Stickman's Weekly Column November 11th, 2012

Beautiful Neon, The Key To A Long Life



I sometimes wondered what would become of Bangkok's infamous naughty nightlife. With political correctness resulting in anything deemed offensive to be outlawed, the name of some bars in the neon jungles of Nana, Cowboy or Patpong alone could be enough for them to be ordered closed. In a changing and more transparent world, would these highly visible foreigner bar areas be allowed to continue? I always thought that one day the image conscious Thais would say enough is enough and the axe would come crashing down. Recent events have caused me to rethink.





Up until just weeks ago I still thought that it would all come crashing down. I had this vision that one day a small army of Somchais accompanied by a scrum of media would visit the 3 major farang red light bar areas and almost like a scene out of an old Western, an officious looking character would gleefully hammer closure orders to the door of each and every venue while preaching aloud to all within earshot how bad and evil it all was and how under official orders it had been outlawed! And truth be told, I actually thought this wouldn't be a bad thing.

Thailand's tourism market has diversified, become more sophisticated and mainstream visitor numbers have swelled. On the back of the exposure Soi Cowboy got from Hangover 2, Bangkok's so called naughty bar areas have become an attraction for the mainstream visitors, and for many Soi Cowboy has become a must-see.

One of the prettiest spots in the capital by night, Soi Cowboy is no longer the sleazy, dirty and down-market area it once was. First-time visitors see colourful, inviting bars with beautiful neon, uniformed security, surveillance cameras and at one end a banner with a photo of the local police chief presides over the soi wishing everyone a safe evening. Nana mightn't be as pleasing on the eye, but it too has seen the sleaze sucked out of it like a…..oops, I can't say that! Nana and especially Cowboy look good, they're fun so naturally they appeal to mainstream visitors.

It's not the case in all the foreigner bar areas though, and no-one can say the old dame of Bangkok nightlife is ageing gracefully. Patpong has retained its sleazy, seedy, even edgy feel.

With their increasingly rich history, attractive Cowboy and Nana today find themselves embraced by the authorities to whom the 2012 versions are palatable. Controlling the city's foreigner nightlife areas allows the authorities to protect the city's image.

Closing the likes of Nana and Cowboy or issuing a city-wide prohibition on such businesses would drive everything underground. The authorities would lose control and locals would suffer. No-one wants to upset the durian cart and the designation of Soi Cowboy along with the top of Soi Nana as safety zones is as close to official acknowledgement that the nightlife areas are part of Bangkok's international appeal. And they're here to stay.

They'll never admit it publicly, but have free-thinking figures in power begun to understand the value of neon, sexy girls and a party atmosphere? Have they come around to realising that the many amateur videos on YouTube and other material all over the net are the sort of advertising they couldn't pay for if they tried?

An image of safety is being promoted – and hopefully safety really is improving too. Bright ideas come and go so the question arises of how long the idea of the bar areas being safety zones will last. Surveillance cameras, uniformed bar security and increased police presence are all policies enforced by the local police, but police personnel can change as fast as a Soi Cowboy dancer's bikini.

10 years ago the sleaze was all along the busiest and most expensive part of Sukhumvit Road. Beer bar complexes were located right on the Asoke intersection, at soi 10 and sois 13 & 15. Rough-looking girls using even rougher language were right there on the pavement, partying with drunken customers. It had all become very embarrassing. That nonsense has been cleaned up and the changes have been so dramatic that today Bangkok's foreigner red light areas feel like an Asian version of Amsterdam, just another attraction in a fascinating city, presented with almost Singapore-like safety.

The Thais have a remarkable knack of being able to appease all parties and Soi Cowboy and no doubt soon Nana Plaza too will manage just that. Safe? Check! Couple / family / tour group friendly? Check! Fun available for naughty boys? Check! Attractive bar areas which are aesthetically pleasing and not offensive to locals? Check!

The sleaze and seediness is being sucked out of Bangkok's bar areas. Was a decision made that the foreign nightlife areas of Bangkok would be allowed to continue – but on the authorities' terms?

Such public endorsement of the two major nightlife areas in Bangkok by the authorities in declaring them safety zones shows that they not only tolerate, they accept the bar areas. It can therefore be reasonably assumed that the foreigner bar areas are here to stay.

The infamous Arab of Soi Cowboy is loathed by many punters and bar owners alike, but could it be that he, the man largely behind the beautification of Soi Cowboy, might have been not just its, but Bangkok nightlife's saviour? When it comes to bar areas, beautiful neon may just be the key to a long life.



Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken from the entranceway of Nana Plaza with the camera pointed up towards the middle floor, showing a lady sitting at the Balcony Bar with work being done on the plaza in the background. Many got it right and the prizes went fast. 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 – Who's the stupid one?

Some expats in Thailand are as dumb as a box of rocks. They have lived in the country for many years but could never be bothered to learn more than a handful of Thai words. Usually these expats seem to think that if they just speak English LOUDER than the Thai person will understand them. Worst of all are the ones who, as you mentioned, talk very fast, often with strong accents that native English speakers would struggle to understand, using complex sentences and slang and then call Thai people "stupid" because they can't understand them. Newsflash: The stupid one is not the Thai!

Making Cowboy safer.

If they want to make Soi Cowboy a safety zone then they need to stop traffic along the soi, especially but not limited to the motorcycle taxis. It's tiresome having to watch your back, but I guess the drivers have little choice. It really used to piss off an elderly friend of mine when he was a Bangkok resident. That and the Indian watch sellers. He'd often yell at them.

Coyotes, all or nothing.

I find it ridiculous the way many of these coyote girls have their knickers showing above their shorts, or their bra straps showing. Kind of defeats the sexy look, but perhaps others like that. I don't know, but to me it is bad dressing. I have nothing against coyotes, but I think a bar should be either 100% with or without them. I really can't see the point of a mix.

Coyote thumbs down.

Speaking of coyote dancers, I think the whole thing is just stupid. I would never pay to go watch coyote dancers. Sorry, but I just find the whole concept stupid. I like to see naked girls dancing. If I want to see girls with clothes on I'll go to the Emporium. There is nothing special about coyote dancers except their stuck-up attitude.

Book recommendation.

I have just read a short book (180 pages) titled "The Thai & I Living in the Thai Countryside" by Hakan Kolmodin, printed by Asia Books. It covers a married couples experiences with all phases of Thai life that they come into contact with on moving to Thailand to work at a newly constructed paper mill. It is most interesting in that it gives historical and cultural perspectives of the Thai lifestyle and why Thais act the way they do. Much of the information covered on the surface in your readers' submissions is dealt with in greater depth so the reader can really understand who, what, when, where and why of things in Thailand. I have lived here for 5 years and found it quite interesting and informative. It should be recommended reading for any farang who is contemplating a move to Thailand or recent arrival. It would give the reader a much better understanding of how to deal with Thais and their culture.



The recruitment situation, from the inside (from a bar boss who wishes to remain anonymous).

It is much more difficult to recruit gogo girls with the strengthening economy, the popularity of social networking sites and the boom in freelancer discos. Salaries for monthly paid gogo girls have shot up. One club is now starting girls on 11,000 baht per month for normal dancers, not showing, which is more than my bar, even after I recently put the salaries up. This competing bar used to have both agency and salaried dancers, but they are trying to phase out the agency girls by putting up the salaries. I suppose 11,000 baht is cheaper than paying 800 – 900 per night to the agent. The agencies are struggling to recruit girls themselves and I know of one mamasan who left a gogo and took many of the dancers, not to work in another bar, but to work for an agent. The quality of agency girls is going down. Many are now only a 6 or a 7 whereas before it was all 8s and 9s. The girls have the power now. Money talks and I don't think they have any loyalty to a bar or even to a mamasan any more. I'm in a good position of having a busy bar with plenty of lady drinks and barfines so I have a group of girls, but I know I will lose a good percentage in high season so we have to recruit more.

The unlucky gym bag.

I've been stopped by the same cop two times now on my way home from the gym. The first was on Thursday October 25 and the second was today, November 8th. Both times the first thing he asks is "Where you go?" The second thing is "Passport?" Luckily both times I had my passport and was allowed to continue on my way. I've been living in Thailand off and on for 6 years and these are the first two cases of this happening to me. The first time he stopped me was right in front of Family Mart on Sukhumvit soi 18. He was with another copper buddy on their Tiger police issue motorcycle. They saw me coming, I saw them coming, and I knew what was about to go down. Sure enough, they stopped me and the guy riding bitch looked through everything in my bag and wallet. Copper took my money and told me to put it in my pocket while he rifled through my wallet, inspecting credit cards, gym cards, GNC cards and business cards. After he was satisfied there was nothing of interest in my bag he started grilling me about politics (I'm from the USA). I told him I don't care about politics and he gave me a shitty look and sent me on my way. The whole time I played like I could not understand him, often saying, "Excuse me?", "What was that?", "I don't understand" to the point of not being too obvious that I was slow playing him. One thing I find interesting is he never searched my person, pockets etc. The second time was all the way up at Sukhumvit soi 36. Copper was riding bitch on a civilian moped with a civilian driver! This time I didn't see them coming as they rolled up behind me on the sidewalk. He waved at me and I recognised him right away and knew what was coming. I took out my ear buds and we started our bi-weekly conversation. I asked him if he remembered me and he just smiled like an idiot. This time I just handed him the bag and passport. He barely looked through the bag this time and didn't even get into the wallet. He handed my stuff back and then asked me about politics. I repeated the same thing as the first time but adding, "Are you sure you don't remember me?" Again, he never searched my person. Again I slow played him like an idiot straight off the plane, first day in Thailand. After the stop I eventually passed the police box opposite soi 55. All the coppers were hanging out outside (except my best friend), they noticed me, but didn't even give me a second thought.



Nana Plaza new sign



The most mentioned news item for the past few weeks has run its course with the new sign at Nana Plaza installed this week. With a police inspection due of Nana on Thursday night, it was always going to be ready before then, but with the propensity of locals for leaving things until the very last minute, it wasn't turned on until Wednesday evening – and even then it didn't work properly. A simple, effective, if a little cheesy design, it features the name of the venue in yellow neon flanked by gogo dancers, and a sexy mouth with red lips on top. When first turned on, the dancer on the left replicated many of the girls inside the plaza in failing to set the world alight. Curiously, since Wednesday night the sign hasn't been turned back on!

Sukhumvit soi 4 has followed Soi Cowboy's lead and a large red banner is now hanging across the soi outside Morning Night proclaiming the soi as a safety zone. As part of the measures to make the area safer, cameras will be installed from the top of soi 4 down to just past the intersection with soi 6. Unlike the cameras on Soi Cowboy which I personally feel aren't necessary, soi 4 is dimly lit in parts and attracts more than its share of dodgy characters from pesky homeless to pilfering ladyboys and light-fingered street kids. As one soi 4 beer bar owner commented, surveillance cameras on the soi are long overdue.

Will Patpong soon be designated a safety zone? If there are any plans, either the bars are being kept in the dark or Patpong bar bosses are being silent about it.

Will the mummy that looks over Cowboy be the next nightlife icon to be consigned to Bangkok bar history? With rumours of the landlord in financial difficulty, bankruptcy hearings held earlier this week and offers of silly money by the villain of Cowboy to tie up more of the soi, the large mummy that sits over Sheba's might be taking a ride to the garbage tip. And who does it look like the new leaseholder will be? Let's just say that if the venue offers food, you won't be seeing any pork products on the menu. If this really does happen, it's not going to do anything for Cowboy and will tilt things even more in Nana's favour.

I don't like to knock new venues but the new beer bar – or is it a beer wall? – at the soi 23 end of Cowboy looks like the most uncomfortable spot in town. Located on the wall outside of The Corner facing soi 23, it's a small wall-side bar. With food vendors on one side of the narrow footpath and the bar on the other, pedestrians fight their way through the narrow space and cannot help but bump into those in the "bar". Soi 23 offers an authentic Bangkok traffic experience with plenty of pollution and noise and with the outside bars along Soi Cowboy offering great people watching, it's hard to see this spot become a success.



Soi Nana



Beer bars have an image problem and are often seen as down-market. The newest beer bar in Sukhumvit soi 4, Zen, is trying to break that stereotype and apart from all the usual offerings, you can find, amongst others, Johnnie Walker Blue, Ballantine (21 Years), Lagavulin, Glenlivet (18 Years), Balvenie and Patron Gold, a fancy Tequila. Zen has live music every Wednesday and Friday, drinks specials during live football matches and even free wi-fi!

I note that The Barbican in Soi Thaniya has closed. One of the most popular bars with expats when I first moved here, it wafted in and out of popularity over the years.

Boss Hogg tells me that Bully's traditional Thanksgiving buffet will be better than ever this year. At 799 baht per person, it'll be available on Thursday 22nd from 3 – 9 PM. More details about what will be on the menu next week.

Coinciding with the reader's email about being stopped by cops twice on Sukhumvit Road in 2 weeks, reports have resumed from readers who have been stopped and searched. Once again, soi 22 seems to be the hot spot. One reader reported how at around 1:30 PM this past Monday, he witnessed a mid-30s white guy stopped and searched. While nothing new, what is perturbing is that one cop's hand was visibly in the guy's pockets. If it were me, I would be happy to turn out my pockets if asked, but I would steadfastly refuse a cop who wished to put his hands inside my pockets. The other copper was going through the fellow's wallet. What is interesting is that these searches all seem to take place on the even-numbered soi side of Sukhumvit Road. With almost all reports concerning that side of the road, it lends weight to the explanation that they are looking for drugs being transported from Klong Toey (a notorious area for drug dealers) across to the wealthier neighbourhoods of Sukhumvit like Ekamai and Thonglor.

Thanks to all readers who responded to the question I asked last week about bargirls barfining themselves, whether they could and if they could, how much it cost. A number of readers reported that a girl who wishes to pay her own barfine can do so at the same price customers pay. One bar owner mentioned this to be the case in his bar, with the proviso that if it was busy the girl would not be allowed to pay her own barfine at all. One famous Walking Street bar places a 1,000 baht barfine on a girl who wishes to pay her own barfine, whereas it's only 600 baht if a customer pays. What the girls in that venue do is ask a guy if he is willing to pay their barfine and if he agrees, they slip him 600 baht which he pays and it appears as if he is taking her out of the bar. They leave together and once outside the venue go their separate ways! A few bars absolutely prohibit a girl from paying her own barfine and one bar allows it but only from 1:30 AM onwards – which is silly as the bar closes 30 minutes later and few would pay hundreds of baht to leave 30 minutes before closing. Two readers mentioned popular gogo bars where girls can barfine themselves at the standard rate but she won't get the 100 baht commission from the barfine that she would otherwise receive if a customer had paid. In at least one beer bar where barfines are set at 300 baht, girls receive a 120 baht commission. If a girl wishes to pay the barfine herself, it's 200 baht and no commission is paid. What all of the emails show is that the policy varies from bar to bar and there is certainly no industry-wide standard.

Big Andy, boss of popular Patpong bar Club Electric Blue, will celebrate his 57th birthday this coming Saturday, November 17th. All friends old and new are invited to join him and his right-hand man, Captain Hornbag, to celebrate and there will be drinks specials including free blowjobs. If you haven't visited Club Electric Blue recently, it's worth checking out their hot coyote dancers who dance up a storm and go wild when that corny but admittedly catchy Korean song, Gangnam Style is played.



Club Electric Blue Bangkok

Every day from 10 AM – 6 PM, pool tables are free at Strikers Bar, the large beer bar in the car park of the Raja Hotel, about 100 metres down Soi Nana from the plaza.

What's the reason behind the imminent closure of the British Honorary Consulate in Jomtien? Was the Consul sick of dealing with all the Pattaya Brits who need help? Or does it have something to do with the British government not having a pot to piss in? Seriously though, whereas you seldom hear a positive word about the British embassy in Bangkok, the Honorary Consulate in Jomtien was said to be a much more user friendly experience which makes its closure all the more disappointing.Baby Dolls

And in the heart of Pattaya's nightlife area, Baby Dolls A Gogo, in soi 15 off Walking Street, is hosting another of their popular hot and spicy nights this coming Wednesday, November 14th. Customers can try the free curry or chilli and spend an enjoyable evening with what some say are Pattaya's friendliest girls.

I had lunch with a friend this week whose wife has been upcountry with family for the past few months. My friend has been playing around in his wife's absence and over time has grown partial to a chrome pole hugger. With finances a little tight, he's considering taking the little vixen he has been seeing regularly back to his place to spend the night. There is almost zero chance his wife will return to Bangkok unannounced. She is an overnight bus ride away and in the 20 odd years they've been married she has never returned out of the blue – so it's very unlikely she'll start now. Taking his plaything home would save the cost of a hotel room and no doubt a bar bill of a few drinks too so, let's say, a couple of thousand baht could be saved. I warned him against taking her to his place. It's a recipe for disaster. What sort of guarantee is there that the neighbours won't say anything when wifey returns? That alone would seem to be a massive risk, especially the way locals love to gossip. And even if there was only the smallest chance that wifey would turn up unannounced, is it worth the risk? What if plaything gets attached and starts turning up at his place out of the blue? What if plaything sees an opportunity to cash in and threatens to disclose to his wife what has been going on to extort money from him? What happens if plaything has an accident at his place and outside assistance is required, such as medical help or an ambulance? What happens if plaything has an episode and flips out and destroys property? My point is that there are many reasons why hotels exist. A Thai man would never take a plaything back to the family home, in fact he wouldn't dream of spending the night with her. He'd do the business, get on with his life and forget about her. If a Thai guy wouldn't do it, farang shouldn't either!

It's been a few months since I've spotted a homeless farang, kind of surprising given how many have been highlighted in this column over the past few years. Anyway, I did spot one fellow this week out at Pra Arthit Park, not far from Khao San Road. He didn't seem to be in particularly bad shape and one of the vendors who was bemused by my choice of photographic subject said he had been there a couple of weeks.



farang sleeping on the streets



A Thai friend told me a classic only-in-Thailand story this week of how she avoided being fined. She rides to and from work each day on her motorbike. One day word went around her workplace that the police had set up a traffic checkpoint not far from their place of work and all motorbikes were being stopped. The cops were presumably checking for valid insurance, registration being current and that the rider was wearing a helmet and held a valid licence. A clever girl, she knows the law well, and the law apparently says that anyone can push a motorbike along the road with no need for it to be registered or insured, nor the requirement to wear a helmet or hold a valid licence. Resigned to the fact that the cops were going to be there for some time and keen to get home, she pushed the motorbike out of the building and along the road towards the police checkpoint. As she was passing by, a cop asked her what she was doing and she brazenly says that she does not have a motorbike licence and she is going to push it past them until she is out of sight at which point she will jump on and ride the rest of the way home! The copper apparently said, "So you had better make sure we don't see you riding it or we will come after you!" She estimates that it was another half a kilometre or so from the cops to a bend in the road that would put her out of sight. And push the motorbike she did, all the way along the road and out of sight of the boys in brown before leaping on and riding the rest of the way home. As much as she hates walking, she says that rather than try and use her female charms to get out of a ticket, the walk was worth it!

In editing this week's readers' submissions, I came across a sentence that I didn't know whether to edit or not. It read, "She was a sexy woman you could thrust." Should it have been "trust", or was "thrust" ok?!



The grammar is basic, the number of words much less than in English and Thai is not the world's precise language. Many foreigners who speak Thai well still find the odd occasion when getting their message across, or successfully decoding the message being sent to them, is more difficult than it should be. Between a foreigner and a Thai this is not entirely unexpected when you consider accents, slang and general nuance which can all take years to master, but what about when two Thais communicate? I witnessed a quite hilarious situation on Friday at the Sukhumvit soi 23 branch of Subway where a Thai woman was trying to order a sandwich. I guess she had never eaten at Subway before and was unfamiliar with the ordering system, notwithstanding that it's simple and instructions are posted in Thai and English. When the server asked her what she wanted on the sandwich, she replied everything. The server tried to clarify that she had one meat choice but the woman – a pretty enough office woman in business attire didn't get it. They went backwards and forwards a few times with no progress being made before the customer asked the server if she was Thai, a question taken as a real insult. "I most certainly am Thai", she said, putting it back to the customer and asking her if she was in fact Thai which, again, resulted in much indignation – and amusement by me witnessing it all! The server, at that point trying to get one up on the customer, asked her in English what meat she would like on the sandwich and the customer responded in English, each showing a good command of their second language. Once they were in English, the whole ordering process was pain free!




Quote of the week comes from a reader who admits to being a real manwhore, "I know I have the loyal gene buried in me laying dormant if the right woman comes along that is deserving of loyalty."

Reader's story of the week is the touching tale of friendship between two Finns in Phuket, " Me and my Friend, Aki".

A bus crashes in southern Thailand with a bunch of Aussies on board.

The New York Times looks at Thailand as an example where women are making great strides in high-level politics.

A young German joins the Pattaya Flying Club, leaping to his death from the 56th floor.

The Aussie police help the Thai police and a 51-year old Aussie kiddy fiddler is arrested 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: In the West a man can be liable for support to a 'de facto wife' after they have lived together for a period of time. For example, if a woman lives with her boyfriend (who may or may not support her financially) for say two years, if her boyfriend then ends the relationship, he may be responsible for some sort of support (or possibly separation of assets)! Is there similar in Thailand?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: While a de facto relationship cannot be registered and is not legally recognised, there is however, under Thai Civil Commercial Code Law, Section 1472, where “Life Partnership” is mentioned and it is where both parties are living together without registering their marriage with any government sector. To be considered as life partner, each must either respect and / or treat each other as if they are husband and wife. Some of the activities that could result or interpret as life partner are:

1. Arranging wedding ceremonies (in the agreed and respective religion).
2. Taking a wedding picture at a wedding studio.
3. Socially introducing one another as their spouse.

Unlike the divorce of a couple that registered their marriage with government sectors, where alimony could be arrange and / or agreed, the entitlement of a Life Partner can only be an equal share in the ownership of any assets obtained during the relationship, except for personal belonging, which must be able to verify, in any claim being made. If you find yourself in a situation like this, Sunbelt Asia has Thai lawyers that can assist you.


Question 2: I'm an American married to a Thai girl living with her 10 months out of the year in a small house I built with her outside of Surin. She guaranteed a loan by signing a promissory note secured by her house as a favour for “good friend”. The friend didn't pay the lender, the lender supposedly died and now the lender's son wants to take my wife's house. The loan was recorded with the Thai Land Department in Surin. My questions:
1) How can I find out if the original lender is actually dead?
2) If this person died in Thailand, is the promissory note that the son is holding still valid?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: According to law under Book VI (Succession), in the case where no WILL was written by the Lender then he Lender's son will be considered as one of the beneficiaries (which could be more than one beneficiary as the First Class of the Statutory Heir consist of descendants, parents and spouse). The borrowed amount is also treated as a kind of estate, which the beneficiaries are entitled to receive. For the Lender's son to be able to manage his father's assets (including the distribution of the assets to the other beneficiary accordingly), he must be appointed as the Executor of the estate. Such appointment must be done through the court system.

And in order for you to check whether your lender is dead, you may want Sunbelt Asia Legal check with the district office where the Lender's name was registered (when he was still alive).

As for the property, as your wife agreed and accepted the role and responsibility of being her friend's guarantor and also agreed to use her property as a collateral for the loan, then should the Borrower fail or refuse to repay the loan (for whatever reason), the Lender could also recall the outstanding borrowed amount from the guarantor or could even take legal action in taking over the property. The guarantor should try their best to contact the Borrower to repay the borrowed and / or outstanding sum. If they cannot be contacted then your wife, as guarantor, must repay the loan on the borrower's behalf otherwise she could have her own property confiscated through the legal process to repay the lender.


Question 3: If I end up in an 'insurance situation', is my insurance company going to say all insurance claims are void due to having no Thai driver's license? Asked on the phone, they consistently answer this question with a 'no problem' and an 'insurance will cover anyone who uses the motorcycle even if they don't have a Thai driver's license, as coverage is associated with the bike, not with individuals'. An example was given that stated that even a young kid who uses the bike and has a problem will be covered. Great, but unfortunately, I have no access to this vital information in policy and in writing.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: There are several different types of insurance but many have first class insurance which can either insure a specific driver by name (up to two usually) or not name the driver at all.

If a driver drove a motor-vehicle (vehicle that is insured with the insurance company) where the driver was not listed as one of the insured driver(s) then the insurance company has the right not to provide coverage to the vehicle that causes the accident, but this insurance company has the duty to provide coverage to the counterpart.

However, if it is the second kind, where any driver is insured, then the insurance company would provide coverage to both parties.

You will need to check a copy of your insurance policy as many insurance companies will refuse to pay any claim on an unlicensed driver. Once you receive insurance the company should have sent you the policy. If you cannot read it please contact Sunbelt Asia as we then can translate it for you.





Buddhist monks


Just when is the high season officially? In the old days – and we'd be talking pre-Asian economic crash – Thailand's tourism high season ran from the start of December until the end of February. These were the three busiest months for visitor arrivals, the 3 best months of the year weather-wise and a period in which many hotels increased room rates. As more and more visitors flocked to the country, hotels increased their rates from the start of November through until the end of March or even the Songkran holiday in the middle of April. That seemed to become the new high season. As more and more visitors flocked to Thailand, the low season wasn't as low. The peak of the high season runs from Christmas until early February, a period in which it can be difficult to get a room in the better hotels. I'm not going to say that the high season has arrived already but there has been a noticeable increase in the number of visitors in Bangkok and many of the better hotels are already booked up for most of this month. Despite economic gloom in much of the world, I reckon we'll have a record-breaking high season.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse