Stickman Weekly  20/1/2013

A Run Up The River

The Chao Praya River is a picturesque part of a largely unattractive city.  From Nakhon Sawan in the north, the Chao Praya River runs south through the lower part of northern Thailand, the central region and through Bangkok which it cuts in two, separating Bangkok from the less developed Thonburi side before emptying out in to the Gulf of Thailand.

Spending a day on the Chao Praya river is one of the city's highlights, the best way to see the old part of the city, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the madness that can be downtown Bangkok.  At this time of year, with blue skies and moderate temperatures, it's hard to think of a better way to spend a day.





Chao Praya River, Bangkok

Looking up the river from the walkway on Thaksin Bridge, just a stone's throw from the Saphan Thaksin skytrain station.



Chao Praya River Express Boat, Bangkok

The Chao Praya Express Boat service runs up and down the river stopping at a network of more than 30 stops.  Unlike boats on the Saen Saeb Canal, the express boats are comfortable with bucket seats on each side.

The Sathorn Pier, 100 metres from the Saphan Thaksin skytrain station, is where most visitors get on.  Most take a boat heading upstream, or north, to the busiest part of the river and where all the highlights are.

It is recommend to take the standard Chao Express Boat, and NOT the Chao Praya Express Tourist Boat.  The tourist boat is an excellent idea poorly implemented.  The tourist boat only runs the section of the river with the highlights and its main selling point is a commentary in English.  Unfortunately it's often a monotone delivered via a scratchy sound system.

Tickets on the standard boats vary according to distance with the most expensive just 15 baht.



Baan Chao Praya

There are many types of vessels on the river, from long-tail boats which can be hired for an hour or two, to barges, to ferries which cross the river from one side to the other.  This boat belongs to Baan Chao Praya, a luxurious condominium building on the Thonburi side, opposite the Sheraton.

I once considered moving to this very building.  The asking price was just 22,000 baht a month for a good-sized unit with fantastic views.  But pragmatism kicked in.  The traffic on the other side of the river is awful and getting to downtown can be a nightmare, something I couldn't face on a daily basis.  The condo provides a free shuttle boat service to and from the Saphan Thaksin pier but service only ran until early evening.

Apart from a few recent, high-profile, very high-end developments, condos on the Chao Praya River aren't that expensive at all, be it to buy or to rent.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

The busiest section of the river is from Saphan Thaksin up to Pra Artit Park and features 5-star hotels, Chinese pagodas, Buddhist temples and much life on the river itself.  Chinatown, Little India, Pak Klong Talad (Bangkok's major flower market) as well as some other markets are all set just a little back from the river.

The river is a great place to get around and see some of the city's best temples.  Some are best seen from the river, but Wat Po and the Grand Palace are best seen from the ground.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

Wat Arun is one of the most photographed spots in all of Bangkok and is worth taking a closer look at.  Get off at the Ta Dien Pier and take the ferry that runs across the river for a mere 3 baht.



Ta Tien Pier, Bangkok

The lady selling tickets for the ferry across the river at Ta Tien looks like she has been there as long as there has been a pier.

The Ta Tien area is bustling, a heavily touristed area where long-tail boat drivers hustle tourists for canal tours.



Wat Arun, Ta Tien Pier, fruit vendor, Bangkok

My favourite juice vendor, he has juices you seldom see elsewhere such as red dragonfruit juice.  He's friendly, knowledgeable, speaks excellent English and will give you good advice and tips on the area if you ask.



Chao Praya River

Wat Rakung - bell temple in English - is worth stopping by for a closer look if you're spending the whole day on the river.  Stop at the pier opposite and take the ferry across for a nosey.  Ferries cross the river at various points for just 3 baht.



Chao Praya River cruise

The river is popular with tour groups who charter a boat which includes a guide fluent in their language.  Boats with loud sound systems with guides fluent in anything from Mandarin to Korean to Italian to Russian.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

With plenty of temples along the river, plenty of monks use the boat service.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

Impressive temples can be seen all the way up the river.  Unless temples are your thing, there's probably no reason to get off and take a closer look as most have a similar look.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

Proving that Buddhism is not the only religion in town, there are a few mosques up the river towards Nonthaburi.

 

Sheep Village Bangkok

But it's not all temples and places of worship.  Boon Rawd, the maker of Singha beer, had a brewery on the banks of river which closed a few years back.  EGAT (The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) has a major power plant on the river.  There's the Navy HQ and a number of ports with Navy vessels.  And then you come across something like this.  Just what a sheep village is doing in Bangkok I have no idea.  Some sort of themed fun park would be my best guess.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

While plenty of foreigners ride the boats, the service is mainly used by Thai commuters.  Just like the Saen Saeb Canal boats, it can be quicker than road and is inexpensive.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

In a scene that would have health and safety officials in the West shocked, a workman performs repairs on the Wat Kien Pier, just a couple of stops before my final destination of Nonthaburi.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

The final destination of the boats is rather confusing and is determined by the colour of the flag on the vessel!  Most boats terminate at Nonthaburi.

Nonthaburi province sits north/north-west of Bangkok and is technically a different province but is part of what is considered greater Bangkok.

One of the charms of Nonthaburi is that samlors (trishaws) are still in operation.  While they would be delighted to show you around, the highlights are just a few minutes' walk away.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

A pretty lady walks along the street just a couple of minutes in-land from the pier.  While you find foreigners in every corner of Thailand these days, Nonthaburi really doesn't seem to be that popular with Westerners and there seem to be few resident in the area around the pier.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

The highlight of the area is not so much impressive to look at, more a place to see to satisfy one's own curiosity, and to imagine what it would be like to be on the other side, on the inside.  The Thai script above the entrance says Nonthaburi Province Prison.  This is where bad boys go, the maximum security prison, the place where those serving long sentences end up and what many foreigners know as the Bangkok Hilton!

My companion on this day out, prolific readers' submissions writer, Mega, was disappointed when I told him he could not go inside for a look around.  Well, I guess he could, but not on his own terms!



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

The area around the Nonthaburi Pier is pleasant, quieter than downtown with a more laid-back, almost rural Thailand vibe.  There's a riverside restaurant 100 metres from the pier and a few on the opposite bank which few whiteys ever make it to.

A few minutes walk up the road and just a minute or so beyond the prison entranceway is a wet market.  Always worth a stroll, you're just as likely to see animals slaughtered on request as you are vendors picking at each other's hair, nose or ears.

This friendly lady explained that she was after a certain kind of tomato which was hard to find, but necessary for a dish she would prepare that day.



Chao Praya River, Bangkok

Comparisons between the Saen Saeb Canal boats and those on the Chao Praya river are inevitable.  The Saen Saeb Canal is a great way to get around quickly, but it's rather uncomfortable and the view is limited.  A run up the Chao Praya River is one of the highlights of visiting Bangkok.  It's easy.  It's fun.  It's inexpensive.  You get to see all of the highlights of the city and up in Nonthaburi, you see real Thai people doing real things, not those who interact with tourists.

The river is best at this time of year when the sky is clear and the temperatures pleasant.  The Chao Praya River is the place I take friends visiting Bangkok for the first time - and everyone loves it.



Candidography



Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken at Lumpini Park.  There are two prizes this week, a 300-baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.

Terms and conditions:  The 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!  You MUST specify which prize you would like and failure to do so will result in the prize going to the next person to get the photo correct.

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 - The Marmite index!

For many years, friends and acquaintances in the UK have cited the fact that "It's so cheap for you to live in Thailand!"  My current salary in Bangkok equates to roughly half of what I would earn in the UK.  So, with a bit of simple maths, that means that if an item costs 100 baht (£2) here, the monetary equivalent in the UK is 200 baht (£4).  Suddenly it doesn't sound so attractive, does it?  After all, a standard jar of Marmite (which I could NEVER live without) is a cool 290 baht in Bangkok.  6 quid!  That means I would have to part with 12 quid of an equivalent UK salary.  Unlikely!  I guess I'd live without it.  Of course, Marmite is a luxury and there are many things (public transport, street food, taxis, even electric and water bills to an extent) that are still so significantly cheaper here, that the "I only earn half my Western salary" argument doesn't appear to stand up.  However, if one looks at most essentials it is rare that the actual cost compared to salary is cheaper here.  Luxuries tend to be, on the whole, considerably dearer!  So, pity the poor Thai office worker on two thirds of the salary of let's say an English teacher or a salesman!  Or should we?  When you factor in visa and work permit costs, the inevitable double-tiered pricing (no matter how proficient one becomes in the lingo) and tickets home to see family, renew visas and paperwork etc, are we really better off than Noi and Lek in the plush building across the street?  And remember, they don't like Marmite!

Choose a working girl, or a girl that works?

The girls on the stage in Patpong, Nana and Cowboy bars pale in comparison to middle-class Thai girls employed in the Silom district (and elsewhere) that it's practically laughable.  What are men thinking?  There is a multitude of worthy, attractive Thai ladies out there looking for a solid long-term monogamous relationship, and they possess the desire and skills to be an excellent partner.  Why do so many men apply what they get from girls in the P4P industry to Thai girls that would never in a million years work in a gogo?  It is mind boggling.

Change oversight or a tip is their right?

I have been at Morning Night 3 times in the last 2 weeks and each time had 1 beer (non-happy hour 115 baht) and each time I gave 120 baht and waited and waited for the 5 baht change.  I know it's only 5 baht, but on all 3 occasions I never received it and had to ask for it.  It's really, really annoying.

The Khao San Road land grab.

Khao San Road used to be great to stroll along in the evening, a nice open street with no traffic, lined by stalls on the sidewalk.  A couple of years ago the stalls moved in to the street and now occupy about half its width forcing everyone in to a narrow channel down the middle.  In this channel the food vendors park their carts further restricting access and rogue motorcyclists force their way through the throng.  There is nothing pleasant or enjoyable about an evening Khao San Road stroll any more.  I'm sure trade would be better if people had the time and space to browse instead of the constant feeling of being in a crowd leaving a football match.

Stopped outside the supermarket.

I was in Villa Market at Prom Pong and left with two bags of groceries.  Immediately upon exiting, two boys in brown eyed me up and called me over.  I knew what was coming.  They asked to search me.  I asked why and received no response.  They immediately started going through my groceries and my small shoulder bag.  I kept a close eye for anything being planted.  They asked for my passport which I did not have on me.  They took their time pulling the same things out of my wallet over and over again.  Their search was very disorganised like they were trying to drag it out and make me offer a tip to speed up the process.  My Boots Advantage card was scrutinised 3 times.  What evil doings could I be up to at Boots?  While one was doing this, the other started for my pockets.  I had to multitask to watch for any gifts being bestowed upon me.  This went on for a good 5 minutes, literally 2 metres outside the doors of Villa!  What amusement my fellow farangs must have enjoyed at this sight.  I had just taken out a large withdrawal and this surely prolonged the process.  The questions were random and the search was completely disorganised.  I am sure these fine fellows had not been observing me buying groceries.  There was clearly no probable cause.  Next time, I will ensure I only have my small travel wallet and a photocopy of my passport.  I will refuse a search next time and only produce ID if requested.  Be careful, my fellow farangs, you are a target.  I did not provide a donation to the Policeman's Ball.

Beware the lifeguards.

I first came to Thailand 12 years ago and have been living on Phuket full time for the last 5 years.  During that time I've witnessed several instances of physical abuse of farangs by taxi drivers, ladyboys and touts, but the one I saw today was the worst.  I was at Nai Harn Beach at the southern end of the island.  As I walked along the beach a farang boy of about 16 ran past at full speed and just behind him was a Thai lifeguard.  At first I thought they were racing for fun but in a few strides the Thai kicked the foot of the kid, which sent him sprawling.  The lifeguard then gave him a vicious kick to the back and then another shot to the head.  Both were full force.  It was unbelievable.  All the other guards on the beach had come around and I could tell they were ready to jump in if any of the onlookers went for the kicker, which was a definite possibility from what I could see.  Several of the guards had grabbed the poles they use to fly warning flags on the beach.  There was no doubt in my mind they were prepared to use them as weapons in the event of a melee.  It's hard to imagine what the kid could have done to make the lifeguards so angry, but he obviously knew he had a problem since he ran for it.  When he came to Thailand I don't think he imagined being kicked in the head by a lifeguard!  Of course the coward went for the one foreign male (the kid was very slight) on the beach he knew wouldn't fight back and he also knew he had plenty of backup.  The usual thing.  Since the Thai is always right I bet I'll see that guard when I go to the beach again.  None of the group of lifeguards seemed concerned about the kid's injuries, nor did any of them seem upset with the kicker.  Ridiculous.  I knew better than to get confrontational, though.  I left on my bike and as I rode away an ambulance was headed in the direction of the beach.  I can't say for sure, obviously, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were going to help the boy.  So much for the 'professional' lifeguards that the authorities are so proud of.  The guy should be driving a tuktuk.  He appears to have the same mentality as those psycho drivers.


Nana Group


In Pattaya jet-lagged alcoholics and lonely tourists have the option of visiting chrome pole palaces in the afternoon.  Not so in the capital but that is about to change with a couple of Nana Plaza ground floor gogos set to open during the day from tomorrow.  Day time drinkers keen for a view spicier than what you get out on the soi should over get to Lollipop and Obsession.  Whatever your poison there'll be something for you.  Obsession is a ladyboy bar, of course.

A major peeve of those who avail themselves of Soi Cowboy's happy hour prices is the motorbike taxis which zoom up and down the soi.  That might just become a thing of the past with a large sign placed at the soi 23 end of the soi blocking it and stating that no traffic of any sort, be it motorbikes, vehicles or even street vendor carts is allowed on the soi between 5 PM and 3 AM.  Here's hoping that the barrier remains and the rule is actually enforced!

It really has felt like high season this past week with postcard perfect weather, downtown teeming with tourists and the bar areas booming.  By evening the beer bars in the middle of Nana Plaza have been doing a brisk trade with tourists perching, enjoying a few drinks, soaking up the atmosphere and watching the show around them. 

Serge, the French DJ at popular soi 11 bar and restaurant, Oskar, died of a heart attack on New Year's Day.  The blackboard near the DJ's booth featured quotes from famous personalities but early this week simply said "RIP Serge".  Very sad, especially as he was only in his 30s.

Drink prices have gone up 10 baht in Erotica in Nana Plaza where it's now 145 baht for a beer, putting it at the same price as Mandarin and the Rainbow bars.  Given that whenever I stick my head in the door it seems fairly quiet, I assume management is following the local tradition of putting prices up when there are fewer customers around as, obviously, you need to make up for the revenue shortfall somehow!

All of the Hillary Group of bars were closed on Tuesday (Climax, Morning Night, the Hillary bars etc) for a staff party and management took the chance to spruce up their flagship beer bar, Morning Night.  It had a major clean up, varnish applied to the wood and a new coat of paint.  Interesting time of year to choose to have a party and close for the night.



The booze booths may still be trading after the scare late last year that December 31st would be their final night in business but the hassles continue.  The latest from the authorities is that no music can be played from these streetside bars and no noise generated after 3 AM.  My best guess is that some sort of agreement will be reached so music can continue.

Following on from last week where it was mentioned that Jack Golf had undergone changes with Jack himself disappearing altogether and one of his staff members now running the operation, the service is now operating under the name, Bangkok Buddy.  A website is coming soon.  The service is being operated from two minivans.  For the latest information or to book a run, call 02-2552130 or 081-7917626.  There are many visa run firms although I have no idea about any of them, about which are reliable and which are not.

From a friend who did the run with Bangkok Buddy this week, he reports that the main border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia at Aranyaprathet is being developed and isn't the third world border it once was.  Security is better and he said it now feels more like passing through an airport.

Does the Arab make frequent donations to the government of Iran?  His home country's government is well-known for requesting donations from its wealthy citizens around the world.  Apparently those Iranians doing well for themselves but neglecting to make donations can potentially put themselves and their means of making money at risk of retaliation.

Popular Walking Street bar Alcatraz was visited by men in tight brown uniforms this week with rumours flying around about just what happened.

There is a real issue at the moment in Sin City with many bars struggling to hire new girls.  Getting new girls is as great challenge to bars today as it is getting customers, and it would seem some bars have let their guard down.  In what all sounds very suspicious, a girl comes to work without her ID card.  The bar lets her start work, but insists she needs to bring her ID card in to the bar the next day.  What happens, however, is that the authorities just happen to swing by the venue that night and carry out a check of the staff and what do you know, it turns out that there is at least one lady who is, shall we say, unripe. While she is old enough to hold an ID card, she's not old enough to hold a chrome pole.  The word is out and the better bar bosses are aware and are being extra careful.

Private Dancer A Gogo in Soi 15 off Walking Street still has their very popular curry night every Wednesday and chili con carne every Sunday, both of which draw a good crowd.

Showgirls on Soi LK Metro is now open from 2 PM and is said to be giving Champagne A Gogo some stiff afternoon competition.  Champagne has been expanding their inside seating area very slowly, over the peak season.  The new Lady Love A Gogo which is directly opposite Champagne has also just started opening in the afternoon, from 4 PM.

A new disco has opened in Pattaya called The Pier which looks like it will be competing head on with IBar and Insomnia.  The Pier features a nice layout, and a decent sound system but might be a bit pricey in price-sensitive Sin City where beer at 180 a bottle is considerably more than the 140 baht charged at Marine.  Girls get a member card and receive points for every drink a foreigner buys them which can later be redeemed for cash, an ingenious system which benefits the girls and the venue and should ensure a steady stream of foreigners are dragged there by girls.



I don't eat steak often, but I'd like the option to be able to get a good steak at a fair price if I have the urge.  I just know that I can't be the only one who finds it frustrating that in Bangkok you can pay 200 baht and get a piece of meat you wouldn't feed a dog but if you want a really good steak, you pretty much have to go to a steakhouse in a 5-star hotel - which charge more than you'd pay in New York.  That's all about to change.  This time next week you will be able to get a fantastic Australian steak perfectly cooked for less than 500 baht right in the heart of Bangkok...at a most unlikely venue.  More details next week...

Speaking of steakhouses, I see that one of 2012's best new restaurants was paid an unexpected visit by the authorities last Sunday.  It would seem that the concept of foreign service staff was so successful that a competitor blew the whistle.  A paddy wagon pulled up outside and took those without a little blue book away.  Hopefully it has been resolved.

Sunrise Tacos main branch at New York Gardens next to Sukhumvit soi 12 will broadcast the NFL conference games later tonight with San Francisco vs. Atlanta at 3 AM and Baltimore vs. New England at 6:30 AM.

Listening to an ad on a Pattaya radio station, I had to chuckle.  Bungee jumping was being promoted and one selling point was that the operation was fully insured.  Does that mean that if things go wrong then your loved ones will get a payout?  I'm not sure that's an angle I'd use to promote something!  Wouldn't some sort of mention of safety standards be better than talking of insurance which is, after all, what kicks in *after* a serious problem?!

A friend managed to escape from Nongbualumphu this week, a far flung province in the Isaan region.  Invited to visit the home of a female friend, the first evening was spent dining with the family.  Sitting on the floor eating their evening meal as they do, there were sad faces all around.  It was explained to him that a deal had gone wrong and the family was a million baht out of pocket.  He knew what that meant - the family was looking to him for a bailout.  With family members being persistent and refuting any point he made, he found it difficult to remain polite and not show how insulted he was at such an outrageous request made within hours of meeting them.  He knew he had to extricate himself from the situation as he was, after all, in their home in a far flung province of Thailand, basically in the middle of nowhere.  The pressure was relentless and eventually he said that he would like to help while explaining that no-one carries that sort of money on them.  He said he would see what sort of plans he could make to assist.  Instead of sleeping in the family home that night, he chose to get a room in a bungalow operation right next door operated by the 86-year old American boyfriend of the younger sister of the lady he was with.  He had a quiet word with the American and said that he had to make a quick exit and requested that the American arrange for a car to collect him at the crack of dawn and whisk him away to the provincial capital, well away from the family before they all woke up when the pressure would resume.  Early the next morning when it was discovered that he had fled, he received a stream of messages on his phone saying how he had caused the girl to lose face in front of her family and how he had cheated her family!  He was probably never in any real danger, but it's not nice to receive such pressure on someone else's turf and the quick, unplanned exit was wise.

The elaborately named Thai World Hockey League, a local hockey league consisting of a mix of Thais and expats (Western, Japanese, Hong Kong etc.) needs players.  If you are interested, email Alasdair at : alasdair_fawcett@hotmail.com.  The season will end mid-March meaning there are 9 or 10 games left.

Please note that if you're flying into Don Meuang Airport, it pays to have money with you as there are no ATMs that I could see in operation.



Australia Day Bangkok


Next Saturday, January 26th, is more than just another day, it's Australia Day!  Around the country Aussie-owned venues will be holding parties to celebrate.  In Bangkok, one hot spot will be the Australian-owned Checkinn99 which will host an Australia Day Party.  It will feature classic songs from down under and for Stickman readers, Heineken draft jugs will be just 199 baht.  The boss promises some free Aussie-themed giveaways.  They will also feature readings of some classic Australian poems from Mike Gilligan (the newly crowned Slim Dusty of Bangkok).  Go along, have some fun and for those who can't get into Australia, you don't even need a visa.  Checkinn99 can be found on Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 & 7, opposite the Landmark Hotel.

And for Aussies in Pattaya, Heaven Above will celebrate Australia Day with a free Aussie barbie around 9 PM with banger sangers, dogs eyes with dead 'orse, steak sangers and homemade Thai food.  With hot Sheilas and cold piss, it sounds like a convict's dream!  The boss told me sheep shaggers, POMs, septic tanks and all other lesser humans - his words - are welcome.  Heaven Above is located on Soi Diamond, just off Walking Street.

If you're a street food fan, visit the EatingThaiFood website which has all sorts of info about great street food in Bangkok.  One friend, a long-term resident of Bangkok, uses the site regularly and has found many of the venues highlighted to be excellent.

When I last visited Angkor Wat, I was impressed with the English of the children selling postcards and souvenirs.  They would ask visitors where they were from and when they found out would say something that showed their knowledge of that country such as the name of a famous footballer, a landmark, the unit of currency used or the capital city.  Like any good salesperson they started by building a rapport.  However, rather than establishing what the person's actual needs were as a good salesman would, they would go straight for the kill and offer whatever product it is they are selling.  When the offer was declined they would become persistent and the upbeat, cheery mood would disappear, replaced by whining and a stroppy child persona.  When they finally got the message that the person really wasn't interested in buying, they may even make some nasty comments.  The question I have to ask if whether Thai bargirls are going to Angkor Wat for English Language Training And Selling Techniques 101?  Their routine these days is almost exactly the same as the children at Angkor.  Thai hookers have always tried to quickly establish a rapport but trying to make a sale so fast is new.  And the abuse or nastiness that follows their offer being declined is just the same as the pesky Cambodian temple children!


Winchester Club


Quote of the week comes Pattaya Gary, "
You can rent their bodies but you can never rent their minds, let alone their hearts."

Reader's story of the week is vintage Korski, "How Expats Explain Their Sexual Behavior in Southeast Asia".

A 50-million baht fund is being set up to help foreign tourists in Thailand in distress.

The mother of a Brit missing in Thailand makes an emotional plea for info about her son.

One of the party highlights of South-East Asia, Van Vieng in Laos is seeing a drop in visitors.

Experts say Thailand's booming economy is piling up risks.

Another sad reminder of the dangers of riding a motorbike in Thailand when your insurance is no longer valid.

A long-time Brit resident of Thailand gets a very harsh lesson, accused of stealing furniture belonging to his landlord.

Would you leave your valuables in a hotel reception safe in Thailand?

The CCTV cameras in Bangkok safety zone designated area like Soi Cowboy can be accessed by coppers from a mobile phone!


Big Mango


Ask Sunbelt Asia 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 have a Thai driver's licence which expired 4 years ago.  Can I renew it without having to go through the entire testing procedure again?

Sunbelt Asia Legal respondsYou would have to go through the entire process again after four years.  If your driving license has been expired for more than one year then you would have to take the theory test, but if it is expired for more than three years you would need to take both the theory and practical test again.


Question 2
:  I am a long-term resident of Thailand in my eyes, but not in the eyes of Thailand which sees me as a tourist.  I have been living here since 2004 and next year will mark 10 years in the country.  I am not married and don't plan on getting married.  Been there, done that, never again.  I am retired and don't plan to work unless you call managing my investments work.  I am 45 and still 4½ years away from qualifying for a retirement visa.  I have existed in Thailand on tourist visas the whole time I have been here and have more than 70 visa runs to Cambodia.  My question is this: What are the chances that I will be refused entry or refused another tourist visa?  I ask because I am considering making a property purchase.  After so many years on tourist visas, I would hate to be denied entry to what is my country of residency and not allowed to live in my own condo.  If it is relevant, I have a British passport.

Sunbelt Asia Legal respondsThere is no restriction on the number of tourist visas that you could apply for and use to enter the country on.  However, 4 or 5 years ago, Thai Immigration did implement a rule that restricted the number of back to back tourist visas to 180 days per year.  That regulation has since been cancelled but it may be best to meet with Sunbelt Asia to discuss visa options here since the Thai government does change regulations from time to time.



Question 3
:  Can you please advise what rights, if any, one obtains by having one's name on a Tabien Bahn (house registration document).  For example, does that give the person right of residence or in the case of a sale, the right to a proportion of the sale value?  The reason I ask is that I have an Australian friend currently living in Sydney, who owns a condo unit in Sukhumvit.  A year ago, he kindly allowed a woman - not a girlfriend - to stay there to look after the premises, in return for which she would pay the outgoings and the monthly maintenance fees.  However, this tricky woman has had her name added to the Tabien Bahn and has already claimed that she is the owner's wife.  My pal is doing his best to sell the condo, but is fearful this bitch might make a claim on him for part of the sale proceeds for she is more than capable of pretending they were an item, not forgetting that she is a Thai and in Thailand such laws that exist favour the Thai over a foreigner.

Sunbelt Asia Legal respondsPlease note that the ownership of the condominium unit is only verified by the Condominium Ownership Certificate (Title Deed for land ownership).  A person who is listed on the House Registration (also known as Tabien Baan) as the Jao Baan (House Chief) will not be considered the true owner of the condo unit.  She will be considered as holding a managerial role of the property where she will only have the authority to add or remove name(s) from the House Registration.  Your friend may want to find out how she managed to add her name to the House Registration as the House Chief and double check with the owner if he signed any documents to this effect or if he visited the District Office to provide consent. 

He should ask her to relocate her name to some other property of her own or her relative.

In addition, allowing her to stay at the property without any kind of written agreement (i.e. lease agreement) to govern her stay may result in her claiming for Possession Adverse under the Civil and Commercial Code, Book 4, Title 3, Section 1382 i.e. if she’s staying there peacefully and openly and uninterrupted for 10 years, she may claim for the ownership of the unit.  However, if she has been there less than ten years then she can make no claim of ownership.  Sunbelt Asia can assist your friend in handling this matter and removing her from the House Registration before he sells.



ladyboy Bangkok



gogo bar


I remember watching a telethon at my grandparents' house.  In a live TV performance, young kids were dressed up in pink bumble bee costumes and walked around in a circle while a dinky tune played.  The host and the studio audience were in rapturous applause as if the kids had just performed some difficult and intricate dance manoevure and pledges of money came flooding in.  One uncle walked to the TV and turned the volume knob, killing the sound.  He started laughing at the image before us - all the kids were doing was walking around in a circle in corny costumes.  His infectious laugh got the rest of us laughing too.  The studio audience saw a bunch of kids performing a show.  Others saw kids walking around in a circle.  So much in life is open to interpretation and perception.  There is fantasy, there is reality and there's plenty of overlap.  In our homelands we understand most of what goes on around us and while we may choose to indulge ourselves in fantasy, we usually know the reality of any given situation.  But when we're outside our comfort zone things can become blurred and it's easy to mistake fantasy for reality.  Children performing a silly show pretending to be something more elaborate might be fantasy, but it is harmless.  Some of the fantasy in the land of make believe is potentially very harmful.  While one can't always have their guard up, try and keep some perspective as to what is fantasy and what is reality.  In the land of make believe, not everything is quite what it seems.  Yes, I know this is all nothing new but people seem to forget.  I hate to finish a column on a negative note like this, but with so many messing up, reminders are obviously still needed!


Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse

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Stick can be contacted atstickmanbangkok@gmail.com