Stickman's Weekly Column February 3rd, 2013

An Island In Bangkok


In northern Bangkok and just few clicks north of Nonthaburi is Ko Kret, a small island in the Chao Praya River that was created when a canal was cut through land to straighten the path of the river. Without a bridge connecting it to the mainland, no real roads, and not a car to be seen, a visit to Ko Kret is like taking a trip back in time to the rural Thailand of old.

This week me and a couple of friends escaped the madness of downtown Bangkok to check out Ko Kret.




Ko Kret

The easiest way to get to Ko Kret is to take the Chao Praya Express Boat to the Nonthaburi Pier.

We'd checked the boat timetable online which showed a morning service up the river past Nonthaburi to Ko Kret. At the Sathorn Pier, however, we discovered that the service was not in operation and no reason was given. We would have to take the boat to Nonthaburi and make our way from there further up river to the island.



Ko Kret

At the Nonthaburi Pier, long-tail boat riders offer 2-hour tours to Ko Kret for 800 baht. Given that further down river long-tail boats can be hard to find for anything less than 1,000 baht an hour, I wonder if this "tour" involves little more than running you up the river to Ko Kret, making a loop of the island, dumping you on the island, telling you to go for a quick walk around and buy some souvenirs before running you back to Nonthaburi. That didn't appeal…

As it happened, on arrival in Nonthaburi, a little after 9 AM, the long-tail boat riders were nowhere to be seen. Even if we had wanted to take a long-tail boat, we were too early. Instead we took a taxi through the congested streets of Nonthaburi, past the Bangkok Hilton and up to the Pak Kret Market. From a nearby temple you can take the river ferry over to the island.



Candidography



Ko Kret samlor

The northern suburbs of greater Bangkok are much less developed than downtown and retain some of that old Thai world charm. Vendors sell noodles from boats in the river (hence the name boat noodles) and there are vast expanses of green, undeveloped fields overgrown with weeds and separated by canals. Flowers that sell for a pretty penny in the West grow wild, kids smile at the sight of a white man and samlors are still a common means of getting around. And no-one blinks if nature calls and an emergency stop is needed.



Ko Kret

The only way to reach the island is by boat with a ferry going backwards and forwards between the island and the mainland throughout the day, the fare a mere 2 baht.



Ko Kret

The area near the pier is home to a small market although the few outlets are closed, suggesting that tourism tends to be a weekend thing – meaning most visitors are probably Thai. The few vendors who are open for business are placid, with none of the pushy nonsense talk so common elsewhere.

This fellow was awoken from his slumber by three white guys peering into his house. He slid open the gate and invited us inside, happy to open boxes and show us various pots and vases, explaining what each item was and how it is used. Pottery is something of a cottage industry on the island.



The small ferry dumps you in the grounds of a temple. Maps show a walkway around the island which a local tells us is 6 km, said in such a way that this is much too far to be walkable! Studying the map more closely, it looked closer to 4 km to me. A short walk, I tell her, and we won't even break a sweat. She looked at us like we were mad!

Beyond the temple, we find ourselves walking a path with homes either side. The few locals we come across smile – genuine smiles, not the forced smiles of those who work with tourists that are as genuine as a Rolex sold at Patpong.



Ko Kret

Continuing further along the path, we turn and head in-land. We're away from the river and there are fewer homes.

A path / concrete walkway runs around the island although much of it is in-land, away from the banks of the river. Signs are only in Thai and with a few forks in the road being unable to read Thai could cause you to get lost.

In a city where it's a challenge to escape the constant noise, Ko Kret is a sanctuary. No roads, no vehicles, no tuktuks. Even the few motorbike taxi boys operating on the island rode in a somewhat subdued – by local standards – manner.

There's not a lot for youngsters wanting to make a life for themselves and we saw few aged late teens to early 40s.



Ko Kret

Further in-land some dwellings are ramshackle and rickety. Much of the island seems to be swamp and with water everywhere, the mosquito situation must be ferocious.

As we continued along the path enjoying the peace and quiet, and the company of like-minded friends, the peace and tranquility was broken by a voice bursting out over a PA system. It was the local community news with announcements of upcoming events. The speaker never let up and the diatribe was inescapable, with speakers seemingly covering every square inch of Ko Kret. Sigh, even on an island you can't escape the noise!



Ko Kret

Ko Kret may have as many dogs as it does people and many were in bad condition. One of our party proved he could compete with Usain Bolt when a mutt headed his way. I've never seen a Welshman run so fast, but then I've never been on a Welsh sheep farm and the stories of Welshman on sheep farms are legendary.

The cats on the other hand appeared a well looked after and contented bunch.



Ko Kret

Lush and tropical, the small island must be home to all sorts of critters, not just the ubiquitous cats and dogs.

This creature was caged, but no doubt other even more scary looking beasts are out there.



Ko Kret

In a country famous for good food, it was a surprise that we didn't come across a single restaurant that looked appealing, or even an eatery with a menu in English. With so few foreign tourists – we saw less than a dozen other Caucasians on the island – it doesn't appear the eccentricities of the farang's palate is catered to.





Ko Kret

Despite the laid-back feel, most people on the island actually seemed to be doing something. Many could be seen outside working on or improving their property, others were working the fields, almost everyone seemed to actually be doing something. But there's always an exception to the rule…



Ko Kret

This elderly lady didn't seem to be all there. It appeared the devil had a direct line to her and she was yakking away in a language that was as alien to us as it was to the locals.

A fellow walking past saw me taking her photo and yelled out to her that she would be going overseas, a reference to the photo being seen outside Thailand. I responded in Thai that her flight was 6 PM on Sunday, to which he looked confused.



Ko Kret

The asking price of some items of pottery made in the island was much higher than you'd expect. Inquiring about prices revealed that many items feature intricate designs that aren't found elsewhere and some pieces are very difficult to make.



Ko Kret

After a very leisurely stroll around the island, we found ourselves back at the pier. We'd spent the best part of 3 hours on the island, a very gentle walk with a coffee stop along the way. It was time to head back to the mainland.

Ko Kret may not be attraction rich but it's sufficiently different from anywhere else in Bangkok, offering a glimpse of a lifestyle that is rapidly disappearing.

Whether Ko Kret is sufficiently interesting to warrant visiting is debatable. Truth be told, there's really not a lot there. For Bangkok expats, especially those who live downtown in the thick of it, Ko Kret is a change of pace. Wandering around the island – the only way to see it – feels like you have actually managed to escape the big city for a few hours.





Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo clearly came from the too hard basket and not a single reader got it right. It was taken at the Saphan Fa Pier, the last stop on the Saen Saeb Canal, and featured the King Prajadhipok Museum. 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 – Keep your big mouth shut!

The same reason Thai girls get an unbelievable windfall is the reason men disclose so much information. They are desperate! In the USA if you don't demonstrate success, and promptly, you are not going far with the ladies. This approach backfires on Americans here, where they become targets. Some guys know this and use that same braggadocio to lure the Thai girls in to a better performance, and the girl trying to become a girlfriend. When he comes to his senses and heads down Butterfly Road, she becomes outraged as she was looking for the end of the rainbow.

Real beggars.

You want to see beggars? Go to any large city in India and see real beggars. India, the world's largest toilet, has beggars on a grand scale. The Thai beggars in today's weekly look like millionaires by comparison! Two Indian beggars I will never forget. One in Mumbai stood daily in the same intersection begging. What made him unforgettable was he wore only a tattered loin cloth and he was completely covered from head to toe with huge blisters from some skin disease, some the size of softballs. It was a painful sight. The other was in Chennai. I was standing outside the arrival area at the airport waiting for my driver when this legless stump comes scurrying over to me on her hands only. She was just a torso with a head and arms. I was amazed at how quickly she moved on her hands. She stuck her hand out and I handed her a 100 rupee note and she quickly scampered off. I've seen thousands of beggars all over the world but these two I will never forget.

Scamming beggars and hardening hearts, which is the greater tragedy?

Your latest weekly, Hands Out in Bangkok, had me nodding my head in understanding and agreement but still very sad. I remember when I first arrived in San Francisco 13 years ago. I had come from the Midwest and had never seen such homelessness and what appeared to be terrible abject poverty. Those first months as I walked through the city to my exciting post college tech job I gave to every one of them. I must have been handing over $100 a week. I wanted to help and seeing them broke my heart. Over time I noticed the same people with the same signs and I started to think, wait a minute, how can you just need a little gas money to get home after 2 months? From my apartment I saw people cash their weekly government aid check at a check cashing place and then immediately walk outside and buy drugs. My heart started to harden and become indifferent to the human misery all around me. When I arrive in Bangkok I walk past people with a hardened heart but am still bothered. Partially because even if gangs control them their situation is horrible and I feel guilt at my own success and good fortune. I wish I could help them all. The amputees, the children, all of them, scam or not. Couldn't they have a better life? In-your-face human misery is great marketing and big business and it's tragic. However, sometimes I feel the long term exposure to these horrible human conditions that hardens our hearts is the greatest tragedy.

Begging Vietnamese style.

The beggar industry in Vietnam mirrors that of Thailand and the same tricks are universally employed. As a resident of Saigon I regularly witness the mostly professional beggars at work every day. Like anywhere it's very difficult to distinguish the truly needy from the full-time pros who comprise the majority. As the economy in Vietnam has improved and as I see more and more $2000+ motorbikes and expensive cars ply the crowded streets I've become a bit callous about my role as a foreigner here. While foreigners don't actually have any responsibility towards the locals, it's hard not to feel some compassion when seeing the harsh unforgiving conditions so many are forced to live with. But more and more I feel that it's not my responsibility to help out the locals while Mr. Nguyen motors about town in his air-conditioned Mercedes spending more in a month just to own his car than the average Vietnamese earns in a year. Additionally I've encountered a beggar's double standard here. While a local might fork over 2,000 or 3,000 dong to a beggar and get a smile and a thank you, sometimes a foreigner will get no acknowledgment or even a sneer when giving the same as many beggars expect 5,000 or 10,000 or more from foreigners just because they're foreigners. While I still help those that appear to be genuinely down and out, my general attitude has become one of it's not my problem.



The healthy slug.

I have seen the slug that used to drag himself outside the pharmacy on Sukhumvit Road between Soi 7 and Soi 7/1, after his shift. He looked like he had come straight out of a shower as he had washed off the black mascara he uses on his face. He had also changed in to some decent clothes and walked straight using a pair of crutches. He was standing in the mouth of Soi 7 eating BBQ.

"Because foreigners can afford it."

The last 3 days between Sukhumvit soi 5 and 11, the municipal officers have been on the lookout for foreigners who spit, throw cigarettes or trash on the ground. I have seen at least 5 individuals arguing the 2,000 baht fine, but having to pay. I know you have warned readers many times and visitors to this country need to wake up. In America at least, if you throw trash or cigarettes on the ground and are caught, you will pay a fine. Why do they think they can do it in Thailand? I ask my lady why the police don't go after Thai people. Her response was that Thai people cannot afford the fine but foreigners can. Makes good sense to me.

Bangkok's best day out.

Every time we hit Bangkok, wifey and I take the Chao Praya Express up to Nonthaburi. On arrival we walk past the clock tower and shop around the canvassed market in the main street. Thereafter we head for the Rim Fang floating pontoon restaurant, where the food is good, the beer cold and the views of the passing parade on the river fascinating. On the return journey we sit on the opposite side of the boat to the one we came up river on. We have probably done this trip around 35 times but I always spy something either on the upwards journey or the return ride that we haven't seen before. The Chao Phraya is one of the most fascinating rivers to be found anywhere in Asia, or the rest of the world for that matter.

Seeing things for what they are.

I am so disgusted with whores I didn't even bother last night. I consider this particular mood swing to be reasonable. When a bar charges 160 baht for a small bottle of water and I hear girls want two drinks minimum, it insults me. You go through your day watching what you spend as any rational person does, then just for some likely mechanical sex with a stranger who is looking away during the act for some amount upwards of two or three thousand baht seems ludicrous.



"Big" Dave, who revelled as the larger than life owner of Jool's Bar in Soi Nana, continues to enjoy life. Dave emailed me earlier this week to quash rumours of his demise. He is still very much in the land of the living.

It is, however, with a great deal of sadness that I can confirm that Nicke, the affable Swede behind Phuket-info.com, Phuket's most popular and most successful expat forum, and also owner of the popular Mai Thai Bar in Soi Eric, passed away on Thursday after suffering serious internal injuries in a motorbike accident earlier in the week. I first met Nicke more than a decade ago when we were both still new boys on the block, young guys with dreams doing similar things in different parts of the country. Nicke took me to his humble abode near the temple at the foot of Patong Hill where I met the lady who would later become his wife. Visits to Phuket became less frequent, but whenever I was in town I would catch up with Nicke. Nicke was always a gracious host and we would talk shop, discussing what worked and what didn't with our respective websites. What impressed me most about Nicke was that he had his priorities in order. Whenever I asked him how life was, he would pull out photos of his wife and daughter and tell me how they were, with much pride. His family was the most important thing to him. We shared a passion for taking photos and he developed a love of golf. He always seemed disappointed when I declined his invitation for a round. "Maybe next year", he'd say, knowing that it would be at least 12 months before I'd be back in Phuket again. With a successful beer bar, an ultra-successful website and a loving wife and 2 beautiful daughters, Nicke was living the dream. It's not just Phuket's expat community which is feeling the pain. Expats nationwide are mourning his passing.

The beautification of Nana Plaza hasn't finished just yet. The local feline population's housing estate is being destroyed with the old beer bar roofs where many cats live stripped and being replaced.

Soi Cowboy's Cocktail Club has installed strategically placed updrafts at the stage.

More than one customer has made comment that Tilac ought to outfit its girls in bikinis instead of the current uniform which does a great job of concealing a good chunk – pun absolutely intended – of girls' figures.

Speaking of Tilac, what has happened to Alcoholics Corner? Has it closed? Visiting this past week, the girls you usually see getting smashed in the back corner were scattered around the bar and not one was sitting in Alcoholics Corner.

Taking a leaf from the huge success of V8 Diner and Sunrise Tacos at New York Gardens, Bully's has set up an outdoor seating area right outside the bar and restaurant.



If you find yourself in the Khao San Road area, a few of the better known farang eateries are no longer. Gulliver's has stopped serving food and is closing. La Casa is closed, but most disappointing of all, the lease for the excellent Ranee's wasn't renewed. The venue had been serving great pizza and pasta for the best part of 2 decades.

Private Dancer A Gogo manager, Ricky, got a phone call no-one wants to receive – it was the police and they wanted to speak with him! A friend of Ricky's, a popular Brit, Ian Barclay, had been found dead in his apartment at the Markland Condotel. It appeared he passed away at least a few days earlier. Checking Ian's mobile phone revealed that Ricky was the last person Ian had spoken to. The coppers asked Ricky to identify the body from photos, hardly the last memory Ricky wanted of his pal. Ian was jovial, a popular and well-known character around the bars and restaurants in Pattaya. He was also an active member in the local bar quiz scene, described by one of his friends as a walking encyclopedia. Ian died without leaving a will. He was not married, his parents had long since passed away and he had no siblings, hence there was no immediate family to contact. Ricky informed the British Embassy but there is little they can do if nobody comes to claim the body. With no will, Ian's possessions, including the condo he owned, will be sold and the money will go to the Thai government. This should serve as a reminder to expats to get a will drawn up here in Thailand for your local assets.

Still in Pattaya, friendly and charming Tam, a former mamasan and the former licence holder at Secrets, has started at Tim's Bar. She should fit in well as Tim's has quite a few former Secrets girls.

Bangkok Dating Events describes itself as an organiser of unique style speed dating face-to-face events in Bangkok. Their first speed dating event will take place tomorrow, February 4th, at 7 PM at AmBar, on the 8th floor of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Sukhumvit soi 15, Bangkok. This is their first speed dating event and the owner tells me that they've put a lot of effort into ensuring it will be a great night. For their first event, tickets are free! More details and free registration available here. I wonder whether speed-dating will catch on in Bangkok. Presumably English will be a requirement and hopefully that means the women who register will have a decent education. Here's hoping it's a great success and this is the first of many such events.

The doors open at 6:00 AM on Monday morning at Bully's, between Sukhumvit sois 2 and 4, for the Superbowl with kickoff at 6:30 AM. Private party tickets are 500 baht which includes breakfast, all the coffee you can drink and a beer or other drink of your choice. 10,000 baht worth of Bully's appreciation certificates will be given away during the game.


Superbowl Bangkok


Over the last couple of years the branch of Sunrise Tacos at New York Gardens between Sukhumvit sois 12 and 14 has become a popular spot to watch the Superbowl. It's free admittance and Sunrise will have prizes, special drink prices and a breakfast promotion. As the flagship branch of Sunrise is open 24 hours, go early and stake out a great seat but don't worry if you don't get there early – Sunrise has plenty of TVs and a big screen. The game will be replayed throughout the day if you miss seeing it live.

For the ever increasing number of Aussies visiting Thailand and those of you who decide you'd like to take your Thai darling to Australia for a holiday, you should note that Australian tourist visa applications can either be submitted directly to the Australian Embassy in Bangkok or over the counter at the Australian Visa Application Centre on Sathorn Road. Processing is usually 10 business days but can be slightly longer in peak travel and holiday periods. However, be warned that starting from last week, for tourist visa applications submitted directly to the embassy, processing is now 28 days. Therefore you should either submit the application in plenty of time or lodge it at the Australian Visa Application Centre if time is of the essence.

The new branch of Subway across the road from the Grand Palace respects the heritage of the area and is the only branch of Subway in Thailand with a real, working chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

A Pattaya expat explained to me that one of the advantages of living in Pattaya over Bangkok is the many parties and how you can eat for free if you look around. Pattaya really is home to more balloon chasers than anywhere else in Thailand! One venue doing free food each week is the recently reopened Winchester Club over at Jomtien. On Tuesday evenings from 4:30 PM onwards, the BBQ churns out hamburgers, sausages, pork and chicken. And if it's not food you're hungry for, I'm sure the Winchester will be able to accommodate you…

You can get a free meal in Bangkok if you know where to look. Sunrise Tacos will treat you on your birthday to a free meal from the standard menu, as well as a piece of pie. You need to bring your passport along to prove it really is your big day.

The empty space on Sukhumvit soi 23 just metres from the end of Soi Cowboy has been boarded off for years, but it looks like finally it is going to be developed with Sansiri about to put up a new condominium building. I wonder how many Cowboy bar owners will get a unit there

.

Notwithstanding that the rate of smoking amongst Japanese men is higher than it is amongst Caucasians, why is it that Nana bars that cater to Japanese men don't allow smoking on the premises – as is the law – whereas some bars which are particularly popular with Westerners do allow smoking?! While some bar owners have caved in to pressure from smokers, I would suggest that the number of non-smokers is significantly higher. Yes, bar owners, there are plenty of us who walk in to your bar, smell the smoke, feel uncomfortable – and walk straight back out.


Winchester Club


As the number of emails I receive from guys experiencing relationship hell in Thailand reaches record highs, I want to reiterate a few points about choosing Miss Right. Look for a woman who has never dated a Western guy before, meaning she is not hanging out in places where she can expect to meet a Western man i.e. bars popular with or dating sites used by Western men. Look for someone who is not especially looking for a Western guy. It is my observation that the first Western guy to date a Thai woman has the best chance with her. If a Thai lady has had a Western boyfriend and the relationship went bad (for whatever reason), something seems to change and all subsequent guys she meets seem to have a greater challenge in winning her over. And when it comes to a woman who is looking specifically for a Western guy, surely you want someone who likes you for who you are, and not because your skin is white and your nose is long (and your wallet is full)!

With prices in Bangkok's naughty bars moving up, some customers complain that they are being squeezed out of the market. In bars in the 3 big naughty bar areas, you see fewer retirees and local-hire teachers these days. Tourists aside, punters are more likely to be expats on real expat salaries and travelling businessmen – those for whom the cost of a few drinks and maybe more won't break the bank. And the girls love it – because that's exactly who they want as their customers, the guys with money to spend who don't complain over a few baht!

I am often asked for advice about generating an income in Thailand, and still I receive emails about the idea of buying and running a bar. I always say the same thing – unless you have experience in the industry as a bar owner, don't! While millionaires have been made, it's a tricky, and often dirty business. Buying a gogo bar essentially buys you the right to operate a business from the premises. You get a lease agreement, fixtures and fittings, a gogo bar licence – and that's about it. Even if it is purported as such, when purchase a gogo bar you may not be getting a going concern. History shows that many times when a bar has changed hands that the seller later opens a new venue and takes his mamasan and all of the girls to that new venue, leaving the new owner with not much of a bar! The nature of the business is fickle, and bars can become popular or lose popularity almost overnight. Even great bars can go bad in a short time. And even amongst foreign bar owners, there's not always a lot of respect shown with owners poaching girls from their neighbours, as happened to one foreign bar owner this week who was livid at the approach of a neighbouring bar, after he had helped that bar owner! With so many challenges from keeping key staff happy, to staying on the right side of the law to dealing with folks in uniform, I seriously question the wisdom of getting involved in the bar industry unless you have good contacts and know how things work in Thailand.


ladyboy Bangkok


Quote of the week is a Stickman original, "100% does not exist in Thailand."

Reader's story of the week comes from an unlikely source, a Western female, "Western Woman on Sin Sod".

From The New York Times, how Thaksin Shinawatra wields his influence on Thailand from afar.

An English tourist who fell of a balcony on Ko Tao, carries part of his skull home with him in his luggage!

Australia's Herald Sun newspaper takes a look at the darker side of Thailand as a tourist destination.

When will some Westerners learn that smuggling drugs into Bali is just plain stupid!

The Sun takes a close look at Ko Phangnan and it doesn't make for pretty reading!

A Brit has drowned in Thailand in a freak accident while snorkeling off Ao Sane on Phuket.

A pretty English woman suffered a broken back in a taxi accident in Bangkok on the way to the airport.

The Bangkok Post ran 2 interesting articles on ladyboys today, here and here.

A special investigation shows that dangerous ethanol is being used to make cocktails in Bali more potent.


Big Mango




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: To retire in Thailand, there are at least two ways. One way is to get a Non-immigrant O-A (retirement) visa in your home country, which you can then renew each year in Thailand. If you are in Thailand on this visa, you are not allowed to work in Thailand. Another way is to come to Thailand on a 90 day non-immigrant O visa. After 60 days you can apply for a one year extension of stay, and if this is granted then you can renew each year just the same as with the O-A visa. My question is this: if you start with the 90 day O visa and are granted a one year extension of stay, are you then allowed to work in Thailand?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: The Labour Department, will not grant a work permit to an applicant who holds a Non-Immigrant O (based on retirement) visa or a Non-Immigrant O-A (based on retirement) visa or an extension of stay (based on retirement). The only sub-category of a Non-Immigrant O visa that they will grant a work permit for is a Non-Immigrant O (based on marriage to a Thai national) visa. If you get the correct 90-day visa, Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can help with the work permit and your extension of stay.

Question 2: Is testing negative for HIV really a requirement in getting a work permit? I am HIV positive so if that is a requirement then I cannot work in the country in which I was infected!

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: HIV is not specified in the list of diseases that prohibit an applicant from obtaining / applying for a work permit. The 6 diseases are:

1) Leprosy
2) Tuberculosis
3) Drug addiction
4) Alcoholism
5) Elephantiasis
6) Syphilis (third stage)

HIV testing of employees is not permitted, according to the Ministry's own Code of Practice on Prevention and Management of HIV / AIDS in the Establishment. Section 5.1.1 states that there can be no requirement for testing for HIV / AIDS or any request for certification of whether a person is HIV-positive or negative as part of the screening of job applicants and employees or as part of employment conditions.

If HIV testing happens by your employer's request, Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can file a complaint with the Ministry if the company persists in its refusal to comply with government labour guidelines.

Question 3: I have been married to a Thai national for about 20 years and we live in her mother's house. We take care of her mother, since her father died several years ago. I tried to add my name on the house certificate, but the person at City Hall said that I cannot since I'm a foreigner. This person even called the main office in Bangkok to verify that I was not allowed to be on the house certificate. Is that true? What advantages / disadvantages are there for being on a house certificate?

Sunbelt Asia Legal responds: You as a foreigner will not be able to add your name onto the current Blue House Registration Booklet (also known as Thor Ror 14), but you will be eligible to add your name in to the Yellow House Registration Booklet (also known as Thor Ror 13). Most of the time, each house (with a registration number and proper address) will be given a Blue Book which was issued specifically to add-in the name of a Thai citizen (for the population census, as well as the election district). The House Chief / Owner must apply separately for the Yellow Book from the District Office. You need two witnesses (from the same neighborhood) to verify and confirm that you live at the designated property. The process usually takes two weeks to complete, depending on the availability of the officer.

One advantage of having a Yellow Book is that it may be used to obtain a document issued by your embassy to confirm your residential address in Thailand (when you apply for a Driver's License in Thailand). There is no disadvantage for having one. Looking to get a Yellow Book? Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has extensive experience in obtaining Yellow Books for its clients.





Beautiful Thai lady


What a quiet week it's been. This past Thursday was the last day of the month meaning pay day for many people – usually a very busy night of the week, yet it was dead in Soi Cowboy, really dead. It didn't feel at all like the high season. Light on news and gossip this week, I did something I haven't done in maybe 2 years – I headed out to make the rounds on Saturday night. As I went from bar to bar, owners and managers were asking me what was happening elsewhere, indirectly asking if other bars were as quiet as theirs. The streets might be flooded with tourists by day, but by night the neon jungle is quiet.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Firehouse