drinks are 220 baht. Not that bad but mamasan said short-time is 3,500 – 4,000 baht. Are those numbers negotiable? I’ll be back.
Suwannapoom departure reminder.
8:30 in the morning, and I am stuck in a snaking line for the Security Circus. Remind your readers to get here early for flights because they seem to have limited ability to scale their operations, and this country is choked with tourists…at least this AM! It’s ridiculous. They asked me to take my belt off, I handed it to the woman. I don’t deal well with this nonsense. My pants were in danger of falling down, maybe next time I’ll wear elephant pants. Immigration lines similarly choked. And they’re fingerprinting people because…well I have no idea. Andrew Biggs wrote about it this week. The Chinese of course don’t care as they’re used to worse. One Immigration officer is wearing earplugs. Smart man.
A Stickman reader wandered in to Billboard just a few hours after last week’s column went live was shocked to see the bar – widely regarded as the best gogo bar in Bangkok – in ruins. First impressions were that something terrible had happened and someone had demolished the interior of the bar. Closer inspection showed that the ceiling had been removed and work was taking place to put up a new one. All done and it’s business as usual.
20 years ago the best gogo bar in Nana Plaza was Voodoo, on the ground floor. The spot that once was Voodoo – and most recently has been Twister BKK – has been renamed…..to Voodoo! Is the great gogo bar of the ’90s making a comeback? I’m not sure that’s how I’d describe it unless post-op ladyboys are your thing. It strikes me as sneaky to resurrect the name of a great gogo bar from the past and use it for a bar full of post-op ladyboys. Note, the new Voodoo is only using the space it did back in the day with Twister BKK to remain open in the space that was previously known as Spellbound.
The lights were out, again, on Saturday night at Geisha in Nana Plaza. This was the third night running the bar remained closed. Will the crazy Korean pull another rabbit out the hat or will this be it for good?
Hillary 4 will throw a party this coming Saturday, July 27th, to celebrate their 7th anniversary in space that was home to the original Strikers.
Several Soi Cowboy bar owners are keen to talk with the landlady who owns the building that Sahara left vacant a couple of weeks ago but it seems nobody can find her!
Still on Soi Cowboy, the late-night disco at Penny Black is still going strong and packing them in most nights of the week until almost sunrise.
If you like it spicy and fetish is your thing, you might like to make the acquaintance of Mistress Hunter. She will be doing her thing at Bangkok’s popular fetish house, Bar Bar in Patpong soi 2, this coming Thursday, July 25th. And for those in Sin City you can catch her at The Castle the next night, Friday, July 26th. Tickets are limited to just 25 per location and are available on the day. More details on the poster below.
The most popular POS software system used by bars in Bangkok is Blue Bar Tender. I have had a long association with the developer and owners of Blue Bar Tender who are some of the most likeable people involved in the bar industry. Unfortunately, someone is going around Bangkok telling bar owners that Blue Bar Tender does not exist any more and that bars should use a new system this fellow is pushing. To clarify, Blue Bar Tender is still in business. For any bar owners looking at implementing a POS system, contact Blue Bar Tender directly.
The next Nanapong dance contest will take place in Pattaya on Saturday, September 21st, at Dollhouse with ladies from 4 Pattaya gogo bars competing – Dollhouse, Club Electric Blue, XXX Lounge and Beavers. The usual comments apply – if you find yourself in town that weekend and have never attended a Nanapong dance contest, it’s worth stopping by to see what all the fuss is about. It’s amazing to think that the Nanapong name has been around for almost 20 years. How time flies!
Raids by Immigration officers on apartment and condominium buildings in Bangkok are nothing new. You hear about them from time to time and typically they take place in buildings in less salubrious neighbourhoods. You’re much more likely to see them set up in the lobby of a building with rents running several thousand baht / month in the likes of Udomsuk and Onut than you are in lower Sukhumvit. But that all changed this week when Immigration officers swarmed on two condo buildings in neighbourhoods known to be pang mark! A large condo complex on Sukhumvit soi 11 home to many Caucasians including a few bar industry figures was visited this week, as was a mid-range building in Thonglor. Just what the primary reasons for these raids were is not known. There could be a few reasons. Were they looking for someone in particular? Were they checking the visa status of all the foreign residents to make sure they are in the country legally? Were they checking whether people had been reporting their actual address to Immigration via the TM30 form / system? Were they checking whether any units in the building were being used for AirBnB – a legal grey area in Thailand (as I understand it, AirBnB is legal for stays of 30+ days, but not for shorter stays). Or perhaps they were checking all of the above? Immigration is just doing their job; at the same time seeing a dozen or more Immigration officers setting up in a condo lobby and carrying out checks of foreigners can be confronting.
On the topic of the Immigration Department, it seems that the main Bangkok Immigration office has caught what I’ll refer to as the Chiang Mai disease. A few years back, things got bad at the Immigration office in Chiang Mai as the number of foreign residents swelled and officers struggled to process everyone each day. Some foreigners would arrive at the local Immigration office at 4:00 AM to be at the front of the queue and secure one of the limited queue numbers so they would be processed that day. Word is that the number of foreigners visiting Immigration in Bangkok has made it feel like a madhouse and at 5:00 AM or so a queue starts to form. I have said it before and I will say it again, a new Immigration office is needed or the existing one needs to be expanded.
My old friend Dave The Rave is spending more time in Pattaya these days and has told me to tell you that he is a big fan of Pin Up A Gogo, on Walking Street. Dave says it has a good vibe, a tonne of girls and a decent happy hour through until 10 PM.
Calling the Dirty Doctor! You might like to consider coming out of retirement – your work is not finished! Long-time readers may remember some 10+ years ago when the Dirty Doctor, my long-time sidekick, used to hunt down the fake monks who were making a nuisance of themselves along Sukhumvit. To recap, these guys are not real monks and they are not Thai but for the most part Chinese nationals. They dress up as monks, approach foreigners in tourist areas and attempt to solicit donations. Unknowing foreigners give them money thinking they are donating to a temple. A reader spotted the fellow photographed below on Sukhumvit soi 7/1 last night, attempting to solicit money from punters enjoying a night out. Getting back to the Dirty Doctor, he used to hunt these charlatans down and defrock them in the street. He built up a collection of fake monk’s robes and one time when I saw him strip the fake monk of his robes the Thai street vendors all started clapping, and thanking him. Will he be tempted to come out of retirement?
Analysing what I am hearing from Bangkok’s 3 major bar areas, it seems that Nana Plaza is holding up best – which kind of surprises me. Why do I say that? While there is a lot of overlap, I think it would be fair to say that Nana Plaza is the naughty boys’ favourite bar area. And with white man visitor numbers down, I would have expected Nana to suffer more than most. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Soi Cowboy is typically more popular with expats along with mainstream visitors who are keen to see the bars they saw in Hangover II. Patpong’s popularity is mainly with old-timers – those who have been around since the mid-90s, if not longer. I would have thought that Soi Cowboy with its expat following would be holding up best. Expats are there year-round, after all. OK, so some bars at Cowboy are no doubt doing better than some bars in the plaza but the overall picture I am getting is that of the 3 Bangkok bar areas, Nana Plaza is faring best this low season.
Pattaya bars have a history of hosting golf day outs and Le Pub in Soi Diamond is the latest to get in on the act. The wonderfully named Hot Legz Open will take place at the Burapha Golf Club on Thursday this week. Contact the bar for more info at the phone number below.
The Chinese make up around one third of all visitors to Thailand but you wouldn’t think it if you only hung out in farang bar areas. Some Chinese do venture in to these areas, but in relatively limited numbers. I’m not talking about the groups being led along Walking Street by flag-waving guides but those who actually venture inside bars and stay for a drink. Will they ever become a significant part of the customer base in the bar areas? Will naughty bars do as some restaurants are doing and add Chinese script to the menu? A few bars have signs in Chinese but they are a small minority. I understand that Panda A Gogo in Pattaya targets Chinese but I don’t know if they are getting Chinese visitors in significant numbers. There is one Pattaya go-go bar where staff act as ushers, putting westerners on one side of the bar and North Asians (Chinese / Japanese / Koreans) on the other. That’s got to create an odd dynamic.
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Reader’s story of the week comes from an anonymous writer, “Forced Out Of Thailand With A Visa Issue“.
Quote of the week comes from a former Bangkok gogo bar operator, “Often the only thing consistent in Bangkok is inconsistency.”
Are recycled electronics turning parts of rural Thailand in to a hazardous wasteground?
A bunch of farangs caught skinny dipping in Krabi are hauled out of the water and off to the local cop shop where they are fined.
A British expat is behind bars in Phuket after being charged with attacking a dog.
The strong baht is proving to be a headache for tourism operators in Thailand.
Two Australian ladies overcharged for a taxi trip from Phuket Airport later changed their story and said it was all a misunderstanding.
A farang celebrity went online to post about the long lines awaiting passengers arriving at Bangkok‘s main airport.
The Bangkok Post ran a special report today into the sex industry in Thailand and looked at why a migrant might enter it.
What are the 10 things you hate about gogo bars?
I am grateful to those readers who have helped me gather news and gossip, and especially those who have taken photos and sent them through to me – and allowed me to use them in the column. I had planned to be back in Bangkok now, and if things had gone to plan we would have flown in a few days ago. But our next visit has been delayed and it will be a good few weeks before I am back.. If you do come across anything novel in your travels around Bangkok or observe anything which you think is newsworthy, please do drop me an email. Hearing about what you see is especially useful when I am not there on the ground.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]