Stickman's Weekly Column February 24th, 2013

Pattaya By Day


You could never call Bangkok dull. There's always something to do and always something going on. But simply not being dull doesn't mean you want to spend all your time there. Sometimes one feels the need to get away, to experience a change of scenery and a change of pace. A couple of friends were heading to the beach and I was invited to join them. It would be a chance to relax, to catch some rays, maybe go for a swim and hang out with two people whose company I enjoy. But I should have known better. They're both party animals (I'm not) and the beach happened to be Pattaya. Would it be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire?





Pattaya

I fancied a long walk, a few hours in the sun, just me and the camera.

First stop was the intersection where Soi Buakhao meets the top of Soi Diana. It's a melee. Pedestrians dash across the road, anxious to avoid motorbikes, baht buses, steroid-taking sun-burned Europeans blazing along on monstrous bikes. It's a snapshot of the diversity that Pattaya has become with everyone marching to the beat of their own drum.

After shooting sexy girls on motorbikes for a few minutes, it registered that someone had been yelling at me. I turned around and saw a scene straight out of the bible, it was Joseph wearing the coat of many colours! As my eyes adjusted to the shade, I saw it was in fact a heavily tattooed, shirtless Englishman. Why had he called out to me when the camera hadn't been pointed anywhere near him? I braced myself, preparing for some less favourable comments about me taking photos of colourful characters in a public place. It's a scenario I've long mentally prepared for. Fight or flight? At almost 3 kg, the camera body and lens combination is a hefty weight and would make an effective weapon. On the other hand I can run faster than most. Would this be the moment that taking photos finally got me in trouble? Joseph smiled and asked me why I hadn't offered to take a photo of him and his staff from the tattoo shop! I smiled, he smiled, and I banged off a few shots. <If anyone knows this character, tell him to send me an email so I can email the photo files to him. The email address he gave me bounced.>



Pattaya beach

With so much activity and so many people, the Soi Buakhao / Soi Diana intersection made me feel like I'd never left Bangkok so I set about heading towards the beach. I ambled down to Second Road, turned right and made my way along Second Road. I turned left on soi 7.

A happy couple was ambling along the soi, taking in the sights, her hair fairer than his. If you'd seen her in Bangkok, you'd swear she was after the Japanese market.

Soi 7 was doing ok with a couple of bars attracting the hordes, no doubt beer being sold at just a few baht above cost being a major contributing factor.



Pattaya beach

The peak of high season has passed but the beach was still busy. Today the crowds on Pattaya Beach are akin to what you find on Phuket – lots of older Europeans sunning themselves. Where Phuket has pretty Scandinavians, Pattaya is full of hot Russian women, easily the pick of the Beach Road girls.

The girls don't always get positive raps so it's nice to see the kindness that some service providers show to those who haven't been dealt a great hand. In just a couple of hours on Beach Road I spotted several guys in wheelchairs and perhaps half were accompanied by a local lady.



Pattaya beach

That's the idea, shirt off, soak up the rays and read the news…or perhaps he was making arrangements to meet someone.



Candidography

Pattaya beach

Bonjour, Madame, comment allez-vous?

I can't help but chuckle when I see a foreign guy chatting with a Thai lady in a tourist area where the guy's English is as awful as hers. She wants to understand, so she smiles and nods but you just know that she hasn't a clue what he's on about. If in doubt, smile, may be a charming way to deal with things but doesn't get you very far.



Pattaya beach

Could the fellow in the previous photo be René, it being a French name and he looking distinctly French? It's a possibility…

This soi 6 lass with the name of a Frenchman tattooed on her leg explained that the tattooist screwed up the tattoo and forgot to include the accent on the last "e" in René. But as she and René are no longer an item, she said it doesn't matter and there's no need to correct it!



Pattaya ladyboys

Bangkok is a place where anything can happen and almost nothing surprises you but even it is eclipsed by Pattaya, where unconventional and the unusual are the norm. I should not have been surprised to see a truck pass by with a cast of ladyboys dressed in period eveningwear.



Pattaya beach

A lady of the night – or should I say a lady of the afternoon – stares adoringly at her own profile on Facebook. Smartphones have become an important tool, as have laptops and IPads. In a soi 6 bar the girls update their online profiles with recent photos, showing great aptitude transferring photos from their phone's camera straight in to Facebook. Gogo dancers aren't shy to tap away on their IPad between dance shifts, knowing that mamasans and managers won't reprimand them for their lack of interest in customers in the bar, knowing that if they push too hard the girl will walk straight in to another bar, so desperate are bar owners for new stock.



Pattaya beach

Back on Beach Road, the strip between the beach-front walkway and the road is a popular spot to enjoy a meal and avoid the small charge for chairs on the beach.



Pattaya beach

It's a good few months since I was last in Pattaya but the first time I have seen these cute, cartoon-like figures of police outside the Pattaya Police Station. The accused or the victim, police stations aren't anyone's idea of a happy place so the idea of placing these figures outside was, I thought, a nice touch.



Pattaya beach

The entire family was present as the mother generates income telling passersby of their fortune at just 59 baht from the fringe of Beach Road. With many of the Thais who gravitate to Pattaya hailing from rural backgrounds deeply superstitious, fortune tellers can make a decent living.



Pattaya beach

Across from Mike's Shopping Mall is one of the most popular spots for local ladies studying English to perch. Unfortunately they all seem to have attended the same language school which impresses upon them that the first thing you ask a foreigner is where he is going and the second is that you ask to join him on his travels. Third seems to be some numbers, although instead of 1 and then 2, it seems to be 500 and then 1,000.





Pattaya beach

The harsh reality of life in Pattaya. Whether a semi-permanent home or a temporary escape following domestic or financial issues, who knows? Still, with a sea view, who could complain?



Pattaya beach

A star language student, she had obviously been top of the class because she was quite the conversationalist. She was not interested in where I was going, but talked about a range of topics. A genuinely interesting girl who had definite opinions on gentlemen from different countries. She's no fan of Indians or Italians so maybe she has a phobia with the letter "i"?



Pattaya

Roaming around Pattaya in February with the sun low in the sky and warm temperature is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon and a nice escape from Bangkok. With a camera around my neck, Sin City is fantastic for photography, a target-rich environment. I caught some sun, and I saw the beach, but I never did get to go for a swim…

* Next week: Pattaya By Night





Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken outside Chuwit Park next to Sukhumvit soi 10. Where was this week's photo taken? The first person to guess correctly wins a 300-baht voucher for Thailand's best Mexican restaurant, Sunrise Tacos!



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 WEEKDare you live so high up?

One very real problem I see with living in a high-rise condo is something other than mobile phone coverage. Fire. Whenever I walk past a fire station in this country, I am appalled at the lack of new appliances and the absence of portable tower units with any ability to reach above about 10 storeys! If you live on the 20th or 30th level, there is no chance of rescue from street level. Helicopters would be of little use as with so many other high-rise towers they are more likely to crash trying to approach close enough to a high-rise to rescue anyone. I will stick to living below the 10th floor, thank you!

Mobile coverage in the sky.

The reason for the weak / poor mobile signals high up in a condominium building is because the signals from towers are directed downwards & outwards – where most users are located. The towers do not spray the signals outwards in a random way. For people that consider microwave radiation from these towers as dangerous, they would be more at risk if they were positioned 200 metres+ from the base of the tower. The signal strength is strongest from that distance & gradually weakens. Directly below the tower the signal is weaker. Each tower can only support a specific number of simultaneous users, depending on the transmission equipment used. That is why at some large sporting venues, some phones cannot pick up a signal right at the end of a game. Phones that are further from the signal source lose the signal first.

Foul language says more about you.

There is nothing worse than a non-native speaker trying to use slang in a second language unless they are proficient or fluent. It is highly unlikely they will be able to use slang correctly. Slang is probably the most difficult part of any language to use and incorrect usage is likely to be impolite, offend the recipient and / or show the ignorance / lack of class of the speaker. I was recently on a first date with a Thai lady. She was driving and a driver cut in front of us. "Go f**k yourself!", she shouted. I was shocked and dismayed as this one phrase told me a lot about my date. She didn't understand how to use the phrase correctly, she obviously felt comfortable using such language in front of someone she was meeting for the first time and it showed me that, despite what she had previously told me, she not only hung around with foreign guys and that she went for ignorant, low-class types. The relationship was over before it had even started. I don't use bad language and I don't accept anyone using bad language when they are with me. Another reason, as you said last week, to avoid Thai girls who have previously dated foreign guys. If she had been honest about her dating past I would never have dated her in the first place. A friend of mine recently had to find a foreign teacher to teach English to elementary level staff at her workplace. In the first lesson the 'teacher' taught them 'cluz' as slang for clumsy. I have never, ever heard 'cluz' being used as slang and what on earth is anyone doing teaching slang to elementary level students?! A teacher? I don't think so.

