Stickman's Weekly Column December 5th, 2010

An American Casanova In The Middle East

I used to do 4 or 5 bargirl investigations a month. This year it has been more like a couple of cases a month. A few years back I had my best month ever when I hit double figures.

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I've been checking up on Thai girls on and off for years. Typically someone will use my service once, and that's it. You don't usually hear from them again. Some guys may request a follow up check after you've given them bad news. They confront their little darling who makes the same promises she once made. You check her out again and nothing has changed. But there was one customer who was different…

In the first email he sent he told me he loved her. He described her as loving, feminine, sweet and incredibly beautiful. He truly loved her and he wanted to marry her. If she checked out, he would put a ring on her finger. My findings would have a very real bearing on two people's lives. If I gave him the green light, he was going to get down on one knee.

He sent a photo taken of the two of them together. It was taken in a beer bar, but I couldn't pick which one. There really are that many and most look much the same. There he was, standing behind her, tall and proud, with his arms wrapped protectively around her. They were facing the camera, each with a smile on their face. His was that large beaming smile seen on many a sex tourist's face. Hers looked rather more like it was on cue.

He had recently been in Bangkok for a break from his job in the Middle East. He had stayed at the Queen's Park Hotel, the largest hotel in Bangkok, and had spent many a night in the small beer bar complex just down the road, the Queen's Park Plaza.

What struck me about his email was the heartfelt words. He really loved this girl and wanted her to be his wife. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. I really hoped she would check out ok. It's a real nice feeling when you deliver good news.

It would be an easy task. The least popular of all of Bangkok's farang bar areas, the small bars in Queen's Park don't get many visitors. With so few girls, some of whom would be lucky to be barfined a few times a month, I wouldn't face the problem you get in the gogos where girls don't go in to work every day.

A couple of days later with the fee in my account, I made my way over to Sukhumvit soi 22. It's a bar complex I'm less familiar with, one I seldom visit. I strolled up and down the mini sois that make up the complex looking for the bar. I wondered to myself how this complex could sustain 20 odd bars. With most bars having just 3 or 4 girls and all the girls in the area numbering perhaps 100, some of the bigger bars in Cowboy or Nana have more girls in just one bar. There were few guys around and some bars had yet to write their first checkbin of the evening. Most girls were watching TV and looking bored.

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I found the bar and the girls seemed surprised when I actually stopped, sat down and ordered a drink. I spotted the target right away. She had a look of complete disinterest. With skin like leather and hair like straw, it was obvious why she wasn't working up the road, in Nana or Cowboy. I couldn't see what the attraction was, but it's not my place to question.

I offered her a drink and she just about fell of her chair. The bar probably only gets a handful of customers a night, and a young guy wearing a shirt and tie offering an ugly girl a drink probably didn't happen too often. The switch had been flicked and she turned on the charm. We chatted about all the usual stuff and it didn't take long to find out everything I needed. She was up for it and the price was up to me. Short-time, long-time or a lifetime, whatever I wanted was ok with her! I made an excuse and shot off to the loo where I recorded the details she had given me on scraps of paper. This had to be the easiest task ever and less than an hour later, with night still young, I was out of there. The job was complete!

I hailed a cab and shot up to Nana to catch up with Dave The Rave and enjoy the profits from the job. Being a week night I had classes the next day so I couldn't party too late. A couple of hours later I headed home, knocked up an email outlining my findings to the client, and expressed my condolences that his darling was not on the straight and narrow. I fired off the email and went to bed.

At school the next morning I received an odd email. The client made no mention of the investigation I had just carried out for him, nor did he refer to that lady. Usually there are a few questions, perhaps clarification of some points. Instead, he emailed me about another lady. He explained that he loved this woman very much, and that she was the one for him! She was his ideal woman, and if she checked out, she would be the new Mrs. America! He wanted her checked out quickly, and sent me her nickname and the name of the bar she worked in. She even worked in the same bar area, the Queen's Park Plaza complex! What really got me was the photo. It was almost identical to the snap of the girl I had checked up on for him the night before. There he was in another bar in the complex, standing behind this girl with arms around her waist, wearing the same baseball cap as the first photo, both of them looking at the camera. The pose was almost identical!

It's not my place to ask questions or question his motives, but to carry out his instructions. If he wanted a second girl checked out, that's what I'd do.

I sent him an email confirming that I could get the investigation started right away, and told him to make payment to the same bank account. He must have been online at the same time because he replied quickly, confirming that payment had been made. That night I returned to Queen's Park Plaza, to check out fiancée number 2.

I soon located the bar and found the girl, who waied me and struck me as most charming. She was much better looking than the girl from the night before as well as being more pleasant. This one was an improvement! But that's where the similarities ended. It was the easiest 8,000 baht I would earn with little time required to determine that she was available. An hour later, with all the info I needed, I was on my way to Cowboy for a couple before heading home. I eventually made it home, fired off the report, and went to bed. Case closed!

I was in the classroom the first two periods that next morning, so it wasn't until around 10 AM that I had a chance to check email. Amongst the avalanche of email I get every morning was one from the client. He thanked me for my efforts and had no questions. To my amazement, he requested that I carry out a third investigation for him! I just about fell off my chair when the email was accompanied by another photo. Just like the previous two, there he was in a bar, with a bargirl, in almost exactly the same pose! There wasn't even a hint of sarcasm in his email when he said that he was considering marrying this girl. I started laughing so loud that my colleagues thought there was something wrong with me. They surrounded my computer screen as I explained to them what I was laughing about. I fired off a reply, confirming that yes, I was able to carry out a third check and yes, I could do it that night. Three easy investigations in three days – this was turning out to be a good week!

In what was quickly becoming a case of déjà vu, I found the bar, found the girl, discovered that she was still available – as they almost always are. With the job done in record time – his objectives were simple, only wanting to know if they were available or not – rather than heading out for a few, I headed straight home. Some guys don't take bad news well and you have to be judicious with your choice of words. Some guys come back to you with what can be the start of an email exchange that can last days as your investigator's hat is replaced with that of a counsellor. You talk them through it, explaining how these girls aren't really relationship material and try and soften the blow. But not with our Middle-East based Casanova. The third report was so remarkably similar to the previous two that I actually copied and pasted parts from the previous two. I thought that would be the end of it.

The next morning I received an email from him with two files attached. I opened the files, each a JPEG file. He had sent two more photos, the same as the three I had received already, each of him with a girl in a Queen's Park Plaza bar, in the same pose as the others. He explained that he had jumped the gun and already sent my fee x 2. He requested that I check out these two girls for him. He elaborated on his situation and explained how he desperately wanted to find a good Thai woman to marry and how upon getting back to the Middle East after his Thailand trip he realised that any of the girls he had met would make a good wife. There were no professions of love this time, rather a desperate hope that one of these two had stopped working.

I made the visit, checked out the two girls, and it was the same old story. Each was still working and was available to whomever walked through the door. 5 girls checked in 4 days, and 5 lots of bad news.

Queen's Park Plaza is a small bar area, where many of the girls from the different bars know each other. The jungle telegraph is efficient and word must have got out about this guy working his way through the complex.

I sent the email, which really was to be the final report. We did exchange a few emails and he told me how he pined for his trips to Thailand and how he had long since given up on American women. I think I got the message through to him that the bars are not the place to find a wife and that you're much better off either spending time searching for Miss Right in Thailand, or going through a professional introduction agency. He was making serious coin and seemed to be a well-meaning character who would probably make someone quite happy.

The girls who work in the bars all have a story, but so often the customers do too!

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?

Last week's photo was taken of The Penalty Spot, the bar on Sukhumvit Road, near soi 29. 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.

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011. 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 – Are you aware of your HIV status?

If people are obligated to inform potential sexual partners that they are HIV+, and given that it is possible for a human being to have an HIV test to determine their status, then it might follow that we are all obligated to know our status. Therefore,
anyone not knowing their HIV status (for sure, via regular tests) is acting as wrongly as a positive person who doesn't tell potential sexual partners.

Even in bars where they get tested, there are no guarantees.

You asked what folks would do if they knew a customer in a bar was HIV+. There's a flipside to this. What would you do if you knew a particular girl was HIV+? Everyone knows that taking a freelancer is risky, but there's a false sense of security
about gogo girls. I personally know one girl who works in one of the busiest venues in Nana Plaza (a multi-coloured arch with, oh, let's say, 4 colours) who is HIV+. She gets tested like everyone else there, but through the magic of baht
her tests are always reported as negative! She says she's always careful and always uses a condom (but not for oral sex), and I believe her, but I wonder sometimes if she's ever accidentally infected someone. Worse yet, she's
told me that the pay-for-negative-results business is not uncommon, at least in her bar. I haven't mentioned this to anyone because, frankly, it's none of my business, but your column got me thinking more about it.

Anyone know a Scouser called Pete?

I met a girl in a bar, cute(ish) and flirted madly. She demanded we rush back to her place because her boyfriend was going to call to check she was home. We got back to her room and sure enough the phone rang. She had a long, heartfelt conversation with
this guy (who incidentally was from Liverpool, England, judging by the photos all over the room!). He was crying and professing his love. She was also in tears and professing her love. I was lying on the bed waiting for her to finish. Occasionally
she would turn to me and roll her eyes or pretend vomit at his conversation. Then she said to him, "Of course I love you, baby. Don't you remember my arm?" She rolled up her sleeve and showed me the name 'PETER' carved
out in 2-inch high letters. Not even 'Pete' or his initials. As soon as the conversation finished she wiped her tears away and jumped my bones. And sure enough she turned out to be crazy, but at least I wasn't stupid enough
to call her my girlfriend and cry down the phone from the other side of the world for her. 2 hours was more than enough!

Traitors in our midst.

People informing on their fellow foreigners in Thailand like the German you mentioned would justify their actions by claiming they are merely doing Thailand a service and that if you have done nothing wrong then you should have nothing to fear. However,
they would never dare inform on any Thai no matter how bad the allegation, so it is not just a matter of right and wrong with them. More often it seems to be about either personal vendetta or to make a bit of money. These people are pretty
much the same types who would have been Nazi collaborators, or who turned people in to the McCarthy investigations in 1950s America. Perhaps it might not be so reprehensible if all such allegations were justified. Unfortunately this is not
the case. Unchecked 'facts' about the accused, half-truths and downright lies and rumour can leave lives and families ruined. These people often point the finger at others as being types who should not be in this country, but the
place would be better off without these self-appointed witch finder generals in our midst. Advertising for informers on the internet really marks them out as scum who should not be here.

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

More Isaan music please!

The only time that gogo bars are remotely enjoyable is when Isaan music is played. Over the years my fondest memories have come from bars that play Isaan music with of course many bottles of Tequila which get the girls into party mode. Otherwise it is
all just so pedestrian frankly, the girls doing the Bangkok shuffle with about as much gusto as a buffalo ploughing the field on a stinking hot Isaan day. I think more bar managers & owners would be well advised to throw into the music
mix a few well placed hits from up country.

Nice rice!

Last April we went to Taiwan and the biggest shock of the whole trip was the rice. It was delicious! It reminded me of Thai rice from years ago. Of course my lady stood up for Thai rice and said it was the way they cooked it. We came back home and after
a month or so up lands a plate of fairly good rice one morning. So I asked her how she did it. Oh nothing, she said, she paid a little extra for better rice. The rice in almost every eating house around here is 200 baht for 15 kg. It is the
cheapest, it is hard and horrible! In fact around here it is not even easy to get more expensive rice as no vendor sells it and everybody buys the cheap stuff. We called in to the Floating Market (Dalat Bang Naam Pheung) and we got 5 kg for
200 baht. It was grown in Roi Et and it was good. Thai food suddenly tasted nice again. I was just wondering if it was Thai food that has become boring or is it just the cheap rice?

Pattaya for the crowds, Bangkok for the hotties.

As you have noted on multiple occasions, there is a whole different type of clientele in Pattaya with Russians, Indians, couples etc. In the 5 years since I was last here the make up of the visitors has changed completely. The place is very busy with
Walking Street heaving, and I agree with the writer who said it was a people watcher's feast. As we went into some popular bars, they were not empty, but neither were they heaving. I put the dichotomy of the street vs. the bars to the
fact that the new clientele clearly does not frequent the bars. As we went back to the hotel, we passed empty beer bar after empty beer bar. Having said all that, tonight Walking Street is noticeably less crowded, but the bars are fuller.
Airport Club is close to heaving, Iron Club not bad either. So, a bit hit or miss, I guess – proving once again that what you see isn't necessarily what you get around here. In Bangkok we went to Cowboy, Soi 33 and Nana. We went to Tilac,
Baccarra, Lookie Lookie, Angelwitch, Rainbow 4 and ended up at Nana Liquid, which was awesome, by the way. I can say unequivocally, having gotten a very good sampling, that at the moment, Bangkok has much hotter chicks in the bars – and by
a long shot.

A beautiful festival ruined.

I have to disagree with the comment you made about Loy Kratong as the lovers' festival. I am in a condo on Jomtien Beach, and the festival was a loud night of fireworks and a huge mess. The krathongs, fireworks, and beer bottles
polluting the ocean and the beach were disgusting. I was amused at people putting things in the ocean thinking they would go OUT to sea, just to see them float back in again. I just hope the fish don't eat that crap before I eat them!

The officious men in brown delivered closure orders to bars in central parts of Bangkok earlier this week which stated that they were not allowed to sell alcohol and must close for the weekend, from Friday evening through all of Saturday, all the way
through until midnight Sunday. The reason? To ensure that voters are sober for a local election which…doesn't even take place until next weekend, but for which there is "pre-voting" this week. It this some sort of twisted joke?
I mean, come on, this is a country where voters are often offered hundreds of baht in return for the promise of voting for a particular candidate. What followed was the usual game of cat and mouse with most bars in the Nana area open for business
and alcohol on sale, just like any other night. In some venues you had to pay for each order as it was delivered, just like in the real world. It seemed to be business as usual at Cowboy. The Rainbow bars in Nana were the exception to the rule
and were closed last night.

The curiously named Spanky's 3 – as far as I am aware there never was a Spanky's 2 – at Patpong has been sold and now has no association with the original Spanky's branch in Nana Plaza. Even the bar industry's wonder boy, Marc, could
not make Spanky's 3 work. Rumour has it that the original owners who Marc took the bar over from have bought it back and will be running it again. And, get this, rumour has it that it is going to be remodeled back to its old look and renamed
back to The Strip!

Spanky's 3 is hardly the only failure in Patpong and what was once Bangkok's premier nightlife area. But not every bar in Patpong is to be avoided. There remain some good bars at the Silom end of soi 2, like Bada Bing and Black Pagoda and of
course there is the fetish club, Bar Bar. Of these venues, Black Pagoda and Bar Bar offer something a little different and Bada Bing is just a really well-run gogo with lots of pretty girls. The rest of Patpong is very much an acquired taste, with older bars lacking in energy, many of which are a throwback to days gone by and appeal to old timers. Many first-time visitors just cannot
see the appeal in most Patpong bars. I do wonder though how many bars in the wider Patpong bar area are actually making money.

December 11th is the 3rd Anniversary of Crossbar, which doubles as the publican's birthday. A free buffet will be put on including Wiltshire ham, tom yam goong, lasagna, smoked salmon, roast pork and more. The popular landlord is expecting a decent
turn out and all are welcome. Tiger will be on offer at 100 baht a pint all night. There will be giveaways with the possibility of an extended happy hour on bottled beer. It promises to be a fun night with food, drink and the publican ringing
the bell, not only when Wolves win but whenever they score a goal. If they continue playing as they are it won't cost him too much! Sadly I won't be there as I daren't show my face in Crossbar, having made disparaging remarks about
England's chances prior to the start of The Ashes, and no doubt the publican, a very proud Englishman, will give me hell over the carnage the Brits are inflicting on the Aussies!

Alex Bar on Sukhumvit soi 6 has been taken over by Steve, and all connections with former partner Alex have been severed. The bar is currently undergoing a much needed revamp and will be renamed The Cabin. Steve would like to welcome customers old and
new, and is hopeful they will notice a few changes for the better. Amongst them, Steve is introducing a no smoking policy. The bar features two pool tables and a giant screen projector which shows music concerts and any requests for live sport.
The girls have been instructed not to be pushy with the customers. The bar contains a fair amount of timber, hence the change of name and when renovations are complete it will resemble a log cabin.

The clearing of the ground floor of Nana Plaza was supposed to be followed by the construction of a beer garden of some description. We're into December now, officially the high season, and still nothing! What's the bet that nothing comes of
it and it remains as it is?

Only in Thailand could you find a pedestrian crossing at one of the country's major beach resorts, where there's a policeman to take you across the road waving a gay looking flag. What an embarrassment! Is this what the authorities think foreign
visitors want?!

The American pornographer who stars in Internet porno flicks with Thai bargirls in Pattaya has been banned in a number of popular, foreign-owned
Pattaya gogo bars. He was most recently banned in the Westerner-owned Heaven Above where he is known to have taken a bunch of girls who featured in his productions. He was also thrown out of a Soi Diamond gogo bar where he was recognised, Diamond
A Gogo.

I have talked up Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy which I maintain is one of the best gogo bars at the moment, maybe the best. It should be noted that I am talking about the Dollhouse in Bangkok's Soi Cowboy and NOT the Pattaya Dollhouse which, quite frankly,
has been a waste of space for a long time. Both bars were started by the same guys but today only the Bangkok branch is owned by the original owner.

Is Korat going to become the next Udon? The city of Udon Thani has three small farang-oriented bar areas meaning more bars than any other city in Isaan. There have been a number of bars started up in central Korat over the past 5 or so years by foreigners,
predominantly Brits – and most have gone on to fail. Just what is the fascination with Korat! It's a pleasant, but frankly rather boring town, yet a lot of the guys gravitating there seem to be younger Brits who like to party. If you married
a local Korat woman and like the quiet life and / or are on a budget, I can understand why you might choose to live there, but other than that… Anyway, 3 more bars have been started by foreigners – The Sports Bar, 4X, and Meeting Place. The
funny thing is that there's plenty of evidence about town of farang bar failures – and you just know what failed bar moguls end up doing…teaching English, of course! No experience, no qualifications nor any idea of how to teach English,
I pity the poor language students in Korat. Worst of all, some speak like they just stepped out of Coronation Street!

But don't go thinking that Korat, pictured above, is a completely sleepy town. As a local Western resident found out, you can find some action, whether you're looking for it or not! There was an incident recently involving a
fellow from Newcastle who had the crap kicked out of him. He was messed up really badly. Said fellow has been in Korat for some years, and used to work at AUA several years back. It is alleged that those who did him in first tried to rob him but
ended up messing him up real bad. He spent a fair few days in hospital and had to have some reconstructive dental work amongst other things. He tried to hush it all up and doesn’t want anyone to know what happened but it quickly became
the talk of the town. Random acts of violence like this aren't common in Thailand and you usually find there's a reason behind these attacks. Korat is changing so much and with the influx of Brits it's starting to feel like a new
British colony.

With more Westerners setting up in what are hardly the traditional strongholds for foreigners, I wonder if the attitudes of the police have changed. In the places foreigners traditionally gravitate towards – Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui, the police
in these places often give foreigners a hard time, be they residents or visitors. It would be interesting to know how (if?) the coppers have changed in these cities with an influx of Westerners.

I think it would be fair to say that a lot of reports coming out of the naughty boy bars these days could be described as lukewarm. This goes along with what I have been saying, that things in the bar industry aren't great. But then what would I
know, as someone who doesn't partake? The complaints range from bad attitudes to higher prices to services promised not being delivered. One venue which has not had a price rise in as long as I can remember is the iconic
Soi 7/1 venue, the Eden Club, which still charges the same prices it did many years ago – and still offers a money back guarantee. Given that a barfine and a short-time room alone can run 1,000 odd baht, I'm surprised more guys don't
avail themselves of what the Eden Club offers. At Darling in soi 12, prices also haven't moved.

A few weeks back a new American-themed burger and beer joint opened in one of the back sois of Sukhumvit called Home Run. Perhaps baseball-themed would be more accurate. Friends who have swung by report a plush venue that is sufficiently far out of the
way as to be a nuisance to get to. The burgers look good, but at over 400 baht, that's $13+ for a burger in Bangkok. At that price they
had better be VERY good. If you swing by do let me know what you think.

Kitten Club and Obsessions in Soi Pattayaland 2 are continuing their promotions until the New Year and, perhaps beyond. Lady drinks are just 99 baht and alcoholic lady drinks 135 baht – just don't overdo it with these as the girls become amorous
and more alluring! Most standard drinks are just 99 baht and draft beer is just 59. Cocktails, top shelf spirits, Bacardi Breezers are 135 baht. Good value indeed for a gogo bar.

They say that London has more surveillance cameras than any other city in the world but over the last couple of years the number of such cameras erected in central Bangkok is quite unreal. If you stand on the pedestrian walkway that goes over the Asoke
intersection and look closely at the intersection, count all of the cameras! You have several camera poles, each with a bunch of cameras mounted on them. There are close to 50 odd cameras at that one intersection. And there are more nearby, such
as at the eastern end of Soi Cowboy where mounted cameras look straight down the soi. Be careful what you get up to on the streets of Bangkok!

Manager David has arranged for Mexican Salsa band, La Sabrosa Sabrosura, to perform at Charley Brown's on Sukhumvit soi 11 on Thursday, December 9 from about 8 PM. Closer inspection reveals that one of the musicians is Joe Cummings, who is perhaps
best known as the primary author of the Looney Planet Guide to Thailand, amongst others. If the evening is a success, it is hoped that they will perform more often. Already the venue is about 50% booked for the night, so if you're interested
it might be wise to book right away.

In what has been a year of much change in Thailand, reports in the mainstream media show a growing movement to hold men responsible for impregnating local women. As the law stands – and as I best understand it – there is no law, nor any mechanism to hold
those men who knock a girl up and then disappear to be responsible. Many of the women who end up in the naughty bars do so because they don't have the money to raise their child(ren). If this movement ultimately results in some sort of law
change where men are forced to be financially responsible, one of the positive consequences will be less women flocking to the bars.

There's no shortage of Italian eateries in Bangkok, but are there any venues which I think of as a sort of traditional Italian home-style kitchen, where you actually go into the kitchen, peer into the pots of the 3 or 4 things that big mama has made
that day and point at what you want. Or am I better off jumping on a plane and going to Italy?

It's amazing how many Thai dating sites there are today. The newest is the intriguingly named Check it out if you're on the hunt for a
local lady. What is interesting about this site, and one of the things that sets it apart from other Thai dating sites, is that in the girls' profiles the women can say if they are interested in a no strings attached fling!

Quote of the week: "I was watching an English cooking show on TV and they were making Thai dishes and it was so obvious they had never been to Thailand as I have never seen such great looking Thai food anywhere here!"

Reader's story of the week comes from Prakanong Pete and is titled, "The Loss of Innocence".

Andrew Drummond reports that the Bangkok boiler rooms are still in business.

Under a controversial new law, a man could face punishment if his partner has an abortion in Thailand.

The Nation newspaper claims that Thai health officials who are HIV+ contracted the
nasty from dirty needles used by their family members!

From the Daily Mail, a Brit has a motorbike accident near Pattaya in a reminder of why health insurance is necessary!

Fighting over a bargirl is just plain dumb, but two brothers fighting over a bargirl in Pattaya?! I guess they haven't heard the oft-repeated saying, "In Pattaya you don't lose the girl, only your place in the queue!"

From the Scotland Herald, a Thai woman is in a £2,000,000 legal fight over
detention at an airport in Scotland.

A Norwegian in Pattaya is bitten by his pet snake and dies!

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: A recent weekly column suggested that trading stocks might require a work permit. As I'm planning on retiring to Thailand in a few years, is it correct that I'd
require a work permit to manage my personal investment accounts while in Thailand? The capital gains, dividends and interest will already be taxed in the US where they are earned and are considered non-employment (passive) income.

Sunbelt Legal responds: According to the Labour Department, trading Thai shares or any other stock on another exchange, is not considered as working whether you are sitting in front of your
computer at home and / or sitting in the Broker’s Office. The investor does not require a work permit. Stock Trading companies in many cases however will require to see your work permit in order for them to open an investment account. In
some cases if the investor is unable to meet this requirement, certain arrangement by some of the Stock Trading companies are provided where the investor could establish an offshore account such as a bank in Singapore (while they are in Thailand)
and they would be able to trade Thai stocks or trade on the Thai Futures Exchange.

Question 2: If I decide to move some of my assets to Thailand to trade on the Thai exchange, I understand any gains would generate taxable income in Thailand, but would managing
the account(s) require a work permit?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Thailand does not charge any capital gains tax for individual investors who trade on the SET or Thai futures exchange. There is no minimum holding period for this capital
gains tax exemption as well. No work permit is required.

Question 3: I have been working in Thailand for a large international company for six years but this work is shortly coming to an end and my company will retrench me. My employment
contract sees me paid in Thai baht and my company will follow Thai law in assessing my payout. A large part of my remuneration here includes housing and motor vehicle allowances. Could you please advise whether my severance pay is calculated on
my base salary or base plus housing and motor vehicle allowances.

Sunbelt Legal responds: The severance shall be payable and calculated from your basic salary excluding other allowances (e.g. gasoline, housing allowance, transportation allowance).

It's supposed to be the high season – which also means the cool season – but I'm not convinced it feels like either! There might be more tourists about but I haven't really noticed, and Bangkok is not as cool as you expect it to be at this time of year. Outside Bangkok this week it was much cooler, so maybe it's a Bangkok thing. And today is HM The King's birthday but it too feels different to previous years. Is there perhaps less in the way of decorations around Bangkok this year? Things really feel kind of different to previous years…..or maybe it's just me?

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza