Well away from Pattaya's nightlife central, Walking Street, is one of Sin City's more infamous naughty boy areas. Running from Beach Road up to Second Road is Soi Yodsak, or as it is also known, soi 6. It might only be a few hundred metres long, but soi 6 is home to more than 50 bars and perhaps 1,000 naughty girls.
Soi 6 has it all, with open-air beer bars, sports bars, a few gogo bars, a traditional English pub, massage houses and even a number of regular, mainstream businesses such as a dive shop. But the main feature of soi 6, and the reason so many guys visit, are the short time bars. With such bar names as Route 69, Hole In One, Love Club and Horny Bar, there's no second-guessing what soi 6 is all about.
Gogo bars and beer bars need no introduction, but the short-time bar format is less common. Short-time bars are just that – a bar you go to for a drink and to take the girl for a short-time experience.
In the short-time bars of soi 6, girls typically sit outside in sexy, skimpy apparel showing plenty of flesh and call out to any and every guy passing by. Competition is fierce with bars offering the same services at the same prices lined up next to each other.
If you decide to enter a bar, you should choose a girl before passing through the curtain and into the often dark bar area. A drink for you and one for her and she will cut through the BS and do everything in her power to convince you to take her upstairs. There's no pretension about what's on offer and not even a hint of the girlfriend experience. What soi 6 offers is cheap, readily available sex, much as I expect prostitution is like in the West. You walk into a venue, order a drink, choose a girl, go upstairs and do the business.
The short-time bars open for business late morning but things don't really get going on soi 6 until around midday or later and peak late afternoon when most have a full compliment of girls. Some bars put their girls in uniform and on the right day you might see a bunch of sexy Thai girls wearing nurses' uniforms or other sexy theme. In addition to their uniforms, one of the hallmarks of soi 6 is the way many girls go totally over the top with make up. Garish eye shadow in pastel pinks, blues and greens seems to be a feature of the soi.
Soi 6 is a favourite for many Pattaya-based Westerners, but I often wonder what all the fuss is about. My memories of soi 6 in the past is of walking past bars with a line up of dreadfully ugly girls, many heavily tattooed and some who could have done with dropping 20 kg or more. It was quite possible to walk up and down the soi and not see one girl you even remotely fancied and making it worse, many seemed desperate. It would be a thrill to walk along and have dozens of girls screaming at you, pleading for you to choose them, but is that really that great when they don't look too flash?!
But things have changed somewhat and in fairness to the soi, it is one of the few bar areas which seems to have improved in recent years. While there are still plenty of uglies to be found, it seems to have shirked the industry trend of girls getting bigger and bigger. Dare I say it, on my last stroll along soi 6, I thought some of the girls were quite pretty.
The prices on Pattaya's soi 6, which is also known as Soi Yodsak, used to be a street-standard 200 – 300 baht barfine, which covered a short-time barfine and the use of a grotty room above the bar. Then there was the girl's fee which was typically 500 baht. Throw in a drink each and a tip and all in you'd be up for around 1,000 baht. Prices are said to have moved a bit with 300 baht being the standard barfine / room fee and 700 baht most girls' expected compensation. So with drinks it's going to run closer to 1,200 baht all in, still a fair deal.
In what I find to be a curious development, soi 6 has become a hunting ground for gogo bar owners who trawl the soi often, keen to recruit new girls. Ironically, pretty girls on soi 6 can potentially make a lot more money on the down-market soi of brothels. Those who making several trips a day upstairs could make 5,000 baht upwards a day, a figure few Pattaya gogo girls reach. But there's a stigma with soi 6, even amongst the girls, and there is a certain pride in being offered a position in a gogo bar, which says to the world that "I have got a hot enough body to get out of this environment and join the crème de la crème of Pattaya bars." The soi 6 bars are little more than brothels – and the girls know it.
In some ways soi 6 reminds me a little of Soi Cowboy with some girls living on site in the rooms above the bars. Apparently this was more common in the past than it is now and more girls live outside, the same as it is at Soi Cowboy.
Soi 6 is not somewhere I spend time hanging around. I guess that more than anything it just doesn't feel welcoming to those who aren't participating. For someone like me who likes to linger, sip on something non-alcoholic and people watch, you're given a very definite look that you're really not welcome.
The soi attracts some pretty grotty characters. Like the Beach Road, some of the local characters who spend time on soi 6 have seen better days but with that said, the lane happens to be a favourite with some youngsters too.
Customers on soi 6 are very much the Pattaya crowd of yesteryear – white guys, Westerners. Certainly the Russians, Indians and Middle Easterners who make up the bulk of the Walking Street lurkers these days don't seem to have found soi 6, at least not en masse. You'll always get the odd stray, but for the most part they're strangers to the area. Signs in Russian which can be seen up and down Walking Street can't be found on soi 6. Yet.
Soi 6 is a high traffic bar area. I'm not talking cars, motorbikes, or pedestrians. Some of the girls, the pretty girls who make up a small percentage of the girls in the soi, can turn as many tricks in a day as an English teacher does lessons. Some years back a notorious whoremonger who wrote outrageous sexpat reports under the pseudonym of Ranger told of a particular favourite of his on Soi 6 who did 180 short-times in one month. Hardly the norm, of course, but the traffic can be considerable.
I've seen plenty of photos taken inside the rooms above the bars and they're grim, often worse than what 150 baht gets you on Khao San Road. That said, some bars are said to have been done up with nice rooms similar to what 1,000 baht would get you in a Pattaya hotel. In fact many of the bars don't just rent out rooms by the hour but by the night. The hardcore could check into soi 6 and spend their entire stay in the heart of the action.
Many of the bars on the south side of soi 6 – that would be the right-hand side if you were waking up from the beach – back out on to its sister soi, soi 6/1. Few venues can be entered from soi 6/1 and that lane is more like a thoroughfare with service entrances for the bars and other businesses. Soi 6/1 is worth a stroll if you're into ladyboys and features a bunch of giant ladyboys, some of whom can be quite aggressive, making very direct offers about what's available and on offer. There are also a few ladyboy bars, or bars with a mix of girls and ladyboys, on soi 6.
In some soi 6 bars anything goes and bars where anything goes right inside the bar – the main drinking area – are sometimes referred to as diddling bars. Venues such as My Friend You Bar have no restrictions on what happens in the bar so don't stick your head inside if you're shy!
Not everyone likes soi 6. I'm ambivalent about it, as much as anything because I don't partake. Hardcore Pattaya sexpat residents love it whereas those who are picky about the girls tend to prefer the gogos. A Pattaya media mogul once said to me that soi 6 is the one part of Pattaya he really doesn't like and would rather it didn't exist. I have to admit a degree of surprise that it still operates as it does, with girls frequently yelling out all sorts of interesting phrases in English to passers by, often gesticulating and sometimes even flashing them. Like everywhere it faces crackdowns from time to time but things always return to normal quickly.
Soi 6 doesn't attract mainstream tourists like Walking Street or Bangkok's nightlife areas do. The sort of ambling up and down soi 6 with a camera or video camera that is the norm on Walking Street won't win you any friends on Soi 6. Pulling out a camera gets a similar reaction to pulling out a gun.
Comparisons between soi 6 and the Coconut Bar are inevitable. You'd have to say that liaisons in soi 6 would be safer and the chances of being ripped off are remote. In fact at least one bar on soi 6 used this as part of their promotion using the slogan "get laid without getting scammed!" The girls found on soi 6 are for the most part more attractive than those loitering on Beach Road. It is more expensive but at a thousand or so baht all in, it's hardly going to break the bank. Given that everything takes place on the premises, a better comparison may be with the massage parlour experience.
You can get a cheaper beer elsewhere and if you're down to your last few baht, you can always find a cheaper bonk on the beach, but for the combination of the laid-back atmosphere of the Pattaya of old and a relatively stress-free experience without tourists gawking at your every move, soi 6 remains a favourite afternoon spot for many Pattaya locals.
Pattaya's Soi 6 offers a purer form of prostitution than what you find in other Westerner-oriented nightlife areas where customers seem to want to know the girl's life story and hope that she will treat him like her boyfriend. Whereas other areas are about fun, entertainment and the girlfriend experience, Pattaya's soi 6 is simply about sex.
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken looking up Sukhumvit soi 7. Heaps of readers thought it was soi 11. Wrong! The first person to email with the correct location of the picture 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 – Bragging can lead to an early death.
I would like to comment on the ongoing situation as it pertains to older pensioners as they seem to expire with tragic circumstances in the Land of Smiles on a regular basis, all of whom have a significant other who just happens to be a Thai lady. The story of the incapacitated elderly gentleman who was sitting at the table waiting for the inevitable with only a stun gun really ripped at my heart. And the barbecue fed to the tigers is another example. I would suggest that folks do not divulge their net worth to anyone! I have family in the U.S. who have no clue as to what I am worth. It is all stipulated in a certified trust that I set up years ago. My Thai partner of 6+ years also has no clue. I am not a braggart and I do not have to be. The best compliment to that effect was from my son who once said, "If I did not know better I would think you were poor."
Soi Cowboy service failure 1 – don't take your lengthy weapon there! <Bar name removed>
Quite often this bar is good with friendly staff, reasonable prices and attractive girls. We went there, had a good time, and the bill ran to 13,000 baht as we were treating the staff to a good time. All of us took out some girls and we headed to Bed Supper Club. Reaching the club, two of the girls could not produce an ID card, so persuasion was necessary, a 1,000 baht tip, for the doormen to allow them to enter. After the bar closed we were in a taxi, and were stopped at a police checkpoint. At this point we found out that two of the girls were 14 years old! We took them back to the bar, as they reside above the bar itself. I was saddened that a bar would employ girls at such a young age. The next day, we returned to complain to the mamasan who we had treated to numerous drinks the evening before, only to be told the bar only employs girls 18+ years of age! While sitting at the bar the next night, we noticed rounds of drinks appearing, only to notice upon leaving it was us who was buying the rounds and being lied to again! Underage girls, padding of bills, it's all quite improper and not to mention a very bad situation that could have arisen if we had done something with the underage girls. The bar is managed / owned by a Thai woman who was present the second day we complained and did not seem at all interested in what we had to say.
Soi Cowboy service failure 2 – even the most popular bar isn't perfect. <Bar name removed>
My friend paid for a girl in an ultra popular Soi Cowboy bar to stay with him for 12 days. The bar fine is 600 baht but he was told it was 600 + 400 (because she did not work!). Almost every night for a week, we spent over 10,000 baht in the bar as we just wanted to have a good time. My friend spent evenings with the girl in question, residing at her condo and on the last day of his stay in Bangkok he took two additional girls from the same bar. We went to the after hours club Spicy to find one of the girls he took had called her French boyfriend to meet her! As anyone would, he mentioned to the girl that he paid for her to leave the bar and it was inappropriate to ask another man to meet her there. A brawl ensued with the girl scratching my friend and the security guards throwing her out of the bar with her boyfriend. He was left with the first girl, and one additional girl and decided it was time to return home. On the way, one of the girls mentioned she wanted to go home and asked the taxi driver to stop and she demanded 4,000 baht from him. He politely paid, and returned back to the remaining girl's condo where the girl pulled a knife and said "All British men are the same!" He spent one week with her and paid her 28,000 baht not to mention the daily barfines, countless drinks etc. The girl threatened to kill herself or kill him if he did not pay her 500,000 baht and she called his ex-wife in Australia to make matters even worse. My friend is a very polite man with a great job and spent way too much money during his stay, but was not concerned because he has money and wanted to treat the girls well and have a good time. Again we complained the next day to the bar manager, but our complaints were met with the comment "You can go to another bar, if you not like it here."
Even the dogs at Cowboy are out to get us!
I was in Soi Cowboy the other evening with my lady who stopped to buy a couple of kebabs. While we were waiting I felt something knocking my lower leg. I turned and it was a dog hitting me with his paw asking for food! Of course I bought one for him too and fed him off the stick. Then he did it again. Nice trick he's learned. It's not only the girls there who have learned to get what they want from a man!
The benefits of tipping in the Thermae.
That old gal you took a photo of outside Thermae has been around forever. She's pretty good on customer service so when I was going there I would give 50 or sometimes a 100 baht tip. When I go to the Thermae, I get drinks in larger glasses for the same price. Word will get around quick if you are a good tipper or not and at least at the Thermae they will show their appreciation in this way. So I don't mind tipping more than 10 or just 20 baht if I go there.
Compared to Bali.
I have just returned from a 2-week break in Bali. When I visit nice places like Bali it makes me wonder why the Thais tolerate the thousands of beer bars, gogo bars and the infestation of hookers in just about every tourist hot spot in Thailand. It just looks awful. Imagine scenes like that in your home country! I would be ashamed. I know that the Thais are obsessed by money but why can't they just move on and develop instead of Thailand remaining as a large brothel. Of course girls are available in the tourist areas of Indonesia but the absence of cheap tacky beer bars gives a much better impression of the people and the country.
Interesting to read of your friend's incident with Jetstar in Melbourne because of the validity of his passport. I have flown with many carriers on multiple occasions between Australia and Thailand; Thai, Qantas, BA, Singapore, Malaysian, Emirates, Air Asia and Jetstar. Curiously Jetstar has been the only carrier to have asked me for proof of onward / return travel on both occasions at check in. I believe that technically most nations require visitors to enter on a passport with at least 6 months of validity available for a number of reasons, however it is rarely enforced by nations who shall we say aren't immune to waiving regulations for a 'fee', or just plain lazy to fight layers of red tape to enforce it. What's more, foreign airlines would be subject to heavy fines by governments who breach this rule, and technically other regulations, such as an inappropriate or no visa, no return / onward ticket etc. In addition they are obliged to return the passenger at the airline's expense. Hint: if this happens to you, demand an upgrade or some other form of compensation for the inconvenience. Surprisingly most will comply as, after all, they are at fault for flying you in the first place and not intervening at the beginning of the journey. National carriers are exempt from penalties (except for returning you home), and I would be surprised that if your friend had wandered across to Singapore Airlines or the like he would have been able to fly.
The Supersport TV channel which is used for sports broadcasts by many Western pubs in Bangkok is history. That means that there will be less rugby, less cricket, less football, in fact less of just about all live sports shown on pub TVs in Bangkok, at least for the time being. Up until two weeks ago, the Supersport signal available here in Bangkok was being broadcast out of South Africa but apparently the network had been setting up a new HD signal broadcast during which time they kept the old signal open. Presumably with all of the kinks out of the new system and the HD signal up and running, they have killed the previous signal which local bars could pick up. Western pubs and sports bars are scrambling to find alternatives and Internet connections seem to be the way some are going. That said, I have not been at all impressed by the quality of the picture of live sports broadcasts via Internet connections. Apparently up in the north you can still pick up Supersport. Maybe all of us Bangkok sports lovers need to move to Udon Thani?
Washington Square might not be as popular as Nana Plaza but its future is mooted and pained over almost as much as that of the sex shopping centre. In fairness, and I mean no disrespect to those older timers who call Washington Square "home", the whole area is a run down dump and if you pulled out Bourbon Street and Sportsman there wouldn't be much left. Rumours about the future of the area run the full gamut, but for sure, converting it into something else, no doubt a shopping centre with an adjacent hotel / office tower will be the new format. The corner of Sukhumvit Road and soi 22 is already seeing construction while the latest round of rumours have it that the venues of Washington Square have until the second quarter of 2011 to move on. True or not, I have no idea…
The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy is running their rainy season special with Heineken draft available at 80 baht all night long.
Spanky's will hold a dance contest in their Patpong soi 2 gogo bar on August 27, that's this coming Friday. More than a thousand flyers have been handed out so this could be big!
A popular venue at the foot of Soi Diamond for a long time, it is said that Louis is getting out of Paris A Gogo and the venue is changing hands.
Cowboy 2 on Soi Cowboy seems to be making a real effort to entice punters inside. First of all they renovated the bar and improved the seating and now the some of the dancers are dropping their knickers.
#3 is back in Tilac. A real cutie, she had a boyfriend for several months but things didn't work out as she had hoped so she is back to square one, on the hunt for her next victim, ooops, I mean boyfriend! Unless you're no fan of shorties – she can't be 5 foot tall, she really is quite the looker.
Larry is back at Secrets! A month to the day after he stopped working and three weeks after going under the knife, popular manager Larry made it back to Secrets this week. Punters and girls alike were thrilled that he was back and he was in fine form, with his usual jokes, quips and upbeat attitude.
Speaking of Secrets, there's a Vietnamese girl on the staff who has been getting lots of attention. To my eyes she is nothing to write home about…
On Second Road, approximately opposite the Royal Garden Shopping Centre and Marriot Hotel, was a small slightly upmarket beer bar called Lineker's. It looked nice enough but with a glass front and no other beer bars nearby I always felt that those inside would feel like a fish in a fishbowl, being gawked at by everyone passing by. The venue has undergone both a name change and renovations and is now known as Silhouette. The glass front has been replaced by a solid wall but the location is still kind of questionable. I haven't been inside myself but what I've heard from those who have really makes me wonder. Similar services to soi 6 are offered at twice the price, and barfines run the same level as Bangkok's soi 33! The concept of Silhouette is unique and one has to wonder just who the target market is.
There are a heap of cuties in Toyz A Gogo, which is down in the Convent Garden area, next to Club Boesche. It's a shame to see such a well-run bar with a bunch of pretty, friendly girls as well as a generous happy hour – before 9:30 all drinks are 65 baht – with so few customers.
Beach umbrellas on Pattaya's Beach Road are advertising True's 3G mobile service as being available in Pattaya now. What a shame that no-one in the mobile phone shops I inquired about it in had a clue.
Are there more younger girls entering the industry as well as fewer mothers, at least here in Bangkok? There don't seem to be quite as many older women in some bars, although this may just be a temporary blip. I am talking about the bars for Westerners in Bangkok and NOT bars in Pattaya where the average age, especially away from the gogos on Walking Street, is much higher than what you find in Bangkok.
I maintain that many white guys who get involved with women in Thailand are weak and get walked all over. But not everyone is weak and a mate told me a story this week that made me laugh. He's a good friend, all round good guy and is much too switched on for any girl to be able to pull the wool over his eyes. He seldom takes bargirls, preferring to trawl the internet which he finds easier, cheaper and ultimately provides a better return. Anyway, recently he not only paid the barfine for a bargirl, he took the girl back to his place. About to take a shower, she grabbed a towel from his cupboard. He stopped her and told her that she had taken a towel from the wrong pile. As she expected to be paid for her services, she would be given the use of one of his used towels from the to-be-washed basket!
It's well known that many Thai women working as prostitutes, particularly those dancing in gogo bars, have a Thai boyfriend. In a recent column I relayed how a Western bar manager had said that 95% of the girls in the bar he manages had a Thai guy in the shadows. But did you know that a few – not many I imagine, but for sure, a few – have a Western boyfriend they live with? These situations tend to be a bit more complicated. Sometimes she truly loves the guy and is willing to support him because he is broke. Other times she simply likes the comfort of a Western guy to come home to and sleep next to (after she has done the business with a customer or two). For the guy, it can mean free sex and for her it is companionship. It's a weird world we live in.
Down in Patpong, Black Pagoda will host its next party this coming Saturday, August 28, with the Super Fly party. They've got a new Martini menu with an interesting selection including their own original Thaksin-tini!
The latest issue of restaurant delivery service Food By Phone's monthly newsletter dropped in letterboxes this week. Fan Of The Month is the Country Manager for British Airways and Qantas, Neil Ager, who has been in Bangkok for just over a year.
And what does Englishman Neil like about life in Bangkok? "I love the beach life, street life and the food delivered by phone, on the street or in the many brilliant restaurants, and the opportunity to go barefoot at some point every day."
So if you see a bewildered, balding, barefoot Brit wandering around Sukhumvit looking for the beach, say hello to Neil and point him in the right direction. Let's hope his pilots have a better sense of direction!
The British Embassy has changed its procedure for obtaining passports this month – effectively now anyone applying for a replacement passport has to apply to the Consulate General in Hong Kong and use a courier service to the tune of almost 1,000 baht. First passports, i.e. for kids born in Thailand, are still processed in Bangkok. The good news is that you don't have to hand in your old passport when you apply for a new one anymore – the old one will be cancelled electronically so you can keep the old one with any important visas in it. All you have to send to Hong Kong with your application is a photocopy of your passport photograph page. The Consulate insists on payment by Visa or MasterCard but will only accept credit cards and NOT debit cards. And to add insult to injury, the Embassy in Bangkok will no longer answer questions on passport renewals and instead refers all enquiries to a premium charge phone line in the UK which costs a cool 69p a minute. But here's the crazy thing – lost, stolen or damaged passports will still be replaced by the Embassy in Bangkok! So if you are planning to get your passport renewed while in Thailand, leave it in your jeans during your weekly wash, or just report it lost. You'll save yourself the courier fee and be able to pay in cash at the Embassy!
What could be worse than being rejected by a bargirl, an indignity suffered by a mate this past week. He had been chatting away with a lovely in a Soi Cowboy gogo bar, had bought her a couple of drinks and eventually decided that he would like to buy a little of her time. When he offered to pay the barfine, she refused, claiming that it was that time of the month. The funny thing was that she was dancing naked, completely naked – and given that Thai women do not use tampons, but rather pads – you know when they're on the rag. Despite having recently reached the half century, this guy is clean cut, polite, in shape and dresses well – making him one of the last people you'd expect to be turned down by a lady of the night. But turned down he was – and none too happy it made him!
Russians continue to flock to Pattaya en masse. They used to predominantly flock there when it was brass monkeys in the Motherland, but now visit year round. If the current growth rate of Russian visitors to Thailand continues, in less than two years they will represent the largest group of white visitors to the Kingdom, overtaking the Brits. Of course some people will tell you that Thailand, and particularly Pattaya's, tourism landscape isn't changing…
Not everyone thinks that 1,000 baht is a lot to pay to barfine a coyote dancer. This week a guy barfined 9 (yes, NINE) coyote girls from a Pattaya night spot. The imagination goes into overdrive at the sort of fun that he was planning. The fellow in question is holidaying in Pattaya and a mate of his was flying in to the country to join him. As a way of welcoming his mate, he barfined the 9 girls, hired a minivan and took them to the airport to be the welcome committee for his pal. And the total cost for this little exercise? Given that the barfine for each girl was 1,000 baht, each was to be given 2,000 baht to compensate them for their time, plus the hiring of the van and no doubt a food stop or two, this gesture of friendship would have run about a thousand dollars. Now that's what I call a real mate!
The train connecting central Bangkok to the airport commences service this week. Tickets will cost 100 baht and the train will dump you at the Makkasan terminal in just 15 minutes. I really hope the new service does well but I am a little cynical, but given where it terminates, most people will have to either get a taxi in what is a very congested part of the city or drag their luggage to the nearest skytrain and with the skytrain very crowded these days, overcrowded some would say, and without any provisions for those carrying cumbersome luggage, this sounds like a major hassle to me. Airport to city train links work well in cities where taxis are expensive – which is absolutely not the case in Bangkok. For me personally, I think the only time I will use the new airport link is if I have reason to go out to the airport to meet someone who is arriving. I can hardly see myself using it to get in to the city after arriving on a flight.
I took photos of the girls standing outside a Pattaya bar and promised I would return the next day to present them with prints. What a song and dance it was to find a store to print them at a reasonable price. In Bangkok, 4 x 6 prints run around 3 baht and the quality is generally OK, not great, but ok. In Pattaya, the posted prices are 6 – 10 baht BUT what they don't tell you is that if you are printing less than 50 then the price is 10 – 15 baht. I eventually found a shop which would print any quantity at 6 baht but it took some hunting. Most things are cheaper in Pattaya than Bangkok, but not everything!
Perhaps a year or so back there were articles in the local newspapers about red light cameras being set up at various intersections in Bangkok. It didn't take long for taxi drivers to start complaining as they received ticket after ticket in the post for running reds. What I don't remember being reported was that the boys in brown have also set up speed cameras, not just in Bangkok, but all around the countryside. This week a mate was caught on the race track, oops, I mean the expressway, between Bangkok and Pattaya, a road I know well, and a road in which you can pretty much test your car's top speed with relative safety (at the right time of day and under the right weather conditions, of course). The ticket was accompanied by a photo and stated exactly where and when the infringement occurred. The fine for breaking the speed limit? A paltry 500 baht.
Oh, I almost forgot, the obligatory Nana Plaza ground floor update photo! Most unusual for a construction site in Thailand, progress is crawling at a snail's pace and not much has changed in the last week. When I swung by the workers were sitting on the rubble, chatting away, enjoying the view over a brew!
Quote of the week comes from a Pattaya gogo bar manager, "I don't recognise that bum, oh, she must be the new girl!"
Reader's story of the week is a fantastic read from Mega, "Som Nam Na (AKA Conversations With My Conscience)".
Police in Hua Hin are hunting for a bargirl alleged to have killed the farang editor of the Asia Times.
Some Thais find themselves enslaved in Utah.
The Bangkok Post ran an interesting article on freedom of speech online and how it relates to Thailand.
The Australian red shirt pleaded guilty and will be sent back to Australia.
A fugitive Jock wanted for horrific sex crimes is tracked to Soi Cowboy!
On the off chance you want to know more about male strippers in Bangkok, CNN covered it this week.
The TTR Weekly says that Pattaya is struggling to recover lost ground.
Pattaya taxi motorbike riders are helping police to spot suspicious characters and behaviour.
