Stickman Weekly  31/8/2008

Why I Will Never Buy A Condo

ďYou pay how much in rentĒ, they exclaim without fail.

To the average foreigner in Bangkok, perhaps retirees on a budget and new teachers aside, 20,000 baht is not really that much.  We long ago reached the point where we were comfortable paying a little more for a place that is genuinely nice, well located and comfortable rather than something that could best be described as barely adequate.  But to most Thais, paying 20,000 baht for rent is unthinkable.  It is, we must remember, much more than the average Thai earns a month - and in fact more than many families live on per month.

The next question is inevitable.  ďWhy donít you buy a place?Ē  Their head is shaking and they are looking at me like I am some sort of idiot.  20,000 baht, a small fortune they are thinking!

I will never buy in Thailand.  NEVER.  They say you should never say never but in this case it really is NEVER.  Never truly means never!

As a foreigner we cannot buy land and a dwelling and have it listed in our name.  It can only be registered in a Thaiís name.  I simply am not prepared to make the largest purchase of my life and have it all in someone elseís name.  I believe that doing so is madness.

That leaves condos.  Despite a few restrictions (limited percentage of foreigners in the building, money for the purchase must be transferred into Thailand from abroad etc.), foreigners can buy a condo in Thailand.  Many have and many are very happy with their purchase.  Many are also not quite so happy...

There are many reasons why I will not buy a condo in Thailand.

The first and perhaps most relevant is that it is cheaper to rent, especially if you have money already.  Donít believe me?  Let me do the sums for you.

Some time ago I entertained the idea of buying a condo.  There was a unit available in the building weíre in and we checked it out.  It was ideal.  A little over 90 square metres with two bedrooms and one bathroom (I have always thought two bedrooms in a modestly sized condo is such a waste of space), it was well-laid out with a large living area and best of all, being on the corner of the building it was bright with heaps of natural light.  The building itself is a little under ten years old and while things are still in good condition, you just know they wonít stay that way.  More on that later.

The cost of the condo was 4,500,000 baht.  I donít like borrowing money and paying back with high interest rates for the rest of my life so if I was to buy it I would have pulled the money over from Farangland and bought it outright.  And that is where the problems started.  My money is invested and currently earning 9.09%.  Thatís a term investment in the bank - with a guaranteed return of 409,050 baht per year.  There is tax deducted on that figure of 10%, 40,905 baht, meaning a return of 368,145 or, to make things simple 30,678 baht per month.

Now where this gets interesting is that this apartment is available for rent.  The rent is 24,000 baht a month.  You could rent it for less than the return you are getting on the cost of buying it!  With these figures, one would be 6,000 baht per month better off RENTING.

The counter argument is always that the unit would increase in value over time, perhaps 10% a year or so and in a few years it would be worth perhaps 6,000,000 baht or so.  Unfortunately this argument doesnít really stand up in Thailand.  Condo prices did shoot up between 2002 and 2006 but they have stabilized since then and few are predicting them to go much higher, at least for existing dwellings.  Quite simply, the historical 10% increase in value that is the rule of thumb used in many Western countries isn't applicable here.

The next issue is actually selling a condo for what it is worth.  Thais much prefer to buy new and buying second hand is not at all desirable to them.  Thais generally will not pay a premium price for a second hand unit.  They will pick up a second hand unit if the price is right and then perhaps try and on-sell it or rent it out.  Essentially this means that the market you are selling to is much smaller.  Further, while a 4.5 million baht unit might not represent a huge amount of money in the mind of a Westerner, it is out of reach of 90% + of the Thai market.  The bottom line is that selling a condo is not that easy in Bangkok.  The more expensive the unit, the smaller the market is.

You then have the issue of condos being ridiculously overpriced.  It has been said that when 50% of a new development is sold, the break even point has been reached.  True or not, I do not know, but I have heard it a few times.  You also have the issue of "artificial pricing" whereby the developer sells, or at least transfers ownership, of many of the units to friends and family members who then sell the units once the building is completed at prices even higher than what they were originally offered at.  Is this the closest thing to money for free?

