He was known as Soongmak. Way back in 1999 he sent me an email and said some nice things about the site. He mooted that we were about the same age, had similar ideas and suggested we meet up for a drink. We did, and a friendship was born.
The nickname Soongmak was appropriate. Meaning "very tall" in Thai, he towered over the rest of us at more than 2 metres. A proud Dutchman, he would talk fondly about his country and its achievements. He wouldn't compare Holland with Thailand, but with its neighbours and the rest of the Western world – and he felt that whichever country you compared Holland with, his homeland stood up well. It wasn't the rampant and often destructive sense of nationalism you see in Thailand, but genuine pride not just in his country's achievements, but what it had been through and what it stood for.
He loved his football and never bored of telling us about the time Holland beat what was then West Germany 2 : 1 in the 1988 European Championships. When the match was over, he and his mates rushed to the border, screaming out the score in German: zwei : eins, giving their neighbours two fingers with one hand, one with the other.
He had been a frequent visitor and wanted to give Bangkok a shot as an expat. His work allowed him to work remotely and while he managed to operate with the frustrations of dial up Internet, he decided that Thailand wasn't the best choice for him long-term.
He became a fixture of the Friday meetings held at Woodstock bar, when members of what was then the most popular expat forum would get together and trade war stories, before splintering off into smaller groups and heading out into the Bangkok night.
He enjoyed the relaxed Sunday afternoon get-togethers at Blackie's place and would give the host a gentle ribbing about his lifestyle, his current squeeze and the general tale of woe that was his life in Thailand. But it was always good-natured and he never said a mean word about anyone.
Our friendship grew and we took a trip down to Pattaya together in November, 2000, when these photos were taken. We played sex tourists and explored parts of Sin City that neither of us knew.
We found ourselves in what was said to be Pattaya's busiest bar on a Sunday afternoon, the Winchester Club. We joked that we were the two youngest and most handsome guys in the bar, the average age of which must have been close to double ours. We sunk a few cold ones, availed ourselves of the free buffet but couldn't avail ourselves of anything else because there was a queue for the rooms upstairs.
We experienced Pattaya's soi 6 for the first time together. An afternoon was spent bouncing up and down Soi Yodsak, with me finding the public displays of affection in some bars outside my comfort zone. He reveled in it!
Looking back on that afternoon in soi 6, I can see how he became so well-known, at least in terms of his online persona, for the comprehensive updates he put together on Bangkok's houses of oral relief, with frequent updates on the facilities and prices.
He might have been a naughty boy, but he always treated the girls with respect. To him women were like flowers, delicate, beautiful and to be handled with care. He treated women the way that women want men to treat them.
To suggest that he was crazy about the nightlife wouldn't be accurate. My best memory of that trip to Sin City was a night out spent in the beer bars. He had thought I was a hardcore sexpat because I maintained this site. I always thought he was a hardcore sex tourist because he contacted me at this site. At a beer bar on Second Road, not far from the Apex Hotel, we sat there shooting the breeze, largely ignoring the girls, two young guys from opposite sides of the world with our lives ahead of us, enjoying a few beers and watching one of the world's best free shows right before our eyes. As we chatted about our crazy lives in this crazy country, my most vivid memory is of him with a pussy on his lap for much of the night, a pussy that purred with contentment. A pussy cat!
A local lady won his heart. He said that her million watt smile could always win him over. It had to. In the early days she betrayed him and one morning he woke up to what he described as the drippy dick.
He forgave her and I don't doubt that he never raised it again.
Despite what at times could be described as a mercurial relationship, he decided that he would take a little piece of Thailand back to Europe with him.
He was insistent that no matter what happened between them, he would take full responsibility for her. He deposited 200,000 baht into an account in her name when she moved to Holland, to be used should things not work out between them. It wasn't her suggestion, nor was it a sin sot agreement that he was strong-armed into. He elected to do it himself, a gesture of goodwill to show that he cared, and that that no matter what happened between them, she would be able to look after herself if the European dream didn't work out.
We had a final night out on the town, and ended up in Toy Bar. I remember looking over my shoulder towards the end of the night and there he was, deep in the bar, his clothes and those of a couple of girls scattered across the floor of the bar. It was his last hurrah.
He liked Bangkok a lot and had made a good bunch of friends in his time here, but he had plans for the future. As he left Bangkok he sent me this email:
“One of the most important factors was that I felt like a second class citizen in Thailand. I would never be able to own my own land, never have the right to vote and maybe even never be able to become a Thai citizen. This was not important at first, but it started to bother me later. I found it way too risky to build my future in a country where I am basically at the mercy of the Thai government, and with the change in power, I was not so sure things would go my way. People with no tangible prospects should really consider if they want to have their possessions, a wife and a family in a land where they have a very uncertain future. I mean, what would you do if you own a condo, have a wife and kids and you go to the Immigration office and you get told to leave the country within 10 days, that your visa will not be extended? People should consider if they want to (and can) put up with this. I heard stories about people who always got nervous when their visa was about to expire and had to do a visa run again. Work permits do not come with a guarantee, either.”
He returned to small town Holland, bought a nice condo, got a great job, married his girlfriend, they had a kid and everyone was happy.
Emails became less frequent. We'd catch up on his trips back here. He never had any regrets about not staying on. In our social group he was a rarity, someone who had looked ahead and put his career first. He refused to become just another casualty of Bangkok.
The Dutch government runs an immersion program for immigrants involving months of language and culture study that helps them integrate into society. He was immensely proud when his Mrs. reached a point that they could communicate in Dutch, rather than English as they had until that point. Despite the talent the Dutch have with languages, his Thai was basic.
On Thursday I received word that he had been found dead in his condo. He was presumed to have died a few days earlier.
I was shocked. It didn't make sense. He's always looked well. He wasn't overweight and wasn't what you'd call a drinker. His main vice was tobacco. I struggled to comprehend it. He was way too young to just pass away.
Within an hour of learning of his passing and still very much in a state of shock, emails started coming in from old friends from the Woodstock days. His marriage had gone south big time. His Mrs. had done a runner with their kid, and taken him back to her village in rural Thailand. She returned to the Netherlands to work in a massage parlour.
I hope it was natural causes.
Last week's photo
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at Ekamai Bus Station of the lady at the window selling tickets to Chantaburi. 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 – Just as honest as anywhere else.
While there may be many dishonest Thais, I find most ordinary people to be as honest as anywhere else. I accidentally gave a motorcycle taxi 500 baht thinking it was a 50. I have very poor eyesight and was in a hurry. He protested he didn't have change, but as the fare was 40, I assumed I was out 10 baht, said mai pen rai and hurried off. Next I day I walk past him again, he calls me over and gives me my change. He certainly didn't have to do that, and it's something you'd only do if you'd been raised to feel uncomfortable about keeping what's not rightfully yours.
Why the Japanese are so popular.
I met a girl about 2 years ago. She was slumped against a car in the Raja Hotel car park. I couldn't get any info from her so I took her to my place, driving her car. She was totally wasted. We went out a few times and she told me she worked in Thaniya as an escort. She was average looking, a bit plump but cute. One day she showed me her accounts book – hundreds of pages detailing every baht earned from Japanese customers. I swear there was barely a day when she didn't earn 15,000 baht from a client. Often figures went to 30,000 or 40,000 baht!
Japanese paying for extras.
A few years ago I used to work in a part of Malaysia which had a couple of expat bars where freelance Thai girls used to hang around discretely offering their services. The area was close to a Malaysian Navy base and the visiting Japanese engineers and businessmen used to make frequent use of the Thai bargirls. More than one girl told me the Japanese would pay three times what the Europeans would and then offer silly money to dispense with the condom. I know one girl confirmed with HIV, and several others who were worried, but wouldn't go for a check up.
Why bother with a husband?
Walking down Soi Cowboy, we saw the most gorgeous creature we had ever seen. She was seriously cute and shapely. We followed her and sure enough she went into my favourite gogo, Shark Bar. I was only curious about her and was not really up for any action but I bought her a drink and started talking to her. I asked her in Thai, "Suppose I wanted to go out with you in the future, not now but some time later, could I?" Her answer, "No, it's not possible." I asked her why (I knew the answer already). Her answer, "Farang are BIG and I'm small down here. I only go with Japanese." I continued questioning her and she said she only goes with Japanese because they are very generous and have small equipment. After talking to her for only a few minutes, suddenly she jumped up and said "her customer" had come. She left with a Japanese guy shortly thereafter. I was at Shark Bar again last night, a week after this incident and she came up and sat with me (because she had no customers yet as it was still early). We got talking and she told me that guy she went with that night barfined her 4 nights in a row, each time giving her 10,000 baht! She said she never goes for less than 3,000 baht short time and often gets much more. Also, she said whenever she loses her cell phone, she just tells a customer and she gets a new one straight away. The most surprising thing is how she reacted when I told her "You will find a rich husband soon, I'm sure." She said, "I don't want a rich husband. I want money, only money."
