Stickman's Weekly Column May 8th, 2011

When Somchai Pulls The Trigger


We all start with a rosy red perspective of Thailand. Sadly, it doesn't last forever. Eventually Somchai catches up with us. Even the Thai apologists one day have that moment when their world changes, the moment from which they will never quite look at Thailand the same way again. It's the moment that Somchai pulls the trigger.

It happened to a friend of mine a few weeks ago. He loves his life in Thailand but when he was shown the door by his employer for no good reason other than they wished to get rid of all of the foreign staff and replace them with local staff to reduce the cost of salaries, I pointed out to him that under Thai labour law they had to compensate him. Yep, he was due a pay off. Thai employers can let staff go for any reason, or no reason whatsoever, but staff are entitled to be compensated under Thai employment law. My pal composed a letter to management outlining the situation and seeking the monies that was rightly owed to him. They were incensed at his letter, couldn't understand how he could possibly know about such a law and refused to pay. Not only that, they decided to play hardball. They started making threats to him including contacting his new employer, basically the sort of actions that would have brought a large grin to a defamation lawyer's face. But the bottom line is that he wishes to continue to live in Thailand and to do that he needs a job. In the town he resides there just aren't the employment options you have in Bangkok so he was forced to eat humble pie. His old school forced him to sign a disclaimer that he had no rights to make any claim against them for any monies owing or any grievance of any sort. He had rights entitled to him as a work permit-holding, tax-paying foreigner, but he was being denied them by a school which was willing to bank on the fact that as a foreigner he had a certain vulnerability. The whole incident upset him much more than the road accident he had years earlier where he his vehicle was hit by a Thai driver who was at fault but he ended up being fined by the police! Somchai pulled the trigger!

Studying Thai full-time I met many interesting characters and one such fellow was an Italian-born Australian. He loved Thailand, loved his life here and would always say how much better Thailand was than either of his homes, Italy or Australia. Every day he would tell us wonderful Thailand was and how he didn't miss his life in Australia one little bit. I swear that the Thai teachers loved him for the massive praise he heaped every day on the Kingdom. But that all changed one day when he came to school most upset. It turned out that the neighbour's dog had bitten him resulting in a nasty wound to his leg. He went to the hospital to get the wound cleaned and stitched up and was put on a course of anti-rabies injections. When he went to see the neighbour to talk to them about meeting the modest cost of his medical bills, neighbours he knew well and neighbours whose kids he had given free English lessons to, he was turned away. He was told that he was not welcome in their home ever again! We sat there early one morning in the language school listening as he explained to the teacher what had happened and asked them for their opinion. The teacher asked him why he was making trouble and chastised him for approaching the neighbours, which as it turned out was apparently a similar response to what his (Thai) wife had said. From the glowing words the teachers had about him he suddenly became an outcast as the Thai teachers turned against him. I distinctly remember the teacher in that particular module virtually ignoring him and refusing to speak directly with him in discussions. Not just his mood, but his whole demeanour changed markedly. You never heard him say another positive about Thailand again. I do recall him holding court in the language school's cafeteria telling all who cared to listen about how uncivilized the country is! Somchai had pulled the trigger!

Sometimes it takes a couple of incidents and is the accumulative effect of more than one run in with Somchai that turns you. A mate was riding his motorbike from his home in rural Khon Kaen into town when a woman did a u-turn right in front of him. He couldn't avoid the collision and his bike hit her car sending him flying. He landed on the ground, many metres away from her. The youngish woman got out of her car and showed not one little bit of interest in him or his welfare. He felt that she seemed most upset at the damage to her car. As he lay there, writhing on the ground in pain, with a broken collar bone and some nasty gashes and cuts, she stood examining the damage to her car while casting resentful looks at my mate on the ground. Somchai didn't pull the trigger that day, but he did a month later when the same mate went to collect the repaired bike. On his way back home, he was just outside of the village where he had built a house for his wife and where he supports a number of people in a large extended family, as well as provide expertise assisting people with the repair and upkeep of various properties, all out of the goodness of his heart. The antics of some fools on the road required him to swerve to avoid colliding with them and he ended up down a ditch off the side of the road. With injuries that hadn't healed 100% and a new bunch of injuries, he ended up a total mess and was forced off work for a period. But what hurt him just as much was the reaction of the people in his village who couldn't believe that he had apportioned blame on some of the locals. He was looked at in a different light, despite having done so much for the village. Again, Somchai pulled the trigger.

