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Everything posted by PeterRS

  1. According to the quote from booking.com in the OP, delayed payments to its accommodation suppliers were due "in a small number of cases" to "unforeseen technical issues that are quickly being resolved." Not quickly enough, obviously. Yesterday's Guardian has a long piece about how accomodation providers in Europe, Indonesia and Thailand have been waiting up to 6 months for their payments from the mega booking site. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/oct/01/booking-com-hotel-fees-unpaid-millions-technical-issue This still blames "a technical issue" but it has not stopped rumours swirling about the site's practices. As suggested by posters above, if you use the site in future, make sure you choose the pay directly on arrival at the hotel option. But remember you still have to give the site your credit card details to ensure the booking. And once booking.com has those details, can you be certain it will not bill you at some point before you get to the accommodation? I for one will not use it or any of its associate sites in future.
  2. In almost every case if involved with a Thai, I would agree. Arguing is not only self-defeating, it can end up rather ugly. But if in an official taxi from the airport I see that I am getting ripped off, I make sure the driver knows that i know and give him the chance to rectify it. If not, then out comes the taxi receipt and the phone camera. There is not much he can do on the expressway. If it is not sorted out before you get off the expresway then I guess better to give up before you get an unwanted tour around the suburbs. It has always worked for me.
  3. I totally agree. But my experience of Singapore going back to 1980 is clearly different from yours. I have visited quite a few Singaporeans in their homes over the last 15 or so years - mostly people (basically straight) whom I have got to know well through work - and spent a good amount of time in government and other offices. Of course, some people in Singapore are perfectly happy discussing homosexuality and even having been 'out' for many years. About 5 years ago I was invited for dinner in a business calleague's apartment (a 'straight' lady). Of the 8 of us around the table, 3 were openly gay Singaporean guys. It was the same sort of company I have enjoyed at many lunches and dinners in Hong Kong, although most Hong Kong people prefer to entertain in a restaurant than at home. I suspect it all boils down to personal experience - and perhaps to the type of business we work in.
  4. Years ago I was at one of the Korean venues, but it was definitely more like a sauna and bathhouse with upstairs sleeping on bunk-type beds on the floor. No space in between; only a slightly raised partition. Plenty of room for wandering arms and hands! I have been to all-male hot springs in Japan and Taiwan where Japanese and Taiwanese have no inhibitions about walking around totally naked. Bathhouses with total nudity have been part of their cultures for centuries. In Bangkok I have been to the very pleasant and beautifully laid out Yunomori 2 Japanese-style onsen on Sathorn Soi 10. Thais are definitely more reserved. Some wear dark shorts; others will cover themselves with their hands when walking about. But far from everyone. Personally I think any form of clothing should be banned from onsen! My friends tell me that is definitely not the case with the facility in Bangsaen. Also it's again definitely not the case when you go to bathhouses, onsen and hot springs in Japan and Taiwan. At my regular hot spring just outside Taipei, the majority of guys there are below 40 with some in their 20s who are extremely handsome and fit. The same was true at the Sathorn Yunomori onsen in Bangkok. I was by a long way the oldest. The average was probably around 30 - 35. That said, some months ago there was one post here about the original Yunomori off Sukhumvit. The poster said the average age was considerably higher. I suspect the newer Sathorn onsen attracts a much younger crowd because it is so close to so many office towers.
  5. Probably true. But it still does not explain why after nearly three years with around 20% or thereabouts of visitors, the reservoirs are not pretty much full to the brim. Unless they are only large enough to hold supply for one high season. In which case the authorities should have got round to building more as the island was continually attracting more and more tourists and stop moaning about water shortage!
  6. Basically I agree with you. But massage is not an illegal activity. Of course we all know that it can lead to a happy ending but essentially massage is a service common and legal in most parts of the world. So putting an expected tip on a service list is not breaking any law as I understand it. On the other hand I think it would be very difficult to argue in any court in Thailand that offing a boy or a girl from a bar is in almost all cases for any purpose other than sex. "Sorry, your honour. We were only going to discuss the changing price of rice or the latest movements on the stock markets," is hardly likely to change a judge's opinion." Therefore prostitution is the primary motive and putting expected tip amounts on a bar notice unfortunately makes that 99.99% clear.
  7. I totally disagree. I think westerners who have knowledge of bars will certainly pay little attention. You and i may have no problem, but Indians from Varanasi, Japanese from Oita or Chinese from Chengdu may be perfectly happy to have the "rules" printed out in their own languages. Not everyone speaks English - or not enough English to understand what a Thai mamasan is trying to tell them. Without complete understanding comes miscommunication. As for prostitution being illegal, it would be stupid to list tips (as they do in quite a few massage spas). All that is necessary is to print that the off fee does not include any tips which are extra! It doesn't take much to make such a list perfectly understandable without being against the law.
  8. This is second hand information but it is backed up by several people and a website. Opened a couple of years or so ago, the Demont Hostel in Bangsaen between Bangkok and Pattaya is open to all gay men. https://x.com/DemontHostel?t=JCAk0fOTChwjy-Ny8dloHw&s=09 I cannot read Thai and so cannot translate all the blurb on the web page. My friends tell me that it has 8 dormitory rooms with 4 bunk beds in each at a cost of 350 baht per bed per night. The are 4 private bathrooms. Looking on google there is a photo of double matresses but I do not know if they are specifically linked to the ryokan or the onsen - or both. Additionally there are two public bathing onsen areas linked by a common room where some action seems 'common'! The key point is that everyone in the ryokan has to be naked! Understandably it appears busier at the weekends mostly with Thais and I was told they seem to be foreigner friendly. Getting there is apparently easy by bus from Ekkamai. Ask the bus driver to drop you opposite the Shell station in Bangsaen and it should be very near on the other side of the road. You can make bookings by phone , email or Line and advance payment is not required if you are a foreigner. But best to double check everything before visiting. Phone: 091 937 1953 / email: demonthostel@gmail.com / Line: demonthostel There are more photos here - https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x3102b53621aa84c5%3A0xa334f064fc8fdf93!3m1!7e115!5sGoogle Search!15sCgIgARICEAI&hl=en&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipPQEjorF3SWPHkevYwbDHP8R2RGTDn8xHl1RlwS&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiniuLMtdKBAxUB-jgGHQUpBDAQ9fkHKAB6BAgBEBw
  9. Is this not another piece of information that should be put on the laminated table cards? Sure it should be part of the mamasan's job but I really wonder how many do it in such a way that it is perfectly clear to each customer? Not all that many, I think. Some may remember the thread about the boy bars in Japan. Their websites makes absolutely everything you would ever want to know about their procedures and what your chosen boy will and will not do 100% clear.
  10. I believe the bars are partly at fault with this quite major degree of misunderstanding. The owners should be extremely well aware - as are all members of gaythailand - that the make up of patrons at gogo and other bars has been changing rapidly for quite a number of years. Few Chinese, Indian and some other nationalities will have been to such bars in their own countries and be unaware of the 'protocols' of Thai bars. Why do the bar owners place all the onus on a mama-san whose English, no matter how hard he tries, is unlikely to be anywhere near fluent. Those patrons from some countries will be equally bad in conversational English, the more so with as both parties may have strong national accents. So why do they not consider placing on the bar tables a small laminated sheet with bar 'protocol' as it relates to boys drinks, tips in the bar, off fees and tips afterwards re offing boys. This probably need to be only in Chinese, Japanese and Indian (with English as well if felt necessary). This then takes away almost all possibility of miscommunication.
  11. Koh Samui gets an average of 1,960 mm (72 inches) of rainfall annually. That's almost 500 mm more than Bangkok. If the monsoon has been hitting Koh Samui with the same regularity as Bangkok, I fail to understand how its three reservoirs have not been pretty much replenished. After all, the number of hotel rooms in operation in 2020, 2021 and most of 2022 fell from between 25,000-30,000 to just 5,000. The Bangkok Post reports that Pru Namuang reservoir is down to 18,000 cubic meters whereas its capacity is 1.3 cubic meters. With all the water saved since 2020, how is that reservoir so empty? Where did the water go? It seems to me that the basic water infrastructure can not have been updated for many years and water management so poor to the extent that much of the existing water supply is just being lost as a result of poor or non-existent maintenance. But the shortage will not last long. What the article fails to point out is that a pipeline from the mainland is 70% complete and should be operational by February 2024. That is expected bring to the end the island's water woes whereafter @numazu should be able to enjoy long showers after his massages https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1099148/water-rationing-on-koh-samui-as-reservoirs-dry-up
  12. CNN is reporting that the new Prime Minister is having second thoughts about the legalisation of cannabis. In a recent Bloomberg interview he said that his government would seek to "rectify" the law on cannabis within the next six months. "The law will need to be rewritten . . . we can have that regulated for medical use only." https://edition.cnn.com/2023/09/29/asia/thailand-cannabis-clampdown-what-next-intl-hnk/index.html
  13. As they do their government cabinet ministers and Prime Minister. Their PM is the highest paid poitician in the world!
  14. He was not as instantly recognisable as, say, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud or others in the panoply of great British actors. He kept himself very much out of the public limelight. But the moment he stepped on stage. you knew you were in the presence of a magnificent force in theatre. Most will remember him for his work in films, as the actor who took over the role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies after the death of Peter O'Toole, or as King George V in The King's Speech. But his career was firmly rooted in the stage with many magnificent performances both in the classics and contemporary theatre. Sir Nicholas Hyntner, former director of London's National Theatre, sums him up perfectly. In 2005 he directed Gambon in the role of Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. He wrote yesterday - "Michael Gambon was one of the last links to the great generation of actors that included Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson. His extraordinary gift was to combine the brute power of Olivier with the delicacy of Richardson. He could howl in pain at one moment and in the next achieve a kind of balletic grace that took the breath away." He added, "the memory of his countless great performances . . . will remain in circulation for generations." Sir Michael died yesterday aged 82. https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2023/sep/28/michael-gambon-star-of-harry-potter-and-the-singing-detective-dies-aged-82
  15. Surely such incriminating (we assume) information would be used behind closed doors? Interesting that he says he wants to protect the police force and so "will not reveal it yet." Yet! Such a tiny three letter word so full of meaning!
  16. Walk along Saladaeng or most other streets during the huge monsoon rain storms recently and you are likely to see a colony of rats. Apparently their homes in the water run off pipes/sewers also become flooded!
  17. Elsewhere he has claimed his wife bought the houses. Apparently she comes from a very wealthy family. But when this information dribbles out, there is inevitably a smell of corruption, whether in fact or merely supposition. Also he has admitted that he paid members of the media who covered him and his actions positively. He claimed reporters were underpaid and would regularly hand out 500 baht bills to all. When a particularly favourable article appeared, the 'tip' could be as much as 10,000 baht. And this is not corruption??? https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2653830/big-joke-says-he-paid-reporters
  18. Having lived in Hong Kong for two decades, worked there for a further 17 years and been a very frequent visitor to Singapore throughout all that time, I find @macaroni21's comments very perceptive but only partly in line with my own views. What I will add is that while both cities have changed dramatically during all that time, I think Hong Kong has changed more quickly in terms of the cultural views of the two populations. No doubt this is in large part a result of Hong Kong having been a colony until 1997. On the surface one of the world's great glittering financial centres. Underneath, until its final decade or so of British rule, a nasty little crime ridden swamp where a draconian largely British-led corrupt police force was virtually hand in hand with the triad gangs. By the mid 1970s, the Independent Commission Against Corruption had been set up and this certainly helped clean up both the police, the judiciary and the civil service. But whereas there had always been a thriving gay underground, both privately and with closely-monitored gay bars and one mostly gay disco, part of the police force brief still remained the weeding out of gay men, especially those in prominent positions, as evidenced in the establishment of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the late 1970s. This unit was thrust into the headlines with the death of a Scottish Police Inspector John MacLennan in January 1980. Found in his locked apartment with 5 gunshot wounds to his torso (but none to his heart or his head), the police ruled this a suicide. As details of the event dribbled out, public ridicule was heaped on the police in charge and even on the need for the SIU to be abolished. I wrote a series of five posts about this particular suicide/murder some time ago, the first of which is this one - Although it was to take a further decade, that death started the process of changing the colonial anti-sodomy law. Thereafter many gays were soon to come out of the closet and gay saunas, bars and nightclubs opened relatively quickly. Hong Kong therefore had quite a head start on Singapore. In Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew, laws were equally harsh in many areas of society. When Go Chok Tong took over in 1990 he promised greater openness and freedom. But when their People's Action Party lost votes at the following general election, he reneged on that promise. Even up to the turn of the millennium most Singaporeans were in fear of Section 377A (the anti-gay law) which could and did result in some gay men ending up in prison for around 2 years. There was no real gay infrastructure, although the very large Zouk club did have a fun gay section. And some hotels had weekend Sunday gay afternoons - as at the Pan Pacific Hotel around the early 1990s. In general, though, there was a fear especially of entrapment. It was quite common for young police officers to cruise popular areas frequented by gay men to try to establish a hook up. This was especiaily true at the beach. The guys who attempted a hook up were then arrested and charged. Even as late as June last year, the city-state's Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said on a BBC interview show, "a significant portion of our people, the middle ground as it were, do not want that law repealed." But then that had always been the government line. The change in the law since then has not been met with any form of protest, apart from the mega-Evangelical Christian Churches! I found that it was only around 2000 that Singapore gay men started to become more open. For decades there had been one bar here or there which welcomed gay men but then quickly closed. The longest established one was in Lucky Plaza off Orchard Road, Vincent's Lounge which opened in 1989. A small narrow bar, it was about the only formal gay meeting place where locals could meet foreigners, apart occasionally from fitness centres in hotels. More small gay bars opened, my favourite being Backstage. Gay saunas also opened. The only one I attended was a lovely small one named Rairua outside the city centre. It was the first to introduce all nude nights. Sadly it closed after only three years. Going back to @macaroni21's comments, I believe the reason for his having come across more openly gay managers in Singapore than Hong Kong is partly, as he suggests, because Hong Kong is a far more Chinese society and the Chinese managers in a work setting prefer to be more restrained in discussing and particularly openly making others aware of their own sexuality. This is true even in multi-national companies. I have a close American friend who worked in a very senior position in an American multi national. His secretary, his boss and a few of his fellow managers were aware he was gay. But not most others. Singapore has quickly become more open - but publicly I believe this remains only for a very few. I do not believe it is in general easier for Singaporeans to be openly out. Lastly on this topic I have always found Singapore guys seem more gay and sometimes act slightly gay, even though they are totally straight. Again this seems something to do with local culture. 30 years or so ago I recall visiting a hugely popular nightly cabaret show in the Boom Boom room. Hosted by a bisexual/gay entertainer, it included drag queens, very risque jokes and routines and every night had the local young audience in fits of laughter. I noticed that entering and leaving the club, many of the boys were almost acting gay - even though they were clearly with their girl friends. There is a chameleon-like quality to many SIngapore guys which I rarely find in more straight-forward Hong Kong.
  19. The video does actually say at the start that these are the countries with the most LGBT people. That certainly is not true of Singapore and I find it rather an extraordinary choice. Most majority Chinese communities have an in-built aversion to their sons being gay. Thankfully this is changing quite quickly, but Taiwan and Hong Kong are way ahead of Singapore in my view and both are at least as safe. And as both have been more tolerant of the LGBT community for longer, I would place either ahead of Singapore. It's true that Singapore may be one of the cruisiest cities on the planet for those who like Asian guys, but not many of those guys you see on Orchard Road will be openly 'out'. It was only at the start of this year that the dreaded Section 377A of the penal Code was finally abolished. Until then, it was technically illegal to be gay. The Prime Minster had said some years ago he had to keep the law as it was but the government would not act on it. The city state has had gay bars and saunas for years but many Singaporeans remained afraid to come out - and still remain so.
  20. I have become a fan of international badminton tournaments which are shown regularly on TV in Thailand. Many cute Asian guys in that sport, but I am always surprised that even when they are leaping in the air prior to smashing the ball, you rarely see any bulges! Table tennis is another sport that has recently begun to be televised. The young Taiwanese Lin Yun-ru rarely smiles but I find him very cute. He's curently dropped to No. 8 in the world, partly because he had to withdraw from a couple of tournments with a wrist injury.. Pity the sport is played so incredibly quickly nowadays. It is difficult to make out body contours! 😵 And not easy to find really good photos of him, unfortunately, so this will have to do.
  21. There used to be a bar in Bangkok for bears - somewhere off Sukhumvit I think. Taipei has one within the Red House Complex, although i rarely see many bears at all in Taiwan.
  22. It certainly looks more pleasant than the existing main terminal. Opening with just two smallish airlines with only 18 daily flights on single aisle aircraft makes a great deal of sense. It stands a good chance of avoiding the chaos I mentioned in my earlier post where old airports like Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur closed one evening and the new ones completely reopened with full flight schedules the next morning.
  23. I am sure ASEAN would love to see a World Cup in the region. Apart from the publicity given to the region and the influx of visitors, many quite wealthy, it could do wonders for the development of soccer - just as it did in the USA following 1994 and Japan following 2002. As for fans, I fear their interest in the sport will far outweigh concerns about how liberal or otherwise the host country/countries might be. Just look at what happened with Qatar. When awarded the World Cup, there was an outcry. This continued in the run up to the Finals when the date was for the first time ever changed from summer to late autumn, over many allegations of corruption which have never been fully explained, over the nation's frightful treatment of all the foreign labourers brought in to build the new stadia, about alcohol being illegal and its legal stance against homosexuality. Massive amounts of media time were given over to how this would result in Qatar being boycotted by various communities and be virtually a phantom World Cup. In the end, it turned out to be a monster success. With Saudi Arabia slowly taking steps to open up to tourists and easing some restrictions on its own peoples, I cannot see that in 11 years time this will stop fans from visiting. Much more pressing for FIFA, an organisation that used to be hugely corrupt and seems not to have changed as much as it said it would, it will face huge challenges from the main footballing and revenue-generating centres of Europe and South America. Since the mid-1950s the Finals had traditionally altered between the Americas and Europe. Since 2002, though, there have been 2 in greater Asia and one in South Africa. South America will not have hosted a FInals since 2014 in Rio (athough some matches will be played in Mexico in 2026) and Europe since 2018 in Russia. I reckon there will be great pressure for Europe to be awarded 2030 and then South America in 2034. But my crystal ball may be somewhat cloudy 😵
  24. That's the upside, because like Qatar they want the World Cup and they will bribe whomever necessary to make it happen. After all, they are paying outrageous salaries to both stars and less well known players to move to the Kingdom to take part on the relatively new soccer Saudi League. That's what they've done with golf by starting the new LIV tour. It has been written extensively that they paid the ageing Phil Mickelson $200 million to help set the LIV tour up. So ASEAN won't get a World Cup!
  25. Of course, there is no World Cup in 2032! The next ones will be 2026 in the USA, Canada and Mexico; 2030 and then 2034. So did the Prime Minister actually meet with anyone from FIFA, given he talked about 2032?? Or was this just hot air? As @omega points out, the infrastucture costs will be huge for most ASEAN countries. Like Qatar last year, Japan and South Korea which hosted in 2002 built mostly new venues. Each had 10 World Cup stadia in 10 different cities from Seoul to Seogwipo in Jeju Island, and from Oita in Kyushu to Sapporo in Hokkaido. Some ASEAN stadia could no doubt be upgraded. Most will likely have to be built from scratch. Then there has to be consideration for the fans. Most will probably be coming from South and North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. So their basic flight and hotel costs to get to the region will be higher than for previous World Cups. Having then to travel to matches between countries could become an expensive logistical nightmare. The hosting costs may not be quite as high as hosting an Olympics. Montreal in 1976 ended up with a $1.6 billion deficit and a massive white elephant of a stadium that itself had bled 69% of the total budget. It took the city 30 years to pay off the debts. Athens in 2004 cost a staggering $11 billion and most of its specially built sports facilities have been rotting for years. Like Montreal, hosting a FIFA World Cup will provide wonderful oopportunities for one of South East Asia's favourite occupations - corruption. I predict it will also end up with major debts. It's definiitely a vanity project that will become a huge headache for the region and not a few of its individual countries.
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