I am in the Emporium Shopping Centre in downtown Bangkok with Sophia, Prada, and Julie and Paula, 4 as well as the owner of a Bangkok escort agency. I'm a bit flustered as only an hour earlier the sky had fallen in on me and I had been over-run by cockroaches. I am not as prepared, nor as composed, as I would like to be, and perhaps it shows. Fortunately the girls were true to form and arrived late, giving me time to breathe.
I've always known that working girls must have some eye-opening experiences, and that some would have the misfortune to be mistreated but I wasn't really prepared for some of what these girls were to tell me. My eyes were opened wide. Based on what these girls told me and some of their experiences, there really are some odd characters out there…
Tell me about your backgrounds. Most women working with foreigners come from Isaan. Are you all Isaan girls?
Prada: Just me, I'm the only one from Isaan. <And I silently think to myself, WTF, she's the best looking here!>
Sophia: I come from the south-east, not the south, you know near Chonburi.
Julie: I am from the north.
Tell me about being an escort. What's involved? How is it different to working in a bar?
Paula: We meet many people so we have both good experiences and bad experiences. If we meet a good guy it's like we have hit the jackpot because we will probably get a good tip. We don't think too much about what we do. It is just work. We wait for the time to finish so that we can go home.
Sophia: I have had some funny experience. Some just want to hang out, be romantic, take us to dinner etc. But sometimes we meet a freak, like the guy wants to control us. One customer was like a teacher and wanted to control everything I said and did. He brought me a map and pretended to be a teacher and wanted to give me an exam. He had a map of the world and wanted to know where different countries were. If I didn't get the question right, I was punished and had to perform, sex acts on him. In the past I worked as an escort in the UK. Some guys there were really strange and into some crazy stuff. One guy liked to eat pooh pooh and he would put it in a box in the fridge and eat it later!
Whose pooh pooh?
My pooh pooh!
He would keep it in the fridge and eat it like a dessert.
Sounds like a freak!
Sophia: If the girl can make a big pooh pooh he will smear it over his body and wank. If I got a booking for a customer who requested a golden shower then I would have to drink a lot of water beforehand. I would then sit on his face and pee on him and all over his body. The guy would lay down and I would sit on his face. So I had funny experiences but as you can see, bad experiences too. These kind of customers are usually drug users or psychos. But you know, customers who request things like this are usually ok because we never actually have sex. I pee on him and then he wanks off and comes – and there is no need to have sex with him. It's so easy! One experience I had was with a guy who brought a costume like a dog. He pretended to be a dog and I had to hold him like a dog and walk around his flat and he would bark. I had to hit him and use utensils to hit him and scratch him.
Paula: I met a guy at the Grand Hyatt who had very expensive taste. He went to an ATM machine and withdrew 50,000 baht. He gave me the money to look after and manage for him for our entertainment that night. I had to carry all of his cards, cash, everything and he had me pay for everything as we went out to different places. We went to all of these really expensive hi-so places. All the money was with me. Mobile, ATM cards, everything. He would go to the loo and he would come back to me and ask for money to tip the boy in the loo. There was no limit with money for him. We would go out and spend up the whole 50,000 baht in one night.
Where was he from? America? I bet, they're the most generous.
Paula: He was from Saudi Arabia.
Prada: I had one customer who brought me and 4 friends to hang out with him and he paid for everything. When we got back to the hotel he discovered he had forgotten his credit card in the bar. He said don't worry, the girls still there can use it and order whatever they want and the give it back to me the next day!
So you compare stories about who makes the most and who has the most generous customers?
Julie: Of course! I had one customer who took me and another lady and he wanted me to use my own car to drive him around! So we had to take the car and I was like a tour guide for him!
What do you think guys are looking for with an escort as opposed to a girl in a bar?
Owner: Almost all of the customers are here for business, maybe a meeting or something like that. They don't want to hang out and find a girl in a pub or a club. Many are high class and take us to dinner. Almost all are businessmen. They don't actually want the hassle of finding someone in a gogo bar. Some customers are like the vice president of a big company and they have little time and they want us to go direct to his hotel.
Prada: Some guys have a home here. They live here, but they get a suite in a hotel and then invite a girl to go and see him there.
Owner: One customer paid 140,000 baht for a number of bookings. We had never met him and he paid all this money before he met just one girl. He ordered 12 girls for 16 jobs, over an 8-day period. He paid in advance! I picked him up at the airport and drove him to Pattaya. One day he met a girl he didn't like but he was happy to send her back without asking for his money back. That's the class of people we deal with, gentlemen who make sure the girl still gets her money. I had one bad experience with a customer who booked a girl for 3 days. I picked him up at the airport for free. He took one girl short time and then he disappeared. He just used us to get a free airport pickup! Some customers pick a girl and when she arrives he says she is not as pretty as in the in photos so he pays a 1,000 baht cancellation fee.
Well, some of the photos on the website kind of don't look anything like the real thing!
Owner: But then some guys want a girl to stay longer than the time he has booked and paid for, but without paying more. Some guys try to circumvent the process and get her without paying! There was one guy who had many drugs in his room and invited a girl to join him using them. We think he wanted to get her drunk or drugged up and fxxx her for free, all for the 1,000 baht cancellation fee.
Ah, the police like guys like this, foreigners in Thailand with drugs on their person or in their room! Are guys who book escorts typically looking for quick sex or are they after this so-called mythical girlfriend experience and have her stay all night long?
Sophia: Most guys start with short-time and then wait to see if they click with the girl. If they do then they might extend it and ask her to stay all night.
Julie: One customer booked me and took me to Phuket. He made a reservation for 6 days and he looked after all the extra expenses. He even brought his two kids along!
What?! How old were they?
Julie: Early teens. We were like a happy family and we went on island trips together! He didn't want anyone thinking that he had taken a local girl from Phuket. He told his kids that he had known me in Bangkok for a long time. If you have a lady in Phuket who is from or works in Phuket then when you walk around other girls will say hello to her. He did not want that to happen with his kids there!
Sophia: On one job a customer brought some small kids and he had to take care of some family business so I stayed in one room and he stayed in the next room with his kids. He put the kids to sleep and then he came to my room, had sex with me and went back to the other room. During the night he came back into the room I was sleeping in for sex again. Then the customer's mother came the next morning to join them on their family holiday and I had to leave.
Owner: There was one Swedish guy who used to like golden showers and scat.
Owner: Eating pooh pooh. His wife left him because she could not take it. It was too much for her to accept so they divorced. He stayed alone and he requested an escort. Escorts can do more than a wife.
Hmm, I hear this line often. A bunch of ladyboys used the same line recently.
Paula: Some guys want us to spank them. One customer wanted me to be his mother and I had to spank his ass and slap and kick his balls! He screamed "Harder, harder, harder!" and then screamed "Mama, mama, mama!" I was hitting him really hard and he wanted more and more! Really, we can do anything.
OK, I'll take your word for it. Girls in gogo bars have every right to refuse customers – even if that seldom happens – so what do you do if you knock on a hotel room door and it is opened by the meanest, nastiest, smelliest, sadistic-looking guy? What would you do?!
Sophia: I suppress my emotions and feeling of disgust for some customers. Some customers complain and try to behave like a psycho and they say silly things, asking us why we do this work. Why do they ask that when they pay to use us? One customer wanted to be picked up at the airport with a sign saying "Welcome, Dr So-And-So". He was a doctor so we thought he would be a very handsome and desirable man, but when we saw him….he was an Indian! He jumped at me and kissed me right there at the airport! I was shocked! When we reached the hotel he had a schedule of sexual acts he wanted to perform with a timetable, all meticulously planned. He had prepared a costume for me to wear. I even had times to shower, times to massage him, times to do this and times to do that. And he said, you cannot say no. He insisted he had read my profile already and I could not refuse anything!
Paula: One night around 2 AM I got a phone call and I had to go to the Shangri La to see a guy who booked me at that time. I was there in 30 minutes, knocked on the door and the guy was short, you know with a body that was not right.
You mean a dwarf?
Paula: Yes, a really short dwarf! I am tall and I was wearing high heels and here was this guy so much shorter than me! But actually, he was very lovely. He booked me for 4 hours and we had 2 hours of non-stop sex.
Owner: A young guy emailed asking to meet a girl who he could hang out and go dance with. He said sex was not important but he just wanted someone to hang out with and party with who had good English so they could talk a lot. But when the girl reached the room it was sex only. They had sex in every corner of the room! In the end they fell asleep on the floor. They had no energy to make it back on to the bed!
What is the advantage of using an escort?
Paula: We are safer in terms of security. If the client takes a girl and something happens like his possessions are stolen he can contact the owner of the agency and she can do something about it. Try that in a gogo bar and see what happens.
Owner: Most escorts are classy. We are much higher class than bargirls. We wear nicer clothes. You can hang out with us. We have better manners and we are polite. When people see us walking with a customer we look better than a bargirl. You can request what you want and the agency will find it. You want a tour guide, a party girl, a sweet demure innocent girl? We can find this for you. You can talk with the boss first for a recommendation of the type of escort you are looking for.
What about health checks?
Owner: The girls check their blood every 3 months. We cannot force girls to check. Some who work in a massage parlour and also work for us, well, some of those ladies have to check their blood every 3 months. Some girls work elsewhere and are checked often so I have no need to check.
That's hardly convincing! What percentage of escorts have a day job? Do some work in a gogo bar or at other places like massage parlours or freelance joints?
Owner: Prada has a regular office job.
Do you have problem customers, guys who cheat girls?
Owner: Sometimes a guy makes a fake booking, like he books a girl for a few days but he never arrives. So what happens is we have blocked the girl from getting any more bookings at that time but the guy never shows. Also, sometimes guys give a name or room number at a hotel but when we go it is the wrong person or there is no-one there!
Do you find customers come back to see escorts again and again?
Owner: Yes, this happens, but what happens more is that the customer wants to try different girls each time. That is ok, up to him, whatever he wants to do. What happens a lot is that the guy meets the girl the first time through us, but then he makes arrangements to meet her later without going through the agency.
How many of your customers do you think are married?
Owner: When I talk on the phone with customers, many ask me to go out, even though they have never seen my face!
Some Western guys who come to Thailand have had such a tough time with women at home, and then some are so desperate, that all it takes is for a pretty Thai lady to just smile at them and they are in love. I see this all the time.
Owner: One time a guy gave his name and hotel name but we weren't sure if it was the S15 hotel or the S31 hotel. It was funny because he gave his first name and email and hotel but he didn't give the room number and I had just got home after hanging out, and was a little drunk. I called the S 31 hotel and asked for Scott. She connected me to a room with a guy called Scott but it was not the right Scott! I guess there must have been a few Scotts staying there. I asked him if he still wanted to meet Paula and he said no, sorry. He hung up the phone. It was the wrong person! I hope he was not staying with his wife because I called at 3 AM!
Is working as an escort a secret? Do your friends know what you do?
Sophia: Some friends know, mainly those who do the same work.
Prada: Only those who do the same type of work know what I do.
And your family? Do they know, or, let me rephrase that. Do you think they know?
Sophia: You speak Thai so I think you know about Thai culture. We don't want them to know because they would feel very bad if they knew. I tell my family that I sell cosmetics. Actually, it's not really that big a deal to me really, but then neither is it really necessary for them to know the truth either.
Prada: My family don't know and don't need to know. I think what I do is ok because I take care of them very well.
Julie: If I have a job outside Bangkok it is a problem for me. I live at home with my family so they absolutely cannot know what I do. No-one in my family knows. I also tell my family I work selling cosmetics and sometimes I tell them that I have to run a cosmetics booth in another province for a few days, but actually I am away with a customer.
Sophia: It is a little difficult because sometimes we have to dress in a certain way, prepare our makeup and do everything in a certain way so we look really good. I have to pack everything in a bag so if I get a call when I am outside I can prepare myself and go to work. I can rush to the nearest ladies room, change, put on makeup and go to meet the customer!
Do you want to do this for a long time? My experience is that Thai women are in this line of work for one of two reasons – either for the money and / or to find a farang husband. It seems to me that few women working with foreign guys actually save anything and the only real way to stop this sort of work is to meet a guy who will marry you.
Sophia: We have to use a lot of money to look nice so that can make it difficult to save. But actually, I used to be able to save money. I quit working and used the money I had saved to live, but when the money I had saved was gone I had to return to work.
Julie: I am trying to save money for my future. Hopefully I can save enough.
Owner: Most girls who work in this industry – bargirls, massage girls, freelancing girls and escorts – all dream to find a good guy to look after them so they can stop working. But you know most guys usually only keep a girl for a few months, one year maximum, and then it ends and she has to return to work again. This happens so often. Maybe the guy gets bored or whatever but the girl has to return to what she was doing.
Paula: I would like to save enough money to be able to run a small business and then I will leave.
Julie: I have left before but you know, it's like bad luck and black money. We know that the money we make was not made "the right way". When we use it to try and make more money things don't work out and we have to return to doing what we were doing before.
Paula: I worked before, then I stopped and got married to a Thai guy. I had a family and 2 children. I was making money by operating a little minimart. We tried a few different businesses but then my mother in law got cancer and we needed lots of money for her treatment. But we did not have enough. At that point I had to return to work to make money again. I just returned to work recently.
What would you like to tell my readers? I figure they are more familiar with women in the gogo bars than escorts. Do you have any final words for them?
Paula: Call me! Like I told one customer, if you are nice to me, I will be even nicer to you. But actually, if you are bad to me, you will never forget me! I just want a guy to respect me. I want to be good to you and if you are nice to me, really, I will do everything I can to make you happy and have fun.
Sophia: I have met good customers and had a good time together, but when the time finishes the guy feels sad. I hope guys know this is just a job for me and when time is up, well, time is up! It is just a job!
Prada: Maybe I am lucky because most of my customers are really nice and give me nice tips!
Julie: I hope that in the future I meet a really nice guy!
Owner: I would like to say to everyone reading this, don't worry about who you are, we can service you. We just ask that you treat the girls with respect. You can tell us what you're looking for and we will find the best person for you. And don't be shy to tell me about what your needs are! It's ok! You can talk with me and tell me everything that you want and I will find the right person for you. But please, be nice to the girls!
*Where* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken from the start of Sukhumvit soi 6, looking down the soi. It was rather easy and more than 50 readers got it right so I have made this week's photo much more difficult! So where was this week's mystery photo taken?! All you have to do is tell me where the photo was taken. There are 2 prizes this week – a 500 baht credit at the Oh My Cod fish and chips restaurant, and a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues and home of Bangkok's best burger, Duke's Express.
Terms and conditions: 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. 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!
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 – Phuket paradise?
On my recent trip to Phuket, I found the airport and its infrastructure not geared up for taking large jets in high season. My flight was full and my bag was just about last off the carousel. Net result – I was last out to hail transport to Patong. Not happy! It was only 8 PM and all the cabs and minivans had gone and I had to wait outside for 90 minutes in the heat of the night clutching my miserable 150-baht minivan ticket for another 9 passengers to appear. After about an hour a taxi tout appeared and offered me his taxi to Patong for a cool 1,200 baht for the 45-minute journey. I'd rather sleep on the airport floor than hand that over. Other than perhaps scuba diving, I see no real reason to trail down there all the way from Bangkok. Phuket is expensive and Ko Chang, Ko Samet and Pattaya offer much more affordable alternatives. I reckon the vibe in Phuket's nightlife areas is much more intimidating than years gone by. I get the feeling that trouble could kick off at any minute, even more so than in Pattaya – and that's saying something. For me at least, Phuket is off the itinerary.
Terrorists and Bangkok.
The fact that terrorists are using Bangkok as a bomb manufacturing centre comes as no surprise. There is ZERO security in Thailand, which is exactly why these people chose to operate here. Just watch the 'security guards' checking bags as people enter the MRT stations. They shine a torch in a bag for a nanosecond as the owner keeps moving, and I've stood and watched as people with bags enter Siam Paragon through the exit doors to avoid the scanners and no-one cares. If Thailand loses billions of baht from missing tourists that is exactly what it deserves, with its 'I don't dare to challenge someone because he is higher on the social ladder than me' attitude. The only surprise is that the terrorists in the south haven't spread their campaign to the capital, as it is wide open with plenty of juicy targets to kill the tourist trade for years. Now THAT would pressure the government to actually tackle the issue instead of the problem dragging on for years with 3500 and counting dead.
Doing the cockroach dance!
I had a similar experience with that rainstorm last week. I was due to go and meet my girlfriend at Terminal 21. Living on Asoke, however, when the rains come down made it almost impossible. The rainwater was about 2-3 foot deep in the middle of the road and the pavements also flooded. You can only make it so far on the elevated driveways of the condos before you are completely cut off by rainwater. While looking out of my condo's driveway and being similarly stunned and considering how to move on I noticed someone else doing the "cockroach dance". I let my eyes re-focus to the ground around me and realise there are 200+ cockroaches surrounding me! Lucky this was dry ground so they did not need to use me as a lifeboat. In the end I walked as far as I could towards Sukhumvit and while examining sewage water which was blocking me and considering to take off my shoes and just run for it but then someone up there must have had pity on me because I turn around spot a taxi with a light on, flag it down and in I get. This with dozens of people around obviously looking for a taxi also! Asoke used to flood really badly about 5 years ago. It used to be constantly paralysed by floods in the rainy season. Then they re-did the gutters and drainage, raised the pavements and that fixed the flooding for a long time. In the last year it seems to have started flooding again.
I just read with interest what you wrote about the remodeled camera store section of Fortune Town. While service in these stores can leave a foreigner underwhelmed, one bright spot in Fortune Town when I resided in Bangkok from 2007 to 2009 was Digital Now Shop. One thing a buyer should be very careful about there – even when there is a warranty card included with the item – is to make sure there's nothing that would indicate that it is a repackaged defective item. Also, some places are generally not forthcoming about the lack of warranty when they sell grey market items. The big problem with Fortune Town stores is no stock depth, in fact almost no stock at all of pro-level gear, even when they have it advertised. Sure, Fotofile might have that kind of stuff, but the surly staff at both of their MBK stores kept me from being a repeat customer.
A reader vents.
I just want to vent about Bangkok Airways. Using their online booking system, I scheduled a Utapao – Samui round trip for 3 people. On the confirmation page, the dates were wrong. I immediately attempted to call (busy) and email my situation. They called back 2 days later after our scheduled departure to tell me that there was an 800 baht per person change fee. My cell went dead during the conversation which left me in real trouble. I eventually went to a travel agent with hat in hand and she fixed it all for 100 baht (plus the 2,400 baht change fee). The monopoly by Bangkok Airways owning the only airport on the island is horrible for consumers. Prices have nearly doubled in US dollars in a few years. After landing you deal with the taxi mafia who refuse to use meters. Consider the ferry or another island destination.
Self-defence, farang style!
In reference to the gent getting the door kicked in and the cops taking an hour to respond, since it is almost impossible for farangs to own firearms to protect themselves, an alternative is to keep a pint or so of gasoline in a tightly sealed container. Store it in a cool and secure place. If someone comes through the door and bars, throw the opened container or splash the attacker and throw a match or use a lighter. Very ugly business, but better than losing your life to a gang of violent drunks!
I'm a Farango!
I spend quite a bit of the year in Brazil where the locals call me a "Gringo" and when I spend the rest of the year in Thailand the locals there call me a "Farang" but to save confusion on my part, I just introduce myself as a "Farango" which always goes down well whatever country I am in!
There seems to be something of a second wave in the high season at Nana with the better bars booming. Try and get a seat later in the evening in the likes of Billboard, Rainbow 4 or Angelwitch and you might have to do a lap of the bar before you find an empty spot. Down the road at Cowboy, it's a little different. Friday nights are as busy as always, and Saturday nights the cash register is turning over fast enough to keep bar owners happy, but from Sunday through to Thursday the same highs aren't being seen and locals are getting the sort of attention from the girls they hadn't seen since late last year. Nana, which gets more of a tourist crowd than Cowboy, seems to be much more constant, night after night, whereas Cowboy seems to peak at the end of the work week.
What I had previously referred to as The Billboard Group now has an official name, The Nana Group. Keep a close eyes on these guys as they are one of the big players and, thank God, they are actually doing things right in the industry, investing money and getting Western bar managers involved, all of which contributes to a much better experience. Their bars include Angelwitch, Billboard, DC10, Las Vegas and Nana Liquid.
Amazing, the Dollhouse has actually gone against the trend and is kicking smokers out! Dollhouse has become a not smoking bar, with smoking allowed in the outside area only. The way rather a large number of bar owners pander to their smoking customers has irritated many – and contributed to perhaps more lost business than it has gained – and I would expect Dollhouse to see trade go up. Hopefully other bars that allow smokers will run the maths and see that it might just be in their interest to make the venues non-smoking also. Allowing smoking outdoors, at Cowboy bars at least, seems like a fair compromise.
The clutter of vendors and beggars in Soi Cowboy has a very welcome consequence. Along with the crowds, they make the soi too difficult to navigate for the orange-vested folks who are forced to find another route to traverse between Sukhumvit sois 21 and 23.
Sin Bin Lounge in Sukhumvit Soi 22's Queen's Park Plaza is celebrating the return of the world's best rugby tournament, the Super 15, and the progress of the 6 Nations with a special promotion this upcoming Saturday. They are showing 3 games – the all Aussie clash between the Reds and the Waratahs at 3:30 PM, the Ireland vs. Italy match at 8:20 PM and the England vs. Wales game at 10:20 PM. And at half time in each of the games, Sin Bin will be ringing the bell – a free standard drink for every customer, the only condition being that you must have already bought a drink in the bar when the bell is rung. And they'll be doing the same the next day for the Scotland vs. France match.
A new under-lit disco-style dance floor a la Saturday night Fever has been installed in the outside part of the bar, along with a pole and some Dollhouse pole performers to entice customers inside – or is it to keep the smokers who have been banished outside happy?!
After the bombings in Sukhumvit Soi 71 earlier this week, it's probably a good idea to have some sort of ID with you at all times. I maintain that the best thing to have on your person is a laminated copy of the main photo page of your passport. That is what I use and I reckon it should satisfy 99% of officialdom. I note that around Sukhumvit sois 3/1 and 5 – AKA the Arab quarter – there was a greater police presence over the past few days. Hardly unexpected after what those crazed Iranians did on soi 71 earlier in the week.
Speaking of that bombing debacle, I finally managed to get a smile out of popular bar manager, PJ. The ex-New Yorker likes to perch on Soi Cowboy and watch the world go by, often with his partner in crime, Bangkok Bob – of the defunct Bangkok Bob site. Anyway, as popular as PJ is, I don't know that I have ever seen him smile. I like to have a few words with him when I am doing my rounds and obviously the bombing was the big talking point in expat circles this week. The first thing I said to PJ was that the Iranian was not the first foreigner to be legless on Sukhumvit. It took PJ a moment to register that and he came back with some quip, something about me being a smart ass. I then said that at least the Iranian will still be able to go on a pub crawl. I looked away and for a moment, just a moment, a smirk appeared on PJ's face. I looked back and his face was blank. So yes, if anyone asks, the sometimes grouchy but always likeable PJ does smileSpanky's Pattaya branch was closed for a short time but reopened a few days ago and is business as usual.
From the Check Inn 99 comes a humorous story. Since putting the red cabaret sign above the street where the dwarf used to sit, they had a Central European customer come in for an hour who watched the band, a bunch of Filipinos. After an hour he went over to the manager and complained that the cabaret show was in fact a fake! The genius worked out that the entertainers were in fact girls – real girls – and not ladyboys, for which the popular meaning of cabaret show so often applies. Girls trying to impersonate ladyboys? How does the manager respond to that?!
A friend told me another humorous story about how he has a friend who has a live-in girlfriend, an ex lady of the night. This live-in sleeps an estimated 14 hours a day most days, living more than half her life in bed. She is so idle that he has started rolling her over at infrequent intervals, worried that if he doesn't, she might suffer bed sores!
Want a bit of advice for when dealing with Thai hookers? Never say sorry to bargirls. Ever. It is seen (by them) as a sign of weakness. Even if you have done something wrong and it would be the polite and right thing to do to apologise, saying sorry is just not a good idea.
If you use the mobile phone system as your primary means of connecting to the internet because, perhaps, you cannot get a direct ADSL connection in your apartment / condo, while the speed of 3G mobile internet might be adequate for general web surfing, it should be noted that most mobile phone internet plans in Thailand actually have a data cap. What this means is that if you are not careful you may chew through this data cap, especially if you are watching streamed video or downloading a lot of large files. Once you have reached the data cap, your speeds are throttled, resulting in a much slower connection. Mobile phones make an ideal backup internet connection but think carefully about using them for your primary connection, at least if you spend a lot of time online.
A few people have recommended the new Italian deli-style restaurant at the foot of Asoke BTS, sort of below the new Terminal 21 shopping centre. I have yet to it try it but it looks good, and I hope to try it out this coming week. You can find out more about the restaurant at its site: Palapizzabangkok.
The British Embassy in Bangkok has a new ambassador. The last one only did half a term as he was a temporary replacement although this is hardly newsworthy. Apparently he got a lot stick for not appearing to be being British, even though he most certainly was. Word around Brit expat circles was that his wife (a more strict Muslim than he apparently is) banned pork and bacon at the embassy breakfast meetings. An English breakfast without bacon? Hardly sounds like an English breakfast at all!
Speaking of tasty food, where can you get a good meat pie in Bangkok? Not a full pie meal like you get in many British pubs, but just a regular pie, like you might have for lunch in NZ or Australia? Plenty to be had down in Pattaya but they're not easy to find in Bangkok and finding a good one, well, I am not sure if such exists in Bangkok. I'd love to be proven wrong!
Have you noticed the differences between the security guards on the skytrain and those on the underground train? The trains may be almost the same, but the guards sure ain't. Many of the guards on the skytrain are old, some look frail and they're armed with but a baton. On the underground, the guards are the real deal – they are solid, have a steely look, seem to be in their prime and of course they carry a handgun! Rather different, to say the least. Just why is that?
If you're ordering food in Thailand and have a special request, unless you're in a good restaurant, make that a REALLY good restaurant, all I can say is good luck. Something as simple as requesting the order items are served can be a real challenge – and it is not about the language but seemingly about the willingness of the staff to actually listen. What I do in that particular case is order one course, wait for it to arrive, and then order the next course. For some inexplicable reason this seems to really irritate staff, but it IS effective and you do get the food in the order in which you had hoped to. If there is one thing I hate, it is ordering an appetiser only for it to be served after the main!
Have you ever been to a branch of Starbucks in Bangkok where there wasn't an awkward looking Western / Thai couple, who are obviously meeting for the first time having initially met online? It seems to be such a big part of their business today.
Quote of the week comes from Mega, "Despite the obvious, bargirls are exceptionally good at two things: wasting your time and money!"
Reader's story of the week comes from Napster, "Inside Look At The Life Of A Massage Girl."
Khun Chuwit, a former massage parlour mogul and elected politician, says prostitution should be outlawed in Thailand!
A man is jailed in New Zealand for organising child sex tours to Thailand.
Beware that engaging in cybersex in the Philippines could see you sentenced to a spell in the monkey house!
Is it really true that rat meat is a delicacy in Thailand?
The Phnom Penh Post took a closer look at hostess bars and working girls in Cambodia.
From the UK's Daily Mail, hookers and hookahs, bungling Iranian bombers partying with Pattaya prostitutes!
Could Thailand tighten up its visa laws further after the botched bombing this week?
Almost 40 people were hospitalised after an explosion at a Phuket hotel this week.
Ask Sunbelt Legal
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: I have been offered work in Bangkok as a tour guide and the money is very tempting. The problem is, I do not have a tourist guide license or a work permit for it. What are the consequences of being caught working illegally?
Sunbelt responds: Foreigners cannot obtain a tourist guide license as this profession is restricted to Thai nationals only. If you are caught working illegally, you will be arrested, fined and you may face deportation.
Question 2: Would you kindly advise the correct and easiest way to obtain a non-immigrant B visa as I need to send two of my teachers overseas ASAP. I understand that before I arrange for their work permits they must have this visa in their passport. Even my lawyers are rather vague on the necessary documentation required for presentation to the Thai Embassy / Consulate in Laos or Cambodia.
Sunbelt responds: For teachers to obtain a non-immigrant B visa, they will need evidence of their education, a teaching license and a police report that they have no criminal record. Applicants for private schools are required to submit a letter from the Ministry of Education in Thailand. Additionally, they will need a letter from the head of the school confirming that the school is offering them a position. The documentation is as follows:
– Passport or travel document with validity of not less than 6 months.
– Completed visa application form.
– Recent passport-sized photograph (4 x 6 cm) of the applicant taken within the past 6 months.
– Letter of acceptance from employing institute or school in Thailand.
– Letter of approval from government agencies such as the Office of the Private Education Commission, the Office of the Basic Education Commission.
– Evidence of educational qualification such as diplomas or teaching certificates.
– School license or business registration, list of shareholders and school profile.
– Applicant’s resume.
– Police certificate verifying that applicant has no criminal record or equivalents or letter issued by authorised agencies in the applicant’s country. (The requirement of the submission of such police certificate is optional. The applicant must submit it if the consular officer requests he/she to do so.
Question 3: A foreigner married to a Thai lady needs a will regarding land and house. Rather than a usufruct, is it possible to will all the property to my wife's sister with specific directions regarding the disposition of the land and house and other rai of land? Is this will enforceable by the foreigner if the sister decides not to comply with the provisions stated in the will? Would bank accounts and investments also meet enforcement provisions?
Sunbelt responds: Your wife can will the house and land to her sister. She can put provisions in the will. The foreigner can sue for enforcement but at the end of the day is the foreigner really protected? A will can be changed at any time while a usufruct cannot without the foreigner's consent or by way of a court order. You have more protection with the usufruct. Bank accounts and investments would also meet enforcement provisions.
I think I need to open my eyes a little more because I seem to be missing a few things recently. Over the past two months, a farang violinist has been playing on Soi Cowboy. I walk up and down Cowboy frequently, and it took me weeks to even notice him. And then this past Friday night, I walked up and down Cowboy very much for the purpose of seeing what was going on, and looking out for any changes or new arrivals. I didn't notice a lot. The next morning I received an email from the dirty doctor informing me that there was a new outdoor dance floor set up outside Dollhouse. I'd walked up and down, spoken with a couple of managers and had a couple of drinks, yet I had missed it! Hopefully I'm not missing too many other newsworthy things happening out there.
Your Bangkok commentator,