Stickman Weekly  22/3/2009

Walking Away From The Classroom

I knew something was up before I had even opened the door.  One of the boys had obviously been told to keep an eye out for me so when I opened the classroom door I expected mayhem.  It was the last week of the school year in their last year at school - so who could blame them?  But instead of pandemonium, the class was silent.  Deathly silent.  It's never like that in a Thai classroom.  The class leader rose, strode to the front and gave an eloquent and heart-tugging speech about how much the class had enjoyed studying with me for the past three years and how they wanted to thank me.  They went on to sing "You'll Be In My Heart" as I did my level best, and frankly barely succeeded, to retain my emotions in front of the best class I had ever had the pleasure of teaching.

50 minutes later it was all over.  I'd been photographed, signed friendship books and exchanged well wishes to students sad at the prospect of leaving the familiar comfort of what had been their day time home for the last 6 years.  I walked out of the classroom with a massive glow, the feeling of utter satisfaction knowing that I'd had a really positive effect on a bunch of fantastic youngsters.  It was at that point that I knew that it was over.  Teaching didn't get any better than that with the entire class, 47 students present to thank me for being their favourite foreign teacher through senior high school.  I felt like I'd just scored the winning goal in the World Cup final.  It was then that I made the decision to end my teaching career on a high.

I handed in my notice and for the second time in my life I walked away from the classroom and vowed never to return.  I broke that vow once.  I won't do it again.

Pretty much everyone tried to convince me to stay.  They thought I was mad.  It was a plum contract, as good as it gets outside of the international school circuit - in fact our package was better than what was offered at many international schools.  More than 3 months off fully paid each year.  No more than 16 x 50 minute periods teaching a week and often less (one semester I had 10 periods a week and other teachers sometimes had even less).  Classes were frequently cancelled for the most ridiculous reasons so our workload was light.  A paid return air trip home every other year.  The option of working summer camp for extra income over and above our already inflated salary.  My length of service put me on a touch under 100k baht a month with the very real possibility of earning more than 150k baht a month as the longest serving teacher was.  It was a holiday camp and the convicts, in this case the foreign teachers, ran the asylum.  Truth be told, only two or three of us were international school material, yet we earned more than many international school teachers did.  Our contracted conditions and salaries were out of sync, completely in our favour - and we knew it!

But the truth is that despite offering a plum contract by teaching standards, the school didn't necessarily get the best teachers.  Thais just aren't good at interviewing and selecting foreigners.  Smile inanely, wear a bright shirt and tie, speak some polite Thai and say you love Thailand is perfect interview technique in Thailand!

Many of the foreign teachers I taught with were troubled but the kids were great.  Not always a pleasure to teach mind you, but almost unfailingly polite and for the most part, clever.  As I worked my way into the position of the longest serving and thus most senior foreign English teacher, I was entrusted to teach the M6 students, that is grade 12.  Young kids can be fun but I always preferred older students.  When they got to grade 12, meaning 17 or 18 years old, they were young adults.  By that point they had known me for a number of years and had become comfortable with me.  I'd learn about their lives and the challenges teenagers face in modern Thailand.  Not just watching, but playing a part as they developed into the sort of young adults that you'd be proud to see as your own is something that is hugely rewarding.

Unfortunately not all of my memories of teaching are positive.  While the kids were for the most part great, some of what went on along with the massive in-fighting within the foreign teaching ranks made for a work environment that was highly political and at times, tense.

With the Thai management completely aloof the foreign teachers really did whatever we wanted.  We came and went as we pleased and it was not uncommon for teachers to simply go off and do their own thing even when they had classes scheduled!  It was hardly unusual to receive a last-minute message from a colleague that they would not be there to teach their class because they were enjoying a long, leisurely lunch and could some excuse be made to the class teacher as to how they were elsewhere.  There was much envy from certain quarters when timetables were distributed.  The lucky teachers were those scheduled with no classes on Friday, and occasionally the jackpot, nothing on Thursday afternoon either.  By 4 PM on Thursday they would be sitting on the beach on Samet while the rest of us would cover for them if asked as about their whereabouts.  "Oh, he was here 5 minutes ago", we would say with the straightest of faces.  It was pretty bad, really, but such was hardly uncommon amongst foreign teachers in Thailand.

The management would always impress on us at the weekly hour of utter tedium - staff meetings - that we had to be at school from before 8 AM until after 4 PM and we would all nod our heads with a solemn, straight-faced look.  But pretty much everyone disappeared when their classes finished.  If you had no classes in the morning you might turn up at midday.  Very, very few foreign teachers did a 40 hour week.

I can remember in our first year, myself and a colleague used to consider ourselves really naughty slipping out of the school at 2:30 PM on a Friday.  The following year we'd be sitting at the pool at our respective condos by midday on Friday.

Most of the foreign contingent had something else on the go.  Like Thai teachers whose game plan is to get into a big name school or university, not for the salary which is often mediocre but for the prestige that accompanies such a position and the chance to earn big bucks elsewhere, many in our number did the same.  Many of the foreign staff often used the school's name to get high paying work outside, earning as much as 1,500 baht an hour, about the best a teacher can hope for in Thailand.  More than half had teaching work outside the school, more often than not at the weekend, lucrative paying positions.  Some members of staff earned almost as much from their two day weekend as they did from their full-time position.  When, from time to time, management talked of upping the number of contracted classroom hours the foreign staff would moan that they struggled to get through everything as it was.  I found it impossible to keep a straight face.

And then there were those of us with entrepreneurial flair doing our own thing.  There'd be me in the corner, beavering away on the weekly column and replying to readers' emails once my teaching and other duties were done.  Some would be running off hundreds of pages on the photocopier right outside the administrator's office, resources to be used for their weekend classes.  Others would be doing computer work for which they were paid via PayPal.  Sometimes invoices and receipts would be printed out on the wrong computer (we could print to any computer in the school) and their name and big dollar payment details would appear on a job sheet in the administration office and they would make a mad dash around the school looking for the detailed receipt!  Now that was funny!  Some guys made a packet from online gambling, others did online trading.

There'd be massive arguments over the internet network slowing down and the students would be blamed while teachers were running torrents 24/7 downloading all of the latest movies and TV series, slowing the network to a crawl, making Internet-based lessons impossible.  That pissed some of us, me included, off.  "We're professionals", they would say and apportion the blame elsewhere.  On the one hand it was hilarious but on the other hand the total lack of professionalism slowly wore me down.  I had little respect for a number of my colleagues professionally.

There was a darker side to it and the notion that ajarns, the foreign ajarns (teachers) that is, are models of morality and examples by which the students should try to live their lives is a joke.  We had at least one member of the "Married But Still Visit Prostitutes And Refuse To Wear A Condom Club".  And then there was the teacher who would get online and organise a bit of afternoon delight with a stranger between classes.  He only needed two free periods and he was out of there.  I could go on but perhaps it would be imprudent to do so.  It's not just what they did, but that they broadcasted it.  Come on, it's a school for God's sake!

It should be said that the Thai teachers on the other hand were a much more wholesome bunch and conservative for the most part and made for ideal role models.  Actually, the Thai staff on the whole were great.  Really nice, decent people, always willing to help out in any way they good and most had a ready smile.  I miss more than a few of them.

Some foreign teachers hated each other.  I don't exaggerate.  Hate.  Some of what took place was unbecoming of teachers in any school, let alone a big name Bangkok high school.  But I was lucky.  Despite being the largest grouping of foreign teachers, the office I was in was great.  All male, it was the best bunch of guys I could ever have hoped to work with.  If I could have chosen the people to share my office with from the foreign staff it would have been exactly the bunch I was with.  We had fantastic camaraderie, enjoyed each other's company and looked out for one another.

It wasn't the same in the other offices.  Talk about a freak show in one office!  On more than a few occasions things came close to blows and with our office being laid back, friendly and the nicest environment, we were like a corridor.  Our foreign colleagues would pass through in the morning and regale us with what was going on elsewhere in the school.  In the other offices things got so bad for some that they had to get counseling and see a shrink!  Yes, they needed to see a shrink due to the office politics!

It did at times get nasty.  A photo of one foreign teacher was put up online and doctored so it looked like he was kissing a bloke.  Upon being shown this he went ballistic and it escalated to the point where I thought we were going to see World War 3.  It seemed like there was always some major problem amongst Western staff members.  And the backstabbing was extreme, like something out of a horror movie.

I wasn't exempt.  Some shit appeared online about me that tied me to the school.  It got one teacher's knickers in real a twist.  The school has a clause in all contracts that states that any "outside work" was not allowed.  Well, this teacher had been working on the side for years and got nervous that his lucrative sideline would somehow be affected by what had been written.  So what did he do?  He put the fear of God into another teacher and had her approach the school management about me!  It escalated into a something of an issue with the police called and bullshit flying in every direction.  Wily Stick managed his way through that although much credit I had built up was whittled away.

