It's not often I meet a client before I carry out an investigation, but Simon insisted on meeting before we got his case underway. He was to tell me about his teerak in detail, how he was crazy about her, was supporting her handsomely, had bought her a large diamond engagement ring and had stopped playing around. He wasn't old, wasn't ugly and seemed to have a well-paying job. You'd think that would be enough…
We met in the Queen Vic, just around the corner from Cowboy, and Simon told me about his lady friend in detail. He must have thought that I was rude, because in between mouthfuls I was showing more interest in one of the staff members, who quite ironically, I happened to be investigating.
In between telling me just how lovely his fiancée was, he told me about the former freelancer's routines. She was staying a little outside Bangkok but would make irregular visits to Sukhumvit, an occasional night out. Her favourite hang out was New Wave, but she could also be found in Gulliver's. She was known to stick her head in the Biergarten and had become a recent fan of Nana Liquid. She was also known to spend time at Hillary Bar. Climax and Bangkok Beat were also possibilities. The only freelancer venue I could rule out was the Thermae.
Checking up on freelancers is never easy. They aren't required to be anywhere at any given time. They do want they want, when they want and come and go as they please, floating around their favourite venue or two. I could see from the outset that this investigation could be tricky. It wasn't the actual investigating that would be challenging; it would be simply finding the girl. She only came out occasionally and when she did, she could be in one of a number of venues. Simon allayed my concerns, saying that she always told him when she went out – and that he would let me know where and when that would be. I'm not one for being on call, but this would make the job doable.
The objective of the investigation was simple. Find her, observe her and report what she was up to. If she went with a customer – which he didn't think likely – I was to provide photographic proof. If there was an opportunity to approach her and engage her in conversation I was to take it – and see where it went.
He provided me with photographs of her. They didn't impress me. She wasn't what you'd call photogenic and had a look that could easily be mistaken for someone from outside the region. She didn't look Thai at all. That, combined with a small tattoo, would help me to spot her.
I'd quoted a fee for 2 different checks, but he felt that might not be enough to get to the bottom of things and 4 would be better. He'd prepared a wedge of cash and I left the Queen Vic with a bulging wallet.
Simon impressed upon me that discretion was paramount. I responded that the only way a girl knows she has been investigated is if the client tells her.
I had real concerns. I knew from experience that if she was out and about there was every chance she would be up for it. Freelancing is different to working for a bar. There's no salary and freelancers hemorrhage money when they go out. They have to buy drinks, pay entry fees and if they float from venue to venue, they could easily go through several hundred baht, or more, in a night. I knew that if I found her it was likely to be bad news.
He was supporting her handsomely, giving her what the average Western English teacher makes in Bangkok a month. She had kids to look after but even then it was plenty to live on and then some. She could never accuse him of failing to take care of her. I could tell that he loved her, but I also knew that women of the night place little weight on that. If she was addicted to the lifestyle, didn't genuinely like him, or knew that she could make plenty on the side, there was little he could do to stop her.
He was in and out of Thailand and his work commitments kept them apart. Would she play while he was away?
He spoke with her often, calling her almost everyday. She was somewhat open with him, telling him when she was going out. She would tell him that she would go out to meet friends, listen to music, have a few drinks and just relax. Nothing more. It all sounded plausible, unless of course you've done hundreds of investigations into Thai bargirls and know that not everything is what it seems…
The first check was a waste of time. We agreed one weekend to kick things off when we suspected she may have been out. She may have been out, or may not – but I never did find her. As I moved from one venue to another, she may well have been doing the same thing. I might have been in the wrong bar at the wrong time. Freelancer jobs are never easy for this very reason.
I reported back to the client that I'd had no luck in locating her. One visit down, three to go.
A few days later he called me to say she was on her way out. To Gulliver's. With my best threads and the camera in hand, I dashed out the door. Half an hour later I was in the cavernous bar and within 30 seconds I had spotted her.
She was playing pool. Right away I could see that she was in uniform, wall to wall make up, hair done up, showing a bit too much flesh for a girl out for a quiet night. She looked like quite the slut. I took a seat with a decent vantage point, ordered a drink and watched.
Her pool skills didn't match her looks and wasn't long before she was beaten, and sauntered over to the long, counter top bar below the rotating car. I observed her for a while, deduced that she was alone and moved over to where she was sitting. She looked much better in person than she had in the photos and I didn't want to risk anyone sleazing in on her. After exchanging smiles, I said hi.
Investigating these girls is a thrill. You're sitting there, chatting the girl up, often playing the dumb tourist. She thinks you're the latest sex-crazed moron to fall off the plane while you already know a considerable amount about her. You buy her drinks and compliment her. You're playing with her, warming her up before you start gently probing, questioning, all very deliberate, all working towards a goal. It's not that different to picking someone up – you have to get her to like her. You agree with most everything she says and gently allow her to lead the conversation, smiling, showing interest and sprinkling compliment after compliment. Her English is great. Her eyes are beautiful. Her skin is soft and radiant. You know you're on the right track when she holds eye contact a little longer, when she starts to play with her hair and most importantly, when everyone around you seems to become invisible to her and she only has eyes for you.
And that's exactly what Angel was doing. All the positive signs were there.
Every job is different. I made out I was in Bangkok on holiday, my second time here, and that I was staying at the Sheraton Grande. Every girl on Sukhumvit knows a room there runs 4,000 – 5,000 baht a night, immediately placing you as a guy with money. And every woman gives a guy with money a chance.
Everything was in English – which worked because her English was very good, a sure sign she had been around the block. You start with the innocuous stuff, the inane questions – where she comes from, how old she is, and express interest in her family. You tell her how nice Thai people are and how you adore the food. It's all complete bollocks, of course, but you're playing a role and building rapport. You can hardly tell her that you eat farang food most every meal and you don't trust 99% of Thai people. Perhaps the key is to make her think that she's in control. One you've have the tell tale signs that she has warmed to you, you can probe more. Gently at first, but as she drinks more and more, you inevitably strike pay dirt.
Being a gentleman is a bit part of it. You talk about your hotel and gently suggest that the room is big…too big for just one. Her eyes are glowing, she's playing with her hair and she takes a hit of the wine. You haven't been direct, but there's no doubt what you were alluding to. She appreciates the approach. You order her another wine. Like most Thai women, she doesn't handle it well. She's not just willing to go with you, she's reached the point where she's now dead keen. She wants to leave the bar with you. She wants you. It's no longer about the money. She wants it. She's become putty in your hands and you've got her right where you want her.
There are plenty of men of colour in the bar and they come up in conversation. Somehow the topic comes around to the size their manhood. She says that she likes a guy who packs a punch. The bigger, the better. Her hands are darting and she tries to check out my equipment. In a show of bashfulness, I gently push her little hands away. She gets even more excited. She's like an Eden Club girl with a millionaire.
Her lips are loose and I've verified much of what the customer told me about her, and she has shown herself to be available. The objective for the night has been established – we know she is available – and now I need to get away. But how? She's really in the mood.
How can I extricate myself from her? What excuse can I make?
It's a feeble effort. I tell her I have some work to do, back at the hotel. She wants to come with me. I decline. She's shocked. She thought it was a sure thing. Confusion is painted across her face. I convince her that I really like her and that I would like to see her, but it will have to be tomorrow. I will be back, same bar, same time, 7 PM, the next night. She's disappointed, but regains her self-control when I grab her pile of checkbins and put them with mine. She's happy now. She got something out of me. I haven't wasted her time. She says she will be here tomorrow. She grabs my arm and tries to pull me back, but I am out of there before she has a chance to follow.
Once home I fire off a report to the client. It's bad news: it's business as usual for his teerak.
The next morning an email comes back with a bunch of questions. He's not convinced of what I tell him. After all, he points out, I had never directly asked her and neither had she directly said that she would go back to my hotel. It's plain dumb and he seems to be in denial. It's kind of like saying there are no signs at the airport that say, “Welcome to Thailand, the world's biggest brothel”. Do you really have to spell these things out?
Was he clutching at hope? Was he in denial? Or perhaps he didn't believe me? Over the course of an email exchange it didn't seem to matter that she had a vested interest to lie to him about what she was up to – and I didn't. He just didn't seem to believe that his darling could be up to no good.
I returned to Gulliver's that night, unsure whether she would be there. No dictionary has a picture of a Thai bargirl next to the entry for reliability. But there she was, right at the bar, and on time to boot. Amazing! But she wasn't alone, and as I sat down next to her, she and a friend chatted away in Thai with the false confidence that I didn't have a clue what they were on about. More investigations are solved with Thai language skills than by any other means, and I encouraged them to chat together while I feigned interest in the nearby pool tables. It quickly became clear that she had told her friend all about me. She was keen on the Stick! It took all my willpower not to grin. Hey, I'm human!
It wasn't long before her friend peeled off and it was just the two of us again. We continued from where we had left off the night before. She was well into the wine, with my encouragement, of course, while I drank at a more measured pace. Too much alcohol on the job and you might just get tempted. Ain't that right, Warren?!
Her phone started ringing and she turned the ringer off. It rang and rang and rang. Call after call. It just had to be her boyfriend. My client. Her refusal to answer saw him change strategy and SMS messages followed. She was pissed off by his persistence and showed them to me. She mocked him and told me all about him, recounting the first time they met, when he had been resplendent in his Big C best – 39 baht flip flops and 50 baht shorts. It made me laugh. It's not a good look.
As the alcohol took effect on her, she revealed how she had gone with a guy after I had left her the previous night. She claimed she didn't like him, most likely a ruse to get me, a potential customer, noy to feel threatened by other guys. She continued to mock her boyfriend, to belittle him, and run him down. She complained that the diamond ring he had bought wasn't big enough, and she reveled in berating his personal presentation. She said that he was probably out with girls wherever he was and I felt that she was saying these things as a way of making herself feel better about what she was doing, a total betrayal of the guy she was engaged to, a guy who had committed to her and who was supporting her with the sort of monthly stipend most Thai girls dream of.
I excused myself and went to the men's. I called the customer in a neighbouring country. I told him what was going on, that I was with her, that she had refused to answer his calls and that she had shown me the text messages he had sent her. I relayed how she had been with a customer the night before and told him, word for word, of the SMS he had just sent. I think it was at that point that it finally started to sink in that she really was up to no good.
I explained that she had lied about many things. She lied about going with customers and had lied about where she was at certain times, telling him she was at home when she was actually on Sukhumvit.
He wanted proof. He had to see what she was up to with his own eyes.
I told him that I could take her to a hotel room, take a photograph of her and then make excuses and leave. I wouldn't do anything. He seemed most concerned that I would. It wouldn't be exactly straightforward, having told her I was staying in the Sheraton and then inviting her to some 400 baht rat hole. But if that is what I had to do to get a photo, then so be it. That was the proof he wanted – that she really was going with customers.
He kept asking question after question about innocuous details. Open your eyes, God damn it, I wanted to say. She's fucking other guys! She's lying. She's running you down to a stranger. What more do you need to know?!
He wanted the proof, he said, so that he could confront her with it.
Alarm bells started going off in my head as things moved in a dangerous direction. He could show her irrefutable proof that she was up to no good, but what would that achieve? Would he would use photos of her in a short-time room to try and talk her through what had happened – something almost impossible with your average Thai girl, akin to taking a dump on the floor and rubbing her face in it.
Confronting a Thai girl about an indiscretion almost always results in denial. Evidence overcomes that. But producing evidence, in this case photos, will cause massive face loss and in such circumstances a Thai girl can become irrational and unpredictable. She will see you as being in the wrong for confronting her with it! And with photos taken inside a short-time room, she will know where they were taken, and more importantly, by who! The person who took them is now public enemy number one!
Photos are both a blessing and a curse. They provide absolute proof. They also tell the girl how and more importantly, from whom the information was obtained. She will know who messed with her rice bowl. You don't mess with people's rice bowl in Asia!
He wasn't happy when I said that I could get photos of her outside the bar, or with another guy, but there was no way I was going to take photos in a short-time hotel if he was going to show them to her, which was very much his intention. He understood why I wouldn't do it, not that that made it any easier to accept.
A 4th check was necessary. I wouldn't approach her, wouldn't chat with her but would simply observe. The objective was to photograph her with a guy at a distance and Simon could use that to do whatever the hell he wanted with. She wouldn't know who had taken it.
The 4th visit came. I couldn't find her. We never got the photo.
He went back to her. She'd disrespected him as badly as a woman could disrespect a guy, but he still went back to her. There are some things in life I will never understand…
Catching a Thai girl in a lie isn't usually followed by talking things through. Odds are that she will become emotional, turn things around and try and blame you! The original indiscretion is off the table and you checking up on her is now the only thing to be discussed! But what I find sad – and I see this so often – is that despite utterly conclusive proof that a girl is up to no good, guys so often require irrefutable proof to give to her as a way of extricating themselves from the relationship. If it's over, it's over. You don't need a photo to justify to her why you're leaving. Man up!
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken inside The Londoner, my favourite British pub in Bangkok, and a venue I think has better food than other British pubs. The first person to email me with the correct location of the photo wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to get it correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok. The third person to get the photo right wins a 700 baht gift certificate from Lolita's in Pattaya.
Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011. You have 90 days to claim the Lolita's prize. Prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week! If you wish to claim a prize, 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 – No longer are Westerners Gods!
I just read your piece, "Choose your friends very carefully in Thailand". Yes, it brought some fond, and not so fond, memories. I once started a book about all the crazies I have met in the film business in Japan. I stopped at 6,000 words as other things took precedence in my life. But I doubt that people would have believed it, and a lot of Westerners might not have been amused to read me describing all of the screwballs that used to be here. Some people did well, I remember the Australian fellow who used to get a huge number of TV commercials. He saved up, and went back to Australia and bought a ranch. I remember another guy who tried a similar thing with me as described in your story. I heard stories around, that besides the occasional film work in Japan, he would go down to Hong Kong, and get paid for taking a suitcase into Japan past Japanese Customs. Funny, I don't see that guy around any more! Japan has changed. The easy money is over, and the dodgy characters have disappeared. And it is expensive. It is very difficult to just show up and be able to crash on someone's floor. And the attitude of Japanese people has changed. No longer are Westerners Gods, but now just average people. And I like it like that, the God thing just didn't suit people.
Avoid those with problems.
You really need to be careful and wary about staying away from the many dodgy characters in Bangkok. It really helps if your judgment is up to par and you can quickly and accurately assess someone's character. This is an area where I think I've been able to maintain myself well, as I'm able to listen not only to what a person says but what he doesn't say. Body language and eye contact are also critical elements of what a person is about. Those with bad financial problems are always a bad bet as they're likely to cause anyone around them a myriad of problems.
One of the Pattaya Tourist Police Volunteers' duties.
I thought that it was part of the farang volunteers of the Pattaya Tourist Police's duties to transport bargirls to work. I have seen members dropping off girls at bars every time I am in Pattaya.
The Pattaya porn guy.
Concerning your last excellent post on the Pattaya pornographer, I have a "friend" who has a made three such motion pictures. She knew what she was getting into and says she makes 20,000 a shoot. She is a Cowboy gogo worker and told me the exposure means when she is recognised by a potential customer she can charge a premium. She also told me that before each shoot everyone does an HIV test – male performers as well as female. She is a "friend" who I've known for 2 years (who I have never had sex with) so I see not reason for her to lie. You can bulk buy HIV test from places like Alibaba for less than $1 a go so it's reasonable to assume most producers would test. I agree with you about the exploitation of naive girls who don't realise what they are getting into (my "friend" is pretty hardcore and fiscally smart) but it probably isn't much different to prostitution in general. For most girls it will have a negative effect on their lives but for some, the stronger ones, they can use it to break the poverty cycle. My "friend" owns a home in Bangkok, a car and her daughter goes to a private school. I'd be interested to know what assets Thainee has other than the obvious.
Dare you buy a high-end mobile in Phuket?
I had an urge to check out the new iPhone4. The iBeat shop in Jung Ceylon in Patong was out of stock so I wandered up to the 3rd floor where there are many stalls selling phones. I was offered an Iphone4 for 29,000 baht, and another for 28,500 baht. The retail price is 27,820 or thereabouts in official shops. I was suspicious as the phones were not boxed but wrapped in plastic film. Shops in Thailand will not usually open a sealed box until they have confirmed the sale. I tried another stall and was offered the exact same for 5,000 baht, the guy openly admitting it was a copy. When I asked him if all the IPhones there were copies, he nodded and said they were. I was overcharged for a Sony there a few years ago and would advise everyone to avoid that area. You will not find any bargains and will most likely be ripped off. Under Big C or in Central Festival seems to be OK if you need to buy a phone in Phuket and even in Patong there a few good phone shops.
When you feel the police cannot be of any help.
A couple of nights ago, at 2:30 AM, I was accosted by a ladyboy just 60 metres from my condo. This ladyboy would not go away, but followed me into the condo building and right to my door, and then tried to barge past me into my room! I quickly pulled the door shut, auto-locking it with both of us still outside. When I tried to phone for help, the ladyboy grabbed my Blackberry and legged it. I ran to the motorcycle taxi stand and told them I would give them 2,000 baht to recover my phone. They tracked the ladyboy down to a lodging house in Paradise Complex, the gay area. I had to go with the guys to what amounted to a Mexican standoff, with the taxi guys and me facing off about a half dozen ladyboys. The thief claimed I had done the dirty and not paid, which would have been a miracle as I had left a restaurant only 3 minutes earlier. The end result was that I had to pay the taxi guys the promised amount and also 500 baht to the thief to return my phone. Still cheaper than losing a 23K phone plus the stuff stored in it. A lady at a bar I frequent said I should have told the ladyboy that my wife was in my room. A good tip, but in future if I see anyone hanging out there I will take a moto taxi to the condo. The police? Forget it! Faced with my word against the ladyboy's, I would have had to pay more, even in the unlikely event they tracked the thief down.
The low-lifes just seem to multiply.
I think a lot of us can relate to your most recent article regarding some of the characters that we have all come across in our travels and temporary homes abroad. In my 30 years of living and traveling abroad, I have met up with, hung out with, partied with, and got into trouble with a cast of characters in many countries. I'm sure my stories are no different from most other expats'. I have 2 close Canadian friends in Thailand and one Swiss, one Australian, and 2 American friends in the Philippines. I have a fair share of acquaintances from around the globe and those that if I see in a certain venue or walking down the street, I do my best to avoid them. The select element of sleaze will always be with us and in retrospect provide for some good stories but that's it. Good friends are hard to find and keep as you grow older, whereas acquaintances come and go, but the lowlifes just seem to multiply.
Singing the praises of a Bangkok tailor.
Many derogatory things are said about Sukhumvit tailors, but I'm singing the praises of Raja's Tailors on Sukhumvit Soi 4, next to the entrance to Nana Plaza. I stopped by recently, walked up to Bobby, and said, "I owe you money!" He looked me over and said, "I don't hear that very often, but I think I remember you." In fact, I had ordered clothes from him in 2003, intending to pick them up a month later on my return from Vietnam. But the SARS epidemic intervened, and I did not return to Bangkok, leaving about $US 500 owing on the order. In the ensuing weeks I tried mailing a check. It was never received. Twice I sent cash back with a visitor, but it was not delivered. Now I simply handed Bobby $500 expecting nothing in return, but he would not let me leave Bangkok without new clothes similar to those I had left behind. I have used Raja's several times since 1994 and have always been very satisfied with the quality, price, and service. Now I also can say that the family is incredibly fair in its business practices.
Another Westerner joined the Bangkok Flying Club, right in downtown Bangkok. An American who had been living rough on the streets for some time – and was said to be in a bad way, finally ended it by jumping to his death on Ploenchit Road, just a few hundred metres from the US Embassy. Is it just me or do there seem to be more homeless and down and out Westerners in Bangkok these days?
The economy mightn't be great, but visitors are flocking back to Bangkok and it looks like it's going to be a booming high season. This hasn't gone unnoticed by bar owners. To herald the beginning of the tourist season, Raw Hide and its sister bar, Long Gun, have increased the price of standard drinks to 140 baht. To confuse things, notices in the toilets advise that the price of beer will increase next month to 140 baht. Maybe the notice has been there for a while? It also says that there will be a new happy hour from 7 – 9 PM, when a beer will set you back 100 baht.
Is the neon sign here the newest entrant into Soi Cowboy's neon wars? Is the Arab's position as the king of neon under threat? The sign here for Siam Sam's was set up in front of the existing neon at Cactus Bar in Soi Cowboy, where filming for "Hangover 2" was to take place at 6 AM yesterday morning. The Siam Sam's sign is only a prop and it will revert back to Cactus once filming has finished.
Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 provided another backdrop for "Hangover 2". Business at a number of bars was interrupted and even the iconic Soi 7/1 venue, The Eden Club, was forced to close its doors for a short period.
Bangkok's newest night spot, Insomnia, is booming, doing quite unreal business. The rumour mill has it that 75 million was put in to the place and if things continue, they're going to get their investment back real fast! And unlike most venues in the Sukhumvit area which send party-goers home at 2 AM, Insomnia is open through until 5 AM every night.
Insomnia in Pattaya is usually open all night long but on Friday night it, along with most of Walking Street, was closed at 2 AM. What was that about? The start of a crackdown or a one off early closure. Probably the latter, but you never can tell.
Fahrenheit A Gogo on Walking Street, next to the soon to open Alcatraz, is due to open any day.
There's been no progress on the ground floor of Nana Plaza. There have been a number of ventures in the naughty bar industry over the years that have stalled, or never been finished, and I'm not the only one wondering if the ground floor of Nana is going to join the unfinished projects club. I asked one of the Western bar bosses in the plaza what was going on and he just laughed, and said that like everyone else, he had no idea when, or even if, it would be completed.
The Robin Hood is one of the most popular British pubs in Bangkok – in fact it may be doing better business than any other venue of that ilk – but don't count me as a fan. I find the atmosphere cold, the service patchy and the food just not up to scratch compared to what's available elsewhere. And what's up with their pricing of Carlsberg? At 200 baht a pint or 130 baht for a half-pint, it's significantly more expensive than The Sportsman, across the road. The Sportsman has Carlsberg at a much more reasonable 125 baht a pint and 65 baht a half all day and all night – and there's a further discount if you have a member's card!
The New Zealand-themed pub Soi 8, located about 50 metres into Sukhumvit soi 8 on the left hand side, needs to be congratulated for trying to provide coverage of the All Blacks' annual rampage through the northern hemisphere. But the truth is that Soi 8 Pub has had major problems with rugby coverage this year. With none of the satellite TV channels in Thailand showing the matches, expat pubs are offering Internet-streamed broadcasts – and for the most part they aren't great. The frame rate is often low, making for a jerky picture and with the feed sometimes dropping out and then skipping forward, the whole experience is marred. You know it's a disaster when died-hard All Blacks fans thin out in the middle of a match and dash to another venue. Down at the Robin Hood, managed by Kiwi Jimmy, himself a keen rugby fan, the quality of the Internet feed is admittedly much better. A friend who watched the All Blacks vs. England match there said the Internet streaming was flawless. Given that the Robin Hood managed to get it right, I wonder what the problem is at Soi 8? Perhaps the computer they were using was too slow, or perhaps their Internet connection was crap? Frankly, watching live sport online really should be a last resort.
Now with two new hips, Larry is back in Secrets from today working reduced hours. He had previously said that he hoped to be back by December but it looks like his recovery is going well.
I am loathe to go solely on a single email from a reader I don't know nor have ever met, but this is potentially significant and as such I feel it needs to be mentioned.
Great story about the Pattaya pornographer. I want to add that he was also spotted in one of the bars on Soi 6 during a recent police raid. One of the girls told me he told her his name was David Beckham, had sex with her, then when he left the cops rushed in. Not that it matters now, but there are also a couple of girls on his sites I've met around town who turned out being under the age of 18. This guy is on the take. No question. It's also quite incredible all the Pattaya news removed his stories. It all must have been part of his deal.
To recap that article from couple of weeks ago, an American pornographer was arrested in Pattaya, back in April of this year, and faced a myriad of charges from possession of a handgun to possession of drugs to the manufacture of pornographic movies. Despite there being a truckload of evidence against him, all of which was reported on the major Pattaya news websites, he never faced charges and most perturbing of all, the articles outlining his arrest were removed. I said that it appeared that he was running a hugely profitable business and making serious cash and that it seemed that he had most likely found a way to reach a settlement. That was conjecture on my part, but this email suggests that part of the settlement was that he become a grass!
On the subject of farang porn stars in Thailand, Naughty Nigel was the original. The tall, bald Brit featured in many farang-produced porn flicks on such sites as the horrendously named AsianStreetMeat.com. Just like our American porno star, Nigel never wore protection with the girls and the boys – yep, Nigel used to do ladyboys too – he found himself banned in some farang-owned bars keen to protect their girls. With his porn career behind him, Nigel's new career choice is, if it could be possible, a step down! Nigel is quite the crook. He asked one of the local expat authors if he was interested in doing some scamming with him! Yep, this was a question put to someone the first time he met them. Nigel has been involved in a number of scams over the years, and was accused of credit card fraud amongst other things. Today he is…..a drug dealer! I kid you not! Life hasn't been kind to him and he's looking quite skinny these days. After all the shit he has had his hands in, the mind boggles.
Steve Leather fans, and those who simply enjoy novels set in Bangkok and Thailand in general, will be interested to know that Steve has put his latest novel, " Bangkok Bob and The Missing Mormon" on Kindle prior to publication in print, at a third of the price the book will be.
Whenever I flick through the Bangkok Post in the local Au Bon Pain or Starbucks, there's always an ad for Jack Golf…until this week. The few days I checked out the Post this week, I couldn't see an ad for Bangkok's most famous visa run firm. Maybe they have come to their senses and are going to put the money that was allocated to advertising into fixing up the bus instead?!
The opening of a new gogo bar in Thailand does not usually coincide with the introduction of farm fresh girls as new girls to the industry are sometimes referred to. Rather, girls are often recruited from other bars, or are girls known to management, or they may even be walk ins. With more and more guys flocking to Thailand and the industry set to boom further, new bars are opening hoping to meet the demand and the issue of recruiting new girls has become a challenge for venue owners. As Thailand slowly pulls itself up economically, other opportunities exist for the girls. Of course they won't make anything like the sort of money they could have if they became a sex worker, but for many they simply want to be able to look after themselves and their family. If they can do that away from the industry there's no reason to think that's what they will choose to do. I really do think it's fair to say that over the last few years the percentage of truly attractive girls working in the naughty bars has dropped. There is NOT an unlimited supply of rural Thai girls willing to work in the bars! One of the things you notice if you venture into the smaller towns and villages in the northeast is that there aren't that many young females around!
In addition to Crossbar which utilises Internet connections for some live sports, Chequers, the British pub on Soi 4 also shows cricket and rugby. Even the American-owned and -themed Bully's shows international cricket.
Yep, it really is a big no-no in Laos, illegal in fact, to spend the night with a Laotian lady who is not your wife. But the Laotians are a clever bunch and have managed to get around that – by stacking the streets of the capital, Vientiane, with katoeys! There's no law against spending the night with what is technically a bloke!
You won't find a finer steak in Bangkok than at the New York Steakhouse, but it has to be said that the prices are stratospheric. I've eaten there a couple of times recently and on each occasion have started with the Caesar salad. The steaks are faultless – as they should be at the price – but the Caesar salad, it has to be said, is hardly the best in town. I reckon you get a better Caesar at Au Bon Pain for less than 1/5 of the price. I reckon the problem is primarily that they use iceberg lettuce when in a Caesar it really should be Romaine. Hard to believe that they are cutting costs on a salad that they charge a whopping 500+ baht for.
Thaigirlsingle.com is another Thai dating site, one I hadn't heard of until recently which is kind of surprising given that it has been going for nearly 6 years! The Western owner has switched the format from that of a pay site to one that is totally free. From the beginning his plan was to develop a free site relying on advertisements for income. Like most Thailand-centric dating sites, the site aims to bring together Western men and Thai women. If you're into online dating, check it out.
Adsense is the search engine giant Google's advertising program and one which many Thailand-based webmasters not only use, but have built their entire online business around. The program is dollar-denominated and advertisers receive a cheque or a deposit into their bank account in US dollars (can be converted into a local currency). With the US dollar falling, webmasters' income has been hit. A couple of Thailand website owners mentioned to me that it has become so tight that they are not sure whether they will be able to stay on in Thailand or not.
Also on the subject of Google, executing a search on Google.com here in Thailand will get you sent to the Thai version, at Google.co.th. Attempting to perform a search in English starting with the word "why" comes up with a suggestion that appears to be predictive, presumably based on the most popular searches at Google.co.th. What do you reckon?!
Bangkok Bank appears to have revised its policy regarding foreigners opening an account. On this page of the Bangkok Bank site says that "Even if you are only visiting Thailand for a relatively short period of time, you can open a savings account and get a debit card to use for shopping and ATM withdrawals. All you will need to provide is your passport and one other official identification document – for example, your driver's license". So according to that, it is no longer necessary to have a long term visa or work permit to open a bank account. Of course, this is Thailand and not every branch may be aware of the policy.
Colin Hastings, editor of the long-running expat monthly, The Big Chili, has just launched his newest publication, Bon Appétit, a monthly newspaper devoted to the F & B business in Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin. Given that Bangkok has no shortage of great eateries, and given that many expats eat out most nights, it should be popular. The 16-page launch issue is unlike anything else available – think Guru magazine's food coverage but with much more substance. I really enjoyed it. Distribution was to commence this week to restaurants, bars, hotels etc.
A number of Stickman readers have asked about safety deposit boxes in Bangkok – getting one in a bank isn't easy as most branches seem to be full. The link below is for a Western-owned company offering a safety deposit box service in Bangkok and they have boxes available now!
Quote of the week comes from a long-time reader, "I would bet that you can't throw a rock anywhere in Thailand without hitting a farang criminal or nutcase."
Reader's story of the week comes from the slums of Klong Toey and is titled, "Fighting The Western Girls' System".
Lovelorn, drunk or something else, a Brit in Pattaya stabs himself and sets fire to his condo!
Amazingly, The Nation newspaper reckons Thais spend 94 minutes a day reading. HORSE SHIT!
A visit to Thailand could be a major faux pas for the British Prime Minister.
Ladyboy + foreign tourist + late at night = robbery!
A former Stickman interviewee is caught in bed with a Thai hooker while consuming methamphetamines, all of which wouldn't be so bad if he was not running a Thailand drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic!
Soi 7/1 has been transformed for filming Hangover 2 in this YouTube video.
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 recently left Thailand after receiving a letter by registered mail to appear before the Revenue Department for a tax assessment. For some time now I have been operating
a small operation which makes a modest amount of money. I did not employ anyone and didn't have a registered company. I would like to have been legal, but it all seemed like rather too much hassle and expense so I took the risk. Unfortunately
it looks as though a competitor informed the authorities about me. The letter from the Revenue Department was in Thai and requested that I visit them and bring various documents so they could examine my finances and presumably make a tax assessment.
I was instructed to appear at their office several days later. What is ironic is that my visa expired the day before they requested I go in to see them and I have since left the country. I have a few questions relating to this:
1. Will my failure to meet with them as per their request result in an arrest warrant automatically being issued?
2. I would like to resolve this situation so that should I choose to return to Thailand in the future, I can do so without fear of prosecution or imprisonment. Does Sunbelt offer a service to negotiate with the Revenue Department?
3. I would like to resolve it if it could be done affordably and with finality – but I have some concerns. It is my experience that when Thais have power over you, especially the authorities, they exercise that power in such a way that it would be considered "abuse" in the West. Do you think it is realistic that this situation could be resolved – with a receipted payment made – and that be an absolute end to the situation? I wouldn't want to do it if upon my return they decided to take another bite of the cherry! Do you have any general advice or further comment on the situation?
Sunbelt Asia responds: The odds are like 99.99%, an arrest warrant would not be issued on the first letter. As by practice the officer would invite you to their office to notify and inform you of the accusation
include the chance for you to clarify such accusation. It is strongly recommended for you and your legal representative to report prior to the arrival of the next invitation.
Sunbelt Asia Accounting has negotiated for hundreds of people with the Revenue Department. Negotiations usually take 2 hours and our professional fee is 3,000 baht per hour.
You made a modest profit, you know the concept works. Get legal! Otherwise, the next call from your competitor might be to the Labor Department which would result in an arrest, deportation and possibly being blacklisted.
As for your view of possible "abuse", this is why many foreigners feel comfortable hiring Sunbelt Asia to be their mouth for them. Thailand is a great country but if you are acting wrong (knowing you are doing so) you then can have possible problems with the authorities. Most all countries would make you feel uncomfortable then. Thais are noted for being forgiving. Your attitude however has to be one that allows them to be forgiving. Best to let a lawyer be there with you.
Question 2: We, a group of teachers, started work last month at a private school. We were told by the owner that we'd be paid from the 20th of the month, which corresponded to the terms of the written employment contract. We were supposed to take care of our visas, starting teaching on the 26th of October. As it turns out, the salary paid to us was for one week only, starting on the 26th! Should we insist on the terms of the contract ("The Employer agrees to pay the Employee … baht per month for the period commencing on the date stated above." i.e. the 20th!) and the agreement with the owner?
Sunbelt Asia responds: Yes, we strongly advise you to do this.
Question 3: Can you please briefly explain the US-Thai Amity Treaty and its purpose to me? Can this be used to create a sole proprietorship for the purpose of purchasing land and building a home or would a person have to build some type of income generating business on that property?
Sunbelt Asia responds: The U.S-Thai Treaty of Amity, also known as the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, was signed in Bangkok, in 1966. The treaty allows American citizens and businesses incorporated
in the U.S to maintain a majority shareholding or to own a company in Thailand in its entirety, thereby engaging in business and treated on the same basis as a Thai national.
The Treaty of Amity secured two major trade advantages for the U.S.
1. The Treaty permits American companies to maintain a majority shareholding or to wholly own its company, branch office or representative office located in Thailand.
2. American companies receive national treatment, meaning U.S. firms may engage in business on the same basis as Thai companies, and are exempt from most of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by the Alien Business Law of 1972.
For American companies who wish to be covered by the Treaty of Amity, it is required to have at least 50% American directors and a minimum of 51% of the shares must be held by American citizens.
However, under the Treaty of Amity, Thailand restricts American investment in the following fields of business:
3. Fiduciary functions
4. Banking involving depository functions
5. Exploitation of land and natural resources
6. Owning land; and
7. Domestic trade in agricultural products.
Due to the above listed restrictions of the Treaty of Amity, you would be prohibited from purchasing land through a Treaty of Amity entity. In regards to sole proprietorship, this can be obtained by a US citizen under the terms of the Treaty of Amity. However, it has become notoriously difficult to process a work permit through a Treaty of Amity sole proprietorship.
Although it is possible to register a Sole Proprietorship within local districts in Thailand, the difficulty arises when applying for the work permit. The Labor Department in local districts will only process a new work permit application ( at this time) if the business objectives of the sole proprietorship for the American involves short-term projects such as project consultancy work. Problems have been encountered from time to time when US citizens have successfully registered a sole proprietorship but have then been unable to obtain a work permit from the Labor Department.
It also depends on the year you applied and have you already been grandfathered in with an existing work permit. No problem exists on limited partnerships or limited companies which you can own 99.999% in your name, in getting a work permit.
Question 4: Regarding a usupt agreement, can my dearly beloved sell the land after I have built a house upon it? Next, what rights to access etc, do I have in that respect? I am thinking of buying land (in her name of course) but spending a bit more on the house (receipts etc. in my name) than the land and am keenly interested to hear any thoughts that may help with my decision!
Sunbelt Asia responds: 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 or the stipulated period.
If the property has a mortgage with a bank, per the bank's policy, they shall not permit the Borrower to register any additional lien on the property, this includes a 30 year lease, and any type of servitude (such as Usufruct, Right of Habitat, superficies). This is to protect the bank's interest in the property in case the Borrower fails to make their timely repayment of the loan. Furthermore, your original titled deed would be kept with the Bank. In this case a usufruct would not be prudent.
However if the land is owned free and clear, then a usufruct is a excellent way for your name to be on the title deed not as the owner but as a usufructuary (or the manager of the land).
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 owner would still be eligible to sell the land, and the new owner must honour the existing usufruct that has been imposed on the property. You can also get a yellow book which is a House Registration Certificate (Thor. Ror 13).
Sunbelt has created hundreds of usufructs for properties all over Thailand and we look forward to assisting you should you decide that this is a good option for you.
A good night out in the naughty bars of Bangkok or Pattaya can be heaps of fun. For those of us who live in Bangkok – or Pattaya – and for whom we have spent much time in the bars, it does eventually get boring. I guess it's hard for those who dream of their time in Thailand each year to fathom. Yep, time doing other things, in my case wandering around taking photos, is often more exciting. If you thought there was less bar news in the column this past couple of weeks, you'd be right. I haven't stepped into a bar, or a bar area in more than 2 weeks. This is nothing to do with the other half trying to prevent me from visiting, or any problems due to some of the controversial columns I have written of late, it's simply because I find the bars a bit boring. If you lament the reduction in bar coverage recently, you have my apologies. The content of this column has always been a reflection of what I am up to in my life. You'll know when I'm back in the bars because there'll be more bar news…
Your Bangkok commentator,