Stickman's Weekly Column March 18th, 2012

The Highlights of Hua Hin



We wanted a quiet weekend away, somewhere relaxing place where we could really relax without the crowds, hassles and busy nightlife. Pattaya is great, but it was just a bit too much for what we were looking for this weekend. Samet is just that little bit too far, you can't drive the car there and accommodation is that crazy mix of low quality and high price. Phuket and Samui I went off long ago and for a weekend away from Bangkok, they're just too much hassle to get to. That leaves one beach for a relaxing weekend away from Bangkok. Hua Hin.





Hua Hin beach

Hua Hin sits 220 km southwest of Bangkok, and can be reached in less than 3 hours by car. 2 hours is doable if you take the journey at night and put your foot down. Rumour has it that the minivans which depart from Victory Monument can get you there quicker still. No thanks. The train goes to Hua Hin, but can take 4 or more hours.

Hua Hin has a beach, a real beach, one that is actually worth going out of your way for. And this isn't your usual farang-dominated Thai beach as so many have become. Wander just a few hundred metres away from the heart of downtown where most sun worshippers spend their days, and you have large swathes of beautiful, clean white sand all to yourself.



Hua hin

Getting around Hua Hin can be a challenge if you're not staying in the town centre and don't have your own wheels. Most restaurants and bars are located in a small area of a few blocks in the town centre while the beach runs kilometres and kilometres in each direction with hotels, resorts and guesthouses dotted up and down the coast. There are various transportation options including the quaint old charm of samlors. Hua Hin is not as difficult nor expensive to get around as Phuket, but then no way it is not as easy or inexpensive to get around as Pattaya.



Hua Hin seafood

Hua Hin isn't a cheap destination with accommodation costs running about twice what they do for similar properties in Pattaya. Where Hua Hin stands out from the crowd is its seafood. It doesn't matter whether you go to one of the huge seafront seafood restaurants, or small seafood eateries near the night market, seafood in Hua Hin hits the sweet spot – high quality food at what sometimes seem like giveaway prices. Prices are so low what you if you have become accustomed to Bangkok prices you'll do a double take. It makes you realise how much Bangkok's exorbitant inner city rents contribute to the cost of eating out.



Hua Hin

Thais tell me this vendors sells the best mango and sticky rice you will find in the Kingdom, but I remain unconvinced. Good? Sure! But I don't know that it is really any better than what you find elsewhere. The response from Thais was immediate; and not unexpected – how can a foreigner possibly have any idea about Thai food! They are Thai, I am not and as such I should believe them! In the lane that runs adjacent to the Hilton is the mango and sticky rice vendor pictured above that has been around for years. The queue can be so long you wonder if they are giving food away for free! You wouldn't go to Hua Hin just for the food, but restaurants, eateries and the general quality of produce seem to be of a high standard.



Hua Hin Summer Palace

For a cultural experience, visiting King Rama 6's Summer Palace, located around 12 km north of Hua Hin, perhaps half way between Hua Hin and Cha Am, is worthwhile.

The palace sits next to the ocean and much of it is raised above ground featuring long walkways between the various wings of the palace. It has been well preserved and is worth checking out if Thai history and / or local architecture interest you. I have to say that the experience is marred however by the incredibly officious staff who insist on the strictest compliance to attire regimen of any historic site I have visited anywhere in the world. If your shorts don't cover your knees, you're going to be told to cover them with a real odd looking garment…



Hua Hin

Several kilometres south of the main Hua Hin township is Khao Takiap, meaning Chopsticks Mountain in English. At the foot of the mountain is an interesting fishing village and atop the small mountain, more a hill than a mountain, is a Chinese-style temple overrun with monkeys. Great views are offered over the bay and looking north back towards downtown Hua Hin. The monkeys are largely docile but be careful if you have a soft drink – they will try and grab it from you!



Hua Hin

There are more cameras in Plearnwan than in Bangkok's busiest camera store and if there is anywhere that TLL girls like to be photographed more than Plearnwan, I don't know where. Plearnwan is an old-style Thai market just beyond the Klaikangwon Palace that has been immensely popular with Thais since it opened a couple of years back. It features a collection of olde worlde Thai memorabilia and paraphernalia but frankly it is all rather commercial and being small and popular it feels like it is always teeming with people. Visiting Hua Hin means visiting Plearnwan for most Thais, at least those who have yet to see it – so expect it to be on the itinerary if you go with Thais.



Hua Hin railway station

Despite the country having a rich history, there's not a great deal of old architecture in Thailand. The Hua Hin train station is a nicely preserved, albeit small piece of Thai history and worth checking out. It is one of few attractions that you can reach on foot from downtown.



Hua Hin

Hua Hin's night market features a different breed of vendor from any tourist centric market in Bangkok. The vendors are polite and for the most part asking prices are fair. You actually feel like you're getting a fair deal and not being ripped off as you do when you buy anything at Patpong, on Sukhumvit Road or any other market stall where tourists are found in the capital. The market is best known for its truly excellent food stalls but there's plenty of local knick knacks too.





Hua Hin bars

Hua Hin does have a bar area but it's low key. I recall Soi Bintabaht, the main bar soi – pictured above, a short lane of perhaps 100 metres with beer bars along each side. The bar district has since mushroomed out and there are perhaps several dozen bars spread over various sois in the heart of town. Think beer bars, in the same flavour as Sin City. Chrome pole venues can't be found which keeps the hardcore naughty boys away. For nightlife lovers, Hua Hin isn't really on the map. If you fancy a naughty weekend away, you really would be better off taking someone with you. Taking sand to the beach is ok in Hua Hin!



Hua Hin farang

Hua Hin gets few of the types you may associate more with Pattaya. Given the lack of any nightlife vibe in Hua Hin – there are bars but the place is not a sex tourism destination – you wonder if some got on the wrong bus. For the most part though, the naughty boys you see in Hua Hin are old continental Europeans which unintentional eavesdropping suggests some speak even less English than the girls they frequent.

Hua Hin is a great weekend get away from Bangkok. You can take it easy at the beach or the hotel pool, or if you want to keep busy there's enough to fill a couple of days.

Comparisons with other beach resorts in Thailand are inevitable. Hua Hin is smaller and quieter than Pattaya, but the beach is much nicer and the town is more pleasant. There's less hassle, less noise and the locals seem nicer. It is, of course, much less exciting than Sin City. Hua Hin is much smaller and less developed than Phuket or Samui, but can boast similarly picturesque, but much less crowded beaches. While there is a bar industry, Hua Hin does not have the crazy nightlife of other beaches which may be a positive or a negative, depending on which side of the fence you sit.

Hua Hin is not for everyone and despite its charms is not without its drawbacks. Without your own wheels it's not as easy to get to, nor get around in, as say Pattaya is. The local transport is a letdown unless you're prepared to pay a premium for taxis or private vehicles to ferry you around. Many of the highlights are some distance from town – meaning you could spend more on getting around than you would at the sites themselves. Accommodation rates are relatively high during the week and can shoot up to silly levels at the weekend. Think Pattaya prices doubled, or more.

In some ways Hua Hin strikes me as what I expected Phuket to be when I first visited – a quaint, charming and unmistakably Thai beach resort that just happens to be popular with foreigners.

If you fancy a weekend away from Bangkok without the madness of Pattaya, Hua Hin is a decent option.



*Where* was this photo taken?

Thailand

Last week's photo was taken at the intersection of Rama 4 and Silom Roads, near the main entrance to Lumpini Park. So where was this week's mystery photo taken?! All you have to do is tell me where the photo was taken. A clue – it was taken outside Bangkok! 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 Fond memories of the Nana.

There's no place like the Nana Hotel lobby circa 2000. Old hands will recall the late Mr. Izzy, the mayor of the Nana Hotel lobby. Izzy was the only survivor in his family of the Nazi death camps and one of the most personable people I've ever met. He would hold court nightly with a bunch of pals in the lobby. There was always something going on at the Nana, the best people watching in Bangkok. A friend swears he was sitting in the lobby one afternoon when the door swung open and in rolled an old geezer in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank with a personal nurse and two comely bargirls. Unfortunately Izzy passed away in his room about the same year the Nana began going downhill, or rather uphill renovation wise and downhill in interest. Today it's about as lively as an abandoned ghost town in the Arizona desert. The prices went up, the old gang moved on, and there's no new gang to replace them. As one old boy noted, you could be in your room upstairs at the Nana, have an argument with your girlfriend, she'd walk out, you'd get in the elevator, down to the disco and find a replacement before the TV commercial ended. Fond memories.

Would you step into a coffin?

I don't know if you can put a date to it when you last toured Thailand on public transport. But when you did you draw a line and make a distinction that whenever possible, you would catch a scheduled government bus over a minibus. Minibuses, in my opinion, are 4-wheel mobile coffins. By definition their interpretation of the inside lane is for overtaking at speed, but as happens in Thailand, those exiting from the left have priority a gauche (priority from the left) perceived or otherwise. When both lanes are impassable for overtaking then the oncoming lane is commandeered and to increase the likelihood of a full-frontal crash, overtaking on blind corners is often a chosen preference.

Thailand losing its lure.

Speaking as one who could if he wished go to Thailand (and would have no problems enjoying the 'naughty scene'), I have come to the conclusion that why should I? Yes, jasmine fever plays a part, but I am now going through a messy divorce from my Filipina princess and to be honest, it just gets worse. As far as P4P is concerned, I think Spain is a better option. €60 for 45 minutes upstairs. No need for conversation (but you can if you want), no jealousy, no pretend GFE, job done. I am cynical, about South-East Asian ladies. Yesterday in my small corner of the UK I saw a South-East Asian lady in my local supermarket. Probably married to a local guy. Stunning, had the make-up and was wearing non-controversial clothing and boots which were conservative yet clinging and showed off a superb body. Also the haughty look as she drove away in a late-model upper-end car. A former bargirl? I have no idea, but I wouldn't bet against it. For now, at least, I'm glad that I'm back in the UK.



Domestic slow too.

Saw the email complaining of the queue to get through Immigration at Swampy. You should try getting through the domestic side. I came back from Udon Thani on a Thai flight on Saturday, after a pleasant few days up north and in Vientiane, and after a 50-minute flight waited 65 minutes for my bag! I wasn't alone, as I heard – in Thai and English – several announcements about baggage delays from other flights, but none about ours. All this with ads going on about the airport being voted the best in Asia last year. Must have been voted on by people who have never been here!

More money, more food!

Over the past few months I've noticed not only a significant reduction of attractive ladies in TLL, but a very significant increase in the number of overweight ladies. A few even admit it in their profile "a few pounds overweight" comment. At first I attributed this to the fact that the average attractive / slender / educated Thai lady probably wouldn't use the services of TLL. However, for the past few months I have been in contact with a uni student who periodically sends me photos of her and her classmates at a party or some other function. There are usually groups of about 12, mostly women, and at least 10 of them are grossly overweight! I am absolutely amazed but it would seem that as Thailand rises economically resulting in the eating of more Western junk food there is an obesity crisis in Thailand. Wow, this is something I would never have believed.

The 'old Pattaya' still exists.

I agree with you that the vast majority of tourists on Walking Street have no interest in venturing into a naughty boy bar, but it doesn't end there. I spent 8 nights in Pattaya in February, and caught up with a Thai house band that I enjoy very much in one of the bars that relies on punters to come in off the street and actually buy a drink – they have no bargirls at all. From memory, I think it's called Hot Tuna. In any case, hordes of cheapskates will stand outside, grooving to the excellent guitarist, and ignore pleas from the wait staff to come inside and sit down. Cheap airfares, accommodation etc and they won't buy a bottle of Tiger and put a hundred baht in the band's tip bin? Give me a break! Fast forward to 1 AM onwards and I was quite surprised by the number of 'old school naughty boys' to be found in various bars from Soi Buakhao to Soi 6, and when those bars closed it was a full house at my favourite all-nighter on Soi 7. I didn't make it to dawn, but I have staggered from that particular bar at 6 AM in the past and there were still people there. Patts seemed more in your face than ever, and it's clearly a culture shock for some tourists, but they aren't going there for the pristine beaches! I'd love to be a fly on the wall at slide night back in St. Petersburg! If any readers want to see the 'old Pattaya', tell them to wait till the tourists go back to their hotels. It's still there – you just have to wait a little longer.

Giving Indians a bad name.

Twice in the past 10 days, I've been approached by an Indian man telling me that I have a lucky face. The first encounter was on the elevated walkway in front of Central World. The second was in front of State Tower on Silom Road. Having already read about these scammers on Stickman, I told them both to get lost. They and the tailors give Indians a bad name.


Lolitas


It's still the best part of 4 months until the Nana Group officially takes over as landlord at Nana Plaza, but already a few bars in the plaza have indicated that they will not stay on. GREAT! This is exactly what the plaza needs and the departure of some tired old bars and tired old bar owners and their tired old staff will make way for much-needed new blood.

The uber popular manager of Secrets bar in Pattaya and super nice guy, Larry, will host a big birthday bash next Sunday in Secrets bar, March 25th. Secrets parties are always a lot of fun and while I am not sure what they have arranged, no doubt there will be food and festivities and it might be the one night of the year when the Secrets girls are all over Larry! And ifLarry Secrets you wish to know how old Larry is, it's not 65 as that dyslexic girl in the bar has been telling everyone. Sure, he might look 65, but he's really going to be…56!

Small LCD screens have been installed at the urinal in the men's room in Tilac, something I find kind of odd. There's already a window above the urinal at eye level so you can watch the dancers while you make space for more drinks. To look at the LCD screens means you have to look down – and standing at a urinal in a public toilet and looking down is kind of suspicious! The mini TVs play a mix of funnies, with humorous JPEGs displayed as well as ads for various products and services. I'll stick with looking through the window.

There's been some development in the Queen's Park Plaza in soi 22 with the opening of Dirty D's, a new pool bar. Dirty D's takes the spot that was once home to Mash Bar. It has been completely redecorated and redesigned, and features a brand new pool table and even a brand new darts board. The owner also boasts the venue has the cleanest toilets in the plaza. The Queen's Park Plaza has a more laid-back vibe than other bar areas and is easier on the wallet – 90 baht seems to the standard price for a beer.

The spot on Sukhumvit between sois 7/1 and 9 previously home to Pasta and Noodles is being converted into a new sports bar which should open late next month. There's also a new American food venue due to open in several weeks on Sukhumvit soi 20 meaning more options for those craving a taste of home.

If we have any expats who spent time in Japan and developed a taste for the local beer, or perhaps any Japanese readers who are missing home, Asahi beer is now available in all of the Nana Group's bars.

Speaking of the Nana Group, the happy hour in Las Vegas is picking up with those in the know starting the night with 100 baht drinks before 9:30. I maintain that this bar has the cutest girls in Nana.

I note more and more streetside bars setting up in Sukhumvit soi 7. Unlike the streetside bars on the main Sukhumvit Road which tend to open late, the soi 7 booze booths set up early evening. The view isn't great (unless you're doing surveillance on a freelancer in the area), but that isn't so bad compared. The real issue at this time of year is the oppressive heat. It's as hot as hell at the moment, even after the sun has gone down – and sitting at the bars has to be incredibly uncomfortable without even a fan to move the air. Even regular beer bars aren't much fun at this time of year when the mercury is nudging 30 well into the night.

Business seemed to be down this week from previous weeks on Soi Nana's beer bars. I spent some time sitting at the railing watching the world go by and things were quieter than they have been in several weeks. No surprise really as the peak of high season is well behind us.


Golden Beer Bar


Check Inn 99 will hold a Blues Brothers revival night on Sunday 1st April from 8 PM until late. The venue's house band, Music of the Heart, will warm-up from 8 PM and then around 9 PM Jake and Elwood who have flown in especially for the event will perform. Between now and then, the venue will screen both Blues Brothers movies continuously in the evenings in the basement. As the venue is confident of a sell-out, bookings are recommended and tickets went on sale on March 8 at the venue which can be found on Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 & 7, directly opposite the Landmark Hotel. Two classes of tickets are available – numbered seats with table @800 baht allowing for early dinner bookings and a confirmed numbered seat allBlues Brothers night. General entry tickets @500 baht will be for the bar and stand up areas. Some un-booked seating will be available on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are fully redeemable against food and drink costs during the evening, so are effectively a minimum charge per person to ensure the venue covers its overheads. The venue will be decorated for the event and suitable Blues Brothers dress is expected – hats and dark glasses will be available at the door.

More days to be wary of if you're flying into the country for fun. All bars, nightspots and entertainment places have been asked to close from April 8 – 10 as a mark of respect at the time of the funeral of HRH Princess Bejaratana. That's just a few days before Songkran, a time which I reckon Thailand is best avoided.

The experience of a mate – yes, most definitely a mate and most certainly not me – who took a girl back to his room this week once again has me wondering how so many guys habitually spend time with bargirls. To cut a long story short, my mate met a bird in Nana Plaza and dropped a couple of thousand on drinks before taking her back to his room. He showered first and then it was her turn. She had a shower, got on the bed, removed the towel and while sitting there naked, as presumably he was too, she starts sending SMSs to friends. Then starts making some phone calls. This is late at night, after several drinks, and while laying naked next to my naked friend on his bed! He gestured that perhaps she might want to show a little interest in him but her love affair was clearly with her phone, and not him. Enough is enough he thought and he kicked her ass out, figuring that he had saved himself 1,500 baht. Of course, as soon as she got out on to the road she let him know that he is a very bad man for throwing her out like that….by text message, of course!

I am not willing to name the bar, but a very popular gogo bar in Bangkok is barring entry to Japanese, Arabs and Indians and pretty much only allows entry to Westerners. Non-whites who were born in or have spent most of their life in the West and convince the door staff so are allowed inside. And this bar is doing well, very well.

The big news in expat circles this week has been the lengths of time it takes, at certain times of the day, to be processed by Immigration at the airport. Travellers are experiencing queues both arriving in and departing from the country. For departing passengers, the advice has been that you should arrive 3 or even 4 hours before your plane departs. This is all very good and well….but many airlines won't check you in until 3 hours before departure! All of this is symptomatic of the major infrastructure Thailand is facing with growth in tourist arrivals and massive growth in the Thai middle class, all of which is putting major strain on infrastructure.

In last week's column I mentioned that officials in brown shirts had been sniffing around Soi Cowboy on Friday. It seems that they are concerned about our health and conducted a health check – searching for evidence of smoking. Not willing to do the most simple of tests, simply using one's personal smoke detector i.e. your nose, they chose instead to use their eyes. Obviously at least one bar maiden in each of the bars visited had had a premonition that they would be visited and ashtrays were put out of sight. Customers who had been smoking were told to refrain from doing so for a short period of time before they were given the green light to resume. As soon as the public health officials, oops, I mean the boys in brown had left,Pattaya bargirl satisfied that the venues were places where one had no chance of subjecting themselves to second-hand smoke, the ashtrays came back out and it was business as usual.

What is it with the growing prevalence of bar maidens getting a huge tattoo on their thigh? This was especially evident last week in Pattaya. These tats are so large and often visible at some distance that it brands them as, well, hookers!

If you want to mess with the psyche of your Thai date – and it only really works the first time you meet, so think first date – dress sharp, but make a point of carrying an old crappy mobile phone – the older, the better. The average Thai, particularly Bangkok Thais, are incredibly image conscious. They make judgments about people based primarily on their appearance – and one of the things so many Thais take into consideration when weighing you up is the mobile phone. The wealthier you are, or the higher your salary, the better your mobile…or so the conventional thinking goes. So if you carry and let your date see a particularly old and undesirable mobile phone, but are very well dressed, it really messes with their mind and they can't work you out! Not all Thais, of course, but certainly many urban Thais and particularly young women who follow the latest fashion trends desire the most expensive mobile they can afford, the Iphone still being the darling even though those in the know tell me the new Samsungs are superior. Of course, if you really like her and have plans of seeing her again, disregard this altogether!

An uglier scene you'll be hard pressed to find in all of Bangkok than Nana Plaza during the day. In the harsh light of day the decaying plaza can be seen for what it is. The heat of the high season seems to make the whole place smell worse too. And then we have the fuglies, the few who work the dayshift in the odd venues within the plaza that is actually open during the day. When I saw the state of the plaza this week by day, the girls working the dayshift, and the shirtless guys, I thought to myself that the word "slum" has a new meaning.


Nana Plaza


Is there anywhere else in Pattaya that is guaranteed to show Super 15 rugby matches with the commentary turned on, other than the old Pattaya rugby faithful hang-out, the Jack Tar in, umm, err soi 6? Jack Tar is known as a rugby bar and has a Kiwi manager – but sometimes one doesn't actually want to go to Soi 6, at least not to watch sport. Shenanigans promotes itself asMr Mike Bangkok the home of rugby in Pattaya but when you go inside they have this dreadful habit of showing English soccer even when there is a big rugby match being played – and the staff have zero interest of fixing that!

Black Pagoda is describing their planned event of next Sunday as a unique event when Mr. Mike delves into the dark. What that cryptic slogan means, I just don't know but more details can be seen in the poster, right.

The Kingston 1,000 GB flash drives for sale at many outlets on the 1st floor of TukCom in Pattaya are fake. 1,000 GB flash drives aren't available yet from any manufacturers and at 2,000 baht, it's too good to be true. I don't doubt that every vendor peddling them is aware that what they are selling is a fake, making them total schmucks. Inquiring in English got me a price, but then asking details about it in Thai raised the vendor's eyebrows and she went totally silent. Obviously they only want to sell them to tourists. Sell them to someone who is a local and you're going to have a problem when he returns!

There's a printer shop on the 3rd floor of Panthip Plaza which has a novel way of marketing the various printers they stock. All of the printers have sample photos – and all feature scantily clad photos of local women! These appear to be amateur photographs and while none actually feature any nudity, many show local women in risqué poses such as in the bath with their arms covering parts of their body, or laying on a bed nude, front down. I wonder how this sort of marketing would go down at a computer shop in the West?! :)

Every Saturday a group of expats plays floorball in north Pattaya. What's floorball? It has been described as being like ice hockey without the ice! They need extra players. No experience is necessary and hockey sticks are supplied. Anyone interested should just bring water, a towel and running shoes. They play for 90 minutes. The players are aged between 15 and 55 and come from Thailand, Europe and Canada. If you're still not interested, I have been told that a lot of sexy ladies go to watch the games! When? Saturdays at 3 PM. Where? The Pattaya Sports Complex on Soi Potisarn 5, opposite the only temple on Naklua Road. And there is no cost at all to play.

A reminder that the 800 baht room special at Town Lodge doesn't last much longer. This Stickman exclusive deal runs until the end of March and then it' s 960 baht until the end of October. The new rate includes free wi-fi internet and the friendly Swiss owner will even thrown in a free breakfast. You *must* mention Stickman Promotion to get this rate!



Quote of the week comes from an English mate in town on holiday, "Sukhumvit soi 4 is the boil on the arse of Bangkok!"

Reader's story of the week comes from Professor, "I Love Baseball".

The Immigration Department responds to criticism of the long queues passengers experience at Bangkok airport.

The government will provide incentives for budget airlines to operate from Don Meuang, to ease airport congestion.

A site has been started to stop the burning in Northern Thailand.

A British man and his Thai wife were savagely murdered near Hua Hin this week.

An American girl kidnapped 5 years ago has been found alive and well in Thailand!

A Bangkok taxi driver discovers a passenger leaves 13 million baht of gold in his cab and returns it.



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 live in Chiang Mai City and walk a lot. A few times I have nearly been hit by motorbikes while I am crossing a one-way street. The motorbikes have been going the wrong way, which is very common. What is the legal position if I am hit by such a motorbike?

Sunbelt responds: On just about any road in Thailand you will see motorcyclists going the wrong way on the road as well as driving on the sidewalk. What these riders are doing is against the traffic laws and if you get into an accident with them they will indeed be held responsible. Assuming they have insurance, the insurance company will be liable for any damages.


Question 2: I have a Thai lady friend – not my girlfriend – who lived with an English citizen for over a year in Thailand during 2008 – 2009. He died after 5 months hospitalisation during which time she never left him, staying in the hospital by his side. At the time he met her she was working in real estate, and still does. The hospital bill was 5.5 million and paid directly from his family in the UK to the hospital. The day he went to hospital he made provision for his girlfriend to support her in case he died as he had a serious condition. She could easily prove that she lived with him as his common law wife. He owns 3 properties in Thailand – 2 condos in Pattaya and a house in Koh Samui. They did not live in either of the apartments but in a smaller rented unit. The house in Koh Samui is occupied by a previous girlfriend of his. He also owns property in the UK. He had a will in the UK made many years ago before he met his girlfriend in which he left his estate to his son. He did not have a Thai will. My questions are:

1. Does his girlfriend have any claim on his estate in Thailand or the UK?
2. Can she lodge a valid claim against his estate in the UK (which I suppose would have to include his Thai assets). I ask this on the assumption that she might qualify as his common law or de facto wife in the UK, if not in Thailand.

Sunbelt responds: The principle of a common law or de facto marriage is not 'officially' recognised under Thai law. Only registered marriages entered into the marriage register (section 1457) are recognised as legal and valid marriages in Thailand and create the rights, duties and responsibilities of husband and wife under Thai family law. However, what his girlfriend would most likely rely on is Thailand's cohabitation laws that state that in the case where two people (irrespective of whether they are married or not) live with each other and make a living in support of each other then any property owned during this period may be divided 50 : 50 between the two parties. Therefore if he had purchased the condo while they were living together, once they split up the girlfriend could apply to the courts for a division of common property. From the Common Law, section 1356 to 1366, she would then have to show proof and evidence of their relationship:
1. Evidence about the relationship that shows it was like a marriage i.e. photos, or other evidence that can prove they had a relationship similar to a marital relationship.
2. All evidence of any property acquired during the period of the relationship.
3. Evidence of an agreement to sell or buy property together. Including the payment, slip, bill, transfer records and bank account details.
At the end of the day though she will fail in her claim to his estate as this cohabitation law only comes into play if the couple separates, not when one party is deceased. In such as case his estate will go to the beneficiaries in his will.


Question 3: My Thai girlfriend and I wish to buy a second-hand condo, but we will pay half each so we wish to put the unit in both our names. For two Thais to share the ownership of a condo this is possible, but is this possible when I am a foreigner? I understand that normally a foreigner would have to transfer in the entire transaction amount from overseas. In this case since my girlfriend already has her part of the cash in Thailand so it would only be my part which would be transferred from overseas. Is this allowed?

Sunbelt responds: Yes, this is allowed but it goes towards the 49% foreign ownership quota of units in the condo building. If the building's quota is filled then it won't be accepted. You must transfer your funds in from overseas, specifying the purchase of a condo and the address.


Question 4: I was arrested for hugging a girl from behind in a Family Mart store. She got angry and wanted me to pay her 10,000 baht. I refused – which was stupid, I now realise. When I didn't pay, the police locked me up in the pen and I had to spend the night there. The day after I just wanted to get away so I had to pay 100,000 baht bail. How does bail work here in Thailand? Do you think that I will get the money back? Also, what kind of punishment do you think I will get?

Sunbelt responds: Most likely you have been charged with some sort of assault. Once you have your court date the bail will be returned to you, however, there may be fines and fees deducted and you may find yourself deported. It's possible that you will get sentenced but most likely the judge will fine you and require you to pay damages.



Soi Nana


I had reason to spend time on Soi Nana this week. On the soi itself, not inside the plaza. I sat at the balcony of one of the soi's most popular spots on two consecutive nights, watching the world go by, or at least the denizens of an area a friend described as the boil on the arse of Bangkok. I have to say that after 2 nights there, that street is no advertisement for humanity. Rough as guts hookers – Thai and Eastern European, even rougher looking creepy guys and what is it with being shirtless at night in the heart of Bangkok? As a mate who lives in the soi said, "This whole area is so ugly, the place and the people, the Thais and the foreigners." When you open your eyes – I mean really open your eyes – you see that Sukhumvit soi 4 is a total shithole. I don't wish to debate the relative merits of Bangkok's two major foreign bar areas, but there is a rough and sleazy atmosphere in Soi Nana that you just don't get a kilometre down the road. Here's hoping that the transformation of the plaza coincides with major improvement in soi 4 too.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse