Stickman's Weekly Column November 4th, 2012

The Confusing Coyote Concept




The coyote concept has been alive and well in Bangkok since the ’90s in nightspots popular with locals. But when coyote dancers started appearing in farang bars they were received with mixed feelings. Some customers love them, others hate them. But what exactly are coyote dancers and how does the concept work?



Coyotes have long been a feature of upmarket Thai-style clubs and nightspots. They can be found in venues frequented exclusively by men but are just as likely to be seen in discos and bars, venues equally popular with males and females.

Typically, coyotes are genuinely attractive girls who can dance – really dance with skill, enthusiasm and energy. It is their job to entertain. Some are semi-professional dancers with formal dance training. Entertaining in mainstream Thai-style venues they are strictly unavailable, that is as unavailable as any attractive and sexy female can be in an establishment which attracts that breed of wealthy man who never really stops looking and is willing to open his wallet to get what he wants. While coyote dancers may officially be unavailable, unofficially anything is possible.

Coyote dancers have been viewed with a degree of skepticism by foreigners in Bangkok, mostly because it’s not clear what their role is. Do they only dance? Are they available?

So what exactly are coyote dancers and how are they different from that other breed whose role is understood, gogo dancers?

Gogo dancers are primarily sex workers who dance to get guys’ attention in the hope that she will be taken away from the bar and given an opportunity to make real money. For gogo dancers, dancing is very much a secondary part of their job and often something they put less effort into; many gogo dancers don’t really even dance, hence the term the Bangkok shuffle.

For coyotes, dancing is their primary duty. They’re hired for their ability to dance well. They are supposed to be skilled and / or trained dancers, energetic and enthusiastic. For the most part coyotes are young and dress sexy with cut off shorts common. Unlike gogo girls, coyote girls do not show. Never. Not even a nipple. Strictly speaking, coyote girls aren’t sex workers but this is a grey area and in some bars they can be barfined. More and more, coyote girls are referred to as “agency girls”. In recent years a number of agencies have emerged and some manage hundreds of girls.

coyote dancer

So coyote girls are slim, young, attractive, can really dance and whose role it is to entertain. Right. So why is it that in bars from Walking Street to Patpong, Cowboy to Nana, and even Sukhumvit soi 33 there are coyote girls who are available?!

A few farang bars term their dancers “coyotes”. The girls are done up as you would expect a coyote to be done up – in cut-off shorts and tight top. But, and it’s a big but, they don’t dance any different to a gogo dancer. Secrets in Pattaya, a hostess bar, calls its dancers “coyotes” and charges a premium barfine for them, a concept that has been replicated in Pattaya. The barfine for a coyote girl is 1,000 baht, higher than for a hostess – a girl who is available but does not dance. So in Secrets, the coyote girls are the dancers, but they’re not professional or accomplished dancers and in other venues they would be considered gogo girls wearing a coyote’s outfit.

To confuse things further, there are venues with both gogo dancers and coyotes. Examples would be Club Electric Blue and The Arab’s bars in Soi Cowboy. In each of these bars, gogo dancers and coyotes are available.

And then there are bars which have both gogo girls and coyote girls, where the gogo girls are available, but the coyotes are not! Tilac in Soi Cowboy is a good example where the coyotes cannot be barfined.

There are also showgirls. Showgirls are employed in gogo bars to perform choreographed and practiced shows in the likes of Angelwitch, Long Gun, Billboard and Las Vegas. The showgirls perform shows which are more elaborate. Showgirls may or may not be available and if they are, again, a premium barfine is placed on them. Basically, gogo dancers, showgirls and coyote dancers are all different.

coyote dancers

Coyote girls may be employed by the bar, such as the coyote girls in Secrets or the Arab’s troop who rotate from bar to bar, or they might be employed by an agency and be sent out to different venues. Bars sourcing girls from an agency pay anywhere from 700 baht upwards per girl, per night, with 1,000 baht a night the average.

There has been something of a backlash by Western customers in the likes of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza against coyote dancers because sometimes it isn’t clear who the coyote girls are and who the gogo dancers are.This is no more so than in Patpong’s Bada Bing where a friend and I could not determine which shift were the dancers and which were the coyotes! It’s a frustration for amorous naughty boys not knowing who is available and who is not and there has been a noticeable trend in emails from readers who feel deceived after spending an hour or two getting to know a girl only to be told that she is not available. Having plastered her with lady drinks, he then gets a shock because they are significantly more expensive than a standard lady drink! Lady drinks for coyote dancers typically attract a premium of anywhere between 20 and 100 baht more per drink.

Where coyote dancers are available to be barfined, the cost of the barfine can be steep. In Club Electric Blue it’s either 10 coyote lady drinks (10 x 180 baht) or a flat out 1,800 baht barfine. In the Arab’s bars, the barfine for a coyote dancer is 2,000 baht. Barfines for coyotes typically run from 1,000 – 2,000 baht although I hear of agency girls who may be available to be taken from the bar for 2,500 or even 3,000 baht. And when it comes to their reward, many quote 50 – 100% more than a gogo dancer. Coyote dancers see themselves as special…

coyote Bangkok

A farang bar bit the bullet recently and arranged for an agency to send them a bunch of coyote girls. The regulars adored them. They were young, pretty, full of energy and showed up their regular gogo girls to be the sloths they are. But there was a problem. They were young. You’d think these agencies would have their shit together but they don’t. There’s a reason coyote dancers often look young…because they are young. Not 18. Not 17. Too young.

So if there is such a backlash against the concept of coyote girls – girls who are more attractive but for whom drinks cost more and a barfine attracts a premium – and that is if they can be barfined, why do the bars recruit them? The issue – and it’s only going to get worse – is that bars are struggling to get girls. The problem has become acute. Recruiting girls not of legal age or from across the border are no longer options. Bar owners are being forced to go to agencies in order to ensure they have an adequate stock of pretty girls, and with the high season almost upon us we might just see more coyote dancers, more agency girls.

The Thai economy is booming and there’s heaps of work out there for those who want it. Pretty girls do not have to dance on stage in almost nothing if they don’t want to. And as coyote girls are not sex workers per se, they aren’t looked at in quite the same negative light that gogo girls are. It might not necessarily be what customers want, but I expect we’ll be seeing more coyote girls in farang bars.

Lets not forget to mention a new UBER-like escort service. Smooci is a new style of escort directory, bringing together bar girls, freelancers, and agency girls all under one roof, with verified reviews and photos, and the ability to track your date to your door. It’s as easy as ordering your favourite pizza

Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week’s photo was the most challenging in a long time and few readers got it. It was taken at the Ta Tien Pier on the Chao Praya River on Maharat Road and featured OnePho Massage. 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 great 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 – A short-time, the best time.

So if you find your Thai “girlfriend” difficult to communicate with, see that she posts pictures of lots of thousand baht bills on Facebook, doesn’t always answer her phone during multi-hour absences, is ridiculously jealous of any attention you give to ANY woman and is often unjustifiably surly, why on God’s green earth would you marry her? Maybe you want to be like the guys in their 80s being barked at and controlled by their 40-something year old Thai wife who looks like they came down out of the trees a couple of decades after they were chrome pole molesters. Short-time is the best time for many of us.

Econ 101 and the schmuck.

I wanted to comment on the econ 101 email you posted. The guy is a shmuck. You wanna shoot for pulling 300K baht a month AND then wisely spending your money, not wasting it on red bills to sycophants because it floats your boat to be called a good man.

It’s just not English!

I’ve seen a few farangs around Sukhumvit recently with kids with no helmets on bikes – more often than not women. On a school run maybe? Anyway, I always thought a Brit would never do that. In your photo it looks suspiciously like the girl is holding a British passport in her hand so now I’m thinking an English person would never do that. Winking smile, must definitely be a Scot or a Paddy or a Taff! Definitely not English though!

The Nana makeover.

Can’t say I agree with the Nana Plaza makeover. Whilst it needed a clean-up, it seems to me as I sit at Lucky Luke’s watching the world go by that it has lost its allure. I’d prefer to sit at Big Dogs but the new look would not be out of place in the Flintstones. Nana Main Station looks totally out of place and needs to be plonked into Soi Cowboy ASAP. Again, a clean-up is good but taking away even the slightest hint of sleaziness will only serve to attract the backpackers because it gets a mention as an eye-opener in the latest Lonely Planet and dare I say it, the same flag-waving Chinese tour leaders that have invaded Walking Street. Is one of the last bastions of the red light world dying? I miss the gauntlet of walking the piss and rat-infested stairwells on the way to an air-conditioned bar while keeping some part of my anonymity and exchanging sly knowing glances at punters and girls alike. Oh well.

Pattaya’s bars and Soi LK Metro.

My girlfriend and I spend 2 or 3 nights a week in Pattaya bars. We like some of the gogos on Walking Street in as much as some have really pretty girls. But the tourist invasion is a put-off. We have a decent time in the bars, but getting to and from is a hassle with Chinese tourists gawking and laughing at everything and not participating in the trade. If I was a business owner there, I would not be so happy with all of the bodies coming through there and causing “human traffic” and not putting any money into the system. Also, the beggars, tricksters, ladyboys and front guys and girls trying to get you to go into their bar is a bit much. This past weekend we tried Soi LK Metro and hit every club on the soi. They were refreshingly better when you factor in:

1. Good looking girls and plenty at each club. 2. No street traffic or tourists as you mentioned. 3. No hassle from the clubs to come in, no yelling or pitching us to come in from people out front. 4. Upgraded interiors and newer renovated clubs with higher ceilings and good air distribution so less smoke for us non-smokers. 5. Better drink prices averaging 130 baht per beer / drink. 6. Good selection of bars in very close proximity as well, which may be the same as Walking Street. But my point is, you have close choices and don’t have to walk all the way to Walking Street if one or two of the bars aren’t good. 7. No ladyboys or free agents roaming outside on the street. 8. Nobody trying to sell me roses or a photo shoot with my girl.

Bye-bye, Pattaya.

My history with Pattaya goes back many years. I owned a condo there for several years making Patts a second home behind, as an expat, Hong Kong. Last year, I finally came to realise how phony and frankly boring Pattaya had become. No longer interested in the bar scene and the scamming games that are played, hence I would never allow a bargirl anywhere near my condo. I value my Rolex and flat-screen TV too much. I sold my condo earlier this year, retired from Cathay Pacific and moved back to the great lifestyle that I was raised in, Canada. With retirement money not an issue, I could live anywhere, and Thailand in general was not an option. Your take on Pattaya was spot on.

The guy on the bike.

T

he guy on the motorcycle has a Go Pro HD mounted on his helmet. It is mounted in a little waterproof clear container that attaches to a double sided tape mount that sticks on to the helmet. I have a similar one (albeit shaped like a mini flashlight) that I mount on the side of my paintball mask. The Go Pros have become a pretty popular item recently (you can see them at duty free stores in a lot of airports along with a video showing off their capabilities at 1080P). I wouldn’t be surprised if people are bringing these things into gogos to secretly film, given they are quite small (especially without the clear case), work okay in low light and shoot at 1080P.

Dusty shithole!

On the subject of Angeles City, the score to date in your column is 1 : 1. I went there within the past year and if I could think of 2 words to sum the place up, it’d be dusty shithole! Ok, there are plenty of girls in the clubs doing phony choreographed dance moves and there are run-of-the-mill gogos, some with Thai girls working. I did come across attitude problems in my stay there, and no, I am nowhere near a bald, fat 60+ year old. I guess taking a girl back to hotel for the night works out cheaper than Cowboy or Nana. As for hotels in the $40 bracket, definitely sub-par compared to Bangkok or Pattaya. The food was average at best and takeaway options are limited. The expats are of the older variety, quite friendly. At least there were not a lot of yobs getting about. No Russians or Indians either, probably a plus. The big thing going in favour of the place is beer is crazy cheap, about $1 a bottle from memory.

Nana Plaza new sign

With the old Nana Plaza sign dismantled it shouldn’t be long until a replacement is in place. The photo above shows a mockup of what was the front-running design. The vision of the designer was to create something that captured the essence of the plaza and would make the plaza feel welcoming. But this design won’t be used and has been rejected in favour of another. It’s proving to be a controversial move and has one Thai bar owner upset and vocal in her opposition of the new sign…which has me most intrigued to see it.

Work continues within the plaza. The neon on the right hand-side of the plaza where Carnival was described as Asia’s only double carousel has been removed. A partially covered sign has been erected in its place which shows that Carousel will be replaced with a Cowboy-themed bar named Lone Star A Gogo on which renovations continue.

Earlier in the week banners were hung at Soi Cowboy proclaiming the lane as a safety zone. On Thursday evening senior policemen were amongst the dozens of cops who took a stroll along the neon-lit soi where they were shown a sanitised version of the soi. The visit was covered by the media and I guess something ran on local TV. Will the soi be inundated by regular Thais eager to check out the pretty neon themselves? It would seem the Thonglor police (the police station with jurisdiction over Soi Cowboy) are taking a greater interest in the soi and have put in place a training scheme for security staff at the bars who will soon wear a uniform identifying them clearly as security staff. There will be police patrols in area and the 6 new cameras that I mentioned in last week’s column have been installed on the soi already.

And it should come as no surprise that Nana Plaza is set to take on the designation of “safety zone”. Just as they paid a visit to Cowboy this week, senior police are due to visit the freshly renovated Nana Plaza this coming Thursday.More cameras will be installed in Nana Plaza, just as they have been at Soi Cowboy. I hope that the security staff at Nana are forced to undergo a training course and wear uniforms. Some of them are decent, professional even, like the guys outside Angelwitch, however those outside some bars I won’t mention look and behave like hooligans.

Soi Cowboy

And in what seems like an elaborate plan, there is lobbying going on behind the scenes

to try and block off Sukhumvit soi 4 every evening to traffic which would make the top of Sukhumvit soi 4 a pedestrian only area, much like Soi Cowboy, Patpong and Walking Street. Soi 4 extends several hundred metres past Nana Plaza to the sprawling tobacco factory grounds and beyond the plaza are hotels, apartment and condo buildings with many long-term residents – both foreigners and Thais. If the top of the soi is blocked off, access to the lower part of the soi would be through the Raja Hotel car park via Sukhumvit soi 2. Apparently an agreement has been made with management at the Raja Hotel for this to happen over the Songkran period in 2013, but the powers that be would like to come to a more permanent arrangement.

There are plans to revamp G Spot which will be rethemed and renamed to one of The University or University Girls or Nana University, the exact name I am not sure of as I have heard 3 different versions from 3 different people. For sure though, the new name will feature the word university and we can expect dancers done up as university students.

Some say the new sign outside Pretty Lady Bar which says Nana Main Station doesn’t fit in with the plaza. Sitting at the beer bars in the middle of the plaza has some customers saying it’s so bright it’s blinding and staff at the beer bars are complaining about saeb da which translates as “It is stinging my eyes.” I’m not sure why people are so upset in what seems to me to be much ado about nothing.

Big Mango Bar will be having a party to celebrate November coming around. November sees the return of many friends from all the corners of the earth coming to meet up and next Saturday, that’s November 10th the booze and the food and booze will go out around 8:30 PM. Tiger & Heineken draft pints will be offered at 40 baht per pint and there will be complimentary food / snacks and various shot give always. Check out their website for more details.

One of the longest running bars in Sukhumvit soi 33 has closed, although whether it has shut its doors for the last time is unknown. Renoir had been running for 30 odd years but the venue has been stripped of its fixtures and is currently a right mess. The girls from Renoir have moved to Setanta Bar, 100 metres up the soi.

In dying soi 33, the newest bar, Lips, is surprising everyone else on the soi and doing decent business. It’s located on the main soi, just beyond the alley which leads down to The Office.

From November 9th – 11th, Soul A Gogo will host a Northern Soul weekend in Pattaya. I understand that a number of people, including DJs from UK, Europe, Australia and Philippines will attend the event. Details below.

Soul A Gogo, Pattaya

Word out of Pattaya is yet more evidence of how Sin City is changing. From a small massage house in Soi Buakhao I hear that trade is better than it has been for a couple of years. However, tips to the girls have dropped from little to nothing. The Soi Buakhao area is one of the most competitively priced neighbourhoods for small massage houses and many offer a 1-hour massage for just 99 baht, a price point at which it is assumed the customer will match the massage fee to the house with a tip of a similar amount to the girl. But they’re not, which, even to me as someone who is not big on tipping, seems to be being cheap.

A question for readers. From time to time bargirls pay their own barfine. Perhaps they don’t feel well or perhaps a regular calls them and doesn’t want to go to the bar to collect them, but is keen to see them. Do they pay the same amount as a customer would pay, or do they pay less? Or does it vary from bar to bar?

A news article ran in the Bangkok Post this week which deserves comment. A Thai woman who works as “a pretty”, a local term for an attractive young lady who is done up to look like a million baht and paid to promote a product, has publicly humiliated an older Thai man online who is purported to have offered her money on Facebook. She could easily have just unfriended him if she found his advances unwelcome but no, she chose to chat with him and then humiliate him publicly. This begs the question then as to whether it is ok for (often Western) men using social networking sites in Thailand to publicly humiliate a woman who asks them for money and acts like a hooker online? Why she did this, I do not know, but it struck me as bizarre.

A couple of weeks back I almost wrote that the rainy season had finished, and while it looks like it is behind us, there were a few heavy downpours in Bangkok this week. With that said, we’ve also had relatively blue skies most days so if you’re about to visit you’ll probably find sunglasses more useful than an umbrella. Down south it’s a different story so if you’re off to Samui or Phuket, pack an umbrella.

dog wearing sunglasses

Why is it that so many long-term expats who speak little or no Thai are often incapable of grading their language when interacting with locals? Time and time again I see long-termers – often real long-termers, expats with 10+ years in-country – literally barking at the Thais in English, stringing long, complex sentences together without speaking slowly, clearly or making any effort to simplify their vocabulary so they can be understood. The expat invariably becomes exasperated when the person they’re talking to doesn’t have a clue what they are on about which causes that person to lose face and also become angry! And to make matters worse, it seems to be that the more successful the expat, the worse they are!

For the Brits – and that’s around 20% of the Stickman readership if you include the Brits who read this site from within Thailand – I hear that new legislation has made getting a visa for the UK more difficult. Settlement visas in particular are said to be more difficult. There’s a requirement for a sponsor to prove he exceeds a minimum income limit which rules out many guys including most on a pension. The items of proof required are said to be excessive, particularly for the self-employed. One journalist has speculated that the new measures will reduce immigration into the UK from outside the EU by 50%. Visit visas are unaffected. If you need help with a visa application for the UK, Kate and her team at MyThai-Visa.com can assist – and specialise in visas for Thais going to the UK.

Restaurants, hotels and bars are struggling to get staff as the Thai economy booms. Some restaurants have been forced to lower their standards and have employed people from a neighbouring country where those they hire have poor English and almost no Thai. What good is that?! I’m not talking Laos or Cambodia and you don’t find Malaysians in the service industry in Thailand. I note plenty of Filipinos working in the service industry in Bangkok and they seem to do well with their English skills and their cheery nature often making them stand out above their local colleagues.

I met a friend staying at the Nana Hotel earlier this week for a coffee. While waiting for the poor fellow to get over the shock of me calling up to his room at the ungodly hour of 11 AM, while sitting in the lobby I noticed that the Nana Hotel’s standard check out time is 2 PM. This is probably nothing new as the hotel has been around forever and little ever seems to change there – so it has probably been a late checkout forever. It’s still worth a mention for those who didn’t know.

Nana Hotel

I do my best to avoid using the skytrain these days but earlier this week it was unavoidable and I had to use it. It was peak hour and the office crowd had yet to get their caffeine fix, many still looking like zombies. What surprised me was the number of Western women on the skytrain in the morning in their business attire and obviously gainfully employed here. OK, so it was only one carriage on the skytrain, but there were more Western women on it than men. In terms of tourists, the ratio of male to females feels like it is slowly evening out since the days when male visitors to Thailand far outnumbered females. Could similar happen in the expat community? Will there come a day when the number of female expats is equal to the number of male expats?

I avoid the skytrain and there’s no shortage of people who refuse to use a motorbike taxi. With traffic often locked up, what options does that leave? Over the past few weeks I have seen more and more foreigners cycling around the city, particularly up and down Sukhumvit. Whether this is a trend or just a few, I do not know. Seems awfully brave to me though.

It’s one of the biggest nights of the year at popular Checkinn99 next Sunday when they host their annual Blues Brothers night. Mark Sunday, November 11th in your calendar. It’s always a big night so be quick to reserve your seat.

Blues Brothers Bangkok

Quote of the week comes from a reader and is a variant of a familiar quote, “In Bangkok you never lose your chance to make enemies; just your place in the queue.”

Reader’s story of the week is “Good Social?”, the story of an English teacher seriously assaulted by a Thai colleague.

The BBC looks at what it’s like being a pretty in Thailand.

Highly respected local businessman Greg Lange wrote a comparison on the cost of goods in Thailand vs. USA.

I’m not sure that New Zealand is in Asia, but it is said that the best places to be a sex worker in Asia are NZ and Thailand.

A thief in Korat robs a woman’s house and forces her to give him a handjob before he fled the scene.

In a story that has gone viral, a pretty young Thai woman exposes an older Thai man who offered her money online.

A Thai woman arrested in Switzerland for trafficking Thai nationals to that country to work as prostitutes reinforces the idea that the country’s biggest exports are rice and vice.

A broke Brit retiree hangs himself in Phuket because he had run out of money.

The Wall Street Journal looks at Thais changing name in the hope it brings them a change in luck. 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: My former Thai girlfriend wants to take our child and move to Singapore. I don’t mind that they are moving but I want her to move first and see if it really works out before she takes our daughter. Me and my ex never married. My name is on the birth certificate and my daughter uses my surname. Do I have any rights as a father to my child here in Thailand?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: As you were not married when the child was born, the child is legally the mother’s under Section 1546 which states that a child born of a woman who is not married is deemed to be the legitimate child of the woman only. Even though your name is on the child’s birth certificate, the custody and guardianship over the child lies with the mother. The child is able to use your surname as you gave your consent to be listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate and the mother decided to use your surname.

You may want to consider legitimizing your child and thus obtaining parental rights. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has extensive experience in this kind of family law and can assist you with the steps to legitimize your child. However, please be aware that you do need the mother’s consent to keep it simple. If she does not consent then it would need to go to court.

Question 2: I note that under the list of restricted professions (professions that Aliens cannot work in), item number 29 lists “engineering work in civil engineering branch”. I note that there are a lot of expatriate engineers working in Thailand notwithstanding item 29. Is this item read narrowly (e.g. civil engineering is restricted purely to matters involving earth works, bases, concrete footings, and does not apply to structural engineers, process / chemical engineers, mechanical engineers etc)? Also, there is a final carve-out “excluding specialized work”. How is this applied? If I wanted to accept a posting in Thailand as an engineering consultant, would I simply be registered as a consultant rather than engineer, notwithstanding that I have an engineering degree?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: The occupation of engineer is a restricted occupation, reserved for Thai nationals. Applying for a work permit as an engineer under a normal limited company will not succeed. The applicant (an engineer) could only be approved as a consultant (in engineering). But exemption is available to Board of Investment (BOI) promoted companies, as they are eligible to bring in foreign specialists. But the qualification and the opening post must be a perfect match (i.e. if you need a mechanical engineer, the applicant must be educated in mechanical engineering). If you have any questions as to whether or not the position you are interested in would qualify you to obtain a work permit as an engineer or as a consultant, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors. We have worked with many Thai companies and obtained a work permit for them.

Question 3: My question is about consumer’s rights. In December of 2011 I placed a deposit for the manufacture of a set of rattan furniture with a shop at Chatuchak Market. I’ve inquired many times and the short version is always some excuse or other mixed generously with “It will ship on Saturday”. The owner does not ship the furniture and she refuses to refund my deposit. I was forced to buy other furniture or sit on the floor so now I want my money back. I’d rather not simply write it off.

Some months ago I sent an email to the government department on consumer affairs but have received no response. Can you help?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: We may be able to help you, but would need to know a few more details. Did you have any written agreement (quotation, ordering form), or receive proof of payment from the supplier? When you sent your complaint to the Consumer Affairs Division, did you send it to the Complaints Section? And did you provide them with full details of the issue (including the seller’s details)? If you have and you have not received a satisfactory response, then we at Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors could take the legal route to force the supplier to return your money. Please feel free to get in touch with us directly to help resolve this issue.

monks in Bangkok

I’m glad I moved to Bangkok when I did. By that I don’t infer anything about the city being a better or more interesting place back when I first moved here than it is today. What I mean is that I am glad I moved here before the internet became such an integral part of our lives. When I moved to Bangkok there weren’t any comprehensive expat Thailand websites. As a new arrival, one would explore and discover the city themselves. You’d jump on a red bus, note the number and just see where it went. You’d order items from a menu that you had no idea what they were. And you would make more of an effort with the foreigners you came across. It was an adventure, heaps of fun and I think it was an approach that helped form a feel for the place. You learned by doing, from personal experience, and not simply by reading – and I think that is critical in a country where things can be so very different from where many of us come from. By exploring and discovering, you see things first-hand, rather than trust in others, or worse, assume that life is much the same as where you come from. I cannot impress enough that Bangkok is a FANTASTIC city to explore, to discover new areas and new neighbourhoods with almost no requirement to read up on them first. Get out there and discover the city yourself. Engage the locals, make an effort to communicate with them in their tongue and start to get a feel for the city. If you have a curious mind, it’s a great way to learn about and develop a feel for the city.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick