Stick Mark II  4/5/2008

Destination Khon Kaen

Isaan shouldn't appeal to me but it does.  There are so many reasons why I should choose Pattaya or Hua Hin or even Chiang Mai for a few days' break from Bangkok.  All have much more interesting things to see and do, but once again I found myself in Isaan this week, my destination Khon Kaen.

A pal has built a house for his teeruk half an hour outside the city of Khon Kaen and his kind invitation gave me sufficient reason to make the journey up highway 2 again.

The road to Isaan has not changed much and I am not going to bore you with silly observations about what is quite frankly bland and boring countryside.  Past Saraburi, the dam and into Korat and there really is little to see.  Bypassing the city of Korat and beyond Phimai, things do not get better, in fact if anything they get worse.  Even racing into Khon Kaen province, there is little to see until you reach the city of Khon Kaen itself.

You know you've made it to Isaan when you start adjusting the car's air-conditioning.  This being April, the hottest month of the year, the temperature was set at a cool 21 degrees when we departed Bangkok.  By the time we had reached Korat the temperature had been raised to 24 and by the time we arrived in the city of Khon Kaen, we were up to 25.  They say that the Isaan region is hotter than any other part of the country, but on numerous trips into the region and zillions of jaunts to Korat, I just don't believe it.  Bangkok always feels so much hotter, stickier and less comfortable than Isaan so when we pulled into Khon Kaen I felt a sense of relief.  It was cool, it was comfortable and then there were the smiles.  Yes, wherever you looked you saw people smiling.  That's what I like about the Isaan region, the way the people go about their difficult lives with a smile on their faces.

But the city of Khon Kaen was not our destination.  We would be spending time in the village where my friend has set up sticks, a small village of perhaps 1,000 - 1,500 people.  We're venturing into the real Isaan!

As we drove through the small village in all of about 60 seconds, the humorous stories started with my very first question.  Asking about the existence of other farangs in the village I was told that there used to be one fellow teaching English at the local school who found himself romantically involved with two of the girls - and it was said that the whole village knew.  Even his wife knew.  Not surprising really, Thais are incapable of keeping secrets!  In addition to that guy who has since left for a neighbouring province, there was another Westerner in the village, in the very same soi as my pal, Soi Farang they call it, but he too has moved on after he found his ex-Pattaya lady had been somewhat economical with the truth.  For the time being, my pal is the only white guy in the village.

So there we were, a short walk outside the village proper in what has become known as Soi Farang.  It was interesting to see the work my friend had done on his place.  Or is it his teeruk's place?!  He estimates that it cost about 700,000 baht to get it to where it is now.  I guess a few more hundred thousand baht would finish it completely, meaning you can get a perfectly decent house in the Isaan region built for about a million baht.  Many aspects of the dwelling are to Western standards so it is a fair bit better than most.  The plumbing, the wiring and various other systems around the pad are not the disaster you so often see in the Thai countryside.  It's funny really, you hear stories that a place can be built upcountry for just a few hundred thousand baht and that's true, but it's going to be very small and very basic.

While the village is pleasant, you're quickly brought back to reality.  These salt of the earth folks lead the most basic lives.  Many don't work and their day consists of sitting on the porch or the mangy hammock erected out the front of their place, engaging anyone who passes by in conversation, perhaps to alleviate the boredom, or perhaps because they just love to chat and gossip.  There really is no money around and there's a noticeable absence of youngsters.  Once beyond school age, there is little to keep one in the village and almost zero employment prospects.  Very noticeable is the absence of pretty ladies in their late teens and twenties.

The reality is though that the infrastructure of this village, like most in the entire Isaan region, is barely adequate.  The water supply can go off for days at a time and a period without mains water of a week is not uncommon.  High speed internet you can forget although, like much of rural Isaan, there is excellent mobile coverage so getting medium speed internet with your mobile phone is quite doable.  If you want a copy of the Bangkok Post or The Nation, you would have to travel into Khon Kaen proper.  But then if you wanted all of these comforts, you'd never have moved there in the first place.

There may have been three Westerners in the village at one time but it needs more than that to create demand for the products and services that appeal to outsiders.  A search for a bottle of milk at the market and the small ma and pa grocery stores proves fruitless and even Coke Zero is hard to come by, the locals much preferring the sugar soaked original version.

It might be the countryside and the people might be farmers, but the diet of those in the village is not great.  It seems to be a choice of the usual fried or deep fried delicacies, including all of the grubs.  You have to wonder how these got into their diet.  I guess that they were once so poor that that was all they had to eat, and then it kind of grew on them over time.  But then again, can we talk?  With shrimp and lobster being favourites with farangs, aren't these merely the underwater equivalent of a cockroach?

You can't help but notice that there are more males than females, and very, very few attractive ladies.  They're away, employed where the money is so much better.  You know where.  It would be ironic if any filthy foreigner thought he could go "upstream to the source" to find himself a nice lady for marriage.  Most are in fact in Bangkok, Pattaya and elsewhere, some gainfully employed, some involved in the world's oldest profession, many never entirely honest with their family back in the village.

Speaking of money, while there's not much to spend your money on, it is a complete and utter fallacy that these rural Isaan families can live happily on 3,000 baht a month.  You so often hear calls in Pattaya and Bangkok bars from guys - often those without a lot of money - telling others not to "over pay".  Subsequent argument concerns the low cost of living in the village and the little amount of money needed to survive.  Aren't these guys so noble?  The truth is that people in these villages need much more money than you think.  Sending kids to school, for example, is relatively expensive.  Country folks' kids may not have 5 sets of school uniform like the city folks but they need money for transport to get to school, money for snacks and the school always has their hand out for this or that every other week.  Just getting around isn't cheap and a trip into Khon Kaen will cost at least 20 baht each way.  It doesn't sound like much but then you might have to travel across the city on another form of transport once you get there.  The truth is that this talk of 3,000 baht a month being enough to survive on is absolutely survival level.  Many in the poor, rural parts of Isaan are in debt up to their eyeballs.  Recent price increases for basic food items have really hit them hard.  And frankly, the dwellings most live in are very humbling indeed.

The net result of all of this is that the older folks are forced to do a lot of the back breaking work that is rice farming themselves.  This old boy here who was remarkably fit for his 79 years had been out to check the rice fields the day we called by to visit.  It had rained heavily the day and night before and he went to check if the fields were ready for rice to be planted.  He felt that yes, while there was enough water and the fields were ready for the rice to be laid, he was concerned that there might not be consistent rainfall for a while - it's not the rainy season yet - and a lack of rain would result in the crops dying.  After checking out the rice fields early in the morning he returned home for a much needed and deserved beer.

There's no 7 Eleven, no comic book shops and I didn't even see a brothel.  But there was a rather large police station.  I just could not work out why such a large station would be needed in such a small village.  At one point a fellow came along on his bike and delivered two deep wais to my friend and I.  He was introduced as the brother of my friend's lady and I failed to pick that he was actually one of the boys in brown.  He was out of uniform so we assumed it was his day off, but apparently not so.  It was explained that the coppers report for duty in the morning and stand at attention for the 8:00 AM playing of the national anthem.  But many days they have little to do so they slip away and attend to private matters.  Despite it being a small village, the largish police station which surely must cover the entire surrounding district, such is its size, actually run various checkpoints in the village, checking for registration of vehicles, insurance, drink driving and the big one, motorcyclists not wearing helmets.  That said, most of the motorbikes are only used within the village and have no registration or insurance.

As you wander around the village, you get cat calls from all of the old ladies who can be found assembled out the front of the more comfortable houses, munching away on sticky rice and grubs.  These old ladies really can be a hoot to chat with.  If you're in the company of a local they skip straight past the introductions of who they are and drill you in a friendly way with searching questions, often interested in establishing your marital status.  If it is transpires that you are not married - it doesn't matter if you have a girlfriend or not - they will immediately start pointing out all of the available girls in the group and suggesting a quick marriage.  It is all light-hearted banter but if you were to agree I have no doubt that they could pull off a full wedding party and celebration within 24 hours, contingent upon a decent sized dowry, of course!  In the picture on the left, the lady in the blue shirt on the far left and the lady sitting at the back in the centre are both free and available.  If interested I can put you in touch!

The whole idea of finding a foreign husband to support them and provide a better life is a fact of life in these parts.  Any unattached woman would be happy to take on a foreign man.  Irrespective of who he is, it could only make things better.

It didn't take long to explore the entire village.  One school, three temples, a reservoir or two, the village administration office, a disproportionately large police station and lots of houses.  Well, dwellings would probably be a better term.  No disrespect meant, but some of the houses were pretty bloody rough.

Eventually I stumbled on to an internet cafe full of young kids playing network games.  The lady in charge leapt to attention as soon as she saw a seemingly lost farang stumble in.  Remember this village is way, way off the beaten path.

It was here that I met the immaculately made up Cat who was only to happy to be of service.  Her spoken English was remarkably good and she was quick to tell me about herself.  A 38 year old, she had grown up in the village and had had two kids to a Thai man who she had long since left.  She ran the internet cafe, a VCD / DVD hire shop and also had a decent looking truck which she used to ferry people backwards and forwards between the village and Khon Kaen proper.  She was not shy in letting me know that she was looking for a foreign man.  In fact within 5 minutes she had grabbed my hand, stared into my eyes and asked if she could be my girlfriend.  I kid you not and she wasn't kidding.

I told Cat that I had someone in Bangkok and got the inevitable questions about the availability of friends.  Seriously, she would probably make someone happy.  She seemed to be fun, has decent English and she is attractive for her age.  Anyone interested drop me an email and I will provide her contact details.

I needed to avail myself of the prehistoric internet connection and catch up on Stickman emails but it was disconcerting trying to clear read and respond to emails that have titles like "Pattaya Bargirl Investigation Required", or "Isaan Girl Ripped Me Off" when Cat was sitting right beside me, especially when her English was so good.  And I mean right beside me, so much so that she was almost on top of me.  Bombarded with questions about what I was doing there, I fibbed and told her I was a foreign photographer based in Thailand, plausible due to the camera I had hauled around the village with me.  Cat started by perching next to me and then slowly, ever so slowly started rubbing herself up against me.  Aren't these girls supposed to at least appear virtuous in their own back yard?  This continued for a bit  and I started to play along.  I told her a couple of websites she should put a profile up on to attract Western men and she told me she had profiles there already but the bait hadn't caught any fish.  She then went on that perhaps her picture wasn't good and with me having a camera, perhaps I could take some of her.  She nodded to an adjascent bedroom!  A little nervous that this randy vixen may not have been getting her fair share for a while and that she may leap on me at the very first chance, I motioned that perhaps taking a shot outside the internet cafe would be umm, err, safer!

I was later told that my host had taken a couple of other Western visitors to the internet cafe where Cat had virtually jumped them there and then.  He explained that Cat was a sharp businesswoman and while there was every chance she may have jumped me in the bedroom, she was the type who would put her hand out for a pay out immediately after!

I enjoyed spending time in the village, wandering around and just engaging the locals in conversation.  It does get a bit samey after a while though and I needed to get back to civilization, so a trip into the city of Khon Kaen was made.

Downtown Khon Kaen is going more upmarket.  I don't recall seeing a Starbucks there last time but there is one firmly established now.  Well, it is firmly established in terms of being built, but perhaps the spending power of the locals was overestimated, for in the 10 or so minutes I spent watching the local Khon Kaen branch, not one customer went inside.  Yes, in the late afternoon light, as locals were finishing work for the day, not one chose to go and grab a coffee at Starbucks.  That led me to wonder who the target market for the high-priced American coffee was.  Local foreigners?  Foreigners holidaying here?  Or perhaps chic Thais?  The latter I would think because the local farangs, like in much of Isaan, did their best not to impress me.  Or maybe word has already made it to the locals that Starbucks coffee is over-rated and over-priced and that they are better off paying a fraction of the price for a coffee elsewhere.

Starbucks failed to satisfy but the same cannot be said of the Kiwi Cafe, pictured below right, which deserves a special mention.  This is a really excellent little cafe / bar / restaurant establishment located on the road that runs alongside the lake, just a couple of km from the city centre.  It's a really nicely laid out venue with great coffee and very reasonably priced cakes and food.  Imagine chocolate coconut slice as good as anything you would get back home - your real home, not Bangkok, for a mere 25 baht!  And with free wireless internet provided I didn't have to endure Cat rubbing herself up against me again!  This was the complete antithesis of the typical run down, poorly managed Isaan farang hang out and it would not be out of place anywhere in Bangkok.

There seem to be many more foreigners living and working in the Isaan region and Khon Kaen is no different.  I remember seeing few farangs on my first visit in 1998, but there is no shortage of Westerners in town now.  But many aren't the best advertisement for Farangdom, so many are still in their Pattaya garb and many are dreadfully overweight.  The Thais in Khon Kaen could be mistaken for thinking that foreigners they see on TV and in the movies, the likes of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, are computer generated images - you seldom see healthy, good looking foreigners up there.

Of course that could partly be because they choose to dine at Didine each night, a very pleasant spot and one of the growing number of farang owned and oriented businesses in the area around the magnificent Sofitel Hotel, surely the best value 5 star hotel in Thailand.  There seemed to be many more bars, restaurants and bar come restaurants since my last visit.  The farang explosion in Khon Kaen continues.  Didine is worth a special mention.  Excellent food at giveaway prices and a must visit when you're in town.  The ambience and atmosphere is basic, but the food is excellent.

Khon Kaen doesn't just sit geographically between Udon Thani and Korat, it also positions itself between the two in its fun quotient.  Udon Thani is the undisputed champion of entertainment and farang fun in Isaan.  There are more farang oriented bars, more farang style restaurants and while official numbers don't exist, there are probably more Westerners there than any other single province.  Korat may be home to a number of new farang entertainment hot spots but to me remains a fairly dull and boring place, the city itself is just plain drab - although in all fairness, Khon Kaen and Udon could hardly be called pretty.  Khon Kaen has more going for it than Korat, about that there can be no doubt.  It doesn't challenge Udon as the farangs' favourite entertainment centre in Isaan, but then it doesn't try to.  Khon Kaen is Khon Kaen, a large and mildly interesting Isaan centre with enough to keep this critic happy for a few days.
 

 

Where was this picture taken?


 

Last week's picture was not easy at all and only a handful of people got it right.  The photo featured the front to Wong's Bar, a bar with a cult following in the dodgy Soi Sribumphen neighbourhood.  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 and the second wins a free jug of margarita, valued at 840 baht from Charley Brown's, a well-established, popular restaurant, offering authentic Tex-Mex Cuisine and delicious margaritas.  Charley Brown's is located in the small sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11.

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

EMAIL OF THE WEEK - Earning.

The fact that English uses the word "earn" in a positive context with wages reflects its Protestant-industrial heritage and the fact that modern English is relatively new compared to many other world languages which were fully developed earlier.  The more Catholic nations will show a heritage where hard work to maximize wealth is frowned upon.  Making money through effort in trade / profession is something which western Europeans, rather unusually, consider a positive.  Ancient languages like Hindu and Chinese associate "reward for hard work" with agriculture.  The Chinese saying which comes closest to the concept is "a sliver or effort ; a bushel of return".  Agricultural in nature in that the efforts placed in planting / weeding will give you good returns upon harvest.  Working in trades and "earning" money was considered less honorable and hence the lack of association of virtue with making money in return for work.  The usual use of the word is in relation to hired workers on the farm - lower social status than the farmer.  It's also used in relation to when a farmer sells his food to townspeople - those decadent people who don't have land to their names.  It's futile to look for positive connotations in an act (earning wages) which, for thousands of years, was considered the less desirable way to make a living.

True to who?

I own and operate two net cafes in Bangkok and one I just opened a couple of weeks ago.  I have two True 3 meg lines and when I started using their supplied wi-fi routers I found my speeds were not very good and upon doing some bandwidth monitoring I found that my wi-fi which I had NOT turned on was getting pounded.  There was NO way to change the wi-fi settings and I tried everything possible.  Please keep in mind I have owned a computer consulting business in Canada for the last 15 years so I do have some clue what I am doing.  They also set the password on the router so I could not change the default.  When I called True about it they passed me around a bunch of people, each seemingly speaking worse English than the person before.  I finally bought two new Linksys routers and my speed has returned to normal and I have full control over my wi-fi.  I have NO proof that True is doing this but it seems pretty odd to me that with their routers in I was getting hammered by traffic that I knew nothing about it.

A long and dangerous road.

I am currently single and occasionally pay for a girl (plus I have a few fxxk buddies), but I find that I have loads more money at the end of the month than if I have a regular Thai girlfriend.  It may just be that hookers provide better value for money than girlfriends!  And there's the endless variety and no problem ending relationships.  Oh, this is the start of a long and dangerous road!


The ultimate Thai dating site with ladies from all over Thailand!

Hard for foreigners to comprehend.

I have been used as a ghost hunter and guard against ghosts by my Isaan friends several times.  I always need to take the ladies between their families' houses because a few people have died on the road between the houses.  They think I scare the ghosts away.  The funniest thing they asked me was to sleep alone in a new house that was supposed to have ghost there.  They wanted me to check if the ghost had left.  I didn't meet the ghost so they were very happy.  The funny thing for me as a farang is that my wife who is not from that village but from Chiang Rai and well educated has seen the ghost in that house before.  Actually I try to be serious about it because I know EVERY Thai believes in ghosts.  But it's difficult for me.

The Thai "date" guarantee.

I am sure if you were to ask most bargirls in Thailand what they did, they'd answer 'work bar' rather than 'I am a hooker!'  Wouldn't be surprised if they found the term prostitute way out of order and wondered what you were talking about.  On the other hand, consider this: A typical 'date' in the West probably involves taking a woman out to dinner and, more than likely, paying for it.  That's a financial exchange right there, and one which he hopes she will 'oblige' with a favour at some point in time, though not guaranteed by a long shot.  At the end of the day, it could be argued a Thai 'date' comes with a short time / long time warranty.

Do you like what you see in the mirror?

I for one am tired of hearing guys moan about how their ex-bargirl wife or girlfriend is stupid, disinterested in anything outside of her own little world, selfish, a human money vacuum etc.  As you clearly stated, going with a "pro" is the only time in life when a guy knows all the rules up front.  If you take one on as a partner in life, please have enough self-awareness to realise that the only enemy is the guy you see in the mirror.

So long as the service is ok!

I went to Thai Airways main office in Bangkok today.  One of the computers at the ticket office reception had a screensaver of cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and Pooh Bear, as well as a small make-up mirror perched on the keyboard.  On the desk of the woman who eventually dealt with me there were two monkeys and a bear, and a small photo stuck on her stapler.  And another make-up mirror.  Despite the desks resembling that of a five-year old, the service was okay though.



The Cobra Gold joint exercises of the US military with the military of Thailand and several other countries begin May 8.  Expect Pattaya to be descended on by large numbers of horny military men with lots of cash.

Closing time reverted back to 2 AM in Bangkok on Friday night for bars in the Nana and Cowboy playgrounds.  A number of venues remained in the dark over the new policy, literally, and closed at 1 AM sharp.  Most venues should be open until 2 AM within a few days and early closures appear to be off the police's priority list for the time being.

The happy hours remain but a number of Soi Cowboy bars have increased the prices charged.  If you are careful with your spending and budget to the last baht, beware, some price increases are steep and the happy has been taken out of many happy hours.

The rather large waitress in Coyotes Bar in Soi Cowboy became a dancer for all of 2 days before the boss declared that she was not allowed to get her gear off in the bar ever again.  Rumour has it that she is very, very seldom barfined and was strapped for cash, hence her move to the stage.  But being to Bangkok's biggest dancer was not an accolade Coyotes wanted to be known for so she is back to waitressing.

And still at Coyotes, the owner insists that all dancers must dance naked.  From around 8:15 or 8:20, all the girls on stage get ALL their gear off.  Dancers have been told that any girl not comfortable showing everything on stage will be shown the door.

Just 3 months ago Mandarin in Nana was firmly on the weekly Stickman Friday night trail.  Good music, pretty girls and a reasonable happy hour were the attractions.  Then happy hour prices were eliminated, the music changed and it became less fun.  Unfortunately the bar now has major problems, most of which are attributed to the recruitment of a certain mamasan.  Extremely aggressive to both the girls and customers - Dave The Rave and I were flabbergasted at how rude she was when we stuck our head in the door last night - there has since been a mass exodus of girls to the point that some nights there aren't enough girls to open the upstairs dance floor!  If you are missing your favourite Mandarin girl, try Erotica.

Mercury will re-open in Nana tomorrow in the spot next to Mandarin Table Top (and their door staff will no doubt have to listen to the barking of the offensive mamasan from Mandarin!)

Playskool Peter is building a new English pub on Sukhumvit Soi 23, not far from Cowboy.  To be called the Queen Victoria, reports are that a lot of money is being poured into it what sounds as like a sizeable venue.

Pattaya Pete's Beer Garden has opened on the pier near the start of Walking Street and has some novel ideas to get guys and girls in the door.  Any customer going should drag a girl along and ask for the "freelancer discount" which gets you a 100 baht credit for taking a girl along.  They are also offering a barfine discount!  If you go to the Beer Garden and can't find a girl to your liking and instead barfine a girl from a bar in the adjacent beer bar area the Beer Garden will pay half the barfine!  These specials run through until the end of this month.

Soi Cowboy is doing well because, amongst other reasons, the cost of drinking there is lower than competing areas but things are changing and prices are moving, particularly happy hour prices.  Will the stampede reverse and customers head back to where many came from, Nana Plaza?

X Zone in the Covent Garden Complex, Soi 16, Walking Street has sold.  It gets mixed reviews.  Some call it the best gogo bar in Pattaya, others call it a loser.  If the reported purchase price is accurate, those calling the club the best are probably closer to being right.

I saw a first this week, a Muslim in the full ninja outfit begging on Soi 5.

Isn't it ironic that it is much harder to find a kebab in the street in so 3/1, that is Little Islam, than it is in Soi 4.  I had a craving for one on Friday night and popped out of Gulliver's to get one and couldn't find one on the street in that area so had to go all the way to soi 4 to get one.

In most gogo bars and the like, while I enjoy myself and generally have a good time, I often cringe at the thought of barfining one of the girls, so rough are some.  This weekend I made it into Gulliver's a couple of times late in the evening and was amazed at the general attractiveness of the ladies on patrol.  Many genuinely pretty girls were lingering and what impressed me most, they were actually well made up in nice clothes and just plain nicely presented.  They didn't look like bargirl riff raff you so often see.  If you want a girl who is not as rough as some of the trade in the bars and the likes of the Biergarten (where I recently heard one freelancer call the girls "low class bargirls!") then give Gulliver's a go.  I was impressed.

Charley Brown's has delayed their special Mexican night a week and it will now be held on May 10, not May 3 as had been planned and mentioned in this column last week.

Sunrise Tacos are also celebrating Cinco de Mayo with their celebration to be held on May 5.  Festivities will include a giant frozen margarita with flavors of lime, mango and fresh strawberry and you get to keep the giant souvenir glass.  This Margarita by-the-yard (800 ml) glass comes with three shots of tequila and one shot of triple sec along with the freshly squeezed juice for only 213 baht.  The offer is valid on Monday May 5th at the Sukhumvit soi 12 and Siam Paragon branches.

I was impressed by the management of a big name Bangkok gogo bar this week which handled a complaint from a customer well.  This gentleman was refused entry to the bar because of the colour of the skin.  Sad.  He had actually been to the bar many times before and was known to the manager as well as some staff.  A senior member of staff realised what had happened and invited him inside but the mood had been lost and he headed elsewhere.  Subsequent to his email to management, meetings were held with all staff about this racist policy.  Hopefully the bar will no longer make such mistakes.  It's a common problem and it is good to see a bar dealing with a problem in a professional way.

The issue of TVs *inside* the naughty bars is one I am not convinced of.  For customers it isn't a bad thing but the way the girls stare at the TV as they gyrate on stage and show zero interest in customers is something I thought the bar owners would want to avoid.  I was sitting in Coyotes the other night and it was kind of funny watching the girls watching a movie on TV and totally disinterested in what was happening in the bar.  With subtitles, they could easily follow the story despite the racket in the bar.

Is there a bar louder than Swan 5 in Soi 4?  God almighty, it is ridiculously loud - so bad that guys would walk in and then walk straight back out!

Many business owners running operations that cater to Westerners have a real problem retaining female staff.  Be it a naughty bar, a restaurant or even some sort of professional services, pretty Thai employees are often picked off by customers offering them an alternative arrangement.  There is one farang Pattaya business owner who refuses to roll over and see his business suffer such high staff turnover.  This bakery / cafe, known for its excellent breakfasts, has virtually no staff turn over at all.  The all female waitress staff have been with the owner for quite some time.  What's his secret?  Does he pay them more than the average?  No?  Does he give his staff more holidays?  No.  Does he treat his staff better than your average employer?  NO!  The secret to the owner's success was to hire a bunch of lesbians!  The only problem is that the service is poor compared to similar spots.

Quote of the week comes from a friend in Pattaya.  A bargirl who is rather flat-chested said to him, "I want to have a boob job.  It costs 60,000 baht, but I only have 30,000 so I think I'll do my left one this year and my right one next year."

Thailand's PM and his use of naughty words was reported here.

Malaysia's Star newspaper ran this article yesterday about white guys getting involved with Thai hookers.

Snooker champion Steven Hendry talks of driving a taxi in Bangkok while drunk.
 

Ask Mrs. Stick

Question 1:  I met a Thai girl in Pattaya right at the beginning of my last holiday.  I'm 43, she's 30.  She seemed to be from a medium background, not rich (father retired teacher, sister owns a laundry) financially, independent, new in Pattaya and freshly divorced just a month ago in her home town of Udon.  After going to bed she refused money.  I offered to put her on my friends' list, but no love involved.  I had other ladies beside her (rarely) but dated her frequently because of her caring attitude.  She wasn't shy to pay any bill or entry fee before I could and even my booze (up to 2,500 baht).  Every time I went with her on a date she had a small present for me, at the end a new mobile for 7,500 baht.  I reminded her always we were friends, not a love couple.  She said, "Don't think too much."  I'm back home and want to see her next holiday on a friendship basis.  We call or SMS rarely, every 3 weeks or less like I wanted it.  She wants to send me presents home but I refused to provider her with my address.  I am concerned now.  Is a bombardment of small but expensive presents acceptable for being just friends?  Is it possible to keep the friendship on this level or will expectations of return frighten me?  She seems easy in that matter but after all put presents for my parents in the language.

Mrs. Stick says:  Are you sure that your girlfriend is divorced?  She is spending a lot of money on you and if she is also paying when you drink a lot then she must have a lot of money.  Maybe she is still married and is spending her husband's money on you as revenge against him?  If a Thai woman buys you a lot of presents and spends a lot of money on you it probably means one of two things.  She either really likes you or she is spending the money on you to make her feel better about a bad relationship that just finished.

If ever there was a column that deserved the title of the worst Stickman column ever, it was last week's.  I didn't spend much time on it during the week and when Sunday came around I just didn't have the energy to put it together.  I felt brain-dead.  Putting together something readable, even something coherent, was a real struggle.  The opening piece, while I feel good in concept, didn't flow and there were some news and views paragraphs that were included even though they hadn't been completed and were completely disjointed!  To make matters worse, the quote of the week was the same as the previous week's.  Frankly, it was a bit of a disaster.  I hope this week's column is more readable.  Then, just to really confuse me, I get a very gracious email from Andy, owner of Electric Blue, who liked last week's opening piece so much that he printed it out and pinned it up on the wall of the bog in Electric Blue!  Does Stickman belong in the toilet?!



Yours,

Stick Mark II

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