What is so sad about these situations is the way each of the guys involved had integrated into Thai society. Each had a Thai wife, a respectable woman who neighbours would be happy to have living next door. One of the three guys is a devout Buddhist. One has a child in Thailand and is very community minded, having much pride in all of the voluntary work he has done to help the local Thais. One has taken responsibility for his wife's children by her first husband and has used his influence to get them into one of the best schools in town and is paying the school fees, doing everything he can to give the girl every chance at a bright future. These are senior, respectable Westerners living a quiet life and doing good things for the community they lived in and Thailand as a whole. Two don't even drink. But that counted for nothing.

There are reasons why you hear the same old mantras repeated again and again in expat circles, around the bars as well as online. "Don't invest / bring / keep more money in Thailand than you can afford to lose or walk away from." "If you want to make a small fortune, start with a large fortune and invest it in Thailand."

When Somchai finally does pull the trigger, it's a little bit like finding out that your wife has been sucking the guy next door's cock. You want to throttle her and leave her, but with a couple of kids with her you're so heavily invested that you try and overcome it even though you know things will never be the same again.

Foreigners living in Thailand aren't Thai and never will be Thai. We will never have quite the same rights as Thais and we will never be looked at quite the same. Even if we have friends with influence, and we surround ourselves in cotton wool, we'll always be that bit more vulnerable than a Thai would. Some people can live with that. Some can't. And some don't even realise that that is just the way things are here.

You're farang and no matter how hard you try, you'll never be Thai.

Last week's photo



Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken outside the Love Scene restaurant on Sukhumvit soi 23 which is less than 50 metres from the eastern end of Soi Cowboy. Local readers have requested more difficult photos and so this week's is much more difficult. The one thing I will say is that this week's pic is not some obscure location and is actually a reasonably famous place. 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 Duke's Express voucher MUST be redeemed by June 2012. The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. 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 – failure to do so results in the prize going 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 relationship alternative?

I get tired of the standard relationship issues that inevitably develop with Thai girls. What wears me down are stereotyped money issues – the universal need to build a house for mum, the hefty dowry and demands from her unemployed relatives. So I wonder, could I have the best of both worlds: a Thai beauty without the money pressure, in a relationship with a ladyboy? Now before you go hmm, cast your minds back to the ladyboy recently photographed in Stick's column. I was at Insomnia and the hottest babes on the dance floor were two ladyboys. They were left dancing alone, so I spoke to them. One showed me a few dozen nude photos of herself on her iPhone. There was nothing at all male in those shots! I am not talking about a guy with make up, implants, and shaven legs. What's downstairs is very female. By any standards many of them are rocking hot to look at. I have some instinctive barrier that prevents me from getting involved with a ladyboy. They are effeminate and attractive, but still I back off. So I wonder, would they also endlessly ask for money to support their families – they certainly don't have kids! I imagine ladyboys would be self-obsessed, have insecurities and even the odd psychosis. They would probably have a dependence on drugs to keep their male predispositions under lock-and-key. I also suspect the ladyboy culture is pretty self-destructive. But the relationship would certainly be different and I continue to wonder. I think plenty of hetero guys have had the same thoughts.

Only in Thailand!

I was eating a great Fuji steak set last night. It comes with delicious pieces of steak, mixed vegetables, a salad with delicious dressing, miso soup, a bowl of rice, a side of kim chee, an appetizer of fried giant shrimp simmered in butter with asparagus and mushrooms on the side. 99% of the time it's cooked to perfection. But last night, I took a bite out of the shrimp, and it wasn't cooked. It just felt raw, and uncooked. So after I chewed it, I let it fall to the plate, and I called the waitress over. I just didn't want to get sick over uncooked seafood, especially since here in Chiang Mai there have been several deaths lately related to seafood. That's another story altogether. So I told the waitress that the shrimp was not cooked enough, and I asked her to take the shrimp away, thinking that she'd bring me back another piece cooked. I continued eating my delicious bento box, and when I was finished I called the waitress over and asked her if I was going to get another shrimp. She looked me in the eye and said "Sir, next time you come we will give you a free piece of shrimp." I thanked her, and asked for the check. I didn't make a scene, and didn't argue with her. I just let it pass, and thought "Only in Thailand!"

A foreigner in the Thai workplace.

I just read your article in the Bangkok Trader about working with locals, most of which is true at my place of work apart from one thing – the Westerners here work a lot harder than the locals! I have been here for many years, working for international companies and have witnessed at each of these employers resentment from the local staff as they tend to feel that they are being taken advantage of due to the low wage levels in this country. I have also witnessed many instances of weak farang management being taken advantage of by locals who are happy to do as little as possible. My present employer made the mistake of initially hiring graduates from the better known universities and they have proven to be very lazy and difficult to motivate. Your advice against working here for too long (and lowering standards) is a very good point and something I have succumbed to I am afraid. I am amazed you still have the motivation to keep writing about life here.

The homeless farang.

That tall, skinny bearded, black-haired guy pictured in your column April 3 is German, according to the manager of the Liberty Place Service apartment building on soi 22. He used to stay there but eventually got turfed out after being allowed to stay without paying his bill for a generous amount of time. He was a good tenant but started to lose touch with reality after some difficult times, apparently. So he ended up on the street, hanging around various 7 Eleven and Family Mart locations. When he walks around, he has to hold his pants on, rarely has a shirt and if he does, it's torn and horribly soiled. He walks without shoes sometimes and carries some items in plastic shopping bags. Occasionally I'll hear him ranting about something or railing against someone bothering him as he perches on a concrete ledge. He rarely interferes with anyone going in and out of the marts. The odd time he seems cleaned up, which is due largely to the generosity of Thai people, which I've witnessed. He's relatively clean in your picture. One time I saw him walking the halls of Liberty Place, where I stayed. Later one week, he was the centre of police attention there. The cops watched as the apartment's cleaning ladies hosed the German down and washed his hair and body out in the parking lot. They wore gloves and pinched their noses! They had quite an embarrassing laugh that time when he started to lose his pants and all was revealed! It was only then that the cops allowed him to get in their vehicle because, well, he stunk! The apartment had called police to remove him because he was found wandering the hallways and some tenants and management had become concerned.

Elusive Woodstock.

About a year back we made the effort to go to Thonglor to try out Woodstock for old time's sake. Got all the way there to find it was closed! Today, after seeing the huge advert on the front of the shopping centre on the corner of Sukhumvit Road and soi 4, again we thought we'd try Woodstock. However, inside it is nowhere to be found. I think I will give up on Woodstock as a bad joke, and just think back to the good old days when it was in Nana Plaza!

London has it over Bangkok when it comes to women!

I have been going to LOS for over 20 years and I have never seen the selection of women in Bangkok on offer so bad. Anywhere between Soi Cowboy and soi 4 has the worst selection of Thai women imaginable. A skanky, ugly, dirty, smelly, wretched, diseased, selection of old and young bags and boilers I have never seen! They are so far removed from the average Thai women as to be a shock. I feel for your bar burn out – I achieved that status long ago. I chat up women in the soi and at 7 Eleven for a better return on my time. I will be glad to get back to London where the Asian women are attractive, clean, passionate, and hot with chesty fabulous bodies and all for £40.

A bar area for the old-timers.

I spent a few hours at Queen's Park Plaza and nearby Washington Square for some drinks. It may be my age but I find these places much more fun than Soi Cowboy or Soi Nana. The girls are more varied, have more personality and all around there is less noise, pressure and cost. I guess I am not a neon light and fake tits kind of guy!

It's official! The rumour in last week's column that Raw Hide would soon be an Arab bar has been confirmed as fact this week. And to make matters worse, he is openly looking for more properties – and has no shortage of cash to make more acquisitions. I cannot name the bar, but the owners of another venue are well into negotiations with the Arab and a deal is looking likely. With many Middle Eastern visitors, Sukhumvit's soi 3 is often referred to as Soi Arab, but the way things are going Soi Cowboy might soon be looking at adopting that name.

I hate to go on and on about The Arab – and some readers give me grief for it, but I am afraid to say I have yet another warning for customers in the Arab's bars in Soi Cowboy, where it would seem that some girls are taking liberties with lady drinks. Offer a lady a lady drink these days and you never know what she'll come back with. In the old days you knew she'd get a small tumbler of Coke which she would sip slowly and you'd get perhaps 20 minutes or more of her time. These days it's just as likely she'll come back with a Tequila, throw it down the trap, request another and if it isn't forthcoming she'll be gone! But then it has to be said that some guys like girls that drink Tequila and are keen to ply their girl with a few drinks before they invite her to quarters more private. Anyway, what some girls in some of the Arab's bars are doing – and it seems sufficiently widespread in his bars that I wonder if the girls are under instruction from management – is that when you offer the lady a drink, she returns with two drinks, a Coke AND a Tequila – and you get a bill for 300+ baht! I have never been to the Philippines where I hear talk of the double lady drink concept, so maybe The Arab is introducing that here?

I don't make it to Patpong that often and will be the first to acknowledge that I am less aware of what is happening in Bangkok's oldest farang bar area. Wandering through this week, I note that a whole block of bars have gone from the Suriwong Road end of Patpong soi 2. This demolition of bars and properties started some time ago with the closure of the Executive Lounge but now all of the bars from where the Executive Lounge once was all the way down to the alley which cuts across to the main Patpong soi are closed. I don't recall any of these venues being particularly memorable, but it has very much changed the feel of Patpong soi 2 and another slice of Bangkok bar history has been destroyed.

I hear that it will now set you back 200 baht for a Tequila at Suzy Wong's, which presumably is the same price charged at Sheba's as it is under the same ownership.

Rainbow 3 has introduced a rewards system in an effort to drum up more business. Despite moving a bunch of Rainbow 1 girls into Rainbow 3 – Rainbow 1 justifiably has the reputation for some of the prettiest girls not just in Nana Plaza, but in any of the farang bars. Rainbow 3 should be doing a good trade but business just isn't what the owners had hoped for. Customers get a stamp on a card for every 100 baht spent in the bar and once you get 10 stamps you can claim a free drink. I'm surprised more bars don't offer similar.

The next party at The Strip, located towards the Silom Road end of Patpong soi 2, next to Bar Bar, is Hula Girls. It will run for 3 days over this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday and should be a lot of fun.

The post-Songkran period usually sees trade drop off in the bar areas and restaurants popular with foreigners in the touristy part of town. Not this year! Bangkok's top two farang bar areas have been booming over the past few weeks Nana Plaza bars were packed this weekend and at least as busy, if not busier than Cowboy.

After some less than positive words about Bangkok Beat in Sukhumvit soi 7/1, I can confirm that it's worth a visit again. I walked through the doors and thought, "Holy moly, they've turned it around!" You can put it back on your list of places to visit!

Tilac bar has finally relented and increased prices. Beer and whisky are up a mere 10 baht to 140 baht, and the happy hour prices remain unchanged, meaning 70 baht for most beers and top shelf until 9 PM which is an excellent deal. A lady drink has gone up from 100 to 120 baht. It's hard to argue against these price increases and Tilac remains about the same prices or cheaper than most of Cowboy. The owners of Tilac also run Sam's 2000, the open bar next door which has decent food and they have implemented the same prices in the outside bar which may just result in sticker shock to regulars. Where many drinks in Sam's 2000 used to set you back a mere 85 baht, they too have shot up to 140 baht, a stiff increase in a bar which provides neither entertainment nor, I think, even music!


Price increases in Soi Cowboy along with deteriorating attitudes and the increasing number of bars under The Arab's control – which many locals avoid altogether – are not doing anything for trade. Perhaps Cowboy bar owners ought to be reminded of 2001 when a certain fellow who heads a certain group of bars in Nana Plaza, increased drinks prices by over 20% and leaned on other bar owners to do the same. Many customers baulked and that was a major contributing factor to the gradual decline of Nana and a primary reason for Cowboy's surge in popularity. Soi Cowboy has had things its way for quite some time now and there has been a definite change in momentum in recent times. I am starting to have very serious doubts about Cowboy's dominance continuing.

With #95's butt but a distant memory, the Dirty doctor and I set out to find who has the best butt in Tilac bar and we settled on #88 who we declared has the doctor's top bottom. If you disagree, let us know who jiggles it better!

Bangkok's newest gogo bar is as much a cabaret venue as it is a Bangkok chrome pole palace. White Lioness, in Sukhumvit soi 12, which features Eastern European women, has had several mentions in this column recently and there is a fair bit of hype surrounding venue. A lot of money has been spent on it and it is much more plush than any other gogo bar in town. There's wall to wall red velvet, large fancy chairs, giving it the feel of 1890s Paris or 1930s Shanghai. It's large and bigger than most venues of its genre. It doesn't feature typical gogo dancing as you get in the likes of Nana or Cowboy, but choreographed cabaret-style shows. The shows are reasonably well done – think Angelwitch quality, but not real cabaret quality. As you'd expect, the women are tall, in shape but when you pay closer attention, they are hard and unlike their Thai sisters who can manage to feign interest, these farang birds look like they absolutely do not want to be there! There's no nudity and nothing particularly sexy. The closest you'll get to seeing any naughty bits is stars covering nipples, as was the rage in Nana when we had the big crackdowns 10 years ago. Just like their Isaan sisters who come to life when songs from their part of the country are played, so too do these Russians birds jump around like the Energizer bunny when Russian songs fill the bar. At that point the girls leap into life and actually put on a decent show. When the regular music returns, so do the sullen, long faces! Given the flash surroundings, that it's Western girls there and that they are doing proper shows, the prices are higher than you find in the popular bar areas. There are various price plans. Drinks run 400 – 500 baht depending what you order, and there is a fee for the show which is another 500 baht. In other words you're looking at 1,000 baht to enter and have one drink. In fact that is what they are saying to some people, come inside for 1,000 baht and get a free drink. You can buy the ladies a drink which will set you back 800 baht. Such pricing strongly suggests that regulars to the likes of Nana and Cowboy are not the venue's target market at all. The venue's location will confuse many. Despite being smack in the middle of the farang ghetto, roughly half way between Cowboy and Nana, I believe that the venue wishes to target Thai men, Asian visitors, Arabs and Middle Easterners. It's not for Westerners at all. If you absolutely have to see white women dancing on stage, you'd be better off in a strip club in your own country.

Black readers should take note that the boys in brown were stopping every man of colour in the alley way connecting soi 3/1 and soi 5 this week, asking to see their passport and asking them many questions about what they were doing and where they were going. Whether this was a one-off checkpoint or is part of a long-term plan / crackdown on Africans who have become ubiquitous in that area, I do not know. White guys, Arabs and Thais seemed to be invisible and were allowed to pass without any questions.

The famous slug, that poor Thai wretch who slithers along the pavement at a snail's pace along Sukhumvit Road hasn't disappeared. It would seem that those who enslave him now drop him off in the area around Sukhumvit sois 31 and 33 and you often see him slithering around outside the Robin Hood pub, near the motorcycle taxi guys who operate from there.

Things are moving in the right direction to get Steve Leather's classic bargirl novel, "Private Dancer" on to the big screen. There are a number of steps which must be taken, including getting permission to film the movie here – and that of course means making sure that it does not offend Thailand or the Thai people. But work is being done on just that right now and things are moving in the right direction! The big question is just who will play the role of Pete…and for that matter, who will be Joy?

As if the costs of air travel hadn't shot up enough in the past 2 years, budget airline Air Asia reintroduced fuel surcharges this week so trips around Thailand / the region won't be quite as cheap as they were. It was inevitable, I guess. But then I note oil fell about $15 per barrel this week, so I wonder if they will remove the surcharge?!

I am informed by readers that the 20 gorgeous girls plus a bunch of ugly ones sign was first seen outside a venue in Las Vegas. I notice more copied slogans around the bar areas, including the one below from Rock Hard A Gogo in Phuket and the Australian Pub & BBQ in Sukhumvit soi 11. Is this one from Vegas too?

There aren't many Thai snack foods I like, partially because most simply don't taste good, but more than anything, because as a friend puts it, almost anything you can buy in 7 Eleven isn't good for you! But there is snack I like, the Thai kanom, Snack Jack. When I first came to Thailand, a 50 gram pack set you back 10 baht. Then a few years back they reduced the size of the pack to 38 grams while maintaining the price at 10 baht. I guess 10 baht is the magic pricing point and one they don't wish to exceed, because the manufacturer has reduced the weight to 34 grams. In the old days I would have ranted and raved about how bad this is, but to be honest, knowing how bad this crap is for you, I think I can live with it!

There are all sorts of characters hanging around Bangkok's bar areas and some of them become part of the landscape, long-term fixtures whose disappearance would make the bar areas feel a little bit different. One such character was " Voice", the Nana Plaza greeter I mentioned in a recent column. No-one knows what happened to him. What about this black woman pictured here in the green dress who has become a regular fixture in Patpong? She can be seen walking around most nights and always seems to be dressed in the same green dress! Is she living on the street? One reader reports that the first time he saw her it was raining and she stripped down to her underwear and danced up and down the market, taking a shower under the run off water from the tarpaulins, much to the amusement of a crowd! She just seemed to wander around aimlessly. Sit at one of the outdoor Patpong bars and you will see her pass by you many times, as if she is doing laps of Patpong. Does anyone know her story?

There's nothing worse than a clingy woman, especially a clingy Thai woman. The way they want to spend all their time with you and how they aren't shy to put the blame on you when they are not happy and look to you to be their entertainment system is the sort of thing I avoid in any woman. But I have discovered something here in Thailand, or maybe it has just taken me a long time to realise it, but there are a lot of clingy Western guys here too! And I don't mean that they cling to their girlfriends, but to their farang friends! Maybe it comes down to not having a lot of friends, or maybe a crap social life, or maybe they are not happy with their girlfriend or wife. I have noticed it recently and I see friendships busting up over it because, quite frankly, some Westerners have so few friends that they put pressure on the few friends they do have. I can't say I ever noticed this in the West.

For the Canucks, I can confirm that you can catch your beloved ice hockey in Bangkok. Check out D'Pelican Guesthouse and bar on Sukhumvit soi 22. If you're coming up from Sukhumvit Road, it's in the little car park that is home to Tina's massage parlour, less than 100 metres from Sukhumvit Road itself.

Quote of the week comes from a fellow talking about bargirls, "The better you treat them, the worse they become!"

Reader's story of the week is Largactil Daze In Pattaya.

The New York Times reports that no officials have faced charges over last year's red shirt protests in Bangkok.

A Brit is arrested for selling sex toys in Thailand.

Despite crackdowns often reported in the Thai press, Thailand remains on a U.S. piracy watch list.

From CNNGo, some Hollywood movie titles have been translated into Thai with hilarious translations!

Across the border, a dopey bunch are caught consuming drugs in plain view of all and sundry.

The Bangkok Post looks at the legal ramifications of bedding an underage hooker in Thailand.

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: If one is a qualified litigation lawyer in an English speaking common law jurisdiction, what are the job opportunities available to him / her in the legal field of Thailand? Does he need to pass some professional examinations before he is qualified to practise law in Thailand? And what is the average monthly income for a practising lawyer (with more than 5 years post qualification experience in another jurisdiction) in Thailand?

Sunbelt Legal responds: As it is a profession restricted to Thai nationals you will not be able to practice law but you can work as a consultant to a Thai lawyer. Salaries can vary and will depend on your negotiations with prospective employers. Immigration and Labor Department rules see a minimum income requirement varying from 25,000 – 35,000 baht per month for most South East Asian nationals to 50,000 baht per month for most European, North American and Australian nationals.

Question 2: I sent my girlfriend in Surin province in Thailand 659,000 baht to buy a pick up truck. The money was transferred from my account here in Australia to her account in Surin. I have all of the emails to show that she had promised to buy and that it would be put in my name. I now know that the money has probably gone and that getting it back will never happen. However I feel that I have been lied to and cheated and I believe that she should face charges for this. I have told her if the money is not returned, I will make a complaint to police and fair dinkum, as sure as a kangaroo can leap a Food Falcon in a single bound, I am going to keep my word! So what do I need to do, and where do I need to go to lodge the complaint. I want her to be prosecuted!

Sunbelt Legal responds: In order to file fraud charges against your girlfriend you will have to do so from within Thailand at the police station where the fraud took place – the location to where you sent the money. You will need all copies of correspondence stating the purpose of the money transfer, and it's suggested you have them translated into Thai. The police will then investigate to determine whether or not charges should be filed.


Reading over this week's column as I was giving it the final once over, tidying up the language and hopefully catching the inevitable typos, I was struck by how negative some of it was. I started to wonder how fair and representative what I had written was of what is happening out there. I tried to re-read it with an open mind, checking that I had facts correct and whether I had been balanced in my perspective and analysis. As I read each individual news item and each story, I considered them individually and in each case I am comfortable that what I've written is fair. The funny thing is that when I went out this week, I actually had a fun time in the bars and bar areas, so just where the negativity has come from, I'm not sure. So even for a boring guy who hardly drinks and who is admittedly on a bit of a downer over the nightlife, I can confirm that it still is fun! Don't let me put you off!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick