Stickman Weekly  24/8/2008

The Advantages of Being White

It's easy for Westerners resident in Thailand to feel like they're second class citizens.  Westerners are not afforded the same rights as Thais.  There are many things we cannot do, such as buy property, even though we may have lived, worked and contributed significantly to the country for years and years.  Buying a car requires a pile of extra paperwork not needed by a Thai.  We have to report our whereabouts to the authorities every 90 days.  We often pay over the odds based simply on the colour of our skin and it's not hard to feel that we are unfairly targeted or treated by the men in tight brown uniforms.

But the truth is that foreigners, particularly farangs, that is Caucasians, actually have some advantages over the average Thai citizen, some of which may not be that obvious.

Many foreigners complain about the so-called ills, evils and wrongs of Thai society.  Anyone who actually gives it some thought soon enough realises that most problems in Thailand can be traced back to a lack of, or poor quality education.  Thailand's education system is in desperate need of an overhaul that most Thais would consider totally radical - and as such it isn't likely to happen any time soon.

It is generally accepted that the best schools in Thailand, those few institutes offering a learning environment comparable to the West, are the international schools.  And the finest of these are International School of Bangkok (ISB) and Bangkok Pattana.  If you're a Thai national the chances of getting into these schools ain't good!  The waiting list for Thais is long whereas children of expats simply have to sign on the dotted line (and hand over a king's ransom in tuition fees, of course).  Preference is very much given to foreign children over Thais!  So it is foreigners who get the best education in Thailand.  Even donations that resemble phone numbers won't help Thailand's uber-wealthy circumvent the system.

Like most of Asia, Thai society is hierarchical and it is very, very difficult to move up the ranks so to speak for a Thai national.  Thais are largely confined to their place within society.  This means that if you were born into a poor family in the countryside, you're marked not just as poor - but as a peasant - for life.  Low society types are looked down on by those higher up.  There isn't a glass ceiling, the ceiling's falling down on them, keeping them at rock bottom!

Foreigners fall outside the system.  First and foremost, the average Thai cannot tell what strata of society a farang would "fit" into.  Wear a decent suit and you will immediately be considered a businessman and by definition, must be rich and successful!  Even if dressed sloppily, there is always that little bit in the back of their mind that you might actually be someone as more Thais are finally grasping the idea that many farangs are less concerned about their appearance.  As we are not pigeon-holed we can freely move throughout society, in and out of any strata.  You could have a meeting with a minister of parliament in the morning and stroll through Klong Toey market in the afternoon.  You would not look out of place nor would you be challenged.  For the average Thai this simply isn't possible.

Speaking of arranging a meeting with people in authority, the Thais are remarkably welcoming of requests to meet with them, even those in positions of genuine power.  As crazy as it sounds, if you sought a meeting with a high up in the government, perhaps not Mr. Samak or the most senior ministers but those in the next tier down, or big names in business, odds are you would be granted an audience - even if they did not have a clue who you were!  I don't imagine it would be anywhere near as easy to meet your parliamentary representative in the West - and it would be even more difficult for a foreigner in your country!

The same goes for meeting the "farang elite".  Be they leading authors, pillars of industry, long-term expats or whomever, it really is not difficult to get an audience with Farangdom's movers and shakers.  I have heard all of the top flight authors complimented, the likes of Needham, Moore, Leather and Barrett, all of whom have taken the time to meet up with the odd fan who has emailed them.  For sure, Clancy, Grisham and co. would not be nearly as accommodating I am sure.

And when you meet these guys, the odds are you will do so in a hotel bar, lobby, restaurant or perhaps one of the city's many foreign pubs.  There is no question that in many venues around town foreign customers are treated better than Thai customers.  If I could have a dollar for every time a Thai has told me that the (Thai) staff treat them like second class citizens then I really could give up my day job.  Service in many venues, particularly farang-oriented pubs, is very much geared towards foreigners.  I did not realise quite how bad it was for Thais until I started to watch closely.  Many Thais really do feel like they have become second class citizens in their own country when they go out to such venues.  And if you don't believe me, watch the way some staff cringe when local customers ask them about various items, particularly foreign food items, on the menu!

The same can be said of hotels.  In fact many hotels in Thailand WILL NOT ACCEPT THAI GUESTS, for which there are a number of reasons.  The first is that while one Thai might check in, 10 or more, in other words the whole tribe, might sleep in a single room - which is apparently in breach of some or other regulations.  Secondly, the Thais tend not to dine in the hotel restaurants and thus the yield per customer is much lower for Thai guests than it is for foreigners.

This follows through to some of the Thailand-based online hotel reservations systems which simply will not take bookings for Thai nationals, period.  If you are a foreign guy married to a Thai lady, you might find the transaction not accepted if you use her name or her credit card.  Change it to your name and credit card and the transaction will go through just fine!

Cause someone to lose face badly enough in Thailand, or cause sufficient damage to their business or earnings, be it through legitimate means or otherwise, and you could become the target of retaliation, revenge or even a murder victim.  The cost and risk of getting rid of a foreigner is much higher than for an average Thai national.  Little annoys me more than the ignorant Westerner who suggests you can get anyone knocked off in Thailand for 5,000 baht.  If that really were the price, Thailand's population would be much less than the current 65 million!  Thinking that a hitman would knock off a Westerner for a few thousand baht is nonsensical.  The murder of a foreigner results in a major inquiry, pressure from the embassy, wide coverage in the press etc.  For a foreigner to be done away with someone has to have pissed someone off big time - or they happen to be worth more dead than alive!

And if you should have the gross misfortune of ever being a guest in one of His Majesty's long term accommodation establishments, being a farang will ensure that you receive a slightly more comfortable stay.  Two foreign friends of mine, both fellow countrymen as it happens, have experienced a couple of nights on remand in the Thai judicial system, each reporting that the mandatory monk-like hair cut as well as various prison duties were overlooked due to the colour of their skin.

On a lighter note, many shops now offer not only a refund on the VAT on goods with a total purchase price of more than a few thousand baht, but also a 5% discount specifically for tourists.  The Central chain has much promotional material in its stores - which must raise the eyebrows of a few locals.

Let's not forget the big one.  How many lovely Thai women have you heard say, "I don't like Thai man.  Thai man no good!  I like farang!"  Haha!
 

Where was this picture taken?


 

Last week's picture was taken looking up Sukhumvit soi 3 from the Nana intersection and needless to say, heaps of readers got it right.  The first person to email me with the correct location of the picture wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British Fish And Chips restaurant.  The second person to get it right wins a free jug of margarita, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant, offering authentic cuisine and delicious margaritas.  Charley Brown's is located in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11.  Oh, and please do not tell me that the picture is inverted because it isn't!

Terms and conditions:  The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days.  The Charley Brown's prize MUST be claimed within 7 days.  Prizes are not transferable.  Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per month.

FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.)  Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK - The good merchants of Pattaya.

Within a 24 hour period I've had three acts of kindness from three different merchants here in Pattaya.  First I brought four watches into a jeweler's to remove the face.  These are older 1920 - 1940 Hamiltons, Elgins, etc. of which I'll send the faces to the states to get them redone.  The jeweler did just that and wanted to charge me only 100 baht for all four watches.  Nuts!  I mean, back in the States cost could be $50 each.  I gave him 400 baht which made him way more than happy.  Second, I gave a merchant my counterfeit Samsonite luggage which I got here about 4 years ago.  The rivet holding the handle needed replacement.  The guy replaced both rivets and charged me not a thing. Straight out refused my baht.  Third was I got sick with some horrible 24 hour something.  Sick as hell: sweats, nauseous, headache, & exhausted.  Dragged myself to the local pharmacist at 11 PM and told her the problem.  250 baht later had the medication and she recommended I eat some bland food.  Told her had no strength to go to a restaurant to order food.  She then offered me the back room to rest while she ordered me some chicken and rice soup.  I accepted. Within 10 minutes she served some rice & chicken soup.  She was almost like my grandmother when I finished the rice, smiling and complimenting me with what appeared pure joy. And she refused to charge me anything for the meal.  Imagine if I were back Farangland and needed to see a pharmacist at 11 PM, and getting a free order of chicken-noodle soup?  It would never happen!

The end of the world is upon us.

Walking past Superbabyís this week, I was dumbfounded to see that the most energetic of the touts crowded around the front door appeared to be a white boy of twenty or twenty-two.  Maybe the guy was actually Thai as a tomato, but he looked exactly like a San Diego surfer dude right down to his long, duck-tailed blond locks, and he spoke, or rather shouted, what seemed to be perfect English in a completely flat American accent.  That was an occurrence so bizarre that I had a momentary mind fart and actually let the fellow guide me inside the place.  I sat down and looked around, and that was when I registered my second shock.  I was the only white customer in the room.  There were Japanese males, Korean males, Indian males, Chinese males, even a surprising number of Thai males, but I was the only white male in the whole damn bar.  I have since reflected on the significance of this freaky inversion of the known universe and I have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is a harbinger, a portent of Biblical proportions.  A white tout outside of Superbabyís and nothing but Asian customers inside?  That has to be a cosmic sign as potent as birds falling from the sky and pigs giving birth to sheep.  There can be no doubt.  The end of the world is upon us.

Trying to go up an escalator that's coming down.

Having paid the price for being late yesterday, this morning I was able to secure the last loaf of my favourite bread at the extreme late hour of 8.20AM.  I don't why but some reason I had enough mental reserve power to ask the lady sales assistant, "Why might it not be a good idea to bake some more bread", as her shop was still going to open for another three hours.  Her reply was another of those Thai classics that really sum up this country in a nutshell, "We have more bread in the high season".  "No problem", I replied to a shop full of customers, "I will come back in the high season".  For those that are as yet unfamiliar with this kind of response, I refer to it as the rice bowl syndrome.  When the rice bowl is full for that day, why on earth would you want to work for more?


The best Thai dating experience

A dirty industry!

You said it - a dirty industry indeed.  Personally the most generous description of those involved in the beer bar and gogo industry I would describe as being unsavoury.  I don't know why but it kinda sticks in my gullet that farangs should travel half way round the world, to a different continent and culture and proceed to set themselves up as purveyors of the flesh trade.  I have no qualms handing money over to the locals who do this, but not to my own kind.  Why foreigners feel they have a right to live off immoral earnings in an alien country when it would be a jailed offence back home also really goes against the grain.  No I don't think you are intolerant, there's no way I could mix with this ilk let alone bring myself to call them my friends.  Their days I feel are truly numbered, just a matter of time before the authorities wish to declare that they are surplus to requirements, losing all their considerable investments over night having been run out of town.

A polite killer.

One of my wife's aunts had been married to a Thai gent who had spent time in prison for murdering someone for a motorbike.  He was not much of a husband as he regularly beat her and eventually left her with two teenage children.  Child support?  Dream on!  To make a long story short, she met a well off man from Norway and he popped the question so they set a date to marry in the village.  Two days before the wedding she received a call from the ex, "I am going to bomb the wedding and kill everyone."  The police were contacted to supply security and the wedding went off as planned, but everyone was on edge the whole day.  Around 10PM the ex called, "I am sorry but I started drinking whiskey this morning and could not come and bomb the wedding.  I will kill you some other time."  What a polite chap!

My frustrations.

I can sense the frustration you have with so many guys still getting fleeced by the gals, but truth be told NO ONE has done more to educate people about this problem than you have and you should be very proud of the service you have provided to the farang community.  The best (and most expensive) sales trainer I ever studied under in USA once told me "knowledge is power - but only if you put the knowledge to use."  EVERY guy who gives lumps sums of cash to a hooker knows what he is doing is nuts, but he does it anyway.  These guys don't even tell their families, best mates or co-workers about it because they already know that they are acting irrationally.  All the information in the world won't help people who refuse to listen or put the info into use.

Stereotypes.

Thinking about stereotypes.  Now I myself have done it with the Thais. Being in Pattaya, I, Mr. Farang, would judge all Thais based upon what I've seen and felt by the locals: All Thais here are either beggars, selling useless crap, scammers, or prostitutes.  However, after some thought, if I judged all farangs by those same standards which I've seen farangs acting in Pattaya, I would also stereotype all farangs worldwide as old, fat, beer-drinking, tattooed scumbags.  Umm, could be right about the farangs however.

In the seemingly never ending game of mind-changing, the boys in brown are now turning a blind eye to the bars in Nana Plaza remaining open until 2 AM.  With that said, I can't help but feel that Nana needs something more than an extra hour of drinking time to draw customers back.

The rumour mill has it that two Pattaya bars with names sounding something like Sex Phone and Tame Turd were in breach of various infringements of the law yet they remain open for business.  One can only assume that the boys in brown saw how few customers are about and chose to look the other way.  My, aren't the boys in overly tight uniforms jai dee these days?!

I gave up on sois 7 and 8 in Pattaya a long time ago.  In some ways they remind me a little of Nana Plaza, bar areas that were once a lot of fun, but now look and feel somewhat decrepit and are home to girls whose brazen nature shows transparently how avaricious they truly are.  But not everyone agrees with me and someone is sinking some money in soi 8 with the lower half of the soi seeing a number of new bars being built, including some glass-fronted flashier venues that look like they will be a little out of character for soi 8.

Morning Night is celebrating its 6th anniversary with a party tonight featuring shows and, unusually for Bangkok bar celebrations, a free buffet!  If you're in the Soi 4 area tonight, check it out.

How long has the no parking sign been up outside Nana Plaza?  I just noticed it this week although it may have been there for some time, so infrequent are my visits to Nana these days.

Spicy promises are coming out of The Strip which will celebrate with a new dancers party on 29 August with snake shows, Tequila shots and lucky draws.  The snake show part sounds interesting...  Trouser snake or the poisonous variety?

Pattaya's FLB Bar has got a great new band on the premises, the Filipino band that was a fixture at Henry J Beans on Beach Road for almost 5 years.  Listening to them perform, there really is a huge gulf between Thai house bands and their Filipino counterparts.

And if you want to see what is happening at FLB Bar at any time, check out their live webcam!

I maintain that the big branch of Gulliver's in Sukhumvit's Soi 5 is a great place to hang out late at night and flirt with the girls, if only for the reason that it's not always clear who is on the game and who isn't.  Late Friday night saw me and a Kiwi pal hanging out, enjoying a few drinks and flirting with a group of 4 girls at the table next to us.  What made it exciting was that we genuinely didn't know if they were tarts or otherwise.  If they were, forget it, we just weren't interested.  As it turned out, they all had real jobs and for all but one of their group it was their first time there.  I guess the same could be said about various other venues like Spasso's, CM2 etc. but Mr. Tightwad Stick seldom makes it to those high-priced venues.  My one complaint is just why oh why does that branch of Gulliver's close so early?  I mean, last call at 12:30 AM and the house lights on at 12:40 AM is just ridiculous!  Are we in Bangkok?  Sometimes it feels more like Vientiane!

I stuck my head in Sweetheart A Gogo on Walking Street for the first time this week and felt as if I had been through a time warp.  The prices were distinctly late '90s, with 400 baht barfine and 95 baht drinks.  The girls were wearing granny like bikinis and none - not one - had dyed her hair.  It really is a throwback to the old days.  Oh, and the music is distinctly 70s, 80s and 90s too.

If you like Shenanigans in Pattaya you'll be pleased to know they have opened a new outlet over in Jomtien.  That said, finding an empty table at the existing branch at The Avenue has never been a problem.

Having spent a fair bit of time in Pattaya recently, I maintain it's generally cheaper and more fun than Bangkok.  But there is one area where, in my eyes at least, Bangkok gets the better of Pattaya.  As far as the gogos are concerned, you'll find more attractive women in Bangkok than Pattaya.  Pattaya gogos are usually fun, but when it comes to sheer numbers of beauties on stage, Bangkok has the edge.  This is of course despite the fact that the girls dancing in the different centres come from the same part of the country, Isaan.

Pattaya's low season struggle continues.  A friend was in Pattaya for a couple of days this past week.  In his words, "Even the bleak commentaries Iíve been reading about the depths of the low season seem cheerful in comparison to the reality."  He breakfasted in Shenanigans one morning and in the two hours he was there he was the only customer in the whole place.  He stopped by Shooters one evening to try their Mexican food - which he felt was very good- but once again for a chunk of time he was the only customer there!

While the bars might be quiet with fewer customers meaning girls are less keen to stay on, Pattaya's freelancer scene is booming.  Notwithstanding that we are in the depths of the low season, all along Walking Street can be seen cluster after cluster of girls lingering, smiling and just dying for you to approach them...  The whole problem is perpetuated by the lack of trade many bars are doing.  As veteran bar manager Ricky said, "They don't have to go to work at a certain time, don't have to dance, can work when they want to and usually, if they go to the discos at least, they end up with younger, more handsome customers!"

The recession is taking its toll in Gayland in Pattaya.  In the area around the Day and Night Hotel are various French style eateries, many of which offer excellent value set menus.  Now don't get any funny ideas about Stick's orientation - I am 100% straight - but that is an excellent area to dine.  Sadly, I notice a number of venues have closed.  The restaurant at the Flamingo Hotel has closed.  O'Brien's has closed.  Furniture moved out, signs taken down all indicate these venues have gone out of business.

There is one eatery in the area that gets serious thumbs up.  Bordeaux may be a little dearer than other establishments in that little neighbourhood but if you go for their daily set menu (290 or 390 baht depending on the number of courses) you'll get superb quality French food in pleasant surroundings that would set you back 2 - 3 times the price in Bangkok.

"Voice", the iconic welcome guy pictured here who has been a fixture in Nana for at least a decade has moved bars again and is now charged with the responsibility of enticing customers into G Spot.  The call of "Take care of your wife" has always made me scratch my head and on the couple of times I have asked him just what it means he has shaken my hand and responded "Hello my friend, take care of your wife", sort of like a parrot repeating what it has heard with no understanding of the meaning!

A quite hilarious story reached me this week concerning a bar manager in Pattaya, a fellow who manages a bar believed to be owned by his wife.  Now this manager can't be getting a bit at home so what does the he do?  He goes out to another gogo bar, grabs a girl, brings her back to his bar and does the deed with her in the toilet of the bar he manages!  Said fellow surely cannot have any doubt in his mind why he was beaten up by a bunch of the local toughs not once, but twice, in four days.  He rubbed his Mrs.' face in it so badly that she absolutely had to see to it that he suffered - and that others saw that she took revenge.  Failure to do so would have resulted in the most intense loss of face imaginable.  Do we need to wait until December to give this fellow moron of the year award?

The newest advertiser of this site, Thai Chit Chat, is currently promoting itself by giving away a free (50 words or less) translation to all new users.  This promotion will probably run for a month or two and is meant to get new users introduced to and comfortable with their service.  New users just have to register and you will then be credited $3.50 which is enough for a message of up to 50 words.  Give it a go!  For those guys who email me all the time wanting help with relationship issues, getting this firm to translate your love letters from English to Thai accurately and vice versa could be a real help for your relationship.

Two branches of Subway - Khao San Road and Soi 33 - are offering foot-long sandwiches at just 169 baht, irrespective of the sandwich type.  A good deal if you're feeling peckish.

One of my enduring memories of travelling around Europe in 1990 is all of the great chocolate I had.  No, not in Switzerland and neither in Belgium but in, of all places, Germany.  I fell in love with the Milka brand and the mauve-wrapped chocolate brings back fond memories.  So wandering around the Villa supermarket in Pattaya's Avenue shopping complex I was thrilled to come across this favourite product.  Pattaya's Villa outlet is perhaps the best farang supermarket in all of Thailand.  The range of Western products is tremendous with a greater variety of imported breakfast cereals, chocolates, coffee, wine and various other products than perhaps any single supermarket branch in the capital.  OK, they charge like a wounded bull for some products but isn't it nice to actually be able to get some of your favourite products from home as well as try interesting products from other Western countries?

I love driving, always have, but driving back in my corner of Farangland, notwithstanding the uncongested roads and gorgeous scenery, is a chore.  The government has gone mad and police are cracking down on speed with horrifically high fines for speeders.  When driving in Thailand speed is not such a problem.  On the open road your average Thai probably sits on around 120 and many go much, much faster.  There aren't many radar guns and even fewer lasers out there so generally speaking speed is not a worry, simply because the coppers don't have the speed measuring devices.  What the cops do ping you for is the ungodly crime of failing to keep left!  Now that is not always easy given that on many highways the leftmost lane is all broken up due to usage by heavy transport but for sure, failure to stay left is what the cops tend to get drivers for.  That said, even the cops know this is hardly a serious infraction and for a red note they will wish you a safe journey and send you on your way with a crisp salute.

Business must be good at the New York pizza joint between Sukhumvit sois 3 and 5.  I reported a few weeks ago that they offered a pizza buffet for around 170 baht.  The price has shot up about 100 baht since then...

I had a bit of time to kill this week and surfed through various personals sites in the region.  Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and South Korea.  Now one cannot read too much into the pictures of women and the profiles on the sites, but the order I have listed the countries is my personal take on the order of attractiveness of the women pictured, from worst (Thailand) to best (South Korea).  Just looks of course and just my opinion...

You have to scratch your head at a certain farang's choice of places to jump from.  Seeking membership of the Pattaya flying club is a well known way of checking out, but at least most of those guys jump from ten floors or more.  The higher you go, the more likely the job will be done.  But what about the foreigner who jumped from the Nana BTS station to the ground below earlier this week?  I mean, it's high, but is it high enough to ensure that you complete the job?  I would have thought that there was a chance you would survive...

The rates schedule posted in Bangkok taxis used to show the fares for journeys up to 50 km and the corresponding fare, which was about 300 odd baht.  With the tariff increasing, so too there is a new rate schedule posted in all cabs.  But this schedule does not show only the short journeys, those up to 50 km.  No sir, the new schedule shows journeys all the way up to 1,400 km which according to the schedule will set you back a whopping 11,701 baht.  Now is there anywhere that is quite that distance from Bangkok?  The deep south perhaps?



Quote of the week comes from a taxi driver and caught me totally by surprise.  "Thailand is paradise for a playboy like you.  You can have a different lady everyday for the rest of your life.  That is why farangs like Thailand!"

The Thais are awfully keen to get Taksin extradited and back in Thailand.  Meanwhile, the square-faced one has offered to resign from the Manchester City board.

HM The King of Thailand is the world's richest monarch, according to this article on Yahoo.  35 billion US, wow, that's serious dough!  The palace has contested these claims, however.

Oil prices batter Thai Airways.

If you think Thailand is safe, think again.  This story reported in The Sun - and much discussed on Thailand's expat forums - concerns a toddler who was shot while sitting in the family car.  To make matters worse, the police response to this incident has been quite pathetic, suggesting it may have been as a result of a "hunting accident"!  While this could have happened anywhere, it is the police's actions, or lack of, that dumbfounded me.



Ask Mrs. Stick

Mrs. Stick is happy to answer any questions regarding inter-racial relationships as well as cultural peculiarities that may be confusing or baffling you.

Question 1:  With the two of us getting caught in heavy rain the rather traditional Thai girl I was dating in Bangkok about a year ago mentioned that now as her hair had gotten wet she must under no circumstances forget to wash it after coming home the same evening, as otherwise she would certainly get sick the next day.  I asked her why she thought that way, and she explained her mum had told her so when she was a child.  I first teased her about what to me seemed to be some sort of a weird superstition I previously hadn't been familiar with, but she seemed dead serious about it.  At that time I considered it a curious quirk on her part and didn't spend any more thought on it.  Only recently I went out with another Thai girl, in London now, and once more I was presented with the same reasoning from her.  Asking her about it she said that was just conventional wisdom.  So now this leaves me wondering, is there any explanation at all for this?  Honestly, I can't make head or tail of it!

Mrs. Stick says:  I think she is worried about how her hair looks.  I go to the salon often just to get my hair blow dried.  If I get a small amount of rain on my hair or even if the weather is humid I will wash and set my hair again.  Maybe you cannot see it but we can see the difference.  If we get very wet we might catch a cold, or what do you call it, the flu?  But I think that is more than a little bit of water.

Question 2:  Do you have any tattoos?  What do you think of tattoos?

Mrs. Stick says:  No, I don't.  I think they are disgusting.  If I went home with a tattoo and my mum saw it she would throw me out of the house!

Question 3:  I recently gave 5,000 baht to a young homeless mother.  I had no intention in giving someone money that day but when I came across her sleeping, she looked so desperate I felt I had to help.  I was convinced that she was not begging as she was seemingly making herself as invisible as possible and this was well away from any busy area.  Her small collection of belongings consisted of baby things with no sign of a father / boyfriend around.  I wondered if she was running away from someone or trying to get somewhere.  I figured if I gave a hundred baht or so it would help for a few days but her situation would not change.  At least 5,000 baht (which let's face it - any farang can afford occasionally) would give her the chance to get anywhere in the country and arrive with something so she was not dependant on her new 'hosts'.  When I returned the next day I was very happy to see that every trace of her was gone (hopefully to somewhere a little better).  I am sure 80% of Stickman readers will think that I am a complete sucker / fool but this bothers me little.  My question is what do you think about my 'act of kindness' and what do you think my Thai girlfriend would say if she knew?  I give my girlfriend almost anything she wants but I know she is from a poor background and may not be very happy about me being so generous with my (her) money?  Is there an unwritten Thai rule regarding how to treat people in desperate situations?

Mrs. Stick says:  I think it is very generous to give this amount of money.  I don't know if they are a genuine person or a professional beggar in a gang.  I think you know that is a problem.  If this is small money for you and if you look after your girlfriend and are generous with her then she might be ok with this.  But actually, you know this is a lot of money and she will be surprised you gave so much.  Actually, even 100 baht is a lot to give to these people.  5,000 baht is more than some people working in Bangkok make in one month.  I think your girlfriend would be "surprised" you gave so much.

Pattaya Photo Guide

I have been researching a few spots in South East Asia for a few days away in the October break, somewhere I have not ventured before.  My research online has verified what I already knew.  Visitors to Thailand and local expats are spoiled with all of the quality sites and online information that exists about the Land Of Smiles.  There are heaps of sites with good, solid information.  Searching for info on a couple of major centres in the region, I was amazed at just how little good information exists online and worse still, how much crap there is.  My God, the number of Western bloggers writing complete and utter dross across Asia is quite unreal.  So many seem more enchanted by their sound of their own voice than having any real interests in providing quality information.  There is a huge market out there for the likes of StickmanKL.com and StickmanJakarta.com.  The lack of quality sites for these two centres is a real disappointment.  Seriously, there could be as many as 50 Bangkok sites better than anything that existed for those centres.  I guess it simply means that all the quality Westerners in Asia head for Bangkok and the other centres in Asia get the riff raff and flotsam...



Your Bangkok commentator,
For a column that was rushed, it turned out well, I thought. 8/10
Stick

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Stick can be contacted at: stickmanbangkok@gmail.com.