Condos in Bangkok are not like a fine wine.  They age miserably.  Donít go thinking that the building you are looking at buying into will have the same charm as a 50 or 60 year old condo block back in your homeland.  I doubt there is a condo building that old in Thailand...and some would say that they doubt there ever will be with the local construction standards!

Some condos are badly managed.  The money for the maintenance is squandered, spent on silly things or simply isnít collected.  One of the big problems faced by MANY condo buildings is that the owners of condo units go bust or simply donít pay the ďkar suan-glarngĒ (maintenance fees).  I remember years ago when I used to take long walks all the way along Jomtien Beach, from one end of the beach to the other, and all of the recently built condos that were already in a state of complete disarray amazed me.  The problem most likely was that there were no tenants and that the building was not getting the required money coming in for maintenance to be carried out.  Maintenance fees on Bangkok condos donít tend to be that expensive (figure between 15 and 50 baht a square metre per month) but they are often not paid - and there is not always a lot that happens about it!  Fees collected are barely adequate to pay for such things as security guards, power for the all the lifts, lights in the corridors, swimming pool cleaning etc.  With a lack of funds for these basic services, building maintenance just doesn't happen - and value of all units in the building goes down!

From time to time you hear of problems foreigners have at their residence in Bangkok.  Occasionally it is with noisy neighbours, or noise from outside, factors that are easily solved in the West, but can be very, very hard to fix in Thailand.  Generally the better the building, the better the neighbours and the less likely you will have problems but as crazy as it sounds, when you do have a problem, it is not always easily solved.  In fact even trying to solve it can see things escalate to another level and often the best way to fix it is, dare I say it, to move.  This is of course horribly defeatist but I truly believe it.

Of course there are those who have done well from buying property in Thailand.  For them it was probably a combination of good research, taking a risk and luck.  Luck.  When it comes to investments or major purchases, ďluckĒ is a swear word.

Buy a unit off the plans when it is first offered and you could do mighty well.  I looked at North Shore in Pattaya when it was going up and while I canít say I am kicking myself for not getting in for it would have returned a cool few million in no time, it would have been nice to get something in the early days.  Prices in that particular building have just got ridiculous Ė and some people must be rubbing their hands all the way to the bank.

Buying off the plans in a less developed country is fraught with problems and there are countless developments that havenít been completed, have been completed slowly or perhaps have been completed but not to the standard that the buyers expected.

A Thai friend who is in the construction industry insists that every single condo building in Bangkok Ė EVERY single one Ė is not built to the original specs.  The building is designed, is put to the engineers and what not who approve it and from then on corners are cut wherever possible.  Cutting corners on these sorts of large projects can set a family up for life.  What was given the ok by engineers often doesn't resemble the finished product.  She insists she would never buy a condo anywhere in Thailand and like many Thais, she oversaw the construction of her home maintaining that that is the only way you can be sure of what you will get.

Thais have all sorts of stories about the building of their homes and how they have had to be on site the whole time, from dawn until dusk for a couple of months, while the place is being built.  Failure to do so can result in all sorts of mistakes, corner cutting, pilfering of items and general mischief and malpractice.

I very much err on the conservative side.  If I feel there is any chance that something may become a bad investment I just donít get involved.  There are plenty of places to put oneís money but I donít think condos in Thailand is the way to go unless you are CERTAIN that you are going to be living in that unit for a long time Ė and even then there are no guarantees.

It probably helps to remember that classic mantra.  "Only invest in Thailand what you are willing to or can afford to lose."  And of course, owning a condo is no guarantee that your visa will be renewed!  The days of buying a condo at 3,000,000+ baht qualifying for an investment visa are long gone (although those who were already in the system prior to the law change DO get a visa based on the original purchase.)

Whatever way I look at it, whatever way I do the numbers, buying in Thailand just does not make any sense to me.

As a final word of caution, I ran this article by someone who had been in the industry in Thailand and this is what he had to say.  These are his unedited words.  ďI wouldn't buy ANY property in Thailand.  Of course, I could never say that when I was in the realty business!Ē Can you ask for any more vindication than that?!
 

Where was this picture taken?


 

Last week's picture was taken inside Bangkok's best Cajun restaurant and bar, Bourbon Street, looking from the inside out through the stained glass window.  Only a small number of readers got it right which kind of surprised, such is the popularity of the venue.  This week's pic requires more than just saying the name of the venue!  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.  We have a new prize this week from ThailandFriends.com, an online dating community that boasts over 50,000 members, hosts live events in and around Thailand and allows basic members to send 5 messages a day to other members for free.  The prize offered is a premium membership which adds more to the ThailandFriends experience with unlimited messaging, detailed member searches, 24 profile pictures, and a whole lot more.

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.  The ThailandFriends prize must be claimed within one week.

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 - Outstanding service.

It's not often that you get standards of customer service in Thailand that come even close to what we've come to expect in the West, so I was knocked for six when a Bangkok company went above and beyond what I've come to expect from businesses in the Land Of Smiles.  I've been a fan of food delivery service ChefsXP.com ever since I saw it mentioned in one of Stick's columns.  I've been using them over a year, you log on to their website at www.chefsxp.com, place your order from loads of restaurants in Bangkok, and they deliver, usually within the hour.  They're cheaper than the other food delivery firms and in my experience, generally quicker.  The only time I had a problem was in June, when the delivery guy turned up with part of the order missing.  I called the ChefsXP.com office and explained what had happened, and they promised to get the missing part of the order to me ASAP.  I figured it was probably the restaurant's fault, but even so I had a good moan about how my meal had been ruined, and the girl on the other end of the phone was very apologetic.  Within the hour the rest of my food arrived.  Anyway, I went back to the UK for twelve weeks and returned to Thailand this month.  The first time I ordered food from ChefsXP.com, it arrived and the delivery guy said there was no charge.  The company had remembered the problem that I'd had and given me a credit of more than eight hundred baht, which they deducted from my next two orders.  I was stunned.  In all my years in Thailand I don't think any other restaurant or company has ever offered to return my money, no matter how bad the service.  I don't know if the owner of ChefsXP.com is a Thai or a farang, but whoever he is, he clearly understands how to win customer loyalty.  If only more firms here were the same.  I was in an English pub on Sukhumvit Road Saturday lunchtime (it wouldn't be fair to identify it, but it's named after a guy who used to steal from the rich and give to the poor).  I ordered a pork chop and it arrived so rare that when I cut into it, blood pooled over the plate.  I sent it back, and it returned to my table five minutes later.  It had been put under the grill again, then put back on the same bloody (literally) plate!  This time I insisted on speaking to the manager and I explained the dangers of serving under-cooked pork.  No smile, no apology, just an offer to redo the meal.  I said no, I'd just pay for my coffee and go.  Which is what I did.  I doubt that I'll be back - I'll stick with ChefsXP instead.

The best and the worst service.

I thought of an old quote of yours the other day - "I have had the best and worst service in my life in Thailand."  The best - I bought a new stereo from the Sony shop which was delivered the next day.  The manager of my apartment let them in as I was not home yet.  They set up the stereo just as I arrived and tested all the different functions as well as routed it through my cable TV etc.  I tried to help them clean up the waste from the boxes but the manager grabbed me and said "This is Thailand.  They will make sure everything works right, clean up after themselves and if you want to tip them a few baht it's up to you.  You don't have to do anything."  In my country when you buy a major appliance, you pick it up yourself at the loading dock and if you are VERY lucky they may help you put the box in your car.  If you asked them to deliver it and set it up they would certainly shriek with laughter!  The worst - I went to the movies at Central Bangna the other day.  They had 3 cash registers open at the refreshments counter with at least 14 people working.  Each of the 3 lines of customers had fewer than 5 people, but it took AGES to be served.  One staff member stood motionless at the register, one only scooped popcorn, one only filled soft drink orders, and I don't have a clue what the other 5 to 7 people were supposed to be doing as they just stood there in a hypnotic trance!  After 15 minutes they had waited on exactly 2 people and we were in fear of entering the auditorium late.  Even my Thai date and the Thais in front of us and behind us in line were becoming frustrated, which is very un-Thai like.  Finally I said to my date in Thai - "I hope this happens sometime soon as my next trip back to USA is November 10!"  All of the Thais in line got a huge laugh off of that one.  In the USA there would have been 3 people (not 15 to 17) working the 3 registers and yet everyone would have been served in a matter of a few minutes.


The best Thai dating experience

Shocking service, and the Bahn Pe / Ko Samet scam exposed (again).

My wife and I recently booked a transfer from Pattaya to Koh Samet with a Pattaya based travel company.  When we arrived at their Ban Pe office, we were offloaded to wait in their office until they were ready to take us to their boat.  Not long after this, everyone was called over to pay their national park entrance fees up front - something I had never heard of before and I thought it was pretty suspicious.  They told the farangs to pay 400 baht and the Thai nationals pay 40 baht.  My wife stepped in at that point and advised them politely that I qualify for 40 baht entry as I am an employed taxpayer in this country.  After additional pressure from one of the employees, we advised them that we would pay our entrance fee on the island ourselves.  That's when things got a little nasty.  I was bad-mouthed by a group of employees in Thai.  To my wife's credit, she let them know that they were out of line and we thought it would be prudent to walk to another pier to catch another company's boat to Koh Samet.  Bad luck we had to pay for the ferry across twice!  At the pier we noticed a sign in English advising that since December, 2007, entrance fees for farang adults are now 200 baht.  To cut this story short, I paid my 40 baht at the ranger's checkpoint without even a look at my passport or work permit and we saw the same sign there.  When booking the return transfer the agent implied that the national park office probably didn't receive any of the fees collected in Ban Pe, let alone the "extra" 200 baht they got from the farangs.  I wonder if any of them realised they had been ripped off for 200 baht each?  Maybe I'm just cynical and this money will actually go towards fixing the bumpy road connecting the beaches there.  How's your back after that ride?

Thai Airways offers better service to foreigners (and Mrs. Stick agrees entirely!)

In regards to the levels of service one finds in Thailand, this is very evident when you fly on Thai Airways.  A former girlfriend of mine who works for Thai Airways confirmed the same thing that they are encouraged to give their best service to foreigners.  In part this is due to getting good reviews in international publications.  They serve the Thais as well but just donít put any extra effort into their job.  Iím not sure if you have observed this or not, perhaps Mrs. Stick has.  I have not observed it first hand but have heard of the complaints of many Thais about this.

I just shake my head.

This letter is for a newly married 21 year old American soldier about to return to Iraq.  Your wife is a 30 year old Thai lady.  Your new wife told the following to my wife while they both waited for some documents to be translated.  She (your wife) was not sure if she made a mistake marrying you (an American) as she thought it might be better to go England.  But then told her she was not going to America because you (her husband) was going back to Iraq.  And that was ok because you would probably die there, at least she hoped so...  My wife had no idea what to say.  She is still shocked that someone would speak this way.  I feel if you were to survive Iraq you might not survive your reunion with your wife back here in Bangkok (my speculation).  If this is you or you someone knows this guy please wake him (the f**k) up.

What is going on with the group that owns Mandarin at Nana and Shark at Cowboy?  At Mandarin earlier this year they abandoned the happy hour and raised prices.  Now they've raised them again, by at least 10 baht a drink.  But a bottle of Thai whisky, which was recently raised from 1,000 to 1,100, has now taken a massive jump to 1,500!  A drink for your specian flend is 125 baht.  Meanwhile, at Shark, the same group has a happy hour until 8.30 during which all drinks are 70.  Lady drinks are 110, and Thai whisky is 1,150.  So why the difference?  Another nail in the coffin of Nana it would seem...

And on the subject of Nana's slow demise, what about the stinking stairs behind the escalator at Nana, which are often used as an open-air toilet.  How can the owners allow that?  Even calling it third world is being generous!

Over $500 USD was raised from the sale of the two Apache Coyote Indian ladies that used to be above Apache bar in Cowboy.  The proceeds of the auction were donated to the Baan Gerda Community where they take care of orphans with HIV / AIDS.  Ain't that marvellous!

I've been giving Gulliver's grief for closing up at 12:40 AM, but in fairness that's late compared to the Thermae where signs posted on the holiday posters for Italy (so you won't miss them - I mean punters in the Thermae have Italy on their mind, don't they?) state that since July 25 Thermae closes at midnight!  What the you-know-what?!  This used to be THE late night venue, open until 6 AM.  Closing at midnight?  That shouldn't be allowed in Bangkok!

Those who can stand sitting in the heat can find two drinks for the price of one from 6 PM until midnight.  Where?  The terrace coffee shop outside the Landmark Hotel, close to Nana.

The expected price increase at the new Black And White in Cowboy - which has a new name - has taken place with 135 the new price for a beer.

Doing my rounds this past Friday night, Sukhumvit was much quieter than it usually is for a Friday, especially so given it was the last Friday of the month - the day most employed in Thailand are paid.  Whether the political turmoil was a factor or not would be pure speculation.

I had not noticed that Sin bar in soi 4 had closed its doors a couple of weeks back.  Sin hadn't been doing that well for a while and its loss, while not entirely unexpected, is a shame.  It was always a well-run bar, a venue which much effort was put into and which promised so much but, in all fairness, never reached the popularity that many of us thought it deserved.

A disgrace to his native Ireland, a disgrace to all the Pauls of the world and a disgrace to Farangdom in general, the young, clean cut Irishman begging on Sukhumvit just east of Sukhumvit soi 25 did not look like a genuine beggar to me.  Too clean, too composed and frankly, too cocky.  Begging at 11:45 PM on Tuesday night within a 3 minute stroll of Cowboy, what's the bet he was around the corner for last call with his winnings?

Catz a gogo (Soi 16, Walking Street) will be hosting the 30th birthday of popular Pattaya Addicts member "Deadman" this coming Friday, 5th September.  It promises to be a lively occasion and there'll be some excellent fare laid on including the usual pig on a stick, steak and kidney / cottage pies from Bob Palmer's, tandoori chicken as well as home made potato salad, garlic bread and coleslaw.  To get the party kick started Catz are running a 2-4-1 special on all customer drinks between 8 PM and 9:30 PM.  If the free food and cheap grog don't do it for you, I've been assured the very cute twins will be in attendance so that alone provides a reason to drop in if you are in the area!

Sisterz Go Go & Show Bar on Walking Street in Pattaya is celebrating having been open one year on Thursday 4th September.  Bar opens 8 PM with Happy Hour as usual until 10 PM.  There will be all sorts of fun and frivolities with some great shows but also a free buffet from Palmer's Restaurant (who must have the best steak and kidney pie in Thailand) and sumptuous Thai food.  A special cheap shot of the night for just 50 baht.  A wet T-shirt competition (for the girls, not customers)!  Giveaways (including a top shelf bottle and mixers, T-shirts etc) and a great atmosphere.  Go and enjoy and soak up a T-shirt or two and join in the bash.

There's some new neon featuring old names around Sukhumvit.

If you're a butt and legs fan, check out #95 in Tilac, preferably from behind while she's up on stage dancing.  Sure, the face is nothing to write home about but the view from behind is *exceptional*!

Yeah, I know it is a bit of a girl's drink and I have never been to Mexico - but I have been to Los Angeles and by God, that felt like downtown Mexico City - but I have to admit that I just do not know how authentic it is but damn, that mango Margarita at Sunrise Tacos tastes great.  Wow, if there is a better Margarita in town, I've yet to try it.  And 399 baht for a one litre pitcher?  A bargain.  Now I just have to convince the Dirty Doctor that we should get a pitcher down us to kick the night off.

For those who have considered sending money to Thai women you have never met before, please think again!  The Nigerian scammers are using photos and information from real Thai girls in order to extract money from Westerners.  They sometimes represent themselves as Americans online looking for wives in order to get this real information in the first place.  Many of the girls who discover how they have been used, unfortunately, still believe it was an American who did this to them when it was in fact a Nigerian.  Some farang suckers are actually sending money to these criminals!  This has been going on for a while in the US on sites like MySpace, Craigslist and other free venues.  Come to Thailand to meet the ladies in person.  Make sure you have met her before you start sending money or better yet, don't send anything!

Is Metropolis 107 playing more old stuff?  Their playlist seems to have improved a lot recently.  It's not what it used to be but it's still the only local radio station I can stand.

You often hear comments from Thai women suggesting that their life will not be good if they don't have a guy by the time they turn 30.  The idea is that once they turn 30, Thai men largely lose interest in them.  There is of course some truth in this but there is a bit more to it.  Not only do men lose interest in them at that age, Thai women aged over 30 - professionals aside - find it much harder to gain decent employment.  Remember in Thailand it is legal to discriminate based on age - and of course looks play a big part when Thais recruit.  So a woman who has not found love at 30 may not only find herself without a partner, she has to worry about employment and looking after herself too!  Life can be hard in Thailand and I think this is one of the reasons why Thai women can get quite nasty and vindictive when things don't go their way.  The bottom line is that if things don't pan out as they had hoped with their great white hope, they might be in for a much shittier life than you imagine!

Maybe it's me?  Maybe I am forgetting to smile 90% of the time (which is just about a crime in Thailand).  Maybe I am a miserable so and so?  But you know what?  I really don't think the problem is with *me*.  Some months ago I wrote about the way that more and more waitresses take your order in Thailand.  They come to your table, look at you, wait for you to say what you want and then walk away.  They never greet you, thank you or even clarify what you ordered.  God forbid should you ask them a question!  Your order is delivered shortly after without so much as a word said.  Even when you call for the bill, not a single word is uttered, not a smile made.  So is it any surprise that I have pretty much stopped tipping in Thailand?  Now I was never a big tipper in the first place so don't expect the GDP to take a hit, but honestly, the nasty comments made (usually in Thai) when they don't receive a tip are quite staggering.  What's worse is that this phenomenon is not confined to the slag bars (although admittedly it is more prevalent there) but has reached some of the better restaurants as well as many of the best British pubs too.  Personally, I think it's as much as a management issue as it is a staffing issue.  And please, don't even think about lecturing me about not tipping those on such low wages.  If they can't smile or even say hello, the only tip they will get from me is a lesson in customer service!

This week I was taken to Jae Leng, a sort of quasi duty free shop where you can buy at so-called duty free prices and collect straight away with any requirement to leave the country.  We ended up there after I had complained that the price of wine here in Thailand was ridiculous.  When I was told that this was the cheapest place to buy wine in Bangkok and that wine was priced at the same level as duty free, we made a beeline for the store.  Jae Leng is located a couple of kilometres south of the Don Muang Airport, that's the old airport, on the main road into town.  We parked up and headed inside the haphazardly laid out store spread over five levels.  Straight to the wine section and there were my favourites, Pinfolds 389 at 3,400 a bottle (4,800 baht downtown) and Pinfolds 407 at 3,100 baht a bottle compared with the downtown price of 4,200 baht.  OK, it is cheaper but was not at anywhere near the prices I had been led to believe i.e. you can get either for around $30 a bottle Down Under.  With wine not attractively priced we wandered around the store and I picked up some interesting looking Australian breakfast cereal, some Swiss chocolate and some American fruit juice, all relatively cheap.  Total spend was about 450 baht.  Getting the products back home, I discovered the chocolate had obviously melted at some point and lost its shape AND colour and had become white in colour.  The fruit juice smelt like vinegar and you guessed it, the breakfast cereal was stale, notwithstanding that it was nowhere near the expiry date.  At least I give myself a pat on the back for not buying any wine, or worse still, a bottle of Wolfblass Platinum Shiraz 2004 which I spied they had in stock for a mere 11,000 baht a bottle.  There is a reason all the junk in that joint was cheap.  It would appear, as best I can tell, to be spoiled stock!  That will teach me for being cheap!

If you had somehow missed it, there has been yet more political turmoil in Thailand this week.  To stop the never ending emails about the situation, I say to all readers who are planning on coming to Thailand soon, you need not worry at all about what is happening in Thailand now, at least in regard to safety.  I expect that it will all die down soon.  However, to say that the disruptions to tourists will be minimal would be a lie.  With Phuket airport closed and a reported 15,000 travellers facing a change of plans, this has had quite a negative effect on tourism.  That said, the events in Bangkok are quite frankly mild when you compare it to the sort of fracas we see on TV that occur in other countries.  I bet you would not even know that anything was happening when you are in Thailand.  For me, if I did not read the net or listen to the radio (I seldom watch TV), I would not know that anything was going on!  Remember, the 2006 coup went largely unnoticed outside the capital and this is not that big...yet!  The downside is that in a year when tourism in Thailand is hurting, this will inevitably another be another nail in the coffin for the coming high season.  These protestors' actions do tell me one thing, and it is something that I find quite perturbing.  If in Thailand you do not get your way you can sulk and become quite temperamental and destructive and sooner or later people will take notice without the perpetrators being punished.  Makes me wonder...

Peter Holt is looking for Richard (Rick) Powell who is originally from Little Aston, Sutton, Coldfield, W Midlands and was last known to be living in Uttaradit.  Rick would be early 60s, 6 feet tall, a heavy set guy described as lots of fun to be around.  He was an engineer.  Drop Peter an email if you know where Rick is.

This week's quote of the week from a friend is a classic!  "I think giving a salary to a girl for her to quit work and sleep 14 hours a day is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of in my entire life!"

Excellent story about the squared faced crook!

A good, basic explanation of the current PAD protests in Thailand from the BBC.

Articles like this in the Sydney Morning Herald saying there are hundreds of Australians stranded in Thailand are going to hammer the tourism industry.
 

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:  I have been in a relationship with my Thai girlfriend for the past nine months, and for the most part things have been great.  She is a hard-working girl, an accountant, and we met at my place of work initially, although she now works at another office.  One issue however, consistently arises and causes arguments, which are never fully resolved.  She thinks that I am "interested" in my best friend's girlfriend, more so than in her.  To me, the mere idea is ridiculous and laughable, as it might be to most of us (I hope).  She is insinuating that I don't even know how much I like this other girl (lets call her 'Tik'), and that my actions prove so.  For example, I threw a party a few weeks ago.  The tension over this issue had been building inside of me, and I actually snapped at 'Tik' under the stress of it all.  'Tik' immediately began to cry at my insult, and so a few minutes later I went to apologise, to a) say I was genuinely sorry and b) keep the peace between us all and c) keep the party running smoothly.  Suddenly I care more about Tik than my own girlfriend because I reconciled quicker with Tik than I do with her.  But the situation is different.  When I quarrel with my girl, I am more emotionally involved and less likely to reconcile so quickly...it's a different situation from arguing with a friend, which is all that Tik is to me...and ever will be!  When she gets herself worked up like this, she likes to avoid me and "let me think about it"...which I am doing rather a lot today.  She avoids the BIG argument, decides to stay with her family, and then comes back 3 days later as if nothing happened.  My train of thought is this - I'm not interested in Tik that way.  And even if I was...she's my best friend's girlfriend (whom he's about to propose to) and I wouldn't do a thing to ruin their relationship of 5 years to satisfy my own greed and risk losing both a girlfriend and a best friend.  The mere notion is sickening to me.  This has been brought up many times lately, and now it comes after I've just spent a fantastic long-weekend at the beach with nobody but my girl.  We had a wonderful time, and I began to feel closer than ever to her, and then today, I mention 'Tik's' name on the phone when we are making plans for next weekend and she flies off the handle!  This type of hot-headed behaviour has happened before over this issue.  Incidentally, both girls seem to get on pretty well when they are together when my friend and I are hanging out.  I would even go so far as to say that they could become friends!  This really adds to my incomprehension of the whole situation.  I'm on the verge of finishing with her over this.  She is accusing me with a ridiculous charge, and nothing I can say can change her mind.  Can you see things from her point of view or is she being childish?  Am I doing something wrong, or is it all in her head?  Any advice would be gratefully received...provided we're still together by next Sunday!  Thanks.

Mrs. Stick says:  We like to feel that we are the most important thing in our husband's life and we don't want to see him interested in other women.  If we do it can make us feel very bad.  But I think you have been very reasonable with your girlfriend.  And I think from what you have told me that you have not done anything wrong.  I think your girlfriend is very sensitive.  Is it possible for you to talk with one of her friends and see if they can make her understand that you are not interested in Tik.  Sometimes it can help if she hears it from someone else she trusts.  But if you try everything and she still gets angry then I think there is a problem.  It cannot last like this forever.  I hope you can help her to understand that she needs to stop like this or she will lose you.

Question 2:  I am not as strong as the Thai boxer Somjit Jongjohor pound for pound, but I could beat this flyweight ASS to a pulp in real street fighting (I am 200 lbs 6'0").  My girlfriend asks why I cannot be as good as Somjit Jongjohor?  I say WTF are you thinking?  TING TONGBAA?  Why can't she be as good as Angelia Jolie?  That usually gets her  thinking twice...!!  So I ask Mrs. Stick, WHY IN THE HELL did you marry your HERO and if you had the chance would you trade him in for A THAI HERO, say a guy like Somjit Jongjohor?

Mrs. Stick says:  I feel sorry for your girlfriend.

Mr. Stick says:  You might carry more weight thank Somjit but somehow I think the few pounds he loses to would be more than made up for by his training, his superior fitness and his huge experience out there, doing it, actually fighting.  200 pounds is only 90 kg so you're not a giant and that's really not that big nowadays.  I bet he would make total mince meat of you.  If you do manage to get a bout with him in the ring (it won't be on the street because he has much too much class for that), then do let me know as I would love a ringside ticket to see him kick your sorry ass out of the ring all the way back to Farangland.

Question 3:  This question is for you, Stick, not the Mrs.  You were spotted at XXXXX Bar on Soi 23 waiing a bargirl. You have always told us that waiing a bargirl is something you should never do, yet myself and a friend clearly saw you do it.  Why do you do one thing and tell us another?

Mr. Stick says:  It looks like I have got another stalker!  But seriously, I am happy to answer this question.  The lady in question is not a bargirl at all but manager and cashier of that bar.  As you would have seen she is a much older woman and she is in fact a friend of a good friend of mine.  This friend is also somewhat older than me and has always been very good to me.  He's someone I have much respect for.  If you had noticed when this woman waiied me it was a very gracious and respectful wai, notwithstanding that she is in fact older than me.  I returned the wai as a mark of respect to her *and* to my friend.  Yes, you're absolutely  right in that we should not wai bargirls - that rules very much remains - but in this case it was a rather different situation.  On another note, I saw a most bizarre sight last night near Sukhumvit Soi 12.  A farang couple gave some money to a Thai beggar and waiied her.  Quite bizarre.

Pattaya Photo Guide

Did you know that if you print out this column, as some readers do, you get a little extra.  Well, just a very, very small little bit more, like a self-analysis of the column by moi.  And of course if it is printed out you can take it with you and read it at a time and convenience (pun intended) of your choice...



Your Bangkok commentator,
Light on news this week, reasonable opener 7/10
Stick

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