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 would be interested to know about the legality of street photography in Thailand as it relates to posting or publishing images where there were no model releases signed. I am well aware of the international standards in connection with this question; however this is Thailand and perhaps different rules apply; or are perceived to apply to a farang. I belong to a great local photography forum that consists of many professional photographers as well as amateurs who derive a means of livelihood from selling their images that depict recognisable images from individuals who have not given formal consent to being photographed. When I posed this question to the forum, no-one was really interested. Now, I realise that the average Thai food vendor captured picking his nose or picking his feet for that matter is not going to be searching the internet for images, however the chance always remains that someone somewhere will see their photo on the internet or in a book. Then what?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The law on individual privacy is contained in the Constitution of Thailand BE 2550 (2007). Part 3 concerns the Rights and Liberties of an Individual and Section 35 provides:
Section 35. A person's family rights, dignity, reputation and the right of privacy shall be protected. The assertion or circulation of a statement or picture in any manner whatsoever to the public, which violates or affects a person's family rights, dignity, reputation or the right of privacy, shall not be made except for the case which is beneficial to the public. Personal data of a person shall be protected from the seeking of unlawful benefit as provided by the law.
So the crux of the argument for being able to use people's public images is that it is “beneficial to the public”. Using photographs as part of the news or public discourse can arguably be beneficial to the public. A look at the law in New York, USA may be illustrative. New York law protects individuals from having their image used for trade or in advertisements without first providing their consent to the publisher of the image but a person may be photographed in public and that image used as part of the “news” without the individual giving their consent (See Arrington v. New York Times Co., 434 N.E.2nd 1319 (N.Y. 1982) (Cert. denied by U.S. Supreme Court). Also, under NY law, when an individual voluntarily joins a “newsworthy event” (as in Gaeta v. HBO, 645 N.Y.S.2d 707 [N.Y. Civ. Ct. 1996] when a passerby sued after being filmed and her image used on TV when she joined a crowd to see a publicity stunt in New York) the individual has no privacy invasion claim under the law. When individuals have “highly public lifestyles” their consent to be photographed is “implied” under NY law (See Galella v. Onassis, 487 F.2d 896 [2d Cir. 1973) but that doesn't give photographers the right to harass the person. As Thailand is not considered a litigious society it is unlikely that an individual would file a lawsuit based on an invasion of privacy if their image, while out in public, was used in a non-commercial manner but photographers need to be aware of the Thai Constitutional protections that are in place. As such, if you are in doubt, it is best to get consent to use their image or make sure the images do not degrade the individual's “family rights, dignity, reputation”.
Question 2: A British expat friend recently died whilst back in the UK. He was unmarried but had a Thai bank account and owns a car in his name. There was no will so the UK family inherits his assets through the UK laws of intestacy. How do they go about claiming the money in his Thai bank account and ownership of the car for later sale? There have been suggestions that a family member needs to come to Thailand. Surely a Power of Attorney could overcome that?
Sunbelt Legal responds: An executor of the estate (in Thailand) must be established through the Thai court. If the individual has already been appointed as the Executor in the UK, he / she must obtain certification of the UK court ruling (that he / she has been appointed as the Executor in the UK) at the British Embassy in Bangkok. Then the Certified Court Order must be translated into Thai language. The next step is to certify the Court order and its translation at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once the above process has been completed, this could then be used as a supporting statement / evidence towards the UK Executor getting appointed to be the Executor in Thailand through the Thai court system. After being appointed, the Executor could then approach the bank to close down the bank account and repatriate the funds and to contact the Department of Land Transport to proceed with the transfer of the motor vehicle. As for the requirement to travel to Thailand, the ones that are going to be appointed must travel to Thailand to proceed with the court appointment. This is in fact optional for the rest of the family members, providing that the designated executor has the trust of the family members. But the court appointment may be simpler if the family members travel to Thailand to attend the court session and sign an acknowledgement stating that they agree with the appointment.
It's always nice to receive positive feedback and in recent times I have received positive feedback not from readers, but from advertisers. Three different advertisers, none of whom know each other as far as I am aware, individually let me know that advertising on this site had met their expectations and been effective. What is interesting is that each of the three advertises on another Thailand site, a major forum, sometimes referred to as SlyGeezer. Each advertiser indicated that they get more traffic from this site than they get from that other site. And unlike that other site, I don't do high-season advertising rates, am not fussy about your banner's design and my rates are lower! If you would like to promote your Thailand-based or Thailand-related business, why not place an ad here? The support of advertisers helps keep this site going.
Your Bangkok commentator,