Readers' Submissions

So Much Money, So Little Time



Was it Richard Pryor that said cocaine is God's way of telling you that you have too much money?

Possibly the same thing could be said for Thailand. There's a lot of money floating around out there.

That's really half of the problem when you visit or retire in The Kingdom.

A fellow in Nai Harn bought eight rai of land. He built a twenty bungalow hotel complex and ten houses all at the same time; spent a lot of money. The man was only forty-nine years old and had some kind of coin-operated vending machines or gambling slots in Finland. He had lots of non-taxable cash pouring in and he could not spend it all in his own country.

Unfortunately, only two years later his Thai wife called the police to claim that the man keeled over dead at the dinner table from a heart attack. There was no investigation and the wife lived happily ever after on all that property with all those houses.

Before I met my friend, Danny Rinn from America, he was a wine salesman in the States. After visiting Thailand several times he thought that it would be wonderful to be able to live and work here. He had heard that one needs a Thai partner to go into business and he had just the right guy, a very helpful tour guide who he had met while on vacation. The man was so obliging that he had all of the paperwork done. Danny only had to sign his name – no matter that he couldn't read Thai. It had to be in Thai or it would not be legal. Danny spent four million baht importing a container of wine and he and his new partner, who received twenty-five percent of the company for his assistance, went about selling and distributing the merchandise. A year passed and the business was doing well until one day when the police came and arrested Danny for not having a work permit.

His partner had called them to get Danny out of the way. Danny finally saw a lawyer and showed him all the business papers.

It turned out that even though his partner had told him he had received a work permit, it was nowhere to be found.

He also discovered that his partner owned seventy-five percent of the business and Danny owned only twenty five percent.

What! Do you believe that! Danny exclaimed to his lawyer. I put up all of the money. How could he own seventy five percent?ี

Of course I believe it. It says it right here as plain as day. The lawyer waved the papers at Danny.

Danny tried to salvage what he could by moving some of the wine from the warehouse to his home. His partner took him to court and sued him for theft. Danny had his passport taken away and went to jail until he could make bail. Four years later, after dragging through the courts, Danny was dead broke, had lost everything and still does not have his passport as his partner is appealing some of the court decisions.

A few years ago, a German restaurant opened on Viset Road in Rawai. The prospective operator offered top rent for the site, so much in fact that the landlord immediately threw out his present tenants who were managing a karaoke bar.

The place was enlarged to hold one hundred and twenty five people.

I thought that this was a huge amount of seats for a small town like Rawai.

I found out later that the owner had a two thousand seat restaurant in Munich so I guess he did not think that a mere one hundred and twenty-five-seater in Phuket was all that big. The food was good but there just was not enough people to support a business that large. And how about the German Beer Garden that opened on two rai on a hill just above Patong.

It got a nice write up in the Phuket Gazette. The owner boasted that he could serve twenty four hundred people in a night.

He had twelve hundred seats, a huge new kitchen and figured he could do two turnovers a night.

He's still waiting for the crowds to come.

Another American man here in Rawai was looking to buy or rent a house. He met two very pleasant Thai brothers who offered to build him a seriously nice house to his specifications. They gave him a thirty year lease and a beautiful house for only five million baht. They were so accommodating that they too had all of the paperwork done. The lease was signed and the American received his copy. Three years later the brothers knocked on the door with the police to evict him. The American had paid five million for only a three year lease instead of a thirty year lease. The case is still in court.

I have an attorney friend that works for one of the largest law firms in Phuket. He was telling me about a man that came to see him.

The man had bought a small resort, sight unseen for forty thousand dollars. He had what appeared to be all the proper paperwork, deeds and titles. When he went to claim ownership, the people at the resort laughed at him.

They had never heard of the man who had claimed to own the resort.

There was nothing that my lawyer friend could accomplish on his client's behalf.

Why do people do this, I asked him.

You have all these individuals coming here that bought a house thirty or forty years ago for thirty-five thousand dollars and now they sold it for six hundred thousand and they also have their savings and pension plan. The people coming here have too much money.

A guy comes here and his new girlfriend wants to open a beer bar for a million baht. That's small potatoes to him.

How's that old joke go? He said, How do you make a small fortune in Thailand?ี

I almost forgot my friend Gerald from two submissions ago. He lives in Patong and his girl wanted him to invest fifty thousand baht in a travel and tourist stand. I tried to dissuade him. Thai people don't know the meaning of the word

lend.

I told him. They think it means give. Gerald did put up the money but took the precaution of getting a promissory note witnessed by two people. It sounded like a reasonable thing to do. But then again, he hasn't been in Thailand that long.

The next day the girl went home to Isaan and never came back. I reckon that she can put her feet up and relax for a year up there.

On that kind of money.


Stickman's thoughts:

I have heard many, many variants on these same stories. All very sad, it has to be said. The old cliché applies here about farangs checking their brain in at the airport before entering the country proper.