Stickman's Weekly Column August 26th, 2012

Stick Plays Private Dick



There's so much information online warning of the dangers of getting involved with Thai bargirls, and the tricks and ploys the girls use are widely known. And with many doing it tough financially, there's a reluctance to send money to support a girlfriend half a world away who a guy will only see for but a few weeks a year. If your eyes are wide open, there's no real need to check your girlfriend out…but sometimes people want more than just advice. Sometimes they just have to know what she's up to.

I had a case recently that wasn't typical in any way. Not how it ended up in my lap, nor how it progressed, nor the end result. It really was a little bit different…



The customer had retained the services of a good friend of mine, formerly a spook on Wireless who for more than a decade has run his own investigation agency. From time to time we help each other out. He's good at digging up records and carrying out background checks. I prefer to roll my sleeves up, get out and about and verify with my own eyes.

The customer was a Bangkok-based expat which is not at all typical. His job required him to spend much time outside the country – meaning much time away from his girlfriend. He wanted to know if she would play while he was away. The customer hadn't provided a lot of background and little was known about her routines so surveillance was required. When the agents assigned to the case – 2 Thai females – tailed her across town one afternoon to Sukhumvit soi 4 they suspected the worst. They followed her across town, from the other side of the river, through the old part of the city and all the way to the farang ghetto of Sukhumvit. In Sukhumvit soi 4 she turned into Nana Plaza and they observed her enter Pretty Lady Bar. She emerged 45 minutes later and made the same journey in reverse, returning home. The bar wasn't open for business at that time and they couldn't go inside without arousing suspicion. What was she up to?

Noseying around red-light districts is easy for a Westerner who blends in, but mainstream Thai girls stick out like a sore thumb. The only time females from mainstream Thai society go to farang naughty bars is if they're with a Western guy. Most bars have a strictly enforced policy of no Thai customers – unless they are accompanied.

A report was sent to the customer. His girlfriend had been tailed across town to a gogo bar in Nana Plaza. The bar was closed for business and the agents could not enter. Naturally, the customer wanted to know more. Why was she there? Who had she met? What was said? The agency apologised and explained that these were questions they could not answer and, unfortunately, they could not provide further assistance. As a matter of policy they do not carry out investigations within naughty bars or the bar environment generally. The customer was referred to someone who could take this on. Enter Stickman.

The customer went back to the beginning and filled in the gaps. He lived with his girlfriend in suburban Bangkok – a long way from Sukhumvit. He had originally met her in a Nana Plaza bar, but not Pretty Lady Bar. He understood that determining what was said that afternoon on Pretty Lady Bar would be extremely difficult. He really just wanted to know if his girlfriend was being faithful. The objective was simple: To check both Pretty Lady Bar and the bar he first met her and establish if she was working in either venue when he was away.

Photos and a good physical description of the girlfriend were provided. She was tall for a Thai at 173 cm and weighed not much over 50 kg – so she was in good shape. The photos showed a sexy, buxom girl playing it up for the camera, almost over-exaggerating as models tend to. From the photos it was easy to see the attraction. Her nickname was Sandy.

The customer was keen to start the investigation ASAP. I had plans for the weekend so Saturday and Sunday were out. Monday is a quiet day which many girls take off and therefore not the best day to check a girl out. We settled on Friday even though I had plans early in the evening, dinner with the owner of Checkinn99. I figured I'd be there for a couple of hours and could get to the plaza around 9 PM. That should work as few girls are barfined that early – in fact some are arriving for work at that time.

I arrived at Checkinn99 early and enjoyed a couple of drinks with the owner. It was approaching 8:00 and we had yet to order anything. When the friendly Aussie went into his cellar and pulled out a bottle of Cloudy Bay, things started to go awry. One doesn't turn down one of the finest Sauvignon Blancs because they have a bargirl to check out! The band started, the food came, the conversation flowed and I found myself slipping into a really nice mood. Good food, good music, good company and good wine. It's a combination you don't find every day. Before I knew it a second bottle had arrived, a New Zealand Pinot Noir. My Aussie friend knew his wine. I'd started with a couple of G&Ts, shared a bottle of wine, and now another bottle had been opened. In the back of my mind I knew that someone was sitting in front of a computer in another part of the region, anxiously waiting for a report. I was running late, I was starting to get a bit tiddly but I was having a really good time! What to do? I considered rescheduling but to do so would have pushed things back at least 4 nights. That's unacceptable. The customer would have been rightfully pissed off. It had to be tonight. We'll knock off this bottle quickly, I thought to myself, and then I'll shoot over to Nana and get the show on the road.

It was getting on for 10:30 and the wine was taking effect. I knew I wasn't going to be on top of my game. Again I considered delaying things, but I was only 5 minutes walk from the plaza. I made my apologies and headed across the road.

First stop was Pretty Lady where the girls lived up to the bar's name. The dance floor was like a giant merry-go-round except where there would normally be prancing horses there were dancing lasses. The alcohol's grip on me had tightened and foolishly I ordered a Jack+Coke. Out of habit.

There were two dance shifts and I observed each shift cycle through. There were perhaps 25 girls in the bar and none were close to 173 cm in height. No-one looked anything like the girl I was looking for – but that doesn't mean she wasn't there. She might have popped out for a bit to eat. She may have been barfined already.

I called for the mamasan and made out that I had a thing for tall girls. I wanted someone north of 170 cm. She said I'd be lucky to find a Thai girl that tall. They don't make them that way, she said. She brought over a girl who'd just stepped out of the jungle, 150 cm with skin like leather and hair like straw. I really must have looked drunk.

I checked with a waitress who confirmed that no lady working in Pretty Lady was 173 cm tall. That alone wasn't conclusive, but it was looking unlikely that Sandy worked in Pretty Lady Bar. I would have to recheck another night. She had been tracked there one afternoon after all. For sure, Sandy was not in Pretty Lady so time to try the next bar.

The next stop was next door, the bar where the customer had originally met Sandy. Voodoo.

Stepping out of Pretty Lady Bar, the bright lights of the plaza felt like a spotlight all pointed right at me. Music blared from every direction and the alcohol coursing through my veins accentuated every sense. I was beyond tiddly and had reached the point of being drunk. I wasn't at that embarrassing point which back home we call wasted. At least I wasn't there yet.

I hadn't stepped foot inside Voodoo in perhaps 3 years. Once regarded as the best bar in the plaza, it had been in decline for as long as I could remember.

Voodoo had plenty of ladies inside, more than Pretty Lady, and plenty of free seats too. I made a slow lap of the bar, scanning faces and looking for Sandy. I didn't see her. I sat on the opposite side from the entrance, on the top tier of seating where you have the best view of the bar.

I was drunk and it wasn't lost on the girls. Within seconds I had two girls sitting either side of me tapping me up for a drink. With some semblance of sensibility I ordered a bottle of water and a glass of ice, a full glass of ice, I added. I needed to sober up and coffee would have been nice, but a request elicited the annoying "no have".

Looking at the girls on stage, I felt confident I'd find Sandy. Voodoo had plenty of tall girls. I just had to focus, spot her and invite her over for a drink. I'd find out what was going on, slip into the toilet and make some notes and then get home to sleep the alcohol off. The report could follow the next morning.

The water and full glass of ice arrived and the girls either side of me remained every bit as pesky as those you find in Patpong upstairs bars. They were nagging, going on about dry throats and a lack of customers and how they wanted a drink.

Alcohol might impair your judgment, but how effective it is at stymieing your perception? Something wasn't right. It wasn't just not right. Something was horribly wrong. It was at that moment that the clouds parted and sunlight came streaming through.

Either side of me were 2 persistent girls – that's a total of 4 girls, each of whom had big knockers and none of whom would take no for an answer. How often do 4 girls flock to a single customer in a gogo bar? On stage were many tall, buxom girls. I was looking for a tall, buxom lady with an uncommon nickname who loved to pose. I then remembered how a couple of years earlier I had reported something I knew to be true but which I had not followed up on because, well, it didn't need following up on. The Crown Group had changed the concept at Voodoo. Once designated as the venue for the prettiest girls in the group, it had been converted into a ladyboy bar. When I took on the task of looking for Sandy and had been told the customer has met her in Voodoo, I recalled fond memories of past visits to Voodoo – when it had been a full of ladies. Real ladies. I'd completely forgotten that Voodoo was now ladyboys only.

I was drunk and I was in a ladyboy bar looking for a ladyboy who I thought was a girl. All of a sudden I really didn't want to be there. But at the same time I was there on assignment. I had to find Sandy.

I didn't muck around and did something I hate to do. I asked for the person I was looking for in a bar I am not known in by name. It was confirmed that yes, Sandy worked there, but was not in the bar right then. That meant that she had ether come to work and had already been barfined, or perhaps she hadn't come in at all. Finding out which wasn't going to happen and besides, I'd have to return to verify anyway. I'd had too much to drink. I settled up and escaped.

The following morning I emailed the customer. I outlined what I had found, that Sandy was indeed still an employee of the bar and oh, by the way, do you know that she is in fact a he?!

The customer apologised for putting me in that position. Yep, he knew that she was a ladyboy, although he hadn't known when he first met her. He went on to say that ladyboys were not his thing and had he known at the time, he wouldn't have taken her. But that's the past, he did take her…and he had fallen in love with her. She was a rarity, a post-op, and he claimed that even now he can't tell.

Looking back, all the classic signs were there. Ladyboys often use the sort of name for a bar nickname you may associate with a porn star or a prostitute, names like Candy, Diamond, Ginger or Amber. She was 173 cm tall, uncommonly tall for a girl in a foreigner-centric bar. There was the obstreperous truculence of 4 girls who immediately sat beside me in Voodoo – regular girls come with no more than 1 friend and usually split after rejection. And finally there were the photos with poses over-exaggerated and sexy. But what really got me was that this was a referral, not just from another investigator but a friend, one of my most trusted friends. He had not said anything because he had not known himself, and neither had the agents who had conducted surveillance.

Eventually it was established that she had in fact stopped working. She could not be reached through the bar and approaching her through other means showed that she was not interested in meeting another guy. The afternoon trip to Pretty Lady Bar remained unexplained, but at the time the investigation was carried out, she, or is it he, really was being faithful, quite amazing given how promiscuous ladyboys are.





*Where* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo showed the Emporium Suites, the high-end serviced apartments located above Emporium Shopping Centre. If you just said Emporium, technically you were wrong. The Emporium is the shopping centre below the apartments and could not actually be seen in the photo. There are two prizes this week, a voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.

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 Sukhumvit becoming more colourful.

I imagine you will receive a load of emails berating you for use of the term 'dodgy Africans', even though the majority of Thailand-based expats probably agree with the assessment, myself included. According to an article from 2011, 700+ Nigerians are in Thai prisons. Of course, the PC brigade claims they are being picked on due to colour of their skin. During a recent stay in Soi 13, where there is a nightly gathering now spilling around the corner from Suhkumvit, I was asked more than once "Do you want smoke?" The answer was a definite No and I might add, I have yet to be asked this by white farang anywhere in Bangkok. I feel pity for any Thai girl silly enough to hook up with these low-lifes, as per your link to the Thai girl facing the death sentence in Vietnam for drug smuggling, having been recruited by Nigerians in Thailand. That late night stroll down Suhkumvit looks like being crossed off the list of Things To Do. One can only hope that the police crack down more. After all, they are not hard to spot!

Keyboard warriors!

What you say about some of those keyboard warriors is so true. I used to be a member of a local forum and some of the shit posted on there is really off-putting to the extent that I closed my account. Same goes for Facebook. I'm not one for posting my status as I only use it for posting photos about all the travelling I'm doing around Asia and how much I am enjoying my life here in Bangkok. I read some of the comments people make on Facebook and it only leads me to believe that a lot of them have too much time on their hands and lead really dull and unexciting lives. They only seem to enjoy life when they run people down and make horrible comments. Really sad! I took a photo of a child outside the Indian temple in Silom and I had many nice comments on it. Some asshole commented that the child was a ladyboy! I immediately deleted him from my account and wrote him a message that I'll be giving him the full works in his ear. It just goes to show that people seem more brave when they're sat at home, bored shitless with little to do. The Internet brings the dark side out in them. I am not one for blogging or writing anything online, but I do agree with you when you say that if you don't have anything to say, better say nothing.

The drivel to content ratio.

Drivel-to-content ratio is really low on Thailand-related internet forums these days, and some of the loudest members are definitely not the type I'd want to have any dealings with (fascist, insulting, ignorant). Too bad network effects are so strong and upstarts have almost no chance of gaining sufficient traction to be interesting.

Can good moderation work?

The good times are certainly over when it comes to posting on the internet in Thailand. Those with a mild-mannered disposition are in for quite a shock. What a great idea like minded posters occasionally meeting up but what a pity that such a medium and gatherings should die an effectual death through the antics of such a perverse few. So the six million dollar question is why such forums can't employ a team of regulators and enforcers to make sure their content doesn't go to the dogs?



Bill Gates strikes again!

I went to a SCB ATM this morning to do a couple of transfers, stuck my card in and was shocked to see a 'Windows' screen that said that Windows Explorer had experienced a problem and needed to shut down! Needless to say the machine was non-functional. Are the banks so unprofessional that they rely on the most hacker targeted operating system to control their money? I will be changing the daily limits of my ATM transactions first thing Monday morning, in person, at the bank and also start looking for a bank that uses a professional operating system. Yeah, I know…'This is Thailand'.

The bars get old.

I don't go out and about in Bangkok so much any more. I remember when I first got here 8 years ago, when going to the beer bars, Nana and Cowboy was something really to look forward to. Now I'd rather just meet up in a regular bar with friends and have a chat and a beer and perhaps watch the All Blacks wallop the Wallabies. I like Dave's new bar, No Idea, on Soi 22 for that. I get bored at the bars where the girls are always pestering you for drinks and / or barfines when they have only just sat down. In fact I prefer them not to even sit down. If I go to Cowboy, I'd much rather sit outside with a few mates and watch the goings on which is always interesting.

No service, no thanks.

Poor service for naughty boys extends beyond gogo bars. I had the unpleasant experience tonight of being berated twice in the five minutes I spent visiting a teen massage shop close to the Emporium. The first snide remark came from one of the girls in the line-up, who, after I asked for some time to decide on a masseuse, told me curtly to "Decide very quickly." At that point, having decided not to have a massage, I told the manager I'd come back another day. The manager's reply was "Don't come back. This shop has lots of customers." I wanted to tell her that if she talks like this to her customers, her shop will be out of business soon, but instead I kept my mouth shut and left. It is some consolation that all of the other teen massage shops I've visited had excellent customer service.

Those ladies are dirty!

Speaking with a bargirl this week I mentioned the bars at Saphan Kwai that I walk past most days. She knew about the place and warned me not to sleep with any of the girls in those bars because they are all dirty, or to uses her exact and rather alarmist words "They all have AIDS!" I nearly spat my drink out laughing and asked her why she thought they all had AIDS. She told me it was because they don't use condoms. I'll try and quote her as closely as I can remember. She said something like "Thai people trust Thai people and think only farangs are dirty so they don't think they need condoms." She told me that's why I shouldn't sleep with them and that's why I would most likely not be very welcome there. I've noticed all bargirls run down other bar areas and the girls who work there, but maybe she has a point. Who knows? I then asked her why Thai people thought foreigners were so dirty. "Porn", she said. She then pulled out her phone and started showing me some extremely hardcore western porn movies. She explained that Thais see this hardcore stuff, mostly made in the USA and Europe, and think that it's our idea of normal sex. That's why they think we're a bunch of sex mad perverts (well that and Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy, Patpong and Pattaya, I guess). Anyway it's just a bargirl's opinion, but I can see some logic in it maybe she's on to something.



Good friends had a ringside seat of a live horror show in Pattaya's Soi Diana this week as a Swede stabbed a New Zealander, killing him. The two foreign men, each in their early 40s and each tall and lean, got into a bit of pushing and shoving. A few punches were thrown but my friend who saw it all from a nearby bar didn't think it was much at first. Things seemed to cool down before the fracas moved to a nearby car park and the pushing and shoving started again. My friend who was in Sin City on holiday with his wife felt that each was just throwing handbags and commented that neither could throw a decent punch. Next thing, one of the two – who he would later learn was a fellow countryman – took a couple of steps back with blood spurting from his body and tumbled to the ground. A couple of guys rushed to help by stemming the flow of blood but after a minute or so, there was no movement. What had seemed to be little more than a disagreement in a bar – the sort of thing that happens every night all over the world – had turned into murder. Once those who witnessed it realised that someone had been killed, the mood changed and the party atmosphere and revelry of that little part of Pattaya was as dead as the Kiwi. My friend's poor wife was particularly upset, and was unable to sleep a wink all night.

Secrets Bar in Soi 14 off Walking Street has been waiting for an excuse to party and that time has finally come. Next SaturdayPatpong, Bangkok the popular bar and hotel celebrates 6 years in business with what they are calling the biggest party of the year. Secrets parties are heaps of fun so swing by if you're in town.

Construction is underway at what was once Raja's Fashions on Sukhumvit soi 4, the tailor's closest to the entrance to Nana Plaza. And what will take its place? Another beer bar, of course!

Pretty Lady Bar, on the ground floor of Nana Plaza, will host a Full Moon Party on Saturday, 1st September, to kick off a soft opening period. The expanded venue isn't yet fully renovated, but business can move back inside bar. Free food is offered and you can win drinks and barfines. All are welcome!

The next party at The Strip, a venue which seems to have a party at least every other week, is being called the White Night. Partying will run over two nights, this coming Friday and Saturday, that is 31 August and 1st September. Ice-cold beers will be just 90 baht and the party will feature shower shows every hour and wet T-shirts!

It was another quiet week in Bangkok with no appreciable increase in customers in the bars, hotels and restaurants on Sukhumvit which have been struggling. August usually sees an influx of Europeans, particularly those from southern Europeans as well as the French, but their numbers appear down this year. No surprise really, given all the crap going on in Europe.

Cocktails are on the expanded drinks menu at Sunrise Tacos and are priced at a very reasonable 145 baht. The menu covers a dozen or so popular cocktails including Mojitos and Long Island Iced Tea.

Spanky's Bar on the ground floor of the Trendy Condo on dodgy Sukhumvit soi 13 (walk up and down that soi late at night to see what I mean) has absolutely no affiliation with the popular bar of the same name in Nana Plaza.

Bargain hunters should note that the recently re-opened and now 3-shophouse wide Stumble Inn at the top of Sukhumvit soi 4 accepts the Hillary Bar discount card which entitles the holder to 20% off the price of drinks.


Big Mango


For bargirls who want to gain maximum face amongst their workmates, a fancy mobile phone is no longer enough. Any girl who has worked just a short while has a flash phone and trips to the phone shop seem to be an easier sell to their customer than a trip to the gold shop. The new hot item – and you just have to be seen using it in the bar – is an IPad. They're starting to gain traction amongst the girls and I spotted a couple of girls showing off their IPad in Cowboy this week.

Last week the mainstream news media reported that a girl from Soi Cowboy brutally stabbed a colleague in a drug-fuelled frenzy, killing her. On Soi Cowboy no-one would admit to knowing anything about the incident and lips were sealed. But the cone of silence failed and it turns out that the girls concerned danced in one of the soi's most popular venues, Shark bar.

Until recently there was a discrepancy in the price of a journey on the Sex Tourist Express, the Ekamai to Pattaya bus – 124 baht in one direction, 119 baht the other. It now costs 124 baht in each direction – and what a bargain it is.

If you're sensitive to the price of drinks (as I certainly am), it pays to inquire about the price of drinks before ordering to avoid bill shock later. A number of Soi Cowboy bars charge 180 baht a drink, 160 baht is a common number in Nana Plaza and over in Patpong, if you're not careful you might find yourself paying 230 baht for top shelf drinks – and I'm not even talking about the upstairs rip-off bars.

Are drinks prices about to increase across the board? The sin tax on hard liquor went up this week so prices may move. With that said, venues are competing more than ever for customers, so my guess is most venues will just absorb the cost.

Istanbul is a Turkish restaurant which opened on Sukhumvit soi 4 a few months back, opposite Bus Stop in the spot which was previously home to a medical clinic. Many of Bangkok's best-known Middle Eastern restaurants are found on the other side of Sukhumvit, on sois 3 and 3/1 in Soi Arab, so setting up on soi 4 came as a bit of a surprise. Istanbul is large, and features air-conditioned and outdoor dining areas and is open 24 hours. Prices are reasonable, the food is tasty and for sure, I'll be back – which is about the best thing I can say about an eatery.



If you're married to a Thai national and have a 1-year visa extension granted on that basis, you'd better hope that your wife remains in good health, or at the very least remains alive! If she passes away, you're going to have to find a new way of qualifying for a long-term visa. OK, so that's probably not unexpected but did you know that if you have a one year visa extension based on marriage to a Thai, should your wife die, you are required to report to Immigration within 24 hours and apply for a 7-day extension to your visa i.e. you are given 7 days to leave the country. And for that privilege you're required to pay the requisite 1,900 baht visa extension fee. Truth be told I have only heard of this regulation being enforced once. It seems that, in the case of Western guys married to Thai women at least, invariably he kicks the bucket before she.

If you still buy books the old-fashioned way in Bangkok it pays to shop around as prices vary and different chains stock different titles. I did a run through the respective branches of the two big English book store chains in Emporium this week. Lee Child's latest was available at Asia Books but not at Kinokuniya – and they didn't know when it would be in stock. Checking the Thailand interest section, John Burdett's latest, "Vulture Peak", was available at Asia Books for 395 baht. In Kinokuniya the very same book was priced at 325 baht but with 20% off – as is offered off all new releases – making it just 260 baht. It pays to shop around.

Despite being the land of millions of pretty women and despite local women being open-minded to getting involved with a foreign man, finding love and a fulfilling relationship in Thailand can be a challenge. These days many foreign men hunt for love online and while I am increasingly cynical about the internet as a place to find Miss Right, it can't be denied that there are many lovely women on the local dating sites. One thing that makes me chuckle is the way some aren't shy to state exactly what they are looking for – someone to "take care" of them. Basically, they want a guy to buy them a house and pay them money so they don't have to work. Full marks for honesty! To guys, I say if you want to take care of someone, get a dog! It'll be faithful, provide companionship, won't complain when you have a drink or when you watch the rugby. Seriously, if you're looking for companionship, especially if you live in a house, a dog might be what you're looking for. An English friend has a funny line in his online profile to keep such women at bay, "I don't do take care!"


tuktuk


Why are there so many Philipino bands in Asia? That question can be answered with a visit to Country Road bar at the Asoke end of Soi Cowboy. Nope, that's not a Philipino band at all, but a local band which seems to specialise in singing The Beatles – and if you're lucky you might even recognise the song they're singing. But it's what they do to Thai songs which really makes me cringe. I don't think I have ever heard anyone butcher the classic Thai rock song, Loso's "Som Sarn", like they do. This is an all-time class Thai rock song, was number one for many weeks, and is known and loved by Thais in every corner of the country.

Is the Indian nut man making a comeback? You'd see Indians with their basket of nuts all the time in Nana Plaza and up and down Sukhumvit in the late '90s. There were dozens of them roaming the bar areas and they were every bit as persistent as Indian tailors and the Indians who peddle counterfeit Swiss watches in Soi Cowboy today. These days you don't see them so much. I mention them because I saw one Indian nut man harassing a seamstress on the main Sukhumvit Road. The Indian nut man had the audacity to bother this kindly lady who was mending and making alterations to clothing – and he wouldn't take no for an answer. He's still a bloody pain in the ass is the Indian nut man! Speaking of pesky Indians, am I right in thinking that I didn't see the Indian watch sellers on Cowboy this week? What has happened to them?


Bangkok nut seller


Reader's story of the week comes from Bangkok Traveller, "Pretty Woman".

Jake Needham's latest, A World Of Trouble, receives the most glowing review I have ever read in the Bangkok Post.

A Swede is looking at decades behind bars for killing a New Zealander in Pattaya.

Everyone is confused about just what is going on at, and when budget airlines will resume services at Bangkok's second airport.

A gallery of wonderful Thailand cave photos appeared on the UK's Telegraph newspaper site.

A Scot who fell off the balcony of his Pattaya condo dies several weeks later from those injuries in his native Scotland.

It has been a bad week in Phuket, with fire, rain and tears.

A bizarre tale from Down Under where an Aussie is kidnapped after a Pattaya court appearance and signs his life away.

Copyright enforcement officers get a bad rap in Buriram where allegations are that they planted copied software.

From the UK's Daily Mail, a Thai mother is accused of killing her kids, cooking them and eating them.


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: I am legally employed and my contract finishes on September 30th but my last day in the office is Friday September 28th. I will fly to Udon Thani on the 29th and take a minivan to the border and cross into Laos. I plan to apply for a tourist visa in Vientiane and come back to Thailand and take it easy until December 20th when I go back to the UK for Christmas. I will return to Thailand in January and look for a new job then. I have been told that when I leave Thailand at the end of my contract I may have to show Immigration at the Nongkhai / Laos border point that I have paid tax for the year but this doesn't make sense to me as for all they know I might work again in Thailand later in the year, before the tax year finishes. My question is this: Can I exit the country or will I be stopped and asked to produce some documentation relating to my work permit or tax or visa? I really don't want any hassle being so far from Bangkok. Please let me know and help to allay my concerns!

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Foreigners who are liable for taxes due as assessed by an official prior to or at the time of departing from Thailand are required to show a Tax Clearance Certificate or they will not be permitted to leave the country.
If you take a look at the Arrival / Departure Card (TM6), you can find at the bottom quoted: "Alien entering Thailand and having income or alien staying over ninety days in Thailand without income must possess a tax clearance certificate from the revenue department before leaving Thailand. If not, will not be permitted to leave." A foreigner departing or attempting to depart Thailand without a Tax Clearance Certificate shall pay a surcharge at the rate of 20% of the tax amount. In addition he shall be subject to a fine not exceeding 1,000 baht or an imprisonment not more than 1 month, or both. For more information regarding how to apply for a Tax Clearance Certificate please contact Sunbelt Asia at [email protected], so that one of our experienced Legal Advisors can help to guide you through the entire process.

Question 2: As an American, if I die in Thailand, how does someone go about getting a death certificate? Would it be my Thai girlfriend or wife? A friend in America? An executor to my will? How does it work?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: It depends on where you die. If you die at home then the death must be reported to the police. If you die in the hospital then they will report it. Cause of death will be determined and then the body will be released. When the body is released, both a civil registry death certificate and a doctor's death certificate stating cause of death will be issued. The Thai authorities will inform your embassy upon your death and they can help contact the next of kin.

Question 3: A foreigner is working illegally in Thailand. He has a non-immigrant B visa but no work permit. The reason for not having a work permit is because the employer "dragged its feet" about getting it. The foreigner did not want to get into trouble by working illegally for so long (approximately 2 months), so he quit. The employer informed him that they would immediately inform Immigration about his action and that he needed to immediately leave Thailand in order to (1) Return to his home country, or (2) Get a tourist visa and then he could return to Thailand. The reason for immediately leaving Thailand was that he would have the pay the 500 baht per day penalty as soon as Immigration entered the information into their system. My question is this: What information from the employer is missing and / or incorrect? For example, I would think that the employer would not want to inform Immigration because if they did, then Immigration could potentially inform other government agencies and the employer would be questioned about why the foreigner was working for them without a work permit.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: If the employee had an extension of stay permit based on business and not just a non-B then he would have to cross the border upon leaving his job. However, in order to get an extension of stay based on business you must have a work permit. What the employee had was a non-B visa obtained at a Thai embassy or consulate that had nothing to do with Immigration or the Labour Department and is not required to leave the country until the visa expires. Even if he had gotten a work permit with a non-B, if the job ends, there is still no requirement to leave the country until the visa expires.


ladyboy


Before I moved to Thailand, I had no idea what I would discover. I had no idea driving drunk would be considered almost normal in expat circles. I had no idea guys would fall in love with and marry prostitutes. But more than anything, I really had no idea that so many guys who would look you in the eyes and tell you that they're straight would get involved with Thai ladyboys. Compared with when I first arrived, there are more ladyboy bars, more ladyboy-lover websites, more ladyboy escort services and I think it would be fair to say that ladyboys' stock is on the up and up. I don't mind ladyboys, in terms of having a joke or two with them and I find them harmless. They love to joke and flirt, but once they realise that you're really not interested they hunt for new prey. Ladyboys evoke a range of emotions but if there's one thing I do find a little surprising, it is that many of the guys into them are not shy about it. The number of guys I see walking around with what is obviously a ladyboy in tow seems to be on the up and up. Whenever there is mention of ladyboys in this column a handful of readers get their knickers in a twist and send emails of complaint. Don't worry, there are no plans to expand the coverage of ladyboys. From time to time I will mention new ladyboy bars or amusing ladyboy stories as I hear about them as I always have.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse