Stickman's Weekly Column March 27th, 2011

Nothing Lasts Forever

It's captivating and addictive, grabbing Western men, dragging them in and refusing to let go. Before the first time has even finished they are already planning the second and at the end of the second round they are thinking about living the life
permanently. It's the naughty nightlife industry of South-East Asia and it has been sucking in Western men for decades.

He Clinic Bangkok

They like what's on offer. The product is good. It's inexpensive and it's plentiful.

But did Western men really think they could keep it a secret forever?

Where once the naughty bars in the tourist areas of South-East Asia were largely the domain of Western men (plus Japanese in certain areas), now men from all over the world are flocking to the region. Westerners, those from the Indian sub-continent, Middle
Easterners, Eastern Europeans and even South Americans are forming a stampede as they head en masse to South-East Asia.

CBD bangkok

The traditional powerhouses of the most populous Western nations are slowly being caught up by what only a couple of generations ago were considered inconsequential Asian backwaters.

We can expect that the naughty nightlife industry will undergo a number of changes and face many new challenges.

5. Changing Economics and Demographics

Improving economic conditions in South-East Asia should see millions of people, maybe even tens of millions, with a much improved quality of life. There will be more jobs, better jobs and there will be less reason for women to enter the bar industry.

wonderland clinic

Birth rates in South-East Asia are dropping. Where 4 or 5 kids per family used to be the norm, now it's more likely to be 2 or 3.

In Thailand most young people of today have at least 9 years education. Up until a decade ago the minimum was just 6 years.

Young people are better educated and have more opportunities to secure employment outside of minimum wage positions which surely will result in fewer women entering the bar industry.

The currencies of many South-East Asian countries have appreciated markedly against Western currencies and look set to appreciate further. The net effect is that South-East Asia will become more expensive for foreign visitors.

In certain sectors of the industry, there has been almost zero movement in price in baht terms, but for visitors from abroad the price has shot up. The cost of fooling around in Bangkok for tourists has close to doubled over the last
10 years.

5 years ago a Brit could expect to get 70 baht to the pound and could probably find an attractive lady over the moon to keep him company at night for 2,000 baht. 30 pounds Sterling in his money. Today he gets less than 50 baht to the pound and many girls
in Bangkok won't stay with him for less than 3,000 baht. That's 60 pounds. Still a good deal, I suppose, but not quite the bargain it once was.

Being a naughty boy in South-East Asia is more expensive than it used be, when measured in Western currency.

4. Deteriorating Attitudes And Service Levels

Some Western men are less willing to pay higher prices, often arguing – and quite rightly so – that the money some ladies request is a hell of a lot of money in Thailand. The lady may reluctantly reduce her price, but earning less than she thinks she
is worth, her attitude will inevitably sour and service levels deteriorate.

Girls seem to be more mercenary these days, and are keen to maximise their earnings – as they should. It's all about the bottom line. To the guy on a night out who isn't there to buy, some bars just aren't the fun environment
they used to be. Sometimes you feel like it's as case of "Welcome to Corporate Thailand!"

In recent years bar owners and managers have put in place a number of policies which make the bars less fun to be in. Minimum barfine and drink quotas have been the norm for some time, forcing girls to put pressure on guys to buy them a drink or barfine.
Girls are prohibited from meeting guys at the end of the night outside the bar, or after their shift with heavy punishments in place for girls who breach this policy. Some venues have introduced a policy that rewards girls for returning back to
the bar after going with a customer, which may result in a rushed experience for the first customer of the evening.

Many bar owners rule with a heavy fist, running the bar as a proper business – as they should. However, the imposition of so many rules on the girls seems to make them less relaxed and less happy in their work. Unhappy staff don't usually make for
a happy customer experience.

It would be a great optimist who felt that attitudes and service levels won't deteriorate in the future.

3. Political Correctness, Changing Attitudes And Immigration

It isn't hard to find guys in the West raving about the benefits of imports. For a Western man, marrying a lady of another race or ethnicity is not the big deal it once was and on top of that, in many countries the supply is better
than ever.

There's more and more immigration and the downtown areas of the likes of Vancouver, Sydney and Auckland have almost as many imports as there are locals. For local guys keen on Thai or Indonesian or Filipino…or whatever, they are
right there on their doorstep! You don't have to travel to the other side of the world to meet a nice lady from South-East Asia for a relationship. That is, if you want a relationship.

There are more and more foreign men in South-East Asia who aren't just uncomfortable about the industry and their fellow countrymen partaking, they are quite against it. Where once the banter in teachers' rooms was all about what happened in
Nana the previous evening, these days those who partake of the industry, or even venture out for a few innocent drinks, play down where they have been for fear of repercussions. In some circles it has become worse than uncool to fraternize with

2. Socially Conservative Nations Saying Enough Is Enough

What happened in Cambodia recently with an amendment to the marriage laws preventing foreigners aged over 50 marrying local women clearly demonstrated that the distaste one country in the region has for old white guys with young local women.

Tourism in parts of Thailand has become ugly. Some of the beaches and islands don't resemble Thailand at all and naughty bar areas can be found everywhere. In Hua Hin there has been action by the police to keep the nonsense behind closed doors. Crackdowns
in Thailand and Cambodia seem to be more frequent these days, and in the case of Cambodia, a lot of bars have been closed for good.

If such crackdowns continue, operating costs will go up with increased demands for tea money, which will ultimately be paid for by the customer.

Deutsche Press published an article this week about the authorities in Myanmar cracking down on brothels and other venues which front for prostitution in a northern border town where Chinese men come across for a bit of fun. Myanmar isn't known as
a destination for the naughty stuff but this is further evidence that countries in the region do not like being associated with sex tourism.

The bar industry for foreigners has grown to be so large and has become so public in some places, encroaching on busy areas and main thoroughfares in some South-East Asian capitals and tourist hot spots that embarrassing sights are there for all and sundry
to see. In a region where face is so important, this is a huge embarassment.

1. Demand Exceeding Supply

Men are flocking to Thailand and the rest of South-East Asia in huge numbers and from every corner of the globe. 16 million foreign visitors may visit Thailand this year and in 10 years time the number could double.

As China's middle class burgeons, all it would take is for Thailand and its neighbours to become popular with the Chinese and it's game over. China has a shortage of females. Millions and millions short! Chinese guys are just like the rest of
us. They want fun, and they also want to find a wife. Marrying a Chinese man would appeal more to many poorer Thai women over working in a bar.

What happens with Vietnam and Myanmar could be interesting. Myanmar has 55 million people, most of whom are dreadfully poor (just one in 100 owns a mobile phone) and should the country open up and develop any sort of bar industry the way other countries
have, the supply will increase. That doesn't look likely to happen.

Vietnam has a larger population than Thailand but it doesn't seem likely that a bar industry will take off there in the near future, at least not to service large numbers of foreign men.

While there will be an increased demand from men the world over, it looks like the supply is not going to increase. If demand should exceed supply – a real possibility – the industry will change markedly.

Economics 101 could be a real game changer.

As for a few predictions as to how the industry will be different in the future:

Prices are going in one direction. If demand continues with more and more men visiting Thailand and its neighbours as can be expected, prices will soar.

Once as cheap as chips, hanky panky in South-East Asia, at least in the capitals and the most popular bar areas, could become the domain of slightly wealthier visitors. Poor foreigners might find much of it out of reach.

There will be more and more venues where you can look but not touch. Some venues will resemble Western strip bars.

A high-end sector of the market will emerge. Slick venues, attractive girls, all priced accordingly.

The profile of naughty bar customers will resemble the airport arrival – truly cosmopolitan.

I might have it all wrong. None of these predictions may come to be. But deep down I believe that if you like the industry the way it is then NOW is the time to enjoy it! I am not convinced that it will stay the same, and neither am I convinced that it
will be nearly as addictive in the future…

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?

Last week's photo was taken of the Rachatewi BTS station. MANY readers thought it was one of Nana or Ploenchit stations. This week's photo is somewhere in Sukhumvit and is super easy if you can read Thai. It's a sign I bet you've walked
past many times! 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. For readers in Phuket, we now have a new prize provider in Patong Beach.
Bliss Lounge on Bangla Road is offering a 500 baht drink credit and with some great imported beers from Belgium, Germany and Holland, they're unique for
a venue on Bangla Road.

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011. The Bliss Lounge prize must be claimed within
3 months. 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 – A total mind fxxx!

I recall the profound loneliness and isolation back in the States. The notion of love as surrendering to that other person is the downfall of many Westerners here. The woman does not have the same mindset as the prey. A few years back a friend met an
early 30s beauty online who was a condo building manager in Bangkok. He rode the bus over to Ekamai where she met him in her new Honda Jazz and took him to a lovely short-time place and gave him hour after hour of pleasure. After which she
asked if he might be interested in a Thai woman friend of hers, mid 30s, who just lost her farang boyfriend and would be his girlfriend for 50K a month. In his bafflement, he and I finally concluded she was looking for a cut and used the only
bargaining tool they have. To them it isn't much different than going to the toilet.

In South-East Asia, there's usually a work-around!

I married a Cambodian woman in Cambodia about a year ago. I am not old enough to be disqualified under the new rule, but the income requirement was in place when I got married. I didn't (and still don't) make enough money to fulfill the requirement,
but it was easy to evade. I paid someone at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs $1,000 to get the marriage done (my wife has a couple relatives who work for the ministry and this is what they told me the going rate was) and he took care of everything.
I had to provide a "letter from my employer", but this was easily faked. Later on I looked at all the other documentation that was produced, and one of the documents was a form signed by a doctor, stating that I did not have HIV,
despite the fact that I had never seen this doctor and have never in my life had an HIV test. I think this age requirement is probably a bit harder to evade, as you can of course provide a fake birth certificate and a fake passport, but I
had an in-person interview at the ministry, and it will be obvious at the interview if you are much older than 50. Any legal problem can be solved with money in Cambodia. But it is going to get more expensive over time. The whole thing where
old white men with lots of money come to Southeast Asia and cavort with young women is not appreciated at all by the people in charge in Cambodia, and they intend to stamp it out. One way around this, which I explored in order to avoid the
$1,000 fee, is to get married in Hong Kong, where there are no restrictions on foreigners getting married. I decided against this, as the ceremony would have to be in English in this case, and my wife does not have great English. I thought
there might be a question as to the validity when we later applied for a visa for her to go to the US, and the cost savings when you add in the airfare, hotel, etc was not a whole lot. And note that, from what I have seen, the vast majority
of "foreigners" marrying Cambodians consist of Cambodian men who have acquired citizenship in the US, Canada, or Australia and come back to Cambodia to find a wife. Why they have to go through this process is a mystery to me, because
the law explicitly allows multiple citizenship in Cambodia, and so these guys are not really foreigners at all. But it must just be the way they think – my daughter, who of course has a Cambodian mother and was born in Cambodia, has a birth
certificate that says she is American and not Cambodian.

Could never do the ladyboy thing.

You told a fascinating story about the girl that wasn't. Who would ever have believed that Stick could be fooled. I guess if you can be, then anyone can. It's true that some of the best looking girls are not girls. Some are absolute stunners,
and I have sometimes wondered, if I'd had a few refreshments, whether I might be tempted. I recently got chatting with an attractive and sexy 'girl' as she walked from Nana BTS to work on soi 4. She had a friend with her who
was clearly a ladyboy, so I suspected I'd made an error but decided to see where 'she' worked. Sure enough, it was a ladyboy bar. We chatted, and one thing led to another and I was shown 'her' nipple. Small, like a
man. That really put me off for whatever reason and I knew, drunk or not, I could never go with a ladyboy. Quite a relief, I suppose.

Thai women or Thai ladyboys – find a friend who is perfect for you at

Jack went out with a smile on his face.

Some years ago I met up with a friend, a regular visitor to Thailand, in a bar on Bangla Road. He was talking to a stunner who he proceeded to barfine. We then visited our local and Jack's latest was introduced to several of the expats there. Looks
of lust and envy were everywhere! Next day at golf, Jack was a little more reticent than usual over his previous evening's performance, but nothing else was said. Some weeks later, after Jack had returned home to England, my new girlfriend
and I visited the same bar, and I pointed Jack's girl out. Immediately my girl said "She katoey"! I didn't believe her until she asked the "girl" to join us and confirm this. In fact, in return
for a drink I was offered the opportunity to check it out for myself! The "lady" got her drink, but the offer was hastily declined! Jack never came back to Thailand, having, sadly, contracted cancer, so we will never know what "occurred".
The tale, though, remains as one of our fondest memories of a great guy.

Is testosterone level a factor?

I'm sure you've discovered that any bar hopping guy who's been here more than 5 minutes will chew your ear off telling you how much better things used to be. Perhaps they're right, perhaps not. But why do they all tend to say the same
thing? It's a rarity to find anyone who'll tell you how much better things are these days. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be, and a lot of people say this stuff as a form of disguised boasting – "I got to enjoy the good
times and you didn't, nah-nah". It's the same as the guys who compete to name the most obscure film or album as their favourite. It's a form of competition. But something dawned on me one night as I was nursing a cold one
in a famous entertainment plaza. There's a common denominator to guys who are repeat visitors to Thailand, or long-tem expats – they're all getting older. And as guys get older, their testosterone levels sag (as do other things besides).
Testosterone is to men what estrogen is to women – the hormones whose levels determine the person's level of sexual urges. To put it in simple terms, guys get less horny as they get older. So while their brain is telling them they should
be enjoying this just as much as they did 5 years ago or 10 years ago, the old crown jewels are sending a different message. The next time you come across some guy waxing on about the good old days, perhaps suggest a shot of testosterone.
I'm sure it's available across the counter here like everything else, and see if they still think the same thing an hour later.

A new curry house recommended.

I discovered a new curry place last night on Sukhumvit Road between sois 27 & 29. It's called Hungry Eye and was empty but had good food which was quite cheap (814 baht for 1 beer, 1 Coke, 1 chicken Pakora, 1 Vindaloo, 1 Tikka Massala & 2
nan). What I liked about the place was the lady taking the order (who I presumed was involved with the owner / management) stopped me from ordering more as she considered what we had ordered was enough for two. It was enough but only just.
I could have eaten more but I would have been stuffed and glad that I didn't. It is nice (and rare) to get good service / advice from time to time.

T-shirts for expats.

We have a small business that your readers might be interested in. We design T-shirts specifically for expats and foreign tourists with funny texts in both Thai and English. I believe no one else has shirts like that. The first two models available are
"Climate refugee" and "I'm not a tourist, I live here". Our website can be found here.

I haven't stepped into any of the Arab's bars in a long time and this week I heard more reason to continue to avoid them. Kiss Bar is now charging a staggering 180 baht for a San Miguel Light – and I presume for all local bottled
beers. No, I don't consider myself tight with my hard-earned, but the prices for drinks in the Arab's bars have reached silly levels. The same drink will set you back 95 – 150 baht in other venues. You can get it for as little as 60
baht at happy hour. It would be different if the venues offered top notch shows or the venues themselves were fabulous. They're not, and as such it's pretty hard to justify.

There is not much to report from Bangkok's bar areas and it really did feel like slow season this weekend. Perhaps the highlight was the invasion of Russian women in Soi Cowboy around midnight last night. There were at least 10 of them and they were
intent on making a showing, rather loudly meandering along the soi and doing everything they could to draw attention to themselves. I think it was very clear that they were available to entertain.

Work is progressing slowly in Nana's newest gogo bar – by name – Billboard. Only half the bar is operating with the rest hidden behind curtains. What's happening behind the curtains, Dave?!

It's the 5th anniversary of Patpong fetish bar this coming Friday, April 1st. I don't know if I fancy being in a fetish bar on April Fool's Day, but for sure, it should be a fun night for those a little more open-minded than me!

Down in Phuket, the irrepressible Anton, the man with a longer history in Bangkok bars than even some of the most hardcore whorists, is no longer involved with the new bar on Soi Sansabai. Allegedly the Kiwis in charge didn't pay him for his work
and setting up although that sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. I've heard nothing but good stuff about those guys! The bar has roughly the same number of customers per night – from not a soul to but a handful – so can we expect another
change before too long? To be fair to Anton, he made a nice job of the lighting and sound systems, but that spot, like a number of nightlife spots up and down the country, seems to have bad karma.

The Phuket tourist economy which is centred around Patong Beach is moving full steam ahead with new bars, hotels and guesthouses popping up all over. But with some locals reporting dwindling tourist numbers visiting the delights of Bangla, how long will it be until all the lemmings realise they are at the edge of the cliff? On the other side of Rat-U-A-Thit Road on Soi Sansabai, at certain hours it's a challenge walking on the street due to the rows of parked motorbikes
and the increased volume of traffic. Good viewing territory though sitting in Patrick's Bar watching everyone come out to play.

The aptly named bar cluster next to the Family Mart in Phuket's Soi Sansabai, known as The Zoo, is doing no better. Perhaps the staff will soon find a more lucrative menagerie?

For fans of the 80s, head to The Strip in Patpong 2 on Saturday night.

There's a really cool 360 degree panoramic view of Black Pagoda in Patpong on the Black Pagoda website that is worth a nosey.

Down in Moscow-on-Sea, the beach mightn't be the main attraction but it's still nice taking a leisurely stroll from one end to the other and taking in all the sights and street life along the way. Friends who went down to Sin City last weekend
for the Music Festival said that Pattaya had come become a zoo as the masses flocked there – but that was not their only complaint.
We had a cold snap just before last weekend as well as unseasonal thunderstorm on the Thursday which resulted in heavy waves hitting Pattaya Beach. The storm stirred up all the crap out in Pattaya Bay and a huge amount of rubbish was strewn along
the beach – so much that in places you could not avoid it, but simply walk over it. A few days later it was still there and seemingly no-one had made any sort of decision to organise a clean up! I guess that just goes to show that even those in
power know that tourists don't visit Pattaya for the beach!

The photo here was sent in by a reader. On first glance the average Westerner might be rather concerned at the name of this car rental firm, perhaps even consider it to be in bad taste. It is in fact totally innocent. Bomb, often spelled just "Bom"
in English, is a common Thai nickname! There are of course a lot of rather humorously named businesses in Thailand, like "Porn Massage" – with Porn being another popular nickname. I've also seen Puke Laundry where Puke really would
be better spelled as "Booky" which is closer to how it sounds!

Some Thai women of the night have developed a reputation for pulling scams and playing all sorts of games with men. It has got so bad for some that as soon as they hear anything from their Thai teeruk that doesn't sound
right they become suspicious. One such thing is the frequency with which Thais change their names. People changing their names in the West tend to be criminals, those on the run from something or those with something to hide. Thais are rather
different in this regard. I have had two Thai girlfriends who have changed their names. In each case their fortune teller told them that the bad luck they were experiencing in their life was due to their name and changing it would see a reversal
in the bad luck they'd been experiencing. Sounds a bit backwards to us, but it's common in Thailand!

Nicky Russell is trying to track down her brother, Raymond John Russell, a 48-year old New Zealander who has lived in Bangkok for about 5 years. He is known to have taught English for a while, including to the Army at one point. A couple of years ago
he was hospitalised in a diabetic coma. The NZ Embassy has not seen or heard from him since then and Nicky has not heard from him for 3 Christmases. If anyone knows anything of his whereabouts, please contact Nicky at :

Chris Coles art showing and book launch for Navigating the Bangkok Noir will take place
on Friday, 7PM, April 1st at the Koi Gallery in Sukhumvit Soi 31. The book is published by Marshall Cavendish Singapore and is introduced by Chris Moore. It features 100 of Chris Cole's Bangkok night paintings with accompanying text. It should
be a lively event with around 300 people expected and a nice mix of expats and Thais including some celebrities and luminaries. About 30 of Chris's paintings will be on display.

For English readers – who make up 15% of the readership of this column (actually, it is probably more given all the Brits here in Thailand), a reader from the UK has informed me that a program is due to screen in England on BBC 3 on Monday, March 28 at
9 PM called "Thailand, Tourism And The Truth". Sounds interesting…

One thing I noticed on my last visit to NZ was the curious way Thai restaurants prepared many a foreigner's favourite Thai dish. Stir-friend chicken and cashew nuts served at Thai restaurants and eateries in New Zealand sees the chef add cashews
at the very end i.e. they are not actually stir fried with the chicken and vegetables at all. I don't ever remember seeing the dish prepared that way in Thailand. Why do they do it like that?

And speaking of that fine country of New Zealand, Thai Airways keeps changing its mind about the frequency of flights between Bangkok and Auckland. The airline is resuming daily flights between Thailand and New Zealand for the period of the Rugby World
Cup, which will be held in September and October this year. They hope to make it a permanent thing but then with the Christchurch earthquake last month it's hard to see a lot of Kiwis spending on travel this year.

It's the end of the month, bills will soon be due and there can be a little more aggression in bars as girls claim they are trying to meet lady drinks quotas – which is often 100 lady drinks per month. I'm all for the ladies
making as much money as they can. It's a crappy job and I hope they do well from it, but you do have to laugh at the lady who says she is scared she won't achieve her drinks quota and her salary will be cut…and because of that she
won't be able to pay her rent. Of course it is often just a means to convince a guy to buy her a(nother) lady drink. Reports of popular girls getting 20 lady drinks in a night are not unheard of – and at up to 50 baht commission a glass,
that's a tidy return.

A mate is selling his truck. One expat owner, lovingly maintained from new. “My year old Toyota Hilux Vigo 4×4 4door, black, 3.0 diesel/Auto truck is now officially for sale. Under 18,000 km, recently renewed insurance and road tax, serviced every
5000 km at the Toyota Dealership. Two years of factory warranty left. This truck has an color matched Aeroklaus electric left bed cap, bed liner, bed map, upgraded DVD stereo with remotes, Ipod and USB ready, screen/player, and all speakers upgraded
including a small sub under the passenger seat. Showroom condition, no scratches, no dents, waxed every 3-4 weeks like clockwork. You won't find a better maintained and cared for car. Free and clear blue book. 880,000 baht. Email me if interested.”

Quote of the week comes from a Westerner interviewed on the BBC, "English teachers are the burger flippers of Asia."

Reader's story of the week comes from NV, another sorry farang / Thai marriage tale, "
My Thai Wife Experience".

There's been a 7th death related to the Downtown Inn in Chiang Mai, a hotel becoming known as the
hotel of death!

The father of the Kiwi girl who died in the Chiang Mai hotel of death is set on finding out the truth.

The New York Times highlighted the Prasart Museum in Bangkok.

Software piracy in Thailand remains an ongoing problem and the police enforcing the law aren't winning any friends.

In a dreadful road accident just outside Bangkok, a Laotian girl is split in two by a speeding Porsche.

CNNGo's Tim Footman claims that he is not in Thailand for the obvious reasons.

CNNGo highlights Cheap Charlie's, the Sukhumvit soi 11 bar with a cult following.

From the Pattaya Mail, another Brit leaves his mark on Pattaya!

One of the most senior members in Thai parliament says on record, "I don't respect farangs!"

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: This question concerns the way to transfer money from abroad to Thailand to buy a condominium. One agency give me a paper advising to make all payment from abroad, only
in the origin currency and with a communication stating 'To purchase a condominium Unit N° … at … Condominium'. Is it an obligation to proceed like that? I would prefer to:
1) negotiate the rate with my bank of origin.
2) send a big amount to my bank in Thailand.
3) do the monthly payment from my Thai bank (which don't accept a communication field), especially as those payments concern 2 different condominiums.

If I proceed like that, will I be able to obtain the required documents to comply with the Land Department?

Sunbelt Legal responds: While you can negotiate with your home country bank about the currency transfer, you must get a letter of confirmation from your Thai bank that such funds were transferred from overseas since you won't be able to obtain a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (FETF). You will in all likelihood get a better rate of exchange in Thailand and getting a valid FETF from the Thai bank is a much safer bet when transferring in large amounts of money than the hope that an official will accept your letter from your Thai bank.

There should be no issues with you transferring in the total amount and making monthly payments from a Thai bank account (such as for a condo still under construction) so long as you keep the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form or Letter of Confirmation as it will be needed by the Land Office when ownership is transferred to you. However, acceptance of the Letter of Confirmation could depend on the Land Officer.

Additionally, you can transfer in a reasonable amount more than the purchase amount for the purchase of furnishings etc for the condo, but be aware it must be considered within reason given the total amount transferred in. Again this may depend on the office and officer's discretion.

Many readers emailed me this week saying that they knew on first glance that the ladyboy featured in the opening piece of last week's column was in fact a he. They knew right away from a single image that this was a ladyboy and they were surprised
that that moron Stick – as one reader put it – didn't! They reveled in it; they got one over me! but you know what? I reckon the egg is on their faces. I assume that most people who read last week's column had also read the previous
week's. With that in mind, ain't it funny how no-one picked up on the large photo of the very same girl featured that week, which was taken at the same time as the photos published last week? So when I never mentioned
the word ladyboy, no-one said anything! I intentionally did that as a precursor to this week's column to see if anyone would say anything. Not a single person emailed me to say they suspected something was amiss. Don't you reckon that
some of these wise guys aren't so wise at all?! Keep the email feedback coming in – I love hearing your thoughts on life in Bangkok as well as your feedback to my weekly rant!

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza