Stickman's Weekly Column June 19th, 2011

The Lovely Jeab


Jeab is the brains behind Thai Eternity, a boutique introduction agency matching Western men with Thai ladies. Jeab personally deals with every member, be they Thai women or Western men. An intriguing lady, we sat down together this week to discuss relationships between foreign men and Thai women, the problems they face, as well as talk a little about her business. I didn't necessarily agree with everything she said and certainly did not put her on the spot. Rather, I present her thoughts as the opinions of a Thai lady involved in the business of matchmaking Western guys with Thai women.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am an Isaan girl! I come from Khon Kaen province. I came to Bangkok when I was 13. I studied vocational college in Bangkok and graduated 2 years ago. I went to work in an office with a friend but the salary was very low so I quit that. I am in a long-term relationship with an Englishman.

An Englishman?! What the….?! Why didn't you get a Kiwi guy? After all, your boyfriend and I support the same Premiership team!

Umm, where do Kiwis come from? My boyfriend is an awesome guy. I cannot say why I picked him. It is just chemistry!

How did Thai Eternity start?

From helping farang friends find good Thai girls. I have many farang friends. They all wanted to meet good Thai girls, you know not bargirls. But they always went to places like Nana and Cowboy and had bad luck with the girls they met there. They wanted to meet a girl like me! I know lots of farang guys from socialising. I started to introduce a lot of people and they were happy. I saw an opportunity to form a business and Thai Eternity started.

I see many foreigners and Thai women together but you know, so many couples have problems. What's the main problem in these relationships?

Family problems.

Tell me more!

When farang guys and Thai women marry there are many so problems with the family because farang guys often don't understand Thai culture. For Thai people, family is number one. But I think for farang guys it is about their freedom, and that is what is important to them. For Thais it is more about family. We come from different cultures and the problems usually come from the family or what each partner thinks about commitment to family. And it is different! That is what makes problems between the family and the guy.

But not all Western guys place such importance on their independence. Have you seen any differences among different nationalities of farangs?

Thai girls often have problems in relationships with farangs. Do you know which countries guys come from who have the number one problems in relationships with Thai women? England and USA!

Why is that?

Because from a Thai perspective, their thinking and lifestyle is quite selfish. They are less concerned about people around them and only concerned about themselves. These farang guys look after themselves and the girl too, but not the girl's family.

I have friends from Norway and Sweden and they are similar to Thais because they are more family-oriented. They look after their family members and grandparents etc. They understand about a Thai lady's feelings and relationship with her family and how important that is to her. They can understand what a Thai girl feels and what her priorities in life are.

Are you talking about poor families because you know what? I don't see this in wealthy families!

For most foreigners who come to Thailand, I think you know that they get a girlfriend from Isaan. So few meet girls who come from outside of Isaan.

So could I therefore say that farang guys should find girls from other parts of the country or be like me, place a great importance on where a girl grew up, such as only dating women who grew up in Bangkok?

If you get a girl from Bangkok and she has money, you still need to be aware of the family. It's not just about money! She needs to spend time with her family and there will be competing interests for her. You have to spend time with the family and show your concern for them. It's about respect.

What other major problems do you see in relationships between Western men and Thai women?

I think the other big issue is about time and specifically whether the guy has enough time to spend with the girl. The culture of mateship you have means you always make sure you have time for your mates. For farang guys, we see that time is for work and their friends! They are so focused on work and friends.

With Thai guys, even when he works a lot, he still spends a lot of time with his girlfriend.

Bangkok is a very friendly and social city. You meet so many people and that makes it hard on relationships. Here some people are out every night.

What can guys do overcome this?

They need to embrace what is good about Thai girls and how good our heart is. It is very important that you ask her what she wants, what she did, and ask open questions about what she is feeling and how she has been. She wants attention. All girls want that from guys. We have a big heart to give but sometimes you ignore that. You forget how big our heart is.

Trust is not enough for Thai girls. In Thailand we have so many places to go out at night and this makes us wonder what he might be up to.

You need to spend a lot of time together and explain how you feel and what you're up to. If you do that then we will feel good. If you are always with your friends it will make us think a lot about what you're doing and also how you really feel about us.

How are Thai women changing?

Now there are so many foreigners coming to Thailand and foreign things coming to Thailand and it is making Thailand much more international. It is very different from the past. Now they have the opportunity to see the world. I think now Thai women want to be more independent, want to have freedom. We both want to see and know the world. But we are scared at the same time.

Consumerism has pervaded Thai culture and it is changing the new generation. Brand names are everywhere. For many Thai women there is nothing more farang than the IPhone.

But at the same time we are scared because we have heard bad stories.

What bad stories?

Thai girls who meet farang guys are scared because some bad farang guys come to Thailand. They are scared that he will take her to their country and sell her there. Some are also scared that he may be married already or she will somehow be taken advantage of.

So what steps do you take to avoid that?

I meet every guy before the girl meets her. I can explain many things about Thai culture to him.

What about farang men in Thailand? You've seen many here. You said to me earlier before we started the interview that farang guys who come to Thailand often change. How do they change?

There are many girls in Thailand. And there are so many places for him to go. You know what they do!

How quick does it happen?

In one week he can change! Easily! I know guys who have come here for the first time and within one week they are saying oh my God and looking at all the girls and going to the night places and then they quickly have a girlfriend! I know a lot of guys and I have seen this so many times!

Thai men are just like this, right?

Thai men are the same in some ways, yes. Farang and Thai guys are the same. But some farangs do bad things but still have freedom. Thai guys do bad things and then go home to their family! I think Thai men know where the limits are but some farang guys go crazy here. They lose the balance.

So why do Thai women like us? Are we better looking?

We like you because you have white skin and you have a big nose. We love big noses! Haha! So it is physical but other things too. You know it is a problem for Thai people – they always keep secrets and we don't see that with farang guys. It is a big problem with Thais. I don't think farangs do that.

Farangs are like a fashion accessory at the moment! And every Thai girl wants to have a half Thai / half farang baby! I think farangs also want that. Thai women are genuinely interested in meeting farang guys. We like farangs a lot. In my personal way of thinking, farang guys are more open-minded.

What about your customers, the guys you introduce to Thai girls. Are they the stereotypical fat, old dudes?

The bulk of the foreign guys are actually quite young! Most of our male customers are aged 25 – 55. Many are in their 30s. One was as young as 20! Our clients range from retired to young professionals. The number one priority for Thai ladies is a good heart.

How many women are on your books and where do you get your women from?

I have about 400 – 450 girls at the moment. I keep in touch with them and try to speak with them often so my Blackberry works hard!

They are friends, friends of friends, referrals, and even some old school friends.

Why should someone use your service? Why shouldn't someone just sign up to ThaiLoveLinks? I know guys who use it who get laid, quite literally hours within joining the site and in some cases married within a week of joining. And they can do that all for $25!

Because if a guy uses my service they will not need to use your investigation service to check up on her later! We check everyone out in advance! Seriously though, they should use Thai Eternity if they're looking for a relationship.

If they are looking just for a good time, they should go somewhere else.

Clients use us because the language, culture and communication issues are vast. I will be there to introduce them to the lady at a coffee shop, and I can check that everything is ok. It is a personalised service with me!

Is there any general advice you would like to give to Western guys keen to meet a Thai woman?

You need to appreciate and be open-minded to a very different culture. You need to spend a lot of time here if you don't use an agency like us. You should do everything you can to understand Thai culture and customs before you come. If you are serious, you should invest the time, and learn as much as you can before you arrive in Thailand.

There are no short cuts with good Thai women! Plus you need to have plenty of patience in any dealings with Thai ladies. We can be frustrating, but in a good way!

There are many good Thai ladies who are looking for and excited about meeting good foreign men however they don't know how or where to meet them. So they come to us.

Also, they can learn from your website too. Stickman is famous around the world! When they are ready to meet a good Thai lady they can contact me!


Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken in Sukhumvit soi 42, diagonally opposite Major Ekamai and looking back towards Sukhumvit Road and the skytrain. 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 Duke's Express voucher MUST be redeemed by June 2012. The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. 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.

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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 – The "barn" option.

Loved the opener – that's the kind of stuff that would be great to see more of. The regular nightlife re: Nana, Cowboy etc is terrible trash really these days. Where you were this weekend is all about searching for new options, going off the track a bit. That will return excellent dividends lady wise. The regular Nana, Cowboy track is a disaster. I can't get my head around why farangs still entertain it. I can understand back in the so-called good old days, but to call it a quality venue today is way off the mark. I have far greater enjoyment now going out back in the west with my friends rather than Nana or Cowboy. Give me a western bar anyway with western women over those venues. But I like the track you were on in the "barn" this weekend. Those spots have excellent potential. Hit the gym before hand, slap on a decent slim fit polo shirt with some decent jeans, stand out as the "rare" foreigner and it's going to end in success. I just can't figure why more foreigners don't embark on these options. Maybe it's good that the fat scum are confined to one corner of one district in Bangkok so 90%+ of Thais might still think there is a good spark left in us!

There are other options.

This week's opener brought back very fond memories of my first visit to Khon Kaen in '05. As you know, not long ago the exact same scenario you describe was the norm in any of the downtown clubs there, not just the rural "Thai-only" venues. Every place was virtually 100% Thai back then. It really was a bit of feeling like a rock star and we didn't even speak more than a few phrases of the language. That didn't matter and unlike you, we had absolutely no control over ourselves. From the looks on the faces of the doormen at the Sofitel, they began to not care for our apparent sway with their "good" Uni girls. That was a week I will never forget and the reason why I lost interest in the P4P scene immediately which luckily came very early in my South-East Asian adventures. Once a guy has authentic experiences with the regular local girls like that, it shatters forever the illusion and futility of the P4P industry. It really is no contest in terms of quality, price (free minus drinks / room etc) and FUN! Great to know such opportunities still exist in Bangkok and it is a valuable service to your readership to bring it to their attention.

Big Dogs.

I would like to comment on your remarks about Big Dogs looking quiet these days. No wonder, when they keep the price of their beer at 95 baht while the newer bars on the soi have all-day happy hours at 65 baht! I was last there in April and while I consider Big Dogs a great place to hang out from 7-8 PM while all the girls (and pretend-girls) are arriving for work, I'd never pay their high prices during the afternoon when I can drink for far less almost everywhere else on the soi. Most of the girls look fairly average and the 600 baht barfine is exorbitant too, in my opinion. The Golden Bar, for instance, is still only 350 baht although other bars on the street are asking 500 baht which is still too much for me. Look at the 2,000 baht the girls expect for short time on Nana these days. It sure makes Pattaya seem more attractive.


ThaiFriendly is an Asian Dating Site like no others!

HIV testing and work permits.

Being a teacher here in Thailand, I am subject to these ridiculous tests. Here is my understanding of the situation: There hasn't been a change in policy. Perhaps these hospitals that aim for a higher end market aren't used to such requests. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that HIV testing for employment reasons is illegal in Thailand. To circumvent this obstacle, the cheeky people have decided to test for tertiary syphilis. Now, anyone who has reached the third stage of this nasty disease would show physical symptoms. It would be apparent with a glance. So, you might ask why this has been introduced! Well, my research reveals that HIV positive people will show a "false positive" for tertiary syphilis! So, they have taken a back door in order to ensure we haven't got HIV. The funniest thing about it all is that once you obtain the work permit, you no longer have to undergo these tests. Let me ask you and those who may read this. Are you more likely to contract something like HIV while living promiscuously in Bangkok or Thailand? Would it not make more sense to have a check later as well if this is their concern?

Thumbs up for rail travel in Thailand.

An emailer commented this week about a bad bus experience from Khon Kaen to Bangkok. Forget the bus and the plane and try rail travel. As long as the town you wish to travel from / to is on the rail system, it is very easy to book, comfortable, cheap & safe. Safety on the road system is a lottery and aside from the Bangkok to Pattaya bus, I never travel on any long distance bus trip. Besides the fact that bus drivers may take chemical substances to perform their duties, the basic roadworthiness of many buses is suspect & there is always the other road users, particularly truckers, who are a real worry. Unlicensed, driving overweight vehicles for too many hours at the wheel. Go by rail for any medium to long distance travel in Thailand.

Good girls and bad girls.

For those wanting to take their girlfriend down to see the "delights" of Soi Cowboy or Nana, coming from someone who has been there, bought the T-shirt, be prepared for a lot of issues coming up afterwards. The assumption is that you – especially if she sees your friends in action – were doing all this before you met her. There will be worries about diseases, worries about you wanting to go there when you don't see her and assumptions that all farangs are sex crazy. She'll think that farangs like dark-skinned Isaan ladies, that we are all butterflies and basically have no loyalty or qualms about moving on to younger models at any time! It has its pit falls so think carefully!

Citibank to return to profitability.

I have used the Citibank ATM in Bangkok twice in fairly rapid succession. Allowing for the amount requested, which was 10,000 baht, the banks involved somewhere along the line have snaffled a massive 401 baht for the privilege, which is far in excess of what Thai banks charge. Now, at this stage, I can't tell whether the amount deducted was by Citibank or from the Santander Bank where my UK account is located, or both. The UK bank have in the past swiped about £3 for ATM withdrawals, so, assuming that is still the case and £3 = 150 baht, this means that Citibank are deducting even more…and quite a bit more, too. That cannot be determined until I see the statement. So much for their once heralded 'free' ATM withdrawal service.

Next weekend happens to be the weekend before the general election and it is when "advance voting" can be done. As an official voting day, it's likely that there will be disruptions to the bar industry. That usually means bars will be closed, although there are always a few open and selling alcohol. But for sure, it won't be as easy as usual to get a drink. Based on what has happened at election time in previous years, I guess bars will be closed on Saturday or open with no alcohol for sale. On Sunday night, some bars will open later in the evening after the polling booths have closed whereas others won't reopen until Monday. One thing you can count on is that whatever happens next weekend, the following weekend will be a repeat performance.

It's been raining heavily every other night if not more often, for about a month now, and the rains are hurting bar trade. As we move deeper into the low season, fewer tourists are in town and all it takes is one heavy downpour early evening and most expats choose to stay dry and stay in for the night. Getting drenched out and about as well as the other hassles when it rains – bad traffic and difficulty getting a taxi – really are enough to make you say bugger it and stay home.

My old pal, Dave The Rave, got trapped at a late-night streetside beer stand this past week when the heavens opened in the early hours, not long after the end of his shift. The gogo guru had the Mrs. calling him, inquiring as to where he was. So heavy were the rains that he could not even get out from the streetside beer bar he was taking cover in. As he said, even at that time of night when the cabs fight for every last customer, there are plenty of cabbies who won't pick you up if you look like a drowned rat.

Business in Nana might be ok and the vibe in a number of bars might be on the up and up, but some things have reverted back to how they were. The front area within Nana Plaza, just inside the bottleneck single entrance / exit, is clogged up with motorcycles again. An effort was made by the leaseholders, Nana Castle, to keep it clear for a while, but it seems that the scourge of guys employed in the plaza refusing to park their motorcycles outside is back and once again the only way in and out is peppered with motorbikes.

The newest bar in Nana Plaza, Las Vegas, on the top floor, next to Billboard, is virtually ready to open, and will open its doors officially on Monday, June 27th. The bar features a casino table-themed dance floor, a mezzanine floor, part of which has a glass table and poles that from which the girls can slide down to the dance floor below a la Angelwitch Pattaya. Now all they have to do is find a bunch of pretty girls to fill the place with…

Speaking of recruiting pretty girls for the naughty bars, some venues are really struggling. Typically bars erect signs outside, or put the word out amongst staff to bring their friends in – and they may even pay a commission to the girls if the friends they bring in go on to stay longer than a month. But as one bar owner said to me recently, recruiting via the girls working in the bar generally just nets girls who have already done the rounds, who have worked in other bars, who have learned the tricks of the trade and who will invariably disappear within a few months. So, what is a certain Soi Cowboy bar doing to recruit new girls? They're so desperate that they're sending the mamasan up into the Isaan. The plan is hardly sophisticated and at this stage consists of pinning notices to lamp posts advertising that there is demand for pretty girls with potential for them to make a lot of money – and a hell of a lot more than they would up in Isaan. It will be interesting to see how successful the campaign is and whether they manage to fill the house with lots of dolls.

A mate has noticed an unusual and disturbing trend with some restaurants whose food is available via telephone order delivery companies. This fellow only orders food from restaurants in which he has been in to dine previously, and where he has been a satisfied customer. At first he thought he was imagining things but after ordering the same dish multiple times in both the restaurant itself as well as via the telephone delivery service, what he has suspected was eventually confirmed. That is that some restaurants – and it is certain "ethnic" restaurants – give significantly smaller portions if you order food from by phone, compared to what you would get if you ordered in the restaurant itself.

A Bangkok pub is looking for a consulting chef to streamline and train staff in a busy kitchen. If you are interested, please send your CV to [email protected]

Maurice Lucian Bidaux, a 41-year old Canadian who had been studying Muay Thai in Phuket, was in a motorcycle accident on the island on May 27th. He apparently suffered minor injuries and was sent to hospital, released, before returning for an operation a few days later to repair ligament damage in his shoulder. He experienced severe discomfort from the feeding tube at the hospital, went home, and was found dead in his room the following day (June 2nd). If anyone has any information about Maurice's motorcycle accident or what happened between the accident and when his body was found in his room, please contact a concerned family member at : [email protected].

The Thai police are much more vigilant about drink driving these days with more checkpoints, breathylsers and they are less likely to accept an on the spot settlement. If you're watching how much you drink so you can drive home without exceeding the breath alcohol limit, be careful with so-called "light beers". There are a number of light beers on the market which may not be quite what you think. It seems that "light" on the bottle of a beer can just as likely mean light in calories / carbs as it can in alcohol content! One such example is San Miguel Light which some seem to think is low in alcohol content, but at 5% it is not! Rather it is low carbs! Be careful!

Why is it that *for the most part* Thais drive on the left, but walk on the right?!

It seems the Bangkok Tourism Division has acknowledged the attraction of the city's nightlife to foreign tourists with ads in The Nation newspaper touching upon Bangkok's renowned naughty nightlife. "Infamous as it seems, the brightly lit Soi Cowboy is a celebrated must-go among tourists looking for the wondrous nightlife of Bangkok. It is not as raunchy as the equally known Patpong alley in Silom, as it is open-minded and welcome to both male and female clientele." It's good to see the city marketing what is essentially a popular tourist attraction, even if it is not the primary reason they'd like to see tourists visiting the city.

Reflecting on how things have changed in Thailand over the time I've been here, one of the big things I have noticed is the way so many new expats – that being anyone moving to Thailand be it to work, retire or simply as a long-term tourist – and how they want everything to be laid out for them. They want to know what is in store for them in advance, where they can get their favourite Western food products, where the best bars are and well, just about everything! It seems that they don't actually want to discover anything themselves! For me, a big part of the expat experience is learning about the country by discovering things yourself. That doesn't mean you have to make big mistakes or get ripped off to the point that you lose the farm, but there is nothing wrong with exploring the city, trying out new things and trying to find places – or checking places out. The way so many newbies to Bangkok seem petrified simply to be in a cab alone, or to venture somewhere they have never been before, or to hunt for a condo the old-fashioned way by pounding the pavement all seem to be things of the past! It seems to me that so many people moving here these days – and this transcends age, income bracket and nationality, is that they want to do it easy. And for many it seems that they are scared of what might happen if they venture out alone, away from the perceived safety of Sukhumvit or Silom. This isn't Lagos, or Kabul or Bogotá! If you don't actually try these things yourself, you really don't know what you're missing out on. Sure, it's good to be prepared and aware of things to be careful of, and there are a few things you might absolutely need to know, such as where the decent hospitals are or where your embassy is etc., but I reckon when the discovery part of being an expat is discarded you're missing out on one of the fun parts of the expat experience!

I should have used the photo here as a where is this photo picture, but I guess it probably would have been just too difficult. It's the new Thai embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, which looks close to completion. The existing embassy is way out of town and a right pain to get to for out of towners or visitors to Kiwiland. This new building is much more conveniently located, slap in the middle of town. So if you're visiting Kiwiland for the Rugby World Cup later this year, or any other time for that matter, it will be easier to swing by the Thai mission and apply for a visa, or any other Thai matters when you need to deal with Thai officialdom.

There are fantastic Italian restaurants all over Bangkok although the better ones seem to be in the fine dining sector and priced accordingly. Down in Hua Hin is possibly my favourite Italian restaurant in all of Thailand, Mamma Mia has the best quality : value ratio of any Italian restaurant I know of. If you find yourself in Hua Hin with a pasta or pizza craving, you should note that this excellent restaurant has moved from its previous location opposite the police station to the road down near the beach with many restaurants, where you will find the equally excellent Chao Lay seafood restaurant.

I don't speak fluent Thai. Bloody good Thai and I can impress the pants of many Thais, but I am not fluent. I was reading about a reasonably high profile foreigner in Thailand online this week and the self-written profile stated that he spoke fluent Thai. Fluent Thai my ass! He can barely speak taxi Thai! It got me thinking and I did a bit of surfing and checked out some other foreigners' profiles online. It is amazing how many BS about the level of their Thai when in actual fact it is almost non-existent! To me, the measure of being fluent is when you can hold a telephone conversation with a native Thai speaker and they don't realise that you're not a Thai national. And the only foreigner I know who could probably do that is Andrew Biggs, whose Thai really is excellent. But these foreigners who say they are fluent but who actually speak crap Thai, well, it's some sort of twisted joke, I reckon.

Quote of the week comes from my mother, of all people. There we were, sitting in Tilac Bar last week, when she looks over at me asks me "Do you barfine any of these girls?!" Cripes almighty, even my own mother (who is a loyal reader of this column) doesn't believe me that I don't barfine! And really, I do not!

Reader's story of the week comes from Airmail and is an unbiased look at why Westerners staying in Thailand feel the need to talk crap about their homeland. It's titled, " Cop This!"

The New York Times looks at politics in Thailand.

Thai cabin crew are working for peanuts for Jetstar in Australia.

The FT interviewed Prime Minister Apisit this week.

Greg Rusedski is suing Britain's former Davis Cup captain for 35 million baht for money invested in a luxury villa project in Thailand.

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald suggests there's no extradition treaty between Thailand and Oz.

Sathorn Unique Tower, the exotic-looking 50-storey abandoned building was highlighted this week.

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: The pain about Bangkok property is the process. As a foreigner you are meant to produce evidence that the funds for purchase came from overseas and that the funds were remitted in a foreign currency and converted to THB by the bank in Thailand. How necessary is this? If the condo is being purchased jointly and one party is a Thai citizen do you have to show the funds have come from overseas? If answer is still yes, is it possible to get a letter from the Thai bank saying that the funds in the account came from overseas? Is it vital that the funds are remitted in a foreign currency and converted to THB by the Thai bank? The reason for asking this is that as I work for a bank and I get a staff exchange rate – so all the remittances into my Thai bank account are converted to THB in Singapore and the remittance is in THB. It would cost up to 5% more to purchase the THB if I had to convert inside Thailand and get the ‘retail' exchange rate. Can you let me know what the documentary requirements are?

Sunbelt Legal responds: The basic (and compulsory) requirement for a foreigner to be able to acquire a condominium unit is to have the purchasing funds transferred from overseas and the purpose of the transfer specified “to purchase a condominium unit”. Such transfers must be verified by the Thai Bank by issuing a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (also known as Thor Tor 3). Occasionally, the Foreign Purchaser would transfer in Thai currency (that is having their overseas bank to convert from their home currency into Thai Baht and then transfer them into their Thai bank account. As a result the Thai bank would not be able to issue the account owner with FETF, but alternatively, the Account Owner could request a letter of confirmation, confirming that such funds (the transferred funds) were transferred from overseas and use this as a substitute document.

Question 2: My Thai girlfriend gives a variety of dates of birth in different places. Is there any way to check for a real, genuine date (and hence age) and place of birth for her? She says Lopburi but everything seems to point to Buriram. She claims that the 'father' who she lived with was not her mother's husband but her stepfather!

Sunbelt Legal responds: Her ID card will list her correct birth date and the address where she has her name registered. Thai relationships can be very informal, not everyone legally marries their partner but will have a wedding and no paperwork. Additionally, while marriages do dissolve it is very common for family members to use informal terms such as mother and father for step parents or in-laws and aunt and uncle for close family members and friends that are of an age of their parents (in addition to their real aunts and uncles).

Question 3: I wish to purchase a condo in the near future. Finance options are quite limited, but I understand that I am most likely going to have to pay up front. That being said, I am working myself to death to raise that kind of money. My main problem is that all of that money has been earned here in Thailand. Do I need to transfer it out of the country and back in to comply with the requirements? I would rather not incur the costs associated with that. As an American, is there another way to purchase a condo in my name?

Sunbelt Legal responds: In order for a condo to be purchased in a foreigner's name, you must show the FETF (Foreign Exchange Transfer Form) for amounts over $50,000 US, amounts transferred in under that amount must obtain a letter from the bank stating the money was transferred in.

Question 4: I am approaching my mid 40s and decided that it's time to set up a home somewhere. For economic reasons I am looking into buying land in Thailand and build a house. I know this project will be plagued with problems and I'm prepared for that. The only issue I am really concerned about is the title of the land. My wife is Thai so there should be no issue in actually buying the land. Eventually I would like to transfer ownership of the land to our daughter. Our daughter currently has Thai and British nationality, however I have been informed by the Thai Embassy in Singapore that she must decide to take up her Thai nationality permanently when she is 20 years old or lose it. I'm not keen on that and would like her to keep her British nationality. So my question is, if the land can be transferred to my daughter's name now, what happens if she loses her Thai nationality?

Sunbelt Legal responds: When a person bearing dual nationality reaches the age of majority, he / she is expected to select a single nationality. However, there are reports of people who have maintained their dual nationality. You may encounter some difficulty in transferring the ownership of the land into your daughter's name (in the case that she is still a minor) as the land office may raise the question that as she is still a minor, where would the source of the funds be coming from? If the land office agrees to the transfer of land ownership into your daughter's name, and in the future if she were to give up her Thai citizenship, she would have to sell the land that is in her name.

Question 5: If a Thai employee is entitled to 30 days of sick leave per year, is it legal for my employer to only offer me 6? Today, I called in sick to look after my girlfriend who is not well. So, I only have one day remaining until October. Otherwise, it will be an unpaid day. Sometimes, things in life happen. Today, my girlfriend is unable to take care of herself, so I am at home with her. What happens if I get sick myself?

Sunbelt Legal responds: According to Thai Labor Act, an employee is eligible to take sick leave for his own actual sickness. The employee will only be entitled to sick leave (with pay) for 30 days in a year. If the employee was sick for 50 days in a year, he would be paid for only 30 days, while the other 20 days would be without pay. It is possible that either you or your employer mistook it as annual leave since it was not for your own sickness. According to the Labor Act an employee that has been with the firm for no less than 1 year shall be entitled to at least 6 days of Annual Leave (Vacation Leave).

The general election is just two weeks away. With the country having become polarised in recent years, and suffered through some major political demonstrations, there's no shortage of angst out there as to what may happen next. Politics is something I prefer to steer well clear of and despite requests for me to comment on the political situation and the possible scenarios and permutations, this column is not the place for political commentary or speculation. Stick with the mainstream media for politics. One thing I will say though is that quite a few of the Thais I have spoken to have become so disenchanted with the main parties and have chosen to vote for the charming wildcard, Chuwit!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick