This past week I had dinner with a mate and the subject of this column came up. The way he reads this column sees him scroll down to the news section which he reads first. The news section is, to him at least, of the most interest. After reading the news section he goes back and reads the opening piece, which he likens to eating dessert.
Unfortunately this week's Stickman Weekly is served without dessert. Yep, I'm afraid there's no opening piece… Sorry!
*Where* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken at the New York Gardens, the popular outdoor eating area adjacent to Sukhumvit soi 12 where you find Sunrise Tacos and V8 Diner. 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; get the photo right but fail to specify a prize 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 girl is mine!
I am cracking the hell up over the story of guys getting into a fight over a bargirl. How pathetic is that? There are hundreds of available bargirls and so-called good girls available and these two get jealous over one bargirl and duke it out over her. Wow! I'm sure this was an alcohol-fuelled fight but come on, you have got to keep your wits about you in these places. There is a lot that can go wrong for the idiot who can't fly below the radar. I've experienced that before both in Bangkok and the Philippines. Not getting into a fight but having some tool tell me "She's mine." Yeah, whatever, Turbo. Go for it. I'll get something better elsewhere.
The elusive girlfriend experience is up to you.
The girlfriend experience is not dead – perhaps just harder to find. I have known X since 2004, am not a contributor to her or her family outside of when I visit. When I am there I am beyond satisfied with her company. Let me tell you that X has a number of friends (yes, bargirls), who I do take out (with X) each time I visit and absolutely love the experience. No amount of acting could fake their enjoyment at having a no-obligation, free night off. I have known this group long enough to ask fairly personal questions and get real answers. They are not hardcore hookers and very much reserve their right to choose, but are trying to make ends meet and will react to punters based on how they act. Pay for service, you will get service. Engage them, respect them, understand the "job" and you will be rewarded with an experience to remember. Maybe it's because I hooked up in 2004, rather than 2012, but these girls are real and working in 2012. I think the realisation of the GFE may be "up to you!"
Chiang Mai thumbs down.
It's interesting that Chiang Mai, a city of 2 million people, would feel too small for you after all your years in Bangkok. I agree that a city guy might as well go for the gusto of a megalopolis. Chiang Mai feels a little small-townish but has a lot of the negatives of a big city. I think you just got lucky during your recent visit because every time I've been there the traffic has been awful and the air quality even poorer than Bangkok at times. Nestled by the mountains, Chiang Mai gets the thermal inversion effect and all the smog from thousands of cars and motorbikes just hangs in the air, trapped by a layer of cold air off the mountains so the air gets really foul often. I'm not much of a city guy but if you're going to choose a big city to live in you might as well go for one with the most excitement and conveniences. On those terms Chiang Mai can't compare to Bangkok.
Gogo girls and tramp stamps.
Getting a tattoo because "you can"? Sigh. I guess it makes sense in a deeply pathetic way, but it just makes me sad. There's lots of things you CAN do. Buy expensive rubbish, carve designs in your arm with a razor, throw wads of 20-baht notes in the air in a gogo bar. Does that mean you SHOULD? Does anyone think this through?
Starbucks issue not limited to Bangkok.
About the Starbucks issue with teachers and students taking up tables for a long time, we have the same issue here in Singapore. For whatever reason the Starbucks branch in Changi Airport seems to be a favourite haunt for "studying". Often 1 student can take up a section of 4 of the nicer seats with their study material spread all over the table – Iphone headphones in ear and all! I'm a big believer that when you study, you study – lock yourself in a room with a cup of coffee and go at it solid for 60-minute segments – or say sod it and chill out and put the books away. Do it right or not at all. This half-ass "studying" BS is as I say, BS. It irritates the staff here to such an extent that they have often approached the students in question and asked them to leave. Often a mild argument ensues with the students claiming they have a right to be there. Yeah, order one coffee and take up a whole segment of 4 seats for 3 – 4 hours. As I see it, the core of the problem is a slow but obvious breakdown in telling these brats to shove it and go. It's worse than the west now in terms of calling it as it is to the youth. I must take my hat off to kids in the west who would have the good common sense not to waste their time and money on such nonsense. That's what I deeply miss about the west that is so lacking in the east – the ability to be able to call things as they see fit – "Yes, I will study" or "No I'm taking today off". This lounging around culture in Asia gets up my back. It's infectious in the corporate environment to such an extent that I am seriously considering heading back to Europe in spite of a having very well-paid job here. As I see it, my time is finite. The concept of personal time never seems to be an issue here, or are they running away from parents at home who want to marry them off to some greasy businessman? Either way I couldn't care less, but when it starts to impact on me that's when I draw the line. Oh the scourge of Asia!
Sukhumvit late night ambush!
I am pretty sure you mentioned the gathering of African gents at the roadside bar in front of the Miami Hotel a few weeks back.
Walking through there after 1 AM this morning, I noticed how the footpath narrows to about 1 metre there and they are sat on either side. It strikes me as being a classic ambush situation for the unwary, perhaps after a few beers, where one of them insists on shaking your hand whilst another does your pockets. Pedestrians beware of this spot, is my advice.
You can't stop me, I'm Thai!
I notice the litter police are back on Sukhumvit in the Nana area. I've never been sure if this is an out and out scam or a misguided attempt to keep tourist areas clean. Either way it's easy to stay out of trouble with these guys – just don't drop litter. Anyway, for the first time ever I saw them stop a Thai man! He looked absolutely furious and put up quite an argument. I didn't hang around to see how it ended, but neither side seemed to be backing down.
Not for everyone.
I'm an Aussie on holidays in Bangkok, a 52-year old male. I hate this place! I can't tell you how many times the scams have come my way. What a disgraceful way to treat tourists. I'm staying at a hotel near the airport just counting the days down until I leave this hellhole. I just wish the plane was leaving tonight! What a depressing place. I wish I was back in Oz with my kids.
What's being pumped into the air-conditioning system at Tilac? Or is something being added to the mixed drinks? Tilac Bar is positively mild as far as gogo bars go with nothing on display to make you blush, no lurid shows and the closest you will get to seeing a birthday suit is a businessman celebrating his birthday in the bar after work. In last week's column I reported a nasty fight in which two hot-heads clashed over a coyote girl in Tilac. I am amazed to report that there was another fight in Tilac late on Friday night of last week, near the entrance to the toilet. One customer became a punching bag for another and was rushed to the Police Hospital by one of the waitresses for urgent treatment after leaking plenty of claret. He received 40 stitches to a nasty gash in his head. I wonder what will happen in Tilac Bar this week.
Sex toys are off the streets of Bangkok after the boys in brown busted suppliers of the plastic fantastic. A major operation saw 13 storage facilities city-wide raided simultaneously and it looks like the scourge of sex toys being openly displayed for sale in heavily touristed areas might just become a thing of the past. There have been no sex toys on display for sale on Sukhumvit since the bust. The question now is what items will they be replaced with? Knives of the variety that would make Rambo grin, or perhaps more fake Viagra?
Down in Pattaya, uber popular gogo bar Baby Dolls wasted no time in appointing a new manager. Phil AKA Mister Egg – a nickname which comes from his Dave The Rave-like hairdo – is delighted to fill Tricky Ricky's hole and at the same time receive a 75% salary increase over what he was being paid at X Zone.
On the subject of Pattaya, what is the word we use to describe something beyond dead? That's the word needed for many of the bars in Pattaya, at least those away from Walking Street and Soi LK Metro. It is so bad that some bars have a single bartender and no girls – and with that absolutely no hope of getting any customers!
Tom, the friendly American owner of Lolita's in Pattaya passed away in the early hours of yesterday morning. Tom had been ill for a while and finally succumbed in a Bangkok hospital. He had taken a back step in the operation of Lolita's with the intention of retiring upcountry. Tom had worked hard to reposition Lolita's, creating a beautiful lounge bar which still offered the services for which Lolita's had become famous. Tom was just a plain good guy, down-to-earth and very popular with all who knew him. RIP, Tom, you'll be missed by many.
The annual lost souls gathering took place this past Thursday and Friday at the top of Sukhumvit soi 4, out front of Nana Plaza. Back to back Buddhist days means back to back public holidays which means 2 days when bars are closed. And with the bars closed, what could one possibly do with themselves? A couple of hoodlums patrolled the front of Nana Plaza where a small barrier was placed preventing the lost souls wandering inside. Amazingly however it was business as usual at the Golden Beer Bar, the bar attached to the outside of the Nana Hotel and the bar had two bumper nights, overflowing with punters. Everyone seemed to be having a good time in what may well be the venue's biggest take of the year! Why was this bar open when every other bar in the soi was in darkness? There's an exception in the law governing alcohol sales on public holidays which allows bars in hotels to open – and technically the Golden Beer Bar, one of the most famous beer bars in all of Thailand, meets that criteria and as such it was business as usual. Soi Cowboy was in complete darkness on the other hand and unlike Sukhumvit soi 4, didn't have anyone hanging around, looking lost.
Some Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza bar owners were furious about the forced closure that prevented them from trading on the busiest day of the month, especially when across town it was business as usual at Patpong with venues open, and alcohol flowing. Salaries in Thailand are usually paid on the last day of the month, which for July was this past Tuesday. The Friday following pay day is often the biggest day of the month and bars can see a big increase in turnover, as much as 50% more than other Fridays. With venues ordered closed on Friday, don't think they will make up for it on Saturday. It just doesn't seem to work that way. I didn't win any friends when I said that it's always been this way and they should think about starting a bar in Patpong if it's that much of a big deal.
Mercury Bar in Nana Plaza made the most of the forced closure and renovated. A grand opening will be held on August 10th with free food and happy hour prices (75 baht) all night long. Mercury Bar is open from 7 PM until 2 AM and is located on the second floor of Nana Plaza, just to the right of the escalator. It is one of few bars in the plaza with a happy hour which runs every night from 7 PM until 8:30 PM with all standard drinks priced at 75 baht. Chang, Leo and Thai whisky are 95 baht all night long. Mercury has expanded with a larger stage and more seating, and now has a shower feature.
And Pretty Lady Bar is taking advantage of the quiet time of the year to renovate. Located on the ground floor of Nana Plaza, Pretty Lady Bar is expanding from 2 shophouses to 3 and will have what it's calling a Construction Zone Party throughout August. From lunch time until 3:30 PM it will be happy hour with local beers offered at 70 baht and a live band will play at 3:30 PM. The boss promises that despite the odd hour, many girls will be on duty and available.
You don't hear so much about it these days, but padded bills are still an issue at some upstairs show bars in Patpong. I heard word this week of a foreigner who visited one of the upstairs bars in Patpong because he wanted to see a ping pong ball show. He had 2 drinks and upon leaving was presented with a bill for 1,600 baht. It should have been no more than 300 baht. The old rule remains: for upstairs bars in Patpong (read: bars with ping pong and other vulgar shows that are about as sexy as watching two rabid dogs go at it in the middle of a soi), any bars in the King's Group are safe. In other venues with naughty shows there's a risk that you will receive a bill with a show fee that could run to hundreds or even thousands of baht.
A most embarrassing scene at the Nana BTS station on Monday of this week put blushes on the faces of all who had the misfortune to witness it. A Thai gal / Western guy couple carrying luggage had just got off the skytrain and had yet to exit the station when the girl, obviously a lady of the night, starts yelling at the guy, a mid-40s foreigner, "You fxxxed me and you didn't pay me!" Presumably she had accompanied him on a trip away from Bangkok for a few days but had yet to be compensated. He had obviously had his fun, and I can only speculate that he thought the cost of the trip (travel, hotel, food, excursions etc.) was her payment. It doesn't work that way. She rightly expected to be paid for services provided, and knowing the way Thais really prefer not to make a scene, the situation had become desperate that she felt that was the only way to force him to pay. I don't doubt that he eventually paid her – and frankly he deserved the public humiliation for failing to cough up prior to that point.
Rumblings of discontent from punters when they discover the girl they're craving is in fact a coyote girl are becoming an issue, More and more guys are calling the whole coyote girl concept a scam. It isn't a scam per se, but growing frustration at this issue is something bar owners ought not overlook. I think it can reasonably be called questionable when a bar takes on attractive girls who often look better than, and certainly dance the pants off the regular gogo girls and allow them to dance side by side regular gogo girls. With gogo girls obviously being available and the coyote girls often not, it's not always obvious who is who. It seems to be especially badly received by guys who have bought expensive lady drinks (lady drinks for coyotes sometimes carry a premium over regular lady drinks) and he later finds out that she cannot be barfined, or silly money is asked for the barfine.
Could a showdown be coming at a bar that is yet to open? Said to be financed by and planned as a place for bikers to hang out, this soon to open venue happens to be located very close to a hotel. The new bar comes with allocated parking spaces adjacent to the hotel and it is mooted the hotel which is surrounded by bars has noise regulations so guests' sleep isn't disturbed. With the venue planned as a place for bikers to hang out, presumably they will ride and park their bikes in the allocated spaces. These bikes often look like they're on steroids and make a noise to match. With the hotel having noise regulations, can both parties be happy?
A New Zealand radio station is offering listeners a chance to win $10,000. Radio Hauraki will fly the lucky person to Bangkok where to claim the prize they have to last 2 minutes in the ring with what the radio station is describing as a Muay Thai warrior.
I don't know how big Andy at Club Electric Blue in Patpong does it, but he has quite a line up at the moment, with a few real cuties, including the lass above who you'd have to join the queue if you'd like to get to know her. She's the #1 girl in the bar Club Electric Blue at the moment.
Maybe Thai women are on to something when they claim the reason they date Western guys is that Thai men are mai dee (bad). They will often say that their Thai boyfriend or husband cheated on them which forced them to call the relationship off. Results of a survey published this week verify these claims and show Thai men to be the most unfaithful men in the world!
If you ever wanted confirmation that the way things are done in the West and how they are handled in Thailand are very different, look at the case this week of the Thai policemen found guilty of the extrajudicial killing of alleged drug dealers a few years back. The coppers were deemed to have overstepped the mark when they executed them, were subsequently charged with murder, found guilty and this week were sentenced to the death penalty. It's what happened next that raised eyebrows. After being sentenced to death, they were given bail. Yep, they were released on bail. From Kalasin province, the nearest border would be….!
The crazy pricing at Town Lodge continues with the manager dropping the room rate to 800 baht again. Town Lodge rooms feature a king-sized bed, nice duvet and linen and wooden shutter windows – a special feature for naughty boys so the room can be kept dark all day. Wi-fi is free. Town Lodge is located at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 18, a 10-minute walk to Soi Cowboy, and just a few minutes in a taxi to Nana. The 800 baht per night rate runs until the end of August.
EZ Massage has a special discount for Stickman readers this coming week. From 11 AM to 6 PM August 6th – 12th, special VIP course massages are discounted to 200 baht. To get the special price, you need to quote "Stickman online special".
Quote of the week comes from Granddad, "Shaking off a Thai hooker is like getting rid of dandruff."
Reader's story of the week is the latest piece of magic from Mega, "The Far Horizons".
A study shows that men in Thailand are the most likely to be unfaithful to their wife.
A Scottish people trafficker is deported from Thailand back to the UK.
Be careful what you drink and where you drink after a backpacker is blinded in Bali.
The Wall Street Journal took a look at Thailand's taste for nostalgia.
Down in Phuket, the news this week was, you guessed it, another Aussie in a fight with a tuktuk driver.
A Swedish teenager's life may be over after he killed a male Thai Facebook friend of his girlfriend.
12 years on, the family of a British girl killed in Chiang Mai has not given up hope.
A 93-year old Australian pervert is accused of fiddling with four young Thai girls and then trying to escape to Myanmar.
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: A farang is legally married to a Thai spouse in his home-country in Europe. They have a legal prenuptial agreement which states that everything he and she had before marriage is theirs each respectively and that nothing would be split in the case of divorce. Their first registration of mutual home address was also in Europe. Later they moved and have stayed in Thailand together since.
However, this marriage abroad was never registered in Thailand. Is it true that marriage must be registered with the Thai authorities to be a valid marriage under Thai law? If you do not formally register your marriage with the Thai authorities, are you not legally married in Thailand? If not considered legally married in Thailand, therefore could divorce not take place in Thailand? Is the correct place for divorce and the division of assets in the country of marriage?
If we are considered not married in Thailand, and our house here is registered in my wife's name, does she takes the house and I take the condo registered in my name because we are considered single?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: A legal marriage overseas is legal in Thailand as well. As for divorce and assets in Thailand, the law already states that any assets you had before marriage remain yours alone while those you acquire during the marriage are split 50/50 if you cannot come to an agreement on their division.
Where the marriage was registered will have an effect on which jurisdiction the divorce proceedings are heard. In general, a foreigner's assets will be better protected if the marriage and pre-nup are registered in Thailand because the divorce proceedings are more likely to be held in a Thai court that does not have jurisdiction over his assets abroad. By marrying in a Western country and having a prenuptial agreement according to these jurisdictions, the foreigner is basically granting divorce jurisdiction in his home country, where many people are most vulnerable because that is where their assets are located. However, since the marriage and pre-nup were not registered in Thailand it will not fall under the jurisdiction of the Thai courts. The divorce proceedings would therefore have to take place back in your home country in Europe. With regards to the division of assets, the place where the marriage is registered is irrelevant here as there is a prenuptial agreement involved.
Question 2: I am retired, aged 46 and live in Thailand year round. I am not married so I live in Thailand on tourist visas. I have been told that I cannot buy a car or even a motorbike on a tourist visa. Is this correct?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: This is correct. You need a non-immigrant visa in order to purchase a car or motorbike and put it in your name. You may wish to consider talking to us about alternative options for back to back tourist visas.
I thought I was taking a risk in last week's column when I admitted surprise that discussions with (as opposed to actual consultations with) three different Thai fortune tellers predicted things about my future which happened to come true, and in one case a fortune teller told me things about my life that someone who didn't know me couldn't possibly know. I expected some colourful comments about mentioning this but the complete opposite happened – a few readers came out and asked how they could get in touch with said fortune tellers! I came very close to removing the paragraph in question before publishing last week's column because I didn't really fancy the ridicule I thought would follow, but then I thought, hey, what I am saying is true so why not say it? That I didn't receive even a single negative comment about it what a pleasant surprise, but it made me think that perhaps I am not as in touch with the readership as I thought I was.
Your Bangkok commentator,