Despite all of this it was almost certainly one of the better schools around.  Some of what went on at other schools was much worse and some of the stories I have heard are quite unreal.  The industry attracts misfits and would horrify those not familiar with the eccentricities of life in Thailand.

My teaching career was full of ups and downs.  I enjoyed the classroom stuff.  Really enjoyed it.  If you know your stuff, are well prepared and make every effort to be engaging, teaching can be not just fun but hugely rewarding.  But I struggled with the moralistic whining of the socialist leaning majority who made up my Western colleagues, many of whom were hypocritical to the extreme, working all the hours that God sent to amass their fortune while maintaining that the school could not operate without so-called professionals like them.  It was nauseating to the extreme.

Long ago I realised that if I wanted to fulfill certain goals I could not do it while working as a teacher.  Teaching worked for a while and I'd like to think I was good at it.  But that chapter in my life is now over.


 

Where was this picture taken?


 

Last week's picture was taken of the clock tower in Nakhon Phanom at night.  Very few got it right.  I guess no-one in Nakhon Phanom reads me.  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!  ThailandFriends.com is 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 for free.  TF, as it is also known, offers a one month premium membership to the third person to get the picture right which adds more to the ThailandFriends' experience with unlimited messaging, detailed member searches, 24 profile pictures, and a whole lot more.  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.  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.  The TF prize winner can be anywhere in the world.  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 - Watch your back - and your bag.

On Sunday my partner was walking through a small sub soi in Pratunam market.  She often visits her sister who has a sewing shop in that ugly orange building on the corner (Pratunam Centre?).  They both know the area well.  Packed shoulder to shoulder, she was the victim of a razor gang.  As I understand it, 6 - 8 Thai guys worked their way through the crowd, jostling and elbowing people off balance as they went.  At some point, while holding her bag tightly to her chest, one of these guys expertly slit the bottom of her bag and removed her purse containing around 10,000 baht, bank cards, her ID card as well as a new mobile phone she had just bought after having the last one stolen during our recent break-in.  Seconds after realising what had happened, someone in the crowd shouted "watch your bags".  People knew what was happening but no one made any attempt to stop them!  What's really bloody frustrating was the subsequent visit to the bank to cancel her Visa / debit card.  Although a PIN is required to withdraw cash from an ATM, the card can still be used in any gold shop with nothing more than a signature.  Armed with only her bank book, and no Thai ID card, she was told they could not cancel her card until she could provide sufficient ID!  Having had all my funds stolen 2 weeks prior in the burglary of our rented townhouse, I had transferred 180,000 baht to this very account.  After picking myself up off the floor, I started to think about our options, or the lack of.  In the end, we had to drag my partner's company lawyer and a police friend away from their Sunday activities to come to the bank.  Thankfully this was enough to verify she is who she says she was.

Saphan Kwai memories.

I went to a venue in Saphan Kwai about 25 years ago.  It was called Hennessy and was a Thai style nightclub with a cabaret show and rows of girls to dance with.  I needed to go to the toilet and went to the first urinal.  As I started to relieve myself I looked up and above the urinal I noticed that the wall was made of glass and about 20 girls were staring at me!  That was fine in itself until I received the unexpected massage you referred to and proceeded to spray myself everywhere which, of course, the girls found hilarious!  Most embarrassing, but I soon got over it after a few Singhas and some female company.  Just one of my 30 years of Thai experiences!

Farangdom is in total denial.

I have been to Thailand 4 times and I have had my share of delightful and downright deceptive adventures in my travels.  I really feel that when a farang meets a bargirl and falls for her that it's not that he hasn't been informed of the dangers of such relationships.  I mean, it's not as if it's a secret how they work!  I think it's just plain and simple - denial!  I can show her a better life than this.  I can give her the joy of not having to go with many farang so Mama in Ubon can eat.  I can show her a life less poor.  I read 4 books on the subject and was still in denial.  My friend who has been a regular for 30 years told me to be careful.  My sister told me that she didn't want me to end up like Pete in Private Dancer.  The fact is, I was reading the book at the same time and I was doing the same!

Soi Cowboy horror show!

I spent last night in Soi Cowboy.  Went into the "new" Rawhide early on.  There were some horrid-looking women on stage, dancing topless.  Then a few girls got up wearing nothing but fishnet pantyhose.  One was ghoulish-looking, no other term for her, straight out of the Addams Family.  Of an indeterminate age somewhere between 30 and 50, she actually stopped dancing at one point to pick her nose and just stood there digging away!  Then stood there staring at her finger, contemplating what she'd pulled out. At least she was not in the middle of the stage, but rather on the end behind a pillar, but I could not take my eyes off her, the same as you can't stop watching a bad traffic accident.  I finished my beer and went to Long Gun where the girls looked marginally better.


Thai ladies in Bangkok, Pattaya, and all over Thailand

The concept of "Happy Mondays".

What's a reasonable amount to give my lady?  This subject I can see is a bone of contention.  I strongly believe in the following - inherited wealth, financially supporting your partner, and the fact that if given the choice of not having to work your partner may choose not to.  I try to look at everyone as my equal.  They are not below or above me but simply my equal.  In any kind of relationship you are looking for mutual support, respect and care.  If you then have to further define this through what your prospective partner can bring to the table then I personally feel that you are excluding yourself from a large selection of the Thai female populace.  Sure if your reasons are that you simply are not in a position to do this, then for sure reality has to step in.  What you are looking for here is western ingredients wrapped up in an eastern package.  For you to feel that if your girlfriend or wife does not work then they can have no sense of pride, self-esteem or self worth I feel is very delusionary.  I personally retired at the age of 27, and for sure for those who have not got to know me previously I have faced similar kinds of discriminatory reactions before.  In the event you started your relationship through a financial inducement you have already created a rod for your own back.  What may have been a very satisfactory arrangement for a short time or long time rate bears no relation to what you can offer on a forever rate.  For such a seismic reaction to take place this initiative must come your prospective partner in question, and if it does, tell her what you're prepared to offer her is the worst deal in town.  Without this declaration that your lady wants to change her profession, you will be submitting yourself to the world's greatest poker game, joining a financial auction you will never win as regardless of how much you give your lady, over time she will still think she can get a better offer from someone else.  So on a contractual basis all I offered my girlfriend of ten years then and now is 1,000 baht a week, and 2,000 a month for her elderly folks as her sisters also chip in.  We refer to this as Happy Mondays, not every other woman's definition of a happy Monday granted, but how else are you going to know if it's you or the package that she's really after?  After a lengthy probationary period lasting many years, this girl proved to me that she genuinely cared for me.  Money has not been an issue and is not a problem.  What has followed has come from my heart as opposed to some contractual demand.  The reason why I suggest such a low minimal rate to start off with is to initially sort out the wheat from the chaff, and secondly whatever you give is theirs, and so whatever expenses follow by definition there's no question that it's down to you to pay them.

Costly Thailand.

One of the main observations I made while in Thailand this time was that it is no longer a cheap destination for Australians, New Zealanders or Brits.  Almost everything associated with day to day living is the same price as in Sydney and in a lot of cases more expensive!  For instance, a cup off coffee at Starbucks is roughly the same as I would pay in Sydney.  If I go to the Landmark or Marriot it is more expensive!  I found the same in Pattaya.  A night out round the Plaza or Cowboy is expensive, as much if not more than you pay in Sydney.  I realise this had got a lot to do with the economic downturn and the strength of the Thai baht which seems out of proportion with other currencies and not doing anything at all for tourism in Thailand.

The eatery in Nana that used to be called Hungry is now known as Villa Bar and has 40 baht standard beers ALL NIGHT LONG!

And it would seem there is something of a customer-friendly price revolution taking place in Nana with Spanky's, which was taken over by two young Americans recently, getting in on the act with a new happy hour that sees standard beers and spirits at just 50 baht from 6:30 - 8:30 PM.

But don't go thinking it's infectious and Angelwitch, the next bar along from the two aforementioned venues, will introduce a happy hour soon.  I should think there's more chance of Elvis appearing in Nana than that happening!

Down in pickpocket haven and also out front of the fancier branch of Pomodoro between Sukhumvit sois 3/1 and 5 are a handful of black hookers who look like they just stepped out of deepest, darkest Africa.  To my eyes they're bloody sexy!  There are also a couple of Muslim birds giving all and sundry the glad eye and are clearly up for it.  With Russians making up the Caucasian contingent - there is always one or two loitering around soi 3 - it feels like the United Nations of hookers.  Whatever your flavour, it's probably available no more than a stone's throw from the Nana intersection.

Management from popular Pattaya bar Secrets have been looking for a location to open a Bangkok branch for quite some time and the rumour mill has it that they looked seriously into a spot on Sukhumvit soi 7/1.  Secrets hope to transplant their winning formula from Pattaya into the heart of Bangkok and thus need a venue with not just space for a bar and restaurant but also for a 25+ room hotel upstairs.  The rumour mill has it that The Tequila Dragon has been looked at very closely but the rental, when key money is factored in, is just too much.

Speaking of Secrets, which is where you'll find me whenever I am in Pattaya, they're holding a big party this coming Wednesday which will kick off around 8 PM.  There'll be free food and other frolics.

Many Pattaya bars are crying out for customers but this past week saw Secrets do a great trade on the traditionally quiet days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Still down Pattaya way, Hell Club in Soi LK Metro was raided this week by the ever efficient boys in brown.  Things are looking grim for both the Thai staff and the American owner.  The rumour mill has it that the boys in brown insisted on all girls taking piss tests and almost half tested positive for ya ba usage.  That a large number of sex toys - illegal in Thailand - were found on the premises doesn't bode well either so let's hope a compromise can be reached.  I mean come on, it's not like Hell Club is any different from a zillion other venues offering on the premises action in Sin City.

Raw Hide is coming along nicely, and the inside looks a lot brighter than the previous, miserable space did.  Although not yet finished, work continues on the VIP area overlooking the stage.  The number of girls is still down but you could argue that quality is up.  A couple of lesbian long-noses enjoyed Raw Hide this week and punters present were shocked when one got up on stage to show her stuff alongside their lithe Thai sisters.  While I am sure I am not the only one who sent out the call for an elephant gun, I was truly appalled that one punter gave her a tip!  A confirmed breast man, Dave The Rave would have been impressed - this Western lesbian had knockers bigger than the gogo guru's head!

Someone needs to pay more attention at Sheba's and to a lesser extent Tilac where at the end of the dance shift many girls leave the main bar area and retire upstairs where they can be seen nattering amongst themselves.  One can only deduce that these girls are sponsored and have no real desire nor need to mingle with customers.  You would think the mamasans would crackdown on this practice but no, it seems they don't care.  It is much more prevalent early in the evening and especially so at Sheba's.

Despite my pleas to bar owners to let me know what is happening in their venues, few take up the invitation to provide me with news or promotions at their venue for inclusion in the column - which is essentially free advertising.  One exception was Tokyo Joe's which used to email me all the time although it not being on the typical Stickman reader's trail I seldom mentioned them.  I don't know why I feel a little sad as I have not been there for years but Tokyo Joe's has shut down.  Another Bangkok venue bites the dust.

In last week's column I wrote that it was a good job that there were no tourist police volunteers in Bangkok but I have since been informed that I got that totally wrong.  They exist in Bangkok!  There are a number of foreign police volunteers based at Lumpini Police station where they spend 5 hours each night doing translation and liaison work, helping tourists without any financial reward. All I can say is that irrespective of their reasons for being involved, they would not play a part if they had read some of the correspondence readers had sent in to me about Westerners working with the Thai police in other parts of the country.  The hatred and ill feeling towards the foreigners involved with the Thai police is EXTREME.  The Pattaya Mail letters section (read the third letter down) also slams the Pattaya chapter this week.

On Saturday April 4 the Blues Factory just off Walking Street in Pattaya will celebrate its 8th year anniversary with a party.  There will be two live bands, The Blues Machine featuring Snowman and Mary and The Rock Machine featuring Pattaya's hottest new guitarist Neung and their resident superstar, Lam Morrison.  Together with lucky number draws with some great prizes and a free buffet they hope to have a great night and look forward to seeing you.

A reader who recently moved from Bangkok to Singapore is concerned that soon he will have problems getting his long-term Thai girlfriend to stay with him.  Do any Stickmanites have experience overcoming the problem of getting their Thai girlfriends into Singapore for more than the thirty days allowed?  His girl arrived last Saturday to a barrage of questions at Immigration and it looks like the next trip will be even more problematic; the more trips the more difficult it gets apparently.  He prepared a letter with supporting documents (passport, work permit etc) stating that she was visiting him and that he would support her financially but they wouldn't even look at it.  To get a long term visa (dependent visa) they would have to get married but sensibly he knows that marriage is about more than that.  A lot of the Chinese working girls get into Singapore on long term student visas.  Maybe that is worth a go?  Do any readers have any suggestions?

Late last year the visa waiver regulations changed and Westerners arriving in Thailand overland found they were only entitled to a 15 day permit to stay, not 30 as it had previously been.  But don't go thinking that you will automatically get 15 days.  Oh no, that would just be too easy.  This week sees the story of an Irishman who was given the third degree at the border from Malaysia, the Sadao crossing point to be exact.  Immigration required evidence of when he would be leaving Thailand to which replied that he was going back to UK on 1st April, within the 15 day period.  He thought he would get a 15 day stamp but oh no, they stamped him in until 1st April - just 12 days!  No, this is not an April fool's day joke!  So while on one hand they are waiving visa fees for those who apply for a 60 day tourist visa at a Thai embassy or consulate to encourage tourism, they are hassling people at the border...

One of the cheapest burgers in town is also one of the best.  Many British and Irish pubs do a burger and chips (PLEASE, we don't want fries in a British pub, we want chips!) but with prices running north of 300 baht in some venues don't tell me it's not pricey!  If like me you like a good burger and don't want to pay through the nose for it, Bus Stop's bacon cheeseburger is the business.  The chips are good, the potato wedges even better.  And by God, The Dirty Doctor wolfs both down in about 5 minutes flat!

It's widely regarded as the best hospital in Thailand and not far from being on a par with what they have down Singapore way so you would think if you were going to get run down by a rogue tuktuk, overdo it on Viagra or get stabbed by a ya-ba crazed bargirl that Sukhumvit soi 3, where Bumrungrad is located, would be the place to come unstuck.  Wrong!  The Bum might be the nation's best hospital but do they have an emergency room?  I don't know that they do if the story I heard this week is anything to go by.  A farang was dumped in the Bum by what looked like a bargirl.  He had nasty stab wounds and was covered in blood.  In no time blood was pouring out of his mouth, presumably from internal injuries.  And what was the doctor heard to say?  "What am I supposed to do with him?  He is about to die!  We've got to get him off to another hospital!"  I kid you not!

I cannot reiterate enough that you need to be careful with girls you meet online.  In the past the warnings were always about bargirls.  Just because a lady does not work in a bar does not necessarily means she is good per se.  Over the past few months the number of stories I have heard about unscrupulous women using the Internet to meet perceived wealthy western guys for pecuniary advantage has increased massively.  If there is simple piece of advice I can offer, it is to actually spend a reasonable amount of time with a woman before you make any plans whatsoever.  Please don't do as many seem to do and email me telling me you're going to marry someone you've yet to meet!

You'll probably think it's crazy but I stand by it.  The first piece of advice I would give someone moving to Thailand would be, once they have found a place to live, to get a washing machine!  It might sound simple but so many people waste lots of time and money sending their clothes out to laundry services which charge a lot, can be slow to get your clothes back to you, especially in the rainy season and have a dreadful habit of ruining or losing your favourite item of clothing.  Taking a few years before investing in a washing machine was one of the poorer decisions I have made.

I wonder if those American readers who voted for Obama are having tinges of regret?  As he orders the printing presses into overdrive there's only one thing that has going to happen to the greenback - it's going to make a beeline for the toilet.  The dollar may have only lost a couple of percent against the baht but against other currencies it is taking a beating.

Stickman reader's story of the weekInnocence Lost Forever by Good-hearted Man is an honest and moving account of a how a semi-retired American found his dalliances in Pattaya's bar scene to ultimately be unfulfilling and how he had to escape the environment he once considered paradise.

I'll take credit for the quote of the week.  This one I said years ago and a friend reminded me of it this week.  "I don't know what's worse, putting up with the Thais or the kind of foreigners who end up here."

If you think it is only farang men who get tricked by the locals, here's the story of an English bird in Isaan who has also become a victim.

SeedyFarang's latest in-bar video is titled "Why guys love going to Tilac Bar in Soi Cowboy."

Gangs of thieves are operating at Bangkok's Soyouwannaboomboom Airport.

Not Thailand-related but interesting nonetheless, the BBC reports and comments on the 6th anniversary of prostitution being legalised in New Zealand - something Thailand could learn from.

The BBC reports on how a Welshman stayed long term in Thailand claiming benefits.

Some Aussies are in hot water for being naughty boys in Thailand.  Shame on you!


Ask Mrs. Stick

Mrs. Stick did not receive any questions this week and once again her head is on the chopping block.

There's a debate going on over in the readers' submissions that is heating up.  It all started when a Western female sent in a story about how her husband had left her for a bargirl.  A number of subsequent articles were written and now we have an interesting debate taking place with the point of contention being whether it is ok for a man to have a bit on the side.  I'm not with the majority which seems to think that it is ok.  The original story was titled My Hubby Left Me For A Bargirl and generated a number of responses (here, here and here) with more to be published tomorrow.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

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