Stickman's Weekly Column December 26th, 2010

What Awaits Us In 2011?



In a country which seems to have a mind of its own, where logic is non-existent and where 1 + 1 = 3, or any number other than 2, it's a challenge predicting the future.

I dusted off the Stickman crystal ball and spent some time peering into it in an effort to find out what we might be in store for in the year to come.



Tourism

The economic downturn in Europe has been the major factor in the reduction in arrivals amongst tourists from the traditional markets this high season. The rise in value of the Thai baht has also been a factor although I think many have become used to lower exchange rates – and anyone visiting Thailand for the first time will be oblivious to what the rate once was.

Most Western economies are now experiencing moderate growth, but how willing are people going to be to part with their money? I can't help but feel that the austerity measures that the likes of the UK government has introduced are going to be replicated at an individual level. People may concentrate on reducing personal debt and increasing savings meaning large purchases and international holidays may be put off. Thailand's tourism industry would suffer.

On the other hand, there has been a massive increase in visitors from new markets which looks set to continue. As SubCons, Eastern Europeans and the Chinese visit in increasing numbers, overall tourism numbers will increase and the mix will change radically.

It was the late 90s when Thailand cracked 5 million visitors a year – and it might be as soon as 2014 that we see 20 million international visitors in one calendar year.

Like a customer with a moody bargirl, the Thailand tourism industry won't have it easy. *When* the next round of red shirt troubles kick off, the tourist trade will take another hit. Whether that's on the radar for 2011 is anyone's guess.

The roller coaster ride will continue for the tourism industry and the make up of visitors will continue to diversify.



Expat Life

As Thailand develops, the deference shown to many Western expats by the locals is diminishing. Where once our money really was needed – and we were treated accordingly – the contempt some have for us is no longer hidden.

Western tourist numbers may be stagnant, but the number of Westerners moving to Thailand shows no signs of slowing down – and there is no reason to think it will.

There are more and more Westerners existing in Thailand on back to back short-stay visas but it seems this is of no concern to Thai Immigration and there have been no indications there will be any changes to the visa or immigration rules. Staying long-term on short-term visas will remain a breeze.

Police hassles have got worse this year. Foreigners continue to be an easy mark and with many saying it is simply easier to pay money to the police – even when they have done absolutely nothing wrong – than argue the point out of fear of what may follows, this will only drive the police to become more aggressive in targeting foreigners who they see as easy of pickings. Expect more police stops and more police hassles in 2011.

The cost of living a Western living has increased dramatically. Unless you live Thai style – and not many do – it isn't cheap here any more! Again, we Westerners are our own worst enemies, with many happily paying the silly money asked for condos contributing to silly prices being asked across the board, despite their being a glut of rental vacancies.

Some long-time residents are saying that the Thais have become greedy and that prices have reached the point where they no longer represent fair value. Some are not just making noises about moving, they have moved already. What's the bet that a good few are back within a year?

For 2011 I expect to see the expat populace increase by as much as 20% and the average continue age drop.



Crime, Corruption and Problems



Crime against foreigners seems to be more widely reported these days but whether it has got worse in recent times, I just don't know. I see no reason why it will get worse in 2011.

Corruption is so much worse today than it has been since I first came. It's institutionalised. From officers demanding cash for the approval of visas to the boys in brown who have expanded their empire, dealings with officialdom fill you with dread. The veneer of respectability that remains is thinner than ever.

Reports in the media suggest that more foreigners are perpetrating crimes in Thailand these days. Various gangs from around the world, from as far away as South America, are involved in all sorts of organised crime from ATM skimming, to cyber crime to bank robberies to organised heists of hotel rooms. Many criminals are caught in Thailand because the case was presented to the boys in brown by someone who had already done the hard yards. Thais are observant when it comes to foreigners in their backyard, even if Somchai Dumruat hardly seems an ominous foe for those with a criminal mindset.

High profile cases of Westerners up to no good in Thailand won't do the reputation of Western expats any good.

The Naughty Nightlife Industry

Few old-style nightspots remain in Bangkok's farang bar areas. Old-style venues tend to have a following amongst old-timers and with fewer old-timers about, so too are there fewer old-style venues. With Sexy Night the last remaining venue of this ilk in Nana and The Arab and the No Name Group ready to pounce and start the next bidding way for the remaining old-style venues in Cowboy, it seems that only Patpong and a few venues scattered around Washington Square will have any semblance of Bangkok bar history in the years to come.

Pattaya's reputation as being primarily a sex tourist destination is ever so slowly changing. That's not to say the industry will die in Pattaya – it won't – but the world's biggest sex tourist destination is already taking on a different feel with the new Pattaya tourist. With Pattaya promoting itself to developing countries and the city quickly becoming a favourite for couples and families from Eastern Europe, expect the trend to continue. The changes next year will be almost imperceptible, but one day you will open your eyes and realise that it's no longer the Pattaya you once knew.

One major change in the last 12 months is a drastic reduction in the number of naughty boy sex reports with photos posted to the online forums. This seems to have been a direct result of girls being shown photos of themselves by guys who had read a report featuring that lady and then showing it to her. For a long-shot prediction, maybe not next year, but some time in the future, I would not be surprised to see photography banned in one of the farang nightlife areas. Imagine that, no photography in Nana Plaza or maybe Soi Cowboy. The Thai authorities hate the way the industry portrays the country and photos of a beautifully decorated Soi Cowboy doesn't help! They desperately want to shed the perception that remains of Thailand and sex tourism. Banning photography in the nightlife areas would be a start.

No predictions of the future of the nightlife industry would be complete without word on Nana Plaza. The leases run until half way through 2012. I maintain that real estate in the Nana area – a very central area – is too valuable to be wasted on hanky panky. I give the plaza two more years, meaning no change for 2011.

Relationships & Dating

More Western men are visiting, more are relocating to Thailand and many eventually get involved in a serious relationship with a Thai woman. The primary motivation for Thai women to get involved with a Westerner was often financial, but with a growing middle class meaning more eligible Thai men and more Thai women in gainful employment, they don't need a man like they used to. On the other hand, many once conservative Thai women are more open-minded to foreign men now than ever before.

Divorce rates in Thailand have soared in recent years, more proof that Thai women don't need a man. Not much more than 10 years ago the divorce rate in Thailand was just 10%, whereas last year 300,000 odd couples married, and over 100,000 divorced! With the stigma of divorce in Thai society not nearly as ugly as it was – and more Westerners in Thailand (who are more willing to marry a divorcee than a Thai man typically is) – I'd expect to see the divorce rate to increase further.

With more Westerners resident in-country and more guys chasing the available women, you'd better be prepared to make more of an effort because these women have more options today and have every reason to be more choosy!



Summary

Little is beyond the realms of possibility in Thailand. Bangkok could sink. Baiyoke Tower could fall down. Work permit renewals beyond 3 years could be outlawed. Anything is possible and nothing that happens in this country should ever truly come as a surprise. I guess that's part of the fun as well as the frustration.

What I wonder about most is just what the big event of 2011 will be. There's a major problem in Thailand every year that affects tourism and causes angst for expats. In recent years we've had SARS and bird flu and a tsunami and an airport closure and street riots and a coup d'état! What will it be in 2011? For sure, there will be something!

Last week's photo



Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken outside Hualumpong Railway Station, the main train station in Bangkok. Heaps of people got last week's right so I have made this week's somewhat more difficult! 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.

The kid in the candy store feeling isn't eternal.

For most of us, the first few years in Thailand are great. But after a while you begin to experience the scams, bad service, corrupt police, dodgy farangs, pollution, abuse of foreigners by Thais, and on and on. As time goes on it just simply gets weary. Slowly, the land in which you were raised, with all its problems, perhaps is not so bad after all. The excitement of the smells of Thailand, the food and the girls all become mundane. As we age, the youthful bar hopping and the chasing of the girls do not hold the same interest.

Honesty in their dishonesty.

Something happened back in 1995, the first year that I started going with Thai hookers. I never wanted to talk to, seduce or be with a western woman ever again in my life. In fact I feel very uncomfortable being in their midst because I've realised that they are exactly the same as Eastern girls. The difference is that they don't come with a whole load of crap, lies, deceit and ulterior motives all wrapped up in a word called love. You wouldn't believe how refreshing I found it when these girls started coming up to me and saying, yes I would like to talk, go out, have a good time with you but solely for your money. You know where you stand unless you are dumb, deaf and blind. Somebody's shouting in your ear, "I want your money!" Great, everybody knows where they stand and not some shit about requesting half a house years later! You have to respect Thais, for at the end of the day there's a lot of honesty in their dishonesty.

Afternoon delight.

A reader asked last week whether gogos have ever opened during the afternoon in Bangkok. Yes they have, but the Asian economic crisis of 1997 seemed to kill them off. I used to spend many a happy afternoon at the Three Roses in Nana, now transformed into Spanky's, with a near-naked public relations officer bouncing on my knee while she spoke on her phone pledging undying love to her customer of the night before. I believe Fantasia might also have opened during the day to offer afternoon delight. Maybe there are not enough girls around now to fill what would need to be two shifts, or they demand too much money to make it worthwhile for the owner. A pity.

More afternoon delight.

In the 70s, Soi Cowboy's gogo bars ran 2 shifts. The first from 10 AM – 7 PM and the second from 7 PM – 2, 3 or 4 AM. On a Sunday morning it was quite pleasant after a game of tennis at the court in Soi 23 to quench your thirst and feast your eyes on some beauties or do more sportive actions in Soi Cowboy!


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

Local banking experiences.

Once, when I was using my ATM card, the machine did not give me my card back. I called the bank which sent someone to the machine and, after I presented my passport to prove that I was the person whose name was on the card, they gave me my card. There was no charge. When I sold my Honda City and had 430,000 baht cash I went to the bank to deposit it. They would only accept 300,000 baht per day, so I had to leave with 150,000 baht and return the next day!

The murmurings of discontent gain volume.

I just can't stomach the working ladies of Pattaya having their purity sullied by Indians, Russians, Middle Easterners and Eastern Europeans. Because of that, Pattaya is off my list. Before, what I didn't know wasn't going to hurt me. Today, knowing the girl of my dreams was very possibly shagged by the nationalities mentioned the previous evening or just hours before is a show stopper. Thankfully, the girls of Angles City remain pristine in this regard. Some funky logic for sure but that's the traditional monger mentality.

The lonely expat lifestyle.

Thailand is pretty lonely as the whole bar scene and nightlife with bargirls just doesn't do it for me. I'd rather just go somewhere, have coffee or tea and just talk about everyday issues, and what's going on. I find myself the last few years just having the newspaper and the internet as forms of entertainment. Yeah, I know that establishing friends is important, but honestly it's not easy. I'm saying this as a poor pity me issue but in general as the person I am I've just found it hard to find good people here. Many of the foreigners usually fall into one of the following: 1. Busy working all the time. 2. Have a wife and kids to take care of. 3. Into the bar scene / nightlife. 4. Want the area of having the Thai girl to play with. 5. Spiritual / health people. I'm sure there are more, but here you need to be extra careful making sure you avoid people who run into the grey areas which can get you into trouble.

From the best bar in Nana, to the worst!

I dropped into G-Spot in Nana early, 8:15 PM, one evening this week and bought a drink for a buxom wench who caught my eye. Within a couple of minutes a buffalo serving girl who would not look out of place in the west came along and wanted me to purchase a basket of ping-pong balls to throw at the three – THREE – girls who were dancing. Now, spending 500 baht for the 10-second 'thrill' of seeing the girls chase them as animals chase tidbits thrown to them in the zoo is not my idea of fun, so I politely refused. Whereupon she snarled that I was a Cheap Charlie, in Thai of course, and when I challenged her that I wasn't there to be insulted did I get an apology? Did it snow in Bangkok last week? She apparently saw it as normal business practice to insult the ONLY customer they had in the bar (me), who promptly paid his tab and left. Service, Thai-style. No wonder the place was empty.

My spies tell me that Cowboy and Nana are not exactly overflowing with punters and Bangkok's bars are not booming as would be expected at this time of year. Many expats fly home for Christmas, but there's usually a massive influx of visitors who keep the cash registers keep ringing. There's been an increase in trade, but not a surge.

Bunnies in Nana has opened up the front of the beer bar, as it was previously when that spot was known as The Cathouse. With that sad, the venue still isn't attracting many customers and from what we've seen so far, the new owners don't seem to have a clue on how to get punters in the door.

Construction and renovations in the bar industry seldom run to schedule but Marc, owner of Spanky's in Nana, was on top of his crew and the revamped DC 10 in Nana opened last night.

Hollywood Inn Hotel, the attractive and well-equipped short-time hotel in Nana Plaza that took forever and an age to open has closed. I would speculate that the closure is due to financial difficulties in the group which also owns the Hollywood bars on the top floor of Nana where construction came to a standstill some time ago. It's a shame, as everyone I know who used the facility raved about it, claiming it some of the best short-time rooms around, clean and modern. The hotel doors are shut, the lights out and that corner of the plaza is back to its old dark and dingy self.

Soi Cowboy's success over the last few years has seen the surrounding area receive increased farang foot traffic and a number of farang pubs where you can get decent, honest Western food have opened up. As the Thais call them, there's Bad Man's, the first venue you reach, about 60 metres up soi 23 from Sukhumvit Road, on the right, which has been around for 3 or 4 years. About another hundred or so metres on is Keen Wictoria, where you get fantastic English pub food at very reasonable prices. They've been in business about 18 months or so I guess. Up at the T-junction and off to the left is Clossbar, run by the enigmatic Brian, which has been around for a few years. And now another new venue has just opened. The Clubhouse, run by Mark, ex-Molly's and O'Reilly's, is on soi 23 near the T junction, beyond Soi Cowboy. They open the doors at 6:30 AM every day for breakfast and bloody Marys and they will show The Ashes from today. Reports about the food are very good – and so they should be – Mark is a renowned chef who has worked in some fine restaurants all around the world. There's a decent happy hour from 5 – 8 PM every day with *pints* at 110 baht and all the usual sports are broadcast with the best from the US, UK and down under.

Away from Walking Street which is positively booming, at least if you count the number of people walking up and down the street, business in some Pattaya bars is hardly turning the owners into millionaires. In the Soi Buakhao area, a part of town I thought would do well this high season because most venues in the area offer better value for money than Walking Street, some venues are closing early each evening because of a lack of customers!

That said, there's still plenty of investment being sunk into the industry in Pattaya with Kiss, a new gogo opening on Soi LK Metro on Tuesday, not far from Club Blu. Soi LK Metro seems to be getting busier and rumour has it that the owners of Champagne have bought the Kilkenny Bar and guesthouse and will turn it into another gogo in the New Year.

A friend of a reader has just bought a bar in Queen's Par Plaza and he's struggling to come up with a name for the place. Do you have an idea for a new name? The bar was previously known as Flaming Moes and was a rather tired looking Simpsons themed bar. The new owner, Floss, has given it a new lick of paint, recovered the pool table, installed a new plasma screen and generally smartened the place up. He plans to show sport, particularly English rugby – which is lacking in terms of coverage in the bars of Bangkok. If you have any ideas for a new name for the bar, drop an email to : [email protected]. Floss has agreed that whoever comes up with the best name will win 1,000 baht worth of beer.

For more than 2 years, I was a faithful customer of Tilac in Soi Cowboy, swinging by at least a couple of times a week, every week. I wasn't getting free drinks and I wasn't dragging anyone off to a bonking booth in Penny Black, just metres away. I just plain liked the bar. But nothing is forever and the appeal of Tilac has diminished for me. That's not to say it isn't still one of the best bars, but a couple of bad experiences, as well as knowledge that management never learned to count to 18 – admittedly a Cowboy-wide problem – really put me off. What is perhaps interesting is that the bar *seemed* to have a very low staff turnover in the past, but when I go in now there are plenty of dancers I haven't seen before. Staff turnover seems to have increased in recent times which makes me wonder if perhaps it isn't just me who has gone off the venue. With all this said, Tilac should still be on everyone's must visit list.

Plenty of venues will have a party of some sort on December 31st and Black Pagoda in Patpong, the venue inside the glass-walled bridge a dozen or so metres above Patpong Soi 2 in the vicinity of Foodland will host a New Year's Eve Ball. They're going to be boozing and rocking all night long, until the sun comes up! There'll be drinks specials all night in what promises to be a heap of fun. If you haven't been to Black Pagoda, it's one of few bars in Bangkok that genuinely offers something a little different and for that reason alone is worth checking out. Despite the effort that has been made to create a nice feeling with comfortable seats and plush surroundings, some of the girls in there go wild and I have seen quite some carry on in there!

Cricket fans enjoying the Aussies' comeback in The Ashes in Bangkok may have come across the odd pub which has caught a live feed from India. So the cricket's live and the commentary is in English – bonus – but damn, the Indian adverts are appalling!

You meet some real characters in Thailand and often you may find yourself in conversation with, or on a night out with, someone you might not necessarily party with at home. The Isaan area attracts more and more foreigners, many of whom could be described as characters, and a friend told me of a story this week about one of the characters he met recently. He was in his wife's village when he met a Swede who also happened to live in the same village, just a few hundred metres up the road. They exchanged pleasantries and before my friend had even had a chance to ask the Swede what he did, the fellow volunteered that he ran a crocodile farm on their large property. Without any prompting from my friend, the Swede went on to say that if my friend wanted any farangs done away with, he should take them up the crocodile farm and he would see to it that the farang disappeared permanently! My friend insists that this guy actually seemed serious! I wouldn't like to consider myself someone who has a criminal mindset, but I do have to admit that getting rid of the evidence would seem to be a good idea! Best not to visit any crocodile farms owned by a Swede in Isaan!

A reader grabbed a bird from a farang-owned, farang-managed bar in Cowboy and took her down to one of the islands. They had – or so he thought – a great time but upon returning to Bangkok she did a runner, relieving him of his laptop, camera and all of the cash he had, thoughtfully leaving him 1,000 baht. Said fellow went to the gogo bar he had got her from which did nothing about it, although in fairness to the bar he complained to the mamasan and not the farang owner or manager who would have taken it further. What I found most interesting is that he also went to the police where he made a full statement and provided them with a copy of her ID card. You'd think that would be plenty for them to follow up, but guess what? They did nothing! His possessions were stolen, he laid a full complaint with both the bar and police yet no-one has done anything to help him. There is a notion that it is prudent to choose a girl from a bar because if anything happens you can either go back to the bar, or even go to the police – meaning you have some recourse should anything happen. Sadly, this story proves that even when you do things "right", you might find it very difficult to get anything done. It should be noted that I followed up with the manager of the bar who is keen to follow up on the situation and see what he can do, hence I have withheld the name of the bar. The bar manager pointed out that had he been advised of what had happened at the time, he would have acted promptly. I certainly do not blame him, but there are clearly communication problems in the bar.

An expat died Saturday night of last week in Soi 8 Pub. A member of the public tried his best to resuscitate him by performing CPR, but to no avail and the fellow died of a suspected heart attack. No doubt the staff will be in ghost story mode for a few weeks.

The "electronic edition" of the Bangkok Post is available online and inexpensive. This is the entire newspaper, laid out just as the print edition is, except in electronic form. What this means is that unlike the Post's website where you get only some of the articles, with the electronic edition you get the entire newspaper. It's not free like accessing the Post's website it, but neither is it expensive. At just $1 for a single edition, $10 for a month or $73 for a year, it's a great way to keep up with what is happening in Thailand – and like I say, you get much more than if you simply read the Post's website. All the ads, classifieds, larger and clearer photos etc make it a good deal. There's even a 3-day free trial to give it a go first!

Horrible errors in Thailand's English language press are hardly uncommon and the latest from The Nation, with its headlining of an article, "Australian Arrested For Sex With Teens", is a real embarrassment – the accused is in fact an Austrian. Does Somchai not know the difference between an Austrian and an Australian?!

Quote of the week comes from a reader, "I laughed when I heard someone living in Pattaya call someone else a pervert!"

Reader's story of the week comes from Mr. Anonymous, "The Dream Is Becoming A Nightmare For Many".

A Thai woman bites off her husband's penis, killing him!

From the Bangkok Post, the legal age of consent in Thailand is tipped to increase from 15 to 20.

Thank God, most of the filthy kiddy porn that was available in Pattaya has been taken off the streets.

A Thai smuggler who swallowed 1,200 ecstasy tablets is caught trying to get them into Indonesia.

CNNGo had an interesting article on som tam this week.

A German in Pattaya, overcome by the excitement of watching porn in his hotel room, dies in his bed.

From the Daily Mail, an English paedophile suspect is arrested in Thailand after 10 years on the run.

Russians discontented at the crap service and inflated prices in Phuket are taking matters into their own hands.


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: Are the work permit requirements different for permanent residents than they are for regular foreigners. A permanent resident has the right to live in Thailand indefinitely and take care of his family here. Does a PR still need to employ 4 Thai nationals for a work permit or could he for instance set up a family business with his wife and obtain a work permit for this.

Sunbelt Legal responds: For permanent residency holders, the issuance of the work permit is much easier compared to Non-immigrant Business visa holder. However, the same requirements shall apply: 2 million baht registered capital (1 million if married to a Thai national) and 4 Thai employees. There are cases where the officer considers having 2 employees initially but this is entirely at the officer's discretion. The turnaround time is also quicker compared to a regular work permit application.

Question 2: I live in Surat Thani with my wife, a Thai citizen. We have been legally married for 6 years. We own a house in Surat Thani which is in her name. We also own a little more than 2 rai of land also in Surat Thani. We have contacted a lawyer and have a Last Will and Testament written. If my wife should die before me, all property is left to me and vice versa. I wonder if this is legal given the lack of rights I have regarding the ownership of land. Do I need a usufruct? How do you obtain such? Perhaps the Will is legal and will permit me to remain or dispose of the property. Please advise!

Sunbelt Legal responds: By technicality, as a foreigner you can still own a house or a building in Thailand as an immovable property. For the purpose of the inquiry we will assume you are referring to “land” in Thailand.

Section 93 of the Land Code Act states that "A foreigner who acquires land by inheritance as statutory heir can have an ownership in such land upon a permission of the Minister of Interior. However, the total plots of land shall not be exceeding of those specified in Section 87".

You as a foreigner who is married to a Thai national are considered a statutory heir under the Inheritance laws of Thailand and therefore, you can apply for ownership according to section 93 of the Thailand Land Code Act. However, as a foreign national, ownership of such land will not be allowed. It is highly recommended to read Section 93 of the Land Code in combination with ownership under a treaty clause: Section 86 of the Land Code Act states that "aliens may acquire land by virtue of the provisions of a treaty giving the right to own immovable properties and subject to the provisions of this Code".

As of the moment, Thailand has no outstanding treaty with any country to allow a foreigner to acquire land and no minister will allow a foreigner to inherit land in Thailand. The last treaty was terminated in year 1970. Under present laws, any foreigner who acquires land by inheritance must dispose of the land within a reasonable period (up to 1 year) to a Thai national. If the foreigner fails to dispose of the land, the Director-General of the Land Department is authorised to dispose of the land and retain a fee of 5% of the sale price before any deductions or taxes. The proceeds from the sale of such land is then inherited by you as part of the Last Will & Testament.

Exceptions can be made and the foreigner can be gifted with land ownership of up to 1 rai, but in practice, we never see that happen as it has to go through the Ministry of Interior and Land Office (the provincial branch and the head quarter). The most possible and likely outcome would be for the foreign inheritance to sell the land. But prior to that stage, an executor of the estate must be established. If that executor is not the party who would be inheriting the land (such as the relatives), then the executor can act on the foreign inheritance’s behalf in liquidating the land and passing on the funds to the foreigner.

As mentioned in your question, a Usufruct agreement would permit you to enter the property and to occupy the property for the duration of your natural life. Under Thai Law, a foreigner can become a holder of a Usufruct. If your intention is to reside at the property rather than disposing of the land in the event of your wife passing away, then registering a Usufruct is advisable. Although you will not be the lawful owner of the land, you will 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. You are essentially the property manager of the house and 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. For example: If you died, you can lease out the property to a third party before your demise 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 the 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).



So another year is coming to an end, a year that has been a good one for me personally. My goals for this year were simply – to be healthy and happy. Late last year I set about getting fit and am now in the best shape I've been in since my 20s. I dropped a few pounds, toned up a bit and reduced my alcohol consumption. Whereas I used to have a few beers 4 – 5 nights a week, now I only drink a couple of times a week and prefer red wine. I used to spend way too much time in the bars and reducing that has been a good thing. As far as this website and this column goes, I have enjoyed putting it together more this year than any other – and I really do think it's better now than ever before. Reader numbers suggest the same. To everyone who has tuned in this year, who has sent in feedback, and who has loved, liked or maybe even hated my weekly ramblings, thanks so much for being part of the Stickman readership. I hope that you had a fabulous Christmas and that 2011 brings you success, happiness and everything you wish for. All the best for 2011!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick