Stickman's Weekly Column November 15th, 2020

Political Correctness In Thailand



There’s much I like about living in New Zealand, but after a few years back I have come to discover there’s also plenty I don’t like. So much of what I don’t like today didn’t exist in the New Zealand of the past, and neither does it exist in the Thailand of today. Political correctness is the bane of life in New Zealand. Thailand seems largely free of it.

In some ways political correctness is like a muzzle, preventing you from saying what you really think or doing what you think is right, all because someone might be offended or upset by it. That’s not to say that you should say or do things that others could find offensive because you shouldn’t, but neither should you be prevented from expressing an opinion. Sparing the feelings of the overly sensitive is a big deal in the West these days.

It’s not like that in Thailand where you people call a spade a spade. Describing someone as fat, for example, in Thailand won’t cause anyone to so much as blink. Say it in New Zealand and they’ll be off to the doctor for anti-depressants to deal with the trauma of your comments.

Being politically correct doesn’t just mean minding your Ps and Qs and doing everything so as not to hurt some poor lamb’s feelings. Everyone has to be given a fair chance, even if from time to time it makes little sense.

There was a news reports recently of a teenager who wished to play competitive netball (like a softer version of basketball played almost entirely by females). This boy got upset because he wasn’t allowed to join a girls’ sports team and play in a league made up entirely of females. This got people upset, it made the news and the netball association is shamed. The upshot is that this boy is allowed to join an all-female team. No-one can be excluded, right?!

This sort of nonsense is increasingly common in New Zealand. The classic example is when police are called to an incident which is attended to by female officers. They aren’t up to it physically and male officers are called to assist. (To be clear, females can make perfectly capable police officers but perhaps partnering up two females who may be called upon to deal with physically aggressive males strikes me as a dumb policy.)

In Thailand, police on the street are all male. Thais don’t get hung up about sexism and don’t perpetuate this odd idea that everyone is equal in every way. Thais get it that males and females have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

In terms of inclusivity, Thailand is actually pretty good. It starts at school where Thai students are good at making all of their classmates feel like they are all in it together. Even outliers are made to feel part of the team without having to change their behaviour. A boy dressing like a girl? No problem!

So-called equal opportunity is big in the news here at the moment. What they really mean is equal outcome. It’s a nonsense that has seen some crazy policies implemented where good people are missing out because they are not from a minority group.

This week it was reported that New Zealand’s top two universities each have quotas for Maori and Pacific Island students to enter medical school. Those from minority groups can enter medical school with grades *significantly* lower than white or Asian New Zealanders.

I am not sure how I would feel if I was about to go under the knife and in walks a doctor from one of these minority groups. Would I find myself wondering if he got where he was because he was from a less privileged background, and not because his grades justified it?

Can you imagine a prestigious Thai university announcing, “Only 15% of this year’s in-take of student doctors can come from Bangkok because that is proportionate with the percentage of the population made up by Bangkokians”? Bollocks, they would!

It is a shame that in Thailand coming from the wrong side of the tracks inevitably means you won’t have the same opportunity as someone raised in Bangkok with descendants from China. Kiwiland doesn’t have it right, and neither does Thailand. But at least Thailand doesn’t meddle and actually make things worse.

I had to look up the meaning of “woke” which apparently means being not just sensitive to, but alert to social issues. That sounds like a textbook definition. In reality, it seems more like a derogatory term to shame those who don’t prescribe to a certain way of thinking. If you disagree with the idea that the group knows better than the individual then you’re not woke – and these days it seems woke to shame those who aren’t woke….which strikes me as daft.

Being woke in Thailand? Never heard a Thai mention it and quite simply, it isn’t a thing. Please keep it that way, Thailand, PLEASE!

We don’t have snakes or alligators or crocodiles here in New Zealand, and I don’t think we have any spiders that can kill a healthy adult. The most dangerous creature in New Zealand is a Karen – a self-entitled, young to middle-aged (usually) white female who expects everything to go her way.

Thailand has Karens too. They live in the hilly, northern parts of the country, wear traditional clothing and are perhaps best known for wearing rings around their neck. Give me the Thai version of a Karen any day!

Thailand is far from perfect but most of this political correctness mumbo jumbo nonsense hasn’t made its way there. Long may it stay this way!


Billboard Bangkok
 

Mystery Photo

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Last week’s photo was taken from Lek’s Last Stand on Sukhumvit which is on the odd-numbered soi side, about 30 metres or so from the mouth of soi 11. This week’s shot is challenging. When a reader sent it to me as a suggestion, I have to admit I didn’t know where it was until he told me!


Nana Plaza
 

Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.

The roaring ’20s, part 2?

Covid could unintentionally launch a gogo bar revival due to culling out the poorly-run bars and employees with bad attitudes? For capitalism to thrive, it requires periodic recessions to cull the herd, so to speak. I don’t mean to sound insensitive but some bars need to go out of business. If history is any guide, the “Roaring Twenties” followed a devastating world war and pandemic. I would not be surprised to see the industry improve and be better than it has been for a while.

An uncertain future.

I’m not sure what will happen in Pattaya, but things will not be back to normal any time soon. Many European countries have been hit hard. In my native Denmark, holiday homes for next summer are all sold out. People stayed at home this year and actually seemed to enjoy it – and sales of summer homes have gone up. Sure, the usual bad boys will flock back to Pattaya as soon as they can, but they will not like what they find. Small beer bars are closed. Even if some tourists return, many bar owners are broke and will not have the money to reopen. It will take time.

Enjoying a tourist-free Bangkok.

I feel for those travellers stranded outside of Thailand but for those of us living in Bangkok presently, these are definitely the glory days and will be remembered fondly. No crowds, no tourists and a feeling of being appreciated. I can’t say I will have anything bad to say about living in Bangkok during COVID-19 in 2020. It has been an absolute joy! There are pitfalls, however, in visiting gogo bars. One is spotted the minute you walk into any bar, accosted and claimed almost immediately by anyone you know, have gone with previously, or might have once smiled at! The pressure to spend is immediate and can be intense. The days of being able to enjoy a bit of anonymity are gone.

Borders opening will start a frenzy.

You are correct in thinking the many Thai aficionados (not only your readership) are waiting in the wings with bated breath for when Thailand reopens the border. And once it does, bam, there will be a mad rush to book a flight and get over there. I most certainly speak for myself. The Thais are very resilient, adaptable, and will be quick to respond to the influx of foreigners and their cash. The naysayers will constantly paint a gloomy picture of eroded infrastructure and closed businesses but once wads of cash are being thrown around they’ll want a chunk of it. Everyone is hungry now, and once feeding time comes around it’ll be a frenzy.

No return to Fantasyland.

I spent many long vacations in Thailand before Covid. I even made the mistake of marrying a Thai woman and brought her and her son to America. That was a mistake, but it is over and done with long ago. A few years ago I decided I was not going back to Thailand for the bar scene anymore. Like many have said, high prices, chubby girls, braces on teeth, too many tattoos, fake glasses, trying to look pale, coyote dancers just to get you in, high barfines, high drink prices and girls catering only to Japanese are too much for me. No thanks, it’s no longer paradise.

More attractive ladies to be found.

It is becoming increasingly evident to me as the impact of Covid starts to bite beyond the initial shutdown phase that the girls in various venues are becoming prettier, on average. This applies to freelancer bars, gogo bars, and regular farang hangouts and pubs. It seems that even the top-end girls who in the past reaped substantial rewards by staying home and prowling online are now hitting street venues. I can’t speak for late-night clubs as I never go. Some of these girls look fit, and I know that they have been hitting the gym hard.

Don’t stream me!

Let me add to what someone else said about bars which live-stream video. I will steer clear of any bar that is live-streaming (or any other type of recording that may get posted to the internet). No way in hell will I knowingly step inside a bar doing that. I certainly hope the Nana bars aren’t getting any bad ideas about it.

 

Girl Of The Week

Tip, # 25, Erotica, Nana Plaza

Tip lists her hobby as partying and her interest as working.
I suspect the poor lady didn’t really understand the questions!

 

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Geisha in Nana Plaza is not opening every night of the week.

 

It looks like long-troubled Geisha – a bar I am surprised has lasted this long – has joined other bars in Nana Plaza that are closing for part of the week. Geisha was closed this past Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

There mightn’t be many customers in the bars these days but those who are about still manage to find something to complain about. A few readers have mentioned the high cost of lady drinks in some gogo bars. An old friend told me that his jaw dropped in Rainbow 4 this past week when he saw the price of a lady drink was 370 baht. The one positive is that the price is clearly posted but, really, 370 baht for a lady drink? I also hear that in at least one popular bar you cannot buy a lady drink for a lady i.e. you cannot buy just one drink – you MUST buy two. Tourists may be willing to pay the asking price as they wish to maximise their enjoyment, but I am not sure some expats will be willing to pay 370 baht for a lady drink or be forced to buy her two drinks at once.

A reminder that in some Soi Cowboy bars the price of a drink inside a bar might not be the same as the price for a drink out on the balcony / outside the gogo bar proper. At Suzie Wong, a beer can set you back 90 baht outside whereas it is 160+ baht inside. And don’t go thinking that you can order one outside and take it inside – the staff have eyes like a hawk. A couple of readers have tried to say this is a rip-off but I disagree. The pricing inside the bar is standard drink pricing and the price outside is cheap.

Stumble Inn on Soi Nana has the right idea, offering sharp-priced drinks to expats who have a Bangkok Fun Card. This card is FREE and can be collected in the bar. It entitles the holder to 99 baht pints of Tiger or Chang, all day, all night, every day of the week. Great deal!

I hear that in Nana Plaza the foreigner-owned bars are doing better than the Thai-owned bars AND may have the more attractive maidens. It wasn’t always this way. For many years, the Rainbow bars had the best eye candy and they were to the plaza what the King’s Castle bars once were to Patpong – where you found the most attractive dancers. In Nana Plaza, I am told that the Thai-owned bars don’t stand up so well these days when compared with the foreigner-owned bars like Billboard, Spanky’s, Butterflies and Lollipop.

It was noted this week by an expat in Bangkok that a particular girly bar in the Nana area had attracted some Thai male customers who were enjoying time drinking and partying with some ladies. Traditionally, Thai men have not been allowed in bars in Nana or Cowboy. (Patpong is an exception and you do find the odd Thai guy in a bar there.) Given how few customers are about, perhaps some bars have loosened up on this policy? Refusing entry to Thai men in naughty bars was always a sound policy. Thai men and foreign men don’t always party the same and once the alcohol was flowing, all it takes is a misunderstanding and things could turn nasty.

A reader and two mates were out on Sukhumvit last night. Amongst their stops was a bar on soi 22. One of the fellows was stopped by police on the way to meeting his friends. Another guy in the group was stopped by police about 500 metres away on his way home at the end of the night. Hardly news I know, this has been an ongoing problem for close to 10 years (!!!), but I figure it’s still worth mentioning nonetheless. Note: I have been asked not to mention the specific venue or exact locations where these two stops happened, but let’s just say it was between Asoke and Emporium.

 

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The foreign exchange booth out front of Nana Plaza is long gone.

 

It’s getting bad in Pattaya with multiple reports from friends and contacts about Sin City’s economic collapse. With each visit down from Bangkok, friends tell me the life has been sucked out of the place.

There are stories of girls running off with bar and restaurant takings, but it gets worse than that. From the owner of a big name bar comes reports of desperate foreigners legging it without paying their bar bill. I am told this sort of thing is becoming more common. A white guy nips in to a bar, necks a drink or two and then does a runner! If caught, he might get roughed up. Or worse, the cops might get involved. Just remember, in the case of an unpaid bar bill, most bars take the full amount out of the waitress’s salary. Do a runner and you’re effectively stealing from a waitress who is probably struggling to get by herself, let alone send money back home to support family.

A restaurant owner on Soi Lengkee went for a few days break to Koh Chang. Before he left Pattaya, he asked his cashier to give 25,000 baht to one of the long-serving members of staff to pay that month’s electric bill. Said lady did a runner and has disappeared altogether.

Next weekend is a holiday weekend so if you find yourself in Pattaya, drop by popular Soi LK Metro Crystal Club on Saturday night when it will celebrate its 3rd anniversary with a party. All are welcome!

 

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On Friday night, Pin-Up – generally regarded as the busiest gogo bar in Pattaya in recent times – was about 2/3 full around 9:00 PM. But by 10:30 it was less than half full. It got so bad that everything in the bar stopped and they did the old “naked girl walks around the bar 3 times sprinkling whiskey on the tables before shooting it out the front door between her legs” routine, with every bell in the place ringing and the DJ chiming in with deafening horns. It was enough to wake the dead, which I guess is the point: Awaken the spirits to bring customers.

You know things are bad when trade at the retired Pattaya expat’s favourite bar, Windmill Club, AKA Degenerate Central, is dire. Said friend stopped by before midnight on Friday and commented that the music volume was what you expect in a sports pub i.e. you could hear conversations across the room. There was no vibe. The girls were all being ignored and not molested by old geezers with ice cubes and beer bottles. The small number of customers looked just as bored as the girls. Why was music volume so low? You’ve got to stay on the right side of the cops…

A couple of kilometres up the road in North Pattaya, all the beer bar complexes are gone. Much of Second Road is simply boarded up with high walls and property razed to the ground. Much of this area depended on Chinese, who are long gone. The economic devastation is complete.

Soi 6 is a shell of its old self. Many of the old names on the street like Red Spot and Foxy are closed. The “7 deadly sin” bars (Avarice, Envy, etc.) are closed, Lust aside.

Seemingly nowhere has been spared. On Soi Honey, the “Soi 6 of naughty massage”, Covid has been a nuclear bomb for the Honey Group. Its flagship Honey Inn which was sex tourist central for decades is now closed. It’s vacant and up for sale.

The massage / beer bar joints at the top of Soi Honey near Soi Buakhao are still going with lots of lovely lonely girls out front. The Full Bar was empty. Maybe it’s time to change its name? Even the large and once super popular Honey 1 soapy massage building is closed. Unlike the Second Road soapies, Honey 1 catered almost exclusively to Chinese and other Asians. Now there are sandbags placed in front of the front door.

The massage joints from there down are gone. No closed signs, no signs of life, just empty shophouses.

On a two-hour walk around Pattaya my friend saw very few farangs, or foreigners of any sort. Maybe a couple of pairs of Chinese or other non-Thai Asians. That’s about it. On Beach Road he didn’t see a single white guy! From the hospital to Soi Honey there were groups of 2 or 3 sitting in the cheapest bars. The 55-baht-beer-all-day bar had a few white guys.

Here are some snaps from my friend’s time in Pattaya this weekend:

 

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I was floored by an online post from the British Embassy consular team in Bangkok this week that wrote, “At any given time we will have on average 5 overstayers in IDC, so this is a big focus for the Consular team at the Embassy.” IDC is the Immigration Detention Centre, considered by some to be the worst prison in all of Thailand and the holding pen for foreigners about to be deported. Just how many Brits are deported from Thailand over the course of a year if there are, on average, 5 in the Immigration Detention Centre at any one time?

Newsflash for Kiwi expats in Thailand: Makro has Wattie’s baked beans! This won’t mean anything to readers who aren’t from New Zealand but for Kiwis, this is the brand of baked beans we grew up with and is our favourite!

Temperatures dipped in Bangkok and other parts of the country this week and some news reports even suggested that parts of Thailand were “cold”. I’m not sure I think of low 20s as cold but it’s all relative. Temperature-wise, this is the most pleasant time of year in Thailand – but it coincides with the time of year when air quality is at its worst. For the next few months more Thais will come down with coughs and colds which is a bit of a worry. Will there be a spike in people going for Covid tests? Will people showing symptoms of a cough or a cold stay home?


Spankys Nana Plaza Bangkok

This Week’s News-Feed / Thailand-Related News Articles

Reader’s story of the week comes from Kloth, “Forever Young“.

Dual-pricing where foreigners pay more and / or are treated differently is now in place at a bar in ThongLor.

The hotel on Ko Chang embroiled in the TripAdvisor controversy is in the news again.

A Thai man is suspected of posing as a woman to swindle Japanese men, again.

 

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Soi Cowboy. Photo credits: Dirty Doctor.

The most common complaint I used to get about this column was the colour scheme. Grey text on a black background gave some readers a headache. I don’t think anyone has mentioned it for a year or two. I never found it a problem myself until I saw the site on a friend’s computer – and it was a problem. He had an old computer with a crappy screen – and I think that was a major contributing factor. Fortunately, it seems that newer monitors have better screens and it’s not an issue – or maybe it’s simply that after 20 odd years with the same design and colour scheme, everyone knows it’s not likely to ever change. And the most common complaint these days? There are two and they are roughly equal: Some people complain there is not enough nightlife news. And some complain there is too much. Sometimes you just can’t win!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : [email protected]