Stickman's Weekly Column October 30th, 2011

Great Quotes Or Overused Clich�s?

There are a number of oft-mentioned quotes, sayings and clichés frequently uttered in Bangkok that you might not hear elsewhere. While clichés can become old and, well, clichéd, there is often truth in them, and there is no shame listening to the words of those who have already worked down the path you now find yourself on.

What follows are some of my favourite Bangkok quotes along with a few thoughts on how they apply to life here, and to me.

"Only invest as much in Thailand as you're willing to walk away from."

– conventional wisdom amongst expats in Thailand

There are unlimited ways to lose your shirt in Thailand and sadly many Westerners have lost it all. It doesn't matter whether you are employed, run a business, are married, have kids or own land / other assets. Even with tourists there is no guarantee that your assets are safe, or even that your stay in Thailand is permanent.

As far as remaining in the country (and as such retaining control, or even having access to your assets) goes, there have been cases of foreign nationals granted Thai citizenship who later had it revoked and were subsequently
expelled from the country, which clearly demonstrates that an outsider really will never be accepted as Thai.

Disputes with business partners, locals, relationships gone pear-shaped or even troubles with other foreigners in Thailand have the propensity to get ugly and can take a course they never would in your homeland. Merely voicing disapproval, even when it is absolutely justified, can see a simple disagreement escalate into a very awkward and difficult situation. And in a worse case scenario you just might have to flee.

Or as it rather too common than it ought to be, you might find that documents you signed in the local language weren't quite what you thought they were, or didn't give you the rights you thought you had. Your beer bar is actually hers, or the car is really in her name, not yours. Even if lawyers were involved setting things up and counsel sought, sometimes they aren't set up as you expected, and what was once yours is gone!

Even the most prudent and careful have come unstuck. Perhaps the regulations weren't explained to them. Perhaps they misunderstood, or perhaps they were the victim of a crime that will take years in the courts to sort out. In Thailand there are no guarantees and any assets in Thailand can be taken away with very little in the way of appeal or redress. I live by this quote and have few assets in the country. I've seen too many come unstuck to operate any other way.

"If you don't act quickly, small problems become big problems."

The Actuary

In Thailand you should expect the unexpected and long-term residents face difficulties, challenges or problems at some time. Most problems can be solved easily, and the sooner you deal with them, the easier and less costly it will be. In so many cases simply apologising quickly and showing contrition is all that is needed.

A not uncommon example is the person who foolishly remains in the country beyond the expiry date of their visa or their permission to stay. Every day for 40 days the fine for overstaying increases by 500 baht until it reaches 20,000 baht. At that point the Immigration department may view it more dimly and consider not just an on the spot fine, but possibly arrest, criminal charges and prosecution. A small problem has become a big problem unnecessarily.

In personal disputes, accidents or when things happen in the heat of the moment, the Thai way of resolving things where the perpetrator is willing to acknowledge that they were in the wrong sees that person contact the aggrieved party and apologise, and offer to make amends. This typically happens soon after the dispute, perhaps the morning after and the person making the apology is often accompanied by senior family members or other respected Thais who talk positively of that person's character and help to mediate and diffuse the situation. Once amends have been agreed upon, there is every chance that the dispute will be resolved and all parties in agreement that no ill-feelings remain and everyone can get on with their lives.

It's not a quote you hear often, but was said to me recently by a trusted mate. I truly believe you shouldn't allow problems to fester and any issues should be resolved as soon as practicable.

"Marry a Thai and you marry the family."

– thousands of Western men

Hardly specific to Thailand, this is frequently heard when a Western guy marries a bird from a developing country. Be it Kenya, Samoa, Cambodia, Thailand or any less developed country, there's every chance that a foreigner marrying a local will hear it.

The meaning is often negative, even somewhat derogatory, the implication being that when you marry her you will have to support not only her, but her family too. It's implied that the family will forever have their hands out and will be a burden.

There is some truth in the saying insomuch that when you marry her, you get the family for free. But my observations suggest that the negative connotations are reality only when you marry the wrong type of woman. Marry the right sort and the very opposite may be true.

Take the time to choose wisely and you are unlikely to have any issues with family. Guys who marry into decent – and not necessarily wealthy – families may find they are given a house or condo as a wedding present! The family wants their marriage to be a success and does what they can to help out!

Thai families are generally closer than Western families and there is much truth in this saying. The phrase is overused in a negative context and there are many positives in marrying into a good family, such as genuine support if you have any difficulties. But for sure, if you like your privacy and the idea of interference or meddling by members of her family bothers you, choose carefully or alternatively, search for an orphan!


– Bernard Trink

Short for "This is Thailand", this Trinkism – a phrase coined and frequently used by former Bangkok Post nightlife columnist, Bernard Trink – is often used in both conversation and on online forums by expats in Thailand.

Sometimes the behaviour of locals, the way they look at things or even just the way they go about their everyday life can be very different to what we might expect in Farangland. That's just the way it is and unless it concerns an issue of danger or extreme recklessness, it's usually best not to comment or get involved. Just remind yourself that this is Thailand!

One of the great things about Thailand, or at least one of the aspects of life here that I enjoy, is that you never can be sure what will happen next. Life isn't boring! Smile to yourself, and worry about those things which are within your control, and not those things that you have no control over! TIT!

Titanium Bangkok

"Only send your kids to school in Thailand if you hate them!"

a Stickman reader

Teaching is a highly respected profession in Thailand and teachers earn automatic respect simply by nature of their position. Education is valued in Thailand with parents, particularly those with money and those in Bangkok and other urban areas placing much importance on getting the best possible education for their kids. As such, you'd think that the quality of education in Thailand would be very good, but sadly this isn't necessarily the case. Thai students consistently compare poorly with students from other countries.

A top quality education can be had in Thailand if you have the money to send your child to one of the best international schools, the likes of Bangkok Pattana or ISB. Figure it will cost at least 10 million baht for their schooling, and likely more with fees creeping up each year.

Government run schools – the vast majority of schools – are a different story and while many teachers are dedicated and truly care about and do the best they possibly can for their students, this is often offset by factors such as high class numbers, teachers who follow their own agenda and teachers who may not even be proficient in the subject they teach, all of which results in a mediocre standard of instruction.

Teaching techniques often use rote memorisation with little or no importance placed on applying the knowledge learned to real life situation, or even the ability to think. Creative thinking and problem solving don't seem to be part of the curriculum.

I don't plan to have kids but if the unthinkable happened, I'd be out of here!

"You can take the girl out of the bar, but you can't take the bar out of the girl."

– known by most men who have spent time in the naughty bars

Many Western men who settle in Thailand are single, as are many regular visitors to the country. And with Thai women so attractive physically and so much more feminine than their Western sisters, local women find Western men showing interest in them. A lot of Western men become fond of a lady they met who worked in the bar industry. With these women being so easy to meet, and some of them sweet and willing to treat a man well, these men fall for them and a relationship may develop, notwithstanding that they would never entertain the idea in their own country of dating a woman who is, without wanting to be cruel, a sex worker.

As the relationship develops, the guy pushes away any thought from his mind that his darling is a sex worker. He once paid her a nightly fee, and now he pays her a weekly or monthly allowance. While she may be exclusive to him, he is still paying her. The bottom line with bargirls has always been very simple: pay them and they will say what you want and do what you want. Stop paying them and they will move on to the next customer. They're in business and anyone in business is happy to provide a service when paid for it, but withdraw it when they're no longer paid for it. Rocket science it isn't! Some seem to forget, or perhaps foolishly believe it is not politically correct to say that that paying a woman to be your girlfriend is, in fact, not normal. Don't think that she left the industry. She has simply moved from one place of work to another – from a bar where her duties are obvious, to your condo, house, or maybe even your country where it is slightly less obvious but the same principle still applies: she expects to be paid and she will say what you want to hear and do what you want her to do, so long as she is being paid. The day you stop paying is the day she stops playing.

It's a simple principle and despite being widely known, so many fail to take it on board.

Bangkok gogo bar

"She is different!"

– thousands of Western men

In the days when the vast majority of Western men involved with a Thai woman were involved with someone who had once worked in the bar industry, the line "she is different" was frequently used after a tale of woe had been told. The speaker wanted the listener to believe that their lady friend didn't conform to the stereotype.

The stories are almost always the same. Perhaps her phone was turned off for a week and she was unavailable. Perhaps the brother she lives with and whom she shares a bed has not a single physical resemblance with her. Or perhaps she is still working in the bar simply because she likes to dance and listen to the music!

The phrase "she is different" is a desperate plea for help and everyone but the person telling the story can see that the she is bad news. If you find yourself saying these words, it's time to move on… Very few are different!

Thai beauty

"In Thailand you don't lose the girl, only your place in the queue."

– many hardcore whoremongers

Uttered by guys who use the services of ladies of the night, these words are said when someone is keen on a lady but she is entertaining another guy. It is understood by all that she is a money girl and just a little patience, usually no more than 24 hours is necessary, and returning the next night means that she can be all yours!

In Thailand this is oh so true!

"No woman will ever love you like your mother."

Pattaya bargirl, around 10 years ago

So there I was, sitting at a beer bar on Pattaya's Second Road late at night in the middle of the hot season some 10 or more years ago, telling an older bar bird who really was old enough to be my mother about the problems I was having with my girlfriend who was back in Bangkok.

I had made all of the classic mistakes, and treated this girl too well – at the expense of myself. I had been so good to her that I had neglected myself, a common enough mistake, I guess.

It might be noble and chivalrous to treat a woman incredibly well, but when our efforts aren't reciprocated, or when they aren't appreciated, or when we are just plain treated poorly in return, it's not a signal to try harder, but to back off.

When I consider how we treat a girlfriend compared to how we treat our mother, sometimes things don't add up. A woman who expects to be treated like a princess without treating us similarly is just asking too much. Save your love for a woman who deserves it.

*When* was this photo taken?

World Trade Centre Bangkok

Last week's photo of Central World was taken in 2008. So when was the
photo above taken?! It is the same place as last week's photo, back when what is known today as Central World was called the World Trade Centre. 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.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

He Clinic Bangkok

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 – Dog eat dog, or farang eat farang?

"Play the white man" is an old English expression no doubt rarely used in these days of political correctness, but its meaning of decency and trustworthiness seems rather apt when running into one's own fellow countrymen, and considering doing business with them. In theory the round, blue-eyed, blonde, pale-skinned farangs should be trusted at a stone's throw in comparison with the local indigenous people. But from my experience I'd far rather give my business to the Thais any day of the week, than give a moment's consideration of doing business with my fellow expatriates. Know thy enemy, don't be drawn into a false sense of security because it's your fellow brethren. I have never run across so many rip off artistes as I have in Thailand, and these are my own kith and kin. They'll take you to cleaners and back again, then hang you out to dry. Dog eat dog, or farang eat farang.

CBD bangkok

The damage done.

I had to write right away after reading your column this morning. I have spent many hours on TLL and have to deal with so many nice ladies who were taken advantage of expats who had only one thing on their mind. So many are shattered and begin their profile that they don't want to be a sex toy and just tossed aside. They are very wary and it takes a long time to establish trust. It is really sad. I am looking for a long-term partner / wife and although I haven't found one yet, these expat assholes are making it very difficult and I'm ashamed to be called a farang and put in the same trash bag that these guys have created. Word circulates quickly on the web and these guys are making it much more difficult for an honest man and honest woman to connect. This kind of thing has been going on for years under different venues in Thailand but this time its negative impact is so much larger. There are still Thai ladies with scams of their own but not to the degree of personal hurt / humiliation these guys bring to the game. It truly sucks.

Pay and play, or beware!

Your report this week again highlights the so-called conflict of good girls, bargirls, sex tourists and just regular guys. I will be the first to admit that I was originally a sex tourist over 10 visits over as many years and for the one and only purpose of hitting Nana and Soi Cowboy. But during those times I also visited many other places and had many other relationships. Now after 27 years of visiting and 2 years of living here I can say in all truth and honesty that there is really no difference between the bargirls and the so-called good girls. Except for one fact. The bargirls will say goodbye and in most cases leave you alone. Take a good girl out for dinner and then later get lucky and you will be assailed left, right and centre. Run if you can but it will be almost impossible. She will have every motorcycle taxi driver track your every movement. I have dated teachers, accountants and even senior female medical staff and I tell you true, they are the worst of the worst! Pay, play and then go home alone is my advice to any beginner to this game.

wonderland clinic

What do they say about a free lunch?

I must agree with your comment in this week's main topic of mongers targeting mainstream / ordinary Thai girls. These girls really do need some kind of protection or warning about some of the vultures out here. I think of them as lambs to the slaughter! Having lived here in Bangkok with my Thai girlfriend the last year, I can only describe the way sexpats conduct themselves in the bars as embarrassing! I think it's the way they treat bargirls that develops a lot of the girls' attitudes! The girls hike prices for fun so they look elsewhere, dating sites probably take up too much time so now they're hitting the streets. To have fun in the bars is one thing (and I'm speaking from experience) but to target ordinary girls just for "fun", or should I say a free lunch, is way out of order. My girlfriend has many nice friends and some of them have no idea about the bar industry. As you say, Stick, many ordinary Thai girls are so naive when it comes to relationships, especially with farangs that they really could get emotionally scarred! Some people just don't understand (or care about) Thai culture and Thai people. Their feelings go way deeper than westerners and a lot of these girls feel emotional pain more than we do! It's unfair to subject them to false promises and broken dreams for a night of self-gratification. People, keep it real, go to the bars for fun – it's why they are there! Don't pry on the vulnerable and don't forget many of these girls have older brothers and uncles that care about their sisters! That free lunch could turn into an expensive hospital bill!

Defending the Siamese sweethearts!

I have often admonished you in the past for taking the side of the sex tourist over the Thai maiden. But you did a great job this week defending the honour of our Siamese sweethearts. That said, I doubt the farang scoundrels who manipulate the emotions of such women will heed your advice. Well done.

The benefits of purity.

Great piece and my feeling is that being with a non-industry girl who hopes you'll be her first and last is no different to being with any woman you feel deeply for and respect…regardless of whether she's a virgin or has had a few relationships. My girlfriend is very traditional and should I marry her, I will be her first. I know this is true, no details required, but what gets me is that respectable behaviour from foreigners over time gets so blurred. Bloody easy to lose touch with what we're raised on. I had a great time in Japan where I lived for 4 years and had shitloads of easy sex and dabbled in the P4P scene in Bangkok and Phuket. It was fun but after getting back home to Australia and trying to date regular women I found it hard to connect and at times my humour was inappropriate the way it can be when you've had too many boys' nights out and not enough contact with decent people. I felt I had lost touch with good values. My abstinence in this relationship is doing me emotional wonders. Every experience with my girl is real and purely ours. This may sound wanky but it's the best I can describe it.

An early Christmas for the songtaew driver!

In Amazing Race USA Edition, one of the couples got ripped off by a songtaew driver in Phuket. 4,500 baht! I really don't know how the TAT or the government manages to suppress the constant flow of negative interaction
with foreigners by the locals. One American girl got murdered on the Caribbean island of Aruba, and it seriously dented their tourism industry. Visitors and expats seem to die unnatural deaths all the time in Thailand and nobody seems to care.
If it weren't such a serious matter, it'd be hilarious!

Charming Chiang Mai locals!

Thais come in for a lot of criticism for their attitudes and behaviour in submissions and emails on this site so I want to tell you a nice story. Yesterday I stopped at a bank in Chiang Mai and waited a rather long time for service. When I came out I found I had a flat battery in my car, an intermittent fault that I have tried to rectify. I speak little Thai and wondered how I was going to extract myself from this problem. I was locking my boot before setting off to try and seek some assistance when a middle aged man in uniform who was getting into his pick-up, which was parked behind me, asked if I had a problem. He was an air force pilot, a captain I think. Now I am nearing 70 and he could see I was a little distressed about my predicament. I explained my problem and he told me to wait and he would see if he could get help. He set off on foot and returned 20 minutes later to say a mechanic was on his way. After a lot of kop khun khraps from me he drove off. A little while later two mechanics drove up and started my car. TIT and ain't it grand!

Spicy bar names are nothing new in Bangkok and Pattaya with the names of some bars leaving little to the imagination. A new venue in Sukhumvit soi 7/1 opened a week ago named Doctor BJ, the name giving away the genre of the bar. It is located in the spot previously home to Boosa Bar. The prices in Doctor BJ are typical for venues of this type with 700 baht the fee for the
standard service. Doctor BJ is the second bar of this type to open in Suhkumvit recently after Lollipop1 opened a few sois down on the other side of Sukhumvit a few months back. Those behind Doctor BJ have ambition, indicating that they are keen to open new branches up and down the country. If they manage to do so they will eclipse Lolita's as the premier chain of such venues.

The Strip in Patpong regularly hosts parties and their next event, called the 11/11/11 party, will be held on Friday of next week, that's November 11.

At Sheba's one night this week one of the more seasoned girls who used to dance at the iconic Cowboy venue Apache bar was demonstrating to a new employee the proper technique to fire ping pong balls. No detail was spared as she explained carefully that the trick is in using the muscles in one's backside and ensuring that there is little or no moisture on the projectile which can make it more difficult to be guided at its target.

Whether it is due to the shortage of the product in Bangkok because of the mass flooding, inflation or some other reason, the cost of a bottle of water shot up 66% at the best bar in Soi Cowboy, Tilac – but is still a very reasonable 50 baht. The 30-baht price that was in place for many years was an aberration, so cheap in fact that on the odd occasion if I was in the area and wanted to cool down, I'd stop by for a bottle and sit in the cool air-conditioning and be out the door a few minutes later, rather than buy a bottle in 7 Eleven.

On the subject of Tilac Bar, the hottest girl in the house, Miss Pla, is back and now wears the #18 disc. She disappeared for a while and a best guess would be that someone took her out. And I would bet that whoever he was, he couldn't keep up with payments for a girl who must clear well in excess of 100,000 baht per month with ease. Of course she may also have been up in Surin keeping an eye on those who run her clothes store. A smart girl is Miss Pla, investing her windfall wisely. Pla is seen by some, me included, as the hottest girl in Tilac. In some ways she is an aberration in Cowboy as she is easily pretty enough to work in a venue for Thai guys.

With many girls answering the call from home to help with the clean up, and some just plain afraid of what might happen next
Toms Fashions in Bangkok, many bars have fewer girls than usual. One night this past week in Dollhouse, which usually has a fine collection, there was a total of just 15 girls – that's the total number over the 2 floors.

Over in many a foreigner's favourite Sukhumvit soi, in Soi Nana a number of businesses have sandbags set up outside including bars, restaurants, tailor's stores and convenience stores. Just like this photo I snapped of a famous Sukhumvit tailor's, many businesses have even built temporary walls to protect their premises. Ugly as sin they might be, but they should keep the water out if it makes it downtown.

The Arab's Soi Cowboy bars have sandbags stacked outside in preparation for any flood waters that may hit the soi, but knowing the Arab it looks more like he is ready for war with the other bars! Bets are being placed on who will be the first person to kick them down when the water is high!

But it's not just the Arab's bars, which were the first to get sandbag protection. Many Cowboy bars have sandbags piled up outside.

Down in Pattaya, Devil's Den has introduced a unique function to its website. During business hours they have high resolution streaming video of the ladies that can be controlled remotely over the Internet. You can watch the girls and plan your next encounter. They are still fine tuning the interface and at this time Chrome and Firefox currently offer the best functionality. There is a control queue and you will need to "Request Control" in order to ensure your place in line. Check it out!

Devils Den Pattaya

More Japanese are being spotted in Pattaya's infamous soi 6. Traditionally the place for a bit of afternoon delight, soi 6 has long been a white man's paradise. But there are more and more Japanese these days and their MO is much the same. Into the bar, grab a soft drink and a girl and they waste no time in going straight upstairs. Wham, bam, thank you 'mam and it's all over! Pricing on soi 6 is pretty much a uniform 700 baht these days and I've no idea if the Japanese pay more as they often do in Bangkok. If that starts happening we will hear moaning and groaning from the regular crowd as soi 6 girls' expectations grow. A few soi 6 bar owners say that their main afternoon trade now is Japanese.

My favourite British pub here, The Londoner, is located below street level and some have expressed concern that it, like many of the MRT stations, could be inundated by floodwaters! Fortunately venues like The Londoner and all of the MRT stations have a lip, so that from ground level you have to go up a number of steps, before you start to go down into the venue / station. WithBradman's Bistro this in mind, hopefully they won't see any water.

The supply and availability of many food items and products became a problem in Bangkok this week. The Subway sandwich branch on soi 23 was all out of tomatoes earlier this week, as was the Sizzler branch at Thonglor. Just along
from Subway on soi 23 is Bradman's Bistro, an Aussie-themed and owned sports bar which does good, honest Aussie food at fair prices. It's a favourite spot for an early evening meal before hitting Soi Cowboy, less than a hundred metres
away, but like many restaurants in Bangkok, they are facing food shortages and have been forced to accept smaller deliveries.

If you use the local Internet service provider True, next time you are in a True shop paying your bill make a point of asking to be changed to the special promotion that allows you to access any of the thousands of True wi-fi hotspots all around the country for free. Given that most new phones are Internet capable and can connect to wi-fi, this can be useful. And best of all, it is free!

The AEON ATMs, that is the ATMs from which you can make fee-free withdrawals from a foreign bank account, which were in Ocean Tower at Asoke, have moved to the new (and more convenient for many) Terminal 21 shopping centre. After entering Terminal 21, go down one level, and they are right there.

If you have an account with Bangkok Bank, their ATM / BTS card is a great idea! The card is dual purpose and can be used as both a regular ATM card as well as a BTS card. The fare credit can be topped up at any BTS counter and you swipe it as you pass through the BTS barrier. The BTS credit is deducted from a prepaid credit and not from your bank account. The BTS fares are at the standard price but the convenience factor makes it convenient as it is one less card in your wallet.

skytrain Bangkok

Of course the big talking point in Bangkok is the flooding with water inundating parts of the city, particularly in the north and west of the city. The heart of the city, say the area from Siam Square in the west to Emporium in the east and down to Rama 4 Road in the south – that is the area in which many foreigners live, work and play – has not been hit, but there's much concern and anxiety that it might.

For those who live in outlying suburbs, but who work downtown where the big firms and often the best paying jobs are found, the floods have become a nightmare. One friend lives in Nonthaburi and her home is a metre under water. Her workplace is in downtown Bangkok, about 30 km away. She can no longer use her car which is now permanently parked at her place of workBangkok in a car park building, above ground level and away from potential flood waters. At first she started travelling between work by a combination of minivan and skytrain but with water levels rising she cannot get back now. She is now staying with friends near her workplace. Tens of thousands are in a similar situation.

Many are worried about what will happen to their car. For many Thais, their car is their most prized (and valuable) possession, but with Bangkok basically flat and with much of the capital's population living at ground level, it means that a car parked at home is vulnerable to flooding. This has resulted in every available space in condo car parks and other buildings being taken, as people park in buildings where friends or family members reside. This has caused all sorts of problems with car parks jammed and vehicles blocked in. One reader who resides in a flash property in Chidlom explained how he has lived in the building since it was completed but had never bothered to get a parking sticker for the vehicle. All of the security guards know him as do the office staff and until now it has never been a problem. But one morning this week his girlfriend went to get the car and was horrified to see the condo staff attempting to tow it away! Owners of condos not living in the building have decided to park their cars in buildings for fear of flooding and allocated spaces mean nothing. It's
a free for all as car owners fight to find a vacant spot!

As panic buying set in a week or so ago, many products have sold out citywide with the biggest concern surrounding the supply and availability of bottled water, which it has been joked will soon be more expensive in central Bangkok than oil. You can't find a bottle of Adam's ale for love nor money. Toilet paper, or tissue as the Thais so politely refer to it, is sold out across town, as are packet noodles, most canned food and many non-perishable food products. The lack of toilet paper made me smirk – that would upset many Westerners although I personally find the spray AKA the bum gun much more hygienic. Many convenience stores are virtually empty and supermarkets have sold out of many product lines. It's not just a case of products selling out, it is that factories producing the products may have been forced closed, agriculture areas are under water and even where food is being grown or goods produced, deliveries may not be possible as many roads are impassable.

A mate was in the new Terminal 21 shopping centre where he was told by a retailer that water would be delivered to the store shortly. He went for a stroll around the mall to kill a little time and returned less than half an hour later and still there was no water for sale. He was then told by a member of staff that the delivery had been made and the entire consignment of bottled water had sold out in 10 minutes. Finding bottled water is a real problem.

Since the movie "2012" where a global cataclysm threatens to end the world as we know it, many Thais have become nervous about natural disasters. While the floods might not have reached downtown, many businesses in and around Suhkumvit Road are sandbagged up.

So just what effect is the flooding having on expats? Everyone is affected! Businesses are closing and no-one knows when some will reopen. Schools in Bangkok were supposed to resume on Monday after the October break but at this point are scheduled to reopen 2 weeks late. It is quite possible that teachers will be working weekends for a couple of months to make up the lost days. Many foreign residents of Bangkok have fled the city, with Hua Hin and Pattaya the destinations of choice. My best guess though is that while many have fled the city, most have remained. And then there's the issue of staying legal in respect of your visa. One reader mentioned he had to get his visa extended and had heard that the Immigration department was a metre under water and inaccessible – true or not, I do not know – which meant he would potentially
have to take a trip out of town to another Immigration office, with Immigration in Jomtien Beach, the other side of Pattaya, his likely destination.

With a long weekend declared by the government for public servants and many private companies closed, there has been a mass exodus out of Bangkok. Pattaya and Hua Hin have apparently seen a huge influx of displaced Bangkokians keen to wait out the mess.

Quote of the week, "The surest way of getting some privacy and time for quiet reflection over a beer or two in Bangkok is to put on an All Black jersey. They all leave you alone." – Peter Heffernan, Huntsman’s Bar, Bangkok, 2011.

Reader's story of the week comes from Jayson, "New Thai Movie About Farang / Thai Relationships?"

Is this the best collection of Thailand flood photos, from the Denver Post?

Amazing photos of the flooding in the outskirts of Bangkok.

A Brit bird with a page missing from her passport does time in a local jail.

An American is arrested for robbing female visitors in Phuket.

CNNGo looks those rescuing stray and abandoned dogs on Bangkok's streets.

Reporters Without Borders says Thailand is paradise for vacationers and hell for journalists in a new campaign.

In Angeles City, the Philippines equivalent to Pattaya, a Brit is gunned down.

Bloomberg suggests things might be getting better and perhaps the worst of the flooding
is behind us.

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: I am considering opening a girl bar in Chiang Mai's Loi Kroh Road. My Thai girlfriend would run it. The rent is about 20K baht a month. I am not experienced
at this kind of business. Can you help point me in the right direction? What are the possible legal consequences or risks?

Sunbelt Legal responds: This is a common scenario in Thailand and odds are unfortunately very high that you will lose, based on Sunbelt Asia's knowledge over the past 10 years of this type of arrangement. Just for the record, we have seen fortunes made in the entertainment business but never with the girlfriend running it on behalf of the actual owner. This is not something advisable in any country and there is even less chance of success here in Thailand.

Running this type of venture requires an extensive set of skills which is why owners usually hire experienced managers on high wages to ensure it will run profitably. Some clients do open such ventures just to keep their girlfriend busy and make sure she has a day to day activity and in which case it never really turns out profitable. If you insist on doing it, just think of it as a donation and form a company where you can maintain control as being the Managing Director but there will still be many pitfalls to list with a girlfriend running it.

A simple way to keep some amount of control would be to handle the daily F&B supply purchases yourself and cross the sales figures provided by the outlet staff with the difference in the inventory, and on a daily basis. Staff taking care of supplies and inventory need to be different from the ones running the bar. No matter what legal protection you have, this will be a cash trade so if the girlfriend or any other employee wants to take the day's takings and put it in her pocket, they will. If you do end up doing it without keeping a hand on the operations, a good name will be "The Honey Pit with Sam's Money".

Chao Praya River Bangkok

The only story in Thailand this week is the flooding and the big question is just what should you do? If you're a resident in Bangkok, should you stay? If you've got plans to travel to Bangkok, should you come? I am loathe to answer either of these questions and prefer to just state a few facts. Armed with this info, you, and only you, can decide what the best thing is for you to do. At this stage Central Bangkok, meaning the likes of Siam Square, the most popular shopping malls like Paragon, Emporium, Central World and all the nightlife districts popular with foreigners are dry. Flooding has not threatened any of these areas. With that said, in these areas sandbags have been stacked outside some shops, malls and bars which shows that the owners are prepared and believe there is a chance flood waters will come. Drinking water has been very hard to come by not just in Bangkok, but anywhere within a 150+ kilometre radius of the capital. A few days this week were particularly hot in Bangkok, exacerbating this. Being unable to purchase or secure drinking water could quickly become a serious problem. And it is not just water, and not just Bangkok. In provinces many hours away from Bangkok, such as Chumphon, Korat and even Khon Kaen, there have been reports of a run on products in supermarkets and convenience stores and many essentials are no longer available. Panic buying has seen deliveries snapped up within minutes of goods being put on the shelves, as per the story of my pal in Terminal 21. There has been an exodus from Bangkok that has seen hotels and guesthouses in nearby Pattaya and Hua Hin filling up. Traffic out of the capital has been described as horrid. To complicate things, it is impossible to know what is really going on with the flooding. Information has been conflicting and confusing and some info posted online has been shown to be wrong. Some announcements have been made, contradicted, retracted, and then made again. As an example, over the past couple of days there were reports in the mainstream news media that there were no hotel rooms available in Pattaya or Hua Hin – the two largest resort towns within 2 – 3 hours' drive of Bangkok and that all domestic flights out of Bangkok are booked until the end of the year. Neither was true. With such misinformation it is impossible to know what is going on which is a massive frustration when reliable information is needed so you can make informed decisions. Bangkok has a very fragile infrastructure. While things work most of the time, a traffic accident in Bang Na, for example, can cause a traffic jam at Nana – some 15+ kilometres away! Apply this to flooding and it's a real concern.

So what about me? Well, I am currently outside Bangkok and am going to wait for things to settle down before I even think about returning. If I am away for a week or two, or even longer, so be it. I don't want to be in Bangkok if things get bad. It's not that I can't look after myself, it's more that you could end up trapped in your condo for a long time, and if power was cut off, or the water supply interrupted – neither of which is out of the question – it could become uncomfortable. With the sewage system potentially threatened, plastic bags may be needed for number 1s and number 2s! I'm staying away until things return to some sort of normality, if such a word can be used in Bangkok!

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza