Stickman Weekly  2/1/2011

Thais And Loneliness

It is said that if a Thai woman intimates that she is hungry you should feed her.  Right away.  A hungry Thai woman can be a difficult beast.  But as much as Thais struggle with being hungry, there's something they battle with even more.  Loneliness.

Most of us don't like being alone for too long and the subsequent feeling of loneliness, but for the Thais it's an extreme emotion.  The feeling is strong and goes way beyond mere discomfort and into the realm of pain!

The family unit is close in Thailand, insomuch that members of a family not only live together, they often do everything together.  In rural areas, multiple generations may sleep together in the same room, work the farm together, go to the temple together and do almost everything together.  In wealthy and urban families, family members do many things together as a family, through the kids' teen years, into their 20s and perhaps even beyond.  Sunday is family day and restaurants across Bangkok and all over the country fill up with Thai family groups spending much of the day together.  Family members may not leave the family home until they get married, often staying at home well into their late 20s or even their 30s.  And for those who don't get married, and don't have to travel far for work or study, they may never leave!  As such, they are seldom away from others for anything more than a short period of time.

Thais have a group mentality.  They live in groups, eat together in groups, may sleep together in groups and certainly socialise in groups, be it with family members, colleagues, university friends or other social groups.  Solo activities are the exception, not the norm.

The average Thais finds it hard to get their head around foreigners who may choose to do things alone.  For me personally, some of the best times I have had in Thailand have been road trips when I have travelled alone.  I prefer it!  I can go where I want, when I want and don't have to worry about anyone else.  The feeling of freedom is liberating.  I love it!  But the Thais I meet and interact with along the way look at me as an eccentric, or worse, someone who has no friends, or maybe no family.  Why would you want to do something alone, they wonder!

Activities that a non-Thai might typically do on their own, Thais will often do with others, as part of a group.  Thai students typically do their homework in groups (and copy the brightest student's answers!).  Thai men tend to go to massage parlours in a group or at least with a friend or two.  When dealing with officialdom, such as getting a new ID card issued, they will take a friend along.  And did you ever see a Thai go to a cinema alone?  Thais think I am positively crazy when I say that I prefer to go to a movie I really want to see alone.  Sure, watching movies with the Mrs. can be fun, but if it's a movie I really want to see and she isn't so keen on, I'd much rather watch it alone!

For most Thais, time spent alone is an alien feeling, and they will go to lengths to avoid it.

When foreigners hear how badly paid security guards are, we often think that it must be a miserable existence, working for 20 baht an hour or less.  But ask any security guard who looks after a property alone, especially one that is empty, they will tell you how lonely it can be - and how they hate that feeling.

With the Thais' penchant for superstition, the worry of spirits, ghosts or other-worldly creatures coming for them is never far from their mind.  It's far from limited to youngsters.  Many Thai adults fear the bogeyman!

The concept of loneliness is different for Thais and foreigners.  Whereas a foreigner can be around a lot of people and still feel lonely - their emotional needs aren't being met - for Thais simply being around people who welcome them and accept them is usually enough to overcome any feeling of loneliness.  While the Thais' emotional needs may be less, they can become lonely very easily.

For Thais, loneliness is the opposite of sanuk (the pursuit of fun in everything you do), which they seek in most everything they do.

While there are plenty of Thais in Bangkok and other urban centres living alone, few enjoy it.  Living alone is seldom their first choice.  Retreating to a room where they have but a TV, mobile phone and perhaps a laptop to keep them company, Thai women can become desperately lonely if they spend much time alone.

Recognising how Thais view time alone, and loneliness, can help us understand some of the common difficulties Western men involved with Thai women face.

When a Westerner splits up with a Thai woman, especially if they had been living together - or spending much of their time together, she can take it particularly hard.  It's not just the loss of face - which will always be a big issue, as well as perhaps the loss of financial assistance, if she is living far away from family, knowing that she will be on her own again and likely experience loneliness, is hard.  Cold-hearted Stick has heard the pleading words "Please don't leave me alone!" from a few Thai women, each with an almost harrowing look.

Some Thai women are with Western men as much as anything to alleviate their loneliness.

For guys abroad who have a Thai girlfriend back in the Kingdom, leaving her to live alone for long periods is a recipe for failure.  You can shower her with money and material goods and call her everyday but if she is living alone she will become lonely quickly.  This partly explains why some women involved with a guy who treats them like a princess may still shack up with someone else, or see someone on the sly.  It might not be that she doesn't love her man, rather that the feeling of being alone, and the loneliness that brings, is even stronger.  To many Thais, loneliness is unbearable!

Over this long New Year holiday, Western guys in Thailand playing around on local dating sites will be swamped with offers from local women keen to meet.  You don't have to be good looking, rich or even have any semblance of a personality, she wants to meet you - and stay with you - because she doesn't want to spend the holidays alone - and lonely.  I cannot count the number of times I have met an online girl at the start of a holiday weekend who has a bag packed with enough clothes to last a few days, notwithstanding that we're meeting for the first time.

Some Thais see loneliness as a sign that a person has few friends, or worse still, has become estranged from their family.  They'll do everything they can to overcome loneliness and being seen like that themselves.

If you're close to a Thai woman, don't leave her alone for too long.  If loneliness sets in, no good will come of it.
 

 

Last week's photo



Where was this photo taken?


 

Last week's photo showed the spirit house near Tesco Lotus at the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 50, just a stone's throw from the Onut skytrain station.  Despite being an area where many foreigners live, few readers got it right.  This week's photo is VERY difficult, probably the most difficult ever in the history of this column!  If anyone gets it right, I will be very impressed!  The first person to email me with the correct location wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant.  The second person to get it correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express.  Duke's is conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok.

Terms and conditions:  The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days.  The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011.  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!  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 - fail to do so and I will award the prize to the next person to get the photo right.

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 - And you want to go home?!

Many of the recent comments about Thailand becoming more expensive, and how some expats are considering moving back to Farangland are valid for sure, but a quick visit home might reveal that the same is true in Farangland, at least my corner of Farangland, the state of New South Wales in Australia.  Electricity has gone up around 70% in the last two years.  A peak summer or winter period can cost you $1,600 a quarter.  Gas has increased around 8 - 10%.  Local councils have their rates pegged so rates cannot increase more than say 3% per year.  Easily fixed, they have separated water & sewerage from the rates schedule and these have gone up significantly.  I figure if you crap once a day, each crap costs you about $3.  My vehicle, worth all of $10,000, costs around $1,200 - $1,300 a year to register and insure (with a 60% no-claim bonus).  If you've been "out of town" for a few years, add another $1,500 or so.  A decent meal at the local club now costs from $20 - $30.  Fruit & vegetables are very expensive, for example capsicums (bell peppers) go as high as $10/kg and decent steak from upwards of $25/kg.  Traffic violations are expensive too, a parking fine is around $80, speeding or using a mobile will set you back hundreds of dollars.  Private health insurance goes up 6 - 8% a year.  If you want to use your government card you can wait up to 12 months for a non-essential surgical procedure.  If you're on a pension, forget about living here!  If Thailand doesn't do it for you, for sure, move on.  If you're doing it for dollars, maybe you need to reconsider.

Bangkok's changing nightlife.

I did a tour of present-day Bangkok nightlife and was truly shocked how little is left of what was there in the late 90s.  It's almost gone except for 3 or 4 bars on Soi Cowboy.  Who would have imagined that was even possible?  Rachada is the center now but it is mainly Thai and Asian and the big massage places seem so mechanical that there's not really much sanuk and sabai to be had.  Although I used to not like Pattaya at all, it now seems to be the last place left with some scale, density and fun, and having spent a week in Phnom Penh recently, I was surprised how fast it is going up and am beginning to enjoy hanging out with Khmers.

Different strokes for different folks.

Following previous glowing references to Tilac Bar, I thought I'd give it one more chance to impress after being underwhelmed every previous visit.  Following an order, a can of Diet Coke was plonked unopened in front of me by the unfriendly member of service staff without an offer to open it or pour it into the glass provided.  Mmm, nice start.  I found the girls to be of mid-tier standard from a looks standpoint, few if any quality offerings and most unfriendly with little desire to make eye contact or engage with a potentially generous customer.  I've never liked the seating / table configuration but to its credit it is a bright and modern bar.  My night there ended after less than 30 minutes with a dancer accidentally kicking a bottle of beer over me and 2 other patrons without so much of an apology or any indication of regret or concern.  Tilac is definitely over-rated and would not place in the top 5 Cowboy bars in my opinion.  I never understood why it was rated so highly by some in the past.

A Trink sighting.

A while back you talked about Bernard Trink.  Last night, Saturday January 1st, I was at the Scala movie theatre in Siam Square and who do I see but Trink himself, with his wife.  He is unmistakable, still carrying that tell-tale shoulder bag that he always has with him.  He is looking quite old now but moving around well enough.  I used to see him around Patpong 20 years ago, always carrying that big shoulder bag and a camera.


The best site for Thai dating in Thailand - ThaiFriendly.com

Mr. Tuktuk just might know better!

I had an incident back in 2,000 when I first travelled to Bangkok.  Three tuktuk drivers on Khao San Road began bidding for my custom.  I was clear that I didn't want to stop anywhere so they could get a fuel voucher and I told them as they bid.  My destination was Sukhumvit soi 70 to look at an apartment.  They began at 150 baht and I ended up with a young driver that said he'd take me there for 75 baht with no stops.  He got me to the BTS and suggested that the BTS was the way to go from that point.  He was right, of course, but I held firm to our original agreement and made him cart me all the way out to Sukhumvit soi 70.  I wouldn't get out of the tuktuk until we got there.  He took me.  I paid him.  Whether karma or just an extension of my ignorance, I got mine later in the day when I chose to walk from Sukhumvit soi 70 to Boss Tower on Rama 4 Road.  I recall holing up in their restroom on arrival trying to mop the sweat from my soaked body!  I still smile when I think of that kid and that afternoon out in Bangkok.  I wish I knew where he was so I could buy him a few with apologies for my own ignorance!

Coming a cropper on the road.

After 25,000 kilometres riding a bike in Thailand, I had my first accident and I'm absolutely pissed off.  I was riding down Rama IV at 4 PM.  There's a long flyover with a motorcycle lane - I love those lanes.  So as I was descending, the biker in front of me decided to stop, blocking the motorbike lane.  I couldn't go left or right because there was fast moving traffic.  I slammed on the brakes and stopped about 6 inches from her back wheel.  I wasn't even going to say anything, just another day in Bangkok traffic, when suddenly the guy behind arrived.  He hadn't managed to stop and ploughed into the back of me, propelling me forward into the bike in front.  I was thrown off the bike and almost into moving traffic.  My bike was damaged at both ends, sandwiched between the two other bikes.  Needless to say, neither of them had a license or insurance.  I spent 2 hours at the police station trying to get some compensation.  I think the chances are about f*ck all.  I estimate about 15,000 baht worth of damage.  The policeman tried to appeal to the two but their whole demeanour was that of sulky teenagers.  Neither of them is willing to pay, despite the policeman pointing out they were both in the wrong.  They both got fined for the traffic violations - and the first rider was whinging about that!  Seriously, she just caused a 3-vehicle accident in fast moving traffic and she's bitching 'cos she has to pay 500 baht!  So the policeman gave me the accident report and copies of their ID cards.  He advised me to get the bike fixed and then contact them for the money.  He said I should use a lawyer if they don't pay.  But does anyone really think they will pay up?  One thing that really pisses me off is during the whole event, neither of them apologised.  I mean, one blocked the road and the other didn't stop in time.  Both know they are guilty, but they can't say sorry?

A lawless land.

A reader's submission this week highlighted the discovery of a number of corrupt Thais in Los Angeles and mentioned similar problems in other places, and Stick asked if it is in the Thai psyche to be corrupt.  Well, my view is it isn't that as such, but rather the utter disregard for the law that exists at every level of Thai society.  Right from the 6- or 7-year old in the remotest village who is allowed to ride a motorcycle - without a helmet of course - people are taught to completely ignore any law that might encroach upon their 'personal freedom'.  Thailand is an utterly lawless land, greatly encouraged by the police force who all too often can't be bothered to get off their fat arses and investigate any wrongdoing, unless there is something in it for them.  And that is why Thailand will always remain an insignificant, corrupt, backwater country.  And the locals don't care, because it is the only way they know.


No, they aren't large radio-controlled model helicopters but portable beer bars.  In a story that's starting to resemble a yoyo, the ground floor of Nana Plaza has seen some action.  I'd heard that the major lease holder, Nana Castle, was embroiled in a legal wrangle that was before the courts and as such any development on the ground floor would be unlikely.  It appears that resolution was found and the ground floor of Nana Plaza is being utilised by these comical contraptions that have a very temporary look about them.  They aren't even real beer bars, but a steel frame with beer chillers and counter tops attached.  They appear to be pre-fabricated and my guess is that they can be lifted on to the back of a truck and taken away quickly if necessary i.e. when the warning system indicates the boys in brown are on their way!  Come sun down, tables and chairs are placed around them and beer is sold.  I can't help thinking that you may as well just buy a beer at 7 Eleven and perch in the Plaza.  It's no improvement on what used to be there; in fact it's worse.  The old beer bars ripped out a few months back were comfortable.  * Thanks to DaveTheRave for the photo above.

Recently renovated Nana Plaza bar, DC 10, has been rocking and the owner got a bunch of new girls without the need to pull any out of his other Nana bar, Spanky's.  DC 10 has been so successful in their first week of business that they have had to fend off approaches from other bars in the plaza trying to poach their staff.  That said, the lighting could do with a tweak - the girls' legs get lit up while their faces remain dark.

The doors of the long popular house of raunch, Windmill A Gogo in Pattaya's Soi Diamond, were locked the night before last.  Just what is going on when a venue closes for what is one of the busiest nights of the year?!  The doors opened the next night and it was business as usual on New Year's Eve.  Weird.

The week between Christmas and New Year often sees the lowest temperatures of the year, although this cool season hasn't been as chilly as previous years - and Bangkok doesn't get anywhere near as cool as the northern and north-eastern parts of the country.  But try and tell that to the girls in the bars!  Dancers in gogo bars who usually lounge around in a bikini between dance shifts have been covering up - or shivering in those bars which don't allow them to cover up.  Some were doing everything they could to stay warm, donning customers' cardigans or wrapping stray shawls around themselves when they weren't dancing.  In bars where management wouldn't allow them to cover up, they sit around in small groups, all huddled up, looking positively miserable!  Some bars are only using fans whereas others don't seem to notice the frigid girls and the air-con blasts as per usual.  Truth be told, some bars on some nights, Cowboy's Tilac amongst them, feel like an ice box.

Naughty boys will be happy that the seasonal barfine rates are over and normal rates apply again.  Many venues inflate barfines at this time of year as a measure to ensure that the bar is packed with girls for most of the night - so customers stay in the bar and spend.  Seasonal barfines are nothing new, but the rates charged in some these days are.  Many years back, venues typically doubled the barfine rate of the day, meaning it was 1,000 baht to take a girl out of the bar.  That rate was largely ineffective so many bars have increased it and this year some bars put it up all the way to 4,000 baht!  That did the trick but it also alienated those on the hunt for a companion, some of whom couldn't see it from the bar's perspective.  Anyway, this usually only happens at New Year, Christmas, Loy Kratong.  It should be noted that I would have mentioned the elevated barfines last week, but they aren't the sort of thing bar owners announce in advance.

Paying a barfine allows a girl to leave the bar for the evening without any deduction to her monthly salary.  Strictly speaking, it does not entitle the person paying the barfine to anything else although there is an unwritten rule that she will spend time with the guy.  Every girl knows that he expects that she will accompany him back to his hotel room / condo.  There is an argument that if you're looking for some company, you are better off getting a lady from a bar where a barfine is payable because if you have a problem you can go back to the bar and they will sort it out for you.  A Bangkok local had an incident on New Year's Eve that shows, once again, that not all bars are willing to provide assistance when things go awry.  To make matters worse, it was a farang-owned bar.  A Thai-speaking Bangkok local barfined a lady from G Spot in Nana Plaza, paying the seasonal 1,000 baht barfine.  They left G Spot and went to Spanky's for a drink.  After about 20 minutes she received a phone call, said she would be just a moment, and excused herself presumably to chat outside the bar where it was quieter.  After a few minutes the fellow noticed that she hadn't returned.  Some time later he became concerned about where she was and 45 minutes later he realised she had done a runner!  He wandered back over to G Spot and explained what had happened to the mamasan.  The mamasan said she would call the girl so the guy goes back to Spanky's and his drink and then returns again to G Spot.  The mamasan has no answer for him.  He asks to speak with the manager who informs him that they will not refund the barfine.  When asked if customer satisfaction is part of their business model, the manager just says "Sorry", but may as well have said the same thing the girl effectively said as she walked out the door, "Kiss my ass!"  Much is made of the supposed advantages of taking a girl from a bar as opposed to grabbing someone off the street or out of a freelancer venue.  Are the reasons for paying a barfine over-rated?  Do bars lead you to believe that they will provide assistance if something goes wrong - but shirk responsibility when it does?  Last week I highlighted a farang-managed, farang-owned bar in Soi Cowboy where a Stickman reader barfined a girl who stole his camera and laptop.  The bar was informed about the incident and did nothing!  The incident reported today, in another farang-owned bar with what was essentially a refusal to provide any genuine assistance sends a clear message.  If you barfine a girl, there is no guarantee that the bar will assist you if anything goes wrong!  By all means, find your girl in a venue where no barfine is payable, or agree to meet a girl working after she finishes her shift in the bar, a practice that makes bar owners livid - and which they do everything to prevent!  Any bar charging a barfine has a responsibility to help you when things like these happen.

Many thanks to the readers who sent in a suggestion for the new name of the renovated venue mentioned in last week's column.  Around 80 people responded, and some were quite imaginative with "Pussy Towers" amongst them!  I'll let you know the name they settle on.

Inbound tourism numbers for Thailand were released this week with the number of international tourists visiting Thailand for the first 10 months of this year *up* by 13% on the same period in 2009.  Just as I have been saying in recent weeks, the Russian explosion has been confirmed with year on year arrivals of Russian visitors up 86%!  It's unlikely that signs in Cyrillic will replace those in English, but expect to see more and more signs and menus in Cyrillic, especially in Pattaya, which threatens to become a resort specialising in Russian visitors in a few short years.

Following up on the closure of Hollywood Inn reported last week, Hollywood Carousel on Nana's top floor which was owned by the same guy, has also closed.  Word on the street is that a new owner will take over both of the Hollywood bars on the top floor in the New Year.


One of the curious regulations for those of us here on long-stay visas, or to be more precise, who have a 1-year visa extension, is that we are required to report our current address to the local Immigration department every 90 days.  Failure to do so can result in a 2,000 baht fine.  Some time back they made this requirement easier to comply with by allowing you to post the form in, rather than having to show up in person.  While reporting by post is promoted, it would seem that some branches don't have the facility to handle it, or don't have systems in place.  A friend sent in his 90-day reporting form to the local Immigration branch 3 times but never heard anything back from them - you should get a slip back, evidence that your 90-day reporting is up to date and which gives you the date when the next report must be made.  So having not received anything from Immigration, he set about making the 2-hour round trip to the local Immigration office where he explained that he had sent the forms in but had received nothing in return.  Head scratching, frowns and a lot of alai wa followed.  The officials set about a search of the office and in some back cupboard, under piles of old-style ledgers they found the forms he had sent in - which they had received but not processed!  Wonder upon wonder, they chose not to fine him! Of course you could just do what about a third of us do - and never do the reporting in the first place.  If you never start, it seems they may not catch up with you.  But if you start, and then miss one, you get slapped with the 2,000 baht fine!

I don't know any business owner in Bangkok that got rich targeting Western teachers, but that is what soi 23's newest venue is trying to do.  The Clubhouse is promoting Thirsty Thursday Teachers' Night where teachers get happy hour prices all night long - and female teachers can avail themselves of buy one cocktail, get one free all night long.  It might become a place to chase some white meat!

And you thought Western women exhibit an overwhelming sense of entitlement?!  I heard a tale from a mate who has been away from Thailand for a couple of months and is due back in the country shortly.  He was on the phone to his live-in girlfriend, a supposedly decent girl with a regular job.  She was complaining that in the time that he has been away he had missed her birthday, Loy Kratong, Christmas and New Year.  She wasn't happy about this as she had missed out on presents and at least 4 good nights out.  No problem, she said, you can make it up to me easily - just buy me a car!

I swear that Thai bananas are much better tasting than those you tend to find around the world, from Ecuador and the Philippines.  When I was back home I bought a bunch of bananas - from the aforementioned countries - and quickly realised that Thai bananas, specifically gluay hom - the big one - are much nicer than what you get from countries which are more famous for being banana producers.

With the arrival of the New Year, prolific readers' submission writer Sawadee2000 is getting ready to launch his 2011 Children's Book Drive.  Last year many of you generously donated to this worthy project which benefits school children in the northern city of Lampang.  If you are interested in helping out - which is not a bad way to top up your karma account - you can contact him at : sawadee2000@gmail.com.

Quote of the week comes from a Thai female friend, "Farang men in Bangkok are like the local traffic - you never know how it will be."

Reader's story of the week comes from Mr. Anonymous, "Thai Corruption Exported To America".

From the Bangkok Post's investigative team, will Thailand soon no longer be a pirate's paradise?

Will flying into Bangkok soon cost 15% more than it does today?!

Voranai Vanijaka's latest excellent article, on Thais, education and corruption, ran in today's Post.

The photo of a Thai teenager texting her friends after a crash which killed 9 in a Bangkok minivan is the biggest story of the week in Bangkok and has caused outrage on social networking sites!

The New York Times looks at the Thais and the supernatural.

The Thais can eliminate foreign English teachers altogether and use this English teaching alternative!

CNN summarises the 7 most significant stories in Bangkok in 2010.

Justice finally catches up with some of Bangkok's yellow shirt protestors.

You can see the horrible new beer bars in Nana Plaza in this YouTube video.

 

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:  I am in a similar position to the reader in question 2 of last week's Stickman weekly dated December 26, 2010 and would like some additional advice regarding the purchase and use of land.  Over the last 4 years my wife and I were also legally married and have purchased back land previously owned by the family in and around her family village.  The younger generation who were willed the land had sold much for short term gain.  We now have approximately 50 rai of land which has been planted with rubber trees.  Most of the land has been or is in the process of being put into my wife's name.  My question is this.  Is an usufruct applicable in this situation considering the amount of land involved or is some other action required?

Sunbelt Legal responds:  By Thai law, there are no restrictions as to the amount of land that can be leased nor be declared under usufruct.  Normally, the usufruct agreement between a legally married couple is declared almost free of charge since the couple is living together and the use of the land is usually for dwelling purposes and strictly not for commercial purposes.  The issue here is whether the Land Officer will view the usufruct agreement whether it's fair and reasonable as to the real purpose of leasing the land for dwelling purposes.  A 50-rai plot of land can generate a huge profit on the part of the land owner especially if it's used for farming and agricultural purposes such as the rubber plantation that you mentioned but since it will be leased under a usufruct virtually for free, it becomes questionable then as to the motive of the lease / usufruct.  It is entirely on the discretion of the officer at the Land Office whether to approve the transfer or land or registration of the Usufruct Agreement.  Bear in mind that they are preventing any form of circumvention of the law in regards to foreigners owning land in Thailand.  The Thai landowner (if they are married to a foreigner) will sign a document stating that the funds used to procure the said land come solely from their person and not from any foreigner sourcing the said funds.  It is safe to say that for as long as the lease amount stated in the usufruct agreement is deemed fair and reasonable for both parties, notwithstanding the landowner's permission, there should be no problems registering the Usufruct Agreement at any land office.


Question 2:  My wife used to work as a bargirl.  A relationship developed, we were both able to put our pasts behind us (I was no angel) and we have been happily married for 2 years.  I really don't think you will find a couple as genuinely happy as we are.  I was shocked when one of my customers recently emailed me photos of my wife nude in a hotel room.  I confronted her with this and after much anger on my part, and many tears on my wife's, she explained that they were taken in a Pattaya condo by an American retiree she used to see.  He told her that the photos were only for his personal use which turned out to be a lie as he posted them online.  They have since been viewed by thousands of men.  This has brought much distress to my wife who is now on anti-depressants.  It also put stress on our marriage.  The past is the past, but what this retiree did in posting these photos to a public forum was wrong and we intend to right this wrong.  We are going to go all out to get this guy.  I understand that we can pursue both criminal and civil cases against him.  Our goals are to seek damages of 1,000,000 baht as well as the removal of the photos and an apology from him.  We wish to sue for 1,000,000 baht damages plus legal fees and costs.  We would like to know the best way to proceed.  Any advice you can offer would be welcomed.  Thank you in advance.

Sunbelt Legal responds:  This kind of action is considered as violating the Commission of an Offence relating to Computer Act, B.E. 2550 (2007), in section 14 (4) and (5).

Whoever commits the following offences shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine of not exceeding one hundred thousand baht or to both:

(4) entering any obscene computer data into computer system and that computer data may be accessed by the public;
(5) sending or forwarding computer data despite knowing that it is computer data under (1), (2), (3) or (4).

Such an act is considered as criminal offence, but is eligible to be resolved / settles through compromise.

The other applicable rule would be related to the defamation and libel.  With this offence you must be sure that such action could be proven.  If the retiree wrote any kind of description (mean / nasty / insulting) in the photos / picture, that would assist you in bringing up another case against him.

Your wife would have to file a police report (jang kwarm) by bringing the picture(s) and emailing to the police station that has the jurisdiction over the area / region that your wife's name has her house registered in.  Example: if her name was registered in a house registration located in Din Daeng district, Bangkok, she would then have to report to the Police Station in Din Daeng district.

In order for you to prepare the pictures and email to the police, your customer should not be forwarding this to you.  Otherwise he / she would be in violation of the above laws too. Therefore, he would have to use Print Screen method and bring those over to you.

Once you have completed the filing of the police report, it would be the officials who would proceed with legal action.  By obtaining court order to seek out the computer code (such as the IP address, URL and etc.).

Once the official identify of the person who has been committed to such action, they will call upon that person for explanation prior to the pressing of charges against that person.  If the officials can confirm that such action was committed by him then the court would proceed with a trial.  Going through the court, initially the court would arrange a compromise session (with mediation).  During this session, your request of compensation would be proposed.  If no compromise could be reached, it would be processed as a court trial.  The outcome would be as mentioned above, but there may be some reduction of the punishment or even up to suspension of the execution of imprisonment (such as the Defendant's statement was considered as useful for the trial or having this as his first attempt).

As a recommendation, you should retain a lawyer right from the start (that is when you file for the police report), in order to make sure that strong wording of offence are in place.  Sunbelt Legal Advisors can assist you both on the criminal and civil case.

It's going to be interesting to observe how Thailand's tourism industry fares this year and how Westerners, both those who visit and those who live here, perceive the value they receive in Thailand.  I get the feeling that all around the world, at every socio-economic level, having been through tough times financially, and with more tough times to come, people are increasingly looking for value.  Fair value.  They don't necessarily have to get a bargain when parting with their hard-earned, and it's not that they aren't willing to spend money, or even pay premium prices, they just don't want to feel that they're being cheated, or paying over the odds.  The challenge is that in Thailand many vendors and businesses simply want to get your money and they may not necessarily be interested in satisfying you.  I have a good American mate here and I mentioned to him a new farang food venue in a Sukhumvit sub soi which I thought he might like.  I haven't been but after his review, I don't think I will.  2 x burgers with fries, 1 x stuffed potato appetizer, 2 x Cokes and 1 x iced tea came to 1,300 baht, or about $US 43.  In his words - and this guy lives on farang food, it was very ordinary and nothing like you'd get in the States for half of that amount or less!  I really do believe that "value" will be the buzz word this year and the average visitor to Thailand may well be more sensitive about getting fair value.  Obvious rips offs, double pricing and even poor quality products and services are going to be seen in a worse light than they have before.  Will business owners and the other movers and shakers in Thailand's tourism industry take note?

 

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick
 

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