Stickman's Weekly Column June 19th, 2022

When Things Don’t Go To Plan


Things in Thailand don’t always go to plan. Sometimes the plan goes completely awry. It’s nice to reminisce about the good old days – but there were plenty of not so good days amongst them. When I think back to the early days – the so-called good old days – of online dating in Thailand, I recall many times when things didn’t turn out how I expected.

I’ll never forget the Swenson’s lady. Not one of the staff in their sexy uniforms who are every bit as sweet as the ice-cream, but a lady I had been chatting with who I never expected to meet at the local branch of Swenson’s.

She was interesting, attractive and fun – and we’d been chatting online for what was probably months. We’d chat often on MSN Messenger, back when it was the best option for video calls. None of us had a smartphone in our pocket, in fact I don’t even think the iPhone had been released. We chatted often and knew a lot about the other’s routines. But we had yet to meet. Why not? She was in Chiang Mai and I was in Bangkok.

One Saturday afternoon she calls me out of the blue to tell me she is in Bangkok. Better yet, she was in Central Rama 3 – which she just happened to know was where I often went at lunch-time on a Saturday to grab some lunch and do my supermarket shopping. She was sitting in Swenson’s.

I made my way to the ice-cream parlour and there she was. Beside her was a large suitcase. I’d barely sat down when she explained she had brought a suitcase full of clothes, enough to last her for 2 weeks. She would stay with me for a fortnight. This was not something we had ever talked about. Mentally, I began to freak out. Stay a day, two, the weekend, fine. But two weeks? I need my space! Two weeks with someone I had only ever spoken to online was unthinkable. Explaining to someone that I had been keen to meet that this was a bit of a surprise did not go down well.

It turned out she had friends in Bangkok – and I suspect that had always been her plan B – so she would go and spend some time with them instead. I stayed with her until a friend came to collect her. We would continue to chat online from time to time but everything changed and we never did meet again.

One of the things I learned from Internet dating Thai women is that many had made up their mind about you – and how the relationship would go – long before they had even met you. Managing expectations before you even meet someone should not be a part of dating – but it can be that way with some Thai women.

Many foreigners in Thailand like the availability of younger women to date. I’m not a fan. 5 or 10 years younger is ok, but not more. Younger women might look nice but that’s where it ended. I simply found that dating women close to my own age had much better outcomes.

One of the oldest women I dated was early 40s and at the time a few years older than me. She was 41 or 42 from memory – but like many modern, urban Thai women, she looked after herself and was very presentable. She could easily have passed for mid-30s.

I knew she was different from the outset when she suggested that we meet at the Robin Hood. That choice of location was not so much a surprise because it’s not a spot you expect to be popular with Thai women, but because she worked around the corner and it was walking distance from her place of work. She had no issue at all meeting a foreigner in a pub where her colleagues could walk past and see her. Thai women tend to be quite secretive when dating a new guy, especially if he is a foreigner, and prefer to do it well away from friends, family and colleagues, lest things don’t work out and the gossip starts.

We met early evening and things went well. Very well. She spoke very good English which she insisted on using. She was a middle-class Bangkok Thai, educated and had worked hard to reach a senior position in her industry. She had a quiet confidence and maturity that was different from most of the Thai women I had dated.

Dinner, a couple of drinks, a bit of flirting and we went our respective ways. It was a memorable date and she was great company – and I thought she was definitely worthy of pursuing a relationship with.

The next day the messages started. She would be free at the weekend and we’d meet at the Robin Hood again. If things went well then she’d spend the night with me. At that point she would be my girlfriend and we’d do all those things that girlfriends and boyfriends do. She wanted to make her boyfriend happy. Those were just about her exact words.

We would take frequent weekend trips away to Hua Hin and other popular getaway spots. And I needn’t worry because she would contribute to the expenses as she had a good job and money wasn’t an issue. And she wouldn’t expect me to be the Dad to her son (who lived with his father but sometimes spent time with her). And on and on it went. Our lives had been mapped out……after just one date.

Fundamentally, there was nothing wrong with what she had in mind. This was the sort of relationship many urban Thais enjoy. But it was all coming on too fast. I prefer for a relationship to find its own way and while there are things you would like to do and things she would like to do, it’s a journey you take together. Having everything planned from the get-go is not what I had in mind.

She was coming on too strong. I wondered whether I should cancel our Saturday night date.

At the same time I really wanted to see her. Towards the end of our first date there had been flirting, sexual innuendo and I felt some sexual tension on both sides of the table.

I couldn’t shake the idea that this one might just have too many chillis in her som tam and I made the decision not to see her again. I sent her a message thanking her for the date, saying how nice she was but apologised that I didn’t think we were a match and as such, there was no need to meet again. I wished her luck in meeting Mr Right.

That message did not go down well. She called me immediately, and she was not happy! She tried to convince me to meet her as we had planned. I said no. She seemed to think I would change my mind and left the call at that, messaging me later to confirm our weekend date. I politely told her no. Seeing this was going nowhere, I blocked her.

Unable to get me by phone, she sent an email asking what was wrong with me and how she’d never met a guy like me. She didn’t mean it as a positive!

While the first date had gone very well, following that night I got the distinct impression she was a potential bunny boiler. She was one of the last women I dated online and I trusted my instincts not to meet her again.

I was lucky we met when we did. A couple of years earlier I would have definitely seen her again – and I imagine it would have turned in to a nightmare.

There’s a reason you may ghost someone. I didn’t do that but perhaps I should have. No matter how polite and reasonable you may be, sometimes you just can’t reason with someone. That would be one of the best lessons I learned from dating Thai women. While there are so many lovely, genuine women, sometimes it’s best to just cut ties. Best you do it before things get serious or you jump in to bed.

The last lady I’ll call Miss Emporium. In the early days I would always meet someone at Siam Square, usually Starbucks or Au Bon Pain. Stickman was on a budget! Then I went through a phase of meeting ladies at one of Fuji or Zen, back when Japan was all the rage in Thailand and no-one would be disappointed with Japanese food. Towards the end of my internet dating days it was Emporium. As the years went by I had a bit more jingle in my pocket.

A lady I’d chatted with on ThaiFriendly had a look that Thai men go for – fair skin and softer features. We hadn’t chatted long and she was keen to meet. I suggested Emporium. A time was set. She told me she would be wearing jeans and a black top. She was insistent that I knew what she was wearing which seemed unnecessary as we had exchanged photos and I already knew exactly what she looked like.

I arrived at Emporium and called her. She said that she was standing outside Boot’s. I knew where that was, so I went upstairs, walked to Boot’s but couldn’t see her. She’d probably popped in to the restroom so I stopped by Asia Books, just a few metres away and killed a few minutes browsing. She called and asked where I was. In Asia Books, I said. Give me a minute and I’ll be there. I walked out of Asia Books, turned right and walked towards Boots. She wasn’t there! What the hell?

Was she in the right shopping mall? Many shopping malls have a branch of Boots. Could she somehow have gone to the wrong shopping centre?

I remember an old girlfriend who pronounced Emporium and Imperial (as in Imperial World, another Bangkok shopping mall) almost exactly the same. Oh no, had she gone to Imperial World? That was way down in Bang Na!

Outside Boots, there was a lady giving me the eye and smiling at me. She was dressed like she was ready to find a customer in Thermae and looked totally out of place in a high-end shopping mall with her dark skin, tight jeans and skimpy black top. She was positively grinning at me.

And then it struck me – but at the very same moment I didn’t miss a beat – and I just kept walking at the same pace, averting my eyes from her gaze. Jeans and a black top. The lady I was supposed to be meeting would be wearing jeans and a black top. This lady standing outside Boots was wearing jeans and a black top and making very friendly eye contact with me – but she was not the lady in the photo I was supposed to be meeting.

I kept walking at a steady pace and made my way up a floor without looking back. I called the phone number of the lady I was supposed to meet, while looking down at the lady standing outside Boots. I had already guessed what was going on. Boots lady answers the phone. I asked her where she was and she said outside Boots. But you’re not the lady in the photo, I said. “She my friend!”, was the reply.

I’m sorry, I agreed to meet the lady in the photo – and that’s not you, I said to her. She was ok with it and that was that. Apologies from each of us and off she scuttled out of the Emporium.

I don’t know how common it is to post a profile using photos of a completely different person who looked nothing like themselves, made even worse when the person in the photo is so much more attractive. I wonder if she met anyone else using that ruse?

I have a lot of good memories from Thailand and Internet dating was a heap of fun at the time. Amongst the many good memories were some odd experiences. I sometimes wonder what happened to those ladies. Hopefully things worked out well for them and their online dating had a happy ending.

 

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the stairs leading up to a bar on Patpong soi 1. Only two readers got it right. This week’s mystery photo is something I thought was really cool, from somewhere which could reasonably be described as “downtown Bangkok” – if not quite on a main drag. Reader Greg who kindly supplied this photo described it as outlaw capitalism at its best.

 

 

Find them at Whiskey A Go Go, Nana Plaza.

Find them at Whiskey & Go Go, Nana Plaza.

 

 

Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week

The new cannabis decriminalisation law.

Various nations from Canada to South Africa have legalized the use of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes, with dozens more opting for decriminalization. Thailand’s recent stance is unusual in that Asian nations prefer to retain laws against cannabis use. Regrettably, with typical Thai sloppiness, ancillary laws governing policy have yet to be drafted, creating a “Wild West” marketplace where known cannabis advocates currently sell THC-laden products at retail – effectively turning a previously black market slightly grey. Details like taxes, product safety and child-proof containers fall in the “mai pen rai” category. However, extracts (used to make edibles – a smoke-free means of administering known dosages and adhering closer to the medicinal marijuana philosophy) are capped at an absurdly low 0.2% THC. Will Thailand follow in the footsteps of California’s legal cannabis market, with large agricultural conglomerates scooping the market on price and volume? Can it be that the recent legislation is largely aimed at increasing profits for vertically integrated Thai companies?

Reasons to legalise cannabis.

I can give a short answer to your question about legalizing cannabis. From a criminal point of view, it is probably a wise thing to do. Addictive properties are similar to alcohol, and people who are stoned create less problems than drunks. Generally, a cannabis addiction does not require a criminal lifestyle to be maintained and users do not make much trouble. Thus, no need to heavily police since disruption to society is lower than other drugs, including alcohol. From a tourism point of view: looking at Amsterdam, there is a market for a destination where the stuff is easily available. However, it is hardly an interesting market: this group tends to stay in the cheapest kind of hotels, and eat the cheapest kind of food in the cheapest places. Hardly any other spending other than cannabis. Thus making the thing available will probably create jobs at the bottom of the Thai tourism market, but for the economy as a whole, or for the image of the country, it is hardly interesting. Thus, legalise to prevent problems at home, but hope it does not get too much bragging internationally.

Cannabis concerns.

My principle partying days were the late 80’s to the late 90’s and the rave culture in the UK as well as the Med hotspots during summers. I’m not a user of anything other than alcohol although I was at times given stuff to try. In all but 2 times refused. Now in my mid-50s, this was a wise choice. Whilst I see some mental issues in some stoners I know – it is the amounts of suicide amongst them which is higher than the norm, although this would be difficult to prove I will readily admit. For users, this topic is a hot potato as they will defend its use as therapeutic and healthier than alcohol. This may be so but I notice that most users will use weed and alcohol as a combination. Or in the case of a near neighbour add those 2 with body building steroids and it is a match made in hell! Regardless, if there is any proof to the negative then questions need to be asked about the ability of Thailand’s health services in dealing with the issue. And whilst the strength percentage of weed is currently stated as low, how will any user know what it actually is? And one further worrying aspect is for those of us using a Middle Eastern hub airport is will this cause any legal and potential jail time is any traces are found on one’s person?

Californian against cannabis.

Regarding Thailand legalizing cannabis, one negative issue is second-hand smoke. Living in California it can be annoying, especially for people who don’t smoke it. It can be SO pervasive that a person can be walking down a street and smell it. The law in California is that a person is only allowed to smoke cannabis either in their residence or in an establishment with a permit for doing it. It is illegal to smoke it in public, which is the same situation regarding smoking cigarettes. I’ll bet big money that non-high-end hotels in Thailand will reek of the fumes. With that in mind, I wonder if the second-hand smoke issue could affect people’s jobs. For example, an airline employee stays in a hotel and second-hand smoke exists in the hotel. It might be in the hallways, it might travel through ventilation systems etc. The employee is exposed to it immediately prior to going to work. They go to work, the smell is in their clothes, hair etc. and someone with the airport or airlines notices the smell and calls them out on it. Uh-oh! I’ve been in apartments and hotels in California and the fumes do indeed travel through ventilation systems, kitchen cabinets, holes in walls for cable lines, and along the outsides of building walls.

Delighted cannabis will be available.

I can’t believe my good fortune with Thailand legalizing weed. For the past 20 years, on every visit to LOS I have brought gummies and herbs from California to share with my wife’s family and neighbors. Some would heed my warnings and only consume small quantities, others would ignore me and eat five 10mg gummies at once. Lots of good memories smoking bowls upstairs of my mother-in-law’s house with my wife’s cousin and uncle. And my wife wouldn’t be mad if I shared with her mom, because she much preferred the stoned version of her mom to the drunk one. We are heading there next week for a month and I am looking forward to seeing what the Thai growers have on offer. Now that it is legal, I recommend you try it on the beach. No other molecule on earth connects you to nature like THC. No smoking though. Dry herb vapes are the way to go. Weed can serve as a much safer and healthier alternative to alcohol for those seeking a buzz. I see many good things in Thailand’s future as a result of this absolutely stunning work executed by Anutin.

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Rainbow 2 opened this week in Nana Plaza.

Rainbow 2 opened this week in Nana Plaza.

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This Week’s News & Views

Nana Plaza gained yet another bar this week with the reopening of Rainbow 2 on Friday. While the bar carries the same name and exterior design as Rainbows 3, 4, 5 (and, sort of, 69), it’s not run by the same people. The owner of Geisha reopened Rainbow 2 and is rapidly moving to open Pigtails next door, the spot that was previously London Calling.
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It’s amazing how Soi Cowboy has rebounded. Friends tell me it is much more vibrant and feels much more open than it was just a month ago. Cowboy was said to have a good crowd and a good vibe this past Friday night.
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More neon has been turned on along Soi Cowboy with Midnite bar open again.
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Should Lighthouse be renamed Darkhouse? The once popular farang-run gogo bar remains in darkness. It looks like it has been gutted but there is still no word on what is going on in that space.
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A few doors along, Lighthouse’s sister bar Shark also remains closed. If ever there was a bar that needed a refit, it was Shark. It not only looked shabby, for years it reeked with the foulest of smells.
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East End now places bins at the customer’s table, doing away with the weird policy of keeping them behind the bar.
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What was going on at Patpong with both The Strip and Bar Bar closed at 10 PM on Wednesday night? Answer: police hassles. Bar owners are getting very annoyed with all the hassles from those in power who refuse to back off. The issue transcends district as police are keen to show bar operators city-wide who’s boss.

The other challenge for bar bosses is the ongoing difficulty finding staff. It’s a big headache for many. There’s increasing jealousy as some bar owners with less than a dozen staff see the bar next door has 5 times as many staff – and quite possibly 5 times as many customers.

In recent weeks, there have been days when popular BJ bar Lolita’s has been down to just one BJ practitioner. And if she doesn’t go to work, the venue is closed. For those who turn up at Lolita’s and their knocking on the door goes unanswered, a 5-second walk around the corner to Kassalong will find a similar operation with plenty of staff. I hear that those practitioners with a lot of miles on the clock offer a superior service to the younger beauties.

 

Nana Plaza this week.

Nana Plaza this week.

 

Blondie, the new bar featured here previously from the people behind Spanky’s, had its busiest night (in its week-long history) on Friday. The chrome pole palace standing where Rainbow 1 once did is still finding its legs but is drawing the interest of girls who want to dance there, so you’ll likely find new girls each time you go. The owners also LOWERED drink prices since opening, so if you haven’t stopped by yet, it’s worth a look. You can also find them on social media, including the Blondie Facebook page.

The schoolgirl outfits are out and a surprising amount of skin is in at Mandarin on Nana’s second floor. Mandarin has not “showed” in years – long before Covid – and the only time that happened was when the third floor, with glass see-through stage, was open. But desperate times require desperate measures and the conservative Mandarin bosses are giving guys what they want: bikinis and less.

We can’t announce the details here – yet – but stop by Whiskey & Go-Go next week for a new, surprise promotion. It’s a deal not to be missed.

Away from the red lights, Guinness has been in painfully short supply in Thailand since the beginning of the year and the prospects for a steady stream of the black stuff pouring anytime soon are almost nil. But a fabulous alternative has arrived in Thailand and is drawing rave reviews: O’Hara’s.

Ireland’s largest craft-beer brewery, O’Hara’s also produces a black stout that stands shoulder to shoulder with Guinness. And it’s sold in “Nitro” cans that Guinness does not sell in Thailand, meaning the beer that comes out tastes just like draught. O’Hara’s is offering its signature Black Stout, a Nitro Red Ale, along with four craft IPAs. They are available now at The Game, The Old English Pub and for home delivery through ZippBike.

 

O'Hara's, available in Bangkok.

O’Hara’s, available in Bangkok.

 

Miss the bar scene and the ladies of the night? You might like to drop by Bangkok Bargirls, a new Facebook group. Yes, there are dozens of such groups – but most are Pattaya-centric. There’s fewer than 10 that cover all of Thailand, 3 just on Nana Plaza and none on all of Bangkok. This group is devoted to Bangkok with high-quality photos.

In the nightlife zone but not a nightlife entertainment area, Korea Town, beside the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 12, is buzzing. This non-descript area / shopping centre with a mish-mash of businesses, many of which are Korean-themed, was seldom busy in years gone by when many of the units were unoccupied. That Korea Town is doing so well these days should be no surprise with Thais crazy about everything Korean from fashion to food to music to TV to cosmetics to pretty much any and all Korean-manufactured products. (Note to the entrepreneurs amongst you, import something (anything!) from Korea and sell it on Lazada and Shopee – there’s some good money to be made.)

The only thing that could knock marijuana off the front page this week was the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s decision to remove virtually all remaining pandemic restrictions, including the rule requiring bars to stop serving alcohol / close at midnight. In addition, the CCSA also voted to finally kill off the Thailand Pass QR-code registration system, drop the outdoor face mask mandate and declare the entire country a “green zone” by dropping the national Covid-19 alert level to two, on a scale of five. The changes are expected to take effect July 1, or as soon as they are published in the Royal Gazette. The decision effectively brings the pandemic to an end in Thailand with the country expected to declare Covid-19 endemic in July. At that point, masks indoors – still recommended by the CCSA after Friday’s meeting – could be dropped.

 

Midnite, reopened on Soi Cowboy this week.

Midnite, reopened on Soi Cowboy this week.

 

While the end of Thailand Pass and the outdoor mask change were expected, the decision to allow bars to resume their 2019 hours came as a surprise considering the happenings of the past week. This column mentioned June 10’s raid on the Vampire after-hours club that upended nightlife on Saturday, but that was followed Saturday night by yet another raid on the Thai-centric 77 Society Pub where a big cache of drugs was hauled in. The Prime Minister was said to be pissed off that bars were violating the midnight closure time – and that police were assisting them in staying open – and ordered a crackdown.

The net result was that this past week, Nana and Cowboy were closed around 12:30 AM each night. Even though the CCSA has now given the OK for 2 AM closing starting July 1, not a single bar owner expects the police to let up on their heavy-handed closing efforts until then. So expect nightlife areas to continue to shut down shortly after midnight for the time being.

At the same time as the CCSA was allowing booze after midnight, the Tourism and Sports Ministry announced that Thailand’s befuddling, 50-year-old afternoon alcohol ban – where no booze can be sold between 2 PM and 5 PM – will be partially lifted on July 1 as well. You still won’t be able to buy a beer in a 7 Eleven, but hotels and restaurants will legally be allowed to serve. The regulation has been on the books since……get this……1972!

I can’t shake the feeling that the floodgates might inadvertently have been opened with decriminalisation of cannabis in Thailand – and I wonder if that is what the government intended. I’m neither for nor against the law, I just think that there will be some unintended consequences. What is the likelihood of a foreign tourist doing something they shouldn’t while using cannabis? What happens when some stoner backpackers are caught traipsing over a Buddha statue while smoking cannabis? All it will take is one such incident reported in the Thai-language press and everyday Thais will react.

 

suk-soi7-bars-dead

No change at Sukhumvit soi 7 other than more units being abandoned.

 

I have had quite a few emails that could just as easily be described as nasty as they could humorous from those who think my stance of being anti-mask and citing that for delaying my return to Thailand is somehow “wrong”. Fortunately, the mask mandate was loosened this week and from the end of this month there will be no requirement to wear masks outdoors. On this note, a friend noted a new announcement on the skytrain this week in both Thai and English: “If you don’t wear a mask, you’ll be fined 20,000 baht.” Charming.

Videos from Bangkok show that many people wearing masks favour the light blue, medical masks. More than a few wear masks that make a fashion statement. I’m surprised that relatively few people appear to be wearing N95 masks which offer various benefits. As I understand it, the blue masks help somewhat towards preventing you from spreading Covid / germs / bacteria / virus to others. N95 masks do that – and do it better because they are essentially sealed. But the big benefit of an N95 mask in Bangkok is that they filter the air your breathe in, including the fine PM2.5 particles. If you have to wear a mask, you may as well wear one that offers reasonable benefits. Basic masks strike me as something you wear to comply. When I see streams of people wearing these blue masks it looks like pure theatre. A quick search on Lazada shows a pack of 10 x N95 masks can be had for just 30 baht. Can’t complain at that price. If you have to wear a mask, surely it’s worth paying a bit more for the superior protection of an N95?

 

Find her at Blondie, ground floor, Nana Plaza.

Find her at Blondie, ground floor, Nana Plaza.

 

Thailand-Related Articles

Quote of the week comes from a Bangkok expat, “Nothing is certain except death, taxes and Monsoon being busy.”

Some much-needed clarity on the situation with weed in Thailand.

The mandate on mask use outdoors in Thailand has been dropped, thank God!

ExpatDen published a very comprehensive expat’s guide to cannabis in Thailand.

Thailand has dumped arrival cards, for now.

After 50 years, Thailand’s afternoon booze ban is about to end.

A Lithuanian alleged to have murdered a ladyboy in Surin is arrested in Pattaya.

5 more border crossings between Thailand and Laos are expected to reopen.

 

Soi Cowboy, Friday night.

Soi Cowboy, early evening Friday.

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Will I travel to Thailand soon, or won’t I? The desire to travel is most certainly there and I feel awfully restless, having not travelled for what feels like a very long time. This week the stars lined up and pretty much all of the nonsense that had me holding off travelling has been done away with. In Thailand, the Thailand Pass will end, as will the requirement to wear masks outdoors. Here in Kiwiland, the convoluted nonsense of having to test negative before returning has been done away with. Now all I have to do is find tickets on a flight that don’t cost more than the price of a decent second-hand car….

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com