Stickman's Weekly Column December 23rd, 2012

Banana Plaza



Three and half months ago I wrote A Dump Called Nana, a scathing look at the disrepair that Nana Plaza, once Bangkok's top farang bar area, had fallen into.

The plaza changed hands earlier this year and one of the first things on the new owners' agenda had to be improving the property. Within a week of that column appearing online work commenced on what has turned out to be a major facelift. Some readers suggested that this action was a direct result of the column and while I'd love to take some credit, it was nothing more than coincidence.

Nana Plaza has been in need of a cleanup and rejuvenation for years and it took a change of owners for that to happen. This week I took a closer look at how Nana Plaza looks today.







Nana Plaza

While the girls were catching up on sleep, and customers recovering from the previous night, by day the plaza has been full of tradespeople. Electricians, engineers, plumbers, architects, tradespeople have been working hard to get the plaza looking like new for the high season. Some days there were close to a hundred men working on the project.

One of the biggest but less obvious jobs was a complete overhaul of the electrical system, most of which is hidden from view.



Nana Plaza

The entire plaza has been painted yellow, prompting me to jokingly refer to the place as Banana Plaza.

All of the common areas from the walls and the pillars have been painted yellow, as is the front of the plaza which faces out on to Soi Nana. The bars themselves are not yellow and are in fact free to design and decorate their premises as they wish. From the top of the soi, or better yet while being whisked past on the skytrain, the yellow block really stands out.



Nana Plaza

Each level has been retiled and the walkways are a great improvement, perhaps the major contributing factor to actually making the plaza feel clean and tidy.

I don't think many had any issue with the plaza feeling old and tired; it was that unshakeable feeling that the whole place was filthy – there was dirt and grime and rubbish and rodents and some corners smelled of piss – that was the real concern.



Nana Plaza

The beer bars at the top of Soi Nana – Morning Night, Stumble Inn, Zen and Hillary 4 all sit on the same plot of land as Nana Plaza itself and when the plaza was sold, included were the 10 shophouses out the front that comprise these bars. They may open out on to the road but they are still part of the same block of land as the plaza.

Soi Nana's beer bars are booming and are genuine competition for many of the bars within the walls of the plaza.

Punters see the beer bars and hear the cat calls from the hello girls before they even get to the entrance of the plaza. And the show, the comings and goings out on the street, is every bit as interesting – perhaps even more so – as what you find inside. With the exception of Morning Night, all of the bars out the front of the plaza are new.



Nana Plaza

Fire hydrants have been installed on each floor at the stairwells, and it is nice to see the new owners taking an interest in something the previous owners shirked, safety.

The only real safety concern now in the plaza is that there's only one way in and one way out. With that said, the entranceway feels wider after the owners repelled the vendors who used to operate right in the entranceway. From what I understand it is not possible to create another exit as the plaza is surrounded by other buildings.



Nana Plaza

With all of the food vendors forced out of the plaza and two security guards posted at the entrance preventing any from entering, the walkways feel much wider and getting around the plaza is easier. The only real obstacles are at Casanova bar where the staff can't help themselves from groping passersby.



Nana Plaza

When Nana Plaza changed hands one of the rumours doing the rounds was that the plaza would be cleared not just of the ladyboys at the entrance, but ladyboy bars wouldn't be allowed at all; lease contracts would include a clause that bars could not employ ladyboys. In a country where it's perfectly legal to specify exactly what you're looking for and where job adverts occasionally brazenly state that candidates should be female, 165+ cm in height, weigh no more than 50 kg and be fair-skinned, barring ladyboys wouldn't raise an eyebrow. And truth be told, many punters continue to complain about the number of ladyboys around. But that is one thing that hasn't changed. There are 5 ladyboy bars in the plaza and with all doing decent trade, I don't expect them to disappear.



Nana Plaza

Remnants of the plaza's inglorious past remain with neon from old bar bars to be removed, some general repairs still to be made and a few small cosmetic changes required here and there. That said, it does seem that the lion's share of the project has been completed.



Nana Plaza

The top floor on the right hand side has been cleared of the open air salon where girls would get their hair and makeup done before work. The space is now open and it almost feels like the space is being underutilized, this being Thailand where every square metre in busy areas is sought after.

The stylists and makeup artists who operated in various spots around the plaza at the balcony don't seem to be in business any more either.

Did I mention that the plaza is yellow?!



Nana Plaza

The entranceway in to the plaza has been cleared and feels wider, although there are still some vendors on the main road out front including the dinky vehicle Nana Burger operates from. It wouldn't be a bad thing for the remaining vendors to be sent packing making the beer bars more visible and the walk along what is quite a narrow soi easier.

The property has certainly improved. It's cleaner, easier to get around and I think it looks better than it did, at least how it looked in recent times. With most of the plaza unseen from outside, it really did feel like a naughty boys' playground, a place where anything was possible within its walls. With corridors in near darkness, cobwebs, foul smells and willing ladies, misbehaving was de rigueur. A dark alcove that was empty yesterday may have a bar operating from it tonight, local men gambling tomorrow night and a knee trembler the next night. It was seedy, but it was a place where anything could happen – and that was part of the appeal. Today that feeling has gone. While the plaza has certainly been improved aesthetically, have the bright lights made it sterile? This is a nightlife area – a naughty nightlife area – and sleaze and nightlife go hand in hand.

The owners were on a hiding to nothing with the facelift and couldn't please everyone. Cleaning the plaza up was way overdue. At the same time, I cannot help but feel that the bright, clean, less sleazy atmosphere will increase its appeal to mainstream visitors. It feels safe. More mainstream tourists stopping by for a drink and a gawk might just alienate the traditional Nana customer in the same way many hardcore sex tourists have been alienated in Walking Street down in Pattaya. Will the same thing happen at Banana Plaza?



Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken from the footbridge out the front of Central World looking up towards Pratunam. 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: 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; 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 WEEKDid you come too soon?

I wonder what percentage of "failed" expat retirees in Thailand:
(1) are drinkers.
(2) are know-alls who were born without a pair of ears.
(3) have an IQ of less than 90.
I know a dude in Chiang Mai who is the classic case of the above. Drinks and does drugs. Has a bar and "knows it all" even though he had spent 5 minutes in Thailand prior to opening the bar and had never even worked in one before. And as for the IQ part? Told me that the only problem in the UK was that Starbucks pays no tax and seriously dictated that if Starbucks paid the correct tax the UK government would have a 15 trillion pound (yes TRILLION) surplus! If I had a pound for every one of these idiot expats in Thailand I reckon I would seriously get pretty close to 15 trillion pounds!

Dodgy late-night Sukhumvit.

I read with interest your latest weekly column recounting a knife fight at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 5 early Saturday morning. At a similar time on Sunday morning I found myself on lower Sukhumvit with a streetwalker who threatened me with a knife because I had decided not to take her back to a hotel after buying her a beer. I managed to dive in a taxi and will not be returning any time soon. I don't think you can reiterate enough how dangerous it can be in this area in the early hours. A couple of months ago I witnessed a violent assault on a tourist by another tourist that just appeared from nowhere. Anyone with any sense really should avoid this area after hours.

Where to treat the addiction to the affliction.

The price-hike in gogo bars makes the alternative of visiting a massage parlour much better value. I have been convinced for some time now that it is better value on more than just the financial level. Bars are for drinking, gogos for window shopping, soapy-parlour for treating the addiction to the affliction.

Pattaya, vintage 2012.

I'm currently on my 11th Christmas visit to Pattaya. Is it my imagination or is the current crop of tourists almost destitute? I have never seen such a motley crew of individuals on holiday! It makes me long for the golden days when the lager louts flooded the streets and bars. I have developed a fondness for the Russians as they are the cream of the crop of the current visitors, myself included.



The blues in Nana.

I came to Thailand in 1975 when the Grace Hotel was the big hangout at Nana and Patpong had great live shows. I came back in the '90s and the price for a lady was 20 times higher than my first visit….but I still had a lot of fun. Now things have changed in many ways and masses from all over henpeck the scene. I still manage to find nice and interesting places. But as I went into Nana Plaza 3 weeks ago I was really disappointed to see the place now. The big blue Nana Main Station sign is just too much and I have never seen such a cheesy thing before. It gives a really bad impression of the whole place.

A Singapore expat rants.

A common misconception is that living in Singapore is somehow on a par with living in a civilized western democracy. I think this afternoon really took the biscuit and only underscores my recent sensible decision to get out. My wife received a Christmas gift from work – a nice looking LV wallet. She didn't like the design and suggested I try and return it and get a credit note and treat myself to a new man's wallet. Off I go into the LV store in ION Orchard (the most poorly designed, over hyped shopping mall in history). In I go and explain the situation. No problem. I clearly specify I am looking for man's wallet. I am escorted to the man's area. Long story short, I am sold a woman's wallet. I searched it online when I got home (sometimes hard to tell the difference). Fuming, I told my wife to go in and sort it out as I couldn't be bothered checking their every step again. But it really shows that even at the very top end of supposed customer quality and service they [email protected]#$ it up. It's just one [email protected]#$ up after another here, I find. At least in China or Thailand I know the score and lower my expectations considerably. The dire customer service in Singapore coupled with the syndical lying and underhanded scamming has made me had enough.

It's not just the Thais who eat fruit funny!

I concur with your point on how some Asians eat fruit in a peculiar manner. The Vietnamese have a curious way of eating bananas. Before pealing, the locals will break the banana in half, peal, and then eat both pieces separately. I asked a female Vietnamese colleague why she just didn't peal and then eat her way down the fruit from the open end. She just blushed and answered that Vietnamese can never eat that way. Vietnamese men also follow the same eating method, so the technique is not a gender specific oddity.

Local traffic laws and non-locals.

The motorcycle helmet law is rarely enforced except in Bangkok. If it were to be so, then everyone would wear a "lid"! It's moronic, irresponsible and dangerous that 14-year old children (and younger) can drive around without even so much as a driving licence, creating mayhem (just watch them when school has turned out for the day) while Westerners with a licence that takes weeks of training to obtain, still get fined for certain ridiculous measures that never apply to the locals! Ultimately, everyone should have a helmet, licence, insurance and tax disc. But then there just wouldn't be as much dollar for you know who, would there? After all, what's the point of stopping a 14-year old unlicensed kid? He's unlikely to have much cash, is he?



There's a certain romance about eating on the street and many a foreign resident has a favourite street kitchen. But that hardly applies to street-side bars and asking foreign residents about their favourite late-night streetside booze booth would elicit laughter. If what the coppers are saying is true, from next week the streetside booze booths will be history. The authorities have been telling owners and operators that from January 1st they will not be allowed to continue. A fixture from the Nana intersection down most of the way to Asoke, particularly on the odd-numbered soi side of the road, they are often viewed with skepticism. Will this be another case of a new law enacted but disregarded, or do the authorities really mean business? We'll know more next week…

And it's not just the streetside bars on Sukhumvit which are being cracked down on. Those who party late tell me that another crackdown took place on the odd soi-numbered side of Sukhumvit with the police rounding up many of the Africans who linger roadside late at night, similar to the big crackdown on the same people in the same area in October last year.

Bangkok is doing its best to become the world capital of entertainment area crackdowns with customers at the Golden Bar on Tuesday night having a ringside view as police swarmed on the area from all directions, arresting the street hookers who loiter in and around the Nana Hotel car park. The girls were bundled into pickup trucks and several cars and driven away. This crackdown was specifically on female prostitutes and not ladyboys who have been the target in other crackdowns. Wednesday night was a rerun of the previous night with the cops back, the area raided and many girls taken away, some of whom had been through the routine the night before. Those light on their feet that legged it when the police arrived and quickly reassembled when the police had departed. They then found they had plenty of attention as the usual number of punters were now fighting over a smaller number of girls. The arrested girls were told that some gogo bar owners had complained that customers were being 'stolen' by the cheaper freelancers and as such they don't want them anywhere near the plaza. Last week I reported of the girls in one bar colluding on price (as at least a couple do) and now they are complaining about being undercut. What a hoot! The arrested girls had to pay a fine of 1,000 baht or spend a night in the cells. They were also told that there would be a very big raid the next night (Thursday). On Thursday night there must have been at least 100 policemen in the Nana Hotel car park area while the freelancers and street vendors were conspicuous by their absence. It was all part of the safety zone inspection with a stage and audio system set up in the car park and even a bunch of pretties (attractive product promotional girls). Obviously the raids the two previous nights were to clean the place up before Thursday. Everyone knows the freelancers who escape, as well as those who are arrested, return to the car park as soon as the police depart and later on Thursday night it was business as normal. A crackdown on prostitution right outside the self-proclaimed world's largest adult playground, what is the world coming to?!

Stumble Inn on Sukhumvit Soi 4 has opened a new kitchen and are doing an all day full English breakfast for 199 baht. The kitchen is open from 9 AM all the way through until 1 AM and they have all your favourite English and Thai dishes on offer.

The head figure of the Crown Group was viewed as the most powerful foreigner in Nana for more than a decade and ought to be enjoying life since selling the Crown Group bars earlier this year. This week the grim reaper had his eye on him. But not for the first time he fought the reaper off and proved that he has more lives than all the cats in the plaza combined. His chartered plane crash landed this week in Pathum Thani province but it will take much more than that to send David Walls to his grave. Amazingly he not just survived, he suffered no major injuries! That's the sort of toughness that made him so successful in the business, I guess.

Old hands will remember French Thomas, formerly of New Wave, Absolute and Mandarin. It won't be a happy Christmas for Thomas this year as he finds himself in jail in Madagascar. Thomas opened a small bar and the police didn't like the idea that there were 14-, 15- and 16-year old girls on the premises. He has been in jail since June because he can't come up with bail money. Sigh, it seems old habits die hard. Thomas and his wife fled Thailand due to a pending criminal case regarding bad cheques. A warrant remains outstanding after he sold shares in his bars many times over.

Bangkok Beat in Sukhumvit soi 7/1 is still going strong despite competition from Nana Liquid, Climax and the soon to be renamed Insomnia. Bangkok Beat has a couple of parties lined up for Christmas and New Year – details below.


Bangkok Beat


Contrary to what was written in last week's column, it is in fact Shark Bar which has secured Sheba's, and not The Arab. But there's more to it and rumour has it that the lease has been secured for Shark Bar by Bacarra. It would seem that Shark Bar may relocate to the middle of the soi and the two shophouses that were once Sheba's. That would then allow Bacarra to knock out the wall and expand in to what is currently Shark Bar. Bacarra is in a class of its own as Bangkok's busiest and arguably best gogo bar. Every night it's bursting at the seams and even with two floors there isn't nearly enough space. It gets so busy that sometimes customers are turned away. Being at the end of the soi, the only way to do expand would be to take over the bar next door, Shark Bar.

More bars in Nana Plaza are staying open until 2:30 AM, meaning they close half an hour later than venues in Cowboy, and half an hour earlier than some venues on Patpong soi 2 which stay open until 3:00 AM.

At the time of publishing, it looks like Christmas Eve will be business as usual in the bars with most bars turning out the lights at 2:00 AM. On New Year's Eve it is expected that bars will get the usual dispensation and be allowed to open until 6:00 AM.

Suzy Wong's is doing great business, helped no doubt by the influx of girls from Sheba's. Happy hour prices edged up again, to 95 baht, cheaper than the regular price but hardly what I'd call happy. How long will it be until happy prices are north of 100 baht?

Much lobbying is going on behind the scenes as the Hillary Group (the Hillary beer bars, Morning Night, Climax and a good few more) pushes hard for Soi Nana to become a walking street. What was not so long ago seen as a pipe dream and unlikely to eventuate just may become reality. More people are getting behind it and while much work needs to be done and many people need to be convinced, things are gaining momentum.

The Thai guys break-dancing on the ground floor of Nana out front of Lollipop seem to be drawing the crowds and are well-received, especially as the plaza – like all the bar areas these days – attracts more mainstream tourists.

The lovelies at Club Electric Blue in Patpong are dressed up in Christmas until New Year.


Patpong Christmas




Tilac Bar in Soi Cowboy will have a pig on the spit with all the trimmings on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. In fact there will be celebrations at bars all over town so keep your eyes open for parties and giveaways.

Many girls in the industry are doing well for themselves these days – and good on them. I heard the story of a mother of two working in a popular Nana Plaza bar who has done so well from her time in the industry that she has bought a condo in an adjacent soi. She goes to work in the plaza early evening, does two short-times, and is home each night no later than 10:15 PM to put her two girls to bed and then get up early the next morning to prepare them for and send them off to school. Like many girls in the industry these days, she's available short-time only. Long-time seems such a long time ago.

Drink driving is a big problem in the expat community with many going native. I know two people personally who have been caught, arrested, charged and prosecuted in court while I have heard many stories of those who have been caught and managed to settle. The coppers have cracked down on drink drivers these past couple of years and those who blow over the legal limit may find themselves facing a judge the next day. What is a real concern however, is that this week it was reported in the mainstream press that 43% of the breathalyzers used by police give inaccurate readings!

I bet I am not the only one who rolls their eyes at some of the exorbitant prices charged for Christmas lunch or dinner in some venues. Yes, I know it's a special occasion but some venues give you very little more than their standard menu for many times the standard price. Sunrise Tacos' flagship branch at the New York Gardens, on Sukhumvit Road between sois 12 and 14, will have a special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day promotion with a 3-course dinner at a VERY reasonable price, just 450++ baht. There's soup, salad, a choice of main dishes including braised short ribs, Josper grilled salmon, Chicken Cordon Bleu and Jalisco Pork Tenderloin followed by apple or pecan pie. This special is only available at the flagship branch. I enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner and intend to enjoy their Christmas menu too! Full details and menu can be found here.

Bully's, on the main Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4, is also offering a high-quality, fair value Christmas dinner this year. Bully's features a large set dinner including Caesar salad, onion soup, US turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, veges, pecan pie or apple pie, all for only 495++ baht. The special menu will be available from 11 AM through until 11 PM. Considering the Caesar, soup and pie would normally be 495 baht alone, this is a real bargain. Full details and menu can be found here.

It's officially party season at Pattaya's Heaven Above with 3 events planned over the next week and a half. Tomorrow is the Christmas Eve Party, followed by a Christmas Day party and a New Year's Eve party. Each will feature a free BBQ as well as free Thai food which should be served around 9 PM. There will also be lucky door prizes, drink specials and San Miguel Draft at 75 baht all night. They also have a 50 baht double happy hour from 7:30 – 9:30 for draft beer and local spirits. If you've been a good boy this year, perhaps one of Santa's helpers could convince you to be a naughty boy for the evening.


Heaven Above Pattaya


For Thai language learners who can read Thai script and looking for new material to study, check out the really excellent resource created at SelfStudyThai.com. The site takes articles from VOA News Thailand and dissects them line by line, with mp3 audio and translations. The articles cover a wide range of topics from the recent ethnic violence in Myanmar to the Gangnam Style craze. There's even an article titled "DEA Takes 'Most Wanted' Campaign to Thai Entertainment Districts." This is a really nice resource for learners of Thai and best of all, it is 100% free!

Contrary to popular misconception, budget carrier Air Asia *does* allow passengers to change flight times. You will, however, be hit with a fee for doing so and if you booked your ticket far in advance and / or got a special promotion fare, the fee to change flight might be as much as you paid for the original ticket or even more – but still cheaper than buying a new ticket.

I got chatting with the local fruit vendor this week who asked me what I thought of Thai women. When I asked him what he liked in a woman, he gave the standard response about how he likes white-skinned women but how he has no chance with them. His wife, he said, is even darker than he is. I suggested he might like Chinese or Vietnamese women who tend to be fairer. That got him going on about Vietnam and the Vietnam War came up. It was quite funny to hear him mouth of about stuff he had no idea about. He said something along the lines of, "I know you're not American so I can tell you I was happy about what happened." Hmmm, you do know that my country had troops there fighting alongside the Americans, right? He looked a bit sheepish at that. And did you not know that the Americans not only had many bases here in Thailand, but that Thai soldiers fought alongside the Americans, so when America pulled out, the Thais ran too. Silence! He abandoned his cart, walked off and ignored me! Since then he won't even look at me! Even after all of these years I am amazed at how incredibly sensitive this lot can be.

An email from a long-time reader and frequent visitor to Thailand responding to last week's column opener about new expats gave me food for thought. He wrote that any young person should not so much as even consider working in Thailand lest it set their career back, or even ruin it. He explained that in the West, when people think of Thailand the first thing they think of is sex tourism. He then intimated that anyone who lived in Thailand would be seen to have associated with that industry. Is this really how people think today? I genuinely don't know because living in Thailand, I just do not know how the country is perceived abroad. Obviously Thailand used to have an unenviable reputation but with tourism more diversified today, more Thais visiting and studying in the West, and the massive growth in popularity of Thai food around the world, does the stereotype remain? If it does, how strong is it? Do you tell your friends, colleagues and family where you spend your holidays (whether you're a naughty boy or not)? I'm genuinely interested in the perception of Thailand in the West today as living in Thailand, I just do not know.


Big Mango


Quote of the week comes from Lecherous Lee, "Being an English teacher is the male equivalent of being a bargirl."

Reader's story of the week comes from Mega and is a nice, gentle trip report from Phuket.

In Australia, Thai Airways is fined $7.5 million for its part in price fixing between 2001 and 2005.

From The Telegraph, racing great Sterling Moss says Bangkok is his favourite city in the whole world.

A workers' Xmas party turns into a mass brawl in Thailand with hundreds involved!

A Brit goes on a drinking binge in Trat after he splits with his English girlfriend, overdoes it and pays the ultimate price.

McDonald's has imposed a one-hour time limit on customers in a similar move to Starbucks.

The New York Times looks at the role of monks in Thailand today.

A well-known Kiwi yachtsman is attacked by a samurai sword-wielding gang in Phuket and robbed.

Mr. Condom is fighting the new rise in HIV amongst youngsters in Thailand which is being attributed to unsafe sex.


Candidography




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: Our daughter is 5 next week and my wife's mother who lives in Hong Kong sent about 2,000 baht worth of kids' clothes by post for her birthday. When my wife went to pick up the parcel today she had to pay 784 baht import duty. She was livid because these are children's clothes and she says shouldn't be taxed. I know 784 baht is small money but it is the principle and she thinks she may be just paying 'tea money'. In the UK there is no VAT or any other sales tax on children's clothes (or cold food, books, safety equipment and other stuff listed as VAT exempt by the government) and I am interested if the same applies in Thailand. Can she get her money back?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Clothing is dutiable, regardless of whether or not it is children's clothing or adults'. Even gifts can be taxed. Apparel is one of the protected industries and so a duty is applied. However, if the value of the goods is less than 1,000 baht then no duty is applied.

Question 2: A few weeks back a question asked if you are stopped by a Thai policeman whether you can ask that policeman for identification. The answer given seemed to answer a different question. I am intrigued by this situation especially given the current spate of reports of foreigners being stopped on Sukhumvit Road. So for the second time, if a foreigner is stopped by a policeman in uniform, is the officer compelled to provide his name, badge number, division and / or any other details, if asked?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: The short answer here is yes, they are required to provide a name and badge number upon request. If you find yourself in legal difficulty with the police it is always best to have a lawyer present. Sunbelt Asia has an experienced Thai lawyer who can negotiate with the Police on your behalf.

Question 3: My wife and I occupy a house and farm some land in rural Isaan. She constructed the shell but subsequently I took over the project, modernised it and have probably sunk 3 million baht into what is becoming a nice little sustainable mixed subsistence farm with solar power etc. The problem is she does not have proper title, only Tor Bor Tor 5, or customary title, so she can't give me a usufruct. She is likely to outlive me in which case there is no issue but I am concerned about how to protect my right to remain living there should anything happen to her while I am alive. Can she give me a lease? If not, is there any other way to protect my interest? I have no concern post my own death when it can all go to her two children.

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: Legally you cannot build on Tor Bor Tor 5 land. It is for forest or agriculture. It is un-surveyed land that is administered by a local village leader who oversees possession rights and boundaries. Sales are carried out under the supervision of this village leader and recorded locally only. It cannot be leased. It may be possible to upgrade the title however, to one that is legal and allows you to obtain a usufruct. For those interested in constructing a home it is always best to check the title deed first and ensure that it is fully legal and to put the usufruct in place before construction. Sunbelt Asia's team of legal advisors can assist you in this process ensuring that your rights of habitation are guaranteed and that you can even own the house on the land.





Christmas in Bangkok


The end of another year another year is upon us, the holiday season is here and many will enjoy some much deserved time off. Not me! I'll continue to operate the site and put this column together each week with no planned disruption to service. The Stickman community stretches out around the globe. We are as keen on Thailand as we are intelligent, a community with a shared fascination about the country and a hunger to learn more. There's so much nonsense online these days and so much bickering on most Thailand expat forums that I'd like to think that perhaps what sets us apart is a refusal to enter into such childish behaviour. In an ever more hostile cyber world, StickmanBangkok.com is a troll-free zone and will remain a place where intelligent discussion of all things Thai is welcome, where expats and visitors can tune in for the latest news, particularly that which the mainstream media fails to cover. To everyone who has supported the site this year, from those who write and contribute stories to the readers' submissions section, to those who regularly send in feedback, to those who tip me off about news or gossip, to regular readers and to those who just stop by from time to time, I'd like to thank you for your support. It's been a great year for the site and I couldn't have done it without you. I'd like to thank each and every one of you for tuning in, and wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and happy New Year.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse