Stickman Weekly 7/6/2009
The Depths Of The Low Season In Pattaya
The doctor has told you it's terminal. You've got just one final month to live. Not a day longer. Your last month on earth. What will you do? Move close to your nearest and dearest and spend your final month with them? Perhaps you'll make a list of all who have seriously aggrieved you in life and set about systematically ending their lives before you check out yourself? Or will you get on a plane and go straight to Pattaya, arriving in heaven early?
Thailand's tourism industry is suffering. Airport closures, political instability, world economic woes, swine flu, the rainy season arriving early, the list goes on. With all of these issues on top of what is traditionally the quiet time of year, Sin City is feeling the pinch.
Pattaya has always had a low season, of course, until 2005, the year following the tsunami when there was a drop off in visitors to Phuket and Pattaya picked up the slack making for a bumper low season. Hotels had decent occupancy rates, new bars opened and were in the black overnight and the mass exodus of girls at rice planting time never happened for it was more profitable to stay in Sin City.
Pattaya is a party town, a place where men enjoy themselves. At night. The brochures may espouse the beach - it's terrible, or the wonders of nearby attractions - many of which are downright tacky. Frankly, they're fooling themselves. Pattaya is about nightlife. Naughty nightlife.
When things are going well, the Thais are great to party with. They're fun, happy and up for almost anything. But when things aren't going so well, the opposite can be the case. The smiles disappear and may be replaced by frowns or even sulking.
Last year's low season lived up to its name. Low. I'll never forget what a bar boss said to me last year. "If you think it's quiet now, wait until next year. What I fear most is that we will be looking back on this most awful of low seasons as the halcyon period!"
Well, "next year" has arrived.
I pointed the Stickmobile for Pattaya On Sea, my first visit in more than two months and a chance to check out just how Sin City is doing as the world's economy is crumbling around it. With the country beset by unseasonably wet weather and daily rainfalls as reliable as a Swiss timepiece, what would I find?
I took a right off Sukhumvit Road and turned on to North Pattaya Road, passing the bus station on my right and hitting heavy traffic. Progress was towards Tesco Lotus, any thoughts that Pattaya was experiencing a downturn went to the back of my mind. Every Somchai and his dog was out and about, going about their daily lives as per usual.
It was not until I had passed the Dolphin Roundabout, almost at the Dusit when it struck me. I had just seen my first farang! Admittedly I had not been keeping an eye out for my fellow foreigner, ever studious as I am behind the wheel, but to not notice a single long-nose until I had almost reached the beach was a statement.
Cruising along the Beach Road the traffic had thinned out, 60 km/h no problem as I passed empty songtaew after empty songtaew. Chinese and Indian tour groups crossing the Beach Road en masse were notable by their absence.
I reached the hotel and checked in, casually inquiring as to how busy they were. Full, I was told. Surely things cannot be that bad if the hotel is full in June, one of the quietest months of the year?
I made a beeline for the beach, camera around my neck, notepad in my pocket. Business and pleasure, a leisurely stroll while keeping an eye out for goss for the column.
Walking along the Beach Road it was quiet, man was it quiet. Many of the beach chair operators appear to have just upped and left and there were long sections of beach with no deck chairs at all, no doubt a reflection of the demand - or lack of it. I walked for a few hundred metres and did not see a single person in a deck chair. It felt more like Jomtien.
There were fewer women lingering along the beach road than usual. And I hadn't read nor heard anything about a crackdown. Those on duty had a real hunger in their eyes and stories abound that in this particular neighbourhood two for the price of one is becoming more common.
I walked further, up side sois, across Second Road, up to Third Road, around corners, down side sois, ever wary that times were tough and I was a lone white man in unfamiliar neighbourhoods with a snazzy camera around my neck. The sun came out and for a few minutes the weather was perfect, yet there were few people around.
Signs advertising special deals and promotions have been erected all over town. Hotels offering free nights, stay a week, get one night free. In one Soi Diana hotel, stay 15 nights and pay for just 10. Restaurants, even some name spots, are facing the indignity of having to compete on price. A full roast could be had for under 150 baht. The busiest bars were those with the super low prices, often during the day. That's a sight that's never endeared me to Pattaya, binge drinking in the afternoon, shirtless old boys displaying an impressive beer gut clinging to a bottle like it was the winning lottery ticket.
But the real test of just how Pattaya is faring is after dark. Walking Street still looks and feels busy, nothing like it was a few months ago mind you. The Eastern Europeans and Russians are largely absent, but it still feels like ground zero, like a party town. Walking Street has not lost its party atmosphere and music blares from every angle. As the night went on, there was a noticeable increase in the number of maidens standing around idly, trying to catch your eye. You find yourself wondering if they are professionals, or perhaps the recently out of work looking for a means to pay the rent.
Stepping out of the heat into air-conditioned comfort, the chrome pole palaces of Walking Street are hurting. A BIG NAME Western-owned bar, a fixture for many years recently had a period where they had no customers for almost 4 hours. Unbelievable.
The owner of a large Walking Street bar reached by a tunnel was overheard telling another gogo bar owner that the night before his bar had done, wait for it, 10,000 baht! To give you an idea how bad that is, bosses of some bigger Walking Street gogo bars used to boast about how much above 100,000 baht they did on any given night.
The problem faced in recent times by gogo bar owners has been finding girls. Not so now. Come the end of the month some bars are letting girls go. Of course it is the less attractive and less popular girls who are shown the door but for a gogo bar to actually let girls go because there simply weren't many customers coming through the doors is almost unheard of.
Out of a certain soi 6 bar that has always averaged 20 - 25 barfines a day comes news that one day this past week there were only 2, effectively a 90% drop in business. And while the cries of "Hello, handsome man!" are a regular feature of the naughty boys' lane, there was desperation on the girls' faces this week.
My observations were confirmed the next morning when making the slow stroll to my favourite breakfast stop on Soi Buakhao. I saw very, very few ladies making their way home, the new day showing her in a less favourable light as she finds herself discarded and sent on her way.
Reaching my favourite breakfast spot at the usual time, where you have to arrive before 9 to be sure of getting a table, before 8 if you want to get your mitts on a copy of the Bangkok Post, I was the only customer. Just me, a pot of coffee and a cafe full of bored staff.
At the beer bars, it was no different. Once the backbone of Pattaya's nightlife, you'd always find a handful of customers eyeing the farm girls who feigned interest in them while gossiping in a rural dialect, more concerned about what colour to paint their nails or at whose place they would be playing cards that night. This week you didn't just pass empty beer bars, you passed entire complexes with very, very few customers. It was eerie.
I had been expecting the locals to be miserable. Thais don't like it when things don't go their way. But there seems to have been some sort of attitude adjustment. The smiles are still there and it seemed that more effort was being made to entice the customer, through better deals, through more smiles and dare I say it, through more attentive service. The attitudes in Pattaya really are so much better than in Bangkok. Perhaps success has ruined many in the capital?
This could be a renaissance period in Pattaya. For visitors, that is. Business owners, employees and the girls are doing it tough, but for the customer, I don't think there has been a better time to visit in a very long time.
So if the doctor does tell you that you have only a month left, Pattaya remains a viable choice. For those who brave it, there's still much fun to be had, to say nothing of bargains galore.
After so many had told me that Bangkok had regained the crown as Thailand's premier farang-oriented nightlife area, I wondered if things could really have changed so much in Pattaya. They were wrong. Pattaya still kicks Bangkok's butt. If you're a naughty boy looking for a fun time, go straight to Pattaya. Bangkok still can't compete.
Where was this picture taken?
Last week's picture was of Sam's 2000, the small bar and eatery right next to Tilac Bar on Soi Cowboy. A difficult photo but a number still of very clever Stickmanites got it right. The first person to email 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 the picture right wins a fantastic roast buffet at Molly Malone's on Bangkok's Soi Convent. The buffet runs every Sunday from midday until 7 PM and the winner gets one buffet free! I like the buffet and partake of it myself often! Bodyguard Condoms also provide large condoms as prizes. So, for the forth, fifth and sixth people to get the picture right, I will send you a few packs of Bodyguard's high quality, extra large-sized condoms to try out. The Strip in Patpong's soi 2 is offering a FREE BOOTH. That means that you and one of the ladies enter the booth and the curtain is closed for 30 minutes. This prize has a value of 550 baht, the cost of closing the booth. It should be noted that if you wish to do anything more with the lady than chat then a tip will be expected... In total, we now have SIX PRIZES EACH WEEK!
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod and Molly Malone's prizes MUST be claimed within 14 days. Winners of the Bodyguard Condoms must provide a postal address within Thailand. 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 neglected necessity when calculating the cost of living.
I always judge the cost of living by my basic necessity; beer. You will find that all the incidental stuff you may want in a day varies very little from one year to the next in cost, it is the 'amber nectar', as I believe Antipodeans refer to it, that sets the standards. Since I was 16 years old I have drunk in pubs, around 8 pints of the beautiful brew almost every night of my life. I remember when there was no lager, imagine that, I am daydreaming, however it sounds so good I must say it again. Imagine no lager, only beautiful beer as invented by the lowliest of the holies, so it can't be wrong. The nearest to anything decent here is Guinness then we are getting silly, and even if I could still hold it, 8 pints of Guinness would be a minimum of 2,000 baht. In those hallowed days it cost 9 shillings and 4 pence for my nightly refreshment, leaving me enough out of ten bob, (50p) on the way home, to buy a bag of freshly cooked chips including salt and vinegar wrapped in newspaper, another bob got a delicious piece of cod or haddock. I even occasionally took some home for the wife. I was not all bad. I can still comfortably afford 16 of those funny little bottles people drink from here. Unfortunately there are no chippies in Phuket, and before anyone objects, I mean properly set up volume shops with huge deep fat fryers, and as for proper batter, forget about it. Of course my 8 pints or 264 cl. is now about 1,600 baht. Anyway, another valid point should be mentioned. I was a lowly paid apprentice back then. How many of those could live like that now? Let's see, 8 pints x 2 pounds x 7 days = 112 pounds a week, and not a chip in sight!
Stickman the slum dweller!
Your cost of living article in Bangkok is really dangerous! I must add my input. Without trying to insult you, I think you are a tight arse! Today my wife and I went to see a friend's condo. They are paying 60,000 baht a month, 3 times what you are paying and I would NEVER rent that place. Seriously, if you want to have a reasonable lifestyle, rent alone is 60,000 - 80,000 baht minimum. Frankly, if you are paying 20,000 baht you would be staying pretty much in a Thai slum. Please don't give your readers the impression that you can come to Bangkok and pay rent of 20,000 baht per month. 99.9% of your readership does not want to live in that standard of accommodation. Really, it is dangerous to give the impression that for 20K you can have an acceptable standard of apartment! Living on 1 million baht a year is a joke. 99% of Westerners could never do it. Take 2 million baht as a BARE MINIMUM. That should be the message to your readers otherwise there will be those desperate readers in foreign lands doing their sums thinking “Yep, I can escape” when they don't realise that they will be living Thai style if they take that plunge. Dangerous!
Living comfortably on 20,000 baht a month.
Living up country is quite possible for some 20k a month. That's what I spend anyway. At the end of every month I give my Thai wife 20k and with that money I am fed and sheltered. Everyday before my wife leaves for work she gives me 100 baht, for the occasional ice-cream, bottle of beer or cold coffee. I think I spend 50 baht a day at most. With the 20k my wife buys our food, our clothes, pays the bills, puts petrol in our car and covers my visa runs. My income is 65,000 baht. What I do pay for partly (50%) is the occasional holiday. Her income is 25k a month. So in other words, she can save money as can I. I never considered a combined bank account, because, well, this is Thailand.
Thai ladies in Bangkok, Pattaya, and all over Thailand
Spending the same.
It strikes me that your monthly costs and my own are very similar. I spend about the same amount - in Sweden. I spend a bit more on my home but that's because I have chosen to purchase my apartment and have a mortgage. If I rented I could probably find something at 20K baht equivalent, although it would be at the lower end of what I'd be comfortable with. But taken together, I'd say I spend 1.2 million baht per year and that includes one or two trips annually to Thailand for about 5 weeks total, with a daily allowance of about 8K baht, for my "hobby". Of course I pay much more in taxes here but that also gives me social security so I don't have to worry about healthcare costs or schooling costs for any offspring that might pop up (or is it pop out?). Your figures look reasonable to me, and it confirms my belief that one should be careful about retiring to Thailand on too small a budget.
Many of my friends "took the package" and retired early from the Public Service here in Oz, ten to twenty years ago. A few moved to Thailand and started a new life. Most have now completely depleted their savings and are struggling to survive on the Australian pension. Most don't have sufficient funds in the bank to satisfy the retirement visa conditions. A couple of sad ones have been forced to return to Oz, and are living on the dole while trying to send enough back to LOS to support the family (not yet 65 so can't get the pension). Not a pretty sight. I get the impression that crunch time is coming for a lot of expats.
Looking to replenishing the mia noi fund?
I was recently stopped by a policeman at a U-turn near Central Rama 3 on the grounds that the 15-inch diameter wheels on my 7-year old Nissan Frontier were against the law (standard factory wheels are 14-inch diameter). I tried to explain that they were fitted when I bought the truck as new and there hadn't been any problems about their legality since then - but to no avail. Luckily I got him to speak by phone to a Thai friend whose workshop had recently arranged the annual Ministry Test and the re-registration for another year. He explained to the copper that the vehicle had passed the test with no queries about the size of the wheels. Reluctantly the policeman sent me on my way with no action taken.
The benefits of learning Thai.
My language skills are approaching the stage where I can have satisfying conversations with Thai adults and that is opening up a whole new view of Thailand. In recent months I have had many conversations with adult Thai males. When they realise I am serious about studying their language, they want to talk with me. Recently, long chats with two pharmacists, one shop manager (Chinese Thai), and many songtaew drivers. There's a big difference in conversations with Thai men compared to Thai ladies who only know the standard script of "Where you come from?" and "You have Thai wife?" Of course, it has taken five years of study and many thousands of dollars in lesson fees to reach this stage.
Nana Plaza and the other Bangkok bar areas have reverted back to 2 AM closing so it seems the 1 AM closures were but a mini crackdown. What is interesting is the mooted reason for the closures which have it that the son of an influential Thai was involved in some fracas which resulted in the father putting the heat on police to close entertainment venues citywide early.
Soi 8 institution Det 5 will hold their 18th anniversary bash on Friday June 12 from 7 PM. You can find Det 5 about 150 metres into Sukhumvit Soi 8 on the left hand side. The party will feature a free buffet with 2 pigs on a spit (that should keep Cyrus away) and marinated chicken from Cha Am. Two kegs of draught Heineken will be put on and the shooters bell will ring. It sounds like it's going to be a great night.
The Strip in Patpong's soi 2 has a heap of parties and events planned through the low season and the next is this coming Friday, June 12 which will see one I have never heard of before, a military party! Rumour has it that the girls plan a coup d'état and will be dressed up for military action. The bar will be decorated with military equipment like camouflage nets etc.
The neon wars continue in Cowboy with the framework going up for a giant neon sign on the side of Old Dutch. Methinks that this one might be worth waiting for...
The cynic in me is amazed to see that Hollywood Inn, the new short time hotel in Nana Plaza in the space once home to the Big Mango, has opened its doors after months of delays. That said, it looks very quiet. Here's hoping things pick up for them.
Although for sure, Cyrus the virus ain't going to like it. Speaking of Cyrus, there was more violence in one of his bars this week. In Midnite Bar, a venue some of us have very fond memories from 8 or 9 years ago when Mike was in charge, comes news that The Arab's bouncers laid into a punter. I have no idea why and who knows, the punter may have deserved it, but word has it that he was knocked to the ground where, no surprise, the blows continued. Sigh, why is it always the Arab's bars where this crap happens?!
Elephants walking the streets of Bangkok, particularly in tourist areas, are a common enough sight. They're not supposed to enter Bangkok and there is legislation in place prohibiting it but at the end of the day, the authorities seem to realise that the mahouts have to try and make money to feed the giants so they look the other way. Anyway, elephants have been absent from the streets of Pattaya for years, that is until recently. Elephants are back in Sin City, although the mahouts really ought to read the business section of the newspaper. Pattaya is hurting and many just don't have money to throw around at this point in time.
And it's not just the elephants trying to make a bit of money in Pattaya but the fake monks too, who can be seen in numbers in Sin City. I think the dirty doctor ought to join me on my next trip to the seaside.
Finnegan's Irish Pub in Soi Nana celebrates their 3rd Anniversary this Tuesday, that is June 9. Their usual happy hour will be extended until closing time with all standard drinks a reasonable 90 baht. There'll be various other promotions and giveaways throughout the night.
The Pickled Liver Pub in Sukhumvit Soi 11 celebrates their 3rd anniversary with a party on Saturday June 13. Usual story, there will be a free buffet, special offers on drinks, free T-shirts and other giveaways.
The sight of someone throwing up is really not that bad - but the smell is! Unfortunately I was subjected to both as one of Tilac Bar's maidens emptied her guts in the bar this week. She had been haranguing her customer for drink after drink but found to her embarrassment that 4 Tequilas was in fact more than she could handle. It's a reminder that when it comes to neat spirits, many of these girls are lightweights. What I found most amusing was the actions of the waitresses. This girl was bent over and in real discomfort, to say nothing of being totally wasted, when the wait staff just thrust some newspaper and a broom (!) at her and told her to clean it up quick smart, some choice words said!
Which Pattaya gogo bar manager / owner is out on the street looking for work...or is that begging for work?!
At Sisterz on Walking Street, manager Greg's birthday will be celebrated on Thursday June 11. There will be some surprises and lots of fun. He has promised to misbehave. An early kick off will mean the bar will be busy. Sisterz features a 38 baht happy hour until 10 PM on draft beer, Gin and Vodka and just 49 baht on whisky and bottled Chang, Tiger, Singha and Singha Lite. Shows now start at 9 PM every night.
A recently opened Soi Diamond gogo bar is up for sale at 500,000. That sounds like a good deal on the surface for a double shophouse gogo, which in all fairness has yet to really become established and is located away from the heart of the action on Walking Street. The problem is that when you look more closely at the price, that 500,000 is in fact US dollars - and not baht! $500,000 for Mirage, or in real money, 17 million baht. Surely that's a misprint?! I wish them every success in finding a buyer but that's a lot to ask at this point in time...especially when Sakura 69 in Soi 15, located either side of two popular bars, Baby Dolls and Misty's, and opposite two other popular bars, Angelwitch and What's Up, is for sale at a mere 2 million baht. What gives?! Like a lot of things in Thailand that doesn't make sense!
The newest bar in the Covent Garden bar complex, just off Walking Street, is Club Sin City A Gogo which opened this past Friday. Let's hope it lasts longer than other bars in that spot did, the ill-fated Babe Watch which was followed quickly by Taboo and then Black & White. The bar opened to rumours that it would be full to the brim with the exodus of girls from a nearby gogo which would close the same night, a rumour heard all over Pattaya the week preceding its opening. It all turned out to be a case of Chinese whispers and while Club Sin City opened with a couple of dozen girls on the books, including a few lookers, the bar mooted to close that same evening was open, business as usual.
Also in the Covent Garden complex, Catz is continuing its price structure of ALL drinks at 85 baht all night long, every night. That's beers, top shelf, the lot.
The popular free Pattaya satirical rag, the Walking Street Journal, is taking a hiatus. The June issue will be last until the next high season. Umm, that's a pretty ambiguous sort of time for a come back. This year or next?! In the meantime, a paperback based on the content is planned for publication.
Soho Square, down towards the end of Walking Street, is rapidly becoming a bar graveyard.
Despite Pattaya being quieter than I have ever seen it, construction is moving ahead on a new beer bar complex on the seaward side of Walking Street, just down from soi 14, placing it slap in the heart of the busiest section of Walking Street. The sign states that there will be 15 new beer bars. I can't see there being a rush to the landlord's door.
While much of Pattaya is really hurting with few customers around and many of those out and about reluctant to spend up large, two venues that are doing well are Oasis and Champagne, which can both be found in the Soi Buakhao area, well away from Walking Street and its surrounds.
Another bar doing just fine is Secrets, which currently has far and away the best line up it has had in quite some time. I mean, look at the lovely below. Is she cute or what?!
If you're looking for somewhere new, clean and reasonably priced to stay on Sukhumvit Road, the Ibis Hotel on soi 4 is a good deal. You can book a room for under 1,000 baht a night online. Apparently all rooms feature a flat screen TV, wireless internet throughout and if you are a local, they even have a car park - a premium on Sukhumvit soi 4. I have also heard good things about Ivory Nana which is just a bit further down soi 4 where for the same price a decent breakfast is included. The bottom line is that if soi 4 is your chosen stomping ground, you don't have to resign yourself to the decaying properties nearer the start of the soi.
Subway is offering a further discount on their sub of the day, from 69 baht down to 59 baht, a very good deal indeed. It is mooted that the special will run through until October.
Kudos to the Bangkok Post which gave the most insightful coverage to the local news story of the week, David Caradine's neck stretching disgrace, an event which will no doubt propagate the widely-held Thai view that farang is a depraved beast, to say nothing of leaving a disturbed pee behind.
The Immigration department intends to crack down on those who are abusing the visa waiver that is granted to nationalities who receive a 15-day permission to stay in Thailand when entering at a land border crossing. If you have 4 such consecutive stamps to enter Thailand you will be informed that you must either exit Thailand and re-enter at the airport thereby getting a 30 day visa waiver OR apply for a tourist visa at a Thai mission outside Thailand. I cannot imagine that anyone would choose to come and go in this manner. It would be a major hassle, even if you lived right next to the border point to say nothing of the expense. It therefore seems to me to be a most unusual thing to crack down on. But then what would I know? The one comment I must make is that while they are going about it in a very long-winded way, it strikes me that the Immigration Department would not shed a tear if visa runners became an extinct species.
There have been a few cases in the press recently of Westerners legging it from the boys in brown and subsequently being caught - and then suffering big time. This really is something of an embarrassment. I know some Thai policemen are in shape but many certainly are not and I am sure those tight uniforms are not built for speed!
Things are getting so bad that at certain massage venues around the country - and there's a lot of this in Chiang Mai massage outlets, that staff are being laid off, or at the very least, their employment status going from full-time to casual. It used to be that you would walk in, sit down, head off to a booth and get a rub down. Now, you wait 10 - 15 minutes as the venue calls to a woman outsider, essentially a freelancer, to get there, get changed into that shop's uniform and start the massage. The only real employee is the receptionist, often the owner.
If you're travelling with a laptop and using a local SIM card in your travels in Thailand there's a really inexpensive internet option from AIS, Thailand's largest mobile service provider. The package called Internet Lover provides 30 hours of GPRS service to be used in 30 days for the bargain price of 119 baht.
When I was young and had little money, money was important to me. Then as I got older, I realised that money was not as important as time. And now I realise that as important as time is, it can only be enjoyed if my health is good so these days my health is my top priority. So when I go out drinking, I like to make the best choice for my health. I went off Jack + Coke because Coke really doesn't do you any good. I then realised that beer has a fair few calories and my other choice, Gin & Tonic has even more still, so I reverted to an unusual drink - Jack Daniels and Diet Coke. You can't tell the difference but it is a much better choice, health-wise. The problem is, few bars are willing to serve a Jack + Diet Coke. Well, they are actually happy to serve you but they charge you as if it was two separate drinks, which in many Bangkok bars means about 270 baht. What a con!
Stickman reader's story of the week is titled "Who The Hell Can We Trust?" from Billy Bunter.
Quote of the week comes from #50 in Tilac - "I don't like young guys. They don't eat me!"
The global peace index was published this week and of 144 countries rated, Thailand placed a disappointing #118. There was no surprise at which fine country came in at #1.
CNN reports on a mysterious death in Thailand.
From YouTube is The Quick Fix, a somber 23-minute documentary on the Thai government's 'shoot to kill' policy regarding drug dealers in 2003. Not new, but interesting.
From The Nation comes news that everyone reading this site already knew - single Isaan woman want a farang!
From Pattaya One, who says there's no road rage in Thailand?
A Kraut slashes his Thai girl's neck in a moment of madness in Pattaya.
For the ladyboy lovers amongst you, this selection of Miss Tiffany photos will get your juices flowing.
If Mum can fit a GPS unit to track her darling on his gap year, maybe you sponsors could fit one to your teeruk?
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: When and how can Thais accept criticism?
Mrs. Stick says: We can accept criticism but we don't like frankly or for you to talk direct. Also, we do not like it if you criticise us in front of others.
Question 2: Why oh why does Thai society remain largely ambivalent toward gender bending ladyboys? I am sure it is not out of political correctness as we know it to be in western culture of late so just why do you all suffer them and their antics largely in silence? Is it mai pen rai or perhaps mai roo?
Mrs. Stick says: You know we think ladyboys are funny. If you watch Thai TV you know that there are many funny shows that have ladyboys and also hay characters and we think they are funny. We envy their confidence and that they have the best of both a man and woman.
Mr. Stick says: I am guessing that you don't like them because of the problems with them pick pocketing in certain parts of Sukhumvit, amongst others, and also the problem of them in the nightlife industry. In each of these instances they almost exclusively target foreigners and so Thais don't really see this side of them - and even then, it is only a small percentage of the ladyboys involved in this unseemly business.
Question 3: Thank you for answering my question on whether or not marriage is more or less viewed as compulsory in Thailand. Okay I've now fallen on my sword and opened up my financial heart to years worth of litigation, but before I tie the noose maybe you'd be kind enough to reply to this additional query. In the event that we were married what expenses could I expect my Thai wife to share, from basic necessities from food, utility bills, insurance extra, to larger outgoings and luxuries from eating out, items for the house, vacations extra. Could you couch your reply in the proviso than she is earning less, the same or perhaps more than her husband, in fact would this have any bearing at all? In the event you feel that this is not the wife's role to contribute financially to the marriage, having already provided security and assurance, pray tell me just where and what is the advantage for the man of getting married in Thailand?
Mrs. Stick says: In the traditional way in Thailand, Mum taught us that our husband would take care of everything and if we worked then we could use that money ourselves. She never expected us to earn much. But I know it is changing now and young couples (younger than me) might share if they earn about the same money. I think if one person is earning much more then they can pay but if it is the wife who earns more then this is a problem. Then the man must try to earn more. It is unusual for us if we earn more than our husband and I think not common in Thailand.
I knew things were slowing down in Bangkok but it took a trip to Pattaya for me to see just how bad things are outside the capital. As I have said more than a few times in recent columns, I've never seen it like this before. Locals are being laid off across all industries and for some, where their next bowl of rice will come from must be something of a mystery. But the way that the smiles in Pattaya seem to remain gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, their resilience and positive attitude will mitigate the effects of the global downturn here. Here's hoping!
Your Bangkok commentator,
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Stick can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.