Double pricing, in the farang's favour!
People often complain about double pricing on your site. Some weeks ago I had the strangest case of double pricing you can imagine. I was sitting in front of a closed Nana Plaza in the wee hours and was chatting with two office girls who were freelancing. I explained to them that I wasn't looking for a girl for the night and just bought them some beers and enjoyed the conservation. On my right sat a very drunken Swede with his Thai girl and a maybe 25-year old Thai man. The Swede was talking very loud. Obviously felt like Mister Universe and then sent the girl over to the Nana parking lot to buy his Thai friend a girl. But she could not close the deal and came back. I could see clearly that my two girls were feeling very uncomfortable and I asked them why. The hot one explained, “If I go with you, a farang, I will ask you for 1,000 baht. Normally the girls here don't go with a Thai. If I had to go with a Thai, I would ask for 3,000 baht!” I was shocked and asked why. She said, “All men talk about the girls they have. With a little bit of bad luck it will come back to my office or my family when I go with a Thai. Farangs talking about their girls too, but nobody understands them and eventually they go back to their country. So I would ask for more money from a Thai." So, readers, be careful when complaining about double pricing! Sometimes it works in your favour!
Craving the farang lifestyle.
The Thai girl weeping because she didn't like the food seems a little extreme. I know plenty of Thais that have adapted to and have excelled in the west. Thais are not alone in being unhappy outside their comfort zone. One Thai girl I know had her American internet boyfriend to stay in her family home for 10 days and he ate nothing but chocolate bars and drank nothing but Coke! Another girl had a German boyfriend who lived here for 4 years eating nothing but pizza for dinner every evening and banning her from watching Thai TV – she could only sneak peek when he was in the bathroom!
Can you ever say goodbye?
I concur with your email correspondent who has been living in Thailand since 1967. After living in any Asian country for more than 10 years, one definitely does not fit into one's homeland. I've been back in my home country for nearly 10 months after living in Japan for almost 20 years, having extensively enjoyed the hypnotic allures of such cities as Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing, and Shanghai along with numerous trips to the mystically appealing islands on Thailand. Returning to the West can be a shock! I now fully understand why many of the expats I met found it difficult to live in their native country and had to return to Asia. It reminds me of trying to fit a square block into round hole. No matter how you place it, it just does not fit! To all of you foreign residents in Thailand and in Asia, enjoy your existence there, because when you return to your homeland, you will dream of those exciting days when you lived in Asia! Know well you can easily leave Asia, but it can never leave your heart! It's a stern price to pay for the sights, sounds, sensations, and pleasures one takes from Asia!
A stalwart of the industry for 15 odd years, the time has come for Matt, the creator of Angelwitch, to say farewell. The multi-million dollar deal to sell the two Angelwitch bars has taken months to finalise. Matt's last day in Angelwitch will be February 28 so you still have a few weeks to wish him well before he leaves the industry to spend more time with his young family. I note that in his goodbye email he said that he won't miss the booze. It's that sort of frank honesty that separated Matt from so many bar owners.
Popular Nana Plaza bar Spanky's will celebrate its 2nd anniversary this week. Boss Marc will be getting the girls to do all sorts of devilish things on the evening of February 11, that's this coming Friday. In special honour of the previous owner of the venue, a pig will be spit roasted!
Pretty Lady Bar, on Nana Plaza's ground floor, will host a Mallorca Fever Party with a Miss Wet T-shirt contest on Friday, February 11, offering a free buffet, all local beers at 110 baht, original Sangria, party games and music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The bar has a bunch of girls not just new to the bar, but new to the industry. All are welcome!
Hollywood Inn, the very comfortable and well-appointed short-time hotel in Nana Plaza, has reopened under new owners. It's 300 baht for a short-stay or 890 baht if you want a room for the entire night. That would be kinda weird, waking up and stepping out into Nana Plaza in the morning! They have also opened the Balcony Bar, immediately outside the hotel on Nana's 2nd floor, which will be open from 2 PM through to Nana closing time at 2 AM with all drinks a bargain 59 baht all day and all night long.
Tomorrow morning, Monday February 7, Pattaya's Sapphire Club, on soi 15 off Walking Street, will host a Super Bowl XLV Party. The game will screen on their big screen TVs and they will put on a full breakfast buffet. Despite their penchant for sleeping the day away, the Sapphire ladies will be on hand for cheerleading duty. The bar was going to open at 6:30 AM, but the last I heard was that they are going to remain open all night long.
I'm convinced the world is going positively mad. There was a rumble in a bar in Pattaya's soi 15, just off Walking Street, between the farang bar manager…and the venue's Thai manager!
The sprawl of the late night booze booths, often nothing more than a table, a few chairs, and Christmas tree lights from which booze is peddled in the choking Sukhumvit pollution, are inching their way further down Bangkok's Farang Boulevard. They crossed the Asoke intersection long ago with Asoke intersection a winner for many with its proximity to Soi Cowboy. Late at night they can be found even further down Sukhumvit, all the way down to soi 31. Perhaps they think they can compete with the likes of The Londoner and The Dubliner?!
Ex-Bangkok bar boss Anton, perhaps best known for his time at the helm of some Nana Plaza gogos in the late 90s, has jumped into bed with a couple of Kiwis and opened a new bar on Patong Beach's Soi Sansabai, called Wicked. It can be found where Billabong once was. The venue features modern decor, fancy mood lighting and pints of draught Carlsberg are available all day and all night for just 100 baht.
Scruff Murphy's, one of the more popular pubs in Phuket and a fixture at Patpong Beach for some time, won't be around for much longer. And just like Bangkok's Nana Plaza, there's much speculation about the future of some of the most popular bar sois and best properties in Patong Beach, and whether they will still be operating in their current form in a few years' time.
Just over the hill from Patong, near the go-kart track, a new bar, The Players' Retreat, aimed primarily at golfers, will open soon. While construction is still in the early days and it looks like ladies will be in attendance and there will be rooms on the premises. There's a bamboo fence outside which resembles an army fort from the period of the US Indians. Seeing the design, one fellow said that perhaps the name The Beaver Lodge would work – which would be appropriate in more ways than one.
No, I don't have a hard-on for Tilac bar and I really don't like to say negative stuff about any bar, but the more that I hear, the more I am aware of service failures there. It should be noted that I haven't stepped foot in Tilac this year – and that's saying something because I probably drank there a couple of times a week at least, for the past couple of years. In the latest from the Tilac files, a friend who is a fixtures -by that I mean he is in Tilac 3 – 5 night a week, was turfed out of his seat along with another mate one night this past week, as where they were sitting had apparently been 'reserved'. I never knew you could book seats in a gogo bar. How do you manage that? 0800-TILACBAR? When generous regulars who tip well find themselves treated that way you have to wonder. What was infuriating was the sneaky way the staff waited until they had disappeared for a pit stop, and hurriedly moved their drinks to another part of the bar!
Subways in Bangkok are starting to become the new Starbucks – with new outlets opening all the time. There's a new branch in soi 22 now, up past Larry's Dive, which seems to be doing a decent trade.
The cluster of bars on soi 22 known as Queen's Park Plaza has the feel of a small town with just a few customers per bar. If you enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere compared to the major farang bar areas, you might enjoy a night out in soi 22. It'll be easier on the wallet too.
Crossbar was due to receive its first delivery of 500 ml bottles of Fullers London Pride which will be priced the same as Marstons and Tetley's at 200 baht. The supplier has also said that in about 6 weeks' time they will have Fullers Porter ale available. With Fullers London Pride, if there's sufficient interest in the bottles then it could follow on tap.
It's never easy to accurately remember the past, but am I right in thinking that in many bars the price of a Coke and other non-alcoholic drinks used to be about half of that for an alcoholic drink? I'm pretty sure I'm right – and that's still the way it is in many Pattaya beer bars. I understand the gogo bar concept of "you're being entertained by naked or near naked women and the price of the drink is the cost of the show" but I still think it's harsh when some venues charge 140 baht or more for a watery Coke when a beer is the same price. When you go out often you don't want to drink every night – at least I don't – but I resent paying silly money for crap drinks.
Every time I wander down soi 22 the number of massage outlets seems to have grown. You'd think that this may result in a price war as venues fight to entice passers by into their establishment, but strangely exactly the opposite seems to have happened. Many massage outlets in soi 22 seem to have increased prices! Soi 22 had some of the least expensive massage houses in what could still be termed central Sukhumvit. The going rate for a 2-hour traditional massage seems to be around 300 baht although some charge as much as 500. To my eyes there seems to be little, perhaps even no correlation between the quality of venues and the massage you get compared to price.
For punters with wary feet, the massage shop just a few meters past Soi Cowboy next to the small pharmacy does excellent foot massages. The owner has decked the venue out in a traditional style with relaxing decor and soothing music, kind of like you find in more upscale establishments. It's so relaxing that it's hard to imagine that just metres away Baccarra is pumping out the beat at a zillion decibels. It's a nice spot to recharge your batteries before diving headlong into the madness around the corner! Check out Thai Smile.
Speaking of which, soi 23 traffic now rivals that of some of the busier sois of Sukhumvit. It wasn't anything like this before the neon wars started. Soi 23 is narrow and when taxis drop punters off at Cowboy the traffic can back up all the way to the mouth of the soi.
Silver Dollar in Washington Square will show the SuperBowl tomorrow morning with breakfast served from 6:30 AM. Bloody Marys will be available at just 85 baht.
Popular Aussie-owned and -themed sports bar, Bradman's Bistro on Sukhumvit soi 23, between the mouth of the soi and Soi Cowboy, has always had an extensive food menu which is being enhanced further with an Atkins diet compliant section. It includes items on the menu which are Atkins diet compliant already, and others which are made to be Atkins diet compliant with just a small modification. For those who made it their New Year's resolution to shrink their waistline, there's no longer any excuse – get down to Bradman's or pick up the phone – food from Bradman's can be ordered via the usual phone delivery companies.
In last week's column I mentioned the crazy long queues which have been a recent feature at the airport at various times of the day. They can be avoided, even by economy class ticket holders, by using a service called Fast Track. You will be met in the departures hall and taken to the so called "Fast track Immigration hall", located between the 2 main immigration halls. If you have genuine concerns about missing a flight, this will get you around that. Several companies provide this service, such as Thaifasttrack.com and Fasttrack.in.th, and prices vary from 1,200 – 1,600 baht.
For IPhone and Ipad users who have aspirations of speaking Thai like a native, Paiboon Publishing has released Thai for Beginners as a mobile application. The app is even more helpful than the audio CDs that accompany the Thai for Beginners book, because you can click on a word or sentence and hear it over and over.
Father Joe's 16th annual charity golf tournament will take place on March 11. The entry fee is 3,500 baht which includes a buffet at Bourbon Street. Anyone interested needs to sign up before March 8.
ThailandFriends, known to many as TF, once ruled the roost of dedicated Thailand dating sites. When the site burst into cyberspace it was ahead of the pack, both in terms of the lay out of the site as well as functionality. More and more Thailand-centric dating sites came along and the local dating site market became saturated. TF changed hands a few years ago and the current owner has given the site a revamp with a new lay out, new functionality and is aggressively marketing it all over town, including in local universities. Woohoo, there are some serious cuties on there now! Some users access it purely for social networking purposes while others use it as a dating site. Today's TF has a different feel to most of the Thai-centric pure dating sites and is worth checking out.
Following on from the request in last week's column for recommended places to do volunteer work, which were well-organised and did not have the cheek to charge you for your labour, readers responded with the following. The Orphanage in Pattaya will let you volunteer, but it's best to let them know if you want to do it for more than 1 day. Vic from the Queen Victoria Pub and Guesthouse in Pattaya has done some charity work, including getting wheelchairs donated for those in need. The Human Development Foundation welcomes volunteers but they prefer permanent residents over tourists. The actor Steven Seagal is associated with them. A few readers mentioned the Goodwill Group which is located on Sukhumvit soi 16, close to Foodland. They are said to be well-organised and there is no 'fee' to volunteer. They are often in need of part-time English teachers for classes they run. Another charity is Second Chance Bangkok which collects and gives away second-hand items throughout the Klong Toey slum. They also run a charity shop where members of the slum community can purchase items at extremely reasonable rates. The absolute best part is that they will come to your home and pick up the items! For contact details, Google is your friend!
Expat-owned and operated Flowers Thailand is offering a 10% discount to all Stickman readers who send flowers to their darling in Thailand in time for Valentine's Day. They deliver nationwide and the discount code is on the banner below.
Quote of the week comes from Mrs. Stick, telling me about a business trip to Vietnam, "Vietnamese girls are more Chinese-looking with nice bodies, are well-mannered and they are mai rad (not sluts) like many Thai girls!"
Sick Water Buffalo sent in the reader's story of the week, " An Education in Thailand – A Concerned Parent's View".
The trial of a Thai webmaster over free speech concerns is getting international coverage.
The UK refuses a visa application for a Thai woman because her spouse's weekly earnings are £4.65 short!
The BBC reports US authorities are cracking down on Americans engaged in underage sex in South-East Asia.
CNN reports that the organiser of a child sex ring in Thailand is sentenced to 25 years.
Business Week reports that the value of foreign investment in Thailand dipped by a third last year.
One of the jewels of the Thai tourism industry, Phi Phi Island, received a damning report this week.
The Bangkok Post spent a fascinating night with police in Pattaya this week.
Brit kick-boxer Lee Aldhouse who allegedly killed an American marine in Phuket is facing extradition charges in London.
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: I am 66 and want to teach English in Thailand legally. Can I get a work permit at my age?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Yes, you can! You must have a non-immigrant B or non-immigrant O visa. You cannot get a work permit issued on a retirement visa.
Question 2: What is the law regarding adult magazines in Thailand? I was going to bring a copy of Penthouse to Thailand but I am concerned about the laws regarding adult or objectionable material. Is a magazine such as Penthouse which features full nudity ok to bring in to Thailand or will I face a raid on my wallet by the boys in brown to retain my freedom?
Sunbelt Legal responds: It's not allowed but it is up to the discretion of the Customs officer at the airport. If the Customs officer were to do something, he would more likely confiscate the magazine than arrest you if it's something as simple as Penthouse. A client gets a copy of Playboy in the mail every month and it has not been a problem.
Question 3: I am recently separated from my Thai wife and we have two children. We plan to divorce later in the year and our split is very amicable. We are friendly through the process and we split time with the kids and split the bills for the kids' tuition and I kick down cash to her every month for expenses for the kids. She has a good job so she is not reliant on me for much except the pricey tuition for the kids' school. Although I don't foresee any problems in the future, I want to protect myself in terms of half-time custody with the kids and ensure that they can take annual trips with me to the US during their school break. My question is that when you file for divorce here, can you include supplementary contracts to this effect? Or if not, what's the process to ensure that these rights are protected?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Yes, you can.
Question 4: In your most recent column you included a link to a news story about how Pattaya Beach could disappear in 5 years which reminded me of a legal question once raised by a Thai woman I know. This woman owns land (chanote) which is very close to the beach. In fact, only about 100 metres of government land stands between her land and the ocean. The question is, what happens if in 5 years (or 10 years or 20 years), due to sand erosion or global warming, the ocean eventually covers the government land and brings the "beach" right to her doorstep? She'd effectively have beachfront property. Would the Thai government, which seems to prefer keeping Thai beaches "public," have the right to confiscate her property or force her to sell it? I realise this question is purely speculative but, in the light of current Thai law, what rights does this woman have in relation to the Thai government?
Sunbelt Legal responds: The government can always do expropriation but the odds are very low that they would do this as long as you have the proper land documents, a chanote for instance.
Having covered the Bangkok red shirt street protests first-hand last year, I've been captivated by the coverage of what's taking place in Egypt and as crazy as it sounds, part of me would like to be there. Egypt receives almost as many international visitors as Thailand, but it's hard to see 2011 being a bumper year for the Egyptian tourism industry. Many Northern Europeans head to Egypt for a bit of beach time but with political protests threatening to fan out across the region, European sun worshippers may have to look further afield. With Thailand looking more settled this year, there just might be a spike in numbers from Europeans who choose the Land of Smiles over North Africa. Whether the political turmoil in Egypt has much effect on Thailand, it's hard to say, but it's not a stretch to suggest that Thailand might benefit and this year's low season might see a spike in visitor numbers.
Your Bangkok commentator,