Stickman's Weekly Column September 2nd, 2012

A Dump Called Nana



It's supposed to be Bangkok's premier bar area for foreigners, but today Nana Plaza is a dump. A lack of investment in the property and years of neglect have seen its steady decline into the sorry state it is today. From the crippled sign out front to the failing electric system and broken-down neon, to the filth and grime that permeate every corner of the plaza, Nana Plaza hardly looks like a so-called premier bar area.






Nana Plaza

It starts even before you get inside. The narrow entrance and exit is often obstructed by street vendors and motorbikes. The prime streetside real estate sees vendors vie for space, fighting not just amongst themselves but with ladyboys and tuktuk drivers, all keen to get their share of the farang pie. Revelers dart backwards and forwards across the top end of the soi as they float around the area's bars. It's typical of street-level Bangkok – crowded, frenetic and totally disorganised.



Nana Plaza

First impressions of the plaza aren't great with the iconic sign in a forlorn state. Plans for it to be replaced exist, but those plans remain on hold. A $2 million upgrade of the plaza was mooted but those behind the upgrade are the same people who were going to control the master lease, but later pulled out. A shame, as they had big plans.



Nana Plaza

The space used as a hair salon on the top floor near Carnival is typical of the state of the plaza today. The furniture is filthy and broken down, rubbish bins overflow and the mirrors are grimy. Calendars from years ago hang crooked on the wall, and in the corners are discarded condom wrappers, spider webs and huge cockroaches. Can you imagine a beauty salon more squalid?

Nana Plaza

Foreigners seldom explore the area under the steps on the left-hand side up the middle floor which has to be a good thing, for broken-down appliances, piles of garbage and a putrid smell that somehow seems to be confined to that area don't give anyone a good impression.



Nana Plaza

Every so often the leaseholder or the land owner makes a statement that motorbikes will not be allowed to park in (and block) the entranceway or the middle of the plaza. From experience we know that the very next day those same motorbikes will be there, as the will the day after that and the day after that. In a worst case scenario, the casualty count could far exceed Santika or Tiger Disco.



Nana beer bar

Out of sight, out of mind seems to be the attitude of bar owners who store their unused junk under the steps on the right-hand side. Piles of junk that no-one wants to take responsibility for with rubbish bins, freezers, ladders, construction equipment and even old shoes – you name it and you'll find it.



Nana Plaza

The stairwells of the plaza feature the sort of graffiti seen in public toilets in a bad neighbourhood with the names and phone numbers of people purported to offer various services.



Nana Plaza

The local wildlife includes resident cats, dogs, rats and cockroaches, most of whom never learned about the food chain and are failing in their job to cancel one another out. And just where do the cats and dogs take a piss or a dump?



Nana Plaza

It's perhaps harsh and mean-spirited to say the presence of ladyboys contributes to Nana being a dump when there's an argument that they bring colour and life to a bar area. Some are so aggressive that I wonder if groping passersby is a requirement of employment at Casanova?

Nana Plaza

Home to stray cats for as long as I can remember, their playground is on the awnings, amongst the cigarette butts and other trash. What's a broom doing there – it's not as if anyone uses one!



Nana beer bar

Tithe awnings of the ground floor bars are home to years of rubbish. Discarded cigarette butts, Styrofoam boxes, dead satellite dishes, food and food wrappers. Rotten food attracts rats, which in turn attracts feral cats, all fighting for the scraps.



Nana Plaza

A ground floor bar with filthy windows reflects the general neglect within the plaza and the lack of standards forcing bars to keep their premises neat and tidy.

A couple of years back the escalator inside the plaza broke down and was out of order for a period until a small fortune was spent by the former master lease holder, Nana Castle, to replace it. An escalator that takes you up a dozen steps. With escalators and lifts blowing out electricity bill, why would you spend money on them? Why allow the plaza to become so filthy and run down yet sink so much into the extravagance of an escalator?



Nana beer bar

Rain has a cleansing effect in Bangkok, cleaning the air and washing away some of the crap on the ground. But when it comes to Nana Plaza even Mother Nature is powerless and not even the heaviest Bangkok monsoon could help clean the place.



Soi Cowboy

A kilometre down the road, Soi Cowboy isn't just easy on the eye, it's become an attraction simply because it looks so good when the sun goes down. It's nothing like the mess Nana has become.

But the truth is despite its outwards appearance, when it comes to what really counts and what you find inside the bars, Nana still has the bragging rights. Cowboy might be prettier from the outside, but inside the bars, for the time being at least, Nana is so much better. There are probably three times as many good bars in Nana as there are in Cowboy.

The state of Nana may be a disgrace, but after making my rounds this week there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the bars of Nana Plaza have it over Soi Cowboy. But Nana Plaza is still a dump!





*Where* was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken under the steps on the right-hand side of Nana Plaza in the spot where gambling used to take place. It was easy and I reckon half of Bangkok got it right. There are two prizes this week, a 300 baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500 baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.

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 – Being punished for mixing lemonade and beer!

I thought I'd sit at the rail at a bar on Soi 4 and do a bit of freak-watching. I was hung over and had a long evening ahead of me so was drinking shandy. As usual I had to explain to the waitresses what it is. I ordered a pint of shandy with the usual explanation, and waited. What arrived was one of those half-pint Singha glasses with the handle. I caught a glimpse of the bill as they put it into the cup – 210 baht – 140 for a beer and 70 for the Sprite. I called the waitress over and explained that they'd made a mistake. The manageress then came over with the menu which indicated those prices – 140 for a draft Singha but no mention of the volume, and 70 for a bottle of Sprite. I tried to explain politely and calmly that this was neither correct nor fair, and when I didn't get anywhere with that approach said words to the effect of thanks very much but you can keep the drink and I'll go elsewhere. I was smiling and calm the whole time. Cue the rapid and predictable escalation – 6 or 7 waitresses surround me yelling "you pay, you pay" and a couple of Thai guys in there taking notice. It being Nana I paid and left. 210 baht is clearly not worth the kicking that I might have ended up getting had I refused. The whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth. I've been here 6 years now so I'm hardly green, and whilst Morning Night isn't really my kind of place I've had a few good evenings there playing pool, and have never had any problems of any kind there. Maybe it's just God's way of punishing me for putting lemonade in my beer?

The real hansum man!

3 or 4 years ago, my ex-girlfriend and I were staying at Siam Heritage. We came back one evening just as most of Patpong was closing and joined the throng of bargirls and others at the food stalls across Suriwong for a late night bite. We ordered and sat at one of the tables, opposite one another. On my immediate left was an absolute knockout of a Thai lady. Fair skin, beautiful silky hair, perfect makeup and manicure and well-dressed, at least for a bargirl. She could have had any man she wanted. Opposite her, on my girlfriend's right, was the most sordid, disgusting creature I could imagine with long, greasy unkempt hair, scraggly facial hair, probably hadn't bathed in a week, filthy clothing, looking completely strung out. Obviously an addict with an industrial strength habit. How can she stand the sight of him? Yet here they were, sitting down together, chatting over bowls of noodle soup! I couldn't believe my eyes, and asked my girlfriend whether or not that was her boyfriend (I thought perhaps he was her brother, or some relative. Surely such an exquisite creature wouldn't sleep with THAT!) She looked and listened and said yes, he was. What kind of low self-esteem must one have to sell one's body, only to give the proceeds to a piece of human debris like this guy?

The forklift driver and the lawyer…not!

If one looks to Western societies and the much-maligned Caucasian women, have you ever heard of a forklift driver who has a girlfriend who's an obstetrician, or a lawyer? Noticed whenever one of these fat, ugly politicians is hauled in front of the cameras they usually have a really tasty, blonde, 30-something partner in tow? Many of these guys look like total train-wrecks and out of a suit they'd present even worse than a Pattaya retiree. Or the clever university student who's studying a great course like vet science, finding it near-impossible to pull the pretties whilst his schoolmates who dropped out and went up to work in the mines get all the skirts? Why on earth would a 20-year old gogo dancer settle for less except her dek-wehn Thai boyfriend and then it's more a case that she can't get rid of him since he probably followed her down from Roi Et!



Not the Nigerian fan club.

Some will say this in un-PC, but Nigerians are bad news. I saw them in the '90s in Tokyo, peddling substances (ironic as the preferred term at the time was "African-American" for black US citizens, yet the Africans would try to pass themselves off as "American" and actual US citizens of African descent in Tokyo would be furious – there were fist fights). Then in Beijing there were Africans openly trying to sell me substances. Now Bangkok! There are PLENTY of good, decent Nigerians and Africans just like anyone, but the ones on Sukhumvit Soi 13 (where I used to live) are up to no good. You probably shouldn't print this…

The Russians are coming.

Travel time is shorter for the Russians because they are mostly not coming from Moscow or anywhere near it. Moscow is in Europe, but they are coming from Asia. Ever heard of Novosibirsk? It is in Siberia, and is the 3rd biggest Russian city after Moscow and St. Petersburg. It's 3,000 miles from Bangkok, compared to 6,000 miles from Bangkok to London or 4,700 miles from Bangkok to Sydney, and 8,000 miles from Bangkok to San Francisco. Vladivostok is only 2,750 miles from Bangkok. Altogether, there are 40 million people that live in Siberia and they all want to come to Thailand!

Chasing the past.

I've been reading your site from the beginning. It's sad to say, but the only thing I like about Thailand anymore is your website. Your writing mirrors how my own feelings have changed down the years, and the photos make the place look better than it really is. Each time I go back I'm chasing a mirage of the Bangkok I met in 1995. Or maybe I'm chasing being 25 again. Whatever I'm chasing, it's gone. Bangkok today leaves me cold, but somehow your site acts like a comrade from the old days; the rich photography chimes with my memories of back then, and the columns always have me nodding in agreement. You help keep the good memories alive for me.

Getting to Samui and value for money.

I use to live on Samui and had forgotten about the monopoly that Bangkok Airways enjoys through owning the airport there. Yes, other airlines use the airport too, but it is primarily Bangkok Airways that flies in and out of Samui. Looking at flights from Chiang Mai to Samui for October was around 33,000 baht return for two on Bangkok Airways. For that money my partner and I could have travelled to virtually anywhere in South-East Asia on the Air Asia network – Vietnam, Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur – and still had change! Anyway, for that same price I was able to book Chiang Mai to Surratt Thani via Bangkok on Air Asia return, 7 days rental of a Toyota Vigo through Budget, and 7 nights accommodation in a nice resort at a nightly budget of 2,000 baht per night. All that came in at just under 33,000 baht. Whilst I still have the inconvenience of having to drive to Samui from Surratt Thani, I have all my accommodation in a nice resort booked for 7 nights and a car through Budget with fully comprehensive insurance. The savings alone from not having to use the taxi mafia will amount to a small fortune. All those savings for less than the price of Bangkok Airways airfare.





Bangkok has chewed up and spat out many a foreign resident, and even those who have lived in the country a long time, know the city like the back of their hand and are respected and / or looked up to in the expat community aren't exempt from becoming another Bangkok victim. And the latest victim is someone known to many. For a number of years the friendly and gracious Texan under the hat, Mekong Kurt, was a fixture around the bars of Washington Square where he almost single-handedly kept some bars in the black. While his presence might have been good for the bar, it wasn't doing his health any good and it has finally caught up with him. Kurt has had health issues for a while and it's not just affected his body, but also his mind. As reported recently in this column, Kurt has been in and out of hospital and on his most recent stay he escaped. There was much concern because he was said to have no ID, no money and was even shoeless – because his feet had swelled up and he couldn't get his shoes on. He was eventually found in a daze, muttering about having been kidnapped and other oddities. Kurt's drinking became such a problem that those close to him are keen to see him return to the States where he can get the treatment he needs, and where he will be far away from the temptations of Bangkok. Kurt's a real good guy and liked by many. Bangkok has chewed him up. No-one wants to see it spit him out.

Good luck getting a room at many of the popular hotels on the busy part of Sukhumvit Road if you don't have a reservation. A friend arrived in town this week and it was the same everywhere. "Sorry, sir, we are full and there are no rooms available". Arabs are arriving by the planeload and many properties are chock a block. The Bell Aire, The Royal Benja, the Majestic Grande, the Landmark – and many other properties popular with Middle Easterners have no vacancy signs up.

One Nana Plaza bar not mentioned in this column in a long time but well worth checking out is the venue I call Baby Bacarra. Soi Cowboy's Bacarra bar is probably the most successful Bangkok gogo bar, is usually packed and always has great music and plenty of pretty dancers. Baby Bacarra, or Mandarin as it is officially named, features similar decoration, has many attractive dancers and even has a second dance floor with a glass floor although I don't know if it is used much these days. If you find yourself in the plaza, Mandarin is well worth a look.

The foreign-owned bars on soi 15 off Pattaya's Walking Street are working together to promote the soi. Flyers are being handed out which entitle the holder to buy one get one free – at any time of the day. These flyers are being distributed in the bars themselves and on Walking Street. It is valid at Private Dancer A Gogo, Misty's, Baby Dolls and Sapphire. It's good to see bars actually doing something collectively instead of fighting and bitching and dobbing each other in to the authorities!



Next Friday, 7th September, Heaven Above in Pattaya will celebrate its 8th birthday with a big party. The doors open at 7:30 PM with 2 happy hours. All standard drinks and draught beer are just 50 baht. A *free* BBQ will start at 9 PM with steak & sausage sandwiches plus some Thai food. 50 baht drink specials will go all night and some door prizes will be given away. Heaven Above has done remarkably well for a small bar located in an awkward position, at the back of a soi and up some stairs. If you don't know it, Heaven Above is on Soi Diamond, off Walking Street.

And on the same night a hundred or so metres further down Walking Street, another foreign-owned gogo will host a party. The current owner will celebrate his first year of ownership of X Zone with free food, draft beer at 39 baht all night, hourly prizes including free barfines, drink bills zeroed out plus he is promising a few surprises. X Zone has started some new shows and taken on some new girls so if you haven't visited in a while, now would be a good time.

The newest gogo bar in Pattaya, Private Dancer A Gogo, has lowered prices. Heineken, San Miguel Light and Carlsberg are 115 baht a bottle. Their happy hour runs through until 10 PM and draft beer is just 45 baht.

But life's not always a party in Pattaya and a fellow countryman of mine told me how a bunch of scoundrels tried to rob him on a baht bus on Second Road in Pattaya. He was the only passenger on the baht bus and stone-cold sober when half a dozen women hopped on board. His hackles were raised immediately when they tried to get him to move so that they would strangely be sitting all around him. He thought something may happen so he put his hand over his pocket where his wallet was. One ugly ho edged up against him still managed to put her hand under the bag she had and open one of the pockets in his shorts. It was empty. He rang the bell and hopped off and whipped out his camera and fired off a shot. The ugly wenches turned away as soon as they saw the camera. What is a real concern is that the baht bus driver was probably in on it. Rather than collect the 10 baht fare, as soon as the innocent Kiwi had got off the baht bus sped away – highly suspicious given that these guys will chase a passenger who tries to get away without paying. So, if you find yourself on a baht bus, be aware of your surroundings and those sitting next to you, especially if they are closer than need be.

If you ever wondered the stats of the skinny thing that dances at the chrome pole outside Dollhouse on Soi Cowboy, she's 155 cm in height and a waifer-thin 35kg. This girl could do with being fattened up and a bit more meat on the bone. She has a real nice disposition and is easy to chat with.



I was reminded this week of one of the changes in the bar industry when I spotted a girl in the Jacuzzi in Billboard attempting to conceal a crude C-section scar. While plenty of the gogo girls are single mothers, how often do you see C-section scars these days? I can't remember seeing one in some time whereas in the past they were much more common.Bangkok Beat

When asked how things were on rainy season Sukhumvit this week, a girl at Lolita's said business sucks. Further comment would be superfluous.

At popular Bangkok Beat in soi 7/1, from Sunday to Thursday there's an all you can drink promotion which runs from 8 PM through to 11 PM. All the house pours, bottled beers and Breezers you can down for just 390 baht.

Thai women who choose to enter the industry can do very well financially and earn far more than if they had a more mainstream job. And some learn that that the place to make the really big bucks is not on Sukhumvit, but in Singapore, the Switzerland of South-East Asia. With more dollar millionaires per capita than any country, and some of the highest paid expats in the world, those who go to Singapore for short stints – they usually get a 14-day visa – can charge the sort of prices that would be considered silly money in their homeland, making more in a night than they could in a factory or in 7 Eleven in a month back home. But reports coming out of Singapore suggest that there may have been a shift in the mix of the various nationalities of women in those places most popular with foreign naughty boys, the likes of Brix nightclub in the Hyatt Hotel and the 4 floors of whores, Orchard Towers. I hear that in quite a few bars there are more Vietnamese than Thais these days and even Ipanema and Country Jamboree which were both once dominated by Thai working girls seem to have become the domain of their Vietnamese sisters. And one friend who was in the Lion City this week said he wasn't surprised at this change, explaining that the Vietnamese girls tend to have better English, are more engaging with customers and are generally more disciplined and organised. Current asking rates would give fans of the naughty nightlife in Bangkok and Pattaya a heart attack. $200 – $300 is typically what is quoted in Orchard Towers and $500 up can be quoted in Brix. I'm sure savvy guys pay less, probably much less, but apparently some guys are willing to part with plenty of their hard-earned.


Big Mango


Why is it that the cops insist on searching foreigners on the even-numbered soi side of Sukhumvit between soi 22 and Asoke when perhaps they could spend more time on what has become the most notorious soi in the busiest part of Sukhumvit, soi 13? I saw an American guy who was passenger on a motorbike taxi stopped yesterday morning. A young guy, perhaps late '20s, he was asked to submit to a search of his person and his bag. The cops found nothing but became suspicious when he could not produce a passport and they took him away, presumably to the police station. I observed it all from just a few metres away and was surprised at who they chose to stop and search. Thais are big on presentation and this guy seemed clean cut. As has been mentioned many times in this column, random searches of foreigners carried out by coppers in this area are looking for those transporting narcotics from Klong Toey to the wealthy side of Sukhumvit. The cops carrying out these checks are from the Thonglor station, and dodgy soi 13 is on the other side of the Asoke intersection. Different area, different cop shop.

Westerners in Bangkok aren't shy to let all and sundry know if they feel they have been ripped off, especially when it comes to dual pricing. But don't think it's Westerners who are quoted the highest prices. For that, look no further than soi 3/1, AKA Soi Arab. The produce, fruit, fruit juice and much of the stuff sold on soi 3/1 is priced much higher than elsewhere. Cherries, which can be found for 500 baht / kg elsewhere, are 800 baht / kg in soi 3/1. Pomegranate juice is a whopping 100 baht a bottle when it's 40 baht around the corner…and the list goes on.

And on the subject of pomegranate juice, choose your vendor carefully. If your antioxidant bliss tastes artificially sweet, odds are that it is, and the devil who sold it to you mixed it with Hale's Blue Boy syrup! There's an ongoing problem with some pomegranate juice vendors on Sukhumvit Road – and I have only seen this on Sukhumvit – making the pricey juice go further – and be much more profitable – by diluting it. How can you tell? If the pomegranates are being juiced right there on the street in front of you then it should be 100% juice. No vendor would dare water it down in front of passersby. However, if the vendor has just brought along a cold box with bottles of pomegranate juice that were squeezed elsewhere, be careful.

Following on from the Tiger Disco fire in Phuket, the worst fire traps in Bangkok have to be cinemas. Movie houses in Bangkok are often located in shopping centres, and often on the top floor. And with the confusing layout of some shopping centres and the likelihood that a fire would knock out the power, if you were caught in a cinema when a fire broke out, would you have any hope of escaping? You'd be lucky to find your way out of the auditorium, let alone the shopping centre.



It is often said that the Thais are tolerant and when it comes to behaviour they often are, especially when there is money involved i.e. they might not approve entirely of the behaviour or language of some foreigners but they see these foreigners bringing money into the country which Thai people directly benefit from they look the other way. However, this tolerance seems to be more about behaviour than actually tolerating or really accepting others for who they are. Look at the way the average Thai views many of their neighbours. Laotians, Cambodians and Burmese are not looked on favourably and even the people of Isaan get a bad rap from many urban / wealthy Thais. Tolerant when it comes to behaviour, but not necessarily tolerant of who people are.

El Gauchio Steakhouse, the city's newest steakhouse, opened this week a few metres into Sukhumvit soi 19. It's very nicely done out, has great food and wine and the staff, many of whom are from Vietnam and the Philippines, are excellent. There's a nice spot on the 1st floor (floor above ground) with a nice view of the intersection with main Sukhumvit Road and the skytrain.

In Thailand if it's not on the menu, my advice is don't try and order it. If you ask a waitress that something be made to your spec, often it gets screwed up. Perhaps the waitress doesn't understand the request or the ingredients aren't available or perhaps they just nod their head but don't even tell the chef. High-end venues or those with foreign staff can usually manage it but even then there's no guarantee. But seriously, if you're gluten intolerant, are allergic to peanuts, can't eat eggs, pork is off the menu or whatever, it's probably better to find a restaurant that has what you want on the menu. Or if you are resident here, you could always make it yourself.

A professional services firm in Bangkok is looking for an IT and website maintenance expert. The qualified applicant should be proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL and have at least a basic knowledge of content management systems (e.g. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal). Basic graphic design software knowledge is necessary, including familiarity with Photoshop and Illustrator. The applicant needs to be able to speak and communicate in English, be located in Bangkok and willing to start immediately. To apply, email : [email protected].


Ladyboys Bangkok


Reader's story of the week comes from a young Italian puzzled at changes in Sin City, "Pattaya Today".

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that another boat sinks in Thailand with foreign tourists on board.

An American woman who spent 9 years in a Thai prison talks of her hell, including being forced to eat maggots!

Bizarre story of the week is that passengers on incoming flights will be warned about bringing copied goods in to Thailand!

Strong denials are being made that Thais are amongst the world's most unfaithful lovers.

A British expat resident of Khon Kaen was gunned down while riding his bike home from a bar.

A Thai MP has created a furore for suggesting that Thai women marry a farang man for an easy life!

An autopsy has found that the Canadian sisters on Phi Phi Island died from drinking a cocktail that contained an insect repellent.

Mystery surrounds the death of a Brit who died near Pattaya 4 days after his will was changed.

A clever Thai woman uses her wits to escape from a brothel in Bahrain.




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 recently renewed my visa in KL. I had a non immigrant-O visa but the embassy would only give me a 2-month tourist visa. I have since been married to a Thai and when I went to my local Immigration office I was told I must go to Bangkok if I wished to use my marriage to a Thai as the reason for granting me a one year extension. Is this what I must do or do I have to apply at an embassy outside Thailand? Apart from the marriage certificate, what other documentation do I need? Also, how long will this process take as I have about a month left on my visa.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Since you currently have a tourist visa that will expire in 1 month, you can change this into a 3-month Non-immigrant O visa at the Immigration Office in Bangkok (subject to immigration requirements) at least 15 days before your visa expires. However, you must show an address in Bangkok for the change of visa since it seems your local office will not do this. You can then have this extended for 1 full year at the local Immigration Office where you and your wife reside.

In many cases, embassies and consulates require to see a copy of the marriage certificate and at times a letter made by the wife / bride together with her signed ID card and tabien baan copy (house registration). Alternatively, proof of 400,000 baht in a bank account may also be required. Each embassy / consulate is given judiciary authority to impose certain requirements and these may vary from embassy to embassy. Perhaps the reason why you've been denied the non-immigrant O and issued a tourist visa instead was because you did not fully satisfy the required documents.

Furthermore, the embassy in KL does not recognise the terms “marriage visa” and “retirement visa”. They will refer you to apply for it at Bangkok Immigration. The correct way is to state you're applying for a “Non-immigrant O visa” based on marriage to a Thai national (or based on retirement) in the "Purpose of Stay" field in the application form and attaching the supporting documents.


Question 2: I've been married to Thai for few years but we never really live together. I see her for two weeks then she goes back to her friends. She has got all the documents to stay in the UK permanently, all paid for by me. I haven't seen her for over a year now. I know she lives in Cardiff, about 250 miles from me, but I have no idea exactly where and she would never tell me. My question is how can I divorce her? I do not know how to get in touch with her! Can I divorce her without her being there in Thailand with me or having any documents? All I have is a photocopy of our marriage certificate.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: You do not have to get divorced in Thailand. You can get divorced in the UK. You can then register the divorce at the Thai embassy. Since she was admitted into the UK as your wife, the marriage is legally valid in the UK and you can divorce there under UK laws. Alternatively, if you wish to fly back to Thailand you can file for divorce in a Thai court on the grounds that your wife has abandoned you.


Question 3: If an Australian dies while in Thailand and is not a resident of the Kingdom, what happens with the Thai government and the Australian embassy if this person has expressed a wish to be cremated in Thailand in a Buddhist wat and the ashes scattered in a specific place? How would one go about ensuring that this happened in such an eventuality?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: The hospital where he dies (or if he dies in a home the individual) notifies the Thai police who will notify the embassy. It is possible to write instructions regarding the cremation but you would have to ensure that the place where he wants to scatter his ashes will allow it.



Pattaya


This week's opening piece was originally titled "Stick Does Pattaya" and was going to be a photo essay of whatever it was I got up to in Pattaya this week. My favourite Sin City hotel was booked, my bag was packed and I was about to leave the condo for the beach. But in the back of my mind a little voice was asking me why I was going. Did I really want to go to Pattaya? What would I do there? Take photos of working girls and foreigners who look worse for wear and visit a few friends and gather news and gossip. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to face Pattaya so at the very last minute I cancelled. I know Pattaya has changed, but I've changed too. I used to look forward to going down there, but these days I just cannot face the craziness of Pattaya unless I'm really in the mood.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse