Stickman's Weekly Column October 21st, 2012

The 4-Legged Residents of Bangkok

Bangkok's not an easy city for humans, but it's a whole lot tougher for 4-legged beasts. The heat, the pollution, the noise, the lack of greenery and natural spaces and the general craziness of the place make it a challenge for domestic animals, many of which are homeless.

Allow me to introduce you to some of the 4-legged residents of Bangkok.

Bangkok dog

A beast escapes the Bangkok sun under a street vendor's drinks stand. All over Bangkok there are armies of stray cats and dogs and many live on the street, eking out an existence in much the same way that homeless people do, scavenging for scraps and benefiting from people's goodwill.

Many of Bangkok's vagrants have a dog which is faithful to them and is always by their side. Wherever they go, whatever they do, the dog follows. Should a stranger come too close, or appear to be a threat to their master, the dog will let them know. Many of the dogs who stay with vagrants have the same name – "Dog", or at least the Thai equivalent, "Ma", which is pronounced with a rising tone.

Thai cat

Now that's what I call a fine Thai pussy! What beautiful eyes she had I commented to my other half who was desperately trying to pull me away as I tried to take the shot, refusing to even look at this gorgeous cat. She hates – genuinely hates – cats and is aghast when I tell her that I would like nothing more than 2 cats, with a preference for one black and one ginger. Thais are very superstitious and some, like my other half, are almost petrified of black cats – those which are entirely black. If it has white paws or white under its chin or a white tip on its tale, then it doesn't pose a threat. Ultra superstitious Thais are particularly concerned if a black cat should be seen near a funeral. If this cat was to leap over the coffin, it is believed that the dead will arise. Now that would be a Kodak moment!

This cat was scrawny and really pulled on my heart strings. I bought it some meat on a stick but it looked at me as if I was giving it something I wouldn't eat myself – it was right – and decided the rubbish bin was more appetising! Fortunately Thailand is a huge producer of food and much of which goes to waste meaning there's plenty of scraps for homeless beasts to feast on.

In the back sois of Little India, a kindly 7 Eleven employee feeds a bunch of stray cats. They saw her walking at 30 or 40 paces and leapt from their slumber and ran to the plates in anticipation, making it look to me like this was a daily occurrence. Many Thais feed stray animals and consider it a means of making merit, a good deed which they will benefit from sometime later. And so they should get something back with many helping these animals out earning so little, yet willing to give up some of their precious baht on needy animals.

There are even a few foreigners who take the responsibility of feeding the local 4-legged populace. The owner of the now defunct Toyz A Gogo in Pattaya could often be seen during the day time putting down food for the cats that lived in and around Pattaya soi 15. And the fierce-looking but kind-hearted Shark Man of Pattaya
makes it a part of his daily routine to feed stray cats in Sin City.

The dog from Nana Plaza has been a fixture in the neon jungle for many years. With a swollen belly, she's suffering from some affliction but was well fed by the vendors who operated within the plaza. Now that they are gone the dog can be found at the foot of the steps to the Nana skytrain station, near soi 6.

Nana has been home to packs of cats for as long as I have been in Bangkok, although with the clean-up of the plaza that started a couple of months back there do seem to be fewer around which, again, might be due to fewer vendors more than anything.

Packs of stray dogs, often referred to as soi dogs (4-legged as distinct from the 2-legged variety) is a problem nationwide. Are they disease ridden? Do they have potentially fatal rabies? If a domesticated dog bites you, good luck getting the owner to foot the bill for treatment (as they are obliged to under Thai law).

On the subject of dog ownership and taking responsibility for your hound, locals have almost zero consideration for their barking dogs. Many beasts bark and howl around the clock, but have you ever seen a local shut their dog up?

There are parts of Asia where almost every variety of animal is eaten, and no part of the beast goes to waste. You see evidence of this in fresh markets in Thailand where, particularly amongst folks from rural backgrounds, beaks, claws and other parts of chickens are sold.

This cat was at Klong Toey Market but fortunately it was not for sale. It was amusing to see it sitting on top of the very same scales which are used to weigh the chickens on death row in the cages below.

As far as the icky business of eating cats or dogs in Thailand goes, I've never heard even a whisper of cats being consumed. Dogs on the other hand are another matter.

The most common rumours have it that Sakhon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom in far flung Isaan are where dog meat is consumed. My best guess is that this is due to the Vietnamese influence in Nakhon Phanom at least with those from Northern Vietnam known for their fondness of dog meat. I went hunting for dog meat a few years ago when I was trekking around that part of the country and could not find any evidence of it. The few people I asked about it looked at me as if I had asked if I could eat their child, so obviously it's not popular. Reports appear in the Bangkok Post not infrequently about trucks stopped near the border with hundreds of dogs apparently destined for the kitchens and dining room of Vietnam.

A common scene along the busiest and most heavily touristed parts of Sukhumvit, a young child sleeps under the stars, alongside a chained up puppy. This particular child and puppy are run by a fat ugly dog of a woman (apologies to all canines) who pounces to collect money left by ignorant visitors who fail to realise that this is not people who are desperate, but organised beggars who profit handsomely. It's bad enough to use a puppy to pull on someone's heart strings to get them to donate, but keeping a child out so late at night? Shameful.

Another not uncommon ruse, a beast is dressed up to look cute with a note stating anything from the beast a stray from the 2011 floods and there is no money to feed him, to all donations given being passed on to a temple. As if! What is interesting is that the target market is Thais – note how the sign is in Thai and yes, the Thais give generously!

The peace and quiet of Buddhist temples makes them a favourite place for stray animals. Many cats and dogs live their entire life in the grounds of a temple.

It costs about 600 baht to sterilize a cat by a Western-trained vet. Goodness only knows how much that would cost back in Farangland. The cost of pet ownership and especially vet bills is significantly lower here than in the West.

At Doi Suthep, the fabulous mountainside temple that overlooks the city of Chiang Mai, a lazy dog sits and poses at the bottom of the 309 steps as the owners make their way up without him.

The family vehicle is used to ferry a family member about. I don't know what's worse, barreling down the road with a baby or young child wedged in between the rider and the handlebars or a canine. This shot doesn't convey just how fast the bike was going.

The monks wouldn't dream of disturbing the abbot while he enjoys a meal but this cat was much more daring, approaching the senior monk and moving closer and closer to the plates. The healthy-looking feline's courage was rewarded with pieces of fish thrown her way which she positively devoured!

One thing I really miss from home is having a cat. Alas, it isn't viable to have a cat in a Bangkok condo. Some do, but I personally think it cruel to lock a cat up and not allow it to venture outside and do the things that cats do.

It's not often that a cat has to work to earn its keep but that's exactly what happens at Pak Klong Dalart, the famous flower market by the river. Many vendors keep a cat or two to keep rodents away. The market used to be home to dozens of cats, but it's being redeveloped and what was once one of the best spots in Bangkok to photograph cats is now largely free of them.

But not all cats and dogs do it tough in Thailand. When it comes to household pets, the Thais have a definite preference for dogs – and they love cute dogs. There's quite an industry in canine grooming and some dress their dog up in such a way that I think it looks more like a cartoon character.

And well-to-do Thais like to take their dog wherever they go. You see dogs being taken on public transport, into shopping malls and occasionally even into restaurants. I understand some people see their pet as part of the family, but aren't there limits? Do some birds take their dog with them on a first date? I've often thought that some Thais see their dog like an Iphone – first and foremost a fashion accessory.

I still haven't figured out what to make of the local attitude towards animals. I see many random acts of kindness towards hungry, sick or injured animals but I have seen just as much cruelty towards them.

Despite the way some Thais dote on their pet and treat it like a member of the family, I wouldn't want to be an animal here. If there is such a thing as reincarnation and I am sent back with 4 legs, I hope it's not to Thailand.

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken of the walkway connecting the Chongnonsee BTS station with the buses that run in the dedicated
lanes from Narathiwat Road to Rama 3 Road. There are two prizes this week, a 300-baht voucher for Sunrise Tacos and a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit
soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.

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.

Do you really want to go to Angeles City?

For all those thinking Angeles might be an alternative to Thailand, think again. Just a week ago an expat was almost assassinated by a machine gun-wielding gang who made Swiss cheese of his car and before that a tourist in the main bar district was grabbed from behind and shot in the head in broad daylight. A foreigner, after getting into a fight with another foreigner, was beaten and while he lay on the ground was robbed by Filipinos of everything he had on him. There is a taxi mafia here which charges more than taxis in first world countries for a ride of just a few hundred metres. People drinking in the bars when they're raided by the police have been put on a bus driven to Manila and then held for 24 hours as they are told to pay outrageous amounts of money to win their freedom. The food in Angeles is terrible and the restaurants and hotels are poor quality and hugely overpriced. I've seen beggars with their whole faces melted off and the kids will gather around you and pickpocket you, slapping and punching you as you try and get away. The vendors are far worse in Angeles and because the bar area is so small you're constantly running the gamut every time you step outside of a bar. Double lady drink scams are rife and the place is nothing more than a dusty shanty town with nothing to do but drink and you know what. Yeah, the girls have a better attitude….but that too, like Thailand, is quickly changing. I'd rather hang out in a cosmopolitan city or the beautiful surrounds of the beaches of Thailand while looking for a girlfriend experience that's a little harder to find than before than spend my holiday in Angeles.

Transactional value.

I've seen a tedious focus from some of your readers on "transactional value", preferably measured quantatively in a known scale, such as baht, dollars or other hard currency. The ultimate goal is to be able to get away with finishing up the whole deal with investing as little as possible. Surely they haven't forgotten that just venturing alone into their own shower leaves the largest amount left for any post workout beer to congratulate oneself on both a task well performed and the monetary impact kept to an absolute minimum? This all boils down to the simple idea of, if you have to count then maybe you shouldn't be in the game. For a number of reasons.

Walking in Bangkok.

I was interested to read the piece about which side of the pavement to walk on in Thailand. I believe it is because here (more than the west) we find ourselves walking into each other. The reason for this is the Thai use the rule that 'if you can't see it coming, you don't have to react to it'. As soon as a Thai realises that he is walking on the same line as someone else approaching, he will pretend not to look where he is going so he avoids having to change track. Same with walking on the side of the road. If the west we would always try to walk so we can see oncoming traffic so we can move out of the way if need be. The Thai way is to walk with your back to oncoming traffic so the drivers have to avoid them.

Ni Hao Road!

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but on a visit to Koh San Road 2 weeks ago it could be renamed Ni Hao Road! The couple of nights I was there the place was full of Chinese girls. Some very attractive, most spoke good English and if you've got the gift of the gab the ones we spoke to were certainly interested in sampling some laowai while they are holidaying! In fact my mate did and my other friend got the number of another who bombarded him with phone calls and texts for 2 weeks!

No going back.

It's different for you as you've got both of your folks to return to, but leaving them aside for the moment, I don't agree with your comments of going back to your roots on a regular basis. Even if you can't see it for sure, those that you left behind can, that one changes beyond all recognition. You've moved on, and for all intensive purposes the relationships that you are trying to rekindle might as well be frozen in aspic. Not so much of how much you have in common with them now, but just how little you might have in common with them now. Of course I'm just speaking for myself here. Going back to Glasgow has never crossed my mind, London finished with the 60s, but it still took me another 26 years to see the light. If I had been able to sell my apartment when I wanted, that would mean that I would have been living here since 1995. If I had had the courage when I was 28 years that would have been 1980. Severing all my ties, closing all my bank accounts, letting my driving licence expire – it's over. Raking over old coals is for the birds. It's like trying to resurrect a relationship with an old girlfriend, it simply never works. Home isn't where your heart was, rather the destination that you have decided not to move on from.

A Cowboy fan speaks. (FWIW, Stick thinks the pendulum has swung and Nana is *far* better at this time.)

I thought I would try Nana last night as a change from Cowboy. You seem to be talking it up these days so here is my impression. Bars like Spanky's are very popular but the problem is no seats are available. Good business I guess but not ideal for me. It's not like this in Cowboy. You can generally find somewhere comfortable to watch the girls. As for the marketing in Nana, it's terrible. Why do bar owners think that employing a lot of young Thai men to yell at potential customers while clapping their hands is a good way to get customers into the bar? What happened to having a lot of attractive girls outside talking properly? I wish all these Thai guys would just disappear. Again, it's not like this in Cowboy and there are even dancers on a pole outside Dollhouse. I have been coming to Thailand for 15 years now and I am afraid Nana Plaza is still not as good as Cowboy where I would recommend bars like Sheba's and Dollhouse. My verdict – Nana – 5/10, Cowboy 8/10.

Stickman ruins Mama Noi's day off!

Amazingly we are still getting Stickman followers coming in to meet Mama Noi, mainly from overseas and mostly over 60's
guys. I ask them to write back to you and say hi (thanks for the intro etc). I only get contact with them on weekends so I am not sure of the full picture of who comes in but Mama is still a little overwhelmed when I ask her how the week has gone.
It's like she is holding court. She now doesn't take her days off but waits for the Stickman walk-ins. Funny. Owner, Checkinn99.

He Clinic Bangkok

It might not be high season yet but business has picked up in Nana with the plaza having a booming Friday night. Many of the big name bars are so full that groups entering the bar quickly found that there were no free seats and had to head off into another bar.

The soi 33/1 location where the second incarnation of The Dubliner is being built is 4 shophouses wide and not 3 as I wrote last week. Word is that it will be called "Dubliner Place" and will be much larger than the pub it replaces with a hotel upstairs. The concept of an expat bar and hotel is a tried and tested formula. The Dubliner has a following amongst expats so the bar will do just fine. And soi 33/1 is convenient, walking distance to many places but sufficiently far away from the madness so I would expect the 15 or 20 odd rooms in the hotel will be in demand. With the inevitable spend from hotel customers in the bar and restaurant the venue should do very nicely. It's rather clever because a bar which is part of a hotel is exempt from alcohol bans on most "dry" holidays – and those few venues which serve alcohol on dry days do fantastic trade!

CBD bangkok

Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy will be having a Halloween bonanza this year with parties running between October 27th and October 31st. Each night there will be lots of shooters being distributed, girls will be dressed up and it will be all fun and games. Each night customers will be asked to vote for the best girl who will receive a grand prize.Dollhouse Soi Cowboy

Som / Tuk of SOL / Lolita's fame has sold her interest in the house of oral relief, Lollipop1 on Sukhumvit Soi 10. She will open a new bar on soi 14 just down from the well-known and long-running Suda restaurant. The new venue has 4 floors and is smaller than Lollipop, but she says that it will be nicer. There's much work to be done and it is hoped that doors will open around the end of the month. The venue they're taking over is a gay massage parlour, but she assures me she has some pretty females keen to work. Employment to some of the harridans at the venue she's turning her back on has been refused.

Middlebrough Mike, affectionately called "The Ginger Kid" by his friends, has been hired as manager at Zen Bar, the newest beer bar on Sukhumvit soi 4 which is very close to the entrance of Nana Plaza. Mike is an amiable young fellow, tall, has a carrot top, a ready smile and is liked by all. Please do drop by and welcome him with "Hello Ginger Kid" and not "Hello, Gingerbread Man!"

Carnival on the top floor of Nana Plaza has picked up since it reopened following renovations. It's still fairly quiet, but not as quiet as it was – which shows just how bad things were. It seems that the group that acquired the Crown Group of bars (of which Carnival is one) will go through the venues and do them up one at a time. It might be an idea to rename a couple which have been doing miserable trade for years. There's no value in keeping a damaged brand. There are two bars in the group whose name I would not tinker with though – G Spot and Voodoo. Long-termers remember when each of these bars had a legitimate claim to being the best bar in the plaza. In Voodoo's case it was in the mid to late '90s and for G Spot it was around the turn of the century. These two brand names should be retained and wouldn't it be great to see the original concept of each bar return? Voodoo was jammed with the most attractive girls in the group and G Spot had the famous shower show.

Speaking of Voodoo, it has been an all ladyboy bar for the past couple of years and I was told this week that it is stocked exclusively with post-op ladyboys. I have no intention of verifying this but the person who told me knows rather more than one ought to about the other variety of ladies. So if post-op transsexuals are your thing, stick your nose in Voodoo.

wonderland clinic

The authorities have been keeping a close eye on the entertainment areas this week in both Bangkok and Pattaya. Earlier in the week Insomnia in Bangkok was ordered closed at 1:50 AM. Insomnia is at its busiest when most venues have closed and as such most of their trade is done after 2 AM. The reason for the closure? By law all venues are supposed to close at 2 AM.

Bangkok Beat in Sukhumvit soi 7/1 has a Halloween party planned for Wednesday next week, October 31st. Checkin99's Halloween party will be held a few days earlier, on Saturday 27th October. Details for each of these events on the posters below.

Bangkok Beat Checkin99

Down in Pattaya, the coppers inspected a number of gogo bars on Monday night, checking bar licenses and girls' ID cards to make sure that they are Thai citizens of legal age to be working in a bar. Bars in Sin City have been asked to get all girls to complete a form with their details and attach a photo. One copy of the forms stays in the bar and the other goes to the local district office. In practice most bars ignore it but the better run bars comply. It is mooted that some bars which closed for business after the boys in brown visited hadn't completed the forms. Assuming that was the case, they have to get the girls to complete said forms and take them to the district office within 48 hours which should be the end of it. When thesePattaya curry inspections take place the venue has to turn off the music which results in the customers leaving, to say nothing of the concern many customers have seeing several or more uniformed coppers in a bar. These checks were not raids per se, but inspections, reinforcing to bars to take the forms seriously as many had ignored them. Word is next time those bars which are not as compliant might find the authorities a little less lenient.

The high season is just around the corner and bars and restaurants and businesses which rely on tourists are gearing up for the 4-month onslaught when turnover soars. You'd think that city hall officials would be doing similar, prettying up the place and making sure all maintenance issues are complete. Wrong! Down in Jomtien, the beach over the hill from Pattaya, road works have been taking place on busy soi 5 where the Immigration Department, amongst others, is located. Work is said to be about half completed when suddenly last week the construction crews disappeared as did all their machinery. They had run out of pipes and apparently it takes 2 months to get more….so the condition of the road will remain as it is and the work crews will return then. In other words they probably won't be seen until some time in the new year. Only in Thailand!

It's free curry night at Private Dancer A Gogo in soi 15, just off Pattaya's Walking Street this coming Wednesday. If you should happen to mention to any of the girls that you're there for curry night, make sure you pronounce curry with a "c" and not a "g". To pronounce it with a "g" could be anything from upsetting to insulting to the girl. "Gurry" is a not often used Thai word which best translates as – but is even harsher in meaning and more coarse than its English equivalent – "whore"!

Popular bar manager Ricky will celebrate his birthday at Private Dancer A Gogo next Sunday, October 28th. Doors open at 8 PM and the birthday bash will feature free food, games and fun. The big unanswered question is just how old the bugger is.

Nana Liquid's next event this coming Tuesday again features Penthouse models. And note, it's your chance to take photos!

Nana Liquid

If you're in the hunt for a wife and want to take a short cut, head over to Tilac and look for #161. In my mind, she's one girl working bar who a decent, marriage-minded guy could make a go of it with. She was a waitress for several months but recently started dancing. She's mid-30s, has no kids, is level-headed, mature and doesn't engage in the usual BS most bargirls do. She's one of few girls in the industry whose word you can actually believe, although there's no guarantee that will last. Too much contact with chrome poles seems to play havoc with these girls' moral compass. For the time being at least, I'll stick my neck out and say that she really could be different.

Have you noticed how a number of naughty establishments in central Bangkok have relocated or closed in recent years? A good example would be the massage parlours in the sois opposite Central World. They were a feature of the area for years but disappeared a few years back. There was one particular venue right beside the bridge which goes over the Saen Saeb Canal which had girls sitting outside waving at men passing by and leaving them in no doubt that rubbing away your aches and pains was not the only service on offer. As more and more neighbourhoods become gentrified and more legitimate businesses open, those enterprises which are more profitable and commercially viable grab the prime real estate. But then the question has to be asked, who would want to be seen walking in and out of a massage parlour if there was, for example, a Tesco Lotus right next door where your neighbours shopped?! The closure of these venues is just another indicator of how Thailand is changing and how naughty venues are getting squeezed out of prime areas. It's happening in Pattaya and it's happening in Bangkok.

Just as I was about to publish, word came in about another Halloween party, this time in Pattaya. Heaven Above will celebrate Halloween over 3 days from October 29th – 31st. For 3 nights the bar will be decorated and the staff will be done up in scary costumes. There will be drink specials and the happy hour will run from 7:30 – 9:30 PM. A lot of effort goes in to decorating the bar so check it out if you're in Sin City. The 31st will be the biggest day with a BBQ offered.

Halloween Pattaya

Carl's Jr opened its first Bangkok branch a couple of weeks back. It can be found on Sukhumvit soi 24 which makes it sound convenient, but Sukhumvit 24 runs from Sukhumvit Road all the way down to Rama 4 Road and the burger joint is way down past the Davis Hotel, not far from Rama 4 Road. While walkable from Emporium, that's far enough to build up quite a sweat. Still, if you're craving a decent fast food burger, their offerings easily surpass the likes of McD's or Burger King.

Town Lodge Hotel at the end of Sukhumvit soi 18 has had a long association with this site and has been well supported by Stickman readers looking for a clean, quiet, Western-managed hotel in downtown Bangkok with rooms at fair prices. Town Lodge has taken on a new manager, a charming Brit called Kevin who has experienced the ups and downs of life in Thailand. He has plenty of humorous tales to tell and is definitely worth having a yarn with. Town Lodge
rooms run 1,200 baht a night and it's a peaceful place to stay where guests will not be woken by traffic noise, construction noise or whistle-blowing parking attendants!

In most countries in the West STDs are notifiable diseases meaning that the authorities must be notified when someone tests positive for an STD. I assume the person's identity is not passed on to the authorities due to privacy laws and patient confidentiality. I don't know what the situation is in Thailand but my best guess is that STDs are also notifiable diseases here. But I would not be quite so confident about the concept of privacy here. Thailand is rightfully protective of its citizens and I wonder what happens when a foreigner tests positive for a potentially fatal STD such as Syphilis or HIV? I was asked about it this week, with a foreigner concerned about getting an STD test because of the uncertainty of what would happen if he tested positive. Could there potentially be problems with his visa down the road? My suggestion for anyone who has engaged in high-risk behaviour is to get tested. Put your health first! The sooner something is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. For anonymous STD testing, go to the Red Cross STD centre on Rajadamri Road which is less than 10 minutes walk from the Rajadamri BTS station. They carry out anonymous HIV tests and I believe they test for other STDs also. Patients are identified only by a number and there is no need to provide your name. Friends who have been report that it's all very professional. My feeling is that the authorities do not collate info or act on foreigners testing positive for STDs, but if you've been fooling around a lot, it's worth getting tested.

Reader's story of the week asks the classic old question, "Could My Bargirl Be Pregnant?"

A humorous article about friending Cambodian women online ran this week and probably equally
applies to Thai women.

A former Pattaya beer bar owner resists arrest after refusing to pay the bill he had run
up in the bar he once owned.

It is being reported that the Formula 1 might be coming to Thailand in 2014.

Traces of cocaine and alcohol were found in the blood of the Red Bull heir who wiped out a cop in his Ferrari.

An electrical fault resulted in a fire at the Phuket Hard Rock Cafe which will be closed for a few days.

What really happens when dogs destined to become someone's dinner in Vietnam are
found in Thailand?

Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department
directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1
: I am an Australian and I have a son (14 years of age) from a former Thai partner. The boy was born in Thailand, has a Thai birth certificate, but has lived most of his life so far in Australia. He has travelled on an
Australian passport. In a few months we will be travelling to Thailand and I would like to know what needs to be done to regularise his status as a Thai citizen. We will arrive in Thailand on his 15th birthday. In case it is relevant, the mother
and I are not on the best of terms, but we do speak to one another. I am the custodial parent. The boy's mother also lives in Australia, but owns a house in Thailand, and her mother also owns a house. I am on good terms with the boy's
Thai grandmother and I wonder whether it would be better to register the boy at her house rather than at the mother's, assuming that his status as a Thai citizen has not been lost or compromised because of his absence from Thailand. It is
planned that the boy will be in Thailand long-term in a few years time.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: As your son was born in Thailand and has already received a Thai birth certificate, you and his mother can assist him in obtaining a Thai passport and even a Thai identity card from the Thai embassy or a consulate in Australia as a Thai citizen. Each must have his / her name registered in a house registration for population census purposes and general election purposes. Initially upon the issuance of the birth certificate, each baby's name would be registered in either the hospital or district office's provided house registration.

You can register your son at his grandmother's house, or at his mother's. The master of the house is the one who has to give permission for the registration but the person does not have to be an immediate relative, or even a relative, to be registered there.

Please be aware that participation in the lottery for National Service is mandatory for all male Thai citizens upon reaching the age of 21.

Question 2
: I just bought a freehold condo 2 months ago. Now I want to buy another one but the seller says that the Land Office does not want to accept my other 7-year old FET form (Thor Tor 3 Sam) which shows that I brought
in foreign currency for the purchase of a condo. Last time I made Bangkok Bank update an old form because the Land Office said that the form must not be more than 3 days old.

1) Is this correct?

2) When you use one form bringing in 5 million baht in foreign currency to purchase a condo to 1 million baht, can you use this once more, to purchase another condo? If yes, how many can you buy?

I have a lot of money in Thailand.

3) Do I need to bring in new money to make this purchase?

4) Is it true that I have to translate my passport into Thai? Do I have to confirm it at the Foreign Ministry of Thailand now?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: There is no expiry date for the FET form, whether if it is 7 years old or 3 days old. But it is up to the discretion of the officer at the Land Office. What you can do is to contact your bank to provide you with an update of the form and try with this.

The only 2 documents that would be valid for 7 days after they have been issued are: the Debt Clearance Confirmation and the Foreign Ownership Quota (both of which are issued by the Condominium Juristic Management).

Usually, the purpose of the transfer mentioned in the FET form must be precise, e.g. To Purchase a Condominium Unit …unit number… of …Condo Project Name… in the name of …Buyer's name. This is to avoid repeated usage of the FET and may be why they want a current one if yours was not specific.

According to the Land Act, in allowing a foreigner to list their name in the Condominium Ownership Certificate, the buyer (foreigner) must bring in the funds from abroad for the purchase.

You don't have to provide a translated copy of your passport, but you would need to provide the Thai spelling of your name (for accuracy in the pronunciation). This Thai spelling would be on the condo deed. And if you already have a Thai official document (e.g. condo ownership certificate from your recent purchase), you can show this to the officers so that the spelling of the name on all deeds would be the same.

Question 3
: I plan on heading to Thailand in January and as an American I don't need a visa, correct? Now here's where it gets deep. I'm going to meet a ladyboy whom I've fallen in love with. She isn't
a bargirl. I know that for a fact and she's from Surin, not Bangkok. Is it possible to get her out of Thailand and back to the States without losing the rest of my hair?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: As an American you may enter Thailand via an international airport visa free for 30 days. If you enter the country at a land border then it would only be 15 days. If you wish to stay longer you may want to consider applying for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy or consulate.

The United States issues B1 / B2 visas for the purposes of travel and tourism but your friend will be required to show compelling evidence to the US embassy in Bangkok
that they plan on returning to Thailand. Documents showing ownership of property; car, condo etc as well as a letter from employer, rental contracts etc. will be necessary. As of the moment, US immigration does not allow fiancé visa (K-1) or spouse visa (K-3) for the gender in question for immigration purposes.

Pattaya beach

Official documents may state otherwise, but I really don't feel any older now than I did in my late 20s. As such the idea of retirement seems like a lifetime away and something I give almost zero thought. Have I gone Thai, forever living in the present with no thought of the future? Nah, not at all. Long ago I put in place a plan that would ensure I had adequate provisions for that time when my hair starts to fall out and important body parts don't work as well as they once did. Thinking about retirement in Thailand, it seems more and more Westerners are facing the very scary reality that they retired in haste. Often unable to resist many of the temptations, it's not long before their war chest looks like a Greek bank vault. Inflation, fluctuating exchange rates, law changes, health issues, new interests, must-haves, there are many challenges. Plenty of retirees are watching their outgoings as they get more nervous about the state of their finances – and some have another 25 – 30 years to go! Rents are going up in Bangkok and the general cost of living will continue to increase – and let's not forget that inflation on Sukhumvit – read: all of the farang areas – runs much higher than the national average. You don't want to end up penniless, sleeping under a bridge in Sukhumvit or one day you might appear in this column…

Your Bangkok commentator,



nana plaza