The Internet always promised so much and has delivered all it promised, and then some. The benefits of the Internet to modern day living are so varied and so numerous that it wouldn't be possible to list them all. But the Internet is not without its downsides and sometimes I feel that aspects of the online experience for Westerners in Thailand are a let-down.
We read the news, listen to radio stations from home, exchange ideas and discuss life in Thailand, all online. In a city world-famous for neon lights and chrome poles, many Western guys in Thailand favour chasing skirt online. And with today's mobile phones as much about accessing the internet on the move as they are a means of making voice calls, you're always connected. Welcome to 21st century Thailand where the internet is pervasive in most people's lives.
The early days of the Internet in Thailand were like a visit to a Patpong fetish bar, a mix of pleasure and pain. Connections were slow and disconnections common. But the few Thailand-centric sites were user-friendly and interaction with others was civil. The positive online experience almost made up for the low bandwidth and bad connections.
The first Thailand discussion forum I was an active member of was the now defunct NanaPlaza where the webmaster did a great job moderating. The tone of the forum was generally positive with users keen to help and learn from others. Abusive posts weren't common and when they did appear they were quickly removed and the offending user's account suspended. When a stupid, irreverent or inaccurate comment or post was made, it was quickly discredited by members keen to see such misinformation quashed. It felt like a bunch of friends sitting around shooting the breeze. But the best part about the NanaPlaza forum was that the users met regularly in the real world. For years an open invitation was extended to all members of the forum to meet every Friday evening at the old Woodstock bar in Nana Plaza. These casual get-togethers were well-attended by both local residents and guys on holiday. At its peak the get-togethers attracted 30 or more board members. Stories were told, experiences exchanged and friendships were made. The forum was a real pleasure to be a member of and like many I'd log in a few times a day. But it was the Friday meetings that were the real highlight. So many good people were active in those days and many of the friendships made then endure today.
It was a similar story with the TSM forum , short for Travel and the Single Male, which was an American-centric subscription site for naughty boys with content made up of user-generated trip reports. Like the NanaPlaza forum, the appeal of the site was not limited to the site itself but the opportunity to meet other members and the camaraderie of being part of a group of like-minded individuals who shared a common interest outside the mainstream. Forum members travelled all over the United States to attend meetings and get-togethers.
The good times are over and the tone of many online Thailand-centric forums today is awful. Sniping comments, irreverent posts, misinformation, outing of users' identity, unnecessary unprovoked nasty and mean-spirited comments and even personal threats make for an unpleasant user experience. The forums today may boast huge membership numbers but it seems to be more about quantity, less about quality.
Some Thailand forum webmasters probably never realised who some of the learned, knowledgeable people behind innocuous user names actually were. Respected authors, journalists and successful businessmen are amongst those who once enjoyed the local forums but got so fed up that they not only stopped posting, they don't even log in or browse any more. They brought a certain quality to forums and just like a sports team losing its star player, their departure is not something easily recovered from.
It doesn't matter whether you're a sex tourist, a teacher, a frequent visitor or a retiree, is there an English language forum in Thailand where knowledgeable members share stories and exchange information in a civilised manner without the misinformation, incessant badgering and immaturity that permeates most forums? Is there a forum which a new arrival to Thailand would not find to be juvenile, nasty or just plain embarrassing?
These days it seems that some are unable to post or comment online without including hateful remarks about others, be it about their nationality, sexual orientation, political leanings or whatever. Irrespective of how articulate they may be and / or how well-made or reasoned their words, unnecessary vitriol demeans what they say and puts users off not just what they have written, but the site as a whole.
My pal Dave The Rave allowed comments on his site for a period but found himself thinking that every crazy in Bangkok and then some was tuning in, such was the gibberish he had to wade through. The comments facility was turned off, all past comments binned and Dave is so much happier for it.
I will never allow this site to be sullied with a forum, nor will I ever allow unmoderated articles to be posted. Either would be a boon for traffic, but site quality would dive. The level of moderation required on Thailand-centric websites where posts go live the moment you hit "post" is extreme. A team of moderators is a minimum requirement.
But the nonsense online is not confined to forums. An American expat in Bangkok fired from a position in the hospitality industry recently went on a rampage online, defaming his former employer's businesses on sites such as TripAdvisor, writing spurious reviews full of lies in what was a childish act showing his true character.
Thailand has extreme defamation laws – spanning both civil and criminal law – yet such untruths posted online remain a problem and legal action isn't that common.
Without a forum and no means to comment directly to this site, the only way for readers to reach me is by email. From time to time I receive hate mail and it can be extreme. Tracing the source of the email can be revealing insomuch that it allows me to determine the time of day it was sent. Invariably it was sent late at night and you just know the writer was probably on their second six-pack.
Some say that if you don't have anything positive to say, don't say anything. I don't necessarily agree and believe in the right to voice an opinion so long as your words don't contain factual inaccuracies and what you say isn't defamatory. I do however strongly believe in the notion that you should never say anything online you would not be willing to say in person.
Does the seeming anonymous nature of the Internet foster a misplaced confidence amongst some to say things online they'd never say in person, and would never dream of saying in front of people known to them – their friends, family or colleagues? Email is not anonymous and for the wise guys who think emails sent via Gmail can't be traced, think again. Add to that the tricks to trip up and reveal the identity of those using proxy servers and you begin to understand that anonymity online is a fallacy.
As an active member of a variety of online forums unrelated to Thailand spanning such diverse areas as digital photography, rugby and the world economy, the sort of nonsense – and that is the only word for it, nonsense – found on many Thailand-centric forums is largely absent.
Of course part of the challenge communicating online with someone you don't know and have never met is successfully sending the message in a way that it is understood as it was intended. Misinterpretation may be compounded if either party isn't a native speaker or has a poor command of the written word. Sloppy prose, imprecise or inarticulate comments, a lack of nuance and the absence of body language can all cause misunderstandings.
But perhaps my biggest pet peeve of bad online behaviour is those who respond in a nasty or mean-spirited manner to a good news story. Not Thailand related, but the incredibly nasty and racist comments that followed the Bolton footballer who survived after suffering a heart attack on the field earlier this year were exactly the sort of thing posted on Thailand forums. Totally and utterly despicable and the idiot who made those mean-spirited comments deserved the jail time he got for his troubles.
In fairness to Thailand, Farangland isn't completely devoid of this nonsense – but as it so often seems, amongst farangs in Thailand it just seems to be that little bit worse. The Internet experience in Thailand really is less enjoyable because of the errant behaviour online of little boys in a man's body.
Many older Thais view the Internet with suspicion and seeing the way some foreigners behave on Thailand forums and Thailand-centric sites it's easy to see why.
Some websites are all about fun and don't take themselves seriously. Nanapong was a classic example, stating from the outset that it was about fun and not to be taken seriously and that's one reason it worked so well. Some sites seem to flip flop between being fun sites and serious information sites, depending on the webmaster or moderator's mood. Wouldn't it be nice if there was just one quality forum for foreigners in Thailand where issues could be discussed openly and honestly without threads quickly disintegrating into drivel, abuse, nasty comments and misinformation. Or is this simply indicative of what Thailand attracts?
Keyboard warriors lead sad, lonely lives. They make asses of themselves online with spurious comments, attacking those living a life they wish they had, people who have found the happiness which has eluded them, happy lives they feel are undeserved.
The online world and the real world are no longer separate. Some live their life on Facebook, updating pages which will later be read by a prospective employer as part of a job interview process. Some people's social lives are as much about what happens in the cyber world as the real world. The notion that we're able to separate our real life with our online persona is a misnomer; they're so inextricably intertwined that anyone with an online presence shouldn't underestimate how what they do or what they say online could enter their so-called real life. I often feel it's better to have minimal connection or interaction with Thailand-centric websites and just live my life in the real world. As a webmaster, however, that isn't possible.
*Where* was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was difficult and no-one got it right so I claim the prizes, thank you! Maybe I should use difficult photos every week so I can pig out at Sunrise and Firehouse more often?! Last week's photo was taken of the ongoing construction of the underground train, next to the police station by the river between the Tai Dien Pier and Pahurat. This week's photo is much easier. There are two prizes, a 300 baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and its great Mexican food and a 500 baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its wonderful 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 – Only in Thailand!
There is definitely an only in Thailand factor. The Philippines and India have their own wiggliness (lots of guns in the 'Pines, almost anything happens in India – I was there earlier this year they were having an election, but one polling station saw few voters as it was being stalked by a tiger known to be a human-eater!), but Thailand does have its own stamp. The antics of the Interior Minister long ago, the cop in Chiang Mai who murdered two farang at the airport because his gal pal left him for some other farang, the minister in charge of tech who said he never used email and only surfed golf websites, the guy who shot a cop in a bar and hid out in Cambodia…
Guns the least of your worries!
Thanks for asking Sunbelt about the gun laws in Thailand. It seems like Thailand is MUCH more civilized in its laws concerning gun ownership than the U.S. That's comforting for a guy like me who's going to retire in Thailand in a year. Now I only have to worry about the stabbings, the Pattaya Flying Club, being drugged, being scammed, being run over by a ya ba-crazed motorbike taxi driver, getting dengue fever, malaria, or just suffering farang overpricing. Ain't life grand?
Is Stick "Aussie bashing"?
Do you deliberately select alleged Aussie victims of attacks in Phuket at the exclusion of other nationalities? Surely Aussies aren't the only ones getting picked on, or is it picked off? It just seems to me that Australians are over-represented in the beating statistics. Just curious because in all the years I've been visiting Thailand with friends as well as work associates, I can't recall any of us ever being even remotely close to an altercation with a Thai.
Seeing it for what it is.
Enjoyed the column this week and was struck by this, "In the back corner near the loo, the alcoholics slug down hard stuff all night long", just about summed up for me the squalor, desperation, hopelessness – call it what you will. Poor girls, I thought, but that was an instant response. Perhaps I should have thought poor sponsors. I'm sure that there are some bargirls who enjoy, or can at least live with their work. How many more are in some crap downward spiral of booze, drugs, greedy boyfriends, etc? No wonder the white knight syndrome in us Western guys kicks in and so many want to rescue those who don't want to be rescued – a hopeless quest. Sad all round, I think, and a recipe for disaster for all concerned. At the most basic level, a good female body will get a response from most blokes. For anyone with a bit more brainpower, and certainly for those who are seeking that little bit more i.e. a relationship that includes at least the basics of a conversation, it doesn't bode well, does it? And, a bit more basically, what would be the pleasure in having sex with a woman who is too pissed / high / whatever to even notice if you're there?
Why not get a real girlfriend?
What is with this concept of "girlfriend experience"? If these guys want a girlfriend experience, why don't they try putting in the effort to get an actual girlfriend? Once you do the time, put in the effort, be a gentleman etc. then you can deserve the rewards. Obviously I am missing something. What value is there in an experience that is clearly not what it purports to be? Under any other circumstances these same men would cry havoc and demand a refund e.g. "It said floating market but it was in the middle of a rice field!" Is it a sort of self-acknowledged delusion? They know it isn't real but want to pay for it anyway? Akin to a sort of extreme escapism like doing drugs. I understand that some men would enjoy an emotional pampering, but at what point in history did the usual work of an escort not cover this anyway? Or is it that they actually want to be called "boyfriend"? A sort of fetish like asking to be put in pampers and given a dolly to suck.
Have money, no need farang!
Do Thai women really like farangs? Well, I say very few do. First of all, try to pull a Thai chick in your own country. If she is independent, no chance. Do Thai chicks really dislike Thai blokes? Hell no! Why does every Thai chick tell you she was married but now single, usually got kids and Thai man no good and don't take care blah blah? Yet every one of those chicks' parents are still together, aren't they? Funny that. Thai man don't work either, well why would he when you're sending the money for their family. I have a close male Thai friend here in Oz and he's the only Thai bloke around. Recently a single Thai lady came to town and who ended up with her? Not a farang! He has 2 sisters who live here too. Are they with farangs? No! Why? They've got money and don't need to be. They choose to be single rather than be with farang and so does his mother who is very beautiful. I am 40, have a beautiful house on the beach in what I think to be the best part of Oz and I tried for a long time to pull a Thai bird here on dating sites etc. No chance! I don't drink or smoke, I'm not ugly and I am certainly good-hearted but no chance. But when I go to Thailand Thai chicks flock to me like flies to you-know-what. Beware, good farangs.
How much faith do you have in her being faithful?
Re: your link to the survey and comment regarding why Thai women date western men, for me the real story is the fact that Thai women cheat more than Thai men. To date, I only could hypothesise my casual observations that Thai women cheating on their partners is far more pervasive than Thai men. The survey supports that theory. Living and working in Thailand for the past 7 years, I rarely frequent the bars and nightlife meaning that my observations are neither jaded nor influenced by a lifestyle that would obviously influence such a perception. I work amongst educated, bilingual and well compensated (relatively speaking) professional Thai women. After 18 months of numerous conversations and observations, it was becoming obvious (anecdotally) that Thai women in far greater numbers, cheat on their partners than the men. The difference in perceptions is in part, created by the fact that Thai men talk openly of their activities and get caught. In the meantime, Thai women outwardly cling deeply to their cultural roots and are far more discreet in their activities. They are usually above suspicion while their partners are busy earning a living or trying to cover up their own activities. Yes, you are correct, Thai women claim Thai men are mai dee. Yes, they will often say and claim their Thai boyfriend or husband cheated on them. That's NOT the whole truth. Thai women dating western men has less to do with Thai men being mai dee and more with Thai women dealing with their own insecurities.
Washington Square has had stay of execution after stay of execution but the noose is being tightened and next month might really be game over once and for all. In a forlorn state for many months now, the closure of Texas Lone Staar way back in the middle of last year signaled the beginning of the end and the departure of Bourbon Street earlier this year caused foot traffic in the area to plummet and was effectively the end. A few smaller venues desperately hang on, The Dubliner has continued to be as popular as ever and The Sportsman has battled on even if it feels like it's surrounded by a war zone with the demolition of buildings all around it. Set in the heart of the square, The Sportsman has received its marching orders and the doors will close for the last time on September 23rd with the building to be demolished as soon as they're out. It's the end of an era for The Sportsman which has been in business for 3.5 years, the end of a much longer era for the Square itself which will go the way of Clinton Plaza, Sukhumvit Square and Asoke Corner, another bar area consigned to Bangkok bar history. The owners of The Sportsman have signed a lease for a much smaller bar in the Rompho Complex down in Jomtien, where 3 of the pools tables will continue their life post September 23. The remaining tables will be for sale when the venue closes, comprising 1 x 9-foot and 3 x 8-foot tables. Anyone interested should inquire at The Sportsman.
Friendly Texan Mekong Kurt's life seems to have mirrored that of Washington Square over the past few years. Kurt, a fellow online columnist who is widely recognised as the unofficial scribe for Washington Square, has been battling poor health which is the main reason for the irregular publishing of his column. Kurt is currently in Sukhumvit Hospital and we all hope he pulls through soon.
For a long time the best known-farang in Thailand, what has happened to Bernard Trink? Trink has always been his own man and does things his way. A feature of his workspace at the Bangkok Post is his pride and joy, that classic old typewriter. The typewriter has been removed and his workspace has been taken over by someone else. Trink has been looking a little worse for wear recently so here's hoping he's ok.
The euphoria amongst bar owners and naughty boys that came with the change of ownership of Nana Plaza was not just about the survival of the plaza in its current form, but hope for a bright future and a return to the good times. New leases have been signed, but with the master lease agreement falling through and the land owner handling the leases, the plaza remains in the scruffy state it has been for years. No bar area attracts rumours like Nana Plaza and this week new rumours started doing the rounds. There's probably nothing in it, but because of the source – the manager of one of the longest running beer bars on the soi, it's worth mentioning. Rumour has it that local property developer Land and House is either about to buy or has already bought the land that Nana Plaza sits on and has plans to develop the site which would see the plaza torn down. My feeling is that there is almost certainly no truth to it but this is Bangkok, and you just never know.
Will the name of the best book of the Thai bargirl genre become the name of the best bar? Some cheeky fellow certainly hopes so after he pinched the name of Steve Leather's Private Dancer. Said fellow has acquired Toyz in soi 15 off Walking Street as well as the bar next to it and the two are going to be combined to form a mega bar called Private Dancer A Gogo. That's one way to grab the attention of punters – using a name already well-known in Thai bar circles.
Forget what I said in last week's column about Rainbow 3 being the best of the Rainbow bars. Something changed this past week and I guess the girls must have been shuffled around causing Rainbow 3 to take a nose dive. Rainbow 4 is the best of the Rainbows, and has the best selection in the plaza, easily.
And I notice that the questionable concept at G Spot has changed. A couple of months back G Spot was filled almost exclusively with well-rounded girls but the lineup has reverted to a more regular shaped troop.
The gambling that took place under the stairs on the right hand side of Nana Plaza where motorbike taxis, uniformed officials and local hoodlums put their hard-earned down is no longer.
Dodgy looking Africans are flooding Sukhumvit nightly from around 11:00 or 11:30 onwards, hanging out at the streetside bars on the main Suhkumvit Road from the Nana intersection down to the Thermae. They can be found in serious numbers from sois 11/1 down to soi 15 and into soi 13 itself where there are so many that it's almost like they're guarding the soi. On Friday night the streetside booze booths on Sukhumvit had a ratio of almost 10 blacks to every white guy. These suspicious characters say hello as you pass by, often addressing you as brother or friend and extending their hand. Trust them not. There's also been a noticeable increase in African street-walking prostitutes who I assume are controlled by their male counterparts.
Bangkok Beat is refusing to become a victim of this year's tragic low season and have parties and promotions planned, aware of the need to do something a little different to get punters in the door. The next party at Bangkok Beat will take place next Saturday, August 25th, and is a pajama party.
Livingstone's in soi 33 has joined the ranks of bars with a street front view by moving a few of the girls from the venue's small bar out to the front of the complex, where tables have been set up with a view of the not so bustling soi.
Food is back on the menu at Bradman's Bistro after half the staff that did a runner decided that working at Bradman's is not so bad after all and came back.
Christina's, the newest farang food venue on Sukhumvit, is run by the wife of an American expat who hails from a southern state. The venue is being promoted as serving honest home-style cooking. Christina's can be found in Suhkumvit soi 20 and the feedback on their wings has been particularly good.
Next Sunday, August 26th, from 8 PM – 12:30 AM will see the monthly live at Checkinn99 series featuring Keith Nolan's Love Gone Wrong – a Bangkok blues band and Supabad, the 9-piece funk and soul band pumping out high energy music. Heineken draft jugs will be available at just 199 baht all night long. There's no cover charge but please note there's no reserved seating. Checkinn99 is located on the main Sukhumvit Road between sois 5 & 7, opposite the Landmark Hotel.
The latest tragedy to hit Phuket this week was widely covered in the mainstream press where the Tiger Disco, a late night freelancer venue, was destroyed by fire in the early hours of Friday morning, killing 4 people. The usual knee-jerk comments followed – that Phuket will see a huge drop in tourist numbers because of this tragedy. Don't believe it for a moment! If there's one thing I have learned about the Thailand tourism industry it is that it's incredibly resilient. New visitors will continue to flock to the country and past visitors will return. This tragedy won't even register a blip on arrival numbers.
Statistics show a significant increase in the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand over the past few years but they have not been that visible in downtown Bangkok. You see them at major tourist attractions but not so much in downtown Bangkok. That's changing and these days you both see and hear (often very loud) Chinese visitors. On the skytrain, in shopping malls and even in some restaurants, the Chinese are more visible and if the numbers continue to increase, expect to see businesses start to cater more towards them. How long will it be before Robinson's at soi 19 adds signs to those it already has in Thai, English and Arabic. And how long will it be before the likes of Sunrise Tacos and V8 Diner have menus in Chinese?
What is it with the popularity of throwing back shots in Thailand? That's not something you typically see in bars back in Farangland (is it?) and I'd always thought it was something of a student thing, the sort of thing you left behind once you passed your early 20s. Call me Mr. Boring, but I just don't see the appeal.
Compared with the late 90s, there seems to have been a change in the profile of Thailand's celebrities and stars. When I first arrived, luuk kreung – that is half Thai / half Western kids – were all the rage. Whether it was TV, the big screen or pop charts, luuk kreung were overrepresented. Thais have always felt that mixed Thai / Western kids are particularly good-looking and on TV I'd say perhaps half the top stars used to be luuk kreung. Anyone with a luuk kreung baby would find their child doted on and they would be told time and time again that there was a chance that the child could go on to become a star, simply because of their good looks. With more and more foreigners calling Thailand home and the subsequent increase in the number of Thai+Western couples, there are more luuk kreung than ever. But what is interesting is that luuk kreung don't appear to make up the number of celebrities or stars as they once did. Are luuk kreung, or farang in general, no longer in vogue? Or is it perhaps that Thais have become more nationalistic and luuk kreung aren't perhaps seen as pure Thai? Or is it, perhaps, that where Western culture was once all the rage in Thailand, now the fascination is with Korea, Korean culture, food and especially K-Pop – Korean pop music.
For foreigners residing in Thailand who are aged under 50, unmarried and not employed, the holy grail of visas has always been the multiple-entry non-immigrant B visa which essentially allows one to stay in the Kingdom for 15 months with the proviso that they must exit the Kingdom – but are free to immediately return – every 90 days. This type of visa used to be relatively easy to come by at Thai consulates and embassies in Europe and North America but that has changed. Multiple entry non-immigrant B visas aren't issued at many Thai consulates and embassies now, particularly in Western Europe where there appears to have been a policy change at some missions. Some consulates and embassies will only issue a non-immigrant B visa to a citizen of the country where the mission is located i.e. only a Dutch citizen can apply for a non-immigrant B visa at the Thai consulate in Amsterdam, which was known to be a soft touch. And in some countries multiple entry non-immigrant visas aren't available at all; it's single entry only. What's the reason for this? No-one knows for sure…
What's up in the opening scene in Expendables 2 where Stallone and co. attempt to rescue a Chinese billionaire being held in Nepal. The bad guys speak in the local lingo but it's not Nepalese….but Thai!
Local pervert Bangkok Barry emailed me this week to say that a gogo dancer at his favourite Soi Cowboy bar is 47 years old. He wondered if she may be the oldest gogo dancer in Bangkok. I don't know who has that dubious honour, but I do remember the 50-year old from Nana's DC10 (if my memory serves me right) who went absolutely wild on stage and won a Nanapong dance contest after doing things with Heineken bottles that would give the advertising agency behind the Heineken ads some ideas for even more colourful adverts. There are some real old working girls out there – I'd bet there are a few aged 60+ if you look hard enough – but who is the oldest gogo dancer? It's one thing to mill around a freelancer venue and conceal your age with lots of war paint, but jumping around a gogo stage in no more than a bikini is less forgiving. I bet there are a good few in their 50s still hugging the chrome pole.
Some bar owners prefer not to actively advertise that their business is for sale or list it with a business brokerage. If you're looking to enter the industry as a bar owner – and let me say that it's not an easy industry to operate in and not a decision to be taken lightly – I know of a Bangkok gogo bar that is up for sale for 8 million baht which you won't find listed anywhere. If you're in the market to buy a bar, drop me an email and I will put you on to the owner. I won't even tell you the name of the bar and it will be up to you to meet the owner yourself. This guy is a straight shooter and the numbers he presents are real, something which some who have invested in the industry have found to be a problem.
In these times of austerity, budget airlines are booming and the most successful operator in this part of the world is Air Asia. The concept is one and one I'd like to see replicated in most aspects of society – you are responsible for yourself and you pay for what you use with no requirement to subsidise others. Air Asia has branched out in to hotels where the concept looks like it could be a winner. There's a Tune Hotels branch on Pattaya's Second Road, near the Big C at North Pattaya. The concept is that they provide a basic room with a comfortable bed and hot shower. There are various packages you can purchase including air-conditioning (fan is free), wi-fi internet, toiletries, towels etc. Basically you pay for what you use. If you're on a budget and really only want a clean room for the evening, the room is really quite cheap.
There was traffic chaos between Nana and Asoke today for vehicles heading east. It seemed that part of the road had subsided at the Asoke intersection leaving a dangerous hole, causing one lane to be closed and traffic to back up.
Quote of the week comes from Lecherous Lee and relates to the special treatment we saw a foreign customer receive in a gogo bar. "That's why we come to Thailand. You can't do that with your wife in the West, even if you buy her a house!"
Reader's story of the week comes from the ever industrious Mr. Anonymous, "Biology 101".
An Aussie dies every 9 days in their favourite holiday destination, Bali.
Thai MP Boonsong Kowawisarat accidentally kills secretary by pulling out an Uzi in a restaurant and shooting her!
A young Thai woman is on death row in Saigon after being sentenced to death for smuggling drugs into Vietnam.
A 52-year old Norwegian kills his 16-year old (!) girlfriend when he crashes his motorbike in Pattaya.
The mainstream press show how a married Aussie travels to Thailand to get his teeth done and finds himself a new woman.
A Soi Cowboy girl kills a colleague in a drug-fuelled rage while they were doing methamphetamines in their room.
A popular Thai market which a train passes through is featured in the UK's Daily Mail.
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 a British citizen married to a Thai lady and we live in the United Arab Emirates. We have been married for several years and got married at an amphur in Bangkok. We would both like to get divorced as we have drifted apart and found new partners and we noticed that it is possible to get divorced at the Thai Consulate in Dubai. I have three questions:
1. If we get divorced at the Thai embassy / consulate, would the divorce be recognised by the British government / British legal system? As we both wish to divorce, this would be uncontested. If possible, we would like to avoid having to travel to Thailand for the divorce.
2. If I went ahead with the embassy divorce, would I be able to get married in Thailand to my new partner, who is Thai? I believe I would need to get some documentation from my embassy first to do this. When I married first time round I needed a document of eligibility to marry (bpai sot, I think) from the British embassy in Bangkok. Would I need such documentation this time, or could I just use the divorce paper from the Thai embassy here in the UAE?
3. How long would I have to wait between getting divorced and marrying for a second time?
Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: There is a mistaken belief that as you married in Thailand you can divorce at the Thai embassy abroad and this would be accepted under UK law. Doing this however simply means that your divorce will be recognised under Thai law, but not UK law. UK law states that the only way you can legally divorce in the UK is through its own courts; regardless of whether you actually married in the UK or abroad.
Here it should also be noted that had you divorced at an Amphur in Thailand, or in a Thai court, this would have been recognised by the UK. Essentially any marriage or divorce proceedings at a Thai embassy abroad would satisfy Thai Law but will not usually satisfy the laws of that country. If you wish to have your country accept a Thai divorce you must do it in Thailand.
You may register a new marriage as soon as the divorce certificate has been issued. Should you decide to get married again, you will need to obtain an “affidavit of freedom to marry” from your embassy in Bangkok (and then translated into Thai language and certified by Ministry of Foreign Affairs) by presenting your Thai divorce certificate should you choose to re-marry in Thailand. Take note that the Thai divorce certificate may be required to be translated into English by your embassy.
Captain Hornbag's birthday bash at Club Electric Blue on Thursday night was one of the best nights out in a while. Club Electric blue is an average-sized bar with a relatively small number of girls – less than 30 on any given night at a guess – yet when I compare it with a visit to Rainbow 4 this week which must have in excess of 150 girls – and many who are very easy on the eye, Club Electric Blue compares well. How can that be? In Rainbow 4 and a number of other large venues – think all the Rainbows, Angelwitch and Bacarra – there is something of a disconnect between the girls and the customers. It's a gogo bar and the girls are available, yet in many big bars you almost feel like there is an invisible barrier between the customers and the girls. I think this is one reason why I like Tilac so much – that barrier doesn't seem to exist. Anyway, I'm rambling and have failed to make the point I wanted to make which is….that while I ranted about the Internet in Thailand today, a good part of the reason that the night at Club Electric Blue was so much fun was because I was surrounded by good friends. And every one of those friends I met online. So while the Internet in Thailand might be a snake pit at times, there are still plenty of great people out there with whom friendships form and good times are had.
Your Bangkok commentator,