Stickman's Weekly Column October 9th, 2011

Staying Faithful in The Land Of Temptations


It starts from the moment you pass through the airport. The taxi driver suggests a detour to a massage parlour before dropping you at your hotel. Touts outside your hotel show photos of pretty, scantily-clad, available women. Tourist magazines, Bangkok-centric websites and even the most popular English language daily have ads for bars and escort services. For the first time visitor to Bangkok it can seem that sex is available on every corner. If you thought there were opportunities for fun in Bangkok as a tourist, you'd be blown away to know what's possible for residents! It is no secret that many Western male residents of Bangkok think nothing of having a bit of fun on the side and it seems to me that as many married Westerners in Bangkok are fooling around behind their Mrs.' back as are not.

There are primarily 3 ways expats in Thailand secretly meet up with women who aren't their partner.

The first is obvious, ladies of the night. Out with colleagues or mates, or perhaps even out drinking alone – hardly uncommon in Bangkok – it's easy to drift towards venues where women are not just available, but willing. A guy's marital status is as important to such women as what the guy had for breakfast. Hanky panky on the premises or in a nearby hotel is as quick and easy as stopping by McDonalds for a Big Mac. And just as no-one knows where you had your evening meal, there's no reason to think they know what else you've consumed. In a city where you're never far from the nearest ho house, discretion is understood and you can return home to your Mrs. as if nothing happened.

Surprisingly widespread, I suspect as many as 5% of genuine expat package foreigners have gone native and keep another girl as a mistress, or to use the local term, a mia noi. Almost exclusively the domain of those on genuine expat packages because keeping a mia noi is costly, he is expected to pick up the tab for her place, transport (often meaning a new car), clothes, food, entertainment as well as enough cash for every family member he knows about, as well as those he doesn't know about, to say nothing of the secret boyfriend. The mia noi package can easily run north of 60K baht a month, and can go much, much higher. Mia nois are expected to know their place and understand – although they will refuse to term it so crudely – that they are an accessory, a play thing who is well looked after, to be on call and importantly to respect their position in the pecking order. She is not her paymaster's top priority. Things don't always go as planned in Thailand and countless stories float around expat circles of mia noi disasters, where in time she claimed to develop feelings for him and then set about trying to manipulate things so that he leaves his primary wife and she becomes the new numero uno.

And then there are the married guys who dare dip their toes in the shark-infested waters online. Internet dating is huge in Thailand and while most Thai women playing the online game are looking for something serious, plenty will put out early on to reel their fish in. The guy who breaks the golden rule with online girls that is identical to the bargirl rule – never more than one time – is playing with fire and multiple liaisons inevitably result in emotional attachments developing. The longer an online relationship lasts – and invariably the lady doesn't know he has a wife – the greater the chance it could have an impact on his primary wife and family as a Stickman reader wrote of his online affair recently.

If the affairs Western men resident in Thailand had with local women were restricted to ladies of the night, perhaps there'd be less likelihood of leaving one's legal wife. Westerners resident in the country are aware that trading barfines and late night payments for exclusivity seldom works.

A contributing factor with women outside the bar industry is the way so many Thai women are brazen in their attempts to seduce a man they know is married. In stark contrast with the conservative attitudes often perpetuated in the media and the out-dated notions of current edition guidebooks, when a Thai woman falls for a guy she often has scant disregard that he's wearing a ring.

Discussing cheating on one's legal wife openly with a few Bangkok-based mates, the common theme was that they felt that so long as they return home at the end of the night it isn't so bad. Not ok, but not so bad either. And so long as they continue to support their wife in such a way that meets or even exceeds her (and her family's and society's) expectations, while perhaps not admirable, it is, to use the word that kept arising, acceptable.

Some claim that by getting a bit on the side their needs are satiated and their relationship is all the better for it. If they weren't getting a bit on the side, it could be implied, they would leave her for someone else so it helps to keep their marriage together.

Personally I could care less what others do, and we never know others' circumstances. In the case of a guy whose wife has turned the tap off, for example, I can kind of understand. In fact Thai law recognises this very issue and states that the withholding of sex by a wife to her husband for a period of 12 months is one of just 11 grounds under which he can file for divorce. Spread your legs or spread your wings, baby!

But what is perplexing is that philandering by Western expats seems more prevalent with guys in relationships where a significant age gap exists. It is my observation that the greater the age gap, the greater the likelihood that he (and I suspect she, although that is not the focus of this article) is fooling around.

Again, when chatting with mates whose wife is much younger, he often feels it is justified, and with some, even a right. Do enough for your wife and you should be allowed to have a bit on the side so long as it is discreet. That some friends' wife has the house in her name makes me nervous about the possible consequences.

With Western men in Thailand the role of providing support is almost never shirked – most know that she will be gone in a heartbeat if financial support ceases. Being faithful is another matter entirely. It begs the question of whether some Westerners married to a Thai woman somehow look down on their spouse, or at the very least don't see her in quite the same light as if she hailed from their homeland?

I'm not Mr. Puritanical and make no pretenses about being an angel. I've cheated on girlfriends in Thailand, something I never did, nor even considered, in my homeland. Does Thailand do this to us? Do we go native? Is it that deep down we Westerners don't really take too seriously what goes on in Thailand, almost like our whole existence here is one long playground visit? Or is it simply opportunity, and that the kid in the candy store syndrome is one we never grow out of?

A marital discrepancy? No, I couldn't. That's uncool, seriously uncool. It's not the physical part of sailing your yacht into a foreign harbour, it's the bullshit that enters the relationship and over time grows like a cancer, permeating every aspect of the relationship until it's destroyed. Your life becomes a bunch of lies with nothing to build on. Deceit and lies kill trust and set the relationship on an irreversible journey to certain failure.

Humans are creatures of habit. What starts as a one-off experience, perhaps even a genuine mistake, can later become something more regular, something calculated. Condoms may be discarded and things can go awry as STDs or unplanned pregnancy follows. Taken through to its natural conclusion, one day he is supporting, or is it juggling, two families. Small lies turn into big lies and big lies become big problems.

How would these guys react if their wife went sausage hunting? Most would be aghast if their Mrs. was getting it elsewhere. There would be hell to pay. Again, I wonder how much some Western guys married to a Thai woman really respect their wife.

It's a generalisation for sure, but some of the married Bangkok expats systematically cheating on their wives seem to be the same guys who drink copious amounts and think nothing of driving home, and who often engage in other reckless or questionable actions. What guys cheating on their wife do is their business and none of mine, but I do scratch my head at the way they attempt to justify it or, worse still, brag about it.

Big Mango

*When* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo of the front of Nana Plaza was taken 11 years ago, in 2000. So when was the photo in Soi Cowboy above taken?! 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, or list the prizes 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 WEEKExpat syndrome.

Expats in many locations consider themselves to be an exalted breed; generally arrogant and above reproach. They form their little clubs, societies or social circles in an effort to recreate a little slice of home; these enclaves more often than not merely offer a form of snobbery to which this class of expat would never have been entitled, at the same time providing a glass house to shield their minds from the imagined realities of their newly chosen home. A subtle double divorce; fleeing the supposed misery of home whilst conveniently distancing themselves from the local people and culture. The internet provides the Thailand expat a vehicle to demonstrate why they aren't needed at home and why they can never integrate in their supposedly new, adopted country. Their internet postings frequently demonstrate that little or no attempt has been made to savour the culture; and that any differences in local culture, customs, laws, social behaviour and infrastructure are merely opportunities for often shallow and bigoted ridicule. Anecdote piled upon anecdote, lubricated with copious quantities of alcohol and complemented with a complete lack of empathy and understanding now forms the foundation of fact; so much so, that over time one has to question whether these posters are living in Thailand or some other imaginary land. With the projection of such a grossly negative image of life in Thailand, one has to wonder whether that image is in fact real, or whether the poster has simply made the mistake of just boarding the wrong plane. One thing is for sure; no-one in their right mind would choose to live in the country they describe.

Cronyism online!

I've lived here in Pattaya for several years and have 2 real friends. That's by choice. I simply find the majority of expats here a little strange and they are people I wouldn't normally hang out with in my own country. I have had some bizarre experiences here. And as for the online forums, I also agree with your comments that they have a lot of socially inept weirdoes who post photos of their conquests (if you could call paying for sex a conquest) and some almost reach guru adoration paring on deity status by fellow board members who are totally clueless. The most disturbing thing is some actually believe the online display of worship. It's really quite sad. One particular board organises members to visit certain bars and the admin get a backhander for taking them there and of course certain bars will get a special mention on the forum. There's one particular bar "voted Pattaya's best for x years". Yeah, voted for by a particular forum where a moderator is the bar's owner! Just try saying anything honestly negative about that bar and see how long it is until you're banned or try saying anything of a conflicting view or pulling certain worshiped board members in to line when they tell a porky pie and you will not last long. Well I didn't anyway.

Quality farang enclaves exist.

I think it all comes down to where you interact with the farangs you come in contact with. Here in Surin, I believe most of us are here because we have a Thai wife / girlfriend and I can't imagine that someone would just move up here on a whim. That being said, the lads here are a good lot who help each other, are in good shape physically and mentally and don't bitch and complain about everything. On the other hand, whenever I go to Pattaya or Bangkok I see a lot more farangs with bad behaviour, loud, pissed, obese and with no respect whatsoever for Thai people and Thai culture. Of course I run in to this type in the naughty boy venues and I imagine that the majority are here on holiday. I try to avoid this type at all cost as I tend to get very vocal about bad behaviour. In my case, I have been very lucky indeed to have met a lot of good farangs whose company I enjoy.

Widespread incivility!

Yes, absolutely, there is lots of trash in Bangkok but I think what needs to be acknowledged is that the quality of humanity throughout the Western world has rapidly deteriorated in recent decades to a point where there is more or less the same level of incivility everywhere. Kind of like the cost issue. Costs may have gone up in Thailand but nothing like they have in the West in so far as I'm aware. At least in Asia they are lifting themselves out of poverty whereas we are climbing into a hole that I think will see our civilization hit rock bottom within a decade. It may well be more obvious amongst Western visitors to Thailand as obesity, tattoos and general arrogance stand in stark contrast to the refined nature of the average Thai. Hey, I'm not saying that everything is perfect in Asia but let's face it, Asians and particularly Thais, Japanese etc. get the concept of social grace a whole lot more than do many of the great un-washed from Britain and her former colonies etc.

Attacked without reason.

Years ago I posted a story on SlyGeezer about a visa problem I had. I didn't know why I had the problem, and I never did find out, but I'd used an agent that was apparently popular with SlyGeezer and said that maybe that had been the problem. I was stunned by the attacks and abuse heaped upon me. At the time I was a newbie and had just been trying to get a legitimate business visa. To be fair, there were some perfectly normal responses, but when one is first trying to pick their way through the minefield of the Thai legal system to start a company, the last thing he needs is abuse from fellow expats over what was probably a mistake made by a lawyer or agent. I guess SlyGeezer fills a need or it wouldn't be so big. Whatever that need is, though, I don't have it.

A depressing experience.

I totally agree with you on this week's points: the relative average class of human that becomes an expat in Thailand, and; the degree of personableness among contributors to Thai expat internet fora. I think you are more than justified in drawing a link between the two, and am surprised readers chastise you for mentioning – what to me at least seems like – the bleeding obvious. With regards to the latter point, my general experience of threads and discussions on various Thai fora is that a great majority of contributors are an especially self-satisfied, self-regarding, nasty bunch of people – or so they appear from their comments on the internet. Sarcasm, aloof-innuendo, bickering and quite unnecessary, offensive vitriol towards other contributors is just standard fare. How many times have I opened a thread wanting to learn from other contributors only to see the thing almost instantly descend into the most infantile tit-for-tat belligerence? The experience is depressing.

Expats are not always what they seem!

I've been here 5 years now and I've found few expats in Thailand that I relate to well enough to continue long-term friendships or maintain contact with. Those few long-term buddies I do hang out with exercise with me – running, walking, climbing, stair climbing – whatever it happens to be. I have tried very hard to find others I can work with online – to go in on joint projects, and have always come out disappointed. Expats are not what they seem in Thailand – not what they appear, not what they write online, not the game that they talk – for the most part. Occasionally I meet good people, but usually they are visitors and not long-term expats living in Thailand for any amount of time. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with more than 10 decent expats I've met in Thailand that I could remain cordial with – and spend time with on an ongoing basis. I met them when I taught English in Isaan, and I suppose if I was a teacher, I'd know more – but haven't taught for many years now.

There are dead zones in the bar areas, spots where bar after bar has been erected over the years where no-one seems to have been able to make a commercial success. One such spot is the balcony bar at the top of the stairs on the left hand side of Nana Plaza which reopened last night as Straps, an interesting name that gets the mind boggling! Could it be these sorts of straps?! The venue features coyote dancers gyrating around chrome poles strategically placed on a bar counter in the centre of the bar.straps The owner has stressed that this week is a soft opening to test the sound system and add any final touches to the bar. On the Soi Nana side passersby can view coyote girls through a large window similar to the bar with European girls dancing on Pattaya's Walking Street.

A few nights this week Shark Bar in Soi Cowboy experimented with 6:30 PM starts, a good 30+ minutes earlier than usual. As far as maidens in bikinis go, 5 Star remains the early bird with girls on stage most nights by 6:15 PM for those keen to hit the soi early but not content to merely sit outside and watch the world go by. The Corner and Country Road are also early starts and worth checking out if live music is your thing. It was Santana going up against the classics of the Beatles earlier this week. Between sets The Corner plays house music and peering inside reveals plenty boogying on the dance floor.

Yep, the late night booze booths, otherwise known as the street bars on Sukhumvit Road, expect customers to pay a barfine to take a lovely away – and often it is a lofty 500 baht! It's a mystery as to why they do this and it's hard for them to justify it. Girls working in these bars for the most part are friends of the owner or girls who have been grabbed from around about, often right off the street as they walk past. Seldom will any girl spend very long at these bars, especially at this time of year. Being out late at night on the streets of Bangkok, literally, breathing in the fumes of Bangkok's traffic with the heavens open and rain pelting down around them and flooding at ground level is no girl's idea of fun. I suspect the barfine is as much a mechanism to cover the costs of running the business as anything else.

The Big Mango in a sub soi off Sukhumvit soi 4 has re-opened their second floor with a new bar and layout. Upstairs is now a party zone and available for private functions. Some more improvements are on the way. The bar is recruiting staff now and interested parties can apply in person at the bar or via email at : [email protected] On Fridays and Saturdays, Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum and Tequila are available for 69 baht. The 69 night they call it!

Rain and more rain is the theme of the month in Bangkok, with no corner of the city spared. Late on Friday night the heavens really opened and a couple of mates described serious flooding in central areas. Fortunately I wasn't out and about. The rain is a real pain and can prevent you from going out, or if you're already out and about, trap you wherever you happen to be. It might be clear when you arrive somewhere, but the ferocity with which rain can fall at this time of year often sees punters trapped in a bar, prevented not just from moving to another bar, but from getting home – and that's no good if you had told fibs to the Mrs. about where you would be! In Soi Cowboy I ran from 5 Star to Tilac when the rain was pelting down. It is perhaps only 20 odd metres and I am no slouch, but a few seconds was all that was needed for me to be totally soaked! In a nice touch, some of the smaller bars have come to the rescue with free umbrella escorts for punters. Although the gesture is kind and welcome, they still have not got the Moses thing down and wading through a flooded soi is part of the experience in Soi Cowboy at this time of year.

Soi Cowboy

It's hard to see which is the busiest or most popular bar area in Bangkok these days with Cowboy and Nana battling it out. At this time of year, Cowboy suffers more from the rain than any other bar area. Soi 33 is prone to flooding and soi 22 can be a mess at times too, but those are very much second tier bar areas. Patpong never seems to be too bad and Nana doesn't suffer terribly either – and you have the advantage of awnings covering most of the plaza so while getting in or out might be a nuisance, moving between the venues is not. But Cowboy gets it worst and it isn't unusual to see much of the soi underwater aThe Strip Patpong few times every rainy season. This year's rainy season has been the worst in memory – and this week they're predicting more water to descend on Bangkok, both from the heavens and from overflowing dams up north!

The branch of Subway on Sukhumvit soi 23 has reverted back to being open 24 hours after closing around 11 PM for a month or so. Apparently some overnight work made it necessary to close early. Their 49 baht ham 6-inch is a good Cheap Charlie feed – different branches of Subway have different specials and this seems to be a soi 23 branch only thing. My partner in crime, the dirty doctor, swears by it.

Tuesday is not the busiest night of the week but The Strip in Patong's soi 2 wants to change that with a party lined up for Tuesday of next week, October 18. Themed the Night Of The Sellos, The Strip frequently holds parties featuring guest DJs and the girls really get into it!

The price of food continues to go up and different restaurants are handling this in their own particular way. Maroosh, my favourite Lebanese restaurant in all of Bangkok, located on the first sub soi on the right off Sukhumvit soi 5, has slowly been reducing portion sizes while maintaining the same price. What was a good feed for 2 now has become a good feed for 1. With widespread damage from extensive flooding throughout northern and central Thailand as well as some parts of Isaan, don't be surprised to see food prices shoot up at local markets which may result in smaller portions, or possibly price increases at your favourite eateries.

It's hard to say how the opening of the new shopping mall at the Asoke intersection, Terminal 21, will affect the comings and goings at nearby Soi Cowboy, straight across the road. It's quite possible that early evening tourists will be attracted to the neon jungle clearly which is visible from the new shopping complex. Could a larger number of tourists venture on Cowboy as a result of the proximity? In the photo below you can see a crane in the sky which is atop Terminal 21, the new shopping centre. Note: this photo was taken in mid-2010 and the skyline looks a little different now. With that in mind, even a blind man would know that the number of farang females visiting Cowboy is up. You often see them before you hear them as they bark away about everything going on around them.

Soi Cowboy

In the ongoing saga of Michael, the German vagrant who has become a fixture in this column in recent weeks, we might just have seen the last of him. He was collected by Immigration in Soi Buakhao, in central Pattaya, at around 2:30 PM on Tuesday. 4 Immigration officials pounced on him while he sat on the pavement seemingly bemused at their presence. After a brief scuffle and some choice words, Immigration slid him into a new pair of shorts they had brought along, restoring a sense of dignity andFarang decency. Michael had been wearing the same pair of shorts since at least March and they had been reduced to threads, offering the innocent bargirls in Soi Buakhao an unobstructed view of his schwanz. Michael was placed in the back of an Immigration Department pick-up, taken away and has not been seen since. Remember it was just a couple of weeks back that the coppers took him in and he was released the next day. There have been no further reports of sightings of him since Tuesday. One can only imagine the conversations at the Immigration Department prior to the order being made to bring him in. "This farang is lowering the standards of our fine city and will make visitors think ill of Pattaya!" I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last we hear of him. * Photo provided by reader Pattaya John.

It's easy to become disillusioned with Thais when you read and hear of a bombardment of rip offs that foreign visitors to the country face. But the truth is that Thais don't discriminate and most of the time they actually target their own. A mate in Bangkok has a certain lass in Pattaya he is rather fond of and he gave her a bell this week, simply because he wanted to hear the sound of her sultry voice. She went on to tell him that a friend she had known for years had shown up out of the blue and asked to borrow her motorbike for a couple of hours. The bike was duly lent to her and hasn't been seen since. That was three days ago. The friend just so happens to have stopped answering her mobile phone – always a sign of guilt in Thailand. Aw, perhaps I shouldn't say that because I, as a true mobile phone hater, happen to be notorious for not answering my phone!

The way Thai women – and I am not talking bargirls here, but everyday Thai women – overuse the word "romantic" makes me positively chuckle. Many seem to think that romantic means you like sex a lot! So theThai lady next time a Thai lady asks you if you are romantic, it may be worth clarifying what she means before you answer!

The way Thai staff choose not to, or is it refuse (?) to intervene when beggars bother customers in their establishment is rapidly becoming one of my main pet peeves in Bangkok. It is quite simply bad practice to allow beggars or those selling crappy trinkets to enter an establishment and bother customers. It is especially bad when the person is a beggar and doesn't actually have anything to offer but is there simply to pester. So why don't the staff act? There's probably a multitude of reasons from often the staff being young women who lack confidence telling others – often those older than them – to leave, to the fact that they don't realise how annoying it can be to the fact that I don't doubt that some see these beggars as Thais and by allowing them on the premises they are showing their patriotism!

I'm big on fitness, but I'm no fan of gyms and prefer to pound the pavement or play sports. But a mate who is a gym freak will be visiting Bangkok and is anxious about where he can do his daily workout. He will only be in town for a short time and is looking for a well-equipped gym with a fair day rate or a short term deal. Any recommendations? If it was in the Silom area then that would be ideal.

The newest Pattaya site, InPattayaNow, is worth a nosey for Pattaya aficionados. It is effectively a continuation of the Pattaya One newspaper which was discontinued in print form after issue 24, and is an online-only publication featuring unique content. Those behind it hope that the articles will entertain those who either reside in or enjoy all that Pattaya has to offer.

Quote of the week comes from a reader, "In Asia you are not the invisible man once you pass 40 years old."

Reader's story of the week is the short and sweet "I Told You So" from Old Bill in Cyprus.

The US Ambassador apologises for his moronic comment about the number of guys visiting Philippines for sex.

A New Zealander was drugged and robbed in Pattaya after he met a Thai woman in an umm, err, department store!

From the Sydney Morning Herald, a steamy on-stage performance lands a Thai pop star in hot water.

From the UK's Sun newspaper, a Brit accused of infecting a partner with HIV allegedly slept with many hookers in Thailand.

The Thai government rushed condoms to those caught up in the terrible flooding in Thailand!

From the BBC, Medecins Sans Frontieres is ceasing operations in Thailand due to disagreement with the authorities.

Equality for sex workers has been urged by a researcher from Thammasat University in a Bangkok Post article.

An Aussie accused of pilfering 2.7 mill who ran to Thailand is arrested when he returned to Australia to renew his Thai visa.

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.

Question1: I have seen a couple of legal websites list "married the cohabitating with a Thai national and has an honest employment" as being a potential way to get a work permit from the Department of Labour (assuming that they qualify for the non-immigrant O visa in all other respects). I was hoping you could:

1. Confirm this as being viable and provide more details.

2. Advise as to the Thai source where they got this from as I would like to formally cite it, i.e. whose regulations or policies indicate this, as I have a copy of the Thai civil code and it makes no mention of that, and it's certainly not listed on the English language version of the Thai Department of Labour, nor can I see it listed in the rules regarding employment of aliens in Thailand.

3. Recommend the best process one would follow to use this route: a) contact my local Thai consulate in Farangland b) contact Thai Department of Labour in Bangkok, or c) contact the local Department of Labour where I would be residing / working.

Sunbelt Legal responds: Yes, the Labour Office does relax the rules for spouses of Thai citizens when applying for work permits. The company is required to only have 1 million baht in capitalization and is more likely to issue a new work permit to a company that has 2 Thai employees if the applicant has a Thai wife. However, the standard 4 Thai employees will be required in the second year. You need to contact the Labour Office in the province where you will apply. The exact wording is "Being a married couple with Thai citizen, with legally married registration, publicly cohabiting as husband and wife, and with a legal profession, which is socially respectable." This was written in May, 2002 and since then there have been many new regulations and interpretations from the Labour Department. At the end of the day, a number of officers could care less what the regulations say and interpret the law as they wish as the law has given them the discretion to do so. So, it is best to check with your local Labor Office first.

Question 2: Not being as smart as you (Stick), I lent an acquaintance money. While the amount is small, I would still rather have it back if I can get it, than be defrauded out of it. Can a foreigner sue another foreigner (both are on retirement visas) for a small debt? I loaned a foreigner 2,000 baht on three different occasions in one month. He literally needed money for food, though he had more sob stories than a Thai daughter. I do not have a signed contract with him, though I do have several months of paper trail (email) where he says repayment will be forthcoming on such and such a date. It was understood by both parties that this was a loan and not a gift. This has gone on for several months, without one satang being repaid. Unfortunately this is someone from my own country, which of course adds salt to the wound. Is there a way, hopefully without legal fees, to get a judgment against him and how would I go about doing that? In the States we have a small claims court to do this where neither party requires legal representation. If there are legal fees and I won the case, would those legal fees be recoverable also?

Sunbelt Legal responds: You must first take the claim to the Police and file a complaint before being able to take the affair to Court. Court hearings take place entirely in Thai, so if you do not speak Thai you will need someone with you. It would be difficult to pursue a case in court without a lawyer and for such an amount, it wouldn't be worth it.

Question 3 : I am a Norwegian man married to a Thai lady from Nakhon Rachasima. We married 8 years ago, in Norway. We have not yet registered our marriage in Thailand. We have a child together, a daughter, 7 years old. She was born in Thailand. She is a Thai national and has a Thai passport. I call her Jessica. Jessica has a Thai grandmother who has a rice farm of 28 rai. This land is registered with a chanote in the name of the grandmother. Grandmother wants to go to the Land Office to put this land in Jessica's name and make a chanote in her name. I read Thai laws before and I think it is legal in Thailand to do so even if Jessica is under 20 years old and has a farang who is her father. The law only asks if the person is a Thai national. I also understand that nobody, and also Jessica, can sell or borrow money on the land, before she is 20 years old. I also hear that there is an organisation in Chonburi, who takes care of her interests up until she is 20 years old.

My questions are as follows:

1. Can grandmother make a chanote in the name of Jessica at the Land Office?

2. Can a farang father buy land for his Thai child under 20 years old, even if he pays for the land?

3. In the first case, what papers does grandmother need to bring to the Land Office? All the paper is available for Jessica, mother and father, and grandmother, except…

4. I heard that maybe the mother and father have to register their marriage in Thailand, in the amphur they live, the same as the Thais do. If this is the case, do they have to translate the foreign marriage certificate into Thai and do they also have to stamp this paper at their farang embassy in Bangkok in order to make the amphur accept it for registration, before bringing the papers to the Land Office? What documentation is necessary?

5. What happens at the Land Office? Do we have to bring lawyers?

Sunbelt Legal responds: Questions 1, 2, 3 and 5: It is possible for a minor to own property, and it will be managed by the people with parental authority i.e. legal guardians. You can purchase land for her, or her grandmother can transfer property to her but if it were to be sold while the child is still a minor it would have to be done so with authorisation by the Juvenile Court who would check that the sale was in the best interests of the child. In order to enable the transfer, the parents of the child would have to be on hand in order to sign the documentation as well as the child. If the child cannot write yet then the child may make a fingerprint signature on the same document.

Section 1577 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code states: A person may transfer by legacy or gift a property to a minor, subject to its being managed, up to the time of majority, by a person other than the person exercising parental power. Such manager must be named by the transferor, or, in default, by the court, and his management shall be subject to section 56 section 57 and section 60.

You do not need to show a marriage certificate to purchase the land in your child's name. The child is a legitimate Thai citizen, the citizenship alone is enough for the transfer of property. But in case you do want to register your marriage in Thailand, the foreign marriage will be recognised. You will need to have the Norwegian marriage certificate certified (or authenticated) by the Thai Embassy or Consulate of the country (in this case, Norway) where the marriage took place. It will then have to be translated into Thai to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand and then submitted to any District Office (Amphur) to obtain a report of marriage abroad (Kor Ro 22). It's still an arduous procedure but at least you need not redo the entire process of marriage.

Soi Cowboy


A few weeks back I changed the format of the photo competition, asking that contestants tell me when the photo was taken, rather than where it was taken. Feedback to the change has been muted. I'd be interested in your thoughts as to whether I should retain the current when is this photo competition or revert back to the previous where is this photo competition. I am particularly interested in thoughts from those who actually compete. Personally, I think it makes a nice change and the idea is to run it as it is for a few months, perhaps early into the new year before reverting back to the original format. So is it thumbs up or thumbs down?

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

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