Stickman Weekly  27/11/2011

An Afternoon Stroll in the Old Quarters

Perhaps the best thing about running this website is all of the wonderful people I've met over the years, many of who have become good friends.  Most of my closest friends I met through this site.  There are many people I have met once, and there is a number who I meet up with whenever they are in town.

One of the latter is a fellow who writes stories for the site and relays his experiences under the pen name of Caveman.  This week Caveman was in town and it was our first chance to catch up in more than a year.  Rather than the usual dinner at a British pub followed by leering in some naughty bar, I thought it might be more fun to get outside, go for a wander and catch up while exploring some of the more interesting parts of the city.  Caveman was up for that so we headed down to the river and a chance to stroll around my favourite part of the city.  Two mates out and about in Bangkok, catching up, having a laugh with the locals while doing my most favourite activity of all - capturing life in Bangkok through the lens.


 

Bangkok

We started off at Ta Chang, or Elephant Pier in English, the pier closest to the Grand palace.  We've done this stroll before and Caveman commented at how high the river level remains.  Sandbags and rickety raised walkways are the norm at many piers towards the end of the rainy season and in to the start of the cool season but it's obviously much worse this year and despite some parts of the city slowly drying out, it's still a bit of a mess down by the river.

 

Bangkok

In the park across from Wat Arun not far from the Navy Wives Association Building, navy staff of various ranks enjoyed the late afternoon sun, some with their loved ones, waiting to watch the sun drop below the horizon which it does at record speed at this time of year.



Bangkok

At the Tien Pier close to Wat Po, this old fellow sat guard outside his flooded shop.  Crates and containers formed a makeshift seat as well as a means of keeping his feet out of the brown water that had invaded his store.  All of the shops in the small market on Tien Pier remain flooded, including the small restaurant that looks across at Wat Arun, that lovely spot with the perfect view which has a special menu for foreigners - English language and twice the Thai price!

 

Bangkok

I've probably walked up and down Soi Ta Tien a hundred times or more over the years but still can't resist taking shots of the various shophouses with their beautiful old architecture, and fascinating decorations.  An older Chinese Thai noticed me pointing my lens into his shop and started waving his arms in my direction.  At first I thought he was having a rant until I realised he was actually inviting Caveman and I inside.  The collection of paraphernalia lining the walls of his shophouse transcend era, subject and religion and there was so much stuff that I couldn't actually figure out what line of business he was in!  In very decent English - as is the case with many Chinese Thais in this part of town - he told us about his family, a number of members of which live overseas, something in which he seemed to have much pride.  We were shown photos of him with his family posing in various famous spots around the world, stoically as Thais typically do.  A well-travelled family, the family snaps were from places as diverse as Russia, the USA, New Zealand, Turkey and Scandinavia.  He was a likeable fellow who wouldn't shut up and excuses had to be made to extricate ourselves.

 

Bangkok

A few hundred metres down the road we reached one of my favourite neighbourhoods in all of Bangkok, and a photographer's dream, the flower market.  For the Romeos who buy flowers from the flower sellers for their favourite bargirl, this is where the vendors source from - a bunch of 50 odd can cost as little as 30 baht.  But it's not only flowers for sale - various local produce, fruit, vegetables and spices are available too.  Obviously it wasn't too busy early evening...

 

Bangkok

Some of the flower sellers are quite striking and it was amusing how it seemed that many of the women selling fruit or vegetables are older and larger and include at least one curse word in every single sentence.  Contrast them with the lovelies working at the flower stands and they're all young, pretty and polite.  I wonder if the market women start off selling flowers and later graduate to fruit and vegetables?!

 

Bangkok

We tracked further down the road, past the Memorial Bridge before heading inland towards Pahurat, the small Bangkok neighbourhood sometimes referred to as Little India.  Our destination for dinner was that hidden gem, the Royal India.  This is the original branch of the Royal India which now has a few branches around town.  None compare to the original and the food at other branches appears to have been adapted to appeal to a more cosmopolitan customer base.  The original branch's customers comprise about 50% Indians and the flavours are authentic.  The service is average, the ambience basic, but the food is absolutely excellent.  My companion had suffered slop in the Philippines for the past week which was passed off as food  so the Royal India really hit the spot.

 

Bangkok

Having refueled on an excellent Indian meal, we decided to stroll the couple of kilometres up the road towards the Panfa Bridge and head to our final destination of Khao San Road.

Just out on the main road was a pomegranate juice vendor.  This delicious and healthy fruit juice has become a more common sight on Bangkok's streets over the last couple of years.  Previously you'd only see it in Chinatown and a few other select spots and it was sold at a princely 50 baht for a small bottle.  These days it is much more widely available and the price in Chinatown, Khao San and the old part of the city is usually 30 baht per bottle.  On Sukhumvit it's still sold at 50 baht, although just beyond Bully's, near soi 2, there's a vendor who has it for 40 baht.  In Thai it's called nam tub-tim.

 

Bangkok

Rather than heading all the way up to Panfa Bridge close to the Golden Mount we tracked left and headed towards the Giant Swing, a large religious structure out the front of Wat Sutat.  This whole area of Bangkok is fascinating in terms of architecture, there are many temples and the inhabitants of the area often lead a more traditional Thai (or Chinese) lifestyle than what you see in the likes of Sukhumvit or Silom.

 

Bangkok

Not far from the Giant Swing we came across what would perhaps best be described as a Buddhist temple supplies store.  Various items were stocked from candles to candle holders to various Buddhist ornaments.  In the window were two incredibly detailed, life-size, life-like wax mannequins of famous Thai monks.  A chink was finally found in Caveman's armour as I noticed that my American military friend, who looks like he could kick Sly or Arnie's ass with a hand tied behind his back looked decidedly uncomfortable.  These mannequins are so incredibly life-like that even standing just a couple of feet away and examining them closely you still are not entirely sure that they are not real.  Whether it's the liver spots, the veins, the nails or even, incredibly, the eyes, these mannequins look real.  I pulled my eye away from the viewfinder and looked up to see Caveman.  He must have been 40 metres up the road and accelerating away at pace!

 

Bangkok

It was still early evening when we made it up to Rachadamnoen Road.  A busy thoroughfare and route for those who work in the city but live out west, it was proof, if ever it was needed, that things are still far from normal in Bangkok.  Traffic on this road is usual grid lock early evening.

 

Bangkok

Khao San Road is a freak show day and night and approaching the backpackers' haven from the eastern end we heard someone bellowing out so loud that his voice could be heard above music coming out of bars and restaurants.  The lord had given this disciple the finest vocal chords.  An Irishman would be my best guess, it was not only the Thais who looked on in amusement.  He seemed to be losing his voice and I couldn't make out what he was saying, and made a point of mentioning this to Caveman.  This was overheard  by a tuktuk driver who came up to me and said, "He tell you come with me to see ping pong show!"  I kid you not!  Unfortunately for the tuktuk driver, Caveman and I are both confirmed agnostics so we didn't take any notice of the lord's message.

 

Bangkok

Khao San Road has evolved and the needs of flashpackers are increasingly being met.  That means that not only have fried noodles, spring rolls and other treats doubled in price, so the offerings have become more diverse.  Pretties as the Thais call them, young Thai women dollied up in branded outfit, can be seen up and down Khao San trying to push the various products they are paid to promote.  Normally I wouldn't care for either Singha or Leo but I guess on this occasion I could make an exception!

Caveman and I grabbed a ringside seat on Khao San Road, sat back and watched the freak show pass us by.  We snapped shots, chewed the fat and reflected on how good life can be.

The old part of Bangkok has many interesting sights, different architecture, many products not seen elsewhere and a very welcoming atmosphere.  You can wander outside beautiful illuminated temples and explore dark alleys without any real fear or concern.  I love wandering around the old part of the city and doing so with the camera and a mate is a great way to hang out.  I often wonder why I don't spend more time in that part of the city.  That's something I really ought to change.

 

Big Mango

 

*Where* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo of girls posing for outside a Patpong bar was taken in 2000The when is this photo competition is over.  Finished!  I never possibly imagined that something as innocuous as changing the format of the competition could polarize the readership - but that's exactly what happened.  It even caused some hate mail!

I am pleased to announce that for the next 6 weeks, Monsoon Books has donated 6 copies of the rereleased edition of Jack Reynolds' classic "A Woman of Bangkok", along with 6 copies of Jon Cole's new "Bangkok Hard Time".  I'll be giving a copy of each away each week along with the 2 usual prizes.  That means there are 4 prizes each week for the rest of the year!

A Woman Of Bangkok Bangkok Hard Time

So where was this week's mystery photo taken?!  All you have to do is tell me where the photo was taken.  There are 4 prizes this week - a 500 baht credit at the Oh My Cod fish and chips restaurant, a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues and home of Bangkok's best burger, Duke's Express, plus a copy of A Woman Of Bangkok and a copy of Bangkok Hard Time.

Terms and conditions:  The Duke's Express voucher MUST be redeemed by June 2012.  The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days.  Prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable.  Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month.  You only have one guess per week!  Winners of the book prizes must provide a postal address in Thailand.  If you wish to claim a prize, you must state a preference for the prize you prefer, or list the prizes you would like in order of preference - failure to do so results in the prize going to the next person to get the photo right.

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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 - You're not James Bond!

I just read your article on Fred and his endeavours to find love on TLL.  There is no fool like an old fool!  What we oldies have to realise is that we are old!  Gentlemen, take a long hard look in the mirror.  Now, if you want loyalty and trust, try finding someone the same age as yourself.  No, we don't want that!  Thai ladies don't age very well!  What we want is some cutie half our age.  Now that we have limited our search criteria, be prepared for lies and deceit.  After all, what can you expect?  You ain't going to buy that kind of love at any price.  We oldies have to stop fooling ourselves.  Just because we barfine someone and she does her job well, we think we're James Bond!  We have to pay a premium for young company, short term or long term.  Why would any self-respecting Thai girl want to date a fat old Yorkshire man with the manners of a pig?  I use TLL to line up dates, usually still meet whores, but that's fine by me as it's only for a night or two.  I did meet a lady from Chiang Mai on TLL - lovely girl, nice personality and she spoke good English.  After I returned home we kept in touch, but she was still on TLL and I was trying to make a go of it.  I set up another profile using a mate's photo and contacted her.  Within a week she was hooked on my alter ego although I was writing the BS.  I had all the proof that she was not to be trusted and broke off further contact.  If you're unsure of your cyber relationship, it's a simple and inexpensive way of testing the relationship.  For the price of a month's subscription and an unsuspecting mate's photo, set up your own love rival's profile - but beware, it can mess with your head.

Thailand expensive?

It amazes me to hear expats in Thailand complaining about how expensive it is.  Especially when they tell you they have 1 million baht + a year to live on.  It makes me wonder what these people spend their money on.  Bangkok is among the world's cheapest cities and anyone visiting can see it.  It's easy to find a good meal for 300 baht or less.  There are tonnes of ads for nice apartments in the most expensive parts of the city for 30,000 baht or less.  I have no problem when I'm there finding gorgeous women willing to spend the night with me for 2,000 baht in Sukhumvit.  Often, the price drops the second time around.  All of these are prices I know about as a tourist.  Someone living there should, like in any city, be able to find much better prices simply through being a local.  I live in central Sydney and in an average year I spend the equivalent of about 1.3 million baht.  And I'm not frugal.  I eat out more often than not, usually in nice pubs or cafes.  I date local girls and go out for drinks with my friends all the time.  I also own a car, lots of gadgets and share a nice flat with a friend of mine.  I could easily knock a big chunk off that if times became tough.  I'm sure I don't have to list the prices of things like transport, food and rent in Sydney, as most of your readers could take a good guess.  I don't have a wife or family, and I know they can be expensive, so my question is aimed at single guys.  If I can do that in Sydney, what exactly are your friends in Bangkok (let alone Khon Kaen) spending their money on?

Thermae shift?

I thought I'd tell you about my brief visit to the Thermae last night.  I hadn't been there in the years since the Japanese / Korean invasion changed the demographics.  Imagine my surprise then to see half the men in Thermae were Westerners and while there was a contingent of Asian men, the girls were actually talking to us non-Asians and were happy to go out.  Not sure if this is a permanent shift or caused by a shortage of Asian customers.  It almost reminded me of the good old days and is long overdue.

Dirty soi 4!

You are regularly in Soi 4, and may not notice it as much, but the first 100 metres is simply disgusting, Nana Plaza side to the entrance to the Plaza is the pits.  I like street food and vendors, but it really is a joke along there.  Just to get down the soi, I have also seen the entrance physically blocked with bikes, so you can't even get in.  It can only change for the better.

Does shame come into it when money is involved?

Interesting column about Nana Plaza.  Surely it must shut down some time, as well as Cowboy.  Aren't the Thais ashamed of the country's reputation?  Two of the biggest brothels in the world in the centre of the capital city, not to mention the strip of brothels on Rachada.

A floodee rants!

I live in Bang Bua Thong and evacuation from the floods was not an option.  We have been under at least 1 metre of water for 5 weeks now and the mossies, as any asshole knows and expects, have come in incredible numbers.  We used to close the unscreened parts of the house about 5 PM.  Now we keep the house closed all day.  We are living in stinking, filthy conditions that are an immediate health concern.  We now are seeing the mossie that carries malaria and have never seen it here before.  Since most people have fled the mossies now feed all day and night, not just evening and morning as before.  Piss on anyone living in the sacred city for even trying to whine and complain to me about their minor inconveniences.  I say to them, "Pack your fxxxing Gucci shit and go home you pussy."  Sorry for the rant but those living beyond the inner sanctum of the sacred city have been fxxxed totally.

The Aussie forex rip off!

I travel back and forth to Thailand from Australia often, yet it never ceases to amaze me how much we get ripped off in Australia with regards to foreign exchange (Forex) transactions.  The biggest culprit is undoubtedly the forex dealers that operate at the major airports in Australia.  On departing Sydney airport a few days ago the buy / sell spread on the AUD/THB was a shocking 25.07/34.55 plus (wait for it) a $12 commission fee on top of the already enormous spread and the shockingly poor rate.  It is however not until you crunch the figures that you realise how much you are getting screwed when you change money in Australia.  Handing over $100 AUD to one of these sharks would get you a dismal THB2206 ($100 - $12 x 25.07).  Whereas in Thailand at the same time you would get about THB3100 give or take a few THB either way.  Here is a good test though, if you were to hand that THB2206 straight back you would get back only $51.84 from the $100 you started with  (2206 / 34.55 - $12).  These sharks must be making enormous profits from these exchange rates that are so far off what the interbank rate of the day is, plus they have the hide to tack on a commission.  From my experience, Thai banks across the board offer very competitive rates, and if you are in Bangkok you can usually get a slightly better rate from the forex dealers around Sukhumvit Soi 5.  Avoid changing your money in Australia!

The cleanup is gaining steam in those parts of Bangkok where the flood waters have receded.  And downtown, a number of businesses in the central city have started dismantling the protective barriers that had been hastily erected to protect their premises.  I do wonder however what will happen to the hundreds of thousands of sandbags sitting outside so many buildings.  I can't help but think that at some businesses the only hope of the sandbags disappearing is for them to rot away over time, and the sand to be taken away by the wind.Sahara Bangkok

I cannot be the only one who avoids the girls from the 7 bars owned and run by a certain individual in Soi Cowboy who have taken to patrolling the middle of the soi so they can grab passing customers.  With business way down there seems to be instructions across these bars for the girls to stand in the middle of the soi and do whatever is necessary to get customers inside.  This may not be anything new, but at each of this individual's bars the girls are more aggressive than they are elsewhere.  Even some of the mamasans are out in the middle of the soi grabbing, sometimes groping!  It's not quite Patpong soi 1 level annoyance, but this sort of carry on will just play into Nana's hands and send more punters back up the road.  The atmosphere at Cowboy has changed markedly and it's not the sleepy, laid-back soi it once was.

Is it me, or are there more tramp stamps in Bangkok bars these days than there used to be?  I noticed it in Tilac this past week where a lot of girls have tattoos.  In the past it always seemed that the gogo dancers of Pattaya had more tattoos than you would find on girls dancing in Bangkok, but I wonder if there is much difference at all these days.

Walter, the elderly Canadian who oversees the operation at Big Dogs, can be seen cycling around the city.  His bicycle is his primary means of transport and a big part of his lifestyle so you can imagine his dismay when he stopped outside a shop, went inside to collect a few things and came out to find that Somchai had nicked his wheels.  Not only would he need to get home, he was upset because he didn't have the funds to buy a replacement.  Word reached a bunch of regulars of Big Dogs who chipped in 1,000 baht each and presented Walter with an envelope so a replacement bike could be purchased.

Larry's Dive closed a few months back and that space on Sukhumvit soi 22 is now home to the No idea Cafe, a gastro pub which looks a little like Durty Nelly's in style and atmosphere - and if it is anything like Durty Nelly's that would not be a bad thing for their pub grub is arguably the best in town.  The new venue should be open any day.


Soi Cowboy

Business has not picked up in Sukhumvit since the errant reporting of flooding in parts of Bangkok caused holidaymakers to cancel their travel plans en masse.  It's not just the nightlife area where things remain grim.  Pretty much all I have spoken to - tailors, visa consultants, bar, restaurant and hotel owners and operators all report that business is way down.  Some brave-faced owners tell me business is down by 20%, but one bar owner has told me he is down by 60% and believes many others are suffering to the same extent.  Most businesses whose customer base is predominately Westerners resident outside of Thailand are doing badly.

Have you noticed that soi 4 in three of central Bangkok's busiest roads - Sukhumvit, Silom and Rachadapisek Roads - share something unusual in common - they are all major nightlife centres!  Sukhumvit soi 4 is home to Nana Plaza and needs no introduction.  Silom soi 4 is home to a strip of gay bars - not of the pay for play variety but where gay guys go to meet other gay guys.  And Rachadapisek Road's soi 4 is home to a bunch of large, Thai-style pubs and discos which attract a younger crowd, where girls on the fringe of the industry can be found.  In middle-class Bangkok, those who spend anything more thanNana Plaza the occasional night at Rachada soi 4 aren't always looked at favourably!

I did the buffet at Bourbon Street this week - which was excellent as always, but boy oh boy, was it quiet!  I would not have thought a venue like Bourbon Street would be hit by a lack of tourists and would guess that most of their customers are residents.  I know the buffet is a big hit with teachers and it's usually quite obvious on Tuesdays night who had spent the day in front of the whiteboard.  I wonder if the fact that most schools are still closed and many teachers have taken the opportunity to go travelling - and while out of work some won't be getting paid - that Bourbon Street was so quiet on Tuesday night.

Or maybe it's that the competition from Sunrise Tacos is heating up?  Sunrise offers all you can eat tacos and apple pie on Tuesdays and Fridays at all of its branches for a bargain 220 baht.  Perhaps that is part of the reason Bourbon Street was so quiet?  The record by the way is 11 tacos and 7 slices of pie.  Even the owner of Sunrise, well-known for his enormous appetite, can only down 4 tacos and he's stuffed!

It looks like for once it is Bangkok following a trend in Pattaya rather than the other way around.  There has been a noticeable increase in visitors from the likes of Moscow and St. Petersburg and while you would not say Bangkok is getting the invasion of Russians that Pattaya has seen, there has been a definite increase in Ruskies floating around Bangkok the past few weeks.  They seem to spend their time shopping - and buying up large - rather than doing the nightlife or hitting the restaurants popular with foreigners.

If you have anything questionable for sale, or you have any services that are even slightly dodgy, do NOT advertise them on Craigslist in Thailand.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are a number of forums and internet sites which are monitored and foreigners up to dodgy business are targeted.  And I can tell you that those monitoring these sites are foreigners who work closely with the authorities to catch these foreigners for a commission.  So if, for example, you were selling fake Rolexes on Craigslist, you would be contacted by someone purporting to be an interested party who would set up a trap to meet you and make a purchase.  But what would happen is that real Thai cops would be there for the sting, they would arrest you and you would ultimately get the choice of a settlement or facing charges.  Craigslist is fine for anything above board, but if you are involved in anything questionable, steer clear!

If you find yourself on Sukhumvit at lunch time and are feeling peckish, the buffet at the Ibis Hotel on Sukhumvit soi 4 is worth checking out.  At 199 baht all up - with none of the abhorrent ++, nor any extra charges for water or coffee, it's good value, and really is a better option than the other, more famous buffet up the soi.

The Night Of The Masks at Patpong's Bar Bar was such a great success thatPatpong management is repeating it.  If you missed it last time, mark December 11, 12 and 13 in your calendar and get yourself down to Bar Bar for the kinkiest fun you'll find in Bangkok!

If you walk out of Central World and wish to get on the skytrain, which station is closer - Chidlom or Siam?  The Mrs. says Chidlom and I say Siam.  Anyone know with certainty?

If you have an Iphone 4 or 4S and Bluetooth on your car radio you can now listen to Thai radio and pretend you are in a Bangkok taxi.  Just do a search on "ap store radio Thailand".  There's a small fee to pay, around $1.  Of course if you really want the authentic Bangkok taxi experience in Farangland, in addition to listening to a Thai radio station you should turn the volume up as loud as it will go, stop using your indicators, drive well over the speed limit, zoom in and out of each lane, honk the horn and tell your passengers how wonderful Thaksin is!

Embarrassment has a new definition.  This week I met up with a most interesting fellow, a published author who has 36 titles to his name - and a number of which are set in or about various aspects of life in Thailand.  Said fellow was quite the conversationalist, notwithstanding that he is hard of hearing.  So there we were, enjoying a bite in the restaurant in a popular hotel and he was telling me about a new title he is working on about ladyboys.  Ever discreet, I was speaking in hushed tones for fear of our fellow diners would overhear and perhaps misinterpret things.  Anyway, me speaking in hushed tones had the effect of causing my companion's words to be increased in volume.  He would come back to me with something like, "So you know plenty of ladyboys, do you?", an innocent question for he was fishing to see if I had any contacts he could get in touch with to assist with his new book.  Unfortunately this was said at a level way louder than I was comfortable with in a public space and such words caused every set of farang eyes to home in on me.  I lowered my head, averted my eyes and wondered where to look next!

Nakhon Phanom

There is Isaan and then there is Isaan.  The way some urban and middle-class Thais almost spit out the name of the country's poorest region leaves you in little doubt how they feel about their country cousins.  Perhaps the prettiest provincial capital in Isaan is Nakhon Phanom, which sits on the Mekong River across from Laos.  Tranquility, pretty temples...and for sure, pretty women who are somewhat fairer than those from other parts of the region.  On my visits to Nakhon Phanom I found locals to be less gregarious than the general populace of the region, and they are certainly more conservative.  What I find most intriguing is that unlike other provinces in the region, there's a dearth of women from Nakhon Phanom working in bars for foreigners.  While you find heaps of girls in bars from the likes of Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Nongkhai and Buriram etc, I don't ever remember talking with a girl from Nakhon Phanom in a naughty bar.  I am sure they are out there, but there appear to be fewer than from any of the other provinces in the region.  I just wonder if there is a slightly different mindset in Nakhon Phanom than there is in other parts of the Isaan region.  Or maybe because the locals from that part of the country tend to be fairer, the girls who do enter the trade end up in the sector for Thai men where white skin is prized as a sign of beauty?

If you're keen to get your hands on the republished edition of Jack Reynolds "A Woman Of Bangkok" and were not clever nor fast enough to get this week's photo competition right, it's out now from Monsoon Books.  I did a run through Asia Books and Kunokiniya in both Emporium and Siam Paragon this week and could not see any copies on the shelves yet, but Phil at Monsoon assures me that copies have been sent to Thailand and should be on store shelves any day!

Is one reason the family unit is so strong here that friendships often are skin deep in Thailand?  I often talk about how foreigners here have plenty of drinking buddies, but not always a lot of "real" friends.  I don't see things being much different with the locals and the term "fair weather friends" comes to mind.  Is that a contributing factor to the closeness of families here?

Quote of the week comes from Lecherous Lee, "The difference between white guys and Asian guys is that Asian guys don't pay ugly girls for sex!"

Malaysia and Thailand are at risk as the risks of further global economic slump remain.

From the LA Times, the Phnom Penh beer scene seems to be vibrant.

A report in the Phuket Gazette looks at the stigma ladyboys in Phuket face.

It sounds as though Vietnam really is a playboy's paradise!

CNNGo featured some of Bangkok's street artisans this week.

An excellent opinion piece in The Nation took a shot at the continued shoddy reporting of the BBC in Thailand.

Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand.  Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column.  You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1:  My father has retired in Thailand.  To buy his house, he set up a non-trading company with three shareholders; his Thai wife (50%), himself (49%) and another Thai (1%).  I live in Thailand and find the visa situation frustrating and difficult to handle - I've been an employee, a student and a tourist at various times over the past 10 years.  I'm wondering if my father's company can employ me and pay me a salary to work as a consultant.  That would enable me to get a Non-Immigrant B visa.  If his company can't do it in its present form, what changes would be necessary to employ a foreigner?  As it's non-trading, presumably, some company income would need to be shown and I would be liable to income tax.  Both of which are fine (within reason).

Sunbelt respondsYou mention your father used a non-trading company to buy a house.  It is not necessary to buy a house with a company, it is land owning that is restricted.  Also, the Thai government has started checking into companies that buy land to ensure that they are actively trading.  So, it might be a good idea to start a business using that company.  If the company had four Thai employees and a capitalisation of 2 million baht, then you could be hired as an employee and obtain a work permit.  However, as the company has not been generating income and has not had the required 4 Thai employees and been paying social security on those employees for a few months, obtaining a work permit may be problematic.  The officials may grant you a 6-month work permit after you meet the requirements.  This work permit can be renewed in another 6 months.  You will need the 6 months as an active business because otherwise the company audits will show it was a dormant company and they will want to make sure it's now a "real" company.  In order to obtain the extension of your visa, the established company would need to show an annual audit showing a gross income higher than your salary.

Bangkok


Downtown Bangkok may have been spared the flood waters that have caused chaos in the north and west of the city and it's fair to say now that there really is no reason for visitors not to visit Bangkok.  The city's tourism highlights are all ok and in downtown Bangkok it appears life is returning to normal.  Water is available in supermarkets and convenience stores, there are few food or product shortages, the dismantling of mini flood barriers hurriedly built to protect properties continues and Bangkok's wretched traffic jams have resumed.  But in some parts of the city things are far from ok.  Many suburbs remain flooded and many people's lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down as the floodwaters remain.  A number of Thais are increasingly sensitive about the way their suburbs have essentially been sacrificed to save the inner city.  With this in mind, it pays to be mindful when engaging Thais in conversation about the flooding.  Many are still suffering horribly and comment that the flooding is over and all is ok might not be well received...

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Animal Garden

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