Stickman's Weekly Column August 29th, 2010

Is The Bangkok Sexpat A Dying Breed?



Many Western men have relocated to Bangkok for its famed nightlife. The naughty nightlife. In bars, restaurants, clubs and even staffrooms, Western men chatted about what, or who, they had done the night before. Meetings weren't just held near nightlife areas, they were held in them. Bangkok's expat population features many whose primary reason for being in Bangkok is sex, hence the term sexpats.

Since the Asian economic crisis of 1997, the number of international visitors to Thailand has tripled and the number of Westerners calling Bangkok home has probably increased similarly.

Over that same period Bangkok's bar areas haven't fared so well. Soi Cowboy may be busier but Nana Plaza, Patpong and the smaller Westerner-oriented bar areas aren't thriving as they once were. How can it be that the bars aren't any busier when Bangkok receives far more visitors and has a much larger expat population than it use to?

There's a wind of change in the air in Bangkok. Is it no longer cool to be a sexpat?

There has been an attitude shift amongst Westerners resident in Bangkok towards the bar industry in the last decade. Recounting my first Thailand job interview shows how things used to be.

I walked out of the language school owner's office with a shit-eating grin. I'd hardly said anything and while recently qualified I had zero experience, yet I had been offered a job, not just a regular position, but the position of senior teacher at the main branch of a big language school. I was over the moon! I walked out of the burly Thai's office and was congratulated by his right-hand man, an older Brit, who welcomed me to the team and assured me that I would like it there. He was quick to point out that the foreign contingent's weekly meetings didn't end up at Nana Plaza, they started there!

A month later the same language school chain arranged a junket for its Bangkok-based foreign teachers in Pattaya. We may have only had one night in Sin City but the antics of the foreign teachers on that trip, most of whom knew Pattaya like the back of their hand, amazed this somewhat naive newbie. In my branch's staffroom conversation always centred around what each teacher had done the night before. I came to realise that this was the norm across all of the branches.

A week later I walked out of that job and straight into a new position in a smaller, high-end language school staffed by a bunch of career teachers, most of whom are still teaching today. The differences couldn't have been more stark. At the new school teachers took their duties seriously and nightlife chit chat was saved for lunch and other breaks outside the institute.

I think it's fair to say that many foreigners teaching in Bangkok in the past were here for the naughty stuff with teaching merely a means to get a work permit and visa that would allow them to remain in Thailand legally long-term.

Things have changed and the profile of the typical Bangkok teacher is completely different to what it used to be. Better educated and sometimes with a specific teaching qualification, the staffrooms of better schools don't have anything like the level of nightlife banter they used to. In fact it seems to me that there are more and more foreign teachers in Bangkok who have little or no interest in the nightlife.

Watching international rugby in Soi 8 pub recently, I got chatting to some of my fellow countrymen sitting around me. Young guys, drinkers, rugby fans. Typical Kiwis. All were teachers and not one had even the slightest interest in the naughty bars. These weren't a bunch of wusses or sandal-wearing tree huggers or politically correct control freaks. They simply had no interest in prostitution.

A few years back the Thai government tightened up the work permit requirements for foreign teachers. There are still some old relics in the system, but the net result is that a different type of person is applying for teaching positions in Bangkok these days. Where once the average foreign English teacher in Bangkok was a 45+ year-old letch, nowadays he is more likely to be in his 20s, clean cut and have little or no interest in the naughty bars. That's probably just as well as given that teachers' salaries have moved at a snail's pace and prices in the bars have soared.

Today there are far fewer teachers in Bangkok who you could legitimately label as sexpats.

Bangkok's expat population has exploded in recent years. When you saw a fellow foreign resident in the past, you'd often recognise them as someone you'd seen around the naughty bars. You may not have known them personally, but you knew them by sight. These days when I am out and about, in shopping malls or floating around downtown, 98% of the foreign residents I see I don't recall ever seeing in the bars.

The sexpats of old often lived in a bubble and had a one-dimensional perspective of Bangkok. What was but a small part of Bangkok was their entire lifestyle. In some ways it was almost like being in the naughty bars was a hobby.

My feeling is that the profile of today's sexpat is somewhat different to how it used to be. Nowadays he is more likely to be a moneyed up expat on a decent salary. Chatting with a Soi Cowboy bar manager recently, we stood outside his bar and he pointed out many of his regulars. "He's the marketing director for a major Thai company. That guy is the country manager for a European airline. That tall guy over there owns his own IT company and has more than 300 staff." Today's sexpat is likely to have more coin in his pocket and be successful in his professional life. That wasn't necessarily the case in the past.

Another reason for the decline of the sexpat could be that whitey is not the dominant force in Bangkok that he used to be. In the old days Westerners from the States, Western Europe and Down Under made up the bulk of Bangkok's foreign residents as could be seen when visiting Immigration. Now we are very much a minority. Amongst the hundreds of foreigners visiting the Immigration department every day, only a small percentage are white with Indians, Chinese and other Asians far outnumbering us.

The emergence of Eastern Europe, Russia, China and India and the Tourism Authority of Thailand's (successful) promotion in those markets has seen the percentage white men make up of the total tourist number also dropping. There are now more female tourists, and more female residents. Yep, white females – I see more and more every day.

I can remember as a youngster scanning short-wave frequencies and coming across a broadcast from Thailand. There was an advert for Thailand that went something like "Come to Thailand not for the women or the bars, but for the temples and the food."

The typical tourist profile from the '90s of backpackers and sex tourists has changed with the development and promotion of high-end hotels and spas with new 5-star properties opening all over the country and as the country attracts more wealthy tourists, the industry as a whole becomes less reliant on sex tourism.

Sitting in Soi Cowboy on a busy night it might seem like there are a lot of sex tourists visiting, but how many are there really? How many of the passengers on your flight to Thailand are single guys? If the farang bar areas disappeared, the lost tourism revenue would be made up for quickly in other ways. While some frequent visitors would choose to go elsewhere and some retirees may move on to the likes of Cambodia or the Philippines, those who were put off visiting Thailand by the sex industry would now come! Less sex tourists visiting, as has been the case in recent years, means less guys are relocating to Bangkok primarily for the sex industry = less sexpats.

Age and generation seem to play a part too. The average age of Westerners resident in Bangkok seems to be lower than what it was and there A LOT of young Westerners moving to Bangkok. Many are teachers but there are also young professionals, young guys running businesses – many with online business interests – and even young retirees. With the arrival of these youngsters has come 21st century version of control, political correctness. It hasn't taken hold in Bangkok yet, but it has arrived. For many of these youngsters who turn their nose up at anything that isn't wholesome, Bangkok's infamous sex industry is a blight on their new home.

You see more and more young guys in Bangkok with girlfriends who clearly haven't been anywhere near a naughty bar. The days when most Western guys in Bangkok seriously involved with a Thai woman had a bargirl hanging off their arm are long gone.

While there has been a decline in the percentage of sexpats in Bangkok, whether it's happening elsewhere in the country, I just do not know. Each Western enclave has its own flavour and while there might be fewer foreigners with naughty boy motivations in, say, Chiang Mai, it's undeniable that the primary reason for settling in Pattaya is the nightlife. I don't think anything has changed in Sin City – but that's not to say that the city wouldn't like it to change. There are more and more Indians, Chinese and Russians visiting – and participation in the nightlife doesn't seem to be their primary motivation for visiting Pattaya.

Is the explanation as to why there are fewer obvious sexpats in Bangkok more straightforward? Is it, quite simply, that in the past there were fewer venues for Western men in Bangkok to socialise in outside of the nightlife areas and the hotel bars? Were there fewer places to go? Starbucks only opened its first branch here 12 years ago and most British pubs in Bangkok aren't even a decade old. Is the simple explanation that there were fewer places to go and by default Westerners gravitated to those venues specifically for them, the naughty bars?

Or has the sexpat possibly transformed? Does the guy who used to pine for the weekend to trawl the bars now plan his attack behind a keyboard, feverishly spending every spare moment on the prowl on the ubiquitous Thailand dating sites? Is it simply a different hunting ground?

With fewer sexpats and less foreigners as a percentage of all visitors in the nightlife areas, will the industry slowly, perhaps even imperceptibly, descend into mediocrity? Will we one day wake up and realise that external factors – Thailand's booming economy, Thailand's booming diversified tourism industry, the arrival of a higher class of Westerner and with them the arrival of political correctness ultimately spell the end of the bar industry as we know it and that sub-species, the sexpat?

As Bangkok's expat population becomes younger, more sophisticated and much more diverse, hanging out in the nightlife areas isn't the default thing to do that it once was. There are still plenty of lecherous Westerners in Bangkok but sexpats are now a relatively small minority of the greater expat number.

Last week's photo



Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken on the corner of Sukhumvit soi 7 and behind me was Versace Tailors. I took it 2-3 minutes after I took the photo that I ran the previous week! The first person to email with the correct location of the picture – which is outside Bangkok this week – wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to correctly guess the photo wins a signed copy of Stephen Leather's superb Private Dancer, which many refer to as "the bible". It's widely regarded as the best novel set in Thailand's bar scene! The third person to get the photo correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the very best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is very conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok.

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. To claim the book prize you must provide a postal address within Thailand now. Prizes are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!

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 – Soi 6, the soi of shame!

Soi 6 in Pattaya is known by locals as the street of shame! I don't fully agree with your view of the economics of what goes on there. I often drive down it as because of the one-way system it's useful to get from Second Road to Beach Road. Also, playing in the quiz league I go to bars there every couple of months. What you have to bear in mind is the sheer number of girls employed in the bars on the street – my guess is around 700. That's a lot of bonking to give every girl one short time job a day. If a number are getting 5 goes a day then there must be in excess of 1,200 – 1,500 short times every day. I just don't see that. Last month doing the quiz, sitting at the window of the Queen Vic from 8:15 – 10:15, the 3 bars and 40 odd women in them opposite couldn't muster a single customer between them, and when my friend went to a party in one of those same bars on Saturday, he made the same sort of count. By the way, the soi running parallel to soi 6 behind the bars on the south side of soi 6 is katoey land, a strange and somewhat worrying soi to walk down and not much better during the day when you can actually see the katoeys more clearly!

Is soi 6 for girls who missed the big time?

I was just reading about an Aussie being beaten in Soi 6, Pattaya, by a pack of louts, and then you feature Soi 6 in your weekly. I can happily say I have never been in any of those bars, though have walked through the soi on occasion. Actually, an ex-girlfriend ended up working there but she also wanders down Beach Road if she has not been lucky during the day. 6 years ago, she was the #2 girl in one of the top gogo bars in Pattaya. She became an ex-girlfriend because she refused to get rid of her Thai boyfriend who no doubt is now overjoyed at all the short-time money she is making for him (as opposed to the big zero he got when she was living with me). I think this is pretty much the norm for the gals in the soi. They have failed to hit the big-time anywhere else and are desperate to hold on to their Thai men. In fact, I am convinced that a girl working in the neon without a Thai boyfriend in the background represents such a loss of face for the Thais that it would not be long tolerated!

Soi 6 for the first and last time.

I've been coming to Thailand for 11 years and avoided Pattaya's Soi 6 until this year. I decided to check it out, already knowing I would probably be disgusted with it. I was right. It's not for me. I went there during the afternoon and there was nothing to tempt me at all. The ladies yell all sorts of things to entice you, but nothing tempted me. One lady made me laugh though when she called out, "Hey, baldy." I'm not bald, but I don't have a full head of hair either, but I'm not insecure about it so her comment made me laugh because it was in your face and true. I like that type of woman, but when I saw her face I kept on walking. I went down the street a few weeks later at midnight with a buzz just to see if my impression would change. Nope. I even had a drink at a bar just to sit and watch the goings on, but still nothing grabbed my attention and I found the place to be really scummy. I left and walked down soi 6/1. I knew what the street was before going down it and I usually play it safer, but I wanted to see it as well. Actually I must've been lucky since I only got bothered by katoeys once. You are right, there are some real giants there. I'm tall, but a couple were taller than me. I'll stick to the beer bars myself, with an occasional gogo thrown in from time to time.


Looking for Thai girls? Look no more – you just found ThaiFriendly.com

Are farang inheritances in Thailand being written off?

Great reply from Sunbelt to the will question, but that was only the theory part of the equation. In practice, unless someone has left a fortune, it will cost you more to claim than you will inherit. Unless someone has left a bona fide will (read 15,000 baht costs upwards), what they are effectively saying to their relatives is that they don't want them to inherit their Thai assets on death. Even leaving such a will won't make it easy, but at least it will be realistically possible. Why is it that so many farangs want to leave such a dog's dinner of a mess behind them on death?

Don't lose your passport in Thailand!

Do not advise anyone to lose their passport, even if it is inconvenient for the British who have to get a new one from Hong Kong. I lost my passport in 2001 and since then every time I leave the country the officer at Immigration gives me a look and says, "Your passport is blocked, please wait!" The duty boss has to come and unblock it at the computer which takes time and is very inconvenient. Since 2001 I have had two new ones and when I asked when this procedure will stop, the answer was, "Not in 100 years!" I'm a businessman in Thailand with no criminal record at all and this is all because I lost my passport in 2001.

Don't lose your passport in Thailand part 2!

You might warn your readers that if they damage or otherwise lose their passport, it may cause delays at Immigration, coming and going. About 7 years ago I had my passport lifted by a katoey near soi 8 and had to report it stolen. The replacement passport I have is in the system as a replacement passport for a stolen passport, so every time I arrive and leave Thailand, it takes an extra 5 – 10 minutes as the Immigration official has to get approval from a supervisor to let me in or out. The loss of time adds up if you come and go enough. Of course it also makes you nervous.

Young bulls and old bulls.

I certainly commiserate with your friend on being rejected by a bargirl. If it's any consolation, one bargirl told me she always prefers young men to old. "Young man drink too much and can only boink once a night. Old man, not drink too much, take Viagra and want to boink all night long. Make my pussy hurt!" I guess that's a new variation of the old bull / young bull story. You know, a young bull and an old bull are on top of a hill eyeballing a herd of heifers below. The young bull says, "Let's run down there and get us one." The old bull says, "Let's walk down and get 'em all!"

Are you prepared to have your heart touched?

I navigated to the Pattaya Street Kids site and browsed the section on kids in need and one in particular touched my heart. I am happy to say I am now her proud sponsor (education and school fees) and am happy to be of help. I had never given charities much thought in the past, but your link opened my eyes. If my sponsorship can save just one girl from entering the bar scene then my donation is well spent. I'm sure some of your regular readers (the whoremongers) may disagree. She has ambition and I pray she follows through with her goals. Time will tell. All Stick readers should pay a visit to the site and maybe, just maybe, they will have their hearts touched too.


Cathouse in Nana has closed and despite what the sign at the venue says, it doesn't look like re-opening any time soon. Known for its beer buffet and all you can drink beer specials, Cathouse had descended into disarray since the owner was forced to return to his native Holland for medical treatment. In his absence bills have gone unpaid, hence the closure. Incidentally, the late Blackie, who I wrote about a few weeks back, was the guy who named Cathouse.

Very little progress has been made on the central ground floor area of Nana Plaza. The official word is that whatever is built, it cannot be a permanent structure. As such, a beer garden with sun umbrellas as was mooted a few weeks back seems the most likely scenario.

Last night was the usual debacle of misinformation in Bangkok. With Bangkok elections held today, venues were not allowed to sell alcohol last night. Cowboy was closed except for two venues which had non-alcoholic drinks available. In fact Cowboy was so quiet that even the motorcycle taxis were conspicuous by their absence. It seemed like business as usual in Nana with most venues open although I believe most refrained from selling alcohol. At soi 7's Biergarten it was business as usual with alcohol available and no efforts made to conceal its sale. Not widely known, the fines for breaching this 24-hour alcohol ban (which lasted from 6 PM Saturday until 6 PM Sunday) was a whopping 30,000 baht for any individual caught drinking in a bar and a 300,000 baht for the venue itself! Soi Cowboy was still quiet this afternoon where it looked more like early morning – when the soi is dead!

Tilac Bar took the opportunity of the one-day closure to lay new flooring in the area outside the bar.

Baby Dolls, one of the most popular bars in Pattaya, hosts a birthday party tonight for Lee, one of the venue's owners. It will kick off around 8 PM and there will be free food from Palmers. Veteran bar manager Ricky will be overseeing things and promises to spice things up with some special party games and tricks to be performed by his girls.

Soi Cowboy's Tilac had a disastrous couple of days this week when nothing seemed to be going right. It felt like an oven on Thursday night as all of the air-conditioners inside the bar as well as some of the lighting outside the bar refused to work. A number of customers walked into the heat and walked straight back out and more than a few left after it became apparent that the problem needed an electrician to fix. And then on Friday night the three urinals below the window in the men's room became blocked and started overflowing piss and shit all throughout! The men's was closed off, forcing guys into the women's where something of a traffic jam formed.

Speaking of which, next time you're in Tilac, check out the girls' toilet where some of the graffiti on the walls is wild! In the photo taken here, the long sentence says "Love your parents more than you love a man!" Thais don't have the same hang ups about going into the wrong loo as exist in the West so you'll probably be able to get in unchallenged.

Silver Dollar in Washington Square, like most bars in that bar area, is known as a hang-out for older Americans as well as for its free Sunday meal. A reader went to avail himself of the free meal advertised on the board outside and was told that they are not doing it anymore. He also noted that the venue no longer has free wireless internet access. And to top it off, the venue is no longer answering email. With anecdotes like this, it just fuels all of the rumours that Washington Square doesn't have long to go.

Secrets Bar in Pattaya celebrates its 4th anniversary on September 1st, that's this coming Wednesday, with what they are calling the mega 4th birthday gala party which will feature girls, drinks, food and giveaways.

Larry of Secrets is evidence that yes, foreigners can work in the bar industry in Thailand legally – yes, Larry has a little blue book to prove it. But foreigners needn't only manage bars, they can actually do the hands on stuff behind the bar too. There's a Scouser puling pints in the Huntsman who seems to love his job – and who wouldn't with some of the hotties he must come across! I guess it's only the higher end bars / hotel bars that are willing to pay a foreigner many times that which they would pay a local. For those who have thought about bar work, yes, with a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time, who knows?

As much as I like Iron Club, and still reckon it to be the best bar in Pattaya at the moment, the seating really doesn't convince one to stay for more than a drink. It's a fabulous venue inside with a great layout, the best lighting system, good use of mirrors that make the venue feel much bigger than it is, a good music play list and very, very energetic dancing. First impressions are so good you may feel like staying all night. Even those with a good back might complain – the seats are rock hard and the space between the seating and the table is limited. I can't imagine how some of Pattaya's hippos manage in that bar. If you think I'm complaining too much, compare the seating in Iron Club with the seating in Angelwitch which is so much more comfortable – and conducive to staying all night!

Dave The Rave came to the rescue of a clueless Aussie this week. Enjoying a feed in McDonald's late on Friday night, well after the bars had closed, the ever alert gogo guru noticed a fracas between a Westerner and a Thai woman. It seems that the Aussie had had his ugly mitts on the maiden in an inappropriate manner! And right before the gogo guru's eyes, the boys in brown appeared and handcuffed the unwitting Aussie star of the soap opera unfolding before Dave's eyes. Somehow Dave ended up down at the cop shop on behalf of this fool who was ever so lucky that the lady he had groped only wanted him to feel a little discomfort and did not actually want to press charges – something which has cost other farang caught up in similar situations well into baht 6 figures. Fortunately Dave managed to mediate and a solution of a 1,000 baht fine and a promise that it would never happen again brought it to an end. Just because some Thai women in the naughty bars might not complain if groped doesn't mean you can do it outside. It's a recipe for disaster – and most Thai women know that they can go to the cops and get you in deep pooh pooh!

A mate experienced a real Thai moment this week. He traipsed along to the local UOB Bank branch to take advantage of the 4% term deposit rate I mentioned in this column a few weeks back. In the bank branch were brochures advertising this promotion and behind the well-dressed, professional-looking staff the entire wall was made up of huge posters promotion the new term deposit rates. He asks one of the staff members about the promotion and she checks with a colleague…and no-one knows anything about it. Staff stand around looking confused and my pal shows them the brochures and points to the wall-sized promotion. Still no-one knows anything! Eventually one staff member walks over and says that the promotion finished a month ago. You've got to laugh at the so typical situation of the staff being all dressed up, working in a bank branch in a gorgeous building, yet don't give two hoots about what's going on. Unfortunately one could deduce that the general attitude of Thais (not Chinese Thais) in an office environment seems to be to put on nice clothes, show up…and do as little as possible!

Thai women can be insanely jealous – more so than any Western women – and to make it worse, some can go crazy when told that jealousy is a negative emotion that can ruin an otherwise healthy relationship. What I find amusing is that some Thai women get really mad when their guy isn't jealous about them and things they may do or say! It's as if they expect a guy will get angry if they mention that someone has shown interest in them or perhaps even made a pass at or asked for their phone number. I had an interesting case of this recently when the other half mentioned that someone had showed an interest in her and I responded with nothing more than a lor (best translated to a casual "really" in English). Failure to show of any genuine concern, and especially the lack of jealousy was interpreted as me not caring for her! She tried to throw a wobbly and I told her to shut up, which she did for a good few hours – great, peace and quiet for a while! Unfortunately jealousy plays a big part in many Thai relationships and many Thai woman expect their guy to be jealous and truly think he does not love them if he doesn't get jealous!

I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes push the boundaries a little with photos I run in this column. I was browsing a naughty boy's trip report this week in which the author had photos of himself in action in Pattaya's soi 6. No big deal in that, such reports are all over the net. But fancy not only photographing yourself in action and explaining that your lady was from Pattaya's notorious soi 6, but doing it without protection? I cannot understand the risks some guys take, I really can't.

Don't think that that Thai girl you met online is going to be a cheap date! A mate of mine met a girl on the popular Tagged site and asked her if she would like to meet up for a bit to eat. She was brazen in her choice of restaurant, The Dome, atop State Tower. Dinner for two ran a cool 12,000 baht – for a first date. Fortunately this fellow isn't an English teacher and didn't do a double take when the bill arrived. Oh, and from all accounts he did not get a bit that night!

Speaking with parting with lots of the folding stuff with these birds, what it is with guys giving their wallet not to their wife, but to their barfine! Often it might have 20 – 30K baht in it and it is entrusted with a prostitute they barely know! What the hell are they thinking?! And the very worst, the dumbest, most stupid idiots of all, those who DESERVE to be taken to the cleaners are those who hand an ATM card to their barfine and tell her the code to make a withdrawal while they sit in their hotel room or booze it up in a bar. This is just plain stupid and frankly, if she does a number on you, I hope the bank doesn't even consider refunding you a single cent.

One difference between Bangkok and Pattaya is the value for money in hotels in Sin City. Whereas in Bangkok you may have to spend a few thousand baht for a nice room in a central area and a good chunk more for something with a Jacuzzi and the like, things are rather cheaper in Pattaya. One such hotel which may appeal to naughty boys is The Penthouse Hotel in Soi Pattayaland 2 which has some most interesting rooms. At 1,951 baht, you can get a room with a Jacuzzi, a "health swing", mood lightning and heaps of goodies. You can even get a room with beds for two couples for less than 2,000 baht. Their mini party suites provide great value – and an ideal chance for those of you who like to, umm, err, share! All the prices include breakfast and free wi-fi.

And it is not only Pattaya hotels offering specials to customers. Popular Swiss owned and managed Town Lodge Hotel at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 18 is helping their customers utilise the new airport link train which commenced service this past week. All their deluxe and suite customers can enjoy free transport to the station from now until the end of the year.

The culture of buying a woman in Bangkok has become so deeply ingrained in the psyche of not just residents, but visitors, that nothing surprises me these days. A fantastic waitress in a popular Western food outlet was wooed by one of the ever increasing number of Middle Easterners to visit the Big Mango. He warmed to her bubbly personality and gorgeous looks and invited her to go shopping on her break, buying her some flash threads in the nearby shopping mall which she was only too happy to show off to her colleagues when she returned for work. Just days later she left her waitress position after Mohammed Romeo promised to drop 35K baht a month to support her.

I used to like a certain NZ-themed bar in the Nana area for watching rugby but to be honest I have given up on the place. This rugby season I have been venturing there to watch the rugby in what has to be the most popular spot for New Zealanders to cheer on the All Blacks. The bar is packed with proud All Blacks jersey-wearing Kiwis who delight in cheering on their world-beating team. The first problem in the bar is that every Tri-Nations test match without failure the bar is packed. Great for the venue, but why don't they put on extra staff? You can go an entire half of the match without being able to order anything as there are so few staff – and those who are there get frazzled and any notion of service just falls apart. It's kind of crazy really because this is the case every week. Surely the management is aware of what's going on? Given that there could be 150 customers in the bar and each person is missing out on say, one drink, that's at least 10,000 baht in revenue the venue is missing out on – and a couple of extra staff for the day would only set them back 500 baht or so.

I'm on record as saying that I think Duke's Express in Emporium has great hamburgers. Their ribs are good too and the pepperoni pizza is fantastic. In fact I would go as far to say that it's as good as any pizza anywhere in Bangkok. I'm waiting for Duke's to put salmon pizza on the menu!

Speaking of favourite restaurants for Westerners in Bangkok, the next branch of Sunrise Tacos will be in Central World which reopens on September 28. Yep, just 4 weeks from now, the behemoth shopping centre that the red shirts tried to burn to the ground will reopen – at least a good chunk of it will.

What came first to Pattaya, the fat women or the Middle Easterners? If you haven't spent any time in Pattaya over the past several months, there's a new type of customer using the girls' services. As night falls, young Middle Easterners are grabbing the Beach Road girls and whisking them away. This has led to a few more big girls on the Beach Road – just the way the that lot like them!

Reader's story of the week comes from popular submission writer, Sawadee2000, "Hopelessly Outnumbered ".

The Bangkok Post highlights the evil work of Bangkok's infamous rubbish police.

More proof, as if it was needed, that Thai women are getting bigger!

The Nation newspaper reports that a Brit fell to his death at the Novotel Hotel at the airport.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a live tiger was found in luggage at Bangkok Airport.

The New York Times ran a piece on disgruntled Thai youth this week.

A Thai restaurant in Canada features drinks named after Bangkok nightlife areas!

The BBC reports an Irishman got life in prison for selling drugs in Thailand.

Pattaya police talk to the baht bus co-operative about how they can improve their service.

CNNGO highlights there spots to get a bowl of my favourite Northern Thai dish, khao soy, in Bangkok.

A new Belgian House of Beers has opened up in Ari!

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 was married here in Thailand 3 years ago and after a few months of suspecting that my wife has been seeing someone behind my back, I recently received confirmation of this. I confronted her about this and she denied it. She is still seeing the guy behind my back and there is nothing I can do as I work long hours and can also be away from Bangkok for several days at a time. We do not have a prenuptial agreement. I wish to divorce her and do not wish her to get anything. I understand that under Thai law if I can prove that she cheated I can file for divorce on these grounds. Is this true and what do I need to do to show that she has been cheating?

Sunbelt Legal responds: According to the law in Thailand, any assets earned during the marriage shall be considered as marital assets. Either party to a marriage may file for a divorce for any causes (it must be a serious cause like cheating, abandoning etc. – but you must be able to validate the allegations made for the cause), though such allegations will not prohibit either party from being entitled to the an equal share in the Marital Assets. In the case if one of the parties refuses to register the divorce at the District Office (Amphur), the other party will have to obtain a court order showing that you are eligible to file for divorce individually and then register the divorce. And as mentioned above, even though the court may rule that you can divorce your spouse they will still be entitled to 50% of the assets that were earned / acquired during the marriage. The grounds for divorce are stated in Thailand's Civil and Commercial Code, Book 5 – Family, Title 1 – Marriage Chapter 6 – Termination of Marriage, including Section 1516 (1) concerning adultery:

* the husband has given maintenance to or honoured such other woman as his wife,
* or the wife has committed adultery, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce”.

Also mentioned in Section 1523 – In case of divorce by judgment of the Court on the ground as provided in Section 1516 (1), the husband or wife is entitled to compensation from the husband or wife and other woman or adulterer, as the case may be. The husband is entitled to claim compensation from any person who has wrongfully taken liberties with his wife in an adulterous manner, and the wife is entitled to claim compensation from other woman who has openly shown her adulterous relations with the former's husband. However, the husband or wife is not entitled to claim compensation if he or she has consented to or connived at the act done by other party under Section 1516 (1) or allowed other person to act as provided in paragraph 2. Based upon the scenario you have outlined in your question you will likely need to file for divorce and seek redress for the dissolution of your marriage from your spouse and her paramour but she will still be entitled to make a claim based upon the marital assets.

Question 2: My question is somewhat generic. I have found customer service in stores in Thailand to be really bad compared to home. Do we have any rights as consumers within Thai law? If we buy a product and it breaks down, does the retailer have a responsibility to fix it?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Many products produced by large and long-time manufactures have a warranty on the products that are sold in retail outlets throughout Thailand. If a product you have purchased has such manufacturer's warranty and the retail outlet fails to take the product back for repair or a refund / store credit you should then deal directly with the manufacturer. While some retailers have their own store policies concerning returning items purchased at their store for a refund the manufacturer's warranty may be broader than that of the retail store where you made the purchase. Many major retailers in Thailand are willing to replace products purchased at their stores for up to 7 days, for example. If a product you purchased is defective but was purchased beyond the allotted time for in-store return / refund / or credit then the retailer may still act on your behalf by delivering the defected product to the manufacture for repair (sometimes, and some manufacturer would replace the defected products at no costs but that would depended on the validity of your warranty). This may take longer as the retailer would have their routine schedule, therefore, in some cases and for speedy process, they would recommend that the customer should take or mail the defected product directly to the manufacture (or one of the manufacturer's in country exclusive dealer or repair shop). As a side note, you cannot just go directly to the court in Thailand if a store refuses to repair or refund the purchase price on a defective product. You will first need to file a written, formal complaint with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board. The process will initially go through a mediated dispute settlement but if no mutual agreement can be reached between the parties the OCPB would then proceed with the normal court trial (similar to the normal court process and / or Labor Protection Department).




Thailand is home to many Western characters, people who have chosen to live life their way. I have always been attracted to such characters, in fact I often find they are almost like a magnet to me. I want to find out more about them, have much interest in their story and enjoy hearing about how they came to arrive at the point they find themselves at today. One of the great things about living in Thailand is the Western characters you meet. With that said, while there are many genuine characters, there are also more than a few guys-with-problems. Some who appear to be characters may in fact be guys with real issues. It can take time to work out whether someone is a character or a guy-with-problems. It really is best to take time to get to know people in Thailand before you let them get close to you. Just because their skin is the same colour and they speak your language doesn't necessarily mean that you're both on the same page. With all of this in mind, while I like meeting up with readers for a chat over a coffee or a bit to eat, please don't be offended if I decline your invitation. While I have met some great people and made many good friends over the years via this site, I have also had the misfortune to meet a few weirdoes!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick