Stickman's Weekly Column September 15th, 2002

Will We Be Shown The Door?



A good friend's words are quoted here from another part of this website. He talks about the reasons why he chose not to live and work in Thailand after spending several months here, but rather return to his native Netherlands. Following is an excerpt of what he said.

What would you do if you own a condo, have a wife and kids and you go to the immigration office and you get told to leave the country within 10 days, that your visa will not be extended? People should consider if they want to (and can) put up with this.
How valid are these points? Are the concerns he expresses valid, or are they unjustified paranoia?

Rumours abound and I have read elsewhere online of how people are being told that because they already have six months worth of used tourist visas in their passport that they will not be granted any more, presumably at this particular time. I personally have yet to hear of someone being turned away at the border because they have too many visas in their passport, but it would not surprise me to hear them start. After all, many other countries will only allow a visitor so many consecutive visas / months in country before those people are turned away and cannot return for a certain period of time. (Case in point is New Zealand which allows a Thai national to enter for up to 9 months (3 month visa which is renewed twice in-country,) but after that the Thai national must either get married or find work and apply for the new, relevant type of visa or leave for nine months before returning.)

I have to confess that there is always a worry in the back of my mind that one day, the Thai authorities are going to come up with some crazy rule that all foreigners who have lived in the country for X number of years must leave. While such a law would not appear to make sense, is this beyond the realm of possibility?

Each year, or every one to three months, depending on the each person's situation, you have to go and get your new visa, be it either in-country at the Immigration Department, or outside the country at an embassy or consulate. Actually "get" is the wrong word. Apply for your new visa is a better way to put it, for nothing should be taken for granted. And yes, people do get turned down.

All of this is an issue because it is EXTREMELY difficult for Westerners to get residency in Thailand, and citizenship is virtually unheard of. I was told not so long ago that to gain residency, unofficially, you need a monthly salary in excess of 100,000 baht. True or not, I cannot be sure. 100,000 baht is a decent whack in Thailand, and that rules out most teachers, and a lot of folks employed outside of the education industry too. But, on top of this figure there are all sorts of other criteria that must be met, including a huge pile of paperwork and documents that one has to prepare. 70 different pieces of paper is a number that I seem to recall!

I'm sure if one was married and had kids, then it would all be looked at in a quite different light. But then again, who really knows?

While my words are so often misinterpreted, and my negativity towards the bar industry is often mistaken as dislike for the country, the opposite could not be more true. The longer I stay in Thailand, the more I like it here. I want to stay here for the short-term future, and possibly into the medium term too. Beyond that, who knows? But one thing that I really do not like it is that feeling that at any time, my whole life – and the lives of tens of thousands of other Westerners, most of whom are working hard, adding a lot to Thailand – could be uprooted, and we could be shown the door.

You just have to accept that as the situation. There is little that we, as foreigners, as non-Thais, can do to change it. And besides, is the worry so bad that one should up and leave Thailand over it? No, I don't think it is.

But perhaps the Thai authorities could look at the positive aspects that may come out of allowing us to become residents more easily. If it was easier to get residency, the effect on the economy would be positive. There'd be a lot of foreigners buying property, and then buying household effects to fill up their new homes. Spending would increase, and the bulk of this money would be going to Thais and not offshore. But maybe they don't want this? Maybe they don't want too many foreigners living here?

So to go back and answer the original question, valid concerns or unjustified paranoia? I think that for people who are legally employed in Thailand, there is little to be concerned about. Globalisation and the changing world means that Thailand NEEDS foreign specialists who have skills in demand that do no exist locally. And for folks who are married and who are financially comfortable, they needn't break out into a sweat either. I really can't see the Thai government forcing families to either split or relocate abroad. But for the folks who are either employed illegally or who have retired early – and who continue to get by on tourist or non-immigrant visas, then things might get a little tougher in the future. But is that a bad thing?

Where is this pic?

You've walked past there a million times…

Last week's pic was of course of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. Zillions of people emailed me with the right answer, a few people mistaking it for the Hindi temple on Silom Road. This week's pic may be a little tougher than last week's, but still, it really is not that difficult.

Credit card fraud is still a problem in Asia.

On my last trip to Thailand, evidently someone got a hold of my credit card info and duplicated the card, using it fraudulently in, of all places, Hong Kong. The Bank told me that there is a high probability that it was done when I went to Thailand. The Bank caught it pretty quick, though. They tell me that this sort of thing is rampant overseas. The only places I used it were: The Federal Hotel (sucks!), Thai Airways when I booked flight to Phuket, and an ATM in Pattaya. One of them is the culprit. Next time I will be taking an even larger wad of cash and will use the card only for emergencies. Something for visitors to look out for.
The car needs more than a touch up now…
Often the bar girl you decide to "save from herself" and take to the West as a bride may have one, two, three children you may, or, may not know about. Just coping with a bargirl as a wife can be difficult enough, but if she brings her kids with her to the West dealing with them doubly difficult. Case in point has just happened to a friend of mine where the Thai stepdaughter who is 16 years old stole his car, crashed it and then ran away from the accident scene! When caught by the police she also claimed she was being "touched up" by her stepfather. The Social Welfare dept has banned him from his home, he has no car, and faces serious criminal charges. He is stunned.
Hate to say it but…I told you so!
Read your weekly of lack of consumer protection here, and keeping this new information in mind, bought a suitcase, and checked it over as carefully as I could, lining, strength, etc. All looked fine and after minimal haggling I paid a good price for it. Not out the door, and grabbed the second handle and noticed it was loose – a defect. The small, cute, friendly Thai gals who were so sweet to me only seconds before turned to sharks and refused to give me my money back. They also had no replacements in the store. After a lot of negotiation, they finally offered me a another which should arrive in a three days, and no other options. Sure hope it arrives. Dealing with Thais on even the most simple issue can be so frustrating.
Interesting thoughts.
The Asians have solved several problems. 1) the undeniable need for males to bang females, 2) the surplus of daughters in an agrarian society, and 3) the need to support the family. This solution is not perfect. Eliminating need #1 will not solve problems #2 or #3. So what society needs to do is find a way of minimizing the undesirable consequences that come as a result. You begin by accepting the reality as it is, then building appropriate solutions. The Buddhist have done a very good job of accepting reality for what it is. It is an important element in making Thailand a wonderful place.
The New York debate rages on.
In your last article you included a section from a writer who stated that New York city has more beautiful women than Bangkok. This is true only because NY has more women. There are even more UGLY (very ugly) women in NYC than anywhere else in the world. We tend to ignore what we don't want to see, our perceptions make things what we want things to be and not what they really are. I too have spent time on many street corners in NYC, I used to live there. I left because these beautiful women are rude, crude, in a hurry and are not ATTRACTIVE. They are beautiful and ugly. The personality of Thai women make many of the plain ones attractive even though they do not meet our perceptions of beauty. Give me Thailand over NYC every day. The weather is the same as NYC, pollution about the same, traffic is gridlock in both places, NYC is very expensive. Thai people are more attractive and there are more ugly women in NYC than anywhere else in the world. But that's my perception.
Not paradise, but still not too bad.
I just returned to my home in Pattaya after spending the last 3 months in the States. It was my first trip back in 5 years; first trip outside of Asia in 5 years for that matter, and to my surprise it was great. I was first struck by how friendly and clean it is. I spent most of my time at the beach on the east end of Long Island, then off to California's beaches for a month. I received some of emails from my British friends who reside in the Kingdom, all asking how I was handling the fat white women. Sorry lads it is not the U.K., the birds were hot! Not too many fat freckled girls on the beaches of New York or California, guess you guys have already cornered the market. No wonder you don't and won't go home. Anyway it was a great trip. Now that I am back in Pattaya I really realize what a shithole the place is, filthy beaches, loud, crazy taxi drivers…and the girls really are not that pretty here. I wish I would have made this trip a long time ago, before I bought my house, car, ex-wife's house and car, etc…wasted a lot money. New arrivals to LOS be forewarned… this is not paradise, but it can be a lot of fun.
Another alternative?
After reading your column and thinking deeply about love & marriage with a foreign woman I think Cuba is the best place to search because: Cuban women are beautiful, available because of desperate poverty, and they love sex. Sex is cheap, $30 standard in Havana, $20 or less elsewhere. Many of the women are not pros, they just need the money. Cuba has the best education & healthcare of any third world country (12th grade
education instead of 6th for most bargirls in Thailand). Cuba is a beautiful country with great beaches, beer, rum, cigars, and music. It is fun to visit for the search, and fun to visit when returning with your wife for the periodic visit to see her family. I feel you are marrying the culture of your wife as well as her, and I love Cuba. (I have friends going to Russia looking for love, but after one visit who wants to go back to Russia for anything but the women). Cubans speak Spanish, maybe the easiest language in the world for an American to learn.

Look at the size of that thing!
Its a battle of the signs on Soi Cowboy.

Visiting Soi Cowboy this week, I was AMAZED at how quiet it was. I have never seen it so quiet in all my time in Bangkok, though admittedly, the fact that it was raining must have contributed to it being so quiet. The Dollhouse Gogo Bar which I have long regarded as the premier gogo bar in Bangkok, had less than 10 customers. Yes, you read that right – LESS THAN 10 CUSTOMERS in a large bar! The manager joked to me that the poor girls were all going to have a long night, dancing up on stage and fighting over a very small bunch of punters. But what is perhaps more surprising is that the bar opposite, the newly refurbished Suzy Wong's actually had more customers. Now the guys running Suzy Wong's have done a great job decorating it and it really looks the business but truth be told, they have not recruited a lot of really pretty girls yet. But, Suzy Wong was still busier than Dollhouse….and I can't quite figure out why that would be. Dollhouse has everything going for it…so why was it so quiet? Maybe it has something to do with Suzy Wong's new sign, which is striking.

Another crackdown at Panthip and pirate software is once again temporarily off the menu… I wonder if they are a bit more serious about it all this time because the old stand by, Hollywood IT Plaza, just several metres west of Panthip on the same side of Petchaburi Road, has also been ordered to stop selling such software. However, if you know any of the vendors and / or you are discreet, it is still quite possible to get stuff.

The Living Room has a sign up saying that they will be closed every Monday for the next few weeks. What is that all about?

The question must be asked. What is a bigger problem – girls dancing nude where you expect girls to dance nude, or 2, 3 and 4 year old kids begging on a busy road in the middle of the night? I still maintain that Thailand has got its priorities seriously messed up. Brad and Sally who are in Bangkok on their honeymoon probably won't see any of the nude dancing at any of the gogo bar areas but they will be falling over dirty, begging kids and disabled wretches on the streets. Hordes of beggars, particularly begging children, do not do Thailand's already suspect image any good at all.

There is a huge great sign outside Dali Bar in Sukumvit Soi 33 that clearly states 80 baht drink (sic – yep, they forget the "s") from 4:00 – 9:00 PM. Now one can expect that this would not apply to fancy imported beers or cocktails, but there is NO reason why it should not apply to whisky. I mean there are plenty of bars that charge you 80 baht for a whisky coke ALL NIGHT. So, can you imagine my surprise when I got my bill and all of my Jack cokes that I thought would cost 80 baht cost 100 baht each… A scam? Not in the strictest sense of the word, but a questionable practice, nonetheless.

Sneak past the barrier down the side and you
can still get to Dollhouse, the "Pride of Clinton Plaza".

Midnite Bar has just recently started a new daily special menu. Each day, a popular drink is offered at a discount price. The black vodka they have there for 50 baht on Sunday (?) night is very good by the way. And remember to say hello to the friendly manager there who is always happy to chat with customers.

A barfly mentioned to me that Bacarra Bar had installed some new spotlights on the upper level that are mounted on the floor and point upwards, lighting up the dancer's umm, err, backside and other private parts. He spoke about it with such vigour that I just had to go along and check it out for myself. Unfortunately, it has been so long since I have been in there that I was unable to se how much of a difference the spotlights had made. But the idea that they allow customers a better view of the girl's privates seems to be valid.

Despite the fact that Clinton Plaza resembles a construction site, which funnily enough, it is, the next dance contest has been announced and will be held at the Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza on September 22 at 8:30 PM. Unlike recent competitions, there won't be a requirement to buy a ticket to enter. Girls from Dollhouse, Suzy Wong's, Long Gun and Hollywood Rocks will all be competing for the chance to win an all expenses paid night out with me….in their dreams! The girls will be disappointed to hear that I turned down the request to be the first prize and they will have to put up with some folding stuff instead. So sad…

Nasty scenes at one of the most prestigious high schools in the capital this week when one M2 (grade 8 / 13 years old) girl attacked another girl with a knife cutter and actually succeeded in slashing her quite badly. The reason for the attack? The victim had recently become the new girlfriend of the boy who used to go out with the attacker. When the attacker eventually marries, I hope the guy who she marries is not the philandering type for he must be a real candidate for an unwanted circumcision or more…

I have been informed that this website has been blocked by the authorities in Saudi Arabia and it cannot be accessed from that little corner of hell. Chuckle, chuckle.

There was a high profile piece in the press this week about a bunch of folks of African ancestry who were rounded up at various points in the city and asked to produce their passports. It seems that some of these people had overstayed their visas and others have been accused of various other crimes… This crackdown is purportedly in response to concerns by the Thai authorities that there may be foreign criminals operating in the Kingdom. In response to this report, at least one employer of farangs in the Kingdom is rushing to get ID cards made up for their not inconsiderable number of farang employees. While the odds of farangs being randomly stopped in the capital and asked to produce their ID is not that likely, one is still supposed to have their passport on them at all times, although some form of ID is generally accepted. ID with Thai script on it is IDEAL. Note that I have received reports from both Hua Hin and Phuket where locals have been stopped by the boys in brown and asked to produce their passport.

The old Juke's Bar has been renovated, renamed and earlier this week, Shark Bar was born. Let's hope that they have more luck than the Shark Club in Patong Beach that was closed down a few month back due to licence irregularities. Ooops, word on the street is that Shark Bar may be short in this department too… Still, this is another renovated bar on Cowboy and the street really is looking a lot better than it did say, a couple of years ago. There are now several recently renovated bars on the street, although Long Gun, which really is a filthy hole of a place (admittedly with many attractive dancers), continues to be the most popular bar down there.

The new Shark Bar in Soi Cowboy.

In this city, air-con is a must. Jumping from shopping mall to shopping mall as you make your way across the city is a nice way to battle against sweating. But sometimes, the air-con can be a little on the cold side, and for me, the worst culprit of all is S&P Ramkhaemhaeng branch. If there is anywhere ON THIS PLANET colder than that particular branch, I have yet to find it. I was keen to chow down on some S&P food the other night, but 30 seconds after entering, was forced to leave, for it was cold to the point of hurting. Funnily enough, there were no other customers in there either. There are a few other culprits when it comes to ridiculously cold air-con and they include the Siam Discovery Centre and a handful of the cinemas, particularly the newer places.

A tale of wo about one of the local telephone companies. A friend has a private line in his apartment and went to make an international call through to Canada. He received a message saying that he could not make it and that all international calls from that number had been suspended. Calling the telephone company to find out what the problem was, he was told that the last person to have that particular number left an unpaid bill of 150 baht. While the company acknowledges that yes, that was a different person, and yes, the account was in a Thai name – and is now in a farang name, that no, he cannot make international calls until the debt is settled. Madness!

"The Birthday Girl" with Nicole Kidman started in Bangkok this week and it provides another interesting look at the way women from a poorer country go out to deceive Western men for serious sums of money. Many similarities exist between the role Kidman plays and those of the Thai bargirl. Worth a look from this aspect, if nothing else.

Rock Hard Phuket in Patong Beach is now featuring "Teqiula Tuesdays". Every Tuesday, Tequlia shots are 40B. Teqilua Sunrise and Margaritas only 75B. Stop by for a couple of shots! Big Bill is in the hospital for a check up. All well wishers can contact him on 01-958-5008.

It is farcical the way Thai employers treat their staff and the working environment in Thailand is in many ways, a joke. Many of the problems come from the use of outdated and antiquated policies enforced by middle or upper class Thai employers who hide behind the protection that Thai culture gives the upper echelons of society and they so often impose unreasonably harsh penalty clauses on staff. At one Thai school where a friend's wife works, failure to go to work on a Saturday results in a penalty that EXCEEDS how much she would have earned had she gone to work. WTF?! Another company where a lady I know works imposes a 500 baht fine if you are more than a few minutes late. But best of all is one particular language school, employing farangs, funnily enough, that fines you 20,000 baht if you quit without giving adequate notice!

I never said the Soi Cowboy site that has changed ownership will be run by me. It will be run by someone else!

I've finally discovered why manufacturers of mobile phones put games into their new mobile phones. It gives the Thais a semi-legitimate reason to hold up their latest, all singing, all dancing, all bells and whistles phone for all and sundry to see – and the owner of the phone to gain face. Tacky.

Stick