Stickman's Weekly Column September 18th, 2011

Marriage, Thai Style

The divorce rate in Thailand is reported to have doubled since the late '90s, but at 20% it remains significantly lower than it is in most Western countries. When it comes to married couples staying together, and presumably marital happiness, the
Thais seem to be doing something right.

But throw a foreigner into the mix and everything changes. There aren't any comprehensive surveys on the divorce rate in marriages between Western men and Thai women. My observations suggest that, irrespective of where they live, how they met and
what their respective backgrounds are, that the divorce rate between Western men married to Thai women would be on a par with, or perhaps even exceed that of the highest divorce rates in the West i.e. 50%+.

The norms of dating in Thailand are somewhat different to the West. At least they used to be because dating, relationships, love and sex in Thailand are going through a period of rapid, dramatic change.

Traditionally, a young, single Thai maiden would not go out on a date alone. For perhaps the first few months family members would accompany her as chaperones. They were there to make sure there was no inappropriate physical contact
and to make sure that the guy she was dating was suitable. Some young Thai women weren't allowed to spend any time alone with a young man. It isn't that long since young Thai women would only date a guy she considered
marriage material.

Things started to change post Vietnam War. Change was gradual, but picked up steam in the 90s and positively accelerated early this Millennium as income levels increased, Internet usage became more widespread and urban Thais adopted more and more aspects
from foreign cultures.

At the end of the Vietnam War, Thailand was socially conservative, ultra conservative. Unmarried women typically wore ankle-length dresses most of the time and there was no physical contact whatsoever with a young man. Of course some couples were rolling around down the back of the farm behind the buffaloes, or sweating it out in short-time hotel rooms, but this was frowned upon, not just by parents and elders, but by their peers and society in general. It just wasn't Thai!

Dating in Thailand was once a very deliberate and structured process for two youngsters to get to know each other, and to determine if the person they were dating was suitable to spend the rest of their life with. It was not long before marriage was discussed
and couples married young. There was no chivalrous proposal with him getting down on one knee, but a discussion with the lady about the future, of what he, the provider, planned work-wise and how he would provide in the future. Given that
traditionally many women remained at home and it was the man who brought home the bacon, a man's plan for the future was a major factor in her decision.

The respective families of the couple to be would meet formally to discuss the couple's future. Each family would look closely at each other, evaluating what the other brought to the table.

Throughout the whole dating ritual he might not lay so much as a finger on her. A woman's virginity was valued and just as she was expected to be a virgin, a man who took it was expected to marry her. Failure to do so could
result in serious consequences. Even today in some rural areas and / or with more traditional families, a young man who takes a lady's virginity might face pressure to make an honest woman of her. And if she were to fall pregnant,
the pressure could be immense.

Of course she may not have had her first intimate experience before marriage. Thai oldies tell us how in their day a good Thai woman would wait until her wedding night but the odd older Thais reveals that that was not always the

Part of the agreement to marry included the negotiation of sin sot (dowry / bride price), a dated custom that had its place but which I believe is totally out of place this century and at odds with modern Thai cultural norms.

When the culture of relationships and love in Thailand resembled what is still mistakenly and unfortunately perpetuated in many Thailand travel guidebooks and culture guides, the sin sot might have had its place. Back then the
sin sot was as much a "guarantee" as anything. If the man left the woman after marriage, she would often be spurned by society and seen as a bad wife. No man would want her as she would be seen as being used and soiled. Unlike today, men performed most jobs, and women looked after the household so without any income she would not be able to look after herself. Even today, many Thai men abhor the idea of marrying a woman who was previously
married or who already has children. So if the man left her, the sin sot provided means for her to have a future.

If the opposite was to happen – and from all accounts such was not at all common – and she cheated on him, the sin sot was supposed to be returned.

In modern day Thailand where marriage is not necessarily seen as a life-long commitment, the original arguments for the sin sot are no longer valid. Unfortunately the sin sot has become distorted and is today seen as
a means of gaining face for the bride and her family with outrageous amounts sought – irrespective of the nationality of the groom. Every Thai man still expects and accepts that a sin sot must be paid.

So in summary, in traditional Thailand, a young couple would have chaperoned dates, there would be no intimacy before marriage, there'd be a meeting of the families before marriage with frank discussion about future plans
and at the time of marriage a sin sot would be paid.

As traditionalists and Thailand society in general struggle to come to grips with the rapid changes in the local culture of dating, love and sex, a young Thai couple might not be chaperoned, nor even supervised. You can be sure that young women dating
young men are monitored by their family, especially if they live at home and / or are dating their first boyfriend.

Thailand still has a relatively low divorce rate, so why is it that so many Western men fail to find happiness in marriage to a Thai woman and why do, in my observations, many marriages between Western men and Thai women go bad?

There are a number of reasons why marriage between Western men and Thai women may not work out. Often the couple got married quickly, before they each had a chance to really know each other. Plans for the future are often not discussed with each person holding their own ideas about what the future. In some cases the payment of sin sot and other riches may have been her primary objective and once it was paid there was no reason for her to stick around.

If the couple had gone about dating in a more traditional Thai style there's a chance it might have worked out – or they may have worked out they were just not compatible before they committed to each other.

Chaperoned dating is not common when a foreigner dates a Thai woman today. Many westerners are uncomfortable with the idea. A lot of Thai women have dated just one foreign guy – and it went so badly that they will never date another. Invariably he just wanted to bed her, and once he managed that he was gone. Chaperoned dating may have helped.

Even today, physical contact between a young Thai guy and girl means that marriage will follow, especially if he is her first. Every Thai man knows this, even if he may not respect it. A foreigner involved with a Thai woman who introduces her to the world of intimacy should expect similar.

Today Thai couples take their time to get to know each other. Rural Thais may date for several years before marriage. This gives them to get beyond the promotion period and really get to know their partner, their friends, find out about their work life, their habits and their family. It takes time.

When getting involved with a foreigner, things seem to go fast and many western men marry a woman they have spent little time with and who they really do not know. It is a sucker who marries before all the data is in.

When things get serious and marriage between a Western guy and Thai woman is discussed, the formal meeting with the family is often omitted. Big mistake! There's no reason why an older, respectable Thai known to the foreign guy cannot be engaged to attend the formal meeting with the family of the bride-to-be and represent him. The best families may even insist on it. Given that most foreigners are not that familiar with Thai culture – and as such the lady's and her family's expectations – what follows might be a surprise – never a good thing in marriage!

When it comes to sin sot, which needs to be talked about openly and honestly, often the message is that the foreign man must pay xxx,xxx baht – way over the odds. For him, there may be little or no understanding of the significance of this payment, what it represents and what will happen to the money. Failure to get a respected Thai involved is potentially asking for trouble.

Thais are pragmatic when it comes to marriage and it's no secret that some families from difficult – read poor – backgrounds whose daughter presents a white man to them may get excited at the perceived benefits he brings. Failure to look after himself physically, hygiene issues, lack of familiarity with and failure to adhere to local customs, to say nothing of being twice the daughter's age can all be overlooked. In some cases it is understood from the outset that this is a marriage of convenience that will not last – the pay off makes it worthwhile. In the past it would be considered shameful for a Thai woman to knowingly marry a foreigner with the intention of later divorcing him for financial gain, changes in attitude have been so great that it may not just be overlooked, but admired by some, looked at as a legitimate way to get ahead.

When a foreigner enters the equation, traditions can take a backseat.

The approach of Thais to dating pre-marriage might be conservative, but it seems to work. There's a decent argument that adopting some of the principles Thais follow might increase the odds of a foreigner finding marital bliss with a Thai lady.

The notion of chaperoned dating can be awkward for Westerners, but it's hardly the ordeal it once was. Typically no more than one date will be accompanied. Use it to your advantage and be sure that your trusted friends meet your darling long before you even start to discuss the idea of marriage with her!

As with modern Thai couples, in Bangkok at least, there needn't be any great rush. Date for at least a couple of years before even thinking about marriage.

The pre-engagement discussion *is* important and should not be avoided. Take along a senior, respectable Thai you trust. Don't let your first meeting with your in-laws take place on the day of the wedding ceremony!

And when it comes to the sin sot, don't be afraid to point out that it is a dated ritual with little relevance and in many ways has no place today.

When considering marriage with a Thai woman, I believe that doing most things the Thai way can help your chances of finding happiness. Reluctance on the part of your Thai darling to do things as a Thai couple typically would should be looked at with skepticism, even suspicion.

Perhaps the biggest problem foreign guys considering marriage with a Thai lady face is that as soon as they meet their first Thai femme fatale they forget everything they have been told or have read. Commonsense disappears. Sometimes with Western men in Thailand it's just hopeless!

*When* was this photo taken?


Last week's photo of Soi Cowboy was taken in 2005. Only one clever
reader got it right and unfortunately he couldn't claim the prize so this week the prizes double up and there are two Duke's Express vouchers to be won. Instead of identifying the location of the photo as the contest used to
be, you must say WHEN this photo was taken. This week's was taken from the platform of the Siam BTS station looking north – but when?! All you have to do is tell me the year the photo was taken.
The first person to email me with the correct year wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the fish and chips restaurant. The second person 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 danger of purchasing porn in Bangkok.

I have just spent 3 weeks in Thailand and had 2 days in Bangkok on my way home. I bought a couple of blue movies on Sukhumvit Road. They are perfectly legal here in Australia and were for my own personal use to watch with my girlfriend. Imagine my horror on playing them that they are child pornography of the worst kind with kids that look about 5 years old! I shudder to think what would have happened if I had been stopped by Customs and they had reviewed them! I would have been arrested, tried, probably found guilty and a jail term would have been inevitable. I would have lost my job, friends and been put on a sex offenders register for the rest of my life! Please warn your readers of this problem that could ruin your life!

The Apex Hotel restaurant, a barometer of Pattaya.

Just an observation being here in Pattaya, but I think a sign that long time is becoming a thing of the past is when you eat at the Apex Hotel breakfast buffet nowadays and you hardly see any guys parading their trophy barfines from the night before in the dining room.

Child beggars.

What is so unpalatable about Thailand is all the small kids and even babies out at all hours in soi 4 begging. In some places the begging is so bad it's a menace! I don't mind giving money but some of these young kids are learning that farang are walking ATM machines. Thai freedom seems to mean children count for nothing which is a shame as they are the future. I mean where are the social services? Do they not exist in Thailand?

Pricey Phuket.

Having been to Bangkok and Pattaya many times over the past 10 years, I decided that as I had not been to Phuket for 4 years, a visit this month would be a refreshing change. It always was more "commercial" for me than Pattaya, but also seemed more tourist friendly the last time I was there, and as I walked along Soi Bangla I looked up a side soi which seemed lively for only 8 PM that evening so my lady and I wandered up and looked inside a busy but shabby looking bar. As everywhere else was still quiet we decided we would have one drink there. We sat inside and ordered one beer and one Bacardi Breezer. Drinks arrived and after a few minutes our bill…for 2,000 baht! I argued and asked to see the manager. "No manager, you not pay I have to pay myself", the bar staff shrieked! After 5 minutes of refusal and even offering 1,000 just to get out it became clear the heavies at the door were taking an interest so I paid up and left. The first time I have been duped in over 10 years and I had long given up asking the price of drinks before buying but from then on you can be sure I asked in every bar. Amazingly the bar was really busy, full of Japanese who were seemingly happy to pay. The promise of "show soon" was obviously enough to make them feel 1,000 baht per drink was ok! The bar was Moulin Rouge. Readers beware if you are in Soi Bangla. I saw enough of Phuket to convince me I would not return. That's one more venue off the list and maybe one more reason why my visits to Thailand are becoming fewer each year.

mens clinic bangkok

Massage recommendations?

I enjoyed the informative and entertaining interview with the manager of EZ Massage
. I was interested in her comments on the girls' problem of just how to do the balls massage! Fascinating how something which on the face of it would seem so easy in fact has difficulties! Anyway, I agree that sometimes in places which
offer this service, the staff who offer it don't actually know how to do it and sometimes can barely do it at all! Make a bit of a balls-up of it, in fact! Which is a pity as the customer has paid a premium price for something advertised
on the menu and which should be a nice experience. The places I know who offer this up front on their printed menu are Naree Massage in Soi Nana and Teen Dream Massage in Pattaya. I wonder, if readers can suggest other venues which offer this
kind of thing and where a satisfactory experience has resulted?

Do you ever leave Soi Bangla (or Soi Nana)?

Back home it was all so simple, there were good girls and naughty girls, but if you were after something different – bad girls – you really had to go out and look for them. Put another way, in restaurants the waitresses weren't exactly offering themselves
as the dessert. Here in Thailand the lines are so blurred and cloudy sometimes, you could be in a thick pea soup fog. I spent my misspent youth in discos and nightclubs, but in all the years I frequented them, it was unheard of that you would
be requested to pay for services rendered. This week I went to an official party, no strings attached. On the face of it everything should have been kosher and above board, but as the evening wore on and I started to study form, there were
those unmistakable signals breaking through that could no longer be camouflaged. To the degree that I felt I was back in Soi Bangla.

Khao San Road taxi.

wonderland clinic

A downfall of Khao San Road is the taxi and tuktuk drivers who try to weasel you into going somewhere for an inflated price. I always try to get a taxi driving around on the road rather than from an annoying tout who is waiting for a gullible white guy. Late in the night, I decided to head back home as I was drunk enough and hadn't found a lady that tickled my fancy. I waved down a taxi. He stopped and opened his front passenger window. I peeked in and spoke in clear Thai using the word "krup" at the end for politeness. He responded in Thai "bpai, bpai" (meaning he would go). I opened the back door and clarified exactly where my place was. He nodded his head again and I climbed in and shut the door. He began to pull away and then said see-roy baht (400 baht). As this is normally an 80-baht taxi ride, I was disgusted. Being drunk, slightly wet from the drizzle, and going home alone it hit me in the wrong spot and pissed me off. Without a word and with the taxi still moving I opened the door and stepped out. The first foot hit the ground and the driver put the brakes on and came to a stop, but I was already out. A combination of being a little ticked off and a bit off balance I slammed the door shut. I began to walk toward the next taxi around, but could feel a presence behind me. The driver had gotten out and was coming toward me with clenched fists. He threw a couple of fake punches, but held back. I put my precious Subway sandwich on the trunk of the car beside me, ready to protect myself if need be. The driver was shorter and much older than me and I could have taken him if I wanted to. But this is Thailand so I probably would have had 10 more gang-beating me in no time. So instead I began to apologize and tell the guy to jai-yen-yen (cool down). He yelled at me and told me to close his door lightly, feigned a couple more fake punches before returning to his cab. I still feel I had more right to be pissed off at him for trying to rip me off and making me get in and out of his cab in the drizzle. I won't give these cons the time of day to argue with me anymore. I don't like to bargain at the best of times and especially not for a taxi ride so anyone who even tries to rip me off gets the silent treatment and loses a customer almost instantly.

Officially it's being promoted as Fight Night, but unofficially it has been nicknamed the Clangers in Bangers. A bunch of local personalities are getting into the ring to slug it out for money with the proceeds going to charity. Among the fighters participating will be Colin (Raging Bull) Hastings, publisher of The Big Chilli Magazine who will be taking on popular expat fiction author and Vietnam vet, Dean (The Wolfman) Barrett. I am all for good causes and admire those keen to put their body on the line for charity, but is this a bit of a stretch? Dean Barrett is one of the nicest guys around and as a former soldier who served during Vietnam, no doubt he is capable of looking after himself. But Dean is no spring chicken, and while he doesn't look it, he is almost, or may already be, a septuagenarian. Hardly the age at which you expect to be getting in the ring! The event is organised by Operation Smile Foundation (Thailand) & Dusit Thani Bangkok and Fight Night promises to be a fun and entertaining evening at the Dusit Thani Hotel. It will take place on Tuesday, October 18, and allFight Night Bangkok proceeds will go to Operation Smile Foundation (Thailand). Tickets are priced at 2,800 baht per person or 25,000 baht for a table. You can get your tickets by calling 082-444-7577 or emailing
Operation Smile Foundation (Thailand) is a not-for-profit, charitable, volunteer, medical services organisation. In addition to providing reconstructive surgery to indigent children and young adults born with cleft lips and cleft palates and cranial-facial
deformities, they also provide education and training to health care professionals to achieve long-term self sufficiency.

A Bangkok institution, at least for those who spend their nights on Sukhumvit, is no longer. The Penthouse Hotel, one of the best-known short-time hotels in the lower Suhkumvit area, has been razed and where it once stood proudly is now a construction
site. The Penthouse Hotel had been around forever and its heart-shaped beds and wall to wall mirrors amongst other novel features gave it a flavour that modern short-time rooms, which often resemble a shoebox, just can't compete with. For
the naughty boys, the nearby, equally popular PB Hotel is still going strong. Important note: this establishment has no relationship with the Penthouse Hotel in Pattaya which is open for
business as usual.

Inflation is running riot in a certain Cowboy gogo where the mamasans have told the dancers to quote lofty prices. The Japanese get the worst deal, quoted a standard 3,000 for an hour of the girl's time whereas the white man is told it will set him
back 2,000. For an overnight stay our Japanese friends are requested to cough up 6,000 baht whereas with whitey the negotiations start at 5,000. Most girls will go down to 3,000, or is that go down for 3,000?! You could be forgiven
for thinking I am talking about Bacarra, but I'm not. And neither is it Tilac, or Shark. So which bar is it?

The Pickled Liver is the newest Bangkok bar to open its doors for business with a grand opening night to follow a few weeks later, a common enough Bangkok bar practice that I have never really understood. The grand opening will take place
on September 30.

A few weeks back I asked readers if anyone knew what had happened to William, the jovial Brit who operated as a greeter outside a venue in Patpong soi 2 which was part of a block that was levelled a few months back. I can confirm that William is still
around and has been spotted doing his thing outside Queen's Castle on Patpong 1.

Popular Swedish bar manager and greeter, Jonas, who was a fixture at the original Big Mango in Nana Plaza has rejoined the team and can be found at the new Big Mango in the sub soi off soi 4, welcoming customers. The Big Mango will hold their monthly party next Saturday, September 24, where they give away the usual food and sell Heineken pints for peanuts, around 50 baht if I remember right.

The Strip, next door to Bar Bar and towards the Silom end of Patpong soi 2, will hold a party next Friday and Saturday, 23rd and 24th September. Called the shake your ass weekend, invited DJs will be there to mix theThe Strip music.

Owners of naughty bars often compare their venue to rival venues – none of which match up, of course! What is funny is the way some owners put the knife into other bar owners, especially amusing given that this lot often socialise together. "That guy has girls from Laos in his bar!"
Have you seen the dogs he has behind the bar?" "Australians don't know how to make meat pies!" That sort of thing. I used to think this was a naughty bar boss thing, but the backstabbing amongst expat pub
owners i.e. bars where the staff are not available is MUCH worse than what you hear in the naughty bar industry. It's all quite funny really.

I've reported over the past year or two the changing mix of foreign visitors to Thailand and how the once farang-dominated nightlife areas are now much more cosmopolitan. And it is not just the nightlife areas where customers are diversifying, but
online too. A mate who runs one of the most popular Thailand dating sites tells me of the massive increase in Iraqi and Saudi males signing up, as well as other Middle Easterners.

Want a prediction for the next step in the crackdown on those residing in Thailand long term on various visas, usually back to back tourist visas? I am surprised that the authorities have not yet implemented a limit on how much time can be spent in the country on such visas over a 12-month period. The easy thing to do would be to set a policy where no-one can stay in the country for more than 6 months in a calendar year / 12-month period on tourist visas. Of course one could argue that those remaining in the country on such visas bring money into the country – which is true.

The sign outside the Bangkok Bank branch on Sukhumvit Road near soi 8 states that it is the Bangkapi branch – but that doesn't really make sense. Bangkapi is a long way away, perhaps 10 miles or so, way up north of Ramkhamhaeng. How did it become the Bangkapi branch?Clubhouse Bangkok

If you're looking for decent wine at a reasonable price in a bar in Bangkok, good luck! Probably the best deal I know of can be found at The Londoner with their Thursday night special of 2 glasses of wine for the price of 1. It's still not cheap with glasses of drinkable wine priced at 250+ baht. The 2 for 1 special applies to glasses of wine only, not bottles. Another venue offering specials on wine is The Clubhouse on Sukhumvit soi 23 where it's 20% off all wines, both glasses and bottles, on Wednesday

Want to get away from the thousands of farang invading Thailand and setting up a new home? Looking for the real Thailand? Obviously you won't find it in any of the areas popular with tourists and neither will you find it in much of Isaan, a region being flooded by foreign men who have found themselves a Thai bride. So if you want to settle in Thailand, but are keen to avoid your fellow countrymen, you could head to Lampang and pay ace Stickman submission writer Sawadee2000 a visit or….you could go to the south. With the exception of the popular beaches and islands, there aren't that many white guys in the south. It might just be what you're looking for. Relatively few Western men marry southern women, something I find curious given that southern women are attractive and don't seem to have the same family problems as their sisters from the north and northeast.

I frequently receive email from guys in a troubled relationship with a Thai woman. Often the guy says that he plans to leave her in the future. If you have finally made the decision to leave, then leave. Why wait? Life is short! It seems to me that when things go bad – and I mean seriously bad – seldom do they improve. If you have already made the decision to leave her and get out of the relationship then don't muck around, just do it. Grow some balls!


Quote of the week comes from an American resident in another part of South-East Asia, "Long ago, friends thought I was INSANE for living outside the USA but I don't get that much anymore."

Reader's story of the week is the interesting perspective of a Bangkok-based western female.

Thailand comes a very respectable 4th in a world travel survey of the best countries
to visit.

A former US serviceman is arrested after sending threatening emails from Thailand.

3 entrepreneurial Brits are arrested in Korat for operating a live sex operation online that netted them 100,000
baht a day.

The Washington Times looks at Chuwit, the Thai MP who is a former massage parlour owner
and now exposing corruption.

Two Australian sport stars were held in custody
after assaulting a Thai policeman!

The Wall Street Journal comments on Thailand's internet traffic worries.

From the South China Morning Post, a sophisticated prostitution syndicate
involving Thais is busted in Hong Kong.

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. Their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department
directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1: I am currently living in the UK (am a British national) and am in a strong, 13-month relationship with a Thai woman my age. She is not a bargirl nor ever has been,
and holds a steady job in a travel office. Having been back to Thailand to see her a couple of times now, we feel it's time to apply for a tourist visa for her to visit the UK. My concern is how much money I would need in my bank account
for the visa to be granted. I understand that as her main sponsor, the visa people will look at my salary and bank accounts. I do not earn much and currently do not hold much in the form of savings, but I live comfortably and of course I know
I can support her when she is here. I just worry that perhaps UK / Thai love is only possible for the rich!

Sunbelt Legal responds:

Immigration in most countries does not look solely at the sponsor's income but also the applicant's history. They will need to show they have compelling reasons to return home such as a owning a house, property or car, having a regular full-time job and having their own savings in the bank. If the applicant has travelled abroad in the past and can show a pattern of returning home, this is also helpful.

Question 2: This may not be precisely Sunbelt's specialty, but Stick has run emails from expats who have had their Thai bank accounts cleaned out through counterfeit ATM cards. Based on anecdotal reports, there seems to be no recourse even if the bank didn't take reasonable measures to prevent the theft. Since it's a requirement of residency to have a large sum of cash in a Thai bank, what's the safest thing for an expat to do? And what would you do if the bank loses your money?

Sunbelt Legal responds: If you are worried about ATM theft then it is best to open a savings account without an ATM card and use that
account either through walk in service with the passbook or online and link it to another account which does have an ATM card. In the case of actual bank fraud, if you can prove the bank made an error then you can make claims. If the bank refuses
to accept liability then you would need to take it to Court.

Question 3: If a US citizen moves to Thailand with his wife, and he is retired, does not plan to work in Thailand, and just live on his pension and social security, does he have to pay taxes in the US, or in Thailand?

Sunbelt Legal responds:

A US citizen must pay taxes on any amount over the current exemption on foreign-earned income, which is set at 92,900 US dollars for the year 2011. That is, if you make more than $92,900 outside of the USA in 2011, you must pay taxes in the United States. Also be aware that you must declare all bank accounts if the sum of your deposits totals more $10,000 US to the US government. The form is in the income tax package that you receive every year or is downloadable from the internet. The form is called the FBAR- Form TD F 90-22.1


What else can I say about Bangkok this week? Two Thai words describe it, words that even many casual visitors know, fon dok! Rain, rain, rain! We seem to be experiencing the most relentless rainy season I can remember, which no doubt will continue for the next 6 or 7 weeks, into early November. It might ease off in the north before then, but in Bangkok the rainy season usually sticks around until the start of November.

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza