* In the interests of transparency, it is appropriate to state in advance that the venue featured in the opening piece of today's column is an advertiser on this site. While the venue did not get any preferential treatment and the article was not planned, nor even suggested, I have to say that it's a venue I probably would not have visited – and would largely have remained unaware of – had they not advertised, for the simple reason that I do not frequent this type of venue.
On a dark alley running alongside Patpong soi 2, home to small, dingy bars and eateries, we entered the tiny, dimly lit bar of 20-odd square metres. Once inside, as our eyes struggled to adjust to the light, we saw that it featured a small counter top bar with stools along one side, and bench / sofa-style seating on the other. Two ancient Brits were sitting down, their trousers around their ankles and conversing about nothing in particular while two Thai birds were on their knees servicing them. The dimmest of lighting, dreadfully ugly girls, boxes and boxes of tissues and economy-size Listerine bottles strewn around, it was the epitome of seediness. I was back outside in 30 seconds, almost in a state of flux and mildly shocked at what I had just witnessed. Welcome to the world of blowjob bars, young Stick!
Sitting on the very bottom rung of the sex industry ladder, arguably even below that of skanky street-walking freelancers, is the blowjob bar and Thailand is perhaps the only country in the world that actually has a chain of blowjob bars. Lolita's is the biggest name in the business with three branches, one each in Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin.
In Bangkok it is the original home of farang nightlife, Patpong, which is perhaps best known for such venues. Patpong has a handful of BJ bars, some of which have been in business at the same location and offering the same services (quite possibly performed by the same workers) for decades. Kangaroo Club, Star of Light and Star of Love are perhaps the best known. And as is often the case in these parts, there are a number of other venues where flashing some cash around may allow you to avail yourself of a similar service in a similar fashion.
Traditionally the Bangkok blowjob bar has been a very small and seedy bar, often featuring a counter top bar where one could sit and enjoy a beer. Below you would find a curtain which opened and from where a service girl would pop her head out of and take care of business. Some bars still maintain counter top bar and curtain approach but in many venues it just happens out in the open. Most venues have a private room for those a little more inhibited, often more like a booth of a few cubic metres than a room per se. So folklore has it, in the '80s and '90s a midday trip to a Patpong blowjob bar for a beer and a blowjob was known as a slimmer's lunch.
In the city's other farang bar districts, Nana Plaza is strictly gogo bars, beer bars and katoey bars. Anyone wanting to take care of business will have to do so in a short-time room or hotel. Soi Cowboy has a few venues where oral relief is offered right in the bar but these are not strictly blowjob bars. Some of the smaller venues in Soi Cowboy have what is known as a naughty boy's corner where you might find yourself serviced behind the bar in the back corner, only arm's distance away, but still out of sight of other customers. And in some venues the girls form a barrier around a customer while one (or two!) girls attend to matters at hand.
In Pattaya it would be Soi Post Office that is BJ bar central, the Pump Station perhaps being the best known such venue but there are a number of bars offering similar services. In some of the bars of Pattaya's soi 6, anything goes inside the bar.
In fairness there aren't that many dedicated blowjob bars around and if you don't know what you're looking for you'd probably miss them. That's possible because the phrase "blowjob bar" has all sorts of negative connotations and these aren't two words you'll find written above any bar entrance nor on any bar's website. There's a definite stigma, even amongst the whoremongers, and blowjob bars have largely been the domain of the hardcore.
I had heard that Lolita's in Pattaya, independently owned and operated like the other Lolita's branches, had undergone renovations and was rather different to other venues of this ilk. I had been assured that if I took the time to swing by and check it out that I would not be disappointed. I have to admit that I was not prepared for the huge transformation that Lolita's has undergone, from a blowjob bar to what can legitimately now be termed a "gentleman's lounge".
Entering Lolita's Pattaya, located on Soi LK Metro just a couple of doors along from Champagne A Gogo, you could be forgiven for thinking that the same designer and building team that worked on my favourite Pattaya venue, Secrets, had been used. The venue is spacious and bright, red in colour and the many shiny services are spotlessly clean a la Secrets in Pattaya and Tilac in Soi Cowboy. There's a single pool table which is absolutely free to use, booths down one side and a wide counter top bar at the end. The walls are adorned in beautiful, mildly erotic, original Vietnamese art works which contribute to the flavour of a clean, modern day Asian neighbourhood house of disrepute. While there's a definite erotic edge, absent are the grime, seediness and stench which put so many off visiting such venues.
The venue is not only pleasant on the eye and comfortable, it's cool and has the sort of ambience you expect in a higher end venue. There's a quality sound system with music played at a soft volume. With such nice surroundings and absolutely no chance of seeing someone's old fella hanging out, even in the booths, Lolita's lives up to its gentleman's lounge tag and feels nothing at all like a seedy blowjob bar. This is a venue where you can kick back and relax – and there's plenty to keep you there.
Like most modern bars which are open during the day, the venue features free wireless Internet throughout. If you didn't bring your laptop, you can use their terminal at no charge.
There's a variety of quality newspapers available. Unlike your typical Pattaya bar with thumbed copies of The Sun, News Of The World and The National Enquirer, Lolita's gets in editions of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Times of London and The New York Times, in addition to stocking multiple copies of the local rags, The Nation and The Bangkok Post.
The venue has an extensive drinks list including such favourites as Bundaberg rum. As someone who doesn't drink during daylight hours, I was most impressed by the coffee list and the staff have been well-trained and make a genuinely decent and well-presented cup of coffee.
But it's not all high-brow newspapers and coffee for boring sods like me, Lolita's is a venue where you can party too. Friday nights it gets packed as popular Pattaya performer Kevin Sysyn sings and a free buffet is put on around 9:30 PM.
Soi LK Metro, which is home to Lolita's, Devil's Den, Rockhouse, Champagne A Gogo and The Office A Gogo, is becoming more of a destination these days but if you don't know where it is, in the high season you can call the venue which will dispatch a tuktuk to pick you up and deliver you to the bar, free of charge. And if at the end of the night you're not sure you can find your way home, the tuktuk will return you to your hotel.
OK, so the venue itself is hard to fault, but that's hardly the key ingredient in a Pattaya bar, is it? What about the girls!
Bars of this genre have not placed great emphasis on a girl's looks when recruiting, and ugly, old girls have often been the norm. The girls at Lolita's are for the most part pleasant, and none were particularly old or particularly fat. As is the case with bars of this nature, and the bars of soi 6, the girls sit outside the bar and try to entice passers by to enter. As you enter you should make a choice of which girl, if any, you would like to accompany you inside.
Should you get an itch that needs to be scratched, 700 baht is the all in cost which includes private chambers as well as your companion's compensation.
I have to say that I was really impressed with Lolita's, but let's not go totally overboard here. The venue, while very pleasant by any bar standards and amazing by short-time venue standards – is not perfect. There are some very cute girls but there's the obligatory barker or two. And while Lolita's would be a nice spot to spend a bit of time, I'm not convinced I would hang out there during daylight hours – the venue is open from 10 AM. It's dark inside and just as I never go to see a movie during the day, I'm no fan of being inside a bar during daylight hours that doesn't have windows letting in plenty of natural light. Still, that's a personal complaint, a minor one, and not necessarily a complaint I'd expect from those who enjoy a drink during the day, another no-no for me.
Like almost all of Pattaya, smoking inside the venue is the norm and to make matters worse, cigars are sold on the premises. Great if you're a smoker, but for those of us who aren't it's a turn off.
And for sure, there are those who like the seediness found in the likes of Soi 6 and Soi Post Office. For some, shiny surfaces polished to a sparkle will be seen as sterile, and lacking in character.
Despite being independently owned and operated, the average punter will assume that the Lolita's bars are part of a chain. The relationship between Lolita's Pattaya and the other Lolita's branches in Bangkok and Hua Hin is in name only.
The owners of Lolita's in Pattaya have built a venue that should exceed even the fussiest customers' expectations to the point that it has created a whole new concept. To me, this is what the bars of soi 6 should be – clean and classy surroundings with facilities and service that make you want to linger and just hang out.
The model of dark, sleazy venues with old, ugly and often overweight wenches is a model that should never have been successful, yet it has been when, by default, there has, until now, been no other real options. Lolita's Pattaya has well and truly raised the bar and the term "gentleman's lounge" is both appropriate and valid. Here's hoping that rather than bitch and moan and badmouth the venue, other operators pull their socks up and invest in their own premises – and that this will be the first of many venues in this style. Lolita's in Pattaya is what the bars of soi 6, and other bars of this ilk, should be.
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at the southern end of the Beach Road in Pattaya, near the old pier and it showed Pattaya's Beer Garden in the background. 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! You must state a preference for the prize you prefer, or list the prizes you would like in order of preference – fail to do so and I will award the prize to the next person to get the photo right.
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – The prevalence of sexpats through the ages.
There were more sexpats in the '80s and '90s as that was the height of the feminist outrage where women were selling T-shirts celebrating the cutting off of a man's penis. I'm sure a man having things his way in Thailand created something akin to a feeling of revenge during that gender war. As for today's new arrivals, they are a product of a lifetime of political correctness who have been brainwashed to be asexual robots and perform only on command of the female who makes all the rules. Some people call this progress. I think these gender warriors, and the new metrosexuals even more so, have erased some of the joy that can be found in the interaction between male and female. Maybe the girls criticised for their attitude are just reflecting what they see in the faces of these Westerners.
Is it really worth it?
How many of us actually know of someone who has been infected with HIV or even died of AIDS? Not many I imagine. On my second trip to Thailand, 16 years ago, I almost fell for a bargirl in Chiang Mai. Being wet behind the ears I didn't know what the score was and didn't do anything. I saw her a few months later on another trip and was shocked. She was dying from AIDS and the sight of her was appalling. Last year I visited the in-laws in Isaan and we had the usual cross-legged meals with cousins and friends from the village. Unfortunately one katoey turned up and ruined my night. I detest them. I found out yesterday that the said katoey died last week from AIDS. She had done the usual rounds for a Thai ladyboy of Nana Plaza, Patong, Singapore etc. How many guys did he / she get through over the years and how many didn't wear anything? I am not preaching here having made the odd mistake myself, but the risk of unprotected sex with someone from the bar industry is very real. What happens if the condom breaks? Is it really worth it?
A .1% success rate?
When will Western men realise that they are being set up for failure if they ever get financially involved with a bargirl? Instead of the government loosening land ownership laws for farangs, they perpetuate this type of fraud, deceit and land grab. I have truly never met a farang married to bargirl who was happy after a few years. On the contrary, I have listened to 99.9% say to me that it was the worst decision of their life! If you know of that .1% who are happy, it most likely is because they are very wealthy and don't care about supporting their wife's family with a fantastic built-in annuity for life. The term "she is different" is the biggest crock of shit I have ever heard. One day if the land ownership laws change, and farangs can own land, you will see the attitudes of the families upcountry change. They will lose the power to systematically cheat farangs.
Somchai has something you don't.
I just wanted to comment on the ongoing debate about how many Thai bargirls have Thai boyfriends. About 99% I'd say. Why? Women (all women irrespective of race or nationality) love to talk, need to share and want to be understood. They aren't seeking to solve their problems but boy, they sure want to talk about them. And 99% of the long noses simply lack the Thai communication and culture skills to meet the lady's emotional needs. Thai guys understand the nuances and subtleties of the lingo and that's not lost on Thai womenfolk. Even if Somchai is bombed, lying on the bed and swilling rock gut whiskey, she knows he still understands what she is saying – or not saying. At the end of the day, birds of a feather flock together. Thai guys talk and understand the lingo; most farangs can't.
Somchai renders passport invalid!
Reading your column I was reminded of a bizarre episode with my passport last year. When I passed through immigration at the airport upon arrival the officer had troubles computer-scanning my passport. He tried a few times, but for some reason without success. Eventually he typed in my passport's code manually and I was good to go. Three weeks later, after I had left Thailand, I noticed that there were some Thai letters scribbled on the photo page of my passport. The letters were written right above the photo where there is a narrow space that's not laminated like the rest of the page. The handwriting wasn't very clear and the letters were small so I couldn't make out what it said. I called the passport issuing office in my hometown and asked if I might have a problem using the passport in the future, as it had clearly been tampered with. They told me flat out that my passport had been rendered invalid because of this, and that I'd need to get a new one! Thus I had to spend about €100, even though the old one was good for many years if it hadn't been for those mysterious scribblings. With the help of a Thai friend I eventually figured out what the letters in the passport read: "Scans black"! Obviously the immigration officer was the culprit, seemingly unaware that he was illegally tampering with an official document. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?
The importance of backup plans.
I don't know why, but I've always thought that those who emigrate to another country half-way around the world would have something behind them in the case of an emergency, in an alien land whereby life has absolutely no value unless it's supported by flashing $ lights and signs. For those proposing to arrive with only the shirt they are wearing, let me paint you just one reality check. If after a long haul flight for some reason deep vein thrombosis kicks in as you are disembarking your flight, or you suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage, a stroke to the degree that you are now in a coma, here, half-way between this world and the next, how do you think you are going to be cared for? All the traveller cheques, ATM and credit cards in the world won't save you when CT and CAT scans have to be carried out immediately, with the strong possibility that a blood clot has to be operated on straight away to give you some chance of not ending up like a vegetable. Without adequate health or holiday insurance in a situation like this you will not receive adequate medical care. No problem you think, but what about your next of kin who have to fly in and clean up the mess?
Do they even have a name?
Two mates and I having been meeting up every week at noon at the same restaurant for six months now. We are all retired, chilled out, relaxed and as devoid from pressure as you can be in this wonderful Kingdom. Nothing out of the ordinary in all of this, but yesterday I noticed that the staff who serve us were at best just going through the motions. The Thai smiles had eventually dissipated. In the shower last night – why do all these thoughts come to me in the shower – I suddenly realised that of course not only do I not know any of their names, but neither do my friends. In fact on reflection I've got more chance of asking them if they have a number instead of a name.
We've witnessed the great British exodus already and now the question that is being asked is will some American expats soon be leaving? It was noticeable in some of the British expat-dominated neighbourhoods, including the dark side in Pattaya (that area east of Sukhumvit Road), that when the pound Sterling plummeted below its historical average in recent times of over 60 baht down towards, and then below 50 baht, that some Brits, particularly retirees on a fixed income, upped and left. What many are wondering now is whether it will soon be the turn of the Americans. With the baht now trading at a little over 30 to the dollar, many Americans who budgeted on retirement at 40 to the dollar and who have seen steep price rises in Thailand in recent years, are feeling the pinch. One American sent me a breakdown of how in just the last 5 years, his money only buys half what it used to. Yep, the combination of the weak dollar and inflation means that everything has essentially doubled in price! At present you will get around 30.8 baht for a US dollar at the bank – assuming you have 100 dollar notes – smaller denominations return less. At the independent exchange outlets you'll get a trifle over 31 baht for every greenback. While the government is looking at the problem of the strong baht, it doesn't take a genius to predict that once the rate hits 29.xx, we might start to see a similar exodus to what we saw with the Brits a year or so ago.
Former Jool's manager Peter Law passed away. Peter was a 54 year old Englishman who managed Jool's and Cheers amongst other venues. A big drinker with a pleasant disposition, he was popular with many. May he rest in peace.
I don't know from where they're recruiting at Champagne A Gogo at Pattaya's Soi LK Metro but the day shift girls are more attractive than many of the night shifts around town. And while I did not see the night shift, I am told that they are even more attractive. Champagne may not be on Walking Street but don't let that put you off. The up and coming Soi LK Metro really is not that far away and is worth visiting.
Doing a quick run through Pattaya this week, big name gogos seemed to be doing ok business, not great but ok. What surprised me was the dismal numbers in Walking Street beer bars which were much quieter than I would expect. Apart from those right up next to the actual street itself, the rest were, for the most part, quiet or dead! And it wasn't because of personnel – I would say that most bars had at least one very pretty lady.
The gogo bars of Covent Garden did very well in the early days and for a while Club Boesche was the hottest bar in Pattaya. These days, with trade down across the board, that bar has really struggled and the handful of bars in the complex fight fiercely for every customer. Unfortunately the Thai males working as touts for the respective Covent Garden bars have either had the hard word put on them or been offered commissions to get punters through the door and they have become extremely aggressive. Walking into the small area where each of the bar entranceways is has become a horrible experience as the Thai touts surround you, bark pidgin English at you, grab you and try and railroad you into their bar.
Speaking of Covent Garden, some of the girls from Paris A Gogo have made their way to Toyz.
Signs outside Shark Bar on Pattaya's Soi Diamond state that the bar is home to 80 girls, but whoever created that sign clearly lacks the most basic skill of mathematics, counting. This week there can't have been any more than 20 girls in there.
Construction is moving along at a snail's pace in Nana where a new concrete base upon which something will presumably be built has been laid in the central, ground-floor area. There's really nothing new to see hence no photos from the plaza this week.
I did a run through Soi Cowboy this week at 4:30 AM – don't ask what I was doing up at that time. The disco on the 2nd floor at the Penny Black was still going strong but there were few girls lingering around the soi and the street vendors had long gone. What surprised me though was that there were workmen outside Our Place operating a band saw which at that time of night you could hear from Sukhumvit itself! I can't imagine how any of the girls who live above the bars in Cowboy managed to get any sleep with that racket blaring.
For a few years now I have said how good I think Toyz (formerly known as Catz) is. It's always had pretty girls but the bar's popularity can perhaps be put down to the atmosphere more than anything else. Chatting with one of the owners this week, he mentioned a girl dancing in the bar who had been there more than a month and had yet to be barfined and neither had she received a single lady drink, to which I responded that she wouldn't be earning much come the end of the month. He pointed out that I was wrong and Toyz does NOT place barfine or lady drinks quotas on the girls and there are no deductions for failure to be barfined or get enough lady drinks. In fact, for the whole time this veteran bar boss has been in the industry he has eschewed the practice of imposing these quotas on the girls, explaining the direct correlation between quotas and pushy girls – and thus unhappy customers. I wonder if there are any other gogo bars that don't impose these quotas?
It has been said that for every law in Thailand there is another that contradicts it. True or not, I do not know, but what I do know is that the road rules of Thailand are not clear and often foreigners talked to by the boys in brown feel they have been unfairly targeted. There is however one road rule that is very clear and which they seem to be cracking down on in Pattaya big time – on both foreigners and Thais. When riding a bike in Thailand, whether you are the rider or a passenger, it is mandatory to wear a helmet. Failure to do so will result in a fine, usually 400 baht. Given all of the motorbike accidents in Thailand – and a good mate of mine just had his third this year – you'd be mad not to don a lid.
Bourbon Street, a long-time favourite amongst Bangkok's expat residents, celebrates its 24th anniversary this month. On the weekend of September 18 and 19, Bourbon Street will hold a buffet extravaganza featuring more than 50 items from their menu including Australian lamb chops, red fish amandine, New Orleans BBQ shrimp and chicken andouille sausage gumbo. And the price for this extensive buffet? A mere 324++ baht. Bourbon Street has run this anniversary special buffet for many years now and it's always popular so get in quick!
Sometimes you just have to laugh at the service you receive in Thailand. A good pal and I stopped by an Indian restaurant in Pattaya this week and when the waiter approached us, we tried to order in English. No luck, the guy clearly didn't even have enough functional English, notwithstanding that the menu was entirely in English. No problem, so I diverted into Thai. I may as well have been speaking Martian for he didn't understand a word of Thai either! He hollered out to the kitchen and an English-speaking assistant came out and we were able to make the order. Despite the menu being in English the service staff appear to be Indians who are proficient in neither English nor Thai!
I am on record as saying I absolutely despise today's culture of mobile phone usage, but I have to admit that I have three of the blasted things, each with a different SIM card from a different mobile provider. My primary number is with AIS which has the country's most extensive mobile network and the one with which you are most likely to get a signal with if you find yourself out in the boonies. I have a DTAC SIM card which I have exclusively as an Internet backup if my primary Internet connection goes down. DTAC has really low mobile internet rates with some plans working out at just 2 baht an hour. It's not fast but it is reliable and it does seem to be as fast, if not faster, than mobile internet with AIS. And finally, I have a True Inter SIM with which I can call most Western countries for just a baht a minute. It would be nice to have all of these services available with one provider at one price…
Bangkok's most popular second hand book store, Dasa Books, on Sukhumvit Road, not far from the Emporium, is offering 10% off all titles in stock for the entire month of September. Mail order customers can also receive this discount, but the last day to place orders is September 28.
Earlier this week I was looking at some of the photos I have taken in Thailand over the years and there's a definite trend in the people photos – the older the collection of photos, the more the locals are smiling!
I've never visited the Philippines and to be honest, I don't have any real desire to. With that said, I was recently sent 50 odd photos taken by a friend who had just returned from a trip to Angeles City. From his very nice photos, I couldn't help but get the impression that the Philippine women in the bars were softer, more innocent and didn't have that mercenary look that many Thai bargirls just cannot hide. If I were a naughty boy, I would be over there in a flash. His photos contradicted everything I have heard about the Filipinas and what struck me most was that they seemed younger than what you find in Thailand – and there was not a tattoo to be seen.
Congratulations to Secrets bar in Pattaya which turned 4 this week and started their 5th year in style with a mighty party that saw the bar packed all night long.
Reader's story of the week comes from Sawadee2000 and is titled, "Living Within My Means Part 1".
If you have wondered how bargirls live, check out this must view video of Thai bargirls' quarters at Soi Cowboy!
The Daily Mail reports the very sad story of a Brit paralysed and blinded in a road accident needs £35,000 to fly back to the UK.
CNN covers the largest human trafficking operation in America involving 400 Thais!
Time magazine reports that the red shirts are not happy about the new Thai army chief.
CNNGO profiles Bangkok's bus artists.
The latest from Andrew Drummond highlights an American porn mogul in Pattaya.
From the Bangkok Post comes a most interesting piece which asks if Thailand is getting more stupid.
Reuters reports on the booming Thai stock market.
The New York Times reports on how following the red shirt protests that rural Thais are biding their time.
Forbes lists the 40 richest Thais.
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 am about to marry in Korat. The US Embassy has a notice that if one is divorced they must file two affidavits with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One is titled "Marriage Affidavit" and the other is titled "Divorce Affidavit". However I was divorced right here in Korat from my Thai ex-wife. Do I still need the 'Divorce Affidavit" if I have the original divorce papers written in Thai issued by my District? Please open the attachments to view these affidavits. The US Embassy now charges $50 for each notarized document. Or could I combine the two documents (which will fit on one page) and have it notarized. I just feel that $50 for notary service by my own embassy is outright rape.
Sunbelt responds: When registering marriage in Thailand, you will need to provide the District Office with a document called the "Affirmation of Freedom to Marry". If you have been married before, you must obtain another document called an "Affidavit of Single Status" proving that you have been divorced or widowed. I'm afraid you will have to get these two documents from your embassy as they will not issue one without the other. You may even have to provide them with a translated English version of your Thai Divorce Certificate (certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Thai marriages are recognized by US laws, therefore you will have to report to them that you have been divorced; this is the main reason why the US Embassy requires both affidavits. It will appear in their system that you have requested an "Affirmation of Freedom to Marry" from your previous marriage. Once you have both affidavits, you must then translate them into Thai and have them certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. It will take approximately 2 – 3 days for the certification of document but may be longer depending on the volume of applicants for certification. As soon as they issue the certification, you are now ready to register your marriage at the District Office in Korat. Bear in mind however, that some District Offices reserve the right to request for a translated Thai version of your passport.
Question 2: I provided the funds to purchase a house for my legal Thai wife and I to live in as the marital home. We have a mortgage on the property which is funded entirely by me as my wife has no income. Is it possible to set up a usufruct agreement now despite the fact that we purchased the house nearly 4 years ago? I am beginning to see the error of my ways and would like to give myself some security if the marriage fails. Any help would be appreciated.
Sunbelt responds: Foreigners can in most all cases own a building such as a house in their name in Thailand. Most foreigners are prohibited from owning land in Thailand with a few exceptions such as if the land is limited to one rai and you invest 40 million baht in investments like Thai bonds. As we all know, most people do not have this amount of money to invest. Under Thai Law, a foreigner can become a holder of a Usufruct, which is a right permitting the Usufruct holder the ability to enter the property and to occupy the property for the duration of his or her natural life. Unfortunately, because the property still has a mortgage with a bank, it cannot be the subject of a Usufruct under Thai law. The land department will not allow a Usufruct or a lease to be granted as long as there is a mortgage on the property so until the mortgage is paid there is not much that can be done. Once the mortgage has been fully paid off a Usufruct may be created on property at any time provided that the owner of the land agrees to the terms of the contract. Although you will not be the lawful owner of the land, you can contact with the landowner to have the right to lease or rent out the land and receive a payment for the occupation of the land pursuant to the rental agreement. The usufructuary shall take as much care of the Property as a person of ordinary prudence would take of his own property. Usually the payment of all the land’s taxes will fall on the usufructary for the term of the agreement. You are essentially the property manager of the house and land and enjoy the property as an owner would (enjoying the "use" and "fruits" of the land while you are the usufruct holder). Should the Usufruct holder opt to lease the land to a third party, this lease agreement would not come to an end if you were to pass away during the term of the contract. For example: If before you died, you leased out the property to a third party, as per the Supreme Court ruling 2297/1998; 'the lessor does not have to be the owner of the property. Therefore the usufructuary can rent out the land. Although in the event of death of the usufructuary within the lease term, only the usufruct will be terminated but not also the lease'. Therefore, a thirty year lease (third party can only be granted a maximum of thirty years) could be passed on to your children or other relative even though you have died (as long as the lease was done before you died). With the usufruct, you are registered on the title deed. The land can never be sold or transferred by the owner of the land until the servitude is terminated. You can also get a yellow book which is a House Registration Certificate (Thor. Ror 13). A simple 30 year land lease is also a way to have peace of mind but it is not guaranteed that such a lease will be allowed to be extended beyond the 30-year term even with special conditions such as penalty clauses in the lease.*
*This does not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for direct legal consultation with a licensed attorney. The information is provided for educational purposes only and it may not account for the specific facts and up-to-date laws that may be applicable to each individual’s situation. It does not take the place of consultations with a licensed lawyer and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between readers of the information and Sunbelt Asia, Co. Ltd. or any of its employees.
The high season doesn't officially start until December but already bar, hotel and restaurant owners are looking ahead and wondering how the coming high season will be. Most businesses report that in recent weeks trade has risen from the trough of the low season although the rainy season never does a lot for bar trade this month and next. All indications are that the key indicator, hotel bookings for the high season, are promising and business owners are hoping that the high season will save their backside. Truth be told, despite dire predictions, few venues have closed. In Pattaya there seem to be more victims than what I have seen in Bangkok but even then, it's not that many that have shut up shop. For many businesses the high season cannot come soon enough.
Your Bangkok commentator,