It's a hard life this Bangkok gig. I was enjoying the weekend, relaxing and not doing a whole lot, when a name flashed up on my phone that I hadn't seen in a while. It was a bar owner and it turns out he'd splurged for a set of new bikinis for his girls and wanted me to come over and capture the moment. Now! It's Saturday, a day to relax and it clashes with a big rugby match! I tell him that yes, my priorities are right putting rugby ahead of girls in bikinis and he will just have to wait. He mutters something in that funny accent of his. A few hours later after the good guys have won I find myself in Patpong's Electric Blue where the girls are having a party to celebrate the arrival of their brand spanking new bikinis.
Package something up as being fun, or sanuk, and there's no limit to what the Thais will do. And that's exactly what the bar manager had done. The girls had been told that the new uniforms were going to be delivered, that they were sexy and would make the girls look great – and they would have a small party to celebrate. The uniforms were dropped off and the girls were ripping the bags apart within seconds, pulling the bikinis out, holding them up, some shrieking in excitement, others wondering whether they were too revealing.
But the delivery of a set of bikinis alone would not be enough to get the girls in the bar early. A spread was put on but these are working girls, and timeliness is not what they're known for even with free food on offer. Almost an hour and a half after the food had been delivered, most of the girls had finally drifted in – and even then some looked like they had just woken up.
And after filling their bellies, it was time for a bit of bottled confidence. Bottles of liquor replaced the plates of food and the girls were encouraged to help themselves – and they did so with gusto.
Many bars put on bottles of cheap, hard stuff for the girls to drink as they please, a means of keeping their mood up. Watch closely in your favourite gogo bar, especially foreign-owned venues and you might see girls slugging down the hard stuff. Some do it for confidence. Others do it because they're bored. And some do it because they're alcoholics. In Tilac Bar, in the back corner near the loo, the alcoholics slug down hard stuff all night long, sending out a waitress every couple of hours to purchase a new bottle. They get through a good few bottles some nights, especially if it's quiet. In Pattaya's Secrets, the manager and owner order rounds of hard stuff for the girls, a compulsory shot for all the girls which while well-intentioned has seen some, particularly those new to the industry, end up absolutely hammered.
When they're in good spirits, Thai bargirls, like Thais in general, are fun to be around. But the good mood isn't permanent and when problems arise – as they tend to with girls who come from troubled backgrounds – they're no fun at all to be around. Some friends get annoyed when we are out in a gogo bar – and I say within minutes of arriving that the vibe is off and I'm out of there. They must think I'm barmy, but when the vibe is off in a bar nothing is going to make it a fun place to be, not even throwing silly money around – and if you've read this column for very long you know I'd never dream of doing that!
Someone overdid it on the sticky rice and finds a quiet corner to get some much needed zzz before the serious business of posing in the new bikini starts. One of the things about the Thais that still amazes me is their almost inherent ability to just close their eyes and grab some sleep anywhere, any time.
Clearly the in crowd, shrieking filled the bar as the girl on the right showed her phone to her friends. What caused all the excitement? A naughty photo? Details of a Western Union transfer from a sponsor? Who knows…but whatever it was it went down well!
The laggards drift in to the bar having missed out on the food to see that some of their friends are already up on stage. They are soon given the hurry along and told to get changed and up on stage pronto!
How long will this sign remain? 600 baht barfines will, I reckon, soon be a thing of the past. It won't be long before gogo bars universally charge 1,000 baht for barfines. When I moved to Bangkok, a standard drink in most Bangkok gogo bars set you back 70 baht. Today that same drink will set you back anywhere from 130 (if you're lucky) to 160 baht. Drinks prices have more than doubled over the past decade while the cost of a barfine has gone up just 100 baht. Bar owners are not unaware that the girls' asking rates have also soared and customers have shown they will pay higher asking prices. There's a lot of competition amongst bars with many venues to choose from so I am not sure drinks prices can go up much without, at the very least, some sort of improvement in what the bars offer – and I'm not sure I see that happening. Hiking the price of a barfine won't affect customers who visit bars to drink and watch the show. Given that naughty boys either have already shown their willingness to pay more for a girl's services, bar owners could easily hike barfine rates up to 800 or 1,000 baht. I reckon most will still pay. What's the alternative? Get a girl in Hamburg or Brisbane or Dallas? (Note to Bar Owners' Association, the cheque hasn't arrived yet!)
Now, now, there's no need to dash over to Electric Blue. She can do 2, or even 3 in one night so just join the queue and she will get to you when she's good and ready. It's kind of funny how Western men often show an ignorant preference for gogo girls with the oft-cited reason that these girls get less traffic. Some talk about their preference for gogo girls over the girls in massage parlours which are popular with Thai and other Asian men where the more popular girls service a few men each night. If they can do it, don't you think that the most popular girls in the gogo bars can do it too? I refer to a certain lass in a popular Nana Plaza bar who was mentioned in this column not so long ago who had 70-something barfines in one month – even more impressive given that she only works about 20 days a month!
To announce that you're above a prostitute or an escort is one thing, but to imprint that on your body for life seems questionable. I can only imagine that the girl who had the word courtesan branded on her back had no idea what it means. Who the wise guy was who convinced this lovely to mar herself? A Frenchman, apparently. I'd love to know what he said it meant. For sure, he didn't tell her the word's basic definition : upscale hooker. Still, I guess it's better than being really mean-spirited or nasty and getting the word whore branded on her, which would be the ultimate tramp stamp of all.
Miss Sultry knows how to tease, and no doubt knows how to please. The necktie with the bikini might be a trademark of Club Electric Blue but I reckon that kinky sod Big Andy is up to something because every other girl started licking her lips when I pointed the camera in their direction. You got all your girls trained to do that, Andy?!
I struggle with the light inside bars which are often very dark. You want to capture the feeling in the bar and using a flash can kill it. Taking a shot with a flash will give a nicely exposed girl in complete darkness and no feeling where she is. Lugging studio lighting along is too much hassle. Fortunately today's cameras have come a long way so it's possible to turn the ISO up to compensate so you can shoot without a flash. But how high do you have to go? 3200 ISO wasn't enough in the light. 6400 ISO still wasn't high enough. Finally I settled at 12800 ISO and even then it was a lottery with disco lights flashing intermittently and screwing up the colour balance. Some shots had to be taken at 25600 ISO.
This girl was jumping around like the Energizer bunny and achieving critical focus i.e. making sure the eye closest to me was razor sharp was a challenge. Fortunately modern cameras with their auto-focus tracking and high ISO capability allowed me to grab the shot. Don't let anyone tell you the choice of camera is not important. It absolutely is!
This little one bounced her way around the bar, removing a piece of clothing each time she stopped, and reveled in teasing those who couldn't keep their eyes off her. At first I thought she was totally bonkers, hamming up her performance but then one of the girls says she's always like that so I'll take it to mean that she is one of the lucky ones who's always on a natural high.
For a moment she settled into her usual routine, hard up against the chrome pole, admiring herself in the mirrors.
Bikinis handed out, bellies full and high on bottled confidence, the girls strut their stuff on stage as punters begin arriving. It's just another night at the office…
*Where* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken outside the Landmark Hotel, looking Sukhumvit Road with the mouth of soi 5 somewhat blurred in the background. The photo was taken a few months back when construction was taking place in the middle of the road. There are two prizes this week, a 300 baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500 baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers. Being frank, I think the prizes are great so I threw in a real tough photo this week – and if no-one gets the photo right, I will use the prizes myself!
Terms and conditions: The 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! You MUST specify which prize you would like and failure to do so will result in the prize going to the next person to get the photo correct.
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – The girlfriend experience.
A lot has been said about the girlfriend experience disappearing. Having lived for over 2 years with a girl dancing at Raw Hide, then Dollhouse, then Shark Bar, I saw her come home nightly having been barfined almost each and every night. It was a penis factory and she was tired and grew cynical. How can this be conducive to giving a girlfriend experience? It can't. Some girls at Soi Cowboy go with as many as 4 or 5 customers a night. Knowing these girls are with a different man every night, if not every hour, and I am just a faceless ATM, why would I want one? I don't. I like to watch the girls dance, but that's all. When I look to barfine a girl (which is rare), I go to a small out of the way pub on some obscure soi. There I find a waitress or hostess who may go with a customer once or twice a month. I buy her a drink, talk, leave and return another day so that my face is that of a person rather than a customer. I almost always get a grateful girlfriend experience by an unhurried pretty – and for not too much money. So, while the girlfriend experience may be disappearing due to commercialisation and many punters, a lot rides on your strategy and how you play the game. My point is you don't get home cooking from McDonalds. I used to be amazed at how many times my girlfriend would tell me at night's end that the punter wanted to eat her pussy. That's like licking a public urinal. Those who barfine from Soi Cowboy, Nana etc. and expect a 'girlfriend experience' are living with a fantasy that they are the only one, a delusion of "I am special." I suppose one needs that fantasy, but it is just that, a fantasy. With these girls, men come and go faster than nuts & bolts on a conveyer belt.
Thai men unfaithful, Thai women even worse.
I liked your reference to the Durex survey on fidelity; Thai boys may indeed be players with a 54% betrayal rate; however it was somewhat remiss of you not to point out that the Thai women cheating rate was at 59% (of the survey sample). Clearly a case of what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Bucking good business sense.
I absolutely cannot understand how the Starbucks concept works. It started with Borders bookshops in the US, I think, providing comfortable seats and coffee while you browse books. But surely the business model for any kind of catering business is get them in, get them out i.e. make room for the next customer who is going to spend money. Starbucks completely 'bucks' all good business sense. Bizarre. McDonald's is used for anything but consuming food; the majority of tables used by people doing homework, sleeping, having job interviews, sorting out their stuff for selling in the market outside – often without even buying something. Why do the staff allow it? I remember decades ago being thrown out of a cafe in Finland because four of us were sharing a bottle of Coke.
This week my lady's sisters came over for the Buddha holiday. True to form I had no idea when they might arrive, when they might wish to eat, nor any inkling as to what might be on the menu. Of course all of this is academic when you consider for the past 13 years we have yet to share a table, or should I say a squat on the floor. It's not for good reason that we are referred to as aliens, as we certainly feel like them most of the time.
Conflict resolution is easy.
Just finished the news item about the Aussie who got wailed on and would say he was the cause of his own problems. True, the driver shouldn't have made a comment (if he did) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon or experienced hand to know you shouldn't get physical with the locals anywhere, let alone go back for more! Call me a coward but if I see trouble I go the other way. In my 11 years of coming to Thailand I have not had any trouble. The worst I've had to do is swallow the occasional extra long taxi ride – definitely not worth a fight. Scams, I think most people that get fired up are the ones that let themselves get sucked in. A smile and a firm no thank you are all I've ever needed. You can be totally innocent and get in a fix but in my 60+ trips I've found it almost always takes 2 to tangle.
Pattaya jet ski operator trickery.
The way Pattaya jet ski scammers get away with extortion is that they use water-soluble putty over damage, spray paint, then take a before picture with a customer. Water splashing dissolves the putty, so they have picture proof of damage. This was told to me by an honest beach vendor who is sick of seeing angry tourists getting ripped off. Last time I was in Pattaya, scammer numbers were increasing with a new group of thugs right in front of the police station. You might consider writing a piece, with pictures, of this blatant thievery.
I am the boss of the venue mentioned in the "email of the week" in your column of 29 July. I think you would be wise to check out the accuracy of your posters' submissions (especially when they are so specific by naming a business) as there are strict defamation laws in Thailand. The account of what transpired is wholly inaccurate. No-one outside the venue referred to a staff member as a "bitch". It is clearly marked on our entrance door that the kitchen closes at 10 PM as do many other establishments in the soi. No police came that evening however an ambulance was called to assist an elderly customer who had had a seizure. I called the ambulance and it was I that travelled to the Army Hospital in Udon Thani with him where he remained for a few days until well enough to go to his hotel room. Udon Thani has a large expat community and has its fair share of everything including a Scottish monk who HELPS people. Perhaps your poster found the concept of helping people "irksome" and if indeed that is the case then maybe in future he should remain in Bangkok and leave us strange characters to our own devices.
I know, I know, it probably seems like I always say it at this time of year, and have mentioned it in every column for the past few weeks, but when business is as bad as it is at the moment, it needs to be talked about. Many bars, restaurants and hotels in the capital whose target is specifically Western visitors are hurting dreadfully. One foreign hotel owner told me this week how he had just one room taken in his entire hotel. I walked into one of the better known farang-centric restaurants on Friday night and was the only customer there – when usually you'd be lucky to get a seat at that time. Angelwitch was awfully quiet at show time on Thursday night (although next door Spanky's was packed). Need I go on? And it's not just Bangkok and Pattaya where business is horrible. I hear the low season is biting in Phuket too where just like further north, visitor numbers seem to have been made up largely by Russians and Asians – although plenty of Aussies continue to visit Phuket, even with widespread reports of plenty getting ripped off, some beaten up and the occasional one stabbed.
Stumble Inn on soi 4 will be re-opening on Tuesday night. The new renovations look great. They now have 2 Brunswick pool tables and draught Guinness, Heineken & Tiger. Go say hello to Tom the owner who desperately needs to talk to anyone who will listen about the difficulties of working with Thai builders, and also the chances of Manchester City winning the league again.
Walter, the Canadian bar manager who was at the helm of Big Dogs, can now be found looking after punters at the Big Mango. Walter hasn't stepped foot outside of Thailand for more than 18 years and will be delighted to share war stories with you. And for newbies, Walter has plenty of good advice and will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Popular American Captain Hornbag will celebrate his birthday on Thursday 16th at the bar featured in this week's opening piece, Patpong's Club Electric Blue. It promises to be quite a bash with free pink pussy shots and buy 1 get 1 free on house calls all night long.
Bradman's Bistro, the Aussie-owned and run bar / restaurant on Sukhumvit soi 23, has built up a loyal following for its good food and sports coverage. However, if you crave a nibble of something decidedly Australian, don't go running to Bradman's. The entire kitchen staff just walked out and the wait for food is going to be even longer than usual. Food is off the menu at Bradman's for the time being.
Chuwit Park on Sukhumvit Road sits between Soi 10 and the lower Sukhumvit branch of Bangkok Bank, not far from Soi 8. Out front of the park is a very dimly lit 50-odd metre stretch of pavement that reminds me how dark much of lower Sukhumvit was when I first arrived. That darkness has seen it become a favourite stretch for loitering ladyboys. They will try to sell you their idea of a good time and if unsuccessful will grope you – as much a move to arouse you as to lift your wallet, mobile phone or any other valuables. Be careful because, like I say, that short stretch of Sukhumvit is particularly dark.
And I note that the crackdown on ladyboys at the mouth of Nana Plaza seems to have come to an end. Pestiferous ladyboys are back in their favourite spot right at the entrance to Nana, waiting for those leaving the plaza.
A good mate who often drinks at the top of soi 4 and who is a long-time resident at the bottom of soi 4 says that the ladyboys have become such a hassle in the soi that he doesn't walk home after he has been drinking. Rather, he takes a taxi the short distance of several hundred metres to his home. He explains that at 35 baht, or a little over a dollar, it's a small price to pay to get home safely.
So why are ladyboys in downtown Bangkok such a hassle and why are they so prevalent in dark areas late at night? Ladyboy sex workers don't actually have a lot of options. They can either work in one of the relatively few ladyboy bars (5 in Nana Plaza, 1 in Cowboy and a handful in Patpong), or they can work on the street. Ladyboys are specifically barred from entering most freelancer venues which limits their options, hence they make a nuisance of themselves in areas where you find the sex industry.
Down in Pattaya, X Zone and the Pattaya bike club, The Brotherhood of Pattaya, have joined arms as a result of the venue owner's interests in large bikes. X Zone will be having a bikers' night and as soon as arrangements have been made details will follow. Fellow bike riders and enthusiasts are very welcome at X Zone.
Still in Pattaya, Mister Egg is settling in at Baby Dolls after filling Ricky's hole last week. Baby Dolls will host a curry and chili night on Wednesday 14th August. *Free* food will be served from 10:30 PM and it's also a chance to swing by and meet the new manager, Mister Egg, who actually has a real name, Phil.
The jet ski scams have got so bad in Pattaya – or at least are now so widely acknowledged – that the Indian embassy is advising its citizens to refrain from hiring any jet skis in Sin City.
Two items which had been off the menu on Sukhumvit Road, one for a while and one just briefly, are widely available again. On the positive side, delicious and healthy pomegranate juice is available again with prices on Sukhumvit running 40 baht a small bottle. On soi 3/1 it never became unavailable, but with pomegranate imported from India instead of China, it was priced at a steep 100 baht a bottle. Sex toys disappeared from Sukhumvit Road tourist junk vendors last week following the widely reported bust but were only gone for a few days and are back again. Heaps of vendors along the odd numbered soi side of Sukhumvit are peddling this junk in full view again.
What has happened at the Rainbow bars? Rainbow 1 and 2 don't seem to have the same line-ups they once did and even Rainbow 4 has some girls who certainly would not have passed muster not so long ago. Rainbow 3, on the middle floor by the steps leading up to the top floor, has arguably the worst location of any of the Rainbow bars but currently has the best line-up. For the past few years Rainbow 4 has been a safe bet but I'd say that if you only have a night or two in town and want to see the prettiest girls in the plaza, make a beeline for Rainbow 3.
If the idea of playing doctors and nurses with some naughty Thai girls appeals, get yourself over to Patpong Soi 2. Bar Bar will hold a Medical Party this coming Thursday and Friday night, that is August 16th and 17th.
Old-timers have long said Jack Reynolds' "A Woman of Bangkok" is the best novel of the Thai bargirl genre. First published in the '50s, it was probably the first novel written to feature this genre and until recently was very hard to come by. Those who had read it almost wore it as a badge of honour, talking it up to such an extent that old, tatty copies were going for hundreds of dollars on EBay. On many a trip at Khao San Road I scoured the second-hand book stores in search of a copy. I never did find one but that doesn't matter as it was republished recently by Monsoon Books. Having read it, and what a bore it was, I cannot help but think that those who talked it up were doing so to talk themselves up – they gained brownie points by having done something that you just could not compete with. Since it has been republished, I picked up a copy and I have to say, what a huge disappointment! The prose is like reading something from the 18th century and the word verbose comes to mind. "A Woman of Bangkok" might be considered the classic Thai bargirl book by some, but in my mind it has nothing on Steve Leather's Private Dancer which is not just a snappy read and a book you really can't put down, it gives much insight into the industry and can even be used as kind of what not to do manual. Steve's unpretentious writing style and brilliant development of the story's characters – which you find in all of his books – make Private Dancer a tough title to knock off as the best of the genre. A Woman of Bangkok was hard going and an absolute chore to finish.
I don't tend to stick my head into small bars, but I was convinced to do so this week and glad I did. Straps, the small bar on the middle floor of Nana Plaza where Cathouse once was, is dark and cozy, a venue with hidden alcoves and corners where all sorts of comings and goings takes place. It's a small bar with a tight crew who are fun-loving and who don't seem to have the hang-ups you find in so many bars these days. Check it out.
Some readers get hot under the collar when I say something even the slightest bit negative about bargirls and I can only guess that the anger comes from projecting this criticism I have of the girls on to themselves. Some think I just have an issue with these girls because they are prostitutes. Nope, that's not it at all. This week whilst making my rounds and chatting with a foreign gogo bar manager, he told me of a situation that happened in the bar not once, but twice in one day, which really gives an insight into these girls' lives. It's not all smiles, bikinis, drinks and laughter. On two separate occasions, a boyfriend of one of the girls working in this popular gogo bar came to the bar before it opened looking for her. Most likely she had been avoiding him because she had no money to give him – either she had had no customer the night before or she had spent the money on something else. In each case the Thai guy was cardboard cut-out of the other – early 20's, unkempt greasy hair, scrawny and wearing jeans, T-shirt and flip flops all of which looked old and tatty. In each case the guy brazenly entered the bar and upon seeing his girlfriend started ranting and asking where his money was. In each case it was obvious that the guy was a drug addict desperate for money for his next fix. Standing at the door and hollering out his girlfriend's name – a very unThai thing to do – in each case the girl disappeared quickly into the changing room. The farang manager of the bar who is quite a size and very intimidating to look at repelled the boyfriends and sent them on their way. On one occasion, the Thai boy let off a string of the most vulgar Thai imaginable. These are not isolated cases. MANY of the pretty, young gogo girls have unemployed, drug-addicted local boyfriends who lead troubled lives – and much of the money they make is goes to the boyfriend who then blows it on drugs, booze and girls. This is just one of many reasons I often warn of the dangers of getting involved with these girls.
The Big Mango bar in soi 4's burger has been the most popular dish on the menu since the bar first opened inside Nana Plaza. In its second location a little further down the soi, the burger is still the most popular item on the menu and the happy hour price is a bargain, 99 baht (before 8 PM) and 145 baht later in the evening. Their signature dish these days is actually Pat Thai which the owner is proud of. The Big Mango Bar is run by Kwan who used to manage the Duke of Wellington and has created a network of friends through its website and attracts many people from around the world who visit Bangkok each year to hang out with each other. Some fly in from all corners of the planet just because the Mango is throwing a party. Amazing but true! Upstairs from the Mango is a party room that is available rent-free for private parties. The Mango can provide food and drink as well as dancing girls, decorations, cake, costumes and whatever takes your fancy. None of the girls in the bar are allowed to ask the customers for a drink – and there are no quotas or targets. They are told to leave customers in peace unless the customer wishes to engage in chat. The Mango has become a meeting point to hang out where people can come on their own and feel comfortable and make new friends. Another feature is the 'gaffer', Graham, who often takes new customers for a tour of the plaza, an introduction to the gogo scene. The owner has very good relationships with many bar owners and can recommend the current hot spots. The Big Mango has pool tables, big-screen TVs, a karaoke machine, a private party room, free wi-fi, free pool and friendly staff.
Quote of the week comes from Pattaya Gary, "Sex seems to be an addiction and some of us need to understand that lust cannot be quenched."
Reader's story of the week features the changing Phnom Penh, "Street Gang to Almighty, Bring in the Airstrike".
Here's the Aussie press's version of events after their boy suffered a beating at Patong Beach.
Two Thais are convicted for the robbery and murder of an Aussie woman in Phuket and sentenced to life.
A Thai beer brewing magnate with a history of taking on big international brewers is at it again.
Three Phuket taxi and tuktuk drivers will appear in court charged with the savage beating of an Australian tourist.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a deadly strain of dengue fever can be found in Thailand.
Ask Sunbelt Asia 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: What are the laws in Thailand concerning gun ownership?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Under Thai law, it is mandatory for all individuals to obtain authorisation prior to the possession, manufacturing, using, selling, purchase, ordering, and importation of firearms.
In Bangkok, the Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police is responsible for granting permit licenses of gun possession. An inter-agency committee comprising agencies such as the Office of Narcotics Control Board, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Office of the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, verifies the qualification of each applicant. Then, the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police and provincial governors authorise the permit license. Permit licenses can be cancelled any time if the licensee is proven to have committed a crime or to have used guns inappropriately. A person whose license has been cancelled will never be granted a permit license again.
Thai law requires that you must be at least 20 years of age in order to apply for a license. Licenses for gun possession will not be granted to individuals who are disabled or handicapped and incapable of using a gun, unless possession is only for keepsake purposes. Persons who are incompetent, quasi-incompetent, mentally insane or deranged will not be permitted a license. Those who behave in a way that disrupts social peace and order are not eligible to obtain a license for gun possession. You must be employed and receive income. You must have a permanent address in Thailand and have your name listed in the house registration specifically in the area where you are applying for a license, for at least six months.
You are not allowed to bring a gun with you into a city, neighbourhood, or public areas without a license for carrying one on you. Exceptions do exist for emergencies depending on the situation, and for government officials or law enforcement bodies of certain types.
Question 2: By marrying in a Western country and having a prenuptial agreement which states that assets acquired before and also during the marriage are yours alone the law concludes there is nothing to divide in the case of divorce. According to the jurisdictions, the foreigner is basically granted divorce jurisdiction in his home country. But what happened to the farang's assets, his deposits in Thai banks brought in legally to the country, an apartment and a car, which is in the farang's name in Thailand? Does this mean that these Thai assets are also divided after the European jurisdiction, and the European pre-nup?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Thailand's marriage law states that all the assets acquired before marriage are considered to be personal assets and therefore belong to the respective owner after divorce. In case of assets acquired during marriage, the law states that they are considered to be marriage property and therefore must be equally divided after divorce. This law prevails over any prenuptial agreements stating that assets acquired during the marriage belongs to the respective owner. Therefore, such an agreement is invalid. However, if an asset is given to the partner with affection, that asset belongs to the person who was given the asset. For example, if the wife gives a watch to the husband on his birthday, that watch belongs to the husband after the divorce.
Question 3: My Thai girlfriend has plans to buy a small shophouse, currently operating as a tailor's shop, and turn it into a bar. I understand that she has to get a license to serve alcohol, to sell cigarettes, and to have live music, but that these can be obtained fairly automatically. But beyond that, will she need to apply for planning permission, change of use, or require the approval of her neighbours? What other permissions, licenses, or approvals will she need to convert the shophouse into a bar?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Licenses are required to open a bar but you will need to check with your District Office on the specific zoning regulations for the area the shophouse is in as each district may have zoning regulations requiring residential only, or specific closing times.
This column continues in its current form, published in its current frequency and with its current level of detail due in no small part to the support of advertisers. Without these advertisers there's no guarantee that that the column – which takes plenty of time to research, put together and keep on top of – would continue. With this in mind, if you enjoy reading this column or find it entertaining or informative, please do consider supporting the advertisers. If there happens to be an advertiser promoting a product or service of interest to you, at least have a look at what they have on offer. If you find a better deal elsewhere then by all means go for that, but at least consider those who support this column. Of course I would never expect you to consider an advertiser promoting a product or service you had no interest in. If, for example, extra spicy isn't your thing, I wouldn't expect you to even click on one of the ladyboy service provider adverts, let alone use their services. But with that said, advertisers promoting liaisons with ladyboys do very well!
Your Bangkok commentator,