Thumbs up for outstanding customer service!

I have been trying for some time to buy a Go Pro Camera as I want to do some crazy slow motion stuff. There are several suppliers in Chiang Mai, but always “no have”. I looked on the back of the Go Pro brochure and saw the number for the Thai importer. By chance I got through to the Thai distributor (Thai man, perfect English) and told him that I wanted to buy a Go Pro but there was no stock in Thailand. He told me that they couldn’t get them on the shelves quick enough as they were selling like hot cakes, but he could send me one if I texted my address to him (this was on Tuesday last week). By Friday I hadn’t heard from him so I called to see whether I could get one when I will be in Bangkok in a few weeks. He said, why, I sent you one straight after you sent me your address on Tuesday. Keep in mind that was the only communication I had had with him. Although he told me the price, there was nothing said about payment etc. Half an hour later I received a Thai Post EMS delivery to the door. Wow! I of course paid immediately, but how is that for trust and customer service!



Symbolic of life in Thailand.

I was stuck in one of Chiang Mai's ever worsening traffic jams yesterday, a peak hour 4-way gridlock. With 180-second phasing of the traffic lights, no-one gets anywhere in a hurry. With over a million new cars on the roads in Thailand since the government introduced generous tax rebates I have certainly noticed Chiang Mai's traffic problems go from bearable to absolutely abysmal. Anyway, whilst sitting idle for what really did seem like an eternity, I closely watched half a dozen workers from the electricity company working on the power lines directly overhead. By power lines I am of course referring to a tangled mess of spaghetti that would test the skills of the most experienced knots man. I would even challenge Houdini to untangle this mess. I pondered how it could have ever got to that stage. Clearly no planning or foresight involved whatsoever. It then dawned on me that what I was in fact looking at was not just a complete mess of tangled, twisted and knotted wires, but something very symbolic of so many things in Thailand today.

Good memories.

I first visited Renoir Bar in 1988. It was my first visit to Thailand. What a place it was, so classy! The air-con was set just right. The grill outside made the most delicious steaks and pork chops. The women were knockout gorgeous, poised and actually smiled as though they meant it. Sure, it was pricey but not obscenely so. It was like a little oasis of semi-decadent class. I would get delicately hammered there on bourbon & sodas and talk to some of the most interesting expats in Thailand while a hostess would rub my shoulders. I thought of it as heaven's waiting room (as opposed to the old Thermae in 1988 which was very much like Hell's waiting room). I was still young and in my prime at 35. My last trip was in '96. Renoir was still there and I went a last time. I was older and was alone so it was a bit melancholy, but had I been with friends it would have been fine. There was nothing I didn't love about the place. Even the spotlessly clean men's room was 1st class. Now I'm nearly 60 and Thailand's a fading memory. I'm gutted the Renoir's closed but it makes sense. Too bad indeed but I feel fortunate to have known the place when it was in its prime.

Reflecting on Pattaya's soi 6.

I'm back home after a few days in Pattaya. Made it to infamous soi 6 and stopped for a beer in 4 different bars. No hassle and girls not bothering us. Naturally we chose bars not too busy so we could sit outside. I must say that this week we saw quite a lot of pretty girls also sitting outside the bars. Cute, not fat and not old. I was surprised as usually they are not easy on the eyes. Still, the older or not so cute regulars are still around. Late afternoon it's not a bad place for a few beers and they do not have bus tours going over there. Not too many Russians yet.




Washington Square demolition


The shophouses between what remains of Washington Square and Suhkumvit Road have had a barrier of sheets of corrugated iron erected in front of them as the shophouse are stripped bare before being torn down. While the demolition of Washington Square continues slowly, there's still no word on how the area will be redeveloped. A few of the old Washington Square bars remain open for business with those at the soi 22 entrance from Denny's Corner down to Easy Pub still attracting a trickle of die-hards.

The work permit-less Englishman who managed one of the big beer bars at the top of Soi Nana was visited by the boys in brown and told to stop working immediately. The police were relaxed about it, giving him the option to stop there and then for which that would be the end of it, with no problems. The question that is now being asked is whether the other foreign bar managers in Soi Nana will be so lucky and get the same warning.

Bars *may* be closed on Sunday of next week in Bangkok, at least during the day. Elections for the new governor of Bangkok will be held next Sunday and while I believe voting closes late afternoon meaning that in theory the bars could open in the evening, it doesn't always work like that. Nothing official has been said yet so the best thing to do is to ask the staff in your favourite bar later in the week whether they will be open on Sunday or not.

And tomorrow, Monday 25th, is a Buddhist holiday. The official line is that tonight the bars can open until 2 AM, but have to stop selling alcohol from midnight. Tomorrow bars are supposed to close all day – but can open at midnight! Few will bother. However, it's still not clear whether bars will be closed tomorrow or whether they will be open and not sell alcohol, or what. Last minute changes are not unusual. Probably it will be business as usual in Patpong.

It might be not quite the same good value as Pattaya, but Pretty Lady Bar on the ground floor of Nana Plaza has competitively priced draft beer all night long – 80 baht a glass and 210 baht a jug.

Be prepared for sticker shock if you go shopping in Spasso's. A friend was offered exercise companionship for a whopping 15K baht. When he screwed his face up at such an outrageous price, the provider said she liked him and would knock 1K off the asking price. 14K baht, take it or leave it, she said. He went home alone.

An efficient air-conditioning unit on one side of Long Gun and a faulty air-conditioning unit on the other side would appear to be the simple explanation as to why the girls dancing on one side of the stage have pointy female bits, and those on the other side don't. Long Gun is one of the few venues in Cowboy where at least one shift shuffles in their birthday suit.



It has been open a while already, but Sugar Babies will have its official grand opening next Friday. Both foreign and Thai food will be served. Sugar Babies is the first gogo bar on Walking Street on the left hand side.

There is something special about the current crew in Alcatraz in Pattaya. The girls there are on another level to what you find elsewhere in Sin City. Think Bangkok quality in Pattaya, only better.

Bangkok Dating Events is holding another speed dating night at AmBar, atop 4 Points By Sheraton in Sukhumvit soi 15 on Sunday, March 3rd at 8 PM. The organiser is keen to see more guys there as, to quote him, "There's just way too many cute girls coming in versus guys at the moment." For those who actually listen to what I say about avoiding bargirls and being wary of internet girls, give this a go! The way it works is that guys move around from one table to another and have 5 – 7 minutes to talk with each girl. Girls can give their contact details written on notes to guys they are interested in. They give blank notes to those they're not interested in. Guys are not able to look at the notes until the organised part of the event has finished. At that point, it's a free for all and you can talk with whomever you like. Tickets are 380 baht and you must arrive by 8 PM. More details about this specific event here. The event is for guys aged 20 – 48 and birds from 20 – 37. Oldies stay home (or go to Nana)!

This week a friend mentioned that he wanted to go out for a few drinks. He wanted to go to Soi Cowboy. I said no. I said I'd be happy to go to Nana but for a night out, Cowboy was off the map. He said Nana is too expensive and the bars are too smoky. I said the atmosphere is awful at Cowboy and no fun at all. If we were to go out, it was Nana or nothing. We didn't go out. Soi Cowboy bar owners won't be happy when I say that I truly believe the soi is on the decline. The atmosphere and fun vibe that was a hallmark has been replaced by something rather different. In some bars it's indifference towards customers and in others it borders on arrogance. Soi Cowboy bars may have competitive happy hour prices but this is offset by the pricing in several bars where a standard drink will set you back a ridiculous 190 baht. Many bars have a rough crew and not even the mighty Bacarra – technically the best and certainly the most successful gogo bar in Bangkok – is enough for Cowboy to compete with Nana. Up the road at Nana Plaza attitudes are just better and ladyboy venues aside, the plaza doesn't have any "bad" bars. Sure, some might play music which isn't to your liking and some venues aren't as much fun as others, but overall, unless you just want to take photos of pretty neon, Nana beats Cowboy for a night out. The problem Cowboy has is the general attitude in the soi. Trying to change that is much more difficult than cleaning up an ageing bar area. Is it just me who thinks Cowboy has nothing on Nana? I bet it isn't…


Soi Nana


This week I spent a couple of hours just sitting in the reception area of a short time hotel, observing the comings and goings. What a fascinating insight it provided into what's going on in that particular bar area. The first thing that really struck me – and surprised me – was the speed with which couples were in and out. In most cases it was around half an hour from walking in to the short-time hotel, to leaving. When you consider that presumably each showered before and after, that's pretty quick and suggests that there was no mucking around and they got right down to business. The next observation which wasn't a great surprise was that perhaps half of all the service providers were ladyboys. Most of the customers with ladyboys comprised one of 2 very clear profiles. The first is Japanese guys, usually younger guys, aged perhaps mid 20s to late 30s who otherwise look "normal". They make up more than half of all ladyboys' customers. The second profile is Western guys aged in a very tight range from mid 30s to mid 40s who clearly spend a lot of their time in the gym and who may have pharmaceutical assistance i.e. some guys were unnaturally big with distorted features. I can understand why they use a short-time hotel as I bet these guys are hiding what they get up to and friends would give them serious grief if they knew what they were up to. 80%+ of all the ladyboy customers matched one of these profiles. The final observation was that on exiting the short time hotel, she (irrespective of whether she was a bona fide lady or a ladyboy) was very keen to get out of there and away from him as quickly as possible, scurrying out the doors much faster than you typically see Thai women move! I doubt many couples basked in a post-coital afterglow. It reinforced that he was nothing more than a customer. In the two hours I sat there almost mesmerised by what was going on, I only saw one couple walk out of the short-time hotel hand in hand.

It's nothing new, but it's worth repeating that the release fee some bars ask guys keen to take a girl away from the bar permanently is a scam. To recap, bar staff tell the customer that there is a 10,000 baht fee payable to remove a girl from the bar permanently. They often come up with lies as to why the fee is charged which can range from a make-believe loan the girl took out from the bar to it being some sort of convoluted aspect of Thai law. I repeat, this is a scam and there is absolutely no reason to pay it. What's worse is that the 10,000 baht is usually split between the mamasan and the girl. Yep, the very girl who you are about to pursue a serious relationship with is conning you already! The mamasan or bar manager might claim that this is a fee that guarantees that the girl can return to the bar if things don't work out between the two of you. Let me reiterate that with the Thai economy booming and all sorts of opportunities existing for those who wish to work, bars are absolutely desperate for girls. No bar will say no to a girl who wishes to return. Few girls get their marching orders from a bar and almost any girl keen to return to a venue will be welcomed back with open arms, especially now with most bars unable to get enough girls. If you choose to take a girl out of the bar and are asked to pay this fee, refuse. If the girl gets nasty, insists that it needs to be paid or tries pulling on your heartstrings by crying, that's all the proof you need that she has zero feelings for you and it's all about the money. But then if you have been reading this column for even just a short time you really ought to know that already…


ladyboy Bangkok


Zen Bar Bangkok


Starbucks has arrived in Soi Nana! OK, well not quite. But Zen Bar is making an effort to separate itself from bars which serve crummy coffee by brewing Starbucks coffee i.e. using beans sourced from Starbucks. If you feel like a good coffee and the great people watching of the top of Soi Nana, Zen Bar is the place.

And on the subject of taking girls out of the bar, I continue to be amazed at the willingness of some guys who barely know their new girlfriend to help her with life after the bar by buying her a business. Noble, but perhaps not a great idea. The two favourite types of business are hair salons and massage houses. Unfortunately they usually turn out to be a money pit. It starts with the asking price which can be a few times what said business is really worth, that is even if she buys it at all. Sometimes she thinks she has bought it but has been conned by the vendor, or even a friend. Sometimes she doesn't buy the business at all and just pockets the money, telling her boyfriend that she has bought. She can flash him some official looking documents and say that they are business's registration papers because, after all, how many Westerners can read documents in Thai? Finally, even when in those instances when a business really is purchased, it usually ends up being run in to the ground. These girls seldom have the discipline required to run a business and manage staff. They might have the key skills required to perform the service offered i.e. cutting hair or performing massage, but they don't understand business.

It's not often that you find an Aussie rooting for the Kiwis, but in the case of Thomas, the amiable publican of Bradman's Bistro, you get the feeling he might have a few Kiwi genes. After I wrote that I thought the steak at Sunrise Tacos was the best reasonably priced steak in town, Thomas insisted I try his offering and compare it. The first thing you notice is that the 400 gram New Zealand rib-eye is almost twice the size of Sunrise Tacos' Aussie tenderloin but as they say, size is not everything… The verdict? The NZ rib-eye at Bradman's Bistro has a better flavour, but the Aussie tenderloin is much more tender. Sunrise's offering costs less and comes with a choice of baked potato or chunky fries along with grilled vegetables which is more interesting than mashed potato and peas. It's not easy comparing different cuts of meat but if you have a craving for steak, you can't go wrong with either. What is great is that you don't have to pay thousands of baht for a decent steak in Bangkok these days. As a final note, however, Thai-style venues that list local beef "steak" for 99 baht or a similarly low price should be avoided, at least if you want something that would pass as steak in the West.


Bradman's Bistro


It is hoped that by April the complete UK Sky TV package will be available in Thailand, both in Bangkok and beyond. It will be available as an IPTV service i.e. streamed via the internet using a smart box. For best results, you will need a decent internet connection which basically means your own direction connection to the ISP. I imagine a shared connection as many seem to have may not produce the best picture. The smart box will incur an initial cost of around 7,500 baht and then there will be a monthly subscription. I'll include more details when they have been finalised and the package is available. Brian, owner of the traditional English pub, Crossbar, on Sukhumvit soi 23, has the UK Sky Sports package installed in his bar and anyone keen to see how it works is welcome to swing by and see him. Brian is the guy to speak with to get further info on the fullCrossbar package. For Brits and those interested in British sports like soccer, rugby and cricket, Sky Sports is much better than what you get with the local satellite TV provider. The UK Sky Sports package is available now at 8,000 baht for the box, plus a 6-month subscription at 1,000 baht per month for a total of 14,000 baht. If you don't get it installed at home, Sky Sports is shown in Crossbar from 11 AM to closing time every day. If by any chance you come from the Midlands, do wear your WBA shirt to Crossbar!

I note that some Brits are feeling currency pain with the pound dropping to less than 45 baht at bank exchange booths these past few days. This is the strongest the baht has been against the pound since the Asian Economic Crisis hit in mid 1997. Given the huge number of Brits retired in Thailand, many of whom are on fixed pensions – fixed in pounds Sterling – the weakening pound and inflation in Thailand must be really hurting. One imagines the profligate lifestyles some had become accustomed to are becoming but a memory.

Town Lodge Hotel in Sukhumvit soi 18 has announced some special offers for Stickman readers. The EARLY BIRD OFFER: reserve your room at least 28 days before arrival and receive a 10% discount on the special Stickman rates. SUMMER PROMOTION: Book 5 or more nights and receive the last night at half-price. Book for 10 or more nights and receive the last night completely free. Do not forget to mention "Stickman" when making your reservation to take advantage of the specials. Also at Town Lodge late checkout may be available up to 11 PM, subject to advance notice and availability.

If Angeles City in the Philippines is a favourite destination of yours or simply somewhere that appeals, Emirates is launching a new service connecting Dubai to Clark Airport, the airport at Angeles City. This will make it easier for Europeans to get to Angeles, and will likely also increase the number of Middle Easterners visiting. More about the new Dubai to Clark service here.


Winchester Club


Quote of the week, "In Bangkok hiring a tuktuk is the same as getting a bargirl, you've got to negotiate the price before you decide if you're getting in."

Reader's story of the week comes from Bluetail, "Building A House in Thailand".

A Scottish student claims she was raped in southern Thailand while the fellow arrested claims it was consensual.

Tom Armstrong, the Brit who was missing in Thailand has been found safe and well.

From The Nation newspaper, foreign tourists are warned about poor driving standards in Thailand.

On the heels of its naughty calendar controversy, Nok Air plans to produce a similar calendar next year.

Nigerian scammers are arrested in Bangkok after conning women online.

Extensive research suggests that Korean men are the biggest sex tourists in South-East Asia!


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: Can an employer discharge an employee without an employee knowing about it by simply informing the local labour office i.e. does the employer need the employee's work permit in order to do it? If so, then the employee would be in for quite a surprise when he / she attempts to do something where a government agency is involved. For example, if the employee attempts to cross a border, he / she would be informed how many days / weeks that they have overstayed and would be required to pay the resulting fine on the spot. Hopefully, something exists that protects employees from such situations.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers says: To fire an employee with no notification would be considered unfair dismissal as well as failure to provide a timely (1-month) notification. Only if the employee has committed a serious and harmful offence would an immediate termination (without prior notice) be allowed. A claim against the employer could be made if the employer were to put down "bad attitude" in the termination letter, for instance, and fire the employee. This could be considered as an unfair dismissal especially if the employee had received favourable reviews or had received no prior warnings. An employer must be very careful as the penalties are harsh.

As for the visa, it would not be considered an automatic overstay if he is holding a Non-Immigrant “B” visa (either single or multiple) obtained from a Thai embassy / consulate. But if the visa is an extension of stay based on business then once the employment is terminated and the work permit is cancelled then the extension to stay will also be terminated.

The employer must inform the Labour Office that the employment has been terminated and the work permit must be cancelled. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors have experience in handling unfair dismissal cases if this has occurred but Immigration does not deal with unfair dismissal. They would only see the termination of the work permit. You could, however, file for damages against the company after the unfair dismissal to cover costs incurred if on overstay.

Question 2: I am interested in purchasing some condos for investment in Bangkok and Pattaya. Can I make these purchases and have the ownership registered through a UK company / trust fund that I have already set up rather than in my personal name. Also, can I elect that any tax on income be paid in the UK rather than in Thailand?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers says: A UK company purchasing a condo would be considered a foreign entity and could acquire a condominium in Thailand, as long as the funding for the purchase was transferred in from overseas using the proper procedures and the foreign quota for that building has not been reached. Tax on income (rent collected) will have to be settled in Thailand, but could be declared in the UK under the double taxation treat that UK has with Thailand effective since January 1, 1981.

Question 3: I recently got a divorce from my Thai wife. She has two daughters aged 17 and 18 from a previous marriage to a Thai man. I would like to legally adopt both girls. Both their biological father and mother agree to my adopting the girls. Is this legally possible and if so what are the steps involved?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers says: It is possible to adopt Thai children. However, you must be over the age of 25 and at least 15 years older than the adopted party. If the adopted party is still a minor (under the age of 20) then consent from the parents must be obtained. The adopted party must also provide her consent and spousal consent if married. The petition to adopt must be filed at:
1. Child Adoption Centre (for those residing within Bangkok) or
2. The District Office or Sub-District Office or Provincial Adoption Centre (if residing outside of Bangkok)

A trial period of no less than 6 months is required, unless the adopting party is / was a relative of the parent of the adopted party.

Personal identity information (such as passport, ID card, house registration) of the adopting party and the adopted party must be provided, as well as the parents’ of the adopted party along with a medical certificate.

As you are a foreigner, you must obtain written consent from your government allowing you to adopt a child of another nationality.

Then you would also need to obtain approval from the Child Adoption Centre, Child Protection Organisation (recognised by the Child Adoption Centre) or the provincial mayor.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can assist you with adopting your step children assuming you meet all other requirements. Please feel free to get in touch with us to discuss this.



The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok



vegetarian food Bangkok

One of the most common complaints from expats in Thailand these days, especially long-termers, is that prices are much higher than they used to be. And they're right. Prices have moved a lot, inflation in the farang areas probably runs around 10% year on year and if you're reliant on money from abroad, odds are you're getting fewer baht for your foreign currency than you once did. If you live a Western lifestyle in Bangkok it's going to cost, but if you make a few concessions here and there and do a few things the Thai way, you can cut corners and save a few baht. Of course one has to ask themself if they're willing to do that. Take today's lunch, pictured above. Brown rice with generous portions of three different types of vegetables, along with a banana and mango smoothie, served in air-conditioned comfort, all with a view right in the heart of Bangkok. How much do you think I paid for this delicious, nutritious lunch? 77 baht. That's for the food AND the drink. Bangkok mightn't be the bargain it once was, but you can still lead a pleasant enough life for not a lot of money if you are so inclined.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Firehouse

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