Stickman's Weekly Column July 3rd, 2011

Matching 5 Baht Chicken Legs With 8,000 Baht Champagne


We were supposed to meet at 6:30, but Mother Nature had other ideas. The heavens opened, the soi flooded and being the day after pay day and the last day of alcohol availability until the next week, traffic would be a mess. Getting to Soi Nana on time was no longer the challenge. Now I just hoped I'd be able to get there! The promise of a bar opening party on a scale not seen in Bangkok in a long time beckoned.

Rain continued to lash the windows of the condo. The soi had transformed into a small river, the contents of Bangkok's sewer lapping up against the pavement. I would have to wade through that muck to get out. But the party promised to be worth it.

Bangkok's rain might be torrential, but perpetual it is not. Within half an hour it had slowed to a drizzle and a window of opportunity presented itself. I ran to the skytrain station.

My partner in crime, Lecherous Lee, had made it as far as the Landmark Hotel and taken shelter inside. We'd planned to meet at the Aussie stronghold, the Bus Stop, and from the Landmark we raced between that eclectic mix you only find on the streets of Bangkok, through food vendors, deformed beggars, taxi motorbikes, 6-foot ladyboys and driving rain to soi 4.

Dashing to get out of the rain, I failed to negotiate the entranceway of the bar and went crashing to the ground, my camera and my head smashing on to the slippery surface at the same moment! Reaction was mixed; girls looked concerned and a couple shrieked. Some customers quietly sniggered. I had come into an Aussie stronghold and wearing the black jersey, my origins were obvious. A quick systems check showed everything was working as it should. Fortunately Canon cameras and Kiwi guys share something in common – they're both built to last!

Bus Stop screwed up our food order and as we sat there like two drowned rats, we could but laugh. We hadn't even reached our final destination, were drenched, hungry and I'd taken a tumble. It was going to be one of those nights!

Our food eventually arrived, was wolfed down as the rain continued teeming down. Would we make it to the promised party at Las Vegas, or would we camp out at Bus Stop, with cheap drinks and a view of snarled up traffic on Soi Nana all that we has to look forward to? The rain eased and we made another dash up Soi Nana towards the plaza, just another two crazed foreigners chasing the neon dream.

I'd visited Las Vegas on Monday, the night of the soft opening. I'd planned to stay in Nana's newest gogo for just one drink, but ended up staying all night.

Las Vegas sits next to Billboard on the top floor of Nana, in the back left corner. The venue has been completely renovated and redesigned, and as the name suggests has a casino feel to it. There's a mezzanine floor where customers can sit, with poles for the girls to slide down to the stage.

Las Vegas Bar Bangkok

Still relatively early, we walked through the doors a little before 9 PM. It was quiet. No doubt others were battling the storm to get across town. Half an hour later the bar was full, no mean feat for a sizeable bar on a stormy Bangkok time.

Las Vegas differs from many Bangkok gogo bars in that it's run by a group with a variety of business interests in Bangkok. The owners are old hands in Bangkok, but new to the industry. They intend to run it like a business, giving customers what they want knowing that will maximise profits. Not the most common business strategy in the Bangkok bar biz. This isn't a one-man show, or someone's drinking house which also happens to open to the public.

The big boss gave a brief, amusing speech making mention of the fact that the group had sunk much money into a venue in a bar area with a very uncertain future. Yep, there's no certainty of lease extensions in Nana beyond the end of next year. What he didn't mention was that they picked up the two bars on the top floor for a song.

New bar opening night parties tend to be a bore. There's the pig on the spit – a notable exclusion at the Arab's bars – and a Thai food buffet where most dishes are 5 grades too hot for your average Westerner who ends up picking away at fried rice and roast pork.

Las Vegas did it differently.

5 baht chicken legs were matched with bottles of Dom Perignon! Depending on who you spoke to, 50 or 100 bottles were ordered, and at 8,000 baht a bottle, that's a decent spend for the party to launch a gogo bar. On the food front there were a also a couple of varieties of potato, and ham. Probably as much was spent on all the food as on just one bottle of the good stuff. The liberal manner in which guests were delivered flute after flute of France's finest made quite an impression. But even being showered with champagne couldn't match the impression the bar left on many of us.

Bangkok gogo bar

Las Vegas has been developed as a high-end gogo bar. This is no crappy old style bar, with fatties on stage, a tired sound system and a young punk mixing whatever sounds he happens to feel like listening to that night. In contrast the bar is modern, spacious and has that same spotless feel of Cowboy's Tilac.

It's not just the attention to detail that is impressive. The nepotism so prevalent in many bars where half of the bar staff are related and the other half come from the same village isn't the case at Las Vegas. The bar staff look and act professional, and are decked out in croupiers uniforms.

You'd expect an unashamedly high-end venue with entertainment to be matched by premium pricing. Initial talk in the group was to put in place similar prices to The Arab's bars – 180 baht for a standard drink. Commonsense prevailed and a bottle of beer runs 150 baht, the standard price in a Bangkok gogo these days. Lady drinks run a reasonable 130 baht.

The ultimate measure of any gogo bar is its girls and this is where Las Vegas excels. Whether the launch party's line up comprised a bunch of ring ins from other venues in the group isn't clear and only time will tell, but the line up was very good and perhaps most importantly, fresh. The days of a new bar featuring retreads, girls from other bars repackaged with a new hairstyle and a different coloured bikini does nothing for a new bar. And Las Vegas is a fatty free zone. Not one overweight girl was seen on stage all night. That's unusual in the industry these days. The HR department got that part spot on. There's nothing wrong with overweight birds – it's just that the gogo stage isn't the place for them.

Las Vegas is one of a growing number of bars with both regular dancers, as well as special dancers who actually dance, not just shuffle and / or whom perform special shows. The regular dancers are available, the special dancers I'm not so sure about. They're rather different to say the coyote dancers in Tilac who strut to modern dance music. The casino theme sees dancers in cabaret style with outfits to match. The choreographed dance routines are amazingly good for a gogo bar. The dancers must be professionals.

Two regular girls caught the eye. The lovely #15 who was plucked from the obscurity of a soi 8 massage house and #18 who just has to have the most pleasing silicone in the plaza. Her surgeon didn't go overboard on size.

The mix of a brand new bar full of pretty girls, professional dancers and good drinks at fair prices is hardly a unique concept, but one few venues actually deliver. Where some bars excel in some areas, such as Rainbow 4 which has an incredible selection of beautiful women, they often let themselves down in others, such as the terribly uncomfortable seating and poor service. Las Vegas seems to tick all the boxes and the venue made quite an impression on everyone who attended the official opening party.

As good as it is, there's room for improvement.

The walk way outside the bars in Nana should be the place for smoking, not within the bar itself.

Its top floor, back corner location means promotion is necessary. In Nana Plaza, "top floor" is an oxymoron.

Someone ought to tell the manager to lose the grimace and kill the FBI agent impression.

But all in all, there's nothing that can't be easily overcome.

6 months ago Nana Plaza was a shadow of its former self. Some even called it a waste of space. Soi Cowboy was the most popular bar area. Things have changed. Attitudes at Cowboy have deteriorated horribly and prices have shot up while Nana seems to be experiencing something of a renaissance. Who could have predicted how the industry would be turned on its head in such a short space of time?

Are we witnessing the start of a new era? Nana Plaza is the new Soi Cowboy, and Las Vegas is the new Tilac.

Las Vegas Bangkok

Last week's photo



Where was this photo taken?


Last week's mystery photo featured the new Central shopping centre under construction opposite Fortune Town on Rachadapisek Road. This week's photo is taken in one of Bangkok's bar areas…a clue because it is trickier than usual! 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 – Thai Abrupt Abandonment Syndrome (TAAS).

I became aware of what might be termed the "Thai Abrupt Abandonment Syndrome" which I have seen myself in Thailand. It's when a girl who has been really sweet and "oh miss you so much love you so much forever blah blah" one day just up and leaves, without a word. We in the West have that sense of fairness and civility, even with our own understanding of "all is fair in love and war" that we honour a relationship and a person we once loved at least so much that we inform them duly and timely of changed circumstances, possibly also with a good helping of friendly talk to soften the blow. Some people even manage to stay genuine good friends. But I would venture to say that some of us soft-cored blokes feel a bit of a sting when dropped like a cold turkey, a mix of a lot of things including betrayal. Now if there was one thing I have learned in Thailand, it is not to generalise, even if something happens a lot, but rather just to fight the onset of paranoia to the death, whatever it takes, and vow for the next time simply to keep your wits about you and your sixth sense, so you can spot a heartless, callous, mercenary bitch early on and take the chute before the chute takes you. And not let a shit thing like this ruin your good outlook on life and courage and faith in living on!

Western women haters looking for a scapegoat.

Derogatory generalisations about Western women made on web forums irritate me too, but they are merely a reflection of the personality shortcomings of the posters themselves. They are insulting not only to women, but also to us Western males as they denigrate our mothers, our sisters and our female friends. Clearly some men find it easier to look for a convenient scapegoat for their own lack of success in life rather than taking a long hard look in the mirror to understand where the real problems lie.

When you can't get to first base…blame, blame, blame!

Nothing gripes me more than when I hear expats living here in Thailand running down Western women and all things about them. Another one is that overused sentence I've heard so many times crop up, "I only go with Thai women!" I've lived here for over a decade and have a long-term Thai girlfriend, but my "attractive radar" is still fully functioning, and I recognise a beautiful woman, irrespective of what part of the world they are from. I'd say that more than 70% of these individuals I have come across wouldn't possess the people skills to hold a conversation with a Western lady, let alone get to first base!

Foreigners' rights.

It is a fact that foreign residents of Thailand have absolutely no rights at all. An example of that is that despite the fact that I have been married to a local for over 20 years, I still, like countless thousands of others, am only allowed to remain in the country for a period of 3 months before doing a visa run. This point was brought home to me on a recent visit to my sister in Spain, where she and her husband – both holding British passports – are allowed to vote in local elections. Normal thinking would dictate that if you live in a community you should have an equal right with everyone else there to have a say in how it is governed. Can you imagine the Thais ever allowing 'aliens' to do that? It is more likely to snow in Bangkok! When the Thais vote, we aliens aren't even allowed to buy a beer!

An update on the victim.

On Monday morning I spotted the sorry-looking lady mentioned in an email sprawled on the pavement outside the large bar opposite the Nana entrance, half leaning against one of the bar supports with a bottle in one hand, her upper torso twisted round to the bar where she seemed to be staring, totally immobile, at a lone customer inside. When I walked back after breakfast the poor soul was shuffling towards me, her mouth soundlessly muttering something, tears rolling down her cheeks. It appears as if someone has helped her because she was very clean, and shampooed – if a farang had looked after for the night I don't see how her clothes would also have been so clean so I presume someone has tried to help her but, with the state she was in as she passed me, I felt sadly impotent to do anything for her.

Doing it in style!

I remember staying in the Dollhouse Hotel in Angeles City once (no relation to its Bangkok brethren), and the rooftop pool was closed for a private party one night. It turned out the private party was a single US contractor who'd just finished a lengthy tour in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and who had ordered, prior to his arrival, a dozen or so showgirls from the Dollhouse Gogo (which has about 200 girls from dancers to showgirls), including a buffet and bar for all of them. That was his welcome night. I estimate it probably cost him $1,500 – $2,000 for his “Welcome back from Hell party”, but I suppose that's one advantage of being in a crap hole like that earning loads of money. He must have had a shitload of fun!

Breakdowns happen at the bank or in the bedroom.

My former and second wife, a Thai, was, and I believe still is, a gold digger but one incident in particular stands out in my memory. She had a son by her first marriage and I had two daughters from my own first. Then we had two children together. One evening at home in the UK, some years ago, I was discussing the formulation of a will and when I mentioned to her that I would have to allow for five (5) children, she went berserk at my suggestion that my first two daughters be included! She as much as said that as I was divorced from their mother, they no longer count although, nevertheless, she expected me to allow for the son from her first marriage! This woman became impossible about almost every aspect concerning money, believing in the Asian way that one's wife should be the financial director of the home, quite at variance with my Western experience of my own father's handling of the family's finances perfectly satisfactorily. If ever there is a truth, it is that every marriage which ends in separation and divorce breaks down in either the bank or the bedroom. After I separated from my first wife she milked our joint bank account, so I mentioned to my second wife that I would never have one again. That in itself caused terrible strife for I precluded the second wife from having any control over the cash which I earned. I didn't want her pretty little head being troubled by statements, standing orders etc. Not what she had in mind at all! Needless to say that marriage faltered (in the bank) but she managed to take most of what I had with the help of the unfairly biased against men, British family judicial system, made even worse for me as she was a foreign national as well.

Make your mark in the sand and stick to it.

There is no 2-way street with Thai women. If you give, it actually means you give and you don't expect anything back. Maybe some people should look up the word altruism in the dictionary. People accept and are ok with cultural differences but I am surprised to read complaints about a culture that is totally different from ours. The lady sticks with her family and beliefs. The real man should make his mark and draw a clear line and stick to it. Many farang chicken out in a relationship before even being ready to cross this bridge in a Farang / Thai relationship.

Tragedy struck the team at Spanky's this week when one of the dancers died due to serious health problems related to massive alcohol addiction and consumption. The owner of the bar had seen the writing on the wall and sent her home to clean up. He was constantly on at her about her consumption of Thai whiskey but the poor girl just could not stop. The doctor told her, the bar manager told her and her friends told her but she wouldn't listen. May Nut rest in peace. Fortunately Nut did not pass away on the premises or the owner would have faced an exodus of girls as well as great difficulty hiring new staff, such is the fear of ghosts. Funnily enough, when one of the customers died there a few months back after suffering a heart attack, the owner told the girls that he had been rushed to hospital where he was saved. Yep, you cannot let Thai staff think someone died on the premises!

So the erections, oops, I mean the elections are behind us and with that you may have thought there would be no more bar closures any time soon, right? Wrong! It's all going to be happening again real soon. July 15th and 16th happen to be important Buddha Pattaya partydays and in previous years the sale of alcohol has been prohibited on each of these days. With this in mind, I think it's reasonable to assume that there will be a repeat performance of last year – so expect a couple more dry days this month.

Management at Apache in Soi Cowboy have seized the opportunity to do some renovations this weekend while the bar is closed and it looks like they're replacing all of the seating on the right hand side and making a few other changes. The bar should be closed no more than a few days.

A reminder that American-themed restaurants and bar & grills all over the country will be celebrating July 4th tomorrow. Down in Pattaya, Heaven Above will have a free BBQ, 50 baht drinks specials and the girls will be dollied up for the occasion. It all kicks off around 7:30 PM with the food put out a little later. And in Bangkok, Bully's has a special menu in place. I imagine the usual suspects like Bourbon Street and other popular American hang outs will have something on too.Bourbon Street Bangkok

On the subject of Bourbon Street, construction seems to be moving in slow motion at the new location at Ekamai. As can be seen in the photo here, taken earlier this week, there's much to be done before the doors open.

Sexy Night in Nana Plaza is perhaps the only bar left in the plaza with a feel of yesteryear. When a guy enters the bar he is made to feel like he is the centre of the girls' attention, as customers were in the past. There's a warmth amongst the girls and while hardly known for its beauties, Sexy Night has as good an atmosphere as you will find in any Bangkok gogo bar.

Facing stiff competition from the likes of Stumble Inn, Bar4 and Strikers, beer bars on Sukhumvit soi 4 doing a booming trade, Lucky Luke's, the once popular beer bar just inside the bottle neck entranceway leading into Nana Plaza, is fighting back with their lowest prices in years. From this past Friday, the cost of a beer dropped to 75 baht – and that's the new all day, all night price.

Friendship prevents me from reporting what is going on at an American-owned and American-managed venue on Sukhumvit. More in the next column, I hope.

Rod, the previous operator of Lolita's in Hua Hin, latterly known as Hornblowers, has decided to call it a day and has sold the lease. Some Thais have taken over and amongst the changes, they have tweaked the format so that it now features barfines and short-time rooms. Under farang ownership it was 800 baht all in for the venue's primary service, but new management they have hiked prices. Customers keen to get to know one of the service providers a little better will need to shell out a 300 baht barfine, 300 baht for the room, and 1,000 for the service provider – or precisely twice what the previous owner was charging. Locals tell me that there are still relatively inexpensive times to be had in Hua Hin if you know where to go. Back to the previous owner, Rod, he is retiring to a house in the 'burbs, and a quiet life of having F-all to do and all day to do it!

The Thai coppers have become more focused on the drink driving problem and I hear more and more reports of drink driving checkpoints, more arrests and charges laid against anyone found to be over the drink driving limit. And all of this with no chance of settling on the spot. A Thai friend of a Thai friend was caught at a checkpoint way over the limit – she was absolutely hammered from all accounts. As it happened, she had 20,000 baht cash on her at the time. After starting with a small offer, she worked her way up, eventually offering the entire amount to be shown leniency and be allowed to proceed without any charges being laid. The offer was declined! Will drink driving become as unacceptable socially in Thailand as it is in the West? Robin Hood

Bars have to apply for a license that allows them to operate until 1 AM. With that said, the coppers are generally flexible and allow many venues to stay open until 2 AM. I've had a few late nights out recently on Sukhumvit, not in the naughty bars but in my preferred drinking spots, the British pubs. I note that The Londoner and Robin Hood are turfing people out as early as 11:30 PM or midnight some nights. I had no idea some Bangkok bars close so early!

Speaking of The Londoner, it happens to be my favourite English pub in Bangkok. One of the things I like about it is the different flavour you get on different nights of the week. Wednesday night, the busiest night of the week, when it is 2 for 1 on all drinks, all night long, sees open-minded, middle class Thai birds visit, many of whom have a look of real hunger in their eyes. This past couple of Wednesdays I have watched as these Thai birds have hit on Western guys, which makes rather a change!

Over in the Philippines, there was much publicity over a raid carried out by police in the country's gogo bar capital, Angeles City. Details aren't clear – at least to us lot in Thailand – but an Irish bar baron in Angeles City profiled in the Sunday World recently seems to have been their target. There are crackdowns from time to time in Thailand but so long as venues have a good relationship with the local constabulary, are free of underage girls and keep on top of fighting, drugs or gambling, the Thai authorities have proven to be rather tolerant.

There will soon be one less option for Kiwis and Aussies looking for cheap flights to Thailand with the announcement this past week that Royal Brunei Airways will cease flying to Auckland, Brisbane and Perth from the end of October. From NZ, at least, Royal Brunei has been the cheapest option to Thailand for the past few years.

I really like the local food blog, Whatwewentthrough. The work of a Bangkok-based couple, the focus seems to be on finding high-quality food in Bangkok at reasonable prices. The reviews are straightforward and not at all pretentious, as so many food reviews seem to be. Included are some nice photos which have me eager to visit the restaurants they review. Well worth checking out if you're after ideas of new places to try.

After increasing in value markedly against the like of the US dollar and the pound Sterling, the Thai baht has been relatively stable recently. A number of long-termers, particularly retirees not confident that their Western country is going to hold up against the Thai baht long term, often talk about moving large sums of money into Thailand to hedge against any further exchange rate fluctuations. The problem with this is that interest rates in Thailand tend to be very low – and inflation is creeping up. There are, however, some relatively attractive interest rates on offer at the moment from some Thai banks. At UOB, for example, between now and August 15, the following rates are offered for Bills of Exchange: 500K baht up, 3 years, 5%. Up to 3 million baht, 15 months, 4.10%. Above 3 million baht, 15 months, 4.25%. Interest is paid monthly. There are slightly lower rates if you go for a standard fixed term deposit. The key difference between fixed term deposits and bills of exchange is that the latter is not covered by the Thailand Deposit Protection Act. More information is available on the UOB site.

The skytrain and underground might be the quickest way to get around but the mass transport systems have become so incredibly congested at peak hour that you could hardly say it's a pleasant way to travel. And things are only going to get worse when the skytrain extension comes online in mid August. What is peculiar is where the extension stops, the best partBangkok underground of a kilometre short of the Samrong Centre where there's a large shopping centre and a major intersection, which happens to be something of a transportation hub! Why didn't they run it all the way to that intersection! Anyway, I treat the skytrain and underground these days like I used to my car – I check the time of day it is before using it and evaluate all the other transport options.

(Ex-)Bargirls get a hard time in terms of their faithfulness, or lack of it, when they profess to be in a relationship. Everyone knows that being a bargirl is simply a job, a lifestyle choice in which some are ruthless at maximizing their income. Guys getting involved with bargirls in long-term relationships seem to forget, or overlook, this. Anyway, talking with a middle class Thai female friend who is awfully frank about Thailand, and especially her peers, she reckons – and she is absolutely convinced this number is accurate – that at least 30% of middle class Thai women with a boyfriend cheat on him. It's not that they cheat on the guy and sleep around, more that they have other guys who also consider her to be their girlfriend. Sort of like having a plan A and a plan B. And to make matters worse, she insists that even those with multiple sexual partners seldom use protection. The bargirls might get a bad rap, but is the mainstream population much different? She does say, however, that once a Thai woman marries then everything changes and a decent woman once married would never sleep around.

I ran a bunch of photos and thoughts about the bar industry as last week's opening piece. One of the ladies featured drew a number of comments and questions – the big lady! A few readers even asked where she can be found. While curves and a bit of meat on the bone are my personal preference, she was rather a little too well-rounded for me. But hey, there's obviously plenty of readers who keen to do their bit to develop good international relations between their homeland and Thailand. Here's another snap for the fan club!


Quote of the week comes from the editor of this column, "I like tattoos on a bargirl, but not on my girlfriend!"

Reader's story of the week comes from MJBKK and is titled, "Thailand Number 1 Na".

From The Nation newspaper, Sukhumvit Road is seeing a construction boom.

The Thai police have called in massive reinforcements to deal with irate Bangkok expats denied alcohol at election weekend.

Phuket Customs warns of foreigners who are cheating Thai ladies!

An expat called Andy took a vehicle for a test drive in Phuket….and never took it back!

A 34-year old Aussie joined the Phuket Flying Club this week.

Three young Brits are killed in a terrible bus accident in Thailand.

CNNGo highlights 5 nightspots in suburban Bangkok.

From the Asia Times, what's happening behind the scenes in the run up to Thailand's general election?

The New York Times looked at what it called Thailand's fickle democracy.

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: What are the legal consequences of working without a work permit in Thailand with current visa status not on overstay? What are the typical / maximum punishments? Has this been asked before? I guess this would be interesting for quite a few readers. I had a discussion with a few friends, and nobody knew exactly what the consequences would be.

Sunbelt Legal responds: Any foreigner who engages in work without a work permit, may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine ranging from 2,000 baht to 100,000 baht, or both. Any alien who violates the conditions of his work as described in his permit may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of up to 20,000 baht.

Any foreigner who does not have their work permit with them while working, may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of up to 10,000 baht.

An employer who permits a foreigner to work in his organisation without a work permit or to act in violation of the nature of the work specified in the permit may be fined from 10,000 baht up to 100,000 baht.

Question 2: Is it possible to enter Thailand and not have your passport stamped, and instead have another document stamped? I mean, one would still show their passport but would get a stamp on something else. I remember way back in 1987 there was this guy I met in Bangkok. We became friends and hung out together during our stay. When our trip was over we shared a taxi to the airport and went through Customs together. He was travelling on a US diplomatic passport and they didn't stamp it when he exited. He told me he didn't get a stamp upon entry as well – at his request. I didn't think too much of it at the time as I was a young single man back then, but I'm wondering now, just in case I want to sneak a trip there soon and not have a record of it in my passport!

Sunbelt Legal responds: I think you will find it highly unlikely that a Thai Immigration officer would not stamp a regular passport.

Question 3: I am considering opening an after hours street bar on Sukhumvit Road. My Thai girlfriend would run it. I don't know how to find out information about doing this i.e. set up costs, monthly rent, police "tax" etc. I know these bars are not strictly legal (but then again nothing in the flesh trade is). I have some information from my girlfriend who works in one of these street bars. She knows a guy who will rent us space for about 30K baht a month. But she has no other connections and I am hoping to find out more information before making a decision. She reckons the operating costs to be about 50K baht per month for all overheads. Can you help point me in the right direction?

Sunbelt Legal responds: After hours street bars are essentially illegal. I am afraid Sunbelt Asia can't offer you any real advice on this except be very wary of engaging in illegal activities as you could be arrested, fined, deported and possibly blacklisted. 99% of these deals off the books never ever end well for the foreign partner. Maybe this is "different" but odds are high it is not.

Farang

Bangkok is a social sort of place and the quiet lifestyle many lead in the West which seems to surround what's on TV is one few of us lead here in the City of Angels. Many of us have an active social life and not a lot of free time. It's flattering to receive invitations from readers who enjoy the column to meet for drinks, dinner or a night out. I do however regret that I am not often able to accept these invitations. First of all, my life is pretty busy and I don't have a lot of free time. Second, I have a lot of friends in Bangkok who I sometimes struggle to find time to meet up with. Finally, the idea for many is that a night out with Stickman would be a wild night of beers and boobs! I hate to break it to you but that's really not me. While I enjoy meeting up with the friends I have already made via this site when they are passing through, I am sorry that I seldom accept invitations these days. That said, if you're out and about in the venues I like to hang out in you might